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"The times are changing. Our audience used to be very devoted to the ballet and knew a lot about it," a spokesperson for New York City Ballet, Siobhan Burns, said. "That's not what audiences are now."

This seems the only ballet reference in the 3-page article in the (Links: August 14) NY Sun article on Performances in print:

http://www.nysun.com/article/37862

Of course an audience now may not be as consistent as when Mr. B. was making so many new masterpieces to keep us coming. But I still have a sense that there are a lot of people attending NYCB, not just oldies, who are devoted and knowledgeable.

1. Is this a useful perspective for management to take? If they act on the basis of this perspective might they not risk alienating present (and potential) long-term frequent attenders?

2. Does it portend a dumming down of what will be presented? (Perhaps already signified by that simplified block programming?)

3. Or is this merely an example of a journalist's choice of what to print, and not at all the overall view of the company?

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2. Does it portend a dumbing down of what will be presented? (Perhaps already signified by that simplified block programming?)

I don't think it's a dumbing down at all - just an acknowledgement that you can't fill the State Theater for 23 weeks a year with a limited group of balletomanes.

But I also don't think that the new block programming is dumbed down. You and I know what type of ballet Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2 is, and that it's entirely different from, say, Kammermusik No. 2. But the casual balletgoer doesn't, and people have to be casual balletgoers (at least once) before they can become passionate ballet fans.

For the general arts fan flipping through a subscriber program, putting the ballets into general categories is a big help. The block programming is a way to attract young families, modern dance fans, and other people who otherwise would have never considered attending a ballet.

I understand what Sioban is saying, even though it wasn't expressed (or quoted) very gracefully. People have a lot of entertainment options these days. We should show them why ballet is a good one.

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People have a lot of entertainment options these days. We should show them why ballet is a good one.
Absolutely. And the article gives some solid examples of how this might be done.

Those of us who read and post on Ballet Talk bring certain amount of knowledge and understanding to the performances we attend. This greatly enriches what we see. But the average audience member probably does not have this advantage. Nor does he/she have the motivation or resources to do much in the way of research prior to the performance.

Ballet programs, lobby displays, advertising, etc., should be doing some of this to help this audience. In my experience, ballet programs are generally among the least informative of the major performing arts, especially outside the big dance capitals. Ballet publicity tends to focus on the who/what/when/where of the peformers, choreographesr, etc. -- but not on the "why" (or even the "why bother?") of the performance.

I hope that all ballet companies come to believe that they ought to persuade and enlighten audiences as well as put on a show for them.

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In my experience, ballet programs are generally among the least informative of the major performing arts, especially outside the big dance capitals. Ballet publicity tends to focus on the who/what/when/where of the peformers, choreographesr, etc. -- but not on the "why" (or even the "why bother?") of the performance.

SO true! Even the modest program notes for small music concerts are often well-researched and well-written. (I point out music b/c I hate to see dance programs that emulate theater programs--i.e., "Muffy dedicates this performance to the love of her family and her dog Fifi," etc.)

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I hope that all ballet companies come to believe that they ought to persuade and enlighten audiences as well as put on a show for them.

That's a big part in getting newbies to become repeat attenders.

Where do newbies come from? I know of examples of each:

1. Ads and phone solicitation.

2. People who are already interested and have just moved to the city (pretty common in NYC).

3. People who are taken to see City Ballet by already committed enthusiasts.

4. Children of long-term enthusiasts, who subscribe on momentum.

5. (Ex-) Ballet students.

Each source is worth mining, hopefully the needs and interests of each will be acknowledged.

Would presenting special subscriptions for out-of-towners be a good idea? An example would be weekend trios (Sat mat, eve, Sun mat). They could be sold as subscriptions before single tickets go on sale, so that out-of-towners would have a better shot at decent seating than if they had to achieve this by individual purchases.

Here's to the best-attended winter season of the 21st century!

