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Overheard at the ballet

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With Silly Season around the corner, I thought now would be a good time for this topic. :)

At one time, many of us may have overheard audience members saying things about ballets that were insightful, humorous, witty, clueless, charming, clever, or some combination thereof. For instance, at a performance in San Francisco, I overheard a lady asking her male companion if there was going to be singing. This performance being Swan Lake, her companion informed her that there wouldn't be. (To be fair, some ballets do involve singing, but that's neither here nor there.)

What humorous and/or thought-provoking things have you overheard your fellow audiencemembers saying during a ballet performance?

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From a small girl during a performance of Septime Webre's "Where the Wild Things Are," very quietly to her mother: "This is a long movie."

During the first intermission of the Kirov's "Le Corsaire": "I didn't like the one in the frou-frou skirt." (Presumably referring to Gulnare, the only dancer wearing a tutu in Act I.)

Most recently, at the Kirov's "Giselle" at the Kennedy Center last month, I was quite startled during the curtain calls to hear a boy's voice behind me shout, "HANS SUCKS!!! BOO!!!" when Hilarion came out to bow. On the Metro afterward, I was reading my program when I realized the Kirov's name for Hilarion is Hans!

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Before the Saturday matinee performance of the Royal Ballet's Sleeping Beauty in D.C. last month a young woman behind me expressed surprise that the Prince would be interested in a woman "100 years" old.

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At NYCB in the 4th ring about 1986, there was a group of young ballet fans. One of them said 'I read that Suzanne is the greatest dancer in the WORLD!!!'

What's funny about that?

It's funny that somebody read it and therefore thought it was meaningful to say. If they had just said 'I think Suzanne is unquestionably the greatest dancer in the world', I wouldn't have thought it funny, as she is many people's ideal dancer (and obviously wouldn't have thought there was anything quirky about someone saying 'Suzanne is my favourite dancer in the whole world,' etc.

At the time, I probably thought she was the greatest dancer in the world too, although that doesn't mean she was. However, any journalist that would have said such a thing would have been insufferably amateurish, and probably ought to have been fired for getting so out of control. It constitutes hyperbole even if true. I'd have thought the same thing if it had been any other dancer, and also rather doubt that anyone responsible actually wrote this. These were enthusiastic teenagers, and at that age we all start citing critics as if that was the gold standard about something; very like talking about Oscar winners, when that is well known to mean a certain amount and no more.

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At risk of discussing the discussion, your quotee, papeete, may have read it as a quote in, say, DanceMagazine. Or maybe George Balanchine's personal papers. :angel_not:

One of my favorites was on the Ladies' Room line following Mikhail Baryshnikov's (not very good) debut in the beautiful Melancholic Variation of The Four Temperaments. "There wasn't much in there for him to do, was there?"

Another, not exactly overheard, as it was whispered into my ear was my five-year-old niece, at her first Nutcracker, watching a ballerina phone in her Sugar Plum Fairy, "She must be tired from so much dancing." Hah! And I'd figured the kid, who had no experience (prior to Act I) on which to base her judgments, might not notice.

Then, there are all those "marriages" we learn of between ballerinas and their cavaliers! I believe I heard that about Farrell and Martins at least two or three times. Nice, though, when chemistry suggests such a relationship!

Not mine, but when Alvin Ailey was creating "Pas de Duke" on Jamison and Baryshnikov (1976), friends of mine were sitting in front of the two dancers at an ABT performance. I forget the ballet being performed -- it's long since disappeared from rep -- Mischa leaned over to Judy and groaned, "This ballet is soooooo long!" It became one of our favorite oft-repeated lines. Amazing how useful it is!

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At MCB's Giselle a few years ago, Hayan Wu was lifted up to stand on the bench in Act I. The bench toppled and she fell. After her mad scene and death, a man said to his lady companion as they moved up the aisle: "She must have hit her head, and it made her crazy." He then proceeded to tell the story of a friend of his who hit his head and keeled over, dead, 24 hours later.

(To be fair, it is possible that he was asleep during all those interactions with Albrecht, Hilarion and Bathilde.)

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Another Giselle story:

When Laura Hormigon and Oscar Torrado performed it as guests with Canadian Ballet Theatre, the flowers that Albrecht picks to pluck in Act I did not give way from the rest that were "planted" in the cottage garden, and he was forced to think fast, thereby presenting Giselle (with a triumphant flourish) the whole bunch that came up with the two daisies he was tugging on, using up the "he loves me, he loves me not" music in so doing.

The next evening, all went as it should and they were able to appropriately petal-test their love. During intermission, a middle-aged patron, who was seeing the ballet for the second time, explained to her friend how, the previous evening, Count Albrecht had given Giselle an entire bouquet instead of just one measly flower!

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At the first night of Roland Petit's Pelleas and Melisande - created for Fonteyn's ??? anniversary on stage - I remember the woman behind me saying "thank God" as Nureyev finished an incredibly difficult variation and ran off stage. And then as Keith Rosson ( a good dancer but.....) appeared she hissed to her friend "That's Nureyev" :huh: .

I mean, they didn 't look anything like each other even before they started dancing!

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Overheard at SPAC about 5 summers ago, during a performance of "Prodigal Son:" "Where in the world is THIS story from -- it is SO lame and boring!" (I bit my tongue and declined to tell her the origin of the story) :huh:

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Not overheard, but a story that my parents used to tell on themselves.

At a performance of Giselle with another couple, after a long and fairly boozy dinner, the other husband leaned across his wife to ask my mother, in a rather loud stage whisper "What's a willie?"

My mother never told me what she answered.

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Everyone is familiar with the Blue Collar Comedy Tour and Larry the Cable Guy (I will contect this to the story).

My DD had the opportunity to perform in The Nutcracker last December. She danced in Waltz of the Flowers. My dad does not like to attend the ballet. DD really wanted him to attend as she was dancing alongside Sascha Radetsky and Stephanie Walz. She Begged him to go and my mom guilted him into attending. We had our seats in the seventh row. My dad was 5 seats away from me. Mother Gigone came out in her giant dress and I heard a familiar voice say..........."Gitter Done" (I told you I would contect Larry the Cable Guy to this story) I sunk into my seat, hiding behind my program.

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