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ABT online gala


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You can barely find actual dancing of "America's National Ballet Company". They had an opportunity to showcase it here and instead decided to do a commercial. Le sigh. If they don't survive COVID I wouldn't be surprised. Maybe ABT folding would be a blessing in disguise by getting a new AD and board with better artistic vision and integrity. Lord knows ABT has needed it for years now. I feel sorry for the dancers.

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, Drew said:

 

I do feel great love for ABT and want them to make it through this crisis more or less intact....

I feel exactly the same, Drew, as I'm sure that many of us do, and sent them a donation when this was first announced along with those to other companies as they appear.

Edited by Buddy
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I'm also echoing what almost all of you have said.   No dancing, "perfectly dreadful", infomercial,  way too much talking, boring celebrities, amateurish.   I don't mind seeing Jennifer Garner as she is a known balletomane.  Most of the others just struck an off-key note even more than Tony Bennett.  Why didn't ABT show 5 minutes of the new Ratmansky instead of a speeded up mashup montage that gave no sense of what it's like?  Same with the stars of tomorrow montage in which you couldn't identify any of the dancers or choreo, and most of that was also in fast forward. Those were deeply unimaginative wastes of footage. Jessica Lang in my opinion is a mediocre to crappy choreographer and her PdD was not interesting.  I was particularly struck by who did NOT appear in a cameo toast to ABT.  As someone noted on another site, there was no mention of Tharp, or others who were of significant importance to ABT.   Whaa???  I'm sure you can fill in the blanks.  I sent a contribution too, but it was not the equal of those I gave to NYCB and the Metropolitan Opera.

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I agree with bluejean that calling the event a "gala" was problematic. They should have come up with some other term that wasn’t so misleading… or maybe they just should have simply stuck with “celebration” or "online fundraiser." Also, I agree with Drew about the intended audience. I believe they were targeting new and younger people with this online event, not hardcore balletomanes, like all of us here.

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Yikes. Well, I’m glad I didn’t miss anything. I was a bit tempted to tune in but I had other things going on. This is the time for them to get their act together, now of all times. It doesn’t sound promising. I also feel bad for the dancers for so many reasons. Artistically, critical time is being lost during a very short career and financially I wonder how they’ll survive. 

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14 minutes ago, BalletFan said:

I ...They should have come up with some other term that wasn’t so misleading… or maybe they just should have simply stuck with “celebration” or "online fundraiser." ....

And yet...and yet, even as a fundraiser, it didn't do a good job. The online auction was barely ever mentioned, except for the 30 seconds of Zimmy Coker in her kitchen, mentioning her cooking class as an auction item.  Or did I miss any other extensive mention of the auction? Speaking of … a cruise??? :jawdrop:

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15 minutes ago, BalletFan said:

Also, I agree with Drew about the intended audience. I believe they were targeting new and younger people with this online event, not hardcore balletomanes, like all of us here.

To what end, though? I can't imagine many new (to ballet? to ABT?) and/or younger people being very captivated by what they saw — and even if they were, I'm not sure what the purpose of that would be. There aren't tickets on sale now that the company would be trying to get people to buy. New and younger people aren't going to be very impelled to start donating money to a ballet company just by seeing what was offered last night.

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I tuned in for the last few minutes of the gala.  It was disappointing.  Every other ballet company has managed to show extended portions, or entire ballets, from past performances.  Why is ABT the only company that isn't doing that?  Do they not have any past performance video to share?  Is there a legal reason they can't do it?   Glad I didn't waste a full hour or more on this. 

 

I switched into the sublime digital offering on the NYCB website, and it lifted my spirits.

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Like most of you, gala to me meant more dancing. But when I read the release I saw there was much touting of celebrities and home videos (which, frankly, we can access on our own through social media and the like; not that I don't appreciate all that). For those pointing to it as a fundraiser, yes, I guess that's more of what it was. It reminded me of those PBS fundraisers. If you have the money to give and did so, then watching the rest is sort of pointless. And if you don't have the funds, one sits there guilt ridden. I don't know. Maybe this was more for their board members and high-ranking donors. I find it hard to believe they don't have video footage. It seems like some amount of house cameras are the industry standard these days. 

 

 

 

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4 minutes ago, Dale said:

I find it hard to believe they don't have video footage. It seems like some amount of house cameras are the industry standard these days. 

Yes, the Of Love and Rage footage (which they manipulated so as to show no truly watchable dance content, but which looked to be of quite decent quality) belies the idea that they have nothing to share. I see no reason to think that footage was a major exception. They likely have a lot on private video.

The whole thing seemed designed to tug at the heart-strings of wealthy donors looking for ways to feel better while cooped up in their penthouses, toasting each other and dreaming of dancers waving at them from the park below.

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1 hour ago, BalletFan said:

I agree with bluejean that calling the event a "gala" was problematic. They should have come up with some other term that wasn’t so misleading… or maybe they just should have simply stuck with “celebration” or "online fundraiser." Also, I agree with Drew about the intended audience. I believe they were targeting new and younger people with this online event, not hardcore balletomanes, like all of us here.

I think I qualify as a relative ballet newcomer. I’m under 40, and ABT is my favorite domestic ballet company. 

That being said, I read the description of the event and was deeply disappointed... and when my calendar alert went off for the event I kind of sighed and didn’t even bother. It sounds like I made the right choice.

Not to say I speak for all new/younger audiences, but if that’s what they were going for here, I’m not sure they succeeded. 

The auction also seems to be doing rather poorly....

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It was odd for ABT to include Cynthia Erivo singing America the Beautiful,  as she has no known connection to ballet,  and she's not American.  She is a Nigerian-Brit who has co-signed negative statements about black Americans.  Including her was bound to antagonize some viewers,  notably the fans who came to ABT because of Misty Copeland.  I've followed ABT for many years,  but just seeing Erivo's name was enough for me to not watch.

