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Ed Waffle

Bravo, Brava, Bravi

32 posts in this topic

Related to the problem of applause is the question of Bravo. Long ago, I used to shout Bravo (never before the final curtain) at Edward Villella, say, or the conductor Robert Irving. When Suzanne Farrell took a solo curtain call, I would shout Brava. When she took one with Jacques d'Amboise or Peter Martins, I would shout Bravi. I was brought up speaking Italian as well as English, so I was doing what came naturally -- Bravo for a man, Brava for a woman, and Bravi for two or more people.

I came to realize that audience members without knowledge of Italian grammar might have thought I was acting superior. On one of my subscriptions there was a guy who, every time I yelled "Bravi!" would shout "Bravisssimo!" apparently under the impression I was using a superlative and going me one better. I recall a reference by Clive Barnes once, to a Bravo, Brava, Bravi shouter (not me), whom he considered, at best, quaint.

These days I don't do much shouting, limiting my expressions of approval to either polite or vigorous clapping. But I feel uncomfortable when a Darci Kistler or Kyra Nichols is greeted with enthusiastic cries of Bravo rather than Brava. Of course, with younger members of the audience, whoops and hollers have largely replaced Bravos. I have mixed feelings about that, but at least they are gender-neutral.

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"I came to realize that audience members without knowledge of Italian grammar might have thought I was acting superior. "

Why do you care what they think? If you like the performance, you can certainly express your appreciation in proper form without giving a hoot about anonymous opinions. That's the good part about being an adult: unless one is being publicly rude or offensive, one doesn't need to worry about others' opinions.

I don't think people who fall asleep and snore throughout performances worry about how others are perceiving them.

Unless you were specifically *trying* to show off by using the proper case, and yes. that's a trifle jejeune. There are a lot of people who speak Italian and I don't think most people in an audience would give your expressions a second thought.:P

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When the Washington Ballet does programs for children, like the morning Nuts shows, or the performances of things like Wild Things and Peter Pan which are geared for young audiences, the Artistic Director, Septime Webre, teaches them in his opening speech about Bravo, Bravi and Brava :P The children love knowing the difference, and you can hear them responding appropriately at the end of the show.

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Bravo is easier to shout than Brava or Bravi. The "O" at the end carries and has a nice full, round sounding, sound to it. Bravo has to me a satisfying feel that Brava never has. The "O" bellows out more than any "Ah" or "EE".

I once thought of proposing something on the same subject FF but chickened out for some reason. When the slough of despond between seasons becomes deep, I have thought again of proposing this subject.

I think that dancers generally like it when they get a good loud ovation full of Bravos, Bravas and Bravi. They notice it, damn right, and they acknowledge it.

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Thank you Farrell Fan for bringing this up - I did know about the differences between Bravo and Brava but did not know the plural Bravi (bravee)!

I am more in the camp of vigorous and loud clapping. Now that I know the subtitles of the Italian, I may feel more inspired to put a voice to my opinions! :P

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Thanks, Farrell Fan. I, too, know and employ the different Italian forms in voicing my approval. Alas, I have not had much use for them in recent years (except, now and then, at the opera). I'm sure "brava" and "bravi" must sound alien or quaint to many, but so be it.

Claudia

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Among the small annoyances of attending the ballet or opera (especially opera) are the dolts who seem to insist on being the very first person to shout "Bravo", even if it is at an appropriate time. And when inappropriate....

Once at a performance of "Carmen" at the Michigan Opera Theatre, the announcement that Singer A would not be performing but would be replaced by singer B was greeted with a single, very loud "Bravo". As it happens, singer B is a local favorite who is getting a name for herself in the extremely crowded ranks of mezzos, but the person was essentially applauding the illness of singer A. He should have been stabbed by Don Jose.

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Several years ago I was in a hand-crafted card shop looking for an appropriate gift for my daughter -- they had a delightful card with "bravo!" printed on it. I asked if they had anything with "Brava!" and was told by the owner that there was no such thing -- just bravo. I didn't argue -- but I didn't buy his card either. (By the way, I just clap loudly and smile broadly.)

