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MCB meets the Heat

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This is one of a number of interesting and imaginative publicity initiatives that MCB has undertaken recently. Getting the dancers out of the studio and into the community -- making them better known among average Miamians -- is a great idea. MCB is a big asset -- financially and in terms of cultural prestige -- to Miami. It is something to be proud of.

I only wish it were possible to make similar appearances in MCB's other regular venues (West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Naples), where the company sometimes seems to be thought of as a touring company that pops into town everyone once in a while, dances a couple of shows, and departs as soon as the final curtain falls.

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Now that "Miami City Ballet" is a brand I do not advocate changing the name at all, but since it performs regularly in 4 cities now (Naples is the 4th), it is sort of a shame that its name keeps the idea in mind that it is located in Miami. If it had had the name Ballet Florida (like the now defunct West Palm company) it would not be considered a "touring" company, I don't think, in the other places. At the same time South Florida is such a megalopolis that I think it still sort of works leaving the name as it is.

I will say that Greater Miami Opera changed its name to Florida Grand Opera years ago when it merged with the Ft. Lauderdale opera company. Part of me thinks it was a wise move to get donor buy-in in Ft. lauderdale, and I sometimes think it should merge with Palm Beach Opera and then better opera overall would be produced with the resources from all 3 cities and the ability to offer star singers a longer run of performances if that is what they desire (or multiple casts).

But I have to say it could backfire too now that Miami City Ballet is a recognizable "brand".....change the name and tourists might wonder, "What is this ballet company?" I have no idea whether a name change would be a good or bad move.

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I only wish it were possible to make similar appearances in MCB's other regular venues (West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Naples), where the company sometimes seems to be thought of as a touring company that pops into town everyone once in a while, dances a couple of shows, and departs as soon as the final curtain falls.

Baby steps . . .

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I only wish it were possible to make similar appearances in MCB's other regular venues (West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Naples), where the company sometimes seems to be thought of as a touring company that pops into town everyone once in a while, dances a couple of shows, and departs as soon as the final curtain falls.

Baby steps . . .

If Lourdes reads this...

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One of the things I like about Cecilia Bartoli is that she says her version of "crossover" is to bring the masses to Vivaldi and not the other way around. She is a top selling opera singer, one of the few who can sell like Pavarotti did (and still does after his death). She says she does not want to do stadium concerts like he did despite many offers. She would probably sell them out here in the U.S. Her goal is not to come to the masses but to entice them to come into her world of discovering Vivaldi, Gluck, etc. And each CD she releases seems to sell very well for a classical artist.

I think part of the allure of opera and ballet is the fact that they are refined, gorgeous art forms that have withstood the test of time. I think people who are attracted to these art forms are attracted to the fact that they take us out of the normal everyday and help us view the world/universe/life as something special.

I could be totally wrong but I think making opera or ballet seem as "cool" as basketball or rap music or whatever is the wrong direction. I don't think anyone is convinced. The truth of the matter is that most people who like ballet already have the personality to enjoy finer things in life like good wine, gourmet meals, etc. I have my doubts about the success of going out to malls or basketball games. With all that said I hope it helps MCB, and I hope the audience expands. I just don't know about this way. I think it would be most ideal for the arts to be stressed in all schools despite budget cuts. We need to think of the luxuries in life as essential to us as human beings as air is to breathe. I took inner city kids to ballet and opera when I taught, and they loved it. The other teachers thought I had lost my mind. Even children with no background in the art forms recognize excellence when they see it, and they applauded like a Cuban audience. It was delightful. I think taking them into the world of theatre is much more effective than trying to bring theatre out to malls, fairs, and bus terminals. I think the essential experience is totally watered down and degraded when it is made to seem like something it is not. But this is all my opinion. Shoot away at me! LOL

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I think the point of the campaign is that you can do both - enjoy a Heat game AND a ballet performance. See the poster examples here. Who knows, there might be a balletomane or two who sees the ads and decides to try attending a Heat game. And vice-versa. I don't think the goal is to bring ballet to "malls, fairs, and bus terminals" (Really? - "bus terminals"?). I think the goal is to consciousness-raise, and to get more of the community enthused about the cultural benefits of living in the Miami area.

As Lourdes Lopez puts it in the last line of the "Story" section of the website: "No Miami City Ballet dancer stands alone just as HEAT players can’t win alone. It requires team work—and that's Miami! We are talking about tremendous pride in the place we call home and being the best together."

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One of the things I like about Cecilia Bartoli is that she says her version of "crossover" is to bring the masses to Vivaldi and not the other way around.