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I watched this unfortunately. It was grim. It doesn't make me hopeful for the company's future because I can't see many people opening up their wallets after watching this, whereas I can see people being moved to donate to NYCB after their digital season because they have put out such high quality content. Also the Met at Home Gala was wonderfully done and so was the Stephen Sondheim birthday fundraiser. 

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17 hours ago, BalletFan said:

Well… I'm definitely in the minority here, but I enjoyed tonight's event. I suppose it would have been nice to see some archival footage or excerpts from ballets, but I don't think that ABT has much of that that they can put online (hopefully I'm wrong).

There was a similar problem with the film by Ric Burns -- we saw snatches of archival stuff, and it looked like they had much more available, but they went with overly doctored footage (sped up or slowed down to the point that you couldn't really tell what they were doing).  ABT has archives, but for some reason they either cannot or will not use them.

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Posted (edited)

I'm truly no expert here, but am genuinely curious.  I'd assume they'd retain some level of rights to a piece if it were choreographed specifically for them?  I can understand them not being able to publicly stream performances of Balanchine works, for example, but they've had plenty of work choreographed in-house.

Maybe for Of Love And Rage there's the possibility that Ratmansky thought it wasn't yet ready for Primetime and wanted to rework some of it, but what about his Sleeping Beauty?  They've broadcast their Swan Lake and Corsair on PBS, so I'd assume they'd be able to pull out some more recent recordings of either of those, at the very least.

Edited by Phrenchphry11
typos
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Posted (edited)

Ratmansky is allowing NYCB, the Bolshoi, and probably others I can’t think of to stream his ballets. And the Balanchine and Robbins trusts are allowing multiple companies to stream their ballets. It’s got to be ABT that’s the problem here as everyone else in the ballet world is opening up to streaming during the current situation.

Edited by Leah
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Posted (edited)
50 minutes ago, Phrenchphry11 said:

I'm truly no expert here, but am genuinely curious.  I'd assume they'd retain some level of rights to a piece if it were choreographed specifically for them?  I can understand them not being able to publicly stream performances of Balanchine works, for example, but they've had plenty of work choreographed in-house

I don't think it's that they truly aren't able to. I think they have recorded material, and they could make it happen by some means if they really wanted to.

The fact that they made the gala available on YouTube for only 24 hours is very revealing of their attitude toward digital content distribution. (It's almost funny. But sad and disappointing, mostly.)

Edited by nanushka
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3 hours ago, nanushka said:

I don't think it's that they truly aren't able to. I think they have recorded material, and they could make it happen by some means if they really wanted to.

The fact that they made the gala available on YouTube for only 24 hours is very revealing of their attitude toward digital content distribution. (It's almost funny. But sad and disappointing, mostly.)

It takes fast negotiations with the various unions. NYCB seems to have managed

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8 hours ago, vipa said:

It takes fast negotiations with the various unions. NYCB seems to have managed

Before fast negotiations, it takes a desire to negotiate. I see little evidence that this is a union issue and increasing evidence that this is a committed stance on the part of ABT management.

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All the dance footage (except the truly poor Hurlin/Bell thing) was even available before this--SCFTA posted a longer clip of Of Love and Rage (the actual dancing) on their FB page.

 

I'm glad I put it on while chopping vegetables for dinner instead of deciding to sit down and watch it. Terrible.

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Posted (edited)

I've also been wondering about ABT's streaming situation - it may just be a recording quality issue. If the archive videos are simply too amateurish looking in comparison to what other companies are releasing, then ABT management is likely to hold back. Which is unfortunate, obviously, but they may just be stuck. Time to raise funds to set up a real digital media presence. But even with money, it doesn't always go well, as we have seen with NYCB and their archive library - some of the footage is not well done, and suffers from the usual obfuscation of choreography in favor of 'nifty' editing and 'cool' shots that don't actually convey any useful information.

Edited by pherank
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16 hours ago, pherank said:

I've also been wondering about ABT's streaming situation - it may just be a recording quality issue. If the archive videos are simply too amateurish looking in comparison to what other companies are releasing, then ABT management is likely to hold back. Which is unfortunate, obviously, but they may just be stuck. Time to raise funds to set up a real digital media presence. But even with money, it doesn't always go well, as we have seen with NYCB and their archive library - some of the footage is not well done, and suffers from the usual obfuscation of choreography in favor of 'nifty' editing and 'cool' shots that don't actually convey any useful information.

Those "edits" are down to design. NYCB has a house camera in the back of the State Theater, I believe, every performance. Dancers have talked of looking at the videos afterwards for improvements or being shown them by a coach. Other than those overhead shots (which they use a lot on live IG events, I guess so they can whet the appetite without violating certain union rules and choreography deals), it's mostly head-on (which I actually think is best - give the audience the view they'd have if they were center first ring). I do think with ABT, it is due to maybe a lack of desire or negotiating skills. Wish we knew. There's obviously different thinking now at NYCB/SAB (as shown by not only the Digital season but the SAB Workshop release). The thing is, viewers aren't (at least I'm not) looking for cinematography on the scale of Emmanuel Lubezki. We just want performances. Other than the films that were recorded with multiple cameras and in HD, like those done by European companies or the Met Live in HD or National Theatre Live), most of the very welcome offerings by SFB, PNB and others aren't ready-for-DVD shape. But I'm going to remember the institutions that were generous. And repay in kind (well, as much as I can!). 

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I hope that the company can figure out a way to get around whatever it is that is preventing them from streaming footage from past performances.  I also agree with many of the negative sentiments here regarding the online gala, but I also hope that we are in the minority and that the company was successful in their fundraising efforts.

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