Jump to content
volcanohunter

How young is too young to see Swan Lake?

Recommended Posts

The Moskovskiy Komsomolets paper has run a story about children under 12 being denied entry to a performance of Swan Lake at the Bolshoi. They're not listed on the English side of the Bolshoi site, but every ballet and opera has an age rating, in accordance with Russian child-protection legislation, although apparently there is an exception for works of "significant historical, artistic or other cultural value for society." (Swan Lake doesn't count?) These age ratings have been in place for some time, but apparently now the theater is actually enforcing them. Some examples:

 

Anyuta - 12+
Apollo - 12+
La Bayadère - 12+
The Bright Stream - 12+
Carmen Suite - 16+
Cipollino - 6+ for matinees, 10+ for evening performances
Coppélia - 12+
Le Corsaire -12+
Don Quixote - 6+ for matinees, 10+ for evenings
Esmeralda - 12+
Flames of Paris - 12+
Giselle - 12+

The Golden Age - 16+

Hamlet - 16+
Ivan the Terrible - 16+
Jewels - 6+ for matinees, 10+ for evenings

A Hero of Our Time - 16+
Lady of the Camellias - 16+
Lost Illusions - 16+
The Nutcracker - 6+ for matinees, 10+ for evenings
Ondine - 12+
Onegin - 12+
Paquita grand pas - 12+ (!)
The Pharaoh's Daughter - 12+
Raymonda - 12+
Romeo & Juliet - 12+
The Taming of the Shrew - 16+
The Sleeping Beauty - 6+ for matinees, 10+ for evenings
Spartacus - 12+
Swan Lake - 12+
La Sylphide - 12+
Les Sylphides - 12+

 

Some of the ratings seem completely arbitrary. Les Sylphides or the grand pas from Paquita only for those aged 12 and older? (Whereas Aegina and her pole are okay for the 12 year old?) Is Flames of Paris really equivalent to La Sylphide? Ratings for operas strike me as even stranger, for example 12+ for Don Carlo, but 16+ for Don Pasquale, although much may depend on the individual production.

 

I immediately wondered about the effect age ratings could have on the recruitment of young dancers, who typically enter elite ballet schools at age 10. How often have you heard dancers describing how they fell in love with ballet after seeing a live performance and immediately begged their parents to send them to dance class? Granted, ballet performances are available through other media, too, but what about the talented but previously uninitiated kid who is taken to the Bolshoi to see Swan Lake or Giselle as a treat at age 12 or 13, decides that she must sign up for ballet classes, only to discover that it may be too late to pursue a career--bearing in mind that most kids are not going to march straight into an audition? Or is a diet of Don Quixote, Jewels, The Nutcracker and The Sleeping Beauty enough? (Provided your parents take you to a matinee, because evenings are verboten for nine year olds.) For what it's worth, the Stanislavsky rates Swan Lake and La Sylphide 6+, Giselle, La Bayadère and The Concert 12+, and only Mayerling and Manon get the 16+ rating.

 

For my part, I remember attending my first ballet performance at age 5, and it was a child-oriented work, although by the Bolshoi's thinking, this would be too young. I saw Grigorovich's Romeo and Juliet (12+) at age 9, and I don't think it did any psychological damage, though it probably turned me off Grigorovich for life. I saw my first live Swan Lake at 11, which means my sister would not yet have been 9, and my first Coppélia early, much younger than age 12. [edit: I did the math and found that I would have been 7 at the time, and my sister would have been 5.] I think I did see my first live Giselle at age 12, but by then I was an old hand. All this may have turned me into a ballet-obsessed oddball, but it didn't turn me into a juvenile delinquent, degenerate or psychopath.

Edited by volcanohunter

Share this post


Link to post

But it turned you off Grigorovich ;)

 

Seattle Opera recently presented a new opera, "As One" about a transsexual woman, and the show was restricted to 21+, which I think is ridiculous.

Share this post


Link to post
2 hours ago, Helene said:

But it turned you off Grigorovich ;)

 

Seattle Opera recently presented a new opera, "As One" about a transsexual woman, and the show was restricted to 21+, which I think is ridiculous.

 

Apparently it was a 21+ event because there was a bar, and they couldn't organize the space to keep it separate from the seating.

 

But you're supposed to be 12+ to see Coppelia?  The whole thing feels a bit over-organized to me, but that limitation is particularly baffling.

Share this post


Link to post

I remember being a child way under 12 and going to the drive in movies to see those old Billy Jack movies with my parents!!! Full frontal nudity, cursing, violence, etc! My parents hid nothing from us. I also watched Looking for Mr. Goodbar in 6th grade and immediately read the book. Art (even those questionable examples of art...LOL) do not harm kids. I was allowed to curse if I dropped a plate and broke it. Curse words were just a way to express yourself. As a result all the kids around me cursed like sailors in middle school while I never did and they did not believe I was allowed to curse at home. I had no need to curse because I could. In fact, Western Europeans are brought up with nude sculptures in their churches and even totally nude people lying out near rivers. They can drink wine or beer, etc. The irony is that strict taboos cause kids to want to break the rules. I was raised by fairly hippie parents (despite my dad being a navy man) so I look and act like a very goody goody conservative but my mind is ultra liberal due to my upbringing. My point is:  I can't even imagine enforcing these age things in ballet. Ridiculous. However, I do believe children should behave when at the ballet or movie, etc. My Japanese mother would make us pay in spades if we misbehaved in public. If she gave us "that look" we knew we were in for it!!!

