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NYCB Fall 2012 Gala: Costumes by Valentino


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#1 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 03 June 2012 - 04:36 PM

[font=arial,helvetica,sans-serif]I don't even know where to begin with this one.[/font]

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The Italian designer Valentino Garavani will create costumes for three works by the New York City Ballet , to be performed for one night at its annual fall gala, the company is to announce on Monday. The gala, to be held at Lincoln Center on Sept. 20, will feature a new ballet set to selections from Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin” and a performance of George Balanchine’s “Rubies” as a tribute to the signature use of red by the designer simply known as Valentino, above.

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[font=arial,helvetica,sans-serif]1) Sigh. What's wrong with Karinska's "Rubies" costumes? I don't love everything she did, but those "Rubies" costumes are pretty iconic. What NYCB's "Jewels" really needs is spiffier sets for "Emeralds" and "Diamonds" (at least get rid of those dangling beads). [/font]

[font=arial,helvetica,sans-serif]2) There's no way Martins won't use what must rank in the top five most [/font]whistle-able waltzes [font=arial, helvetica, sans-serif]in history (and it's my personal No 1). If there aren't skatey-eight gazillion gorgeously cut skirts sweeping across the stage, the Board should demand a refund.[/font]


CORRECTION: I assumed the new ballet would be by Martins, but I see in re-reading the original item, that it doesn't say who the new work will be by. A thousand apologies!

#2 Juliet

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Posted 03 June 2012 - 05:42 PM

I believe that the selections from Eugene Onegin ballet is indeed by Martins.

Here is the schedule for next season:

http://www.nycballet...g/2013/rag.html

#3 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 03 June 2012 - 05:53 PM

I believe that the selections from Eugene Onegin ballet is indeed by Martins.

Here is the schedule for next season:

http://www.nycballet...g/2013/rag.html


Thanks for the confirmation. I admit I was kind of hoping it would turn out to be a surprise Ratmanksy.

#4 Dale

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Posted 04 June 2012 - 07:12 AM

Here is the official release:

NEW YORK CITY BALLET T0 CELEBRATE LEGENDARY FASHION DESIGNER VALENTINO GARAVANI
One-Time-Only Gala Evening to Take Place Thursday, September 20 at Lincoln Center Hosted by Co-Chairmen Maria Bartiromo, Giancarlo Giammetti, Pamela J. Joyner, and Sarah Jessica Parker
New York City Ballet announced today that its 2012 Fall Gala on Thursday, September 20 will feature a special one-time-only celebration of the legendary fashion designer and master couturier, Valentino Garavani, often known simply as Valentino.

For this special evening, Valentino will create costumes for three works by NYCB Ballet Master in Chief Peter Martins, including a new ballet set to selections from Tschaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, and two rarely performed pieces d’occasion created for NYCB’s 1988 American Music Festival – Sophisticated Lady, which is set to music by Duke Ellington and premiered on the opening night of the festival, and Not My Girl, a pas de deux inspired by, and set to music composed by Fred Astaire, which premiered on the closing night of the festival.

The evening will also include a new pas de deux by choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, which will also feature costumes designed by Valentino. In addition, as a tribute to the designer’s signature “Valentino Red,” New York City Ballet will perform George Balanchine’s Rubies, the second section of the full-length Jewels, which is set to Igor Stravinsky’s Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra, and features scenery by Peter Harvey, costumes by Karinska, and lighting by Mark Stanley.

The co-chairmen for the evening are NYCB Board Members Maria Bartiromo, Pamela J. Joyner, and Sarah Jessica Parker, as well as Giancarlo Giammetti, Valentino’s long-time business partner.
Valentino founded his eponymous fashion house in Rome in the late 1950s and has since established an illustrious career designing for the world’s most glamorous women, from royalty to Hollywood icons, including Jackie O, Elizabeth Taylor and Sophia Loren. Throughout his career Valentino has been awarded the highest recognitions and achievements, including Italy’s highest distinction, Cavalier di Gran Croce, and France’s Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur, in addition to numerous awards in the fashion industry. In 2008 Valentino took his final bow at his haute couture show and officially retired from his career in fashion, though he continues to create and follow his passions. In 2009, Valentino designed the costumes for the Vienna Ballet, and in 2011 he and Mr. Giammetti launched the Valentino Garavani Virtual Museum.