Birdsall, thanks for that wonderful quote. I think that it is quite compatible with the Miami Heat publicity. What I get from this campaign is .... "There are all sorts of 'cool' in this world. This is ours. We think you might be surprised at how much you like it." This can function as a reminder to the larger community that MCB is in the major leagues for dance just as the Heats are for basketball.

Edward Villella struck me as ambivalent about new directions in company publicity. It seems that MCB never fully capitalized on the big stories of his last seasons -- the triumphs in New York and Paris, and the Dance on America national telecast. Lopez has had first-hand experience of the kind of publicity that New York City Ballet has used to make potential audiences identify the company --and its wonderfully photogenic dancers -- with "New York" itself.

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I do hope that you guys are right and that this is a good direction to expand audiences.

As far as bus terminals, I was sort of joking with that one. A good friend of mine who is an opera lover is always saying that a certain opera company must be picking up their singers at bus terminals. And recently I just got an email about an opera company that claims to be performing in NYC and then down below when you read further you find out that they will be performing at one of JFK's airport terminals. So "terminals" are stuck in my mind, and I used that term as sort of a joke and exaggeration of what things can devolve into.

I don't pretend to have any answers here, and Lourdes Lopez or whoever is making marketing decisions may know much more about how to sell ballet. In fact, I'm sure they know more than I do. I guess I just hate to see such a beautiful art form seem to grovel for audiences, but this is 2013 and the Age of Madonna and reality shows, so I guess I can't blame them. They have to do what they have to do to survive and thrive. I really shouldn't knock them for trying new ways.

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Heats or no Heats, masses can't pay the prohibited prices of ballet. When I say "masses" I'm even excluding the professional middle class. Unless their parents pay for it, high school students-(and even college ones)-see those ticket prices beyond their range. I remember a full house of young people during my past ballet viewing life, but that's not the case during my current one.

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how much are tickets to see the Miami Heat?

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Jayne asked:

how much are tickets to see the Miami Heat?

I just checked the Heats site. Ticket pricing seems to be much more variable and complicated than tickets in a ballet or opera theater. Top price (individual tickets) for 4 listed games in January was $450.00 for the best seats. Lowest prices were $10-20.00. There seemed to be an awful lot of seating options for over $100.00.

Top price (individual tickets) for Program III at the Arsht Center was $175.00. Lowest price: $20.00. Seats in the orchestra -- the most expensive section -- are sold out for opening night. I don't know about the Arsht, but the Kravis Center has half-priced rush tickets available for purchase on the day of the performance.

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I don't know about the Arsht, but the Kravis Center has half-priced rush tickets available for purchase on the day of the performance.

It varies, depending on the performance...Nutcracker is not the same as a season ballet, and different again from things like the Cleveland paired with the ballet company. But certainly-(for what I remember from my days at Miami Dade College)-more than $20.

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As far as bus terminals, I was sort of joking with that one. ... I guess I just hate to see such a beautiful art form seem to grovel for audiences, but this is 2013 and the Age of Madonna and reality shows, so I guess I can't blame them. They have to do what they have to do to survive and thrive. I really shouldn't knock them for trying new ways.

Your comment about bus terminals isn't as off the wall as you might think -- Oregon Ballet Theater did a publicity campaign a few years ago with profiles of the dancers in the company -- some of the ads were placed in bus kiosks around town. The general theme was getting to know the individuals in the company, and although I wasn't really impressed with some of the profiles, I had to admit that it was taking advantage of the current emphasis on personality in our culture.

And as far as the connection to sports figures is concerned, Balanchine used to compare dancers to race horses all the time...

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As far as bus terminals, I was sort of joking with that one. ... I guess I just hate to see such a beautiful art form seem to grovel for audiences, but this is 2013 and the Age of Madonna and reality shows, so I guess I can't blame them. They have to do what they have to do to survive and thrive. I really shouldn't knock them for trying new ways.

Your comment about bus terminals isn't as off the wall as you might think -- Oregon Ballet Theater did a publicity campaign a few years ago with profiles of the dancers in the company -- some of the ads were placed in bus kiosks around town. The general theme was getting to know the individuals in the company, and although I wasn't really impressed with some of the profiles, I had to admit that it was taking advantage of the current emphasis on personality in our culture.

And as far as the connection to sports figures is concerned, Balanchine used to compare dancers to race horses all the time...

A year or two ago MCB had its pamphlets calling the dancers "superhuman" or something like that. I actually liked that marketing tactic, but maybe it did not work. I do think there is a sports connection, but the difference, in my opinion, is that ballet dancers are artists as well as athletes which puts them higher up in the food chain in my own view of the world. I was at a local dance performance last night in which there was a Question and Answer session, and audience members felt the need to keep bringing up that they were like athletes. I liked one dancer's comment that the difference is that a football player can grunt when he hurts himself. They have to continue to smile and pretend they are not hurt if possible. Another audience member said he was amazed they get the same injuries as football players, and a dancer made a great come-back, "Well, we have the same human body, so a knee injury is a knee injury however you get it!" That made me laugh!

