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Does it matter that ballet gets so little exposure in U. S. popular cuIf ballet continues to be more and more marginalized, can it survive?


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#16 sandik

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 09:59 AM

I've always wondered why ballet doesn't court the figure-skating crowd more actively. It seems a natural crossover to me. And, at least in Canada, there are LOTS of figure-skating fans.


Helene can probably speak much more knowledgeably about this, but as someone who watches a lot of dance as only a little ice skating, I have to say that it's one of those situations where there's almost too much crossover, but not enough. There are fundamental aspects to figure skating, having to do with actually sliding along the ice while standing up, that seem to act at cross-purposes to the outward rotation at the hip joint that is the heart of ballet technique. For me, I see this reflected throughout ice skating, so that aesthetically it's close, but it's-not-quite-the-same-thing -- this can be really disorienting!

#17 abatt

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 10:46 AM

I think this problem of diminishing interest is a problem for all of the "high arts" in the US, not just ballet. The opera and the symphony are experiencing this issue as well. The fact that ballet dancers sometimes makes guest appearances on shows like Dancing w. the Stars is a good start for introducing new audiences. Increasingly, what seems to be happening is pandering to try and gain new audiences. I think this was one of the rationales behind using a mediocre Paul McCartney score for a ballet at NYCB (Ocean's Kingdom). Pandering was also, in part, responsible for the Broadway-style (awful) ballet that Susan Stroman made for NYCB relatively recently.

#18 angelica

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 12:20 PM

I've always wondered why ballet doesn't court the figure-skating crowd more actively. It seems a natural crossover to me. And, at least in Canada, there are LOTS of figure-skating fans.

When Oksana Baiul was competing in the Olympic figure skating event I had hopes that figure skating would begin to embrace more balletic movements. The turnout showed beautifully on the ice. Alas, Ms. Baiul went on to live a more private life and figure skating reverted to its more athletic rather than artistic side. But that's only MHO.

#19 dirac

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 03:57 PM

I think this problem of diminishing interest is a problem for all of the "high arts" in the US, not just ballet. The opera and the symphony are experiencing this issue as well. The fact that ballet dancers sometimes makes guest appearances on shows like Dancing w. the Stars is a good start for introducing new audiences.


I don't think it hurts for ballet dancers to appear on Dancing with the Stars, but given that DWTS' demographic is mainly women of a certain age, a group that likely already has some exposure to ballet, the show isn't likely to help much in drawing in younger people.

#20 Jayne

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 04:30 PM

The big difference is the opportunity to attend performances. The figure skating national championships and / or Skate America might come to your region once every 10 years, and the world championships eve less often. Ballet regulars are willing to subscribe to season tickets every single year.

That said, I'd be interested to know what serious outreach has done to find out why ballet season ticket holders make their commitments, vs the spur of the moment single ticket buyers. Obviously the story ballets are attractive to bring children for the fantasy stories. Little kids are going to be bored at "Onegin", "Manon", etc.

#21 puppytreats

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 08:17 AM

Little kids are going to be bored at "Onegin", "Manon", etc.


I wondered last year why a child was brought to "Onegin", not due to boredom issues. I would not bring a child to "Manon" or the like.

#22 kbarber

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 01:49 PM


I've always wondered why ballet doesn't court the figure-skating crowd more actively. It seems a natural crossover to me. And, at least in Canada, there are LOTS of figure-skating fans.

When Oksana Baiul was competing in the Olympic figure skating event I had hopes that figure skating would begin to embrace more balletic movements. The turnout showed beautifully on the ice. Alas, Ms. Baiul went on to live a more private life and figure skating reverted to its more athletic rather than artistic side. But that's only MHO.


I wasn't talking about crossover between ballet technique/aesthetics and figure skating technique/aesthetics. I was talking about the audience. I know I like watching both., and assume that people who like watching figure skating might well find they like ballet too if exposed to it.

#23 angelica

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 04:21 PM



I've always wondered why ballet doesn't court the figure-skating crowd more actively. It seems a natural crossover to me. And, at least in Canada, there are LOTS of figure-skating fans.

When Oksana Baiul was competing in the Olympic figure skating event I had hopes that figure skating would begin to embrace more balletic movements. The turnout showed beautifully on the ice. Alas, Ms. Baiul went on to live a more private life and figure skating reverted to its more athletic rather than artistic side. But that's only MHO.


I wasn't talking about crossover between ballet technique/aesthetics and figure skating technique/aesthetics. I was talking about the audience. I know I like watching both., and assume that people who like watching figure skating might well find they like ballet too if exposed to it.


Yes, that's a very good point. How would one go about promoting ballet to figure skating fans? Perhaps it's more apparent in Canada than in the U.S. because of the larger numbers.

#24 California

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 05:15 PM

I wasn't talking about crossover between ballet technique/aesthetics and figure skating technique/aesthetics.


This is an interesting question, though. People might remember that the late John Curry (who won the Olympic gold medal in about 1980?) commissioned several ballet choreographers for an ice show. I remember both Twyla Tharp and Peter Martins being asked to contribute. But it never caught on.

#25 kbarber

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Posted 09 March 2013 - 04:56 AM


I wasn't talking about crossover between ballet technique/aesthetics and figure skating technique/aesthetics.


This is an interesting question, though. People might remember that the late John Curry (who won the Olympic gold medal in about 1980?) commissioned several ballet choreographers for an ice show. I remember both Twyla Tharp and Peter Martins being asked to contribute. But it never caught on.


There is some crossover in training, though. I take class with a dancer who makes his living largely from teaching ballet to figure skaters both here in Canada and in Japan. Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, currently highly ranked internationally in ice dance, have studied ballet to improve their ice dancing.
But this is wandering off the topic of this thread.

#26 Terez

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 09:34 AM

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!)

#27 pherank

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 01:22 PM

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.

#28 Terez

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Posted 13 April 2013 - 06:41 AM

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.

#29 pherank

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Posted 13 April 2013 - 11:33 PM

...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. ;)

#30 Terez

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 05:23 PM

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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