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My First Trip to the Washington Ballet


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#16 California

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 12:13 PM

I'm sure that I will eventually fall in love with this company, but right now it isn't as much fun as going to the Colorado Ballet was. At the Colorado Ballet, the people-watching was half the fun, as it was a big dress-up occasion with women of all ages showing off their Sunday, better make that Saturday evening, best. At the 2 WB performances, the audiences have been almost entirely over 50 and pretty casually dressed (the audience for the Baltimore Symphony at the Strathmore was also casually dressed, which surprised me).


Do remember that Colorado Ballet is the only show in town for classical ballet. No companies of any significance tour here, ever. Some major stars show up at the Vail festival in the summer, but that's just two weeks. The Washington Ballet has ferocious competition, both for audiences and fund-raising. It's not just the Kennedy Center dance series, featuring almost all the major companies on the planet, but also the easy train/plane ride to New York City to see everything there.

#17 koshka

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 07:12 PM

Hi YouOverThere.

Welcome to DC!

Yes, DC traffic and parking can be trying, and the Harman Center is tougher for parking than the Kennedy Center (!). That said, metro can work to Silver Spring, and there is parking to be had for lower cost/free around the Harman Center if you can do some scouting. There is, for example, a garage near 9th and D that charges $10, or $7 with ticket stub. For Kennedy Center performances, there's street parking to be had within a 10-minute walk, but it's best to either allow some time or to familiarize yourself with the area.

As for the fashion standards: Well, DC is (ahem) not really known for style, and many people do attend performances right after work. The weekend ballet crowd at the Kennedy Center is a bit more formal, and the Kennedy Center opera crowd is more formal still.

Now, as for the performances: I thought the "gala" format was a bit odd, but it was enjoyable, and for the friend with whom I attended, it was like "Cliff Notes" ballet. Once a season, it's OK. And I did like Stars and Stripes.

Again, welcome, and good luck with attending future performances!

#18 YouOverThere

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Posted 20 March 2013 - 12:55 PM

Tonight will be my first trip to the Kennedy Center. I'm a little nervous about getting there from work, but I did go to the Suitland Metro station to check things out (and didn't realize that I would end up paying $4.50 for parking just to go into the station and buy a SmartCar). Buying a ticket for the WB was a bit of an aggravation because seating sections jumped around from sold out to 30 or 40 percent of the seats available and back to sold out and back to seats available several times a day. A week and a half ago, I had written off this production because all seats except for a handful of very expensive seats for a couple of performances were listed as sold. Then I jumped on today's performance even though I don't like to go in the middle of the week and I don't like to go to opening night because it appeared to be the only one available. Now there are affordable tickets available for most of the performances, except for the matinees (not surprising that for Cinderella the matinees would be the most popular).

#19 California

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Posted 20 March 2013 - 01:08 PM

Buying a ticket for the WB was a bit of an aggravation because seating sections jumped around from sold out to 30 or 40 percent of the seats available and back to sold out and back to seats available several times a day. A week and a half ago, I had written off this production because all seats except for a handful of very expensive seats for a couple of performances were listed as sold.


I don't know the specific practices of WB, but availability of seats can be very unpredictable at most theaters due to several factors. (1) Theaters typically hold back excellent "house seats" for guests of the company, big donors, and critics and only release those near to performance date. (2) If the company allows subscribers to exchange tickets for different performances, excellent seats can open up late in the game. A swing from 30% available to sold out and back does sound a little extreme, though.

#20 YouOverThere

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Posted 20 March 2013 - 01:44 PM


Buying a ticket for the WB was a bit of an aggravation because seating sections jumped around from sold out to 30 or 40 percent of the seats available and back to sold out and back to seats available several times a day. A week and a half ago, I had written off this production because all seats except for a handful of very expensive seats for a couple of performances were listed as sold.


I don't know the specific practices of WB, but availability of seats can be very unpredictable at most theaters due to several factors. (1) Theaters typically hold back excellent "house seats" for guests of the company, big donors, and critics and only release those near to performance date. (2) If the company allows subscribers to exchange tickets for different performances, excellent seats can open up late in the game. A swing from 30% available to sold out and back does sound a little extreme, though.