Benefit-priced tickets for the gala evening, which include the performance, a pre- performance reception, and a black-tie supper ball following the performance, are available through the NYCB Special Events Office at 212-870-5585. Tickets to the performance only start at $29 and will be available beginning August 6 at the David H. Koch Theater box office, online at www.nycballet.com, or by calling 212-496-0600.

#5 abatt

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Posted 04 June 2012 - 07:27 AM

I knew Sarah Jessica Parker would get into the act for this one. She was conspicously absent for the Spring Gala, which also focused on fashion. I guess there just wasn't room enough for her and Portman to share the limelight at the Spring Gala.

#6 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 04 June 2012 - 08:55 AM

Well, I'm royally annoyed with myself for completely misreading the ArtsBeat item, but relieved to hear that Karinska's "Rubies" costumes are being left alone. (Note to self: it is never wise to multitask when sleep-deprived.)

It all fed into one my persistent concerns: that the (perceived) need for "special one-time-only" gala celebrations and brand-name marketing tie-ins is the funding tail wagging the artistic dog. That "Valentino Red" rationale for "Rubies" does sound like a bit of a stretch to me, but at least it causes no permanent damage in terms of blood and treasure.

#7 sandik

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Posted 04 June 2012 - 10:13 AM

It all fed into one my persistent concerns: that the (perceived) need for "special one-time-only" gala celebrations and brand-name marketing tie-ins is the funding tail wagging the artistic dog.


Sleep-deprived or not, you are seeing true with this observation. This kind of thematic, special event programming, which just feeds into the idea that we need something different every time, is on the rise all over the dance world. We've always been attached to the idea of new work (Diaghilev's request to "astonish me" was both a reflection of this attitude he cultivated and the presenting practices he founded) but we seem to be getting further away from the idea that we can, on our own, get something out of seeing works repeated.

Some of the marketing influences that we see in current programming are really quite wonderful -- the increase in audience education (pre and post show lectures, demonstrations, interviews) give those of us who want to know more access to special knowledge, and helps the general population understand that there is an aesthetic and intellectual component to the art form. And there have been several innovations in ticket sales themselves, like mix- and match series, cross-promotion with other organizations, and bundling, that get people into the theater who might otherwise feel like an outsider.

But alongside these improvements are the more dire developments, where marketing goes beyond finding an audience for the artists to finding art for a given audience. There are all kinds of factors that go into making artistic decisions for a company, and the financial piece has to be a part of it, but it gets really dicey when you feel that the direction of a company is being determined by the marketing staff rather than the artistic staff.

#8 abatt

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Posted 04 June 2012 - 10:21 AM

I don't begrudge NYCB for wanting to attract large donors to the gala by giving them the potential opportunity to interact with a celebrity (in this case, a fashion celebrity). NYCB raised an enormous amount of money from rich donors by having Paul and Stella McCartney as the central figures of last year's fall gala. Ocean's Kingdom was not an artistic success, in my opinion. However, I think it was a box office success in terms of ticket sales. Clever marketing becomes important in tough economic times.

#9 sandik

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Posted 04 June 2012 - 10:50 AM

Clever marketing becomes important in tough economic times.


You are, of course, quite right, but there's a difference between marketing, which is finding a way to sell something you already make, and product development, which is making something new to sell. Ocean's Kingdom was, as near as I can tell, a mix of those two activities -- other works (both at NYCB and elsewhere) are more about the development than they are about the marketing.

#10 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 04 June 2012 - 12:36 PM

I don't begrudge NYCB for wanting to attract large donors to the gala by giving them the potential opportunity to interact with a celebrity (in this case, a fashion celebrity). NYCB raised an enormous amount of money from rich donors by having Paul and Stella McCartney as the central figures of last year's fall gala. Ocean's Kingdom was not an artistic success, in my opinion. However, I think it was a box office success in terms of ticket sales. Clever marketing becomes important in tough economic times.


I don't begrudge them their galas either. Art takes money. In the best of all possible worlds, people with money would pay for art with no inducement other than the joy of seeing art happen. But we don't live in that world. So yeah, if it takes a swag bag and proximity to celebrities and the machers du jour to get the wealthy to pull out their checkbooks, then bring on the celebrities and the swag. (As long as the net take is sufficiently in the black, I hasten to add. There are plenty of charities for whom the return on development efforts, including galas, is trivial at best and a genuine drain on the organization at worst.) The real leaders in the philanthropic community are those who fund worthy endeavors because it's the right thing to do, and who, by their example, encourage others to do the same. But if we can't have those leaders, I'll take the machers.