 

 

Share this post


Link to post

I have mixed feelings about these age guidelines.  If they are just suggestions, especially for people who may not know very much about the works on offer, it's helpful for people who need help.  But if these are actual rules, the Devil's Advocate part of me is itching to object.

 

My concern isn't so much about age-appropriate content as it is about whether the kid in question is good for the whole in-the-theater experience.  There are plenty of high-quality theater productions in my part of the country where young kids can squirm if they need to, and a big chunk of the floor is available for them to sit/squat/sprawl in if that's where they need to be, and the actors are fine with having that be the case.  (interestingly, the productions are often multi-layered enough that they engage adults as well).  But if you're going to a program in a conventional space with the standard rules of behavior, I would want kids in the audience to be able to fit into that environment.  Many do, and many don't.  It's not always an issue of age, but temperament and experience.  Parents should know what their kids are capable of and make choices accordingly.

 

Still, I wonder what it is about their production of Coppelia that puts it on the same age level as Onegin and Les Sylphides.

Share this post


Link to post
14 hours ago, sandik said:

Apparently it was a 21+ event because there was a bar, and they couldn't organize the space to keep it separate from the seating.

Those are sad priorities for the most important production of the year. 

Share this post


Link to post
5 hours ago, Helene said:

Those are sad priorities for the most important production of the year. 

 

I'm not sure where they are taking their model from -- if they're thinking they want a millennial crowd, the current strategies for getting them into the theater include making something a social event, with food and drink.  I haven't spoken with anyone at SO who could shed some light on this, though -- I'm just speculating.

Share this post


Link to post
18 hours ago, sandik said:

I have mixed feelings about these age guidelines.  If they are just suggestions, especially for people who may not know very much about the works on offer, it's helpful for people who need help.  But if these are actual rules, the Devil's Advocate part of me is itching to object.

 

I had seen those ratings on the Bolshoi site and always assumed they were suggested guidelines for parents, but after ticket-holding, pre-pubescent children were physically prevented from seeing Swan Lake, it appears that they are actual rules. Absurd, really, especially when the child is accompanied by an adult.

 

In Moscow there is a dedicated opera, ballet and musical theater house for children. The schedule lists age ratings for each performance, and the 0+, 6+ and 12+ ratings appear to be mandated standards, but each production also has an age recommendation, which parents would expect from a theater that caters specifically to children. For example, The Nutcracker - 7+, a double bill of The Firebird and Petrushka - 9+, The Magic Flute - 10+, Don Giovanni [!] - 12+, Evgeni Onegin - 14+. Interestingly, the age recommendation for Swan Lake is 7+, but the schedule designates it as 12+. Likewise, a bill of Scheherazade, the Polovtsian Dances and Les Sylphides is recommended for kids 10+, but the schedule says 12+. Very confusing.

Share this post


Link to post

Confusing indeed.  We have relatively few hard-and-fast age restrictions in the US, and often chafe at the few we have (how many of us have gritted our teeth when we had to accompany our teens to an "R" rated film, even though we knew they were fine with the content).  I know that other cultures develop the guidelines that seem to work for them, but I wonder if the families in Russia "agree" with these categories.

Share this post


Link to post

Yesterday at a performance of Onegin I sat next to a family with a young daughter, probably about age 7 and sitting on a booster seat. She was quiet, well behaved and didn't talk during the performance. (It was her father who yawned out loud a couple of times.) She wasn't able to read the ballet's synopsis on her own, but judging by her comments at the intermissions, she was following the action, and she didn't seem distressed by what she saw.

Edited by volcanohunter

Share this post


Link to post

Thank you for posting , volcanohunter. I'm completely bemused by this. You'd think the Russians of all people would know better (?)
 

Quote


We have relatively few hard-and-fast age restrictions in the US, and often chafe at the few we have (how many of us have gritted our teeth when we had to accompany our teens to an "R" rated film, even though we knew they were fine with the content). 

 

 

I remember reading that studios would actually gear their movies toward a PG or R rating, because young people would shun a G rated picture as kid stuff.

Share this post


Link to post

We took our granddaughter to Swan Lake for her fourth birthday--ABT with Michele Wiles and David Hallberg. Not my favorite Odette, but it was a matinee and we were afraid she'd fall asleep in the evening. My granddaughter had already watched it often on DVD (with Nina Ananashvili dancing with the State Ballet of Perm). She was mesmerized throughout, didn't move a muscle. Everyone around us commented on how much she seemed to love it--which she did. She has been taking ballet lessons ever since.

Share this post


Link to post
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×