Your second idea probably played a big role. The theater isn't very big, with only 1100 seats. And I'm thinking that the "all sales are final" is a rule that is meant to be broken. They might not offer refunds, but I would be surprised if they didn't allow upgrades, and maybe even performance exchanges.

#21 YouOverThere

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Posted 20 March 2013 - 07:59 PM

I went, I saw, I, well, I didn't care much for the design of the production. I much prefer the version that the Colorado Ballet has done. [[size=4]i]Cinderella[/i] without the evil stepmother just didn't seem right.[/size]

[size=4]In general, I thought that the story parts of the ballet seemed rushed. If you didn't know the story (OK, nobody doesn't know the story) you might not have figured it out from this version. We never really got to know Cinderella before she was off to the ball. In the 2nd act, the prince acted like he knew that Cinderella was coming and fell in love with her before really even seeing her. And no sooner had Cinderella fled than the jester was showing her shoe to the prince.[/size]

[size=4]For my taste, there was too much of the stepsisters and too little of the prince. I wouldn't be surprised if the stepsisters spent more time being featured than the prince did. There was only a VERY brief solo for the prince. I would like to see some of the gratuitous scenes with the stepsisters edited out, with more dancing by the prince and Cinderella.[/size]

[size=4]I missed having a big waltz (to Cinderella'[/size][size=4]s Waltz) in act 2, as is always in the CB's production. There was only muted dancing by the ensemble. I didn't care for the ending, which didn't include Cinderella's forgiveness of her stepfamily. Prokofiev intended Cinderella to be a morality play, and this was a noteworthy part. Overall, I think that the production was more child-oriented than what I've seen before[/size]

[size=4]As is often the case on opening night, the dancing seemed a little stiff.[/size]

[size=4]In the unlikely event that I get to another performance, I'll probably completely change my take.[/size]

#22 YouOverThere

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Posted 22 March 2013 - 02:14 PM



Buying a ticket for the WB was a bit of an aggravation because seating sections jumped around from sold out to 30 or 40 percent of the seats available and back to sold out and back to seats available several times a day. A week and a half ago, I had written off this production because all seats except for a handful of very expensive seats for a couple of performances were listed as sold.


I don't know the specific practices of WB, but availability of seats can be very unpredictable at most theaters due to several factors. (1) Theaters typically hold back excellent "house seats" for guests of the company, big donors, and critics and only release those near to performance date. (2) If the company allows subscribers to exchange tickets for different performances, excellent seats can open up late in the game. A swing from 30% available to sold out and back does sound a little extreme, though.


Your second idea probably played a big role. The theater isn't very big, with only 1100 seats. And I'm thinking that the "all sales are final" is a rule that is meant to be broken. They might not offer refunds, but I would be surprised if they didn't allow upgrades, and maybe even performance exchanges.


The Sunday evening performance which for the last couple weeks has been shown as essentially sold out now shows over 180 seats available.

#23 California

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Posted 22 March 2013 - 03:40 PM

The Sunday evening performance which for the last couple weeks has been shown as essentially sold out now shows over 180 seats available.

It makes you wonder if there's a problem with the software in their on-line ticketing system...

#24 YouOverThere

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Posted 23 March 2013 - 05:29 AM


The Sunday evening performance which for the last couple weeks has been shown as essentially sold out now shows over 180 seats available.

It makes you wonder if there's a problem with the software in their on-line ticketing system...


I'm starting to wonder if this is the case. For the Sunday evening performance, the system is showing 3 seats available in the center section of the next to the last row. One of the tickets costs $65 and the other 2 cost $99. The $65 seat is the closer to the center than the $99 seats. It doesn't make sense that seats closer to the center would cost less.

#25 YouOverThere

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Posted 23 March 2013 - 01:14 PM

I did end up going back to see [i]Cinderella[i] again. I still wasn't captivated by it. Something was missing for me. I met someone a couple weeks ago who had been in the NYCB for a few years, and she said that she didn't watch the Washington Ballet because they are "careful dancers" - they hold back to avoid risking mistakes. That might have something to do with it. The performance once again seemed stiff, and the dancers didn't project a lot of emotion.

#26 cinnamonswirl

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Posted 23 March 2013 - 04:26 PM

I think the whole production could use a good editor. The choreography is repetitive, and there is too much emphasis on the stepsisters.

