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When did ballet become an obsession for you?

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Assuming it did :dry:

By "obsession" I mean having to go to more than the one performance a week on your subscription, or reading more than was in the subscription brochure. What turned you from a casual balletgoer into a regular, an aficionado, a balletomane?

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When I was in high school. I had gone to a number of NYCB programs that I had appreciated, but hadn't really grabbed me.

What did grab me was Romeo and Juliet with Fonteyn and Nureyev in the Spring of 1969(yes I was STILL in high school)

That really opened the door for me. I must have gone to 6-8 performances over the course of a few weeks. I started cutting school to go into Manhattan for standing room.


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My name is carbro, and I am a balletoholic.

I think I was born that way, although neither of my parents had the problem. But both grandmothers treated me to performances of NYCB when, as a suburban youngster, I'd come into New York.

For the first few years I lived in the city, I either had classes or jobs at night and weekends, but in '73 I got my first (and third-to-last) subscription (the third being NYCB's "retirment" subscription this season, as insurance). Midway through the first season, I'd started adding performances to see ballets again which had been on subs programs. And from then on, it was a downward spiral. During the spring, I could often be seen dashing across Lincoln Center Plaza during intermissions, because NYCB had a great opener and closer, but I just had to see ABT's middle piece. Or the reverse. Ticket prices then made that relatively pain free. Not so any longer, which is fine, because my energy level is not what it was, either.

I thought I was alone, but it wasn't long before I began to meet fellow sufferers. And I'm so grateful to have this non-judgmental group, BalletTalk, with whom I can confess my shameful vice.

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I had a long interest in ballet, going back to my mother who trained as ballet dancer in NYC in the 1920s. I attended NYCB and ABT starting in 10th grade and became a subscriber on moving permanently to NYC to go to graduate school. Over the years, I balanced -- still do -- attendance at ballet, modern dance, opera, theater (with preference for the classics), and symphony. I always spent a significant percentage of my income of tickets.

What got me to focus on ballet -- to become a "balletomane," as opposed to a frequent and fascinated audience member?

Several things:

-- a) moving to a small city, where I found I needed to attend mujltiple performances of the same program because relatively few programs are offered -- and then, learning how to observe, compare, label and remember;

-- b) getting into shape and starting to take ballet classes . Doing ballet, at even an elementary level, is a remarkable ticket to observing it well. Not to mention giving me a completely new appreciation of what it is that dancers do and how miraculous it is to do it well.

-- c) finding Ballet Talk a year ago. You all allow me to tap into --- and participate in -- a rich cultural and historical context of ballet all over the western world.

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My parents always took me to the Nutcracker when I was a kid, but it was my first non-Nutcracker performance--Swan Lake--that did it for me when I was about 15 or 16. Plus discovering the Kultur catalog, and the public library. And, as Bart says, Ballet Talk just made it official. I gave myself the only username I could think of. And the rest, they say...

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when i was little (you know, when dinosaurs ruled the earth) there was a book by mae blacker freeman about ballet that i would repeatedly take home from the library, hold onto a chair and try to twist my limbs into those shapes (didn't help that it featured her daughter in a home setting doing exercises, i figured that meant i should do it that way too). i didn't start ballet lessons until after high school, when i could pay for them myself, but i think the epiphany came at the first performance i saw, which was ruth page's nutcracker, with guests violette verdy and helgi tomasson. i tried to see every company that came through chicago and eventually moved to new york just to *be* there.

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Once upon a time, when I was still a little girl, my mother would take me to the theatre. I loved everything about it - getting dressed up in my best dress (the one with tulle petticoats), the long drive into town, the plush foyer, sitting in the theatre as the orchestra tuned up, the hush that fell as the lights dimmed and the orchestra began, to be then utterly transported by the magic of beauty and pure fantasy - all things that I love about it to this day!

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My first season :tiphat: I went to my first ballet almost by chance -- I organized a small group of friends to see a Nureyev and Friends program out of curiosity. We were in our mid-20s and trying to be more "grown up" (about time!) and take advantage of all the cultural events and arts programs Washington offered. I was immediately enchanted and started reading, went to New York to see a few programs and subscribed. But I was still normal :yahoo:

The first company on the subscription was ABT -- two weeks, six programs. Ah, those were the days1 I bought tickets to every program, then the casting was released and I realized I wasn't getting either Kirkland or Baryshnikov in six out of 14 tries. The more I saw, the more I wanted to see, and the more I read. By the time New York City Ballet (the second company on the subscription, three weeks, nine programs) came, I was buying tickets for nearly every night -- every program, every cast. Orchestra seats were $10.90 back then, and I had a real job and could afford them :wink: By the end of the season, I was an addict.

More stories, please! There are a lot of obsessed people posting here and you all have a story!! We want to know :dry:

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My story is not really a story. I have always been obsessed with ballet. I vaguely remember seeing ballet on TV when I was about 3 years old and loving it and begging for classes. I started ballet classes in first grade and am still dancing 17 years later. I go to any dance performances that I can attend, which are few in my town, but there are more in cities that are within driveable distance. I love to read about dance and look at pictures of famous dancers. No one else in my family shares my love of ballet.

