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Standing Ovations

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I thought this was an interesting article.  I definitely do not stand for every performance I attend.  

The comment below I especially loved.  Has there ever been a moment as a ballet audience member that you sat in silence because you were moved?  I know most people won't share my opinion, but MacMillan's "Song of the Earth" made me feel that way.  

"He also pointed out that, according to legend, when Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman opened on Broadway in 1949, the audience was so moved that it sat in shocked silence at the end of the play before the applause began."

https://www.houstoniamag.com/articles/2018/4/30/standing-ovation-cleo-stages-alley-theater#.Wuev1_B9ek1.facebook

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I don't think I've ever sat in silence because I was so overcome with a performance.

I do agree with the article that there is a standing ovation phenomenon going on. It's rare for me to be at a ballet performance these days where it doesn't happen; though last Saturday's NYCB matinee did not give one. Maybe these goes hand-in-hand with the extreme emotion that seems to permeate social media. I get that it's hard to convey happiness/joy/etc in writing, but the pervasive "I'm literally crying right now!!!!" comments on Instagram are a bit much to me. So, maybe the standing ovations are the in-person equivalent: "I loved that performance more than life!!!!!!!!!". 

However, I can attest that more than once I felt that I had no choice but to stand during applause because the people in front of me were doing so, and if I wanted to see the bows and not the backs of the people in the row in front me, I had to stand, thus unintentionally giving a standing ovation. So, perhaps that's how some of these standing ovations happen?

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My experience has been that ABT audiences always stand. If I want to see the performers and not feel like a total Grinch, I have to stand too. However, I almost never see standing ovations at NYCB, even when I feel they are deserved! At most, individual clumps of people might stand. I prefer NYCB's audience's way.

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I can be the first-( and maybe only one)- to scream out a loud "Bravo!" after a dancer's particularly difficult technical favorite sequence, the first-( and maybe only one)- to welcome a Giselle's entrance in places where it seems not to be customary and also one of the first to make a quick exit after the first general curtain call, not staying for the now customary individual calls where milking applauses seem to be more and more fashionable. 

So no...if the performance was a mediocre one, no reason for me to stand, but rather make a quick exit after the first general curtain.

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Standing ovations have lost their impact unfortunately.  It used to be once in a blue moon, for some extraordinary or transcendent performance.  The shared impulse to rise could send chills up your spine, just knowing that others shared your perception that something special had just happened. Now it's just people getting ready to leave for the exits or as ABT Fan mentioned, standing only because those in front are standing and obscuring the view.  

 

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Standing ovations have definitely become a cheapened currency across the performing arts, though I agree with Mille-feuille that that does not seem to be the case at NYCB ...

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On 5/3/2018 at 1:00 PM, ABT Fan said:

I don't think I've ever sat in silence because I was so overcome with a performance.

I have, several times.  I agree, though, that standing ovations have become much more common than they were in the past.

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Applause and ovations can be easily manipulated. Even without a claque, the house can extend or shorten the length of curtain calls by timing when the full lights go up in the theater after a performance, which is the signal that most audiences wait for to definitively head for the exits.

I also wish dancers would do encores again.

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Posted (edited)
On 5/3/2018 at 4:16 PM, Drew said:

Standing ovations have definitely become a cheapened currency across the performing arts, though I agree with Mille-feuille that that does not seem to be the case at NYCB ...

It does depend upon the location whether or not ovations are common. The Segerstrom Center in Southern California is famously "clap happy", and many shows are followed with a standing ovation (which is a good reason for dance companies to want to appear there). But Segerstrom isn't the home of a particular company. It's more of a general-purpose performance center. At SFB in Northern California, a true standing-ovation in which everyone seems to be taking part is much less common. Although, I think each of the opening shows of the 12 ballet Unbound Festival (which is wrapping up just now) received a standing ovation. But I really think that was a general show of appreciation for the herculean task of creating and putting on the festival. Also the dancers were well-rehearsed (considering the obstacles) and fully committed. An audience loves to see performers operating at 100%. But I've seen some exceptional performances at SFB, for example of Balanchine's Stravinsky Violin Concerto and Ratmansky's Shostakovich Trilogy, which prompted a standing ovation from a certain percentage of the audience in the Orchestra area, but most of the audience simply clapped hard because they knew they had seen something done well, but they weren't really sure what they were looking at.  😉

 

On 5/5/2018 at 3:23 AM, Fleurdelis said:

Applause and ovations can be easily manipulated. Even without a claque, the house can extend or shorten the length of curtain calls by timing when the full lights go up in the theater after a performance, which is the signal that most audiences wait for to definitively head for the exits.

I also wish dancers would do encores again.

I'm not sure that claques ever really existed in North American performance houses.  But certainly there's a procedure followed for curtain calls at company theaters - I think three times is the most I've seen the curtain raised and lowered before the house lights all came on to tell the audience, "time to go home!". Nothing is left to chance. I'm not sure I've ever seen an encore except at a gala.

Edited by pherank

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Posted (edited)
Quote

However, I almost never see standing ovations at NYCB, even when I feel they are deserved!

Saturday May 5, 2018 standing ovation at NYCB for "Something to Dance About" which is a pleasant but mediocre work.  Well danced but very poorly sung (the person who did the amplification really did the singer no favors) but hardly worth anything but polite applause.  However, great work by the corps, Sara Mearns, and Andrew Veyette.

Edited by jerryb
Correct Veyette spelling

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