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Ed, nice image with Don Jose going for the throat!;) Your story reminds me of how I feel when I watch "the tennis" on TV, or in the flesh, when one of the players misses a shot - a hard one or an "easy' one:rolleyes: - easy for whom? It is so unsportmanlike! It really does annoy me! :(

As it's been said: "There's no accounting for taste"...manners, though, are often learned...but not always! I was just rereading Victoria's post about the children's programs at Washington Ballet in which they're taught the appropriate terms and times to call one's approval out loud.:P

Doris, good for you for using your ability to notspend your money on the card shop's sexist wares! ;) Your reply made me laugh - many thanks for that on this hot Summer's day!:D

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And when you want to cheer a corps of girls let's shout BRAVE

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Aubri, do you mean "Brave" because they are brave, in the English sense of the word, to be dancing in the corps!?!:P

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well that too, but really because the plural feminine for Brava is Brave

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Aubri, does this mean that brave is pronounced bravé and that "bravo" means the same thing in both French and Italian? In French if one were cheering a single person that was male, would it be "bravo" – and for a woman "brava"? Just trying to get this clear so I am sure to say the right thing. :P

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BW, in Italian "brave" is pronounced "bravé".

In France, people use only "bravo"; I think it's borrowed from Italian, but people use "bravo" whatever the gender or number of the people (and not "brava", "bravi" or "brave").

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Aubri's knowledge of Italian grammar is impressive, and in print brave would certainly be the way to cheer for a group of women or girls, whichever you prefer. But Michael said something a while back about the sound of the o in bravo providing a more satisfying bellow than ah or ee in brava and bravi. In the case of brave, unlike the other three, shouted in an audience it wouldn't sound like an exclamation of approval at all: bravOH! bravAH! bravEE! BravEH?

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I like the more specialized shout-outs, like" Brava La Prima." On rare occasion, I've been known to yell it. (Note:I grew up hearing my father yell it, so it feels nostalgic and appropriate to me.)There are two choreographers whom I greet with "Bravo" when they walk on stage for bows. For one of them, I rise to my feet at the same time. I don't give a xxx's xxs what anyone around me thinks about it. But my enthusiasm is nothing compared to Mark Morris's--he really whoops it up when he likes something, as does his company member Guillermo (Didi) Resto. It's very pleasant. However, my all time favorite is a dancer and later choreographer named Keith Young. (You may remember him from Twyla Tharp--he danced the first duet in Sinatra--Strangers in the Night, swooping onstage carrying Shelly Washington over his head--too fabulous, but I digress.) Keith used to give utterance to amazing wolf howls at curtain, perhaps because his then wife was in the company taking the bow. It was a kind of mating call. Clapping is always good, though. If you do it right, you can kind of exercise your upper arms. (Hey Manhattnik, instead of leaving for drinks, how about isometrics in our seats???!) How about a thread on booing and hissing???? So many dances, so little time....

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Gerald Arpino does, too. Not quite whooping and hollering -- but definitely applauding and beyond. I usually agree with him.

Claudia

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nothing impressive about that, it's my first language:)

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I've also noticed that Mr. Arpino claps (or, indeed, shouts "Bravo" or, I hope, its proper form -- I haven't noticed). Although I often agree with him, I also have the impression that he is cheerleading -- stirring up the audience to respond. It works admirably. The volume rises noticeably. Who can fault him? But it seems kind of ...deceptive?

I was fortunate to learn my bravo/brava/bravi from my daughters' violin teacher. When one of them would finish a piece she would clap and exclaim, "Brava! Brava!" One day when I got roped into playing a piano accompaniment, she changed to "Bravi! Bravi tutti!" (Knowing what I now know, I suppose it should have been "Brave! Brave tutte!")

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Ditto the bravo for Keith Young. He was always wonderful when he danced with the Twyla troup. Too bad he got panned by the critics for his first big choreographic attempt in NYC.

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Hate to show my ignorance but since we are on this particular forum, I'll plunge ahead:) Who is Gerald Arpino? And what did Keith Young choreograph that got panned in NY and when? Do I take it that you who've written about these two have been sitting near them as members of the same audience?

Thanks!

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Gerald Arpino is the founder and artistic director of The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago. He was Robert Joffrey's partner in founding the original Joffrey Ballet, of which he was the associate director. According to the Joffrey website, he has choreographed about a third of the company's repertoire.

Nope, I don't sit near him -- but I do have a very clear view of him. He has his own box seat, I'm up in the balcony.

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Back before the Joffrey moved to Chicago, I used to see Gerald Arpino bravoing and applauding enthusiastically for his company at City Center in New York. I remember always marveling at the sight, because I was used to the New York City Ballet at the New York State Theater, where my wife and I had subscription seats across the aisle from Lincoln Kirstein, co-founder of that company. Mr. Kirstein never bravoed and seldom smiled. To the best of my recollection I saw him applaud only once, for a matter of seconds. I wish I could remember the occasion -- I think it must have been for a guest artist.

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Before reading this post, I had no idea about the difference between the Bravo family. Now when I go to a ballet, i can use those words in confidence. This was a great topic by the way.

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