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It's my mother's fault -- really. She passed her obsession on to me. She had taken lessons at the old National Ballet School here in Washington, back when Miss Day was there. When I was old enough for creative movement, I started with those lessons. Then it was ballet and tap. I the first performance I ever saw was the North Carolina Ballet's Nut when I was six. I never looked back.

I also received a copy of Jill Krementz's A Very Young Dancer for Christmas when I was five. I wanted to be like Stephanie. That was my first exposure to City Ballet, to Suzanne Farrell and to Patty McBride and I wanted to know more. I knew, just from the photos, that they were special. I still have my copy (and, it turns out, that Jill Krementz went to my college which is something I'm very proud of).

All through the late 80s and the 90s, until I graduated high school in 93, season tickets to the Kennedy Center were part of either my birthday or Christmas gift. One of my favorite-ever performances was the 1990 (I think) Fort Worth Ballet tour when they received so many curtain calls that they finally danced an encore. I remember that Eight by Adler was on the program that afternoon.

I danced until I graduated high school even though it was clear I had neither the temperament nor the talent for a professional career by the time I was about 12. As an adult, I have danced on and off based on health/work/graduate school. Currently I'm taking about three classes a week.

Edited by MichelleW
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For me, it started after I had been studying ballet for a year or so. I was a late beginner at 13, so unlike my friends who took ballet at 6 or 7 years old and got bored with it, I was fascinated with the logic and repetition of ballet class. I had terrible stage fright, but I loved working in the studio and had an excellent teacher who patiently taught me everything I needed to know.

I started attending performances at the NBoC, the first being Manon with Greta Hodgkinson, and I borrowed lots of videos at the library. It made me appreciate the discipline of ballet even more, and I was delighted when I recognized famous ballet music that was played during class.

I found this board around the same time, and I chose my screenname because I was learning my first solo that year from "Paquita" (also my first tutu, which was very exciting!).

I continued to dance throughout high school and also taught as well. I am currently working on my undergrad degree and taking ballet recreationally at the University and at Toronto's Dance Teq (drop-in classes).

No one else in my family ever studied dance seriously, but there are a lot of musicians in my family, which made getting involved a little easier.

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In 1973, my mother wanted to take me to see Nureyev. I told her I did not want to see "those f----ts dance. In March of 1974 I found a Life Magazine article with pictures of Rudi dancing--and jumping!!!!! So I asked my mother about how he was able to jump so high. "Does he use a trampoline?" She said, "No dummy. He does that himself!" I went to see him in Sleeping Beauty with the Canadians. I've been obsessed ever since!!!!! :P:):blink::yahoo:

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I had my first lessons in pre-school. My mom introduced me to Chopin, Mozart and Tchaikovsky at that age too. Talk about music to grow by! Mom saw to it that I was exposed to everything ABT, and RB. I remember seeing Giselle, Swan Lake, and Sleeping Beauty etc all the way through to adulthood. At the same time she encouraged my study of classical music. (Moms are great aren't they? :clapping: ) I'll be forever grateful to her. Also I'll be forever grateful to PBS because its through that station that I was first exposed to NYCB, DTH etc., in the first broadcasts of Dance in America & Great Performances. I've been hooked ever since.

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I became obsessed the first time I saw Fonteyn & Nureyev in Swan Lake, though my love of ballet started earlier than that and the actual obsession didn't really take over till later. My grandmother started taking me to the ballet when I was very young, I have vague recollections of being only halfway interested, then I recall waking up (!) in the middle of the Black Swan pdd and paying attention. I don't know how old I was, or what company we were watching but I loved it.

I was 9 years old in 1964 when Lincoln Center opened - I know I went to many performances before then, but I don't really remember them. The State Theatre and Met Opera House are the places I remember, and I loved them both. My grandmother used to buy 5th ring tickets to ABT & NYCB at the State, which may be why I've always liked those side arm seats!. We went to the Met much less often, and for me it was a really beautiful & special place. I still get goose bumps sometimes looking down that grand staircase. It was there that I first saw the Royal Ballet, and Fonteyn & Nureyev in Swan Lake. I'm not sure if I saw them in Romeo & Juliet and Giselle the same season, or if those came later, but I was hooked after their Swan Lake.

I went fairly often with my grandmother, then when I was high school age I took some open classes at ABT's old studios and started going by myself - all the time. The State Theatre sold student rush tickets even then, and that's how I was able to go so often. Lucky me because those were the Fracci/Makarova/Kirkland/Gregory/ Baryshinov/Bujones/Nagy years at ABT. I also remember Balanchine's Stravinsky festival in 70 or 72, and Villela, D'Amboise, Hayden,von Aroldingen,Mazzo,Kent and McBride. Even got to see the incomparable Suzanne Farrell a few times after her return, and before I moved to California in 77. That turned out to be the start of a very long hiatus from ballet but now I'm back & going more often than ever. Unfortunately I don't qualify for those student rush tickets anymore...

