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NYCB Goes to the Movies -- with Balanchine's Nutcracker


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#16 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 03 November 2011 - 11:15 AM

I don't have any data on this, but I suspect these live broadcasts might have the opposite effect, viz., encouraging people to go to the theater to see these ballets live. Wasn't that the rationale for companies all over the country staging Swan Lake, after people had seen the movie? Even now, people can buy (or rent) DVDs with Balanchine's Nutcracker or the ABT version with Baryshnikov/Kirkland. And last year, the cable channel Ovation had a Nutcracker marathon with many versions shown in December.

Having taken my 5-year-old great-niece to several ballets in the last couple of years, the live performances are irreplaceable. We first watch a DVD of the ballet with her so she knows the story and what to expect. But she is excited beyond belief at the prospect of seeing live dancers, getting dressed up to go to the theater, going out for lunch with her grandmother and great-aunt, etc., etc., etc.

I think the more important issue for regional companies is realistic pricing, as Colorado Ballet has done. It just makes so much more sense to fill the house, even with tickets at 30-40% off, and introduce people to the theater experience, as opposed to the crazy practice of closing off tiers at NYCB.


I hope your suspicion is correct. I do think that there's a difference between wanting to see a live "Swan Lake" after seeing "Black Swan" and wanting to see your own local company's version of "Swan Lake" after seeing a live broadcast of, say, the Bolshoi's. I'm hoping like crazy that HD broadcasts give non-balletomanes the fever to see dance live, but I am concerned that companies that rely on bread-and-butter warhorses to fill the house might see the audience taper off after a star-studded, "event" HD broadcast of one of the same warhorses blows through the local multiplex. (I'm also concerned that a newbie audience might find a well-danced local version disappointing for all the wrong reasons -- no stars, no big sets, less pyrotechnically thrilling dancing, etc etc etc, but that's a different matter.)

I'm not so worried about DVDs or television broadcasts because they aren't the same kind of "let's all go to the theater for something special" event that an HD broadcast is. There's only so much of that kind of festive energy to go around in a busy family's life, and if it gets channeled into HD events, there might not any left over for local live art.

Dirac -- I think our posts must have crossed in cyberspace -- as you can see, I too am worried about the disparity in production values ...

#17 California

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Posted 03 November 2011 - 12:36 PM

Correct me if I'm confused about this...the live version in the movie theatres December 13 is a 7:30 pm curtain in New York on a Tuesday night. That's 5:30 Mountain time and 4:30 Pacific time. Rough on a school night in much of the country, with parents who aren't yet off work for the day. The competition would have been worse if they had broadcast the Saturday matinee when parents are free from work (or most of them) and kids are off school. Or do they plan to do a "tape-delayed" version in the midwest and west, as television does? Or a rebroadcast? And if people realize it will be free on PBS the next night, wouldn't they opt for the latter?

The $20 ticket charge seems high for going to the movies, which might be the mental comparison of at least some parents. At many regional companies, you could get a discounted ticket up high for that price.

I'd like to stay optimistic about this HD development in ballet. I hope it promotes some synergy in the performing arts generally. The movie industry was convinced in the 1970s that VCRs would mean the death of that industry, but it hasn't worked out that way. I hope that people who see a performance on TV or in a movie theater will be motivated to go see a live performance, and vice versa. Better than having most of the population think that DWTS is the be-all-and-end-all of dance!

#18 Eileen

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Posted 03 November 2011 - 01:27 PM

The December 13 performance is 6 pm. Maybe performances in earlier time zones will be delayed an hour or three.

#19 sandik

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Posted 03 November 2011 - 02:31 PM

This event doesn't seem to be on the Fathom website yet -- has anyone purchased tickets from some other source?

#20 dirac

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Posted 03 November 2011 - 03:13 PM

I'm not so worried about DVDs or television broadcasts because they aren't the same kind of "let's all go to the theater for something special" event that an HD broadcast is. There's only so much of that kind of festive energy to go around in a busy family's life, and if it gets channeled into HD events, there might not any left over for local live art.

Dirac -- I think our posts must have crossed in cyberspace -- as you can see, I too am worried about the disparity in production values ...


Great minds think alike, Kathleen. :) I also agree that staying home and watching on television, no matter how big and fancy your screen, is remote enough from the real thing that viewers understand they're not having anything like the experience the theater audience did.

These fears could be groundless, of course. But I still wish NYCB had chosen another warhorse for riding into battle.

#21 Jayne

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Posted 03 November 2011 - 03:26 PM

well, which warhorse would you prefer?

#22 Natalia

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Posted 04 November 2011 - 02:42 AM

I'm still confused about the correlation between the Dec 13 'live in cinema' Nutcracker and the Dec 14 'live from Lincoln Center' TV edition. Are we talking about the exact-same cast and performance, shown twice...or two separate & distinct performances?

