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ABT in Chicago, Feb 21-25, 2018

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ABT will present two programs at Chicago's Harris Theater in late February 2018. The first program features the pas de deux from Tudor's The Leaves Are Fading, Ratmansky's Serenade after Plato's Symposium and Wheeldon's Thirteen Diversions. The second program includes Jessica Lang's Her Notes, a new ballet by Ratmansky and other, as yet unnamed works. Oddly, the "program notes" for program B include the biography of Liam Scarlett rather than Ratmansky. There will also be a gala on February 21, and an ABT Kids matinee, presumably on February 24.

 

http://explore.harristheaterchicago.org/american-ballet-theatre

 

 

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I received my brochure from the Harris Theater yesterday:

 

Program A

Feb. 22/7:30PM

Feb. 24/7:30PM

 

Alexei Ratmansky -- new work

Antony Tudor -- The Leaves Are Fading

Christopher Wheeldon -- Thirteen Diversions

 

Program B

Feb. 23/7:30PM

Feb. 25/2:00PM

 

Jessica Lang -- Her Notes

Benjamin Millepied -- new work

Alexei Ratmansky -- Serenade after Plato's Symposium

Jerome Robbins -- Other Dances

 

Honestly, with the exception of The Leaves Are Fading, this repertory leaves me completely unenthused. I would have preferred losing the Millepied or Wheeldon in favor of Ashton's Symphonic Variations.

 

The brochure states: 'Program B features the Harris Theater debut of ABT Principal Dancer Misty Copeland'. I'm neutral about the whole Misty phenomenon but this strikes me as a lack of confidence by the venue or the company (or both) in being able to sell tickets on the merits of the repertory.

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I doubt it is a comment on the merits of this repertory in particular. Chicago may be an exception, but I imagine even great repertory programs full of works everyone is dying to see (not that I can easily figure out what that program for everyone would be) are not the easiest thing to sell in the ballet world today. And while Symphonic Variations might be infinitely preferable to new works by Millepied or Lang, I doubt it would sell more tickets except to a handful of ballet fans. Actually I can't think of any ballet program except maybe Swan Lake and Nutcracker that, in this day and age, in most cities in the U.S. wouldn't sell better with the name Copeland added. An NYCB would never advertize that way, but if it keeps ABT afloat? They could be dancing Enigma Variations and a revival of the Tudor Romeo and Juliet and the name Copeland would still be meaningful to ticket sales. 

 

Very glad they are bringing back Leaves are Fading...

 

 

 

Edited by Drew

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2 hours ago, miliosr said:

I

 

The brochure states: 'Program B features the Harris Theater debut of ABT Principal Dancer Misty Copeland'. I'm neutral about the whole Misty phenomenon but this strikes me as a lack of confidence by the venue or the company (or both) in being able to sell tickets on the merits of the repertory.

I'm assuming that the Harris Theater engagement will also feature the debut of ABT Principal Dancer Stella Abrera, and probably some other principals who have never appeared at Harris. The fact that ABT has chosen to ignore their other principals and exclusively tout Misty is insulting to the other dancers.  Really, ABT, get a clue.

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14 minutes ago, abatt said:

I'm assuming that the Harris Theater engagement will also feature the debut of ABT Principal Dancer Stella Abrera, and probably some other principals who have never appeared at Harris. The fact that ABT has chosen to ignore their other principals and exclusively tout Misty is insulting to the other dancers.  Really, ABT, get a clue.

 

It might be insulting to the other dancers (I doubt they are that insulted, they are not blind to the fact that Misty gets big audiences and they know that financial considerations are critical for the company) but it is smart.

According to the 2010 census, The racial makeup of Chicago was 32% black, 45.3% white (of which 31.7% was non-Hispanic), 5% Asian, and 3% from two or more races.**

 

**online articles do note a recent increase in the Asian population, but no consistent/reliable figures are available and were vague as to what constituted Asian

 

Audiences in Chicago will not have seen Stella on video, she has gotten less national press, and there is not the large potential Filipino audience in Chicago to make that a selling point.

 

If ABT was on tour in the Philippines I think Cirio and Abrera would be touted over Misty.

 

This may seem crass, but that is advertising. Butts in seats. That is fundamental to the health of the company. And the company needs to be a successful business.

 

Also while I know people on this board feel differently about her than does the general population, if you see the way Misty's performances tend to sell, probably a good number of people would like to know which program she is going to be in...they could have actually gone for the opposite strategy of making people guess in order to drum up more sales that way. Instead they let people know she's in B only (it seems).

 

 

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Following on Aurora's interesting post on Chicago demographics...

 

Here's the latest demographics report on Washington DC, where ABT tours for a week each winter:

 

https://suburbanstats.org/population/how-many-people-live-in-washington-dc

 

Still majority Black or African-American (50% of total population) but a much lower percentage than when I moved here in early 1980s, when it was around 75%...when our town was lovingly called "Chocolate City"!

 

Yet...it's sad, in a way, that any arts presenter would tout an artist to a city because of demographics by highlighting his/her ethnicity. The publicity should just be: "ABT is coming to town dancing Ballets X, Y & Z." To heck with the ethnicity of a particular dancer.

 

Similarly, it boils my blood to see a company pandering to the "street music" of a certain ethnicity, as if that's the only way to get "butts in seats." It would be offensive to me, as a Latina, to be told that I might enjoy a ballet set to salsa music, hinting that Vivaldi & Mozart are beyond my capabilities to appreciate.

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7 hours ago, Natalia said:

Similarly, it boils my blood to see a company pandering to the "street music" of a certain ethnicity, as if that's the only way to get "butts in seats." It would be offensive to me, as a Latina, to be told that I might enjoy a ballet set to salsa music, hinting that Vivaldi & Mozart are beyond my capabilities to appreciate.

 

I agree, if there's an intended slight, someone has made a bad decision in their approach.  But it's possible that as a Latina you might have personal expertise with salsa music that I lack, and you might be interested in seeing how that material could be used in ballet.  It's pandering if someone assumes that it's an easy approach, but perhaps not if it's a sincere exploration.  (thinking of something like Val Caniparoli's Lambarena, which I think does succeed as a hybrid work in many ways)

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9 hours ago, sandik said:

 

I agree, if there's an intended slight, someone has made a bad decision in their approach.  But it's possible that as a Latina you might have personal expertise with salsa music that I lack, and you might be interested in seeing how that material could be used in ballet.  It's pandering if someone assumes that it's an easy approach, but perhaps not if it's a sincere exploration.  (thinking of something like Val Caniparoli's Lambarena, which I think does succeed as a hybrid work in many ways)

 

True. I never felt that with Lambarena, which seems more a mix of Bach and African beats. On the other hand...the "Noches Latinas" at Washington Ballet a few years ago...hmmm... The old Washington Ballet seemed to go out of its way in the "pandering to ethnics/ pandering to pop" department. So far, under Julie Kent, things seem better...no ethnic pandering in titles & content of programs.

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I noticed that the Harris Theater Web site is now listing The Leaves Are Fading pas de deux instead of the complete Leaves Are Fading. So, be careful about ordering tickets if you were expecting to see the Tudor work in full as part of Program A.

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