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Calling dancers by their first names


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#16 Nanatchka

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Posted 13 April 2002 - 02:45 PM

[QUOTE]Originally posted by Mel Johnson
[If you'll remember the late, lamented [i]Upstairs, Downstairs[/i], the family never referred to any servant except by last name alone - "Hudson", not "Mr. Hudson" as Gordon Jackson was to his downstairs peers, and underservants who were not to be seen, like Ruby, the scullery maid, were like children. ]

Darling (how's that for a first name?), you're forgetting the cook, Mrs. Bridges. ALL cooks of that era were entitled with the honorific "Mrs.," no matter their marital state. Anyway, it was my impression that only BUTLERS had last names only. When Eddy, for instance, filled in for the ailing Hudson, a guest asked "Are you Hudson?" And using his last name for the first time, he replied, "No Sir, I am BARNES." It was quite a thrill. As for dancers, the first name thing is just a dance world custom, springing from intimacy whether true or false. The same applies in modern dance, where it extends to choreographers. As someone once wrote, "Everyone calls him Merce."

#17 Alymer

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Posted 09 April 2002 - 10:56 AM

It's also sometimes a dead giveaway since the first name used by the 'fan' isn't the one used by friends.:)

#18 Alymer

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Posted 15 April 2002 - 10:34 AM

While we're mentioning honourific titles, does anyone remember the time when all the women in the POB were referred to in the programme as 'Mademoiselle' plus surname, except for the etoiles who instantly became 'Madame' on promotion. And at that time they were all listed in order of seniority.
It did strike me as funny though, to hear a member of staff referring (in English) to Mrs Motte and Mrs Chauvire.:)

#19 Ari

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Posted 09 April 2002 - 05:39 AM

I think it has to do with the personal feelings engendered when you watch a dancer perform many times. After all, it's live theater, you're both there in the "room" at the same time. When you watch a dancer over a period of time and follow their development, you come to think that you know them. I've noticed that I tend to refer to dancers I've never seen by their last names—Tallchief, Beriosova, Lopatkina.

#20 Ari

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Posted 09 April 2002 - 12:39 PM

Alymer, the converse (obverse? well, other side) of what you're saying is also true: it can be a way of boasting that you're close enough to the dancer to know their special nickname. When Elyse Borne was with NYCB, for instance, a few people I knew enjoyed referring to her as "Lisa Borne," as that was apparently the name she went by offstage. (The "Borne" was necessary to distinguish her from a couple of official Lisas in the company.)

#21 Ari

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Posted 16 April 2002 - 07:12 AM

Alymer, your post reminded me that ABT used to identify its corps in its printed programs as "Misses Bustillo, Cordell, Goldman, Hamel," and "Mssrs. Bager, Cordial, Hook," etc. The company continued this practice well into the 1980s, if I remember rightly.

#22 glebb

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Posted 15 April 2002 - 12:31 PM

I've been told that Alicia Markova requested that she be addressed as Dame Alicia and not Madame Markova because, "It's what the Queen wants".

#23 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 08 April 2002 - 08:17 PM

I'm very used to it, and I catch myself doing it all the time, but it embarrasses me - unless I know the dancer personally (though on occasion I do), why am I using his or her first name?

#24 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 09 April 2002 - 03:40 PM

I wonder if some of this is because dancers tend to call each other by their first names, so someone talking to a dancer might pick up on that, and as people are saying, you do feel like you know them somehow.

I've actually deleted first-name references from my posts in discussions here, in some cases they were of dancers I didn't know (but like others, had seen so often and had always heard them referred to by their first name) and in others, it was dancers I did know, but I felt the informality was inappropriate to the discussion. But if I'm talking among dancers, we'll use first names. It might be the difference between a written and a spoken discussion.

#25 Calliope

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Posted 09 April 2002 - 12:08 PM

I usually use last names, unless it's someone in that ballet house who's known by there first name, like with NYCB "kyra" or "darci" or "tanny" that is until another person with that name comes along!
For me it stems from sports, where in broadcast's they usually use last names, maybe b/c it's on the jersey's!

off topic, but could you imagine a radio callout of a ballet.
"and here comes Weese chaine-ing into the wings..."

#26 Calliope

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Posted 15 April 2002 - 12:23 PM

NYCB refers to them as "boys" and "girls"

#27 Helena

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Posted 15 April 2002 - 12:11 PM

I'm not sure about the tennis, but I remember when The Times (the English one) referred to Dame Margot and "Mr Nureyev", which I always found quite funny. Ballet fans in London called them Margot and Rudi - at least, the ones I knew did. You hear people say "Alina" a lot now, because Cojocaru is hard to pronounce - or perhaps people would just say it anyway, as they say "Darcey".

#28 koshka_jete

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Posted 13 April 2002 - 01:57 PM

How much does nationality play into this name-calling? Either the nationality of the speaker or of the one being spoken about?

#29 LMCtech

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Posted 10 April 2002 - 05:02 PM

The only dancers I call by their first names are the ones I am on a first name basis with personally. That means, not very many. I also always try to give artistic directors and choreographers of a title plus name, i.e. Mr. Cunningham, Ms. Adam

#30 sylvia

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Posted 08 April 2002 - 08:28 PM

Its sorta the other way round for me. When I started watching ballet (Royal Ballet) I took my cue from reviews and referred to everyone by their last names (on the net). I also thought they were more recognizable and of course harder to mix up (harder to spell too!). But when I started to get to know some other ballet fans and talk to them face-to-face it felt really inappropriate - too impersonal and too cold, especially since everyone else was using their first names. So I'm unwinding myself of this habit.


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