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Mike Piazza in Slaughter


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#16 Jack Reed

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 07:34 PM

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I don't think they could go and actually watch a ballet and not think it's hard, even it if the difficulty is only recognizable in the Hoofer. Besides, a sports hero told them it was hard.


That reminds me of the man sitting next to me one evening who said to no one in particular, during the first applause interruption, "That didn't look hard." "You thought it would look hard?" I asked. "Yeah, they told us it was hard." "Well, it is hard, but they're so good, they make it look easy." "Oh." I'm sorry I didn't pursue the subject or remember now whether he stayed.

I saw some ballet excerpt either on the Ed Sullivan show or Firestone Theater or Bell Telephone Hour and was hooked, just like the first time I saw figure skating and gymnastics.


There was no influence from the presence of a guest celebrity or the thought that it was hard when I got hooked, either, but the two of us, or three, counting the man on my right that evening, make a statistically insignificant sample. These examples support my position but not very much.

The thing that bothers me about the generic approach I'm questioning is that if some few of 'em do like it, then what? They're on their own, right? Or if they don't like the first one, or the whole program, and decide never to return, unaware that ballets are not all the same, then what? The concentration on "newbies" - people who have never seen any ballet, right? - seems to me to drop the ball as soon as it's in play. Or maybe ballets are all the same? Ballet is ballet is ballet?

#17 Helene

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 12:03 AM

The thing that bothers me about the generic approach I'm questioning is that if some few of 'em do like it, then what? They're on their own, right? Or if they don't like the first one, or the whole program, and decide never to return, unaware that ballets are not all the same, then what? The concentration on "newbies" - people who have never seen any ballet, right? - seems to me to drop the ball as soon as it's in play. Or maybe ballets are all the same? Ballet is ballet is ballet?

The costs of acquiring are almost always much more expensive than the costs of retaining. Ballet companies will take most new audiences that they can get, especially when there's valuable, free publicity involved. tutu just posted a link to a Sesame Street segment in which four NYCB ballerinas appear. I bet some kids who have no idea what ballet is saw that video.

Some people will try lots of things, and only some things will stick. If an opera company has an acting/super character from the community, and some people come because of it, they'll think that opera is "Turandot" or "Die Meistersinger" or, what's being advertised right now in Vancouver, "Tea." That may make them stay away forever, or it may make a lifetime fan out of them.

Neither opera nor ballet should be a club with a secret handshake and an admissions test, although Lincoln Kirstein tried that with Ballet Society. Someone who buys a ticket a mixed bill with "Slaughter" with Mike Piazza will certainly see that ballet isn't one thing, much more so than someone who sees "Swan Lake" or goes to "Marriage of Figaro." If something clicks, people who tend to want to know lots will start to read about ballet, check out YouTube videos, go to pre-performance lectures, just as they might delve into baseball statistics. For others they might go again to be entertained. Still, new audiences are being developed, just as ballet companies have groups for younger, usually single, people, and there are online meet-up groups for seeing various cultural events for people who want to share the experience.

George Balanchine had his dancers shilling cars at a Worlds Fair and choreographed for elephants. They're not dumbing down "Slaughter" by having Mike Piazza play Gangster, in my opinion. They didn't cast him as Drosselmeier, nor is he taking part in Felix's version of "Swan Lake."

#18 Birdsall

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 02:58 AM

I do think that no matter how much we wish that the arts would be divorced from "business," there is always a "business" side to things. So I do think that the PR people at ballet companies are trying hard to fill seats in a pop music culture. It probably is very hard. So they try many different things. I don't always like the ideas, but that doesn't mean they might not work. It sounds like this did gain them lots of publicity, so it may have worked splendidly from a business standpoint.

On the other hand I noticed lots of empty seats at Friday night's MCB performance. I don't know if a lot of Palm Beachers returned to NY already or what, but it was much more empty than other shows earlier in the season. I suspect it might have something to do with the repertoire. As lovely as Dances at a Gathering is, it doesn't bring down the house. And Slaughter on 10th Avenue is fun but it is very pop culture oriented. I actually think MCB's strategy of usually ending the season with a full-length story ballet is a better idea, and it looks like they are going back to that strategy next season with Don Quixote. The story ballets seem to always get a pretty good turn out.

#19 abatt

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 12:25 PM

http://www.nytimes.c...t.html?ref=arts

More info on Piazza's rehearsal process. He's being coached by Phillip Neal.


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