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Mary Lynn Slayden

Scooters @ NYCB etc

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Amazing while attending NYCB's International Balanchine on Wednesday evening's performance I encountered

a woman with a scooter. My friend a guest of mine from London asked her if she was allowed to bring this into the theatre (obviously). She said yes that she usually kept it under her seat but was making a quick getaway and left it in the corridor near the door. I commented that she was one of "those" people who leave at the curtain calls and told her it was rude. Justice was served however since someone nicked her scooter before she left and she gave a little cry of dismay when she realized this.

My seatmate to my left also left before the curtain calls though I could tell that she

wanted to escape earlier. I think my body language had translated to her that I wasn't going to budge. As she

passed making me miss the dancers bows I told her it was rude to do this. Everyone understands a need to get to a restroom or such but this is just pure and simple selfish behavior. Why do these folks come anyway.

This happens at the Kennedy Center as well but it seems worse as there is an exodus before the ballets are finished. I also had a rude staff encounter at the MET after a matinee of Sleeping beauty. I have complained via letter so won't rant on about that here.

I am going to start a grass roots campaign to refuse passage to anyone next to me until the lights come up and the performers have stopped coming on.

Let them wet their pants!

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My seatmate to my left also left before the curtain calls though I could tell that she

wanted to escape earlier. I think my body language had translated to her that I wasn't going to budge. As she

passed making me miss the dancers bows I told her it was rude to do this. Everyone understands a need to get to a restroom or such but this is just pure and simple selfish behavior. ...

I am going to start a grass roots campaign to refuse passage to anyone next to me until the lights come up and the performers have stopped coming on.

Let them wet their pants!

Is it not rude to ignore a dire need to exit? As long as you are preventing passage, consider all those people in rows behind whose view YOU are responsible for hindering.

Also, cultural event attenders are generally old, men's prostates enlarge, and MANY men in any given audience have or have had prostate cancer. Regard that in most theaters there are far more women's restrooms (by Law) and that men must often change levels to get to one. Anyone who has wolfed down restaurant food (often not the soundest quality near cultural istitutions) rushed between work and curtain time, may give your lap more than wetness. For you to see one happy grin on one applauded dancer's face, some old patron may be faced with finding a way to get home with more than dampness in the pants. Who is rude?

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Who is rude?

Obviously I know the answer to that question. These people weren't elderly, but if they can't stay for the entire

event then perhaps they should get the dvd or get an aisle seat. I think the curtain calls are as much about the perfomance as the ballet. Interesting point you make but it won't make me change my mind. I think most dancers would

prefer that the audience show it's respect and appreciation. If they did an exit poll of early leavers I would bet it is more about beating the crowd in the parking lot, getting a cab etc.

I don't think a few minutes it takes to see the curtain calls can make much of a difference.

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Sorry to hear that you missed the dancers bow, Mary Lynn. It does take all kinds and in all manner of events and places. I see them in church (!!!), at the movies, in cultural events. And nearly all of them don't seem to be headed for the bathroom. It would be nice if there is an announcement before the performance/movie starts to gently remind the audience to refrain from such behaviour out of courtesy to other patrons. There are already standard announcements for cell phones and photo-taking.

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I see this differently. While the performance is GOING ON it is very rude to enter or leave the auditorium and/or seats.

But when the performance is over, it's over. It's fair and right to applaud the performers but if you choose not to and leave instead, that is your RIGHT. No one can dictate that you must sit (or stand...gag me) until the lights go up, the fire curtain comes down, etc.

Again ettiquette during the performance is one thing and I feel strongly about that. But curtain calls? For the spectator, they are optional.

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My take is that everybody has their own idea about when a performance is "over", from when the curtain drops or the last note is played to when the ushers chase everybody out to when the stars leave from the stage door.

I dislike disruptions _greatly_ (can't stand latecomers and theaters where they just seat people whenever they show up), but on the other hand I can't imagine blocking somebody from trying to enter or leave my row.

Yes, I find disruptions during a performance disappointing and distracting, and if the person were sitting near me and were a habitual offender I might say something, but I'm not willing to get into the business of second-guessing who's desperate to get to the restroom (or a once-every-two-hours train or...or...or...) and who just wants to get out of the garage faster.

At a collective level, though, I agree that it's a lot nicer when the whole audience isn't heading for the door the moment the curtain closes.

Much more irritating, though, are the noisemakers, electronic and otherwise. For these there is no excuse: even if one needs to be "on call" for something, they all have silent modes.

