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nanushka

Macaulay on ABT 2018 Met season

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13 hours ago, canbelto said:

I'm talking specifically about ABT fans. I say this because the audience for the 8 week Met season tends to be one that has a fairly limited knowledge of ballet choreography. I've known some who don't know much ballet beyond R&J, Swan Lake and Giselle. But their conversations have always centered around dancers. When I first started it was Nina and Julio and Alessandra, then it became Herman/David/Marcelo/Veronika/Diana, and nowadays it's Stella and Sarah and so on and so forth. 

I understand what you're saying about ABT fans in particular, but I also don't think knowledge of choreography and interest in choreography are the same. I think even fans who don't know a lot of/about choreography are still very much aware of it in their experiences of performances, and care about it and have an interest in it. And I think such fans are likely to talk about the dancers more, partly (largely?) because of that difference between perception and knowledge. (We tend to talk about things that we both perceive and have a vocabulary for; but we can care very much about things we only perceive, even if we don't have the vocabulary to talk about them.)

Edited by nanushka

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Well I think ABT tends to market itself heavily as a star-driven company. Of course every company has its "stars" (even NYCB which prided itself on being a company without stars always did have stars) but I think the marketing especially of the 8 week Met spring season tends to bring out a certain type of balletomane who follows the dancers more than the ballets. 

I know a few people who bought tickets for Herman and Alessandra in Afterbrite and then were appalled that the choreography wasn't Romeo and Juliet.

Edited by canbelto

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11 hours ago, canbelto said:

I know a few people who bought tickets for Herman and Alessandra in Afterbrite and then were appalled that the choreography wasn't Romeo and Juliet.

That precisely illustrates the point I was trying to make:

Quote

I consider myself a balletomane, and I care deeply — and, I think, equally — about both. If his point rests on many balletomanes' obsessive interest in casting — well, casting involves two elements: a dancer, and a role. (And in ballet, a role is in large part, though not exclusively, defined by its choreography.) Personally, I care about casting because I have preferences for and interests in seeing certain dancers perform certain choreography.

Again, I’m not talking about knowledge. Macaulay’s term was care. “Appalled” suggests they cared very much.

The dancers whom ABT fans (or balletomanes) obsess over during R&J week are often not the same ones they obsess over during Swan Lake week or Don Q week. The difference? Choreography.

Edited by nanushka

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18 hours ago, nanushka said:

That precisely illustrates the point I was trying to make:

Again, I’m not talking about knowledge. Macaulay’s term was care. “Appalled” suggests they cared very much.

The dancers whom ABT fans (or balletomanes) obsess over during R&J week are often not the same ones they obsess over during Swan Lake week or Don Q week. The difference? Choreography.

But 'appalled' that a Stravinsky score based on "The Rite of Spring" wasn't the romantic R&J choreography also suggests a basic ignorance of ballet history, and that they simply bought the tickets because they love Herman Cornejo and Alessandra Ferri and didn't care much as to what they were actually in. 

Again I'm not making a blanket statement but I do think that type of fan exists more during ABT's spring season and thus it can probably be very frustrating to program the spring season as the tastes of much of the audience is so narrow.

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2 hours ago, canbelto said:

But 'appalled' that a Stravinsky score based on "The Rite of Spring" wasn't the romantic R&J choreography also suggests a basic ignorance of ballet history, and that they simply bought the tickets because they love Herman Cornejo and Alessandra Ferri and didn't care much as to what they were actually in. 

It certainly sounds like they cared quite a lot, once they saw it.

I wonder if what Macaulay is really expressing when he writes (rather scornfully, it has always seemed to me) of "balletomanes" who "care more about dancers than choreography" is in fact mere frustration at the "basic ignorance" of those in the audience around him who have tastes (be they narrow or broad) without also having the requisite detailed knowledge of ballet history and terminology to describe or justify exactly what those tastes are.

(I personally wouldn't use the term "balletomanes" to refer to those who have a "basic ignorance" of the art they are purportedly manic about — but that's just another point on which he and I differ, I suppose.)

Edited by nanushka

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I'm not in a position to observe the ABT audience, but I can look at the company's programming choices and those certainly do seem to be designed to give a limited number of highly skilled dancers the chance to tackle a large, narrative work, and to come back to it again during their career (something that happens far less often in other companies, for many reasons).  It makes sense, with that kind of programming, for the company to emphasize the performers, and for the audience to focus on that aspect of the experience. 

I don't want to get into "yes he did/no he didn't mean that" arguments, but we might want to think of a balletomane as someone who is already knowledgeable about the choreography (especially in ABT's classics-heavy Met seasons) -- the variable, the thing that might be different in this performance, is the dancing itself. 

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I didn't see any R&J performances, but I agree with what much of Macaulay has said in the piece below about ABT's somewhat unfocused dancing this season. And he puts into words what I've been feeling: that many of the dancers aren't really projecting well enough into that big house.   

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/15/arts/dance/romeo-and-juliet-american-ballet-theater.html

His critique of Stearns aligns exactly with my experiences of his performances. 

Edited by fondoffouettes

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