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Mairead James

Introduction to ballet

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Hello, My friend, who’s an intelligent, loving, well rounded woman with 3 grown children, has never been to a ballet.  She said it’s been on her bucket list and would like to attend a performance.  I’ve been a few times many years ago, and agreed to go with her.  I’ve looked at The nutcracker, Robbins and Peck and Classic NYCB.  I’d appreciate any feedback. Thank you in advance. Maireas

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I'm not a fan of Nutcracker as an introduction to ballet -- though that is probably an unpopular opinion.  (Think of all the people who go to Nutcracker every year, year after year, but never attend another ballet. And it plays into the incorrect idea that ballet is somehow especially linked to recitals by and for children.)

If I were choosing, then from the programs you list I'd probably pick a classic NYCB program (depending on the ballets). But what about  Jewels? Jewels has three "different" ballets, different in mood, music etc. Your friend gets exposed to different ways ballet can appeal. And all of the ballets--Emeralds, Rubies, Diamonds, are "accessible" and sophisticated at once. And it has always been a very popular ballet with audiences. I know NYCB is dancing Jewels this Fall season at least....

Edited by Drew
typo

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6 hours ago, Drew said:

I'm not a fan of Nutcracker as an introduction to ballet -- though that is probably an unpopular opinion.  (Think of all the people who go to Nutcracker every year, year after year, but never attend another ballet. And it plays into the incorrect idea that ballet is somehow especially linked to recitals by and for children.)

If I were choosing, then from the programs you list I'd probably pick a classic NYCB program, (depending on the ballets). But what about  Jewels? Jewels has three "different" ballets, different in mood, music etc. Your friend gets exposed to different ways ballet can appeal. And all of the ballets--Emeralds, Rubies, Diamonds, are "accessible" and sophisticated at once. And it has always been a very popular ballet with audiences. I know NYCB is dancing Jewels this Fall season at least....

I agree about Nutcracker, Drew. There are a lot of kids and it has a lot of spots that can sag. I believe the program NYCB is calling Classic NYCB is: Opus 19/Dreamer, New Lovette, New Liang and Symphony in C.  I don't get why it's called Classic NYCB. The all Balanchine program is: Valse Fantaisie, Kammermusik 2 and Union Jack. That might be good for a first timer. However, I agree that Jewels might be the best idea. 3 different styles, moods, composers with lots of corps work as well as solos and partnering. Individual dancers get a chance to shine. Finding particular dancers engaging, is often a hook for first timers.

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Thank You for filling me in @vipa —I think Kammermusik no 2 is asking a lot of a newcomer to ballet (more than many other modernist works by Balanchine) unless they love mid-20th century classical music in general or Hindemith in particular. And the vernacular/character dance based Union Jack is maybe not what people mean when they have “ballet performance” on their bucket list, though it is very fun.  I really do think Jewels is the better option —and you still get some modernist Balanchine with Rubies. 

Fortunately NYCB’s dancers are so strong that whatever program one goes to see, one will see fantastic dancing —and with Balanchine, great choreography.  So you can’t go wrong exactly.

(Oh...and if you do go to “classic NYCB”, @Mairead James, then make absolutely sure to stay for the final work on the program - Symphony in C. That’s the real classic on that program and shows you what great ballet can be. But for an overall beautiful evening with three quite different ballets and especially for someone who wants to see their first ballet performance—I’m sticking with Jewels.)

Edited by Drew

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The Masters at Work program also looks good to me--Serenade, Summerspace, and Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2. I've never seen Summerspace, but I think that the other two works would be great for a newcomer to Balanchine/NYCB. 

I think that Nutcracker can be a great introductory ballet--I think having a story to follow can be very helpful for a newcomer.

Edited by FPF
Adding.

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I agree with Drew that Kammermusik 2 can ask a lot, and that Jewels is a great bet. Maters at Work as suggested by FPF is a good idea too. I can't think of a better introduction to ballet than Serenade.

Now you have doing fantasy programing for newbies!

I'm still iffy about Nutcracker. I don't think I'd take a newbie. 

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2 hours ago, vipa said:

 I can't think of a better introduction to ballet than Serenade.

Absolutely...and that program seems like a good choice also...

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No Nutcracker. Your friend might get bored during Act I. Any of the other options mentioned here might work better. Symphony in C is definitely the big winner, as the one with the most "classical" choreo, and amazing, easy on the ears "musique dansante"-(if your friend agrees with both Ana Pavlova and myself re ballet music, she will find "Rubies" hard to digest, both music and choreo wise). Valse Fantaisie would also be a delightful intro to the art form. Ballet Imperial I'm not sure. It is beautiful, but can be dense.

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5 hours ago, cubanmiamiboy said:

No Nutcracker. Your friend might get bored during Act I. Any of the other options mentioned here might work better. Symphony in C is definitely the big winner, as the one with the most "classical" choreo, and amazing, easy on the ears "musique dansante"-(if your friend agrees with both Ana Pavlova and myself re ballet music, she will find "Rubies" hard to digest, both music and choreo wise). Valse Fantaisie would also be a delightful intro to the art form. Ballet Imperial I'm not sure. It is beautiful, but can be dense.

Cubanmiamiboy's comments made me realize how helpful it is to know a first timer's background.  Opera lover?  Watches dancing with the stars? Tastes in music? etc. 

 

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