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N Y C B To Visit Chicago -- What Will It Mean For Both?

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Mme. Hermine has posted a link to two articles about the NYCB's scheduled visit to Chicago next season.

Here's the Chicago Tribune LINK:




"The New York City Ballet, one of the world's most venerated troupes, will return to Chicago Oct. 17-21 at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance after a 26-year absence. Co-founded by George Balanchine, the troupe last played Chicago in March 1980, at the Auditorium Theatre."

"The announcement is historic on a number of levels. In addition to a long-overdue return by a great troupe, the plans signal a new era for the 2 1/2-year-old Harris, venturing into new territory as a presenter of its own attractions. Opened in fall 2003 as a rental house, mostly for local companies, the theater, part of Millennium Park, did not sponsor presentations itself."

Now, that's changing in a blockbuster way.


We often lament the fact that NYCB is not the touring company it was in its early days. The amazing costs of this kind of venture, however, may explain.


"The engagement is not cheap. The 90-member company travels with its full 60-member orchestra, a rule set in place before Balanchine died. That makes the visit delightful but almost prohibitive. Tiknis says the price tag is $750,000, augmented by another $500,000 for marketing, production costs and housing for the company. (United Airlines is donating 200 or so round-trip airfares.)"

"But, in order to leave the Harris with a presenting fund of around $1 million, the overall fundraising goal is $1.8 million. So far, the Harris has raised $1.1 million."


I was wondering what Chicago ballet fans -- and NYCB followers all over -- think about this development?

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I first saw NYCB at Chicago's beautiful 4200 seat Auditorium Theatre in '79, which I guess was at the tail end of the so-called dance boom. Main floor seats were plentiful for each of the three weekend performances I saw, but then the company was there 2 weeks. Apparently the Harris is a little over half that size. How well does the Joffrey sell? I hope the lure of Balanchine and Robbins and probably Wheeldon -- has his work been seen in Chicago? -- will bring in lots of casual dance fans and that a sizeable number of these will try the home company. Or will more of those people just patronize City Ballet and not spend money on the Joffrey?

And will City Ballet emphasize the pop side of its rep to meet Joffrey fans halfway, or will they offer concentrate on neo-classical classics? Should be interesting. Congratulations, Chicagoans!

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I think it's great that NYCB is touring more lately, they really should be seen by as wide an audience as possible.

Looks like there may be a mini ballet boom in Chicago this winter. Ardani Artists plans to present the Kirov at the Aud in early November, something like the 1st - 5th. Will too many choices complicate matters, or do you think it's a good thing for the Chicago dance scene?

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This is wonderful news! This ballet fan is excited.

The Harris is an interesting choice. It's a fairly small theater, very tech-modern. I am accustomed to seeing modern dance there (e.g. Hubbard Street, River North, and Mark Morris), but never ballet. It will work well for smaller rep pieces, or even medium size ones. I don't think it is suited to anything large and full length, but that probably isn't what NYCB has in mind. At least, I hope not! I hope we get lots of Balanchine and Wheeldon.

Chicago has not, to my knowledge or memory, had any exposure to Wheeldon at all. I am looking forward to seeing his work.

I don't recall seeing anything with live music at the Harris. Certainly not a 60-piece orchestra. It will be interesting.

As for how this will affect Joffrey attendance and revenue: that's a hard call. Certainly, ABT this past week was a bigger draw than anything Joffrey does (except Nuts). I don't know if it's ABT or the full-length story ballets that bring people out. But I think it's a mistake to characterize the Joffrey rep as "pop", or its audience as wanting pop. In recent years, they have mounted three seasons, each with a distinct character: one is a full-length story ballet (e.g. Cranko's Taming of the Shrew or Romeo and Juliet ; next year will be Ashton's Cinderella ); one is a retrospective or revival of the smaller "museum" pieces the Joffrey does so well and keeps alive, and one is Joffrey and/or Arpino rep. Next fall, they will mount Cinderella a week or two before the NYCB run. I really don't know if NYCB will affect their ticket sales or not. I'm guessing that either it won't (since it comes after Cinderella and there won't be any "GEE, I enjoyed that! Let's go see more ballet" effect) or it will steal away those casual ballet-goers who think they only can see one ballet a season or year.

What do others think?

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Please forgive me for being so hokey, but this is a DREAM COME TRUE!!!!! :huepfen024:

I usually can only plan a trip to New York to see City Ballet every 3 to 4 years. Now they will be only three hours away! I can go every night. I just hurt my knee jumping up and down on the couch in joy!!!

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Treefrog, thanks for setting me straight about the Joffrey's rep. Pop isn't even an accurate description for most of the ballets in "The Company," and I was forgetting classics like Monotones -- I or II? -- and Pavanne that I saw them dance in the 70's.

perky, sitting here as I am 2 to 2 and a half hours from The Kennedy Center, which I've often driven to twice a week for ballet, I love the thought of you seeing NYCB every night because, after all, you're only 3 hours away! That's the spirit!

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As far as too many dance performances are concerned, the only bad competition would be a performance that drives the audience out of the theater. Wouldn't you rather go shopping for shoes on a street with 6 shoe stores than on a street with only one? The more Chicago becomes excited about dance, the better it is for everyone. The more advertising out there subliminally reinforcing the idea of going to the theater to see dance, the better.

My only concern for NYCB is the bias in Chicago against anything from N Y C. Moving to Chicago from New York after a short 2 year stint in Philly, I quickly learned to be careful to say I was from Philly rather than NYC. Living in Philly and NYC, I had no idea that Chicago considered NY such a rival, but it does, especially in the performing arts world... it's something akin to the way Red Sox fans feel about The Yankees.

