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Does it matter that ballet gets so little exposure in U. S. popular cu

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I'm enjoying reading all these responses! I agree that, right now, the ballet world is enjoying more mainstream attention than it has since the '80's, when THE TURNING POINT was such a hit, along with a lot of successful ballet books and literature, including Toni Bentley's wonderful memoir, A WINTER SEASON. These days, the So You Think You Can Dance show and Alex Wong's great crossover appeal there has been great for the ballet world, as well as the previously mentioned BLACK SWAN craze (ugh, hated it, but loved how it catapulted ballet to the forefront of mainstream media attention). And then there's YouTube, where you can now watch hundreds of dancers performing in ways that were all but impossible even a decade ago. And Twitter. And blogs.

I'm loving it. That said, I worry along with everyone else over the financial state of the arts. I'm both a San Francisco Symphony subscriber and new-this-year San Francisco Ballet subscriber, and that will continue to be my little way to help keep the arts afloat financially. (A very pleasurable "noble" endeavor, I might add!)

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I'm loving it. That said, I worry along with everyone else over the financial state of the arts. I'm both a San Francisco Symphony subscriber and new-this-year San Francisco Ballet subscriber, and that will continue to be my little way to help keep the arts afloat financially. (A very pleasurable "noble" endeavor, I might add!)

Nice to hear that there are new people coming to SF Ballet performances - top companies need the support as much as the small, regional companies. Hopefully you've seen some wonderful productions, and heard some great playing/music from the ballet orchestra.

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Nice to hear that there are new people coming to SF Ballet performances - top companies need the support as much as the small, regional companies. Hopefully you've seen some wonderful productions, and heard some great playing/music from the ballet orchestra.

Pherank - yes, two great performances in early March (I reviewed them for my blog at The Classical Girl - is it too late for me to post the reviews here at this site under "recent performances"?) and I get to return on April 20th. Coming up soon! And yes, I'll continue to support the San Francisco Ballet. They are sublime.

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...and I get to return on April 20th. Coming up soon! And yes, I'll continue to support the San Francisco Ballet. They are sublime.

I guess you're going to get to see Symphony in Three Movements then - I wish I could be there too, but it won't work out for me this year, as I decided to see the Pacific Northwest Ballet too this season, and there's only so much money for these trips. ;)

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I guess you're going to get to see Symphony in Three Movements then - I wish I could be there too, but it won't work out for me this year, as I decided to see the Pacific Northwest Ballet too this season, and there's only so much money for these trips. ;)

Oooh, nice! I've never seen them, but I'd have to put them right up there in the top three companies I'd like to watch perform. The PNB has such a wonderful Internet presence and are always adding interesting clips for those of us out-of-towners to watch. There was one several months back on "feet." Just lots of dancers' feet immersed in dance, in rehearsal and company class. I can never get enough of watching really good feet. Just one of those grand satisfactions for me.

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Just to chip in...as a 20 something non-dancer who got into ballet in the last 3 years out of writing research (of all things), ballet can be too expensive for my demographic -- most of which is saddled with student debt. To see top tier performances, one often has to travel. I don't have money for this, and many don't have time or money. And tickets for local performances here in Chicago, whether with touring companies or the Joffrey or Ballet Chicago, typically start at no less than $35. I paid much more than that when ABT and Paris Opera Ballet came into town. For most people in my age group, bang for buck is a factor. A $20 used videogame worth 40 hours of enjoyment and $15 a month for Netflix is far more economical and accessible.

Honestly, I don't think ballet will reach the young or the working class any time soon. I get emails from some of my local theatres that disgust me in terms of their attitude -- the emphasis is on how 'fancy' the classic performing arts are, and clearly target people much older and richer than I.

They don't court the young at all, they court the moneyed middle aged.

Plus, there's a massive disengage in my generation from the classic performing arts, and performing arts in general. An allergy to all things considered 'snobby'. There are many who will spend hundreds or thousands on movies, video games, various 'geek' interests, but have really never thought of taking an interest in the arts. It's just not on the radar, or its considered inaccessible (which it is, really), or expensive (again, which it is).

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It saddens me to read comments like Trieste's. Most ballet companies do have outreach programs with free programs in parks and public spaces, student rush tickets at bargain basement prices, etc. And, as we've discussed in other forums, ballet used to be widely available on free network television in the 1950s and we enjoyed a wealth of great PBS programs, especially in the 1970s and 1980s (Live from Lincoln Center, Great Performances, etc.). We still have some available on PBS and, increasingly, great things on the Internet (posted legitimately!). I've also noticed fabulous DVD collections of ballet at public libraries I've frequented.

But before people seek out those free or cheap options, they first have to love or at least like ballet or just know what it is. So programs that bring school children to dress rehearsals (which I have noticed at several companies) and outreach programs to less-well-off children help and are important to support. I'm also glad to see local sports heroes endorse ballet (as we saw in Miami recently). I don't think we'll see another dance boom of the 70s, with its heady mix of Cold War politics, glamour, and excitement bringing newcomers into the theater. We're also dealing with dramatic declines in government funding at both the state and Federal level.

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Even when I was a child, the amount of performing arts on TV was much higher. As I recall, in addition to PBS, Bravo and A&E used to air such things. Looking at their programming now is depressing. Art is so far removed from the public consciousness -- in any form, really.

And yes! I am always incredibly grateful when there's an effort to make things accessible. One of the POB Giselles (Osta and Le Riche) was simulcast in Millenium Park's Pritzker Pavillion on a huge screen. Free and absolutely packed, all the way out into to the green. Plenty of couples, families, dance students, random teenagers, all dressed casually and enjoying the performance. Plus there was typical park food, beer and hot dogs. It gave me an idea of how many people would go to see these performances if they were cheaper and more casual.