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I agree with Richard and Koshka--people are allowed to leave when the performance is over if they choose to. No one is obligated to stay and applaud, and if they didn't like it, there is no real reason for them to sit in their seats (although it would be nice), and I don't mind missing a moment or two of the bows. As a performer, I think it would be extremely disheartening to see a lot of people walking out as you're bowing, but that doesn't mean they should be forced to stay. I wonder if this is perhaps another manifestation of movie culture, in which most people leave the moment the credits start to roll.

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I'm a believer in the performance being over at the later of when 1. the curtain fall 2. the music stops. I have no problem with someone who wants to exit quickly, as long as they give me a minute to gather my things and stand to let them by, and they don't push and kick and step all over me in their haste (if it's not an emergency).

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There is the undeniable train issue. As the evening goes on, trains home become more sparse..... As do fast trains... So an extra five minutes of curtain calls can sometimes double the time it takes to get home - or more!

What I appreciate is when those who do have to dash out right at the end tell me beforehand, and usually we then swap seats or so after the last interval. Thus, they are able to run out and catch their train, and I don't have my view blocked.

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To allow someone to pass in front of you during a curtain call might take 2 seconds. Why make a big deal about it. The curtain calls are fun to watch for some of us at times and at other times ... who cares... we have more pressing things to do. I've encountered people who were pissed because we wanted to skip the curtain calls... but usually most people gracefully let you pass... and you should always be polite and utter... excuse me please.

Some people may even have an emergency mid performance... you can't force them to sit there and "suffer". Let's get real people. If you don't want anyone in front of you sit in a box like a snob.

Edited by carbro

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Why even applaud at all then if it's optional then let's all just leave as soon as the performance is over. Oh better

yet lets just have films of ballet, if we don't need to show our appreciation then why have live dancers?

I sure hit a nerve here. I think there may be lots of guilty early leavers posting some of these thoughts.

I stand by my opinion.

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Ms Slayde,

I think people who leave after a performance almost always applaud and simply don't scoot out. We have not always stayed for curtain calls... at least extended ones, but always show our appreciation by applause.

Curtain calls are not part of the performance we come to see... and the occassional times people want to leave without staying for them is not a big deal.

And of course if you are not pleased with the performance why should you even applaud? Applause is optional as well. Isn't it?

I have no guilt and I like to see live performances. Curtain calls are not dancing is it?

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It’s always difficult to comment on a subject when it concerns behaviour in another country but here in London UK there is probably an increase in people leaving hurriedly in recent years. You now actually have to pay a tax to enter central London (the congestion charge zone) in a car, and then it’s often impossible to find a parking space. I am fortunate in working within walking distance of all the London theatres that stage dance, but the friend I go to the ballet with lives and works a long way out and has occasionally had to abandon his night out simply because he couldn’t find a parking space. Public transport is atrocious and frequently dangerous, the tube so crowded that it is difficult to get into the carriages even outside of the rush hour and busses invariably get caught in jams late into the night. If you live outside of London you have to struggle to catch the last train. Consequently the minute the curtain falls many people have to move fast.

Ms Slayde, are you seriously suggesting that ballet should only be attended by the fortunate elite with waiting chauffeurs or those living within a two-mile radius? If you are so very sensitive as to the feelings of the performers on stage I suggest you ask a few of them what they would prefer, a percentage of the audience leaving hastily at the end, or a swathe of empty seats.

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I guess the scooter was removed from the corridor because it was classed as a fire hazard, blocking the passageway.

I thought I was the ultimate audience-shushing good behaviour control freak, but I still found this thread a hoot. Martin Amis has a nice story of a concert-goer who got like this - but more extreme - and ended up murdering noisy members of the audience. On the other hand, one could live and let live. It might be easier on one's nerves.

Jim.

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Why even applaud at all then if it's optional then let's all just leave as soon as the performance is over. Oh better

yet lets just have films of ballet, if we don't need to show our appreciation then why have live dancers?

As I see it, the whole point of applause is that it's optional. If you liked the performance, applaud. If you didn't, don't.

I am no defender of the "walking ovation" during which people who (presumably) enjoyed the performance don't feel the need to express their appreciation and gratitude for the artists' hard work. However, anyone who thought the show was bad is under no obligation to remain once it's over.

I recall reading here on BT once (perhaps the original poster can clarify if s/he is reading) about a performance of a very badly choreographed ballet during which all the dancers performed very well. At the end, when the choreographer came on to bow, there was silence. Then someone handed the lead ballerina a bouquet, and as she stepped forward to take it, the house erupted in applause. When she went back to her place in line, silence again. It certainly sent the message about the choreography will still showing appreciation for the dancers' performance.

