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Cliff

A question for and about women.

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For every woman who became a professional dancer, a hundred missed the cut and thousands never mastered the pointe. There must be a million girls who took classes and then as adults never attended performances. While these numbers are just estimates, it does suggest a comment and a question.

Regular classes should include seeing professional companies perform in order to seed the next generation of balletgoers. And why don't more women attend ballet performances?

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And why don't more women attend ballet performances?

We can't afford it.

My story is typical. I was a ballet student who went on to major and earn a degree in dance at college. Dance was life and I didn't think anything would change that. Going to the ballet every week was simply a part of life. My NYCB subscription was paid for by my parents.

Passion for ballet transferred to motherhood. I loved it so much I had 6 children. A ballet teacher's meager earnings didn't allow for any extras, so I never went to the theatre. For 2 decades I saw no more than 5 ballets.

The costs of raising a family still don't permit many ballet tickets. We make our choices. There's nothing I'd like better than to see every ballet performance humanly possible!

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I echo Marga's reponse....

I danced professionally for only a brief time before having to "move on" due to injury. Now, at 25, I am married and have just bought a house. And although I teach 20 hours a week, any "extra" money is spoken for long before I even contemplate seeing the ballet.

I would love to be at the ballet each week, but it's simply not possible.

The last time I went, I saw Houston Ballet dance Apollo and La Valse. I thought it was a mediocre program (Apollo, in particular, had not been staged to my liking), and I was so put off by the amount of money I paid in "service fees" to purchase a ticket, that I haven't been back...

Which opens up another discussion that I think we've had before: Would ballet companies be able to survive (and perhaps fill the theaters) if they would just drop ticket prices a bit?

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This is a very interesting thread. We have a million different explanations of why men don't attend the ballet, yet for women, including myself, it seems like there are two simple (intertwined) reasons - money and motherhood!!

However, I'm sure things are more complex than that. I think that many of the girls who danced with me throughout my childhood and adolescence do not attend ballet performances today because they aren't interested. I honestly don't recall that we were particularly encouraged or educated to be members of the audience - in my case, that came from home. I also know that much of my knowledge (such as it is) of ballet history is self taught.

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You're right -- love for attending performances comes from the home! We try to take our small regional company of pre-pro girls on "field trips" from time to time. This past fall, they attended the ABT performance here in Houston... and yet, I could not accompany them due to $ issues.

I know of another reason why some of my "ex-dancer" peers do not attend, though this only applies to a small group of people (those who wanted to dance professionally, but never got a job). They claim it is simply too painful to sit and watch others dancing the ballets that they always dreamed they'd dance. And I'll admit that I frequently feel a twinge of that myself.

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This is a very interesting thread. We have a million different explanations of why men don't attend the ballet, yet for women, including myself, it seems like there are two simple (intertwined) reasons - money and motherhood!!

However, I'm sure things are more complex than that. I think that many of the girls who danced with me throughout my childhood and adolescence do not attend ballet performances today because they aren't interested. I honestly don't recall that we were particularly encouraged or educated to be members of the audience - in my case, that came from home.  I also know that much of my knowledge (such as it is) of ballet history is self taught.

interesting.

at a dance studio i was at for a while, the young dancers had no sense of who professional ballet dancers were. A few didn't know who Baryshnikov was! or Sylvie Guillem or Paloma Herrera or Jose Manuel Carreno etc...

-goro-

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I danced when I was young and my mother and I would go to the ballet when funds permitted. Some of the most magical moments of my childhood involved sitting in the darkened theatre watching the magic on stage.

Now I am the parent of a promising young dancer and I consider the cost of going to the ballet (which is often over-priced) as being almost an essential part of her learning. Seeing the professionals dance gives her inspiration and something to aim for. I set aside a few dollars a week (literally) that pays for us to attend two professional performances a year.

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Welcome to Ballet Talk, danceintheblood!