Somebody above seems to think that the Dec 14th TV showing will be a tape of the previous night's cinemas showing. That concerns me because (a) it's not the 'live' performance that PBS has been promising TV viewers and (b) there's no guarantee that the TV public may see the entire ballet uncut and unedited, e.g., what's to keep the Balanchine Trust from judiciously snipping and re-editing portions so that TV viewers cannot tape the entire experience. Between the 13th & 14th, will dancers be able to re-film flubbed portions (although I would not expect the need for that with top-flight dancers)?

On the other hand...

If the Dec 13 performance will be only for the cinema public AND the Dec 14 performance, with a different cast, will be also TOTALLY LIVE and UNCUT/UNEDITED for the TV public, then it would be a WIN-WIN situation. However, I still find it amazing that, after so many years of NYCB not showing live uncut performances, they would allow the airing of TWO separate and distinct performances -- with, say, Bouder leading on the 13th and Reichlen on the 14th -- to be shown live via two different media. Miracles could come true. Let's see what transpires.

re. Watching Live in a Theater vs via media/YouTube, etc. - I agree with dirac that there's absolutely no substitute for being in the theater. For ex., I would never trade my recent experience of having been inside La Scala seeing the Raymonda live had I known ahead of time that it would soon be available on YouTube/TV. No matter how sharp the picture and well filmed, YouTube/TV/DVD do not convey the energy of the moment...sitting in that red-and-gold box...looking out into the auditorium...witnessing a 3-dimensional live spectacle...being in Milano! TV, cinemas, DVDs, YouTube do not come close to being in a grand theater, no matter how wonderful it is to be able to see the ballet without having to spend round-trip int'l airfare, hotel room, and 180 Euros-a-show ticket, not to mention planning the wardrobe, etc. I would not be worried about TV/DVDs/cinemas keeping people away from wanting to experience the same ballet in the grand theater...because going to the theater is so much more than just 'viewing' a show. It's great to have seen the Bolshoi Reopening 'live in cinemas' but, if I could have, I would have much prefered to have been there in person.

#23 Eileen

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Posted 04 November 2011 - 05:38 AM

This event doesn't seem to be on the Fathom website yet -- has anyone purchased tickets from some other source?


Try Fandango.

#24 abatt

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Posted 04 November 2011 - 06:21 AM

The NYCB website says that the tickets will go on sale on Nov 18 through the Fathom website.

#25 California

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Posted 04 November 2011 - 07:05 AM

It looks like the "live" event will be tape-delayed in the Mountain and Pacific zones to 7:30 pm. That gets pretty late for a school night with young children.

http://www.fathomeve...nutcracker.aspx

No information yet about pricing, but their Sleeping Beauty was $15.

I'm still optimistic that people who do go will be motivated to see a local company, if not their Nutcracker, then something in the spring. People struggling in this economy will likely wait for the free PBS version the next night. I'm surprised Fathom agreed to this deal with the back-to-back PBS show. What's the advantage to going to a movie theater - just the bigger screen?

#26 Krystin

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Posted 04 November 2011 - 07:07 AM

NYCB tweeted list of theaters that will be showing the Nutcracker on Dec. 13. It's rather comprehensive:

Link to list of movie theaters: http://new.lincolnce...US_theaters.pdf

Link to tweet: http://twitter.com/#!/nycballet

#27 Eileen

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Posted 04 November 2011 - 08:15 AM

It looks like the "live" event will be tape-delayed in the Mountain and Pacific zones to 7:30 pm. That gets pretty late for a school night with young children.

http://www.fathomeve...nutcracker.aspx

No information yet about pricing, but their Sleeping Beauty was $15.

I'm still optimistic that people who do go will be motivated to see a local company, if not their Nutcracker, then something in the spring. People struggling in this economy will likely wait for the free PBS version the next night. I'm surprised Fathom agreed to this deal with the back-to-back PBS show. What's the advantage to going to a movie theater - just the bigger screen?

I live in New York City and don't own a television. I go to live performances and films of ballet. I already bought a Balanchine's Nutcracker ticket the other day on fandango, not on fathom. I believe it is at the Union Square multiplex.

#28 abatt

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Posted 04 November 2011 - 08:22 AM

So who do we think will be cast as the leads for the broadcast? I think Sara Mearns will get Dewdrop or Sugar Plum.

#29 sandik

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Posted 04 November 2011 - 09:05 AM

The NYCB website says that the tickets will go on sale on Nov 18 through the Fathom website.


Thanks so much -- I didn't have time to rummage around on the NYCB site.

#30 Natalia

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Posted 04 November 2011 - 09:46 AM

.... I'm surprised Fathom agreed to this deal with the back-to-back PBS show. ...


Bingo. This is amazing.

Happy to read that these appear to be two separate & distinct events, with totally different casts. If both casts are fascinating, I am inclined to see both events!


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