And I certainly don't begrudge using the gala as a showcase for new work. New ballets need to be made, and if the company can wring some buzz and bucks out of a gala unveiling, go for it.

Ditto with "marketing" in the sense of figuring out how to get butts in seats. You better believe that if I were on the NYCB marketing team I'd be milking the fact that Justin Peck's new ballet is set to Sufjan Stevens' music for all that it was worth. And as long as Peck chose Stevens' music because he liked it and it moved him to make a dance, that's fine.

What's not fine is making artistic choices solely for the purpose of generating one-time gala buzz or appealing to some shiny demographic. For one thing, it's a version of "the soft bigotry of low expectations." For another, as Sandik points out, it traps the organization on the fundraising equivalent of the hedonic treadmill. Worst of all, it saddles the company with white elephants like "Ocean's Kingdom" or "The Seven Deadly Sins." Whatever box-office success they may have had initially based on their headliners (the McCartneys and Patti Lupone, respectively) it's hard to imagine that either will live long in the rep. That's not the kind of long-term investment the company should be making in its art, its audience, and its patrons.

Clever marketing is important -- even if the world were flush with cash, the company would still have to cut through an awful lot of noise across an awful lot of channels just to be heard. And audience building is important, too. But reverse-engineering the art to grab an audience is a lousy tactic (well, lousy for the art at least). The trick is figuring out how to tell someone you already have what they want -- heck, what they need -- but that they just don't know it yet.

I'll know the odometer has turned over, by the way, when Lena Dunham replaces Sarah Jessica Parker as the gala chair ...

#11 bart

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Posted 04 June 2012 - 01:01 PM

[T]here's a difference between marketing, which is finding a way to sell something you already make, and product development, which is making something new to sell. Ocean's Kingdom was, as near as I can tell, a mix of those two activities -- other works (both at NYCB and elsewhere) are more about the development than they are about the marketing.

sandik, I agree.

Nowadays (I'm thinking about the commercial triumph of the Alexander McQueen show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art), the luxury fashion world does seem to be calling the tune when it comes to the higher arts.

#12 Helene

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Posted 04 June 2012 - 01:09 PM

Marketing gimmicks also have a way if setting expectations that can backfire and/or become burdens. The wife of a former boss who had worked for a cosmetics company told me back in the '80's how difficult it became to sell cosmetics on their own after Clinique started to give away little samplers with a $10 purchase. It created the expectation that there should always be swag with practically any purchase, not on occasion and for substantial purchases (~$50 at the time).



#13 sandik

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Posted 04 June 2012 - 01:21 PM

Marketing gimmicks also have a way if setting expectations that can backfire and/or become burdens. The wife of a former boss who had worked for a cosmetics company told me back in the '80's how difficult it became to sell cosmetics on their own after Clinique started to give away little samplers with a $10 purchase. It created the expectation that there should always be swag with practically any purchase, not on occasion and for substantial purchases (~$50 at the time).


We seem to be in the midst of a "and wait, there's more" period in many things. Add-ons have become a standard part of much consumer culture, from the toy in the Happy Meal and the complimentary cookie when you check in to a hotel, to all the "buy one, get one free" offers -- a marketing ploy so popular it has become a standard acronym.

#14 Birdsall

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Posted 05 June 2012 - 06:02 AM

I guess this economy is forcing companies to market in this manner. I have to say I am disappointed that Orlando Ballet (near me) keeps producing what I consider mass appeal type ballet. This coming season will have a Vampire's Ball ballet and a Hollywood en Pointe along with Nutcracker and Carmina Burana. Granted, there will probably be wonderful dancing and fun, but I think for a lot of people this sort of thing is stuff you go see when you are starving for ballet, not for the ultimate high. I don't know. Does anyone know if this strategy actually works? Does "mass appeal" projects in ballet and trendy marketing (in a niche market already that normally only appeals to cognoscenti) actually bring in the people? I think even non-ballet lovers would rather see Swan Lake or Giselle, but maybe I am wrong. Sorry to go off topic slightly, but I feel it applies to what is being discussed. Maybe companies have no choice. I don't know. Even Lyric Opera of Chicago is starting to do one "musical" or "operetta" per season. But I think you run the risk of losing your core audience when you focus on mass appeal.


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