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"I could just go home now. . ."


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#1 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 05 May 2001 - 10:24 PM

Have you ever been to a ballet where something happens that seems so utterly right that you'd almost rather the program ended there? I can think of several happy times when I thought, "That was just marvelous. Maybe I should just go home now!" I usually stay though, being one who believes in getting full value out of a ticket.

So when did you feel like that? Did you leave or stay, and was it the right thing to do?

#2 salzberg

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Posted 05 May 2001 - 11:01 PM

Originally posted by Leigh Witchel:
So when did you feel like that?  Did you leave or stay, and was it the right thing to do?


It's never happened to me, but I know what I'd do.

About 20 years ago, the theatre critic of the Tampa Tribune asked in print, "When you go to the theatre, are you expecting it to change your life?" To me, the answer is "yes". Those moments to which you refer are the reason we go to the theatre.

. . .And why would we stay after seeing one?

Because there might be another one coming up.

[ 05-06-2001: Message edited by: salzberg ]

#3 Alexandra

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Posted 05 May 2001 - 11:48 PM

I agree with Jeff. I'm greedy. If the first one's great, the second one just has to be greater. Often, I can't sort out the "good-better-best-awful" part until I get home, so leaving early (putting aside the fact that it's pretty rude to do if one has press tickets; I know that wasn't part of Leigh's question, but even if I loathe the first one and have every expectation that that is only a taste of what is to come I stay put.)

I have made the decision not to go back for a second performance of the same cast in a ballet because I didn't want to spoil my first view. It was a ballet I do not particularly like -- MacMillan's "Romeo and Juliet" -- with Nureyev and Park (who took the "Doomed Youth, struck down by fate" approach) one night and Seymour and Wall (the "young lovers who have no idea that it will all go wrong" approach) I was so caught up in BOTH performances, found both so perfect (yes, I'm sure that Park was nothing like Fonteyn) and so different that I passed on an opportunity to see those casts again. Of course, not going means you don't know whether you made the right decision.

What Jeff said reminds me of a regular balletgoer in D.C. whom we called "The Chinese Gentlemen" because we didn't know his name. He went to every performance (with a stopwatch. He clocked every ballet and wrote down the results). Once a friend of mine overheard someone asking him why he went every night, and he replied, "Because it is impossible to predict which night will be great." Very wise words.

#4 Manhattnik

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Posted 06 May 2001 - 01:32 PM

Well, if the first thing on the program was, say, Mozartiana with, say, Kyra, and the second was, say, Stabat Mater, and the third, say, Moves, well....

#5 Alexandra

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Posted 06 May 2001 - 03:13 PM

Manhattnik, in theory, I agree, but in practice, I've had to go to so many programs that I thought I'd hate, and only to be plesaantly surprised, and seen so many dancers I thought I didn't like, or didn't find interesting, only to have them prove me wrong -- or, at least, be miraculously "properly cast" in this or that particular role -- that I'd stick it out (if it were the same cast I'd seen before on a program such as you described, if I were going as a civilian, I might join you :) )

[ 05-06-2001: Message edited by: alexandra ]

#6 Ed Waffle

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Posted 06 May 2001 - 04:15 PM

In the far distant past when I first started going to the ballet (back when dinosours wore tutus and toe shoes) I couldn't wait to get back to the theater to see the same cast the next performance. It was like being in love--I resented the time away from the theater and couldn't imagine why anyone would want to talk about anything else.

We would often walk for miles after a particularly thrilling performance--not just ballet, of course, but opera or the symphony--talking about it and basically congratulating ourselves for being lucky enough to have been in the audience that night.

And much like Alexandra's precise Chinese Gentleman, I still always expect something wonderful to happen at the theater--I go prepared to be transported and thrilled and when I am, want to return immediately.

One of the many ways that we judge performances is asking if we would sit through them again, as soon as the final curtain. If it were possible for the artists, would you pull out your wallet and pay to watch the same people perform the same work, seeing and hearing it from the same seat?

Whenever it is one of those really sublime nights the answer is yes.

#7 julip

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Posted 06 May 2001 - 09:35 PM

i've never actually gone home half way through a program, but on one occassion at a pacific northwest rep. program i opted to stay in the lobby talking to a friend than watch another kent stowell piece.

#8 Manhattnik

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Posted 07 May 2001 - 04:27 AM

Most of the times I've left the theater early have more to do with fear or boredom with what's to come rather than delight at what's just past. I remember this Bejart concert, ages ago....

#9 Nanatchka

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Posted 07 May 2001 - 05:15 PM

Ooooh, you have just got me to admit a great luxury, a sinful indulgence--I adore leaving the theater after a great performance of something I love--I also like to leave after a premiere, if the dance is something I want to hold in my mind. Whatever I see last seems to sink in all night long. Sometimes I go expecting to leave after a dance (or two) and sometimes I sit there thinking, "It doesn't get better than this," and float off into the night.

#10 LMCtech

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Posted 10 May 2001 - 12:26 PM

With the option of free standing room, I left every performance of "Sleeping Beauty" after Act I. I really just wanted to see the technical interpretation of the different Auroras and new nothing else further on in the ballet would test them like Act I. But I had that luxury. It was great.

#11 Alexandra

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Posted 10 May 2001 - 12:59 PM

Originally posted by LMCtech:
With the option of free standing room, I left every performance of "Sleeping Beauty" after Act I. I really just wanted to see the technical interpretation of the different Auroras and new nothing else further on in the ballet would test them like Act I. But I had that luxury. It was great.


I hope you stick around for the whole thing if a truly great ballerina is ever in town, because the test for Aurora in Sleeping Beauty is to see her "mature." I've seen several Auroras who were breathtakingly different from act to act. I agree that that doesn't happen so often today, but I live in hope.

#12 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 10 May 2001 - 11:29 PM

I think you find out a lot more about an Aurora in Act III. All I learn from the Rose Adagio is if she can balance. The Act III variation is simple, but it takes an artist to do it well.

#13 Diana

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Posted 12 May 2001 - 04:01 AM

If Margot Fonteyn were living and dancing, I would stay to watch Sleeping Beauty!! I came to ballet very, very late in life and I am regretting a lot. I saw her once with Nureyev in Manilla of the Filipines. Ballet was Swan Lake, and no dry eyes from people! Someone in lobby told me about how Sleeping Beauty grew up through evening but I never saw it.

Money is hard for me to use for ballet so I stay no matter if I have bad feeling from act 1. Sometime I am wrong and ballet is great!! But maybe bad! :) That is part of fun about ballet for me.

#14 Nanatchka

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Posted 12 May 2001 - 02:04 PM

I was thinking here of leaving a mixed bill. For a full length story ballet, you do have to see how character develops. (Leaving because something was bad wasn't the issue here, we will recall.) Not only Aurora matures from act to act--I think Giselle does, too. And there are other characters one would like to see over the full course of a narrative.

#15 Manhattnik

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Posted 12 May 2001 - 04:15 PM

Well, actually, just last week, after the kiddie corps debuts in Divertimento No. 15, I split. I suppose I would've stayed had there been something really compelling on the program, but the truth of the matter was, I didn't need to. I'd already gotten my money's worth.


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