I hope that you will write about the performances you do see with your daughter, and give us your impressions (and hers too).

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I shall do ... and thankyou for the welcome! I'm actually an active member of Ballet Talk for Dancers and post a fair bit in the Moms and Dads site. I had forgotten about this other side of Ballet Talk. There is sooooo much information here.

I'm attempting to educate myself about this wonderful world which I dreamt of belonging to, but couldn't, as I watch my daughter's passion for ballet increase with every year!

We are going to see White by the Australian Ballet in late May, where my dd is lucky enough to be attending a masterclass.

In July we are going to see the West Australian ballet - but I can't remember off the top of my head what they are performing

Edited by danceintheblood

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How about standing room? does your opera house allow standees? In san Francisco, it's about hte price of a movie......

Ther eare some very deedicated standees here, some of whom may see nearly every performance of a ballet htey l0ve -- of course, our ballet is worth standing for... and the house is built so there are some pretty comfortable places to stand......

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In my experience I found that 'people who go to the ballet' and 'people who take ballet classes' are two separate breeds. Talk in the dressing rooms rarely turned to performances seen; in fact, I can still recall the feelings I had in the SAB dressing room---I could have been in my highschool locker room.

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I, too, would agree that the cost of the performances prevent the dance students (and parents) from attending many performances. My DD would love to attend most, if not all, of the offered dance performances in our city. Only one company, a modern company, provides a student-friendly method of attending. The "student" price tickets for the other companies and venues are still a bit much for the "nose-bleed" seats for a student's budget. With the costs of classes, leos/tights, and pointe shoes, decisions must be made where discretionary income is to be applied. Can't remember the last time she went to a movie, so it is not a matter of choosing one form of "entertainment" over another.

On the occassion that a spectacular dance company from out-of-town comes, I try hard to make sure she attends. Next week, she is travelling three hours one-way on a "field trip" organized by her variations teacher with other class members to seize the once-in-almost-never-even-close-to-here opportunity to see ABT perform---the ticket is $70, plus the theatre's service and handling fees of $9. Definitely a little steep for the everyday budget. (That's a whole pair of pointe shoes.) Doesn't even take into account the cost of gas money or dinner.

I would dearly love for her to be able to attend everything that is available--the good and the bad---such that she could develop a better feel/sense/and discerning eye for the artform she so loves. But those pesky $$$$ do get in the way. The situation definitely presents an ironic situation The companies need their ticket prices to be sufficiently high to help support them; but unfortunately, those prices remain out of reach for many of whom perhaps might be their most ardent admirers.

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I, too, would agree that the cost of the performances prevent the dance students (and parents) from attending many performances.

[...] 

The companies need their ticket prices to be sufficiently high to help support them; but unfortunately, those prices remain out of reach for many of whom perhaps might be their most ardent admirers.

Absolutely; I've had this problem myself, especially with certain touring companies (NYCB, Bolshoi, Kirov) where the cheapest tickets were around $40. Maybe it's peanuts to some people, but that's not cheap at all for a lot of us, especially when you've got to buy more than one ticket (for your date, spouse, kids, etc), and when, as you've said, you need to pay for gas/parking (or public transit) and dinner on top of that.

Of course, the price issue could apply to male fans as well...but since statistically women are paid less, it could still be seen as a "question for women."

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dancemaven, I would advise your DD the next time she has an oppty to travel to NYC to see ABT to avoid the expense of buying a prime seat and coughing up the killer handling fees, which I resent, resent, RESENT the hell out of. Standing room is almost always available even at curtain time. It goes on sale at 10:00, day of performance, priced the same as the nosebleed seats, which this year will be $22 weeknights (and Wed. Mats.) and $25 :blush: weekends.

I, for one, would go much more often if the price were in the $12-15 range. And because the Met season relies so heavily on full-lengths, I choose to see my favorite dancers, which means I rarely get a shot at dancers who have my interest but not my love. I always feel like I'm missing a lot.

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