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I'm not exactly sure when it happened, but I do know the first time I recognized it as an obsession: when I was in graduate school, looking for quarters in sofa cushions so that I could raise $7.00: $2 * $1.25 for the bus, 2* $1.00 for the subway, and $2.50 to stand at the New York State Theater.

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So far there've been 18 replies to Alexandra's original question. Half (9) have referred directly to being exposed to ballet by family: mother, grandmother, "parents." Several others refer to early ballet lessons, which I assume required the support -- if not outright encouragement -- of family.

Just as there are theater families, there appear to be balletomane families. What an advantage we had! :thanks:

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I took classes, as well as attending perfs as a guest of relatives. It was a very short time before the two experiences were clearly bifurcated in my mind, though. Even though, in my adult phase, I would sometimes take a 6:00 class then run to the theater and see onstage the pro who'd been warming up at the opposite barre, the two different ways of "doing ballet" were as clearly separated as the adjectives "active" and "passive." (Yes, I know :rolleyes:, attentive watching is hardly passive, but that's another issue.)

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I am not sure it is quite an obsession, but a nice warm passion for the time being.

I had been to a few Ballet performances before 2003, but the purchase of a camera and the curiosity to photograph a performance started it for me. But little did I know about the aesthetics! I shot a tech rehearsal of a Ballet and being more familiar with Indian dance forms, focused a little too much on the upper part of the body (assuming mime was very very important). Well the Marketing Director educated me on that mistake - " You cut off their legs". Hmm, it was a very valuable lesson - something that I forgotten. Every art form has its own framework of aesthetics that a viewer should be come familiar with, to truly appreciate the subtleties.

That is what caused me to research and begin to appreciate ballet more. That led to modern/contemporary dance.. pop dance.. etc etc. It has been terrible. In 2005 I will probably see close to sixty to eighty dance performances. Ballet will be about 25% of them.

It is not an obsession. I am not in denial.

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I had been to a few Ballet performances before 2003, but the purchase of a camera and the curiosity to photograph a performance started it for me.  But little did I know about the aesthetics!  I shot a tech rehearsal of a Ballet and being more familiar with Indian dance forms, focused a little too much on the upper part of the body (assuming mime was very very important).  Well the Marketing Director educated me on that mistake - " You cut off their legs".  Hmm, it was a very valuable lesson - something that I forgotten.  Every art form has its own framework of aesthetics that a viewer should be come familiar with, to truly appreciate the subtleties.

Great story, great point. Thanks, amitava. I hope you'll keep us up to date on Ballet Austin, and other ballet in your area. There's been a give-and-take between Austin and our own local ballet company, Ballet Florida. Eric Midgely and Gina Patterson have moved in your direction. Charla Metzger, now retired, made the journey twice.

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I grew up in a very small town. No one in my family was interested in ballet/opera/theatre etc. As a very unhappy misfit in school, I became hooked on opera while watching Renata Tebaldi on TV. Opera was my obsession (and still is).

When the new Met opened I was allowed to make trips to NYC on my own to go the opera; I got involved with a large group of young opera maniacs. A couple of them were also ballet fans, and it was with one of these that I fell in love. Having "played it straight" in high school, I adored this kid who was a few years younger than me. He worked during the summers for a small ballet company on Cape Cod and asked me to spend the summer with him there. I jumped at the chance.

But once we got there, he was so wrapped up in the ballet group (they were preparing a mounting of COPPELIA) that I felt left out. I had always hated ballet, grudgingly enduring dance sequences in various operas. But I realized that if I was to have a happy summer I would need to get involved in the production. The director, desperately short of boys, begged me to be in the show. She wanted to have a peasant couple do a dance in Act III (to the music Balanchine uses for the Jesterettes) and she told me she would make it easy for me. I agreed. Then she said I would have to take class! Whoa!!! Hilarious scenes commenced as I took beginners class with 8 & 9 year old girls. But I did it, tights and all...

Back in NYC my boyfriend took me to my first professional ballet performance (Joffrey) and shortly thereafter to NYCB where the first thing I saw was BAISER DE LA FEE with McBride & Tomasson, which I remember vividly. On my second visit to NYCB, Suzanne Farrell returned to the Company. That pretty much clinched it. I began going to ballet as often as to the opera; for a while ballet took over entirely.

Fast forward to 1998 when I moved back to NYC after a long hiatus (with frequent visits, however - and lots of ballet). First thing I did was join 4th Ring Society and that is when my obsessive phase began. I took my current partner and he became very interested in it as well.

Frosting on the cake: I meet the dancers (past & present), choreographers and others involved in dance at my job.

By the way, I continued taking class for 3 years after that COPPELIA and I still sometimes think of going back - do they have Senior Citizen discounts?

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