Which cast did you see? I saw Ellis/Jordan on Friday evening. Emily Ellis has excellent technique but she seems like quite a limited actress. (I did like her in the Corsaire pd3 a few weeks ago though.) Jonathan Jordan isn't a great actor either, but he can dance with a lot of flair. Unfortunately last night he was a complete blank. Not wooden, blank. No smile, nothing. There's not much character development in this production, which doesn't help.

I've been told that the school keeps the company afloat financially, so it's not surprising that Webre choreographs a lot for the children. I don't mind it -- I'll take more of those adorable wiggling bumblebees any day!

#27 YouOverThere

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Posted 23 March 2013 - 07:40 PM

I think the whole production could use a good editor. The choreography is repetitive, and there is too much emphasis on the stepsisters.

Which cast did you see? I saw Ellis/Jordan on Friday evening. Emily Ellis has excellent technique but she seems like quite a limited actress. (I did like her in the Corsaire pd3 a few weeks ago though.) Jonathan Jordan isn't a great actor either, but he can dance with a lot of flair. Unfortunately last night he was a complete blank. Not wooden, blank. No smile, nothing. There's not much character development in this production, which doesn't help.

I've been told that the school keeps the company afloat financially, so it's not surprising that Webre choreographs a lot for the children. I don't mind it -- I'll take more of those adorable wiggling bumblebees any day!


I saw Ellis/Jordan in the Saturday matinee after seeing Onuki/Nelson in the opener. I was under the impression that Jared Nelson is the star of this company, so I was disappointed that there wasn't a better solo opportunity for the prince. The jester had a bigger role than the prince. What I still don't get is why the characters included Cinderella's father but not the evil stepmother. Cinderella's father added nothing to the production. I much prefer Martin Fredmann's choreography, which is what the Colorado Ballet uses, but it might not fit on the stage in the Ike.

The extremely bright lighting coupled with the white floor and mostly white costumes and wigs in Act 2 may have also played a role, as I am highly light-sensitive and at times the brightness made it almost feel like someone was reflecting a bright light into my eyes.

#28 cinnamonswirl

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Posted 25 March 2013 - 11:37 AM

I don't think Washington Ballet really has a "star." Sonia Jimenez is the closest they've come, and she left for greener pastures a while ago (maybe 10 years?!)

Onuki, Sona Kharatian, Nelson and Jordan tend to be cast in the lead roles, but Washington Ballet is really more of an ensemble company. Ellis is new this season, but I would classify her with those 4, as well as Brooklyn Mack and Andile Ndlovu.

#29 Lawrence

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Posted 27 March 2013 - 09:52 AM

YouOverThere, sometimes it takes an hour to go 8 miles in DC. Welcome to the Nation's Capital!

I'd like to point out that the ticketing problems are not the fault of the Washington Ballet's, but the Kennedy Center's. The KC website has been a bit dodgy lately and when there are problems getting tix for one show, everything else on the website is affected. So please don't blame the WB for the KC ticketing.

http://www.washingto...3399_story.html

Would also like to point out that getting down to the Harmon Center by car is indeed a hassle as others have stated, especially when there is a basketball/hockey/DisneyOn Ice event at the Verizon Center, which was the case when I attended the WB performance. I made myself a parking space in one of the garages and ran to the theater with my daughter in order to be on time for the show! The WB only uses the Harmon Center occasionally; it is not the "home" of the WB. A majority of the WB season performances are at KC, with the Nutcracker at the Warner Theater.

#30 California

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Posted 27 March 2013 - 10:09 AM

I'd like to point out that the ticketing problems are not the fault of the Washington Ballet's, but the Kennedy Center's. The KC website has been a bit dodgy lately and when there are problems getting tix for one show, everything else on the website is affected. So please don't blame the WB for the KC ticketing.

http://www.washingto...3399_story.html

Thanks for the link! I see we can blame those problems on The Book of Mormon. The same thing happened last year when tickets went on sale in Denver. The web site and phone were disasters and they still sold out in five hours!

And it's not just the Book of Mormon. The Met site for ABT Sunday was a disaster - constantly crashing, making it impossible to check-out, etc. (but fine on Monday morning). And I noticed that the Royal Ballet apologized that their site wasn't working for several days because their credit card processor was overwhelmed. Apparently, many theaters are overwhelmed by on-line sales to popular events.


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