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?
Posted 09 May 2013 - 03:45 PM
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).
Posted 09 May 2013 - 05:03 PM
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.
Posted 09 May 2013 - 07:21 PM
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.
Posted 09 May 2013 - 08:58 PM
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.
Posted 10 May 2013 - 05:01 AM
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.
Posted 10 May 2013 - 04:52 PM
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.
Posted 10 May 2013 - 07:40 PM
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...
Posted 10 May 2013 - 09:05 PM
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