They are very athletic, and maybe for younger generations it is a good tactic to present them as athletes since athletes seem to be Gods for the U.S. My own personal feeling is that I want them seen as artists, but that is just me.

Too bad I am not Tsar!!!! LOL I would not let my dancers have posters in bus terminals!!! LOL

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Can we consider the fact that Miami has the particular distinction that you will NEVER walk pass the Arsht Center where an attractive programme-(whatever the genre is)-may captivate your eye...? This is a driving city...one HAS to has a driving plan for everything...you can't just go walk and do stuff. Going to se a ballet performance requires a pre-existing knowledge of the place and the performance, multiple driving/parking plans and a strong desire to beat the endless expressways and horrifying traffic to get there and out of there. A Miamian will NEVER see a ballet performance by chance, as a walking NY'er can do by approaching the Lincoln Center out of a relaxing walk by curiosity.

los-angeles-freeways.jpg

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Off topic: speechless-smiley-003.gif . .jawdrop.gif No wonder I get lost whenever I try to drive down to Miami.

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Off topic: speechless-smiley-003.gif . .jawdrop.gif No wonder I get lost whenever I try to drive down to Miami.

Yes...the ballet is enclosed in an isolated venue, very far away from residential Miami. I'm lucky I live right across the bridge in Miami Beach-(which on can see right at the left of the venue in the next pic)- but I know that for the mojority of the non beach residents, getting there is a total pain in the neck.

acodina-slider.jpg

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Off topic: speechless-smiley-003.gif . .jawdrop.gif No wonder I get lost whenever I try to drive down to Miami.

Yes...the ballet is enclosed in an isolated venue, very far away from residential Miami. I'm lucky I live right across the bridge in Miami Beach-(which on can see right at the left of the venue in the next pic)- but I know that for the majority of non beach residents, getting there is a total pain in the neck.

acodina-slider.jpg

And still...a couple of times I haven't even been able to make it thru the bridge on time for a given performance...

98163758-downtown-miami-and-macarthur-causeway-gettyimages.jpg?v=1&c=IWSAsset&k=2&d=apKKxEecuMXkZ%2B316MRE851XlmrqyHllbbVw7MIl2YMNS0waIvuepWxQxa2olKLMkOQ7Q%2BuiMewrGIYtUH74Zg%3D%3D

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When I used to go to FGO's operas I never had trouble getting there from either West Palm (when staying with my parents) or from Marco Island (where a good opera friend lives and where I would sometimes stay). I am sure there are times when the traffic is crazy, but there is an exit that lets you off right near it.

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Reminds me of the time when I spent the afternoon snorkeling on Key Largo with the intention of seeing MCB's Jewels at the Jackie Gleason Theater in Miami Beach that evening. I had allowed for one of Miami's notorious traffic jams, but I encountered two, and arrived so late I was not allowed in until the applause for the opening ensemble in Emeralds. (I had to stand at the back, from where "La Fileuse" (the Spinner) was so true, a voice in the back of my mind said, "Verdy"; it was Catoya, of course, maybe the first time I saw her dance, but Verdy had coached her.)

Anyway, cubanmiamiboy makes a good point. In New York, one can attend casually, if not quite by walking by Lincoln Center, maybe by going over and seeing what's on, or what last minute bargains there are at HotTix. And maybe even when MCB still used Gleason, just a block from the Lincoln Road pedestrian strip, you could do that. But I gather Arsht seems to be something of a pedestrian desert.

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I don't mean this as an argument, just food for thought. I tend to think the days of walking by and saying, "Oh, wow! Maybe I will get a ticket to that right now!" are over. I could be wrong. But I think most people look online for what is happening in their city or if they follow ballet or opera, they go repeatedly back to the websites and buy tickets or even get emails about it. Even if you have gone ONCE to something you get bombarded with that company's email announcements. I get notified about L.A. Opera and SF Opera quite often b/c I went to Ring Cycles out there. So if I lived in those cities I would know what is playing even without walking past.

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One of the things I like about Cecilia Bartoli is that she says her version of "crossover" is to bring the masses to Vivaldi and not the other way around. ...

I think people who are attracted to these art forms are attracted to the fact that they take us out of the normal everyday and help us view the world/universe/life as something special.

