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How Far To Travel

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I am fortunate to live in NYC where there are many dance performances, resident companies and visiting ones, not to mention opera and other "high cultural" experiences which are all very accessible. I was thinking about travel and Ballet as I was on Air France this weekend and they had interesting film about Patrick Dupond and the Paris Opera.

How far do balletomanes (not professionals) travel to attend performances? When you make a long excursion... do you see a series of performances? Do you do this often or regularly? What inspired you to make such an effort and undergo the expense? Have any balletomanes moved closer to a location to be able to regularly attend dance? When you travel for "normal" vacation or even business do you look for and attend performances?

Would you like to (and plan to) attend a performance in any special venue... such as the Paris Opera (if you live in the States? Is anyone organizing travel to see performances or is this done only by individuals with their own motivation?

In speaking with people sitting next to me at the Met, perhaps half are from way out of town... beyond commuting range. What are some of your experiences with travel to see ballet?

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That's a great topic SanderO - you'll find that professional or not, making ballet an impetus to travel makes for interesting travels.

I just got back from a trip to London which let me visit family in Bristol for Thanksgiving and see the Royal Ballet's new works and Sleeping Beauty.

Here's a long thread on some tips and tricks people here have picked up on their travels. http://ballettalk.invisionzone.com/index.p...topic=640&st=40

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Great topic! I live in the Los Angeles area and we get many ballets here. My husband often talks of moving but he knows that I'll never move away from a ballet area.

I've gone to New York for ballets. At one time my daughter lived in Queens and I'd visit her during ballet season (shameful, I know). My husband and I go to London in January for ballet; wonderful ballet in January, and with the city being so cold the tourist sites are comparatively empty. We've even had snow twice! I've seen ballet in Paris and Moscow and, again, London while traveling on river tours. I have often thought of a ballet tour: traveling during a time when all the ballet companies are performing and just going from one to another. Now THAT'S a tour!!


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Right now, most frequently I go to London - the company is in a rising trend, I have family and friends to make the trip even better, so it's first on my list of cities. Sleeping Beauty in London this Thanksgiving felt like a joy for the dramatic coherence of the production (I had just come off of Nureyev's version in Toronto) - I wonder what NYCB's Beauty will look like to me in January.

I also go at least once a year to check in on San Francisco Ballet and National Ballet of Canada. Similar enticements, I have friends I love to see, so I schedule the visits to coincide with an interesting program. It makes for a great trip.

I haven't been to Paris for ballet since '03. I find I'm missing it, but they haven't had a program that made me really want to go in a while. And Estelle and her husband Philippe moved to Lyon :) The lights in Paris dimmed for me.

I've been looking for an excuse to return to Buenos Aires, but I'm probably not going to get it until the Teatro Colon reopens after massive renovations in 2008. The Mariinsky is also closed for the same.

We still need to make the Ballet Talk tour. :)

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Leigh I wasn't sure if you traveled for ballet first and having friends there is the icing on the cake or... travel to visit friends and the ballet is the taste that lingered longest?

Who actually has made a ballet centric excursion? I would like to read about it.

As much as I love ballet and opera these days (more and more and I get older)... I still feel I need to have MORE reasons to make a trip to Europe than a performance... and I have never thought to build a trip around a performance. But things do change in importance in our lives and I have traveled to Madrid to seeing the Prato, for example. I think I would like to visit some of the great European venues for ballet and opera in the coming years. I think I need to bone up on this and would appreciate comments and suggestions.

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It's hard to pry people and dance apart for me -- dance has been organizing my life since I was in my late teens (and I'm 50 now) so many of my friends and colleagues are wrapped up in my dance life. So I'll go to NYC for a dance conference, see performances, talk shop with friends, go to the library -- it's not just travel for a performance, but it's certainly all related.

Tangentially, I live in a town where the opera company produces the Ring cycle every four years or so. And those performances are certainly full of people who have travelled specifically to sit in those theater seats for those four nights. Many of them know each other from different Rings in different places -- in some ways it's like a convention!

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I've never planned European travel around ballet. :) Like most people I am limited -- or limit myself -- as to the times of the year when this kind of travel is convenient . Or perhaps I'm lazy, lack the skill or drive, etc. As a result, as I think I've mentioned before, I have had the most phenomenal bad luck in finding serious ballet even in Paris and London. When I arrive, the big companies have almost always departed or are on hiatus. (On the other hand, there's always opera and theater, and you can almost always select from a number of options when you get there.)