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Would presenting special subscriptions for out-of-towners be a good idea? An example would be weekend trios (Sat mat, eve, Sun mat). They could be sold as subscriptions before single tickets go on sale, so that out-of-towners would have a better shot at decent seating than if they had to achieve this by individual purchases

I think that would be a good idea, but this is coming from an out of towner.

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An out-of-towner series would interest me as well (especially if there were several weekends to choose from). I can imagine the logistics of it would be tricky for the company but perhaps not insuperable (?).

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An out-of-towner series would interest me as well (especially if there were several weekends to choose from). I can imagine the logistics of it would be tricky for the company but perhaps not insuperable (?).
I think the new scheduling plan would make this easier. In the past, most weekends would have repeats of several of the ballets in different combination. Now, there are combinations of Thurs/Fri/Sat eve, Fri/Sat eve or mat/Sun mat, and Sat mat and eve/Sunday that have no repeats, not to mention any number of Fri/Sat and Sat/Sun two-combos, with the exception of Sleeping Beauty weeks.

The Metropolitan Opera does this, with many weekend trios over the course of the season. I was able to subscribe to a Sat eve/Sun mat subscription to San Francisco Opera last season.

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Ahhhh! A lot of we are out-of-towners!

Since the attendance problem is a matter of a percentage point or two, weekend combo subscriptions could go a long way toward helping with the problem. Once regular subscription sales were completed it shouldn't be hard to give a week or so priority to filling weekenders before selling singles. Since the optimal ticket selection system for each seating section works well for everyone else that uses the State Theater, it shouldn't be hard to use it in a fair manner for weekend visitors. Perhaps, once NYCB has such a system on-line, you'd even get to see your seats for each performance before you click "buy."

Of course it would make getting a good weekend seat tougher for us greedy locals. But to save our company, why not?

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NYCB has many educational opportunities for newbies (and oldies) available throughout the season, many of which are described in the subscription brochures.

The Information Committee writes and distributes "supplemental program notes" at each performance. Subscribers are sent condensed versions in a booklet with their subscription packets, and many of our "Rep notes" are the basis for the long descriptions now on the web. People love them, including some of the critics.

There are Docent talks on average of twice a week every season. People really enjoy them--they've been around for 8 to 10 years.

Old timers taking "newbies:" For years I bought 3 to 5 tickets for each performance I went to, and distributed/sold them to friends and family. Oh, they all loved to go, but not one of them became a regular on his or her own. Who knows why not?

NYCB has several other educational outreach programs that are described on the subscription program in very, very tempting ways. Perhaps they should consider broadcasting (via press release or something) these resources (many for families) much more, so that people are more aware of them before they come.

There's a lot of us -- and opportunities -- out there........

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I was going to mention the pre-curtain and intermission docent talks, VC. Unfortunately, I don't think they are publicized beyond the Fourth Ring Society Members, to whom they are targeted. Too bad, because there are probably other members of the audience who could benefit from them. And thanks to you and your fellow volunteers for your dedication and hard work.

ABT also has occasional pre-curtain talks available to all ticket holders several times a season.

These are not unique to NYC companies, as we have learned from Florida- and Seattle-based BTers.

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ABT also has occasional pre-curtain talks available to all ticket holders several times a season.

These are not unique to NYC companies, as we have learned from Florida- and Seattle-based BTers.

The PNB pre-performance talks are given by doug, whose Tudor Choir performs music by Josquin, Palestrina, Victoria, and Allegri tonight at 5pm at the Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver as part of the Vancouver Festival.

http://www.festivalvancouver.ca/home/concertInfo.php?id=84

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PNB does do pre and post show discussions at the theater, but they also have a public lecture/panel discussion for each program, co-sponsored by a local book store and usually featuring some artist involved with that program, a lunchtime lecture-with-video at the central branch of the library, and last year began offering mini-studio shows for some of the programs on Friday evenings (before the main run) that are "geared towards young adults and college students" Most of these (except the studio shows) are free.

http://www.pnb.org/season/dc2006.html

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