... I think taking them into the world of theatre is much more effective than trying to bring theatre out to malls, fairs, and bus terminals. I think the essential experience is totally watered down and degraded when it is made to seem like something it is not.

Bartoli not only has a ravishing voice, she understands what she's doing! Wonderful!

That concept of visiting a special world is what it's all about. The idea keeps recurring in my experience. The critic J.W.N. Sullivan wrote that to listen to "late" Beethoven is to set sail on strange seas of thought where you encounter unsuspected islands and even continents. (Getting on well with "middle" Beethoven years ago, I found at first I could not make the voyage, but Beethoven himself didn't "go there" - as we say today - right away, either.) More recently I have heard Suzanne Farrell explain that she sometimes changes some steps to preserve the world of a ballet (emphasis hers). Farrell knows what she's doing, too.

Degrading it seems to come naturally to some marketers - to increase sales, go downmarket. What angers me is the willingness - eagerness - to deprive people of the experience of leaving the everyday world for that special one. The idea seems to be, as one put it to me once, "Get 'em in and hope they like it!" Some of them who come in are prepared for something else. "That didn't look hard," said the man next to me one evening. "You thought it would?" "Yeah, they told us it was hard." (Got that? "They told us") "Well, it is hard, but they're so good, they make it look easy." "Oh." I'm sorry I was too stunned to take it from "easy" to "graceful" and "beautiful."

... The general theme was getting to know the individuals in the company, ... and I had to admit that it was taking advantage of the current emphasis on personality in our culture.

And as far as the connection to sports figures is concerned, Balanchine used to compare dancers to race horses all the time...

Is the current emphasis on personality healthy? No big ideas, no great adventures? Just what this person happens to say, or that one, it doesn't matter, right?

As for Balanchine and horses, I think it was, "Dancers are like horses, they don't think, they just go." He feared his dancers would think, or look like they were. Horses aren't self-conscious and don't ham or show off, either; linking dancers to personalities may be another way to present their art as something it is not.

A year or two ago MCB had its pamphlets calling the dancers "superhuman" or something like that. I actually liked that marketing tactic, but maybe it did not work. I do think there is a sports connection, but the difference, in my opinion, is that ballet dancers are artists as well as athletes which puts them higher up in the food chain in my own view of the world. ...

My own personal feeling is that I want them seen as artists, but that is just me.

I'm glad you liked that word, Birdsall; I thought at the time they might have lifted it from one of my "reviews." (Susan Reiter, a real reviewer, took issue with their use of it, saying MCB was very good, excellent even, but not superhuman, IIRC.) My point back then (and now too) was yours, I think, part of how I see dance and how I am drawn into it: That these people are human, made of the same kind of flesh and bone as I am, but they do, with evident ease, what I can't do. (Want to see me get up there and try? Just imagine.) What humans generally don't - can't - do.

So they are human, but better than human, superhuman. So there is - apparently, and we are talking about what we see and how we feel about it when we see it - a little miracle here, a nice mystery, perhaps akin to religious mystery. How can what we are seeing actually be? We know without a doubt that it is. Yes, they are higher up for me too - maybe not up the food chain as higher up that stairway to Paradise we build "with a new step every day." (Apologies to Ira Gershwin.)

Is the experience of dance watching alone? I think all art experience is akin to spiritual experience. (I wonder sometimes if those marketers resort to zany promotional strategies who deny the spiritual.) Anyway, I want anyone susceptible to this experience to have it, pure, undiluted, and strong; let them see artists wholly, as the artists they are; let them come come to the world of each work of art. So it's not just you, Birdsall.

And kids, with fewer preconceptions to interfere, perhaps, get on their way more easily.

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One of the things I like about Cecilia Bartoli is that she says her version of "crossover" is to bring the masses to Vivaldi and not the other way around. ...

I think people who are attracted to these art forms are attracted to the fact that they take us out of the normal everyday and help us view the world/universe/life as something special.

... I think taking them into the world of theatre is much more effective than trying to bring theatre out to malls, fairs, and bus terminals. I think the essential experience is totally watered down and degraded when it is made to seem like something it is not.

Bartoli not only has a ravishing voice, she understands what she's doing! Wonderful!

That concept of visiting a special world is what it's all about. The idea keeps recurring in my experience. The critic J.W.N. Sullivan wrote that to listen to "late" Beethoven is to set sail on strange seas of thought where you encounter unsuspected islands and even continents. (Getting on well with "middle" Beethoven years ago, I found at first I could not make the voyage, but Beethoven himself didn't "go there" - as we say today - right away, either.) More recently I have heard Suzanne Farrell explain that she sometimes changes some steps to preserve the world of a ballet (emphasis hers). Farrell knows what she's doing, too.