(By the way, I do think bringing a scooter into the theater is going too far.)

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Now I'm curious about the scooter--are we talking about a little Razor-type scooter, the kind that folds up to something the size of a full-size umbrella? Or something bigger? If it fits under the seat AND the patron can manage to get it to and from a place under the seat without whacking into anybody, then I see no harm. Of course, this is why theaters have cloakrooms.

(Russian theaters are very strict about what goes into the theater vs. what goes to the garderobe!)

But I would never leave anything just hanging around in a theater corridor/lobby unless I had the explicit blessing of the ushers!

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No matter how healthy, young, physically fit, etc. people look, we never do really know their story. Perhaps there's a babysitter waiting at home who needs to leave at a certain time to get her train?

Perhaps the person with the scooter has MS or lupus or myasthenia gravis or some other condition where you can look the picture of health, walk perfectly fine to your seat, but can't walk for more than 100 feet without your legs starting to give out. A scooter is ideal.

Perhaps the woman rushing out is taking diuretics for high blood pressure or another condition and simply can't wait any longer before getting to the rest room.

When I was young, I was critical of people for doing things like leaving early or before final bows, but then when I was still young but just a little older :) , I ended up with one of those conditions where I looked perfectly healthy, but needed a cane or a scooter to walk more than a block or two.

Like you, I'm the sort who stays for the final bow and hates to miss a second of my enjoyment during that time, but I'm now in late middle age and I know that there are lots and lots and lots of reasons why people feel they need to leave early, and I don't waste any energy on it at all. Life is much, much too short :):excl:

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I not only used to live in NYC, but I used to drive in NYC and to NJ, Long Island, and Yonkers (work commute). My general observation (and projection) was that if someone signaled to move into another lane, drivers would block the space for kicks and giggles. Driving is a lot more cooperative in the Seattle area, although there's still a bit of self-righteous lack of cooperation when a driver needs to do something at the last minute. Plus, there's the standard, neverending complaints from drivers about bicyclists and bicyclists about drivers who don't think the other side should be allowed to exist.

When I visited India -- and, no, they do not let foreigners rent cars and drive, unlike in Ireland or Britain or Australia, for everyone's safety -- I observed traffic. Sharing the road are trucks, minivans, small SUVs, cars, motorcycles -- many with a kid riding in front of the driver and a woman sitting side saddle holding a baby or toddler (on bumpy roads at 30 mph) -- bicycles, taxis that look like golf carts, and carts driven by cyclists and livestock, not to mention the livestock themselves. Most roads are single lane, or two-lane where there is a dotted line to demark lanes that are rarely observed, and appear to be customary, much like traffic lights.

In the few weeks that I was there, my coworkers and I observed one accident. (Accidents are at least a weekly occurence in my commute to work.) When people drive, they obey the hierarchies of size and possible speed, anticipate what other vehicles need -- using horns and "body" language (although, rarely directionals) -- and they let people do what they need to do. If that means being in the far lane in one traffic circle needing to be in the far lane of the next traffic circle and crossing four lanes of traffic in ten seconds, the other drivers will let this happen.

A friend of mine observed that traffic in India is like water: it parts and converges. Ever since I've been home, I've tried to put this principle to work -- not the driving along the center line part, but letting people do what they need to do -- and it makes life a lot calmer than wanting to rip other people's hearts out. I feel the same way about exit habits at theaters.

That kind of emotion I need to save for people who ruin the actual performance.

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I sure hit a nerve here. I think there may be lots of guilty early leavers posting some of these thoughts.

I stand by my opinion.

Guilty????? I don't think so. Certainly it is you right to stand by what opinion that you have devised.

But other opinions may also be in other people's minds

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I sort of agree with Mary Lynn.

I wouldn't block someone from leaving their seat early, and I don't like it when irritable (snobby? miserable?) audience members chastise other audience members.

However, I do think, in general, it's "not in the right spirit" to leave before the curtain calls. Most of the excuses for leaving early are just that -- excuses. Everybody's in a rush to get where, exactly, that is so much more important than it was twenty years ago when people didn't leave before the curtain calls? It's just a cultural shift. We think our time is incredibly important. It doesn't surprise me at all that this trend of leaving the threater early began and is most pronounced in NYC, USA. It strikes of spoiledness -- the theater and live performance are nothing special, definitely not more special than an individual thinks of himself and his time.