Usually when I see people my age or younger at the ballet, they're accompanied by older people who are presumably footing the bill for the evening, taxi included -- or an occasional couple on what can be assumed is a 'fancy' a date. Quite a different experience than my solitary public transit schlep before the POB's opening performance.

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While ballet costs a pretty penny - so do all live performances. The cheapest ticket to a Rihanna concert in Dallas is $55 after you add in all the fees. That's for a nose bleeder seat. The full festival pass to Coachella has a basement price of $349 (shipping tickets is extra). I could go on and on, but tickets to any show, festival or concert where 20-ish generation go in droves -- all are more expensive than cheap seats at the ballet.

Yes, there are tons of young people who have student loans, but I see most of them blowing $40 easily at the bars on Lower Queen Anne or Ballard on any given weekend in Seattle. The same is true around the country. People put their money into the things that they really want.

It's the same as it ever was:

1. People in their 20's are more interested in investing their paychecks into social events that include alcohol (or maybe marijuana in Seattle) and/or popular types of music.

2. Ballet has a limited audience of true blue loyalists who will commit to season tickets and/or donate money.

3. Everyone likes free stuff - including watching a ballet company from Paris perform live on a big screen.

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While ballet costs a pretty penny - so do all live performances. The cheapest ticket to a Rihanna concert in Dallas is $55 after you add in all the fees. That's for a nose bleeder seat. The full festival pass to Coachella has a basement price of $349 (shipping tickets is extra). I could go on and on, but tickets to any show, festival or concert where 20-ish generation go in droves -- all are more expensive than cheap seats at the ballet.

Ditto live sporting events. Taking a family to a major league ballgame costs a small fortune. But it doesn't even have to be live. Even catching a game and a few brews in a decent NYC sports bar will set you back. A ticket to the 3-D version of Luhrman's new "Gatsby" costs $19 at the Union Square cinema.

But for $10 more you could sit in one of the $29 seats at tonight's NYCB performance. (I just checked -- there's a very decent one available in the 3rd ring.) We are privileged in NYC: there are ample opportunities to see inexpensive live dance (ahem, not just ballet), and a lot of it is really good. The heavily discounted day-of tickets at the Lincoln Center atrium put all kinds of live performance in reach. (I've gotten them a few times, and the seats have always been decent or better.)

And, tickets to live shows have always been expensive in real terms -- i.e., adjusted to reflect inflation and median incomes. Proportionately, it cost just as much to sit in the cheap seats in 1960 as it does today. When I moved to NYC in the late 70's to go to grad school, I think I spent something like $15-$25 for seats in the Family Circle at the Met and the 4th ring at NYCB -- and that was a lot more out of my TA's check then than it would be today.

ETA: Ugh. I hope I'm not coming off as some sort of scold! Trieste, I have felt your pain.

Live art is expensive to do and hard make available at a low cost. I sing with a little amateur community chorus: considering that almost everyone on stage is unpaid and performs in their own clothes, it's astonishing how much it costs us to put on even the most bare-bones of concerts.

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Even when I was a child, the amount of performing arts on TV was much higher. As I recall, in addition to PBS, Bravo and A&E used to air such things. Looking at their programming now is depressing. Art is so far removed from the public consciousness -- in any form, really.

Depressing, indeed, trieste. Ovation is following the same path as Bravo and A&E - shifting away from the arts and to more (relatively) popular programming so as not to be dropped from the cable packages. That leaves only PBS, which is also vulnerable to ratings pressure.

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Depressing, indeed, trieste. Ovation is following the same path as Bravo and A&E - shifting away from the arts and to more (relatively) popular programming so as not to be dropped from the cable packages. That leaves only PBS, which is also vulnerable to ratings pressure.

Well, at least I don't have to feel bad about not subscribing to the monster-sized cable package in order to get Ovation -- I just couldn't afford it...

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Oh no Kathleen! My bottom line is that when people are on a budget, they're less likely to take a risk on these things. Which comes back to the relative invisibility of the arts...

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Depressing, indeed, trieste. Ovation is following the same path as Bravo and A&E - shifting away from the arts and to more (relatively) popular programming so as not to be dropped from the cable packages. That leaves only PBS, which is also vulnerable to ratings pressure.

Well, at least I don't have to feel bad about not subscribing to the monster-sized cable package in order to get Ovation -- I just couldn't afford it...

In fairness I should add that Ovation is currently showing A Chance to Dance with Michael Nunn and William Trevitt, a fun series that reminded me why the channel is still worth having, other things being equal.

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I'm very much looking forward to Flesh and Bone. I've had a crush on Sasha since I first saw him in Center Stage.

But even if F&B gets good reviews and good ratings, I suspect that most ballet people will hate it.

Despite it being a high art form, many people in ballet circles have the annoying habit of behaving like they are the members of a historically persecuted minority group.

Because so few films or tv shows about ballet or with a ballet backdrop are made, ballet folks want every representation to be the be-all and end-all of ballet stories and to have the fidelity of a documentary while bathing everyone involved in a flattering light.

When these shows don't meet this impossibly high bar, ballet people complain that nobody understands or appreciates them them and that everyone is out to get them.

I understand the need for the art form's gatekeepers to push back against outsiders who would dumb down ballet in order to make a buck. But sometimes, these folks are just too hypersensitive.

Does anyone truly believe that anyone who saw The Red Shoes, The Turning Point, Center Stage or Black Swan, mistook them for documentaries?

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