Degrading it seems to come naturally to some marketers - to increase sales, go downmarket. What angers me is the willingness - eagerness - to deprive people of the experience of leaving the everyday world for that special one. The idea seems to be, as one put it to me once, "Get 'em in and hope they like it!" Some of them who come in are prepared for something else. "That didn't look hard," said the man next to me one evening. "You thought it would?" "Yeah, they told us it was hard." (Got that? "They told us") "Well, it is hard, but they're so good, they make it look easy." "Oh." I'm sorry I was too stunned to take it from "easy" to "graceful" and "beautiful."

... The general theme was getting to know the individuals in the company, ... and I had to admit that it was taking advantage of the current emphasis on personality in our culture.

And as far as the connection to sports figures is concerned, Balanchine used to compare dancers to race horses all the time...

Is the current emphasis on personality healthy? No big ideas, no great adventures? Just what this person happens to say, or that one, it doesn't matter, right?

As for Balanchine and horses, I think it was, "Dancers are like horses, they don't think, they just go." He feared his dancers would think, or look like they were. Horses aren't self-conscious and don't ham or show off, either; linking dancers to personalities may be another way to present their art as something it is not.

A year or two ago MCB had its pamphlets calling the dancers "superhuman" or something like that. I actually liked that marketing tactic, but maybe it did not work. I do think there is a sports connection, but the difference, in my opinion, is that ballet dancers are artists as well as athletes which puts them higher up in the food chain in my own view of the world. ...

My own personal feeling is that I want them seen as artists, but that is just me.

I'm glad you liked that word, Birdsall; I thought at the time they might have lifted it from one of my "reviews." (Susan Reiter, a real reviewer, took issue with their use of it, saying MCB was very good, excellent even, but not superhuman, IIRC.) My point back then (and now too) was yours, I think, part of how I see dance and how I am drawn into it: That these people are human, made of the same kind of flesh and bone as I am, but they do, with evident ease, what I can't do. (Want to see me get up there and try? Just imagine.) What humans generally don't - can't - do.

So they are human, but better than human, superhuman. So there is - apparently, and we are talking about what we see and how we feel about it when we see it - a little miracle here, a nice mystery, perhaps akin to religious mystery. How can what we are seeing actually be? We know without a doubt that it is. Yes, they are higher up for me too - maybe not up the food chain as higher up that stairway to Paradise we build "with a new step every day." (Apologies to Ira Gershwin.)

Is the experience of dance watching alone? I think all art experience is akin to spiritual experience. (I wonder sometimes if those marketers resort to zany promotional strategies who deny the spiritual.) Anyway, I want anyone susceptible to this experience to have it, pure, undiluted, and strong; let them see artists wholly, as the artists they are; let them come come to the world of each work of art. So it's not just you, Birdsall.

And kids, with fewer preconceptions to interfere, perhaps, get on their way more easily.

I like everything you say. For me the marketing should be about how beautiful or amazing these dancers are, not how much they are like other things. I do think the "spiritual" element should be stressed as you say.

As for the person who thought it looked easy.....ironically, that type of thing usually comes out of mouths of people who can't even touch their toes! People with no idea of body movement think it is easy. People who do any type of body movement (I do yoga) knows how hard it is to Ardha Chandrasana. Yes, it just looks like you are standing on one leg and letting your torso fall to the side.....but those of us who do it KNOW how $%&ing hard it is to do!!!! Ballet is probably 100 times harder.

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I don't mean this as an argument, just food for thought. I tend to think the days of walking by and saying, "Oh, wow! Maybe I will get a ticket to that right now!" are over. I could be wrong. But I think most people look online for what is happening in their city or if they follow ballet or opera, they go repeatedly back to the websites and buy tickets or even get emails about it. Even if you have gone ONCE to something you get bombarded with that company's email announcements. I get notified about L.A. Opera and SF Opera quite often b/c I went to Ring Cycles out there. So if I lived in those cities I would know what is playing even without walking past.

I still do old school whenever I go. I never buy tickets in advance-(at least ever since I got out of Cuba). I have NEVER been in a sold out ballet performance anywhere I've been here, and so I just wait for my days off and right in the morning I decide where I want to go...say opera, ballet, concerts, etc. Actually when I went to see the non show performance of Vishneva/Osipova in Bayadere, I got to my hotel just an hour before that evening performance-(Seo/Muntagirov), and just took the subway and got to the MET right in time to buy an excellent discount ticket in orchestra, waaaaaaaaay cheaper than the Arsht Center. I was still wearing my ripped out traveling jeans. In Miami that would be a cute fantasy to dream about.

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