I lay the credit for all this buzz about dance at the feet of The Joffrey and Hubbard Street. I suspect The Joffrey has done wonders for the Chicago dance world, and it's ballet denizens in particular. Hubbard Street made it sexy to go to a dance performance and then The Joffrey came in an upped the ante for ballet. Ahhh, if only I hadn't had to move away from the state just when the Joffrey was coming in!

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From the Sun Times link,

Company kicks off Chicago's dance explosion


Programs planned for the Harris Theater. Single tickets, $65-$112, go on sale April 11. (312) 334-7777.

"A Portrait of Balanchine," 7:30 p.m. Oct. 17 and 20: All Balanchine, including "Serenade" (set to Tchaikovsky); "Concerto Barocco" (to Bach); "Duo Concertante" (to Stravinsky); "Symphony in C" (to Bizet).

"Masterworks," 7:30 p.m. Oct. 18 and 19: Balanchine's "Divertimento No. 15" (to Mozart) and "The Four Temperaments" (to Hindemith), and Jerome Robbins' "In the Night" (to Chopin).

"Gala," 7 p.m. Oct. 21: Ulysses Dove's "Red Angels" (to a Richard Einhorn score); Christopher Wheeldon's "After the Rain" (to Arvo Part); Peter Martins' "Fearful Symmetries" (to John Adams).

I'm thrilled that NYCB will be in Chicago!

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:off topic: The prices! Any discounts for those interested in attending multiple programs?

And I notice that here, too, like last fall's Opening Night, the Gala includes no Balanchine! What's the thinking behind that? :wacko:

The other two programs are first-rate, though.

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With the exception of Red Angels I’ve seen everything on all 3 of the programs & they all sound great to me. Especially the Balanchine Portrait program – what I would give to be able to see all those pieces together on one program in NY! To start with Serenade & end with Bizet and have Concerto Barocco & Duo Concertant in the middle – it’s the stuff dreams are made of! They are all masterpieces. So are 4Ts and Div 15. The Robbins is also very, very good.

It is annoying that they didn’t program any Balanchine for the gala, but his works do account for the overwhelming majority of the engagement. I’ll bet they are looking at the Gala as a showcase of post Balanchine choreography. The Martins work is one of his best, and After the Rain is my undisputed favorite work since the Balanchine/Ashton /McMillan era. I’d consider it a must see despite the lack of Balanchine on the program that evening. Also note that the gala is the last night of the engagement, perhaps they are hoping that people will come to one of the first bills for Balanchine and then add on a ticket for the Gala to see where his legacy has led the company...

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All I can do is second NYSusan's opinions. Great Balanchines, and all in very good condition at this time. Recent casts of Symphony in C and Divertimento 15 have been loaded with the next generation of stars. Also, last season's performances of Robbins' In the Night were especially good. After the Rain is the most wondrous ballet I have seen post Mr. B, and the cast is star-studded. The other two are fun and have great energy.

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Oh. My. God. Memo to self: visit Mom in Chicago Oct. 17. What an amazing night that is going to be. When I was growing up in Chicago there seemed to be almost no ballet (Joffrey hadn't moved there yet) except for Ruth Page's annual Nutcracker. We didn't seem to get much in the way of touring companies either -- I remember almost getting sick of Alvin Ailey, they at least seemed to come regularly. I do wonder, though, if the appetite for ballet has really increased in Chicago -- but surely ABT and NYCB both have marketing departments that research what the demand will be in a city before they commit to going there, so they must be on to something. :) This is great news indeed.

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Never was so much money spent on ballet in one short time period -- at least, not in this household. Will probably go see all three programs. carbro, the Harris is small and doesn't have any cheap (nosebleed) seats a la the Fourth Ring. It DOES have some limited sightlines on the side, but they don't discount those seats at all :) You just find out when you sit down :) . Let's hope that some sort of mini-subscription is offered ... but I'm not holding my breath.

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WOOHOO! Tickets went on sale at noon today, and the first 50 people in line got TWO tickets for $19.80! :off topic:

Guess who scored? :yahoo:


As in $9.90 a ticket?????????????????????????????????????? I would be jumping up and down too. What a wonderful surprise! Even if I'm missreading and you got to buy two tickets at $19.80 , that's still a great bargain. Earlier in the thread $65 is shown as low price.

But good for you!!


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Yup, you read it right! $9.90 a ticket. Decent tickets, too; they are regularly $75. I think mine are row Q, fairly far to the left. There's a good chance they will have a limited view of stage right, but ... who cares?

That's really so creative marketing wise. That bargain will surely be talked up quite a bit and I bet there will be long lines for the the next event, whatever it is, the day the box office opens. I'm for anything that helps a theater sell tickets, as long as it's legit.

Enjoy your bargains!


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That's really so creative marketing wise. That bargain will surely be talked up quite a bit and I bet there will be long lines for the the next event, whatever it is, the day the box office opens.


Well you might think. However, it was really a non-event. There were no big crowds or anything. We arrived about an hour before the box office opened, and were #25 in line. I never checked behind me to see how long the line grew, but I did not have the impression that hordes of people went away disappointed. Nor was there any sort of media coverage that I know of.

This probably speaks to the original question of what NYCB's visit means to Chicago, and vice versa. Sadly, not a lot. (Although I should note that the Friday Balanchine performance is largely sold out of good seats, so SOMEBODY is paying attention -- probably out-of-towners making a weekend of it.)

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"A Portrait of Balanchine," 7:30 p.m. Oct. 17 and 20: All Balanchine, including "Serenade" (set to Tchaikovsky); "Concerto Barocco" (to Bach); "Duo Concertante" (to Stravinsky); "Symphony in C" (to Bizet).

:clapping: I wish I still lived near Chicago. I would of loved to see this program.

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