There are so many exceptional packaged tours centered on opera performances (often combined with other forms of classical music) and opera festivals. Why isn't this the case with ballet? I would think there are many of us who would interested in a ballet-performance-centered tour in which someone else did the scheduling, ticket-buying, and oversight.

Is there really such a difference betwen serious opera fans and balletomanes?

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I travel to San Francisco and Phoenix several weekends a year to pack in two-four performances of the ballet, and I've also travelled to Berkeley for the Kirov and Suzanne Farrell Ballets. Vancouver is a 2.5-4 hour drive north, depending on the border crossing, and I've gone there several times in the last few years, when National Ballet of Canada and Les Grand Ballets Canadiens de Montreal have toured there.

When I travel for work, if there's a ballet (or opera) performance, I try to attend, particularly in the airline hub cities (generally Copenhagen and London). When I went to Australia to see performances at the Adelaide Festival in 2002 and the Ring of the Nibelungen in 2004, I planned my time so that I could see Australian Ballet performances on my way in and out of Sydney, and caught an anniversary performance of the ballet in Melbourne. When I was invited to have Thanksgiving with a group of college friends last year in London, my plans for the week were based on the schedule of The Royal Ballet, which was playing Sylvia, over what was in Amsterdam or Copenhagen those two days. (I don't think there was any ballet that Monday or Tuesday in Paris.)

I've never taken an extensive ballet vacation, although within the next five years, I want to save up enough vacation time to take a 10-day cruise from Moscow to St. Petersburg, surrounded by a few extra days in Moscow at the beginning for the opera and ballet, and then staying on in St. Petersburg for the White Nights Festival. A girl can dream, right?

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Well, a few weeks ago, I took a 1 1/2 hour train ride to see Nilas Martins & Co. Does that count?

When the Kirov made its first visit to the US in 20 years (was that 1983, zerbinetta?) , I schlepped to Philadelphia for a mini-marathon of three perfs., then followed them to Wolf Trap for another two. I went to Philly with friends, encountered many others down there -- all drawn by the mystique that had grown in the time between US tours. In DC, I stayed with a friend. That was my first stab at traveling for ballet.

I've taken two one-day round trips from New York to Washington (4 hours on a bus) to see Suzanne Farrell Ballet's Don Quixote (2005) and the Royal's new Beauty (2006). Following the Beauty, instead of going straight home, I took the 11-hour trip to Northhampton, Mass., for a cousin's bar mitzvah.

I planned a trip to London around Alina Cojocaru's schedule (opting to see her Giselle over her Nikiya), but the London trip was not specifically for ballet.

I live a couple blocks north of Lincoln Center, and I consider going to City Center, a mere 10 blocks further south, A Trip.

My guess is, when this thread is eight pages long, Leigh will make all of the rest of us look like a bunch of travel wimps.

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OK, because Carbro asked, I looked at this year's calendar. From New York, there were trips to:


San Francisco

Philadelphia (again)


St. Petersburg





London (again)

that involved ballet. If Natalia is around, I have a feeling she'd give me a run for my money. I'm not sure whether ballet or friends is the chicken or the egg for me. I'll use one as an excuse for another, but I'm still morose with my good friend David for moving from a great ballet city (SF) to a mediocre one. My friend Steve wants me to visit him, but it keeps getting put off because the ballet schedule where he lives is uninspiring. As does a contemplated visit to Australia - when the Australian Ballet does something I want to see, I'll go see the kangaroos, too.

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Well, a few weeks ago, I took a 1 1/2 hour train ride to see Nilas Martins & Co. Does that count?

When the Kirov made its first visit to the US in 20 years (was that 1983, zerbinetta?)

A trip to Patchogue defintely counts. Counts double as it's the boonies.

Are you telling me it's 23 years since that Kirov visit? :mad:

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I caught the travelling-for-balletitis bug two years ago and planned a trip to St.Petersburg from Montreal around Lopatkina dancing the Legend of Love. I loved its music, learned a small part of it and thought I should see the real thing. I tried to catch as many ballet performances in the shortest possible time and had a lot of fun trying to set the best travelling time in spite of the Mariinsky posting the playbills just a short time before, and I booked classes in between and turned this trip in my own little ballet-festival&workshop. I repeated this year, this time during the real festival.