Of course it's optional to applaud after a performance. I don't think that is the issue. On the rare occasion that you really don't like the performance, of course you don't have to applaud or stay for the curtain call. However, I think most people leaving early did in fact enjoy the performance.

The curtain call is our gift of our time and our presence to the dancers after they have given us two hours of dancing. It's our chance to connect with them and give something back. I think it's a shame (and, yes, even selfish) to walk away without participating in that gesture of appreciation in the name of saved minutes.

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However, I do think, in general, it's "not in the right spirit" to leave before the curtain calls. Most of the excuses for leaving early are just that -- excuses.

I absolutely agree, and it does seem that life is more "hurried" (and perhaps people are more selfish). But, as another poster said, life is too short to try to second-guess every person running for the exit, carrying a scooter, or whatever. You just never know, and why waste the mental effort to guess?

All that said, the audience at the Suzanne Farrell Ballet performance at the Kennedy Center was quite well-behaved as far as I could see--the only "bad" things were two episodes of applause when the music was playing (one case) or about to restart (another).

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I not only used to live in NYC, but I used to drive in NYC and to NJ, Long Island, and Yonkers (work commute). My general observation (and projection) was that if someone signaled to move into another lane, drivers would block the space for kicks and giggles. Driving is a lot more cooperative in the Seattle area, although there's still a bit of self-righteous lack of cooperation when a driver needs to do something at the last minute. Plus, there's the standard, neverending complaints from drivers about bicyclists and bicyclists about drivers who don't think the other side should be allowed to exist.

When I visited India -- and, no, they do not let foreigners rent cars and drive, unlike in Ireland or Britain or Australia, for everyone's safety -- I observed traffic. Sharing the road are trucks, minivans, small SUVs, cars, motorcycles -- many with a kid riding in front of the driver and a woman sitting side saddle holding a baby or toddler (on bumpy roads at 30 mph) -- bicycles, taxis that look like golf carts, and carts driven by cyclists and livestock, not to mention the livestock themselves. Most roads are single lane, or two-lane where there is a dotted line to demark lanes that are rarely observed, and appear to be customary, much like traffic lights.

In the few weeks that I was there, my coworkers and I observed one accident. (Accidents are at least a weekly occurence in my commute to work.) When people drive, they obey the hierarchies of size and possible speed, anticipate what other vehicles need -- using horns and "body" language (although, rarely directionals) -- and they let people do what they need to do. If that means being in the far lane in one traffic circle needing to be in the far lane of the next traffic circle and crossing four lanes of traffic in ten seconds, the other drivers will let this happen.

A friend of mine observed that traffic in India is like water: it parts and converges. Ever since I've been home, I've tried to put this principle to work -- not the driving along the center line part, but letting people do what they need to do -- and it makes life a lot calmer than wanting to rip other people's hearts out. I feel the same way about exit habits at theaters.

That kind of emotion I need to save for people who ruin the actual performance.

This attitude in India stems from the fact that they are very fatalistic. What happens is going to happen. Nothing you can do about it. So why worry? My first time in India on the way from the airport to Pune I had my jaw clenched in in terror the whole 4 hour drive. After a few weeks you get used to it and realize driving there is chaos but a controlled organic chaos. With regards to audience members doing something you don't like, you can't control thier behavior only your own. Let it go. Live ballet viewing is not meant to be enjoyed in a vacumn, it's of the moment and sometimes that moment can be annoying but it can also be glorious.

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On the Opera-L list, each day there is a post listing which major musical figures was born and died on that day, as well as major music premieres. In addition, there is a quote by one of the musicians. Today's quote is from pianist Emmanuel Ax, who was born 8 June 1949

Applause should be an emotional response to the music, rather than a regulated social duty.

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This thread has the virtue of complicating how I look at (=grouse about) other patrons' behavior! Here's a new one: in front of my seatmate at the recent Beauty, two very young people decided to spend the show snuggling, effectively blocking the space between seats that allows the person behind to see through--even after she asked them to de-couple! Fortunately for her they had to -- ahem -- leave after the first half; perhaps in 9 months there will be a new Aurora on the scene.

Back to applause, etc.: The recent production of Beauty aside--where appluase could barely be sustained for the first bow--I've found that the standing ovation is often overused. What happens is that the rows in front of you stand, and then you end up standing just to see the curtain calls--whether or not you thought the ovation was deserved. And, after attending music concerts, I really have come to detest balletomanes' habits of clapping every time someone does something remotely difficult (or repeated). This goes along with talking during overtures. It's bad enough in opera, but most opera-goers seem more savvy about when to hold their applause.

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