Calling dancers by their first names
Posted 10 April 2002 - 04:35 PM
Personally, although I have never met her in person, I can't imagine calling Sylvie Guillem 'Miss Guillem', nor Darcey Bussell 'Miss Bussell'. How stiff and strange it would seem for me to refer to either of these great dancers by anything other than their first names and I cannot imagine that either of them would take the least offence at my doing so.
Posted 13 April 2002 - 01:06 AM
A bit off the ballet part of this topic, but in Russia, it considered rude even to refer to a close friend, to whom you would call by a nickname, by that nickname in front of somebody who does not have the same relationship. And people will get upset and find you rude.
And I agree with Dirac who brought up female athletes. As a sportswriter, I have noticed that journalist (and fans) will say "Steffi, Monica and Anna...etc..." But use "Sampras" not Pete, Agassi not Andre, Hewitt, not Lleyton. Sometimes I'll hear both sexes called by their first names, mostly on TV. And in our newsroom, most of us are called by our last names -- the men always, the women (which is basically me) sometimes.
Posted 09 April 2002 - 12:33 AM
Posted 16 April 2002 - 07:26 AM
(Oops, Alymer, I had missed your post! So it seems that the habits have changed quite a lot!
Actually it'd be interesting to still have lists by order of seniority, because there is so little available information about the non-étoiles dancers that it takes one quite a lot of time to figure out that X has been a sujet for ten years and Y has been promoted just last year...)
The tradition seems to be a bit similar at the Comédie Française: the actresses always are "Mademoiselle"... except when the "doyen" (the actor who has been a "sociétaire" for the longest time) happens to be female, as it is now (Catherine Samie), then it is "Madame". (And, as far as I know, the actors always are listed according to how long they've been to the company, not depending on their roles. I remember attending a "Hamlet" when one of the clowns was listed first, and the actor who played "Hamlet" almost was the last one on the list! )
I'm not sure of the habits in French companies, but seem to remember excerpts of videos with Patrice Bart where he called the corps de ballet "les filles" (girls).
Posted 09 April 2002 - 03:31 PM
Posted 09 April 2002 - 04:33 PM
In the same ways, opera singers and ballet dancers have inherited the titles of the servant performers, and while some few have attained "name alone" status, along with the great rabbis, I think the rest of those only called by their last names are receiving the tradition of the servant, rather than great honor. Still, first names does indeed seem overfamiliar, unless one is talking of someone one has actually met, and is on that sort of basis.
I used to go out with a nice woman who was often referred to only by last name, and I was on a first name basis with her: I called her "Divina" and she called me "stupid".;)
Posted 09 April 2002 - 03:55 PM
Posted 09 April 2002 - 10:08 AM
Originally posted by Estelle
Well, usually I'm more likely to use last names (especially to avoid confusions- would "Elisabeth" stand for Platel or Maurin?). Using only first names for people I don't know personally would be a bit disturbing for me. Also, I must say that it's a bit confusing to read on this board some posts reviewing performances or rehearsals using first names only, when one is not very familiar with a company it takes some time to remember who is who...
Yes. Me, too, Estelle.
Partly because it isn't sport or rock and roll, and mostly because like several others I think it's rude to call people I don't know by their first names. Or to refer to dancers I do know by first name by their first name when speaking to people who don't know them by their first name.
Posted 13 April 2002 - 09:10 AM
Posted 15 April 2002 - 12:20 PM
In Copenhagen in the 1990s, men were men (herrer) and women were women (damer). That's the way the rehearsals and classes were scheduled on the bulletin board and that's how dancers were addressed in class or rehearsal by the older dancers/coaches. (Kirsten Ralov barking out "herrer" was something to pay attention to.)
I once watched a rehearsal there where a visiting stager referred to the men as boys and they (very politiely) protested. "Well, I have to call you something!" she said. "Men" they suggested. "I know," said the lady from Venezuela. "I'll call you muchachos." And she did. (The men gave up at that point.)
I've been told that Russians think they're men and women rather than boys and girls, too, but I don't know that of my own knowledge -- I'd be curious about the French backstage customs.
Posted 15 April 2002 - 12:51 PM
I forgot to comment on the youth movement aspect that Morris Neighbor mentioned. I think that's certainly true for the 1960s and currently ballet companies are very young -- 30 is now considered old (it was 35 in the late 1970s, and people were complaining that the cut off should be 40, some, 45). But this hasn't always been true either. The Ballets Russes had lots of older dancers -- i.e., 30-year-olds. The grand old companies (the two Russian companies, Paris and Copenhagen) had average ages in the 30s, and it's interesting to see photos from the 1940s and 1950s, because you'll see the teenagers try to look as mature as possible while today, of course, you often see 30 year olds trying to look 16.
The Baby Ballerinas were exceptions -- that's why they got that name. I think there have always been exceptional young talents (think of the Romantic ballerinas who were stars at 15 and 16), but the average age of the corps is lower now.
Back to Glebb's comment, I remember seeing Fonteyn on a talk show once and the interviewer asked whether he should call her Dame Margot or Mrs. Arias or what and she said, "Oh, no. Miss Fonteyn is quite all right." I guess the Queen was busy that day.
Posted 09 April 2002 - 10:52 AM
Posted 09 April 2002 - 09:15 AM
Posted 09 April 2002 - 09:52 AM
Of course, it can also be a form of honorific, the way Elvis is, well, Elvis. For opera fans, at least some, there's only one Maria, and only one Renata (forget about it, Mme. Scotto).
Posted 15 April 2002 - 09:07 AM
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