I would travel to Copenhagen for the next Bournonville festival - that gives me a long time to save money! - and made myself a rule not to set foot in Cuba unless there's a ballet festival at the same time!

I think ballet-travel is a great way to get to see what you really love and to meet people to share the same passion with, which is quite rare in my part of the world, and after all, considering that birdwatchers will travel to a remote jungle at the end of the world just for the chance to maybe catch sight of a rare bird species, our chances are much higher to get to see what we expect!

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Now, now. I lived for quite a while in the Hamptons. For us, Patchogue was the Big Apple.

I don't mean to demean Patchogue, bart, but it is not possible to get a decent latte there.

Perhaps not possible to get a decent latte but possible to get surprisingly good Italian food at the restaurant right next to the theater!

I love the RB so I’ve thought about trying to put together a trip to London to see them but haven’t been able to pull that off yet. However I do travel quite frequently to see ballet, sometimes combining it with family visits and sometimes not.

I grew up with ballet in the late 60’s early 70’s when NY was the center of the ballet universe (or so it seemed) and I’m still not quite accustomed to the idea that great companies like the RB, Danish RB, Bolshoi & Kirov do North American tours and skip NY. So I’ve been traveling a lot recently to see them in Boston, DC, Chicago and LA. I also have family in South Florida and occasionally have been able to see the Miami City Ballet when I visit.

I guess LA has been the farthest I’ve traveled to see a performance and Patchogue the closest, however the trip to LA was definitely easier than the trip to Patchogue and probably cheaper than some of my trips to DC. The longest travel to performance ratio was last month when I traveled to and from Boston the same day to catch Pavlenko/Zelensky in a Kirov Swan Lake matinee. It was appx 8 hours of travel for a 3 hour performance and I spent the whole trip out thinking how insane I was for was doing it – especially since I’d seen Pavlenko in Swan Lake the previous week (in Chicago, visiting my family). Then, when I got there I was privileged to see one of the most touching Swan Lakes I’ve ever witnessed, and immediately decided that it was well worth 8 hours of travel time. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Right now I’m planning trips to DC for Obtraztsova’s Juliet and possibly for Osipova’s DQ and Krysanova’s Cinderella (if the Kennedy center ever posts the Bolshoi’s casting so I can see if those dancers are even scheduled for the trip). So I’d say that how far to travel and how many performances to see on a trip depend solely on your budget and taste for travel.

Oh yes, I forgot to mention that I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting fellow BT posters just about everywhere I’ve gone – a lovely bonus!

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. . . [A]fter all, considering that birdwatchers will travel to a remote jungle at the end of the world just for the chance to maybe catch sight of a rare bird species, our chances are much higher to get to see what we expect!
And we suffer fewer insect bites! :mad:
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I'll admit to tailoring my travel plans to fit in the ballet. I was born in New York and have lots of family there, but I don't visit the city unless there's some worthwhile dance to see. (Apologies to my relations!) The same goes for overseas travel. If I see a particularly happy combination of ballet and opera productions in a given city, I plan my vacation to fit it in.

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I've travelled a bit just to see ballet, too. Last year included trips to DC to see the Royal Ballet's Sleeping Beauty (3 performances), Boston to see Boston Ballet's La fille mal garde (4 or 5 performances), Seattle to catch PNB's opening performances, and a business trip to San Francisco that let me see a mixed rep and Sylvia, as well as a trip for their Stern Grove performance. I also drive quite a bit to Los Angeles and Orange County to see touring groups that come through. That's about a 1.5- to 2-hour one-way drive.


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A lot depends of course on people's personal circumstances. In the past I was able to tailor short trips to London and Paris around ballet - a matter both of geography and family. I'm sure I will pick up ballet travel again - in about twenty years or so. :)

That said, later this month my husband and I have the opportunity to spend a night together away from the children - the first time we will have done this in over three years (and the first time away from the younger one)!! There was absolutely no deliberation about where to go (we're in Philly) and what to do that evening. NYCB, here we come.

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Ok, my average seems to be 4 hours one way (8hrs for a round-trip). When I lived in about 25 miles northwest of Tokyo, I had to drive to the train station and then take 3 trains to get to the city. So sometimes it was fast, sometimes not, and sometimes Shinjuku was having riots and it got even more fun trying to find a taxi to drive us home.

In the States, besides the 4hr roundtrip drive to Boston to see BB, I've flown back and forth to LA to see ABT at the Music Center or OCPAC. (And Kings of Dance last February, followed by the 8hr roundtrip drive to see them in NYC the following weekend--long story there.) I had relatives in CA so could save on hotels, but not recently. I now do the 4+ hours each way into NYC to see NYCB or ABT. If it's an evening performance, and there are no more late bus/trains home, I then must splurge on a ridiculous priced hotel room or go cheap at the Y. Which brings up the question of funding--it usually costs me about a week's pay to see 1-2 performances in NYC between tickets/hotel/transportation costs.

The last time I was in London (mid '80's) I made sure to catch the RB in R&J, and have never forgotten it.

Perhaps the most extravagent thing I've done recently (November), is to endure the 8+hr roundtrip in a single day for an 11-minute performance in NYC. I am SO very grateful for that experience and will NEVER forget the kindness of those who made it so.

As I have been going alone to most performances over the last years because few friends/relatives are willing to endure any trips longer than 2hrs to go see a performance, I would greatly enjoy the creation of a travel group of fellow balletomanes to travel with in future. Group rates sure beat single rates at most locations!

FYI: I've written two articles about us "Cultural Tourists" and submitted them to various publications--but haven't heard back yet.

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Ah and now we come to a subject only slightly less dear to my heart than ballet. Cheap hotel rooms.

4mrdncr (and others) alas, NYC is not a great Priceline city, but London is. You can usually get a nice room in Kensington at a faceless but comfortable chain hotel with decent amenities for 50% off - or about $85/night + taxes and fees. It is an excellent option. Paris is a semi-OK Priceline city (avg would be $120/night), NYC fluctuates wildly with December and Christmas (and Nutcracker) season being one of the most expensive. You might get something for less, but it's looking like $140/night and up.

Philadelphia has been really cheap in the past; Boston is not.

Final word of advice, Priceline bidding takes skill. Don't attempt it without reading up on it (there's a primer at my blog. Be prepared for it to take some time and effort - in return you could save $100/night in London)

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When I read about how some people travel so far back and forth or are forced to stay in an expensive hotel in NYC for example I wonder if it is not possible for some of local to the performances to offer some lodging to a fellow balletomane and perhaps see the performance together?

I realize that this is like taking a perfect stranger into your home, but if there is some effort to develop some sort of relationship it might be a way to make a new friend or two... and make the experience so much the richer.

We live close to NYC.. just 25 minutes on the train so this may be a bit far, but it might make it possible for some to go to the ballet in nyc. It's a concept.

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A trip to Patchogue defintely counts. Counts double as it's the boonies.

Now, now. I lived for quite a while in the Hamptons. For us, Patchogue was the Big Apple.

Seconded, Bart. Patchogue is only 20 minutes east of my home, and I do not consider it quite the boonies.

I have occasionally travelled to Boston and back for a performance, 10 hours round trip, but I rarely travel long distances solely for performances. Coincidentally, I'm planning to do just that this Friday, and will report back about the experience unless I decide to skip it after all.

I'm glad NYSusan enjoyed the Italian restaurant next to the Patchogue Theater, but if you head 3 miles south on Ocean Avenue, you'll find the Louis XVI, a restaurant I'd rank with virtually any temple de haute cuisine in Manhattan: http://www.louisxvi.org/

I've only eaten there once, but if Nilas Martins returns to Patchogue some day and any one from this forum wants to join me for dinner before or after, I'd go back there in a heartbeat. Boonies my rear end! :blushing:

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Ah and now we come to a subject only slightly less dear to my heart than ballet. Cheap hotel rooms.
A friend visiting New York a couple of years ago was able to find a room for under forty dollars a night! :blushing: Truly.

Well, it was in Jersey City (I think), but the PATH train to New York was right there, and the trip to midtown was 20 minutes. My guess is that it was a businessperson's hotel, very near to a number of industrial parks and fairly empty over the weekend. I don't remember which internet service she used to nab this bonanza, but I can find out.

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