Jump to content
This Site Uses Cookies. If You Want to Disable Cookies, Please See Your Browser Documentation. ×


Recommended Posts

In reading around this site, I've noticed a couple of instances when inappropriate applause has been "cited". I'm wondering about this - naturally if one is totally "unsure" one can always wait for the rest of the audience. But aren't there certain times when one is supposed to applaud individual dancers, for example after a soloist or principal does something wonderful? Or for members of the corps? And yet, I have read that some feel that inexperienced audiences applaud inappropriately - as in giving someone too many curtain calls when they don't really deserve them! Is it considered gauche to applaud the 32 fouettes that are whipped off during Swan Lake?

Link to comment

In terms of the 32 fouettés, I would consider it gauche mainly because I haven't seen anyone do them well in so long I can't even remember. :) It's gauche because the audience will applaud if someone just survives them, not because they are well executed. They don't seem to care if the working leg is turned in, the foot flopping, or the arms look like the dancer is doing karate instead of ballet.

Link to comment

mildly irrelevant to original discussion starting question, but, mildly interesting to me are the different applause customs, depending ..... A mildly educated audience of classical music would not dare applaud until the conductor's baton comes down at the very end. Even then - I believe the greatest accolade is the occasional complete awed silence that will preceed roaring applause at the end of a truly exceptional performance. Unlike, say - jazz - where each soloist gets applause.

I'm not a particularly well versed dance audience member, but I do get bugged when there is applause, applause, applause after every "trick" as if we are viewing an athletic competition rather than a dance. And then, as I think about it, generally for modern dance, applause would wait for the end, so as not to break up the composition and spoil it.

So, is the dance world backwards to the music world???

(I seemed to be fixated on "mild." Time to mildly drift off to sleep, I guess).

Link to comment

Many current productions of three act story ballets are done to almost insist on applause. After a set piece--a variation, pas de deux or trio the dancers will come downstage for a bow—it would be impolite not to applaud under those circumstances.

Applauding the fouettes in Swan Lake—it is hard not to do so, even if they aren’t very good, or even if there are less than 32 of them. The second time I saw “Swan Lake” (the day after the first time) I didn’t know the difference between a fouette and a frying pan. I did know that Odette would do them and approximately when, though, having read about the work. So as a novice watcher of ballet (which is still the proper category for me) I was prepared to applaud when they happened.

Another reason for inappropriate applause is the audience congratulating themselves for recognizing something that they hear or see. It is omnipresent in opera. Calif could hum “Nessum dorma” on a kazoo, Lauretta could accompany herself with musical spoons while singing “O mio babbino cara” in “Gianni Schicchi” or Violetta could yodel “Sempre libra”. In each case there would be rapturous applause from those who recognized the tunes from commercials, cartoons or Three Tenor tapes.

Link to comment
Originally posted by Ed Waffle

Another reason for inappropriate applause is the audience congratulating themselves for recognizing something that they hear or see. It is omnipresent in opera. Calif could hum “Nessum dorma” on a kazoo, Lauretta could accompany herself with musical spoons while singing  “O mio babbino cara” in “Gianni Schicchi” or Violetta could yodel “Sempre libra”. In each case there would be rapturous applause from those who recognized the tunes from commercials, cartoons or Three Tenor tapes.

Oh, Ed; you do have a way with words!


Link to comment

I'm trying to refrain from commenting on this issue since, as many of you know, it's a thorn in my side. However, since I'm the forum's co-moderator....

I feel that applause in ballet should come at pauses within the ballet itself: the end of a solo or a pas de deux, the end of a scene or act, the end. Applauding particular dance steps/movements turns the performance into a circus act. This is an art form and should not be interrupted. In "Giselle", for instance, the dancing is so lovely and the mood so deep that applause is an intrusion anywhere but at the appropriate moment.

I could go on and on.....and I have on other occasions.


Link to comment

I agree with you, Giannina. I remember a performance of Jacques Garnier's "Aunis" at the Paris Opera when the applauses really ruined the end of the work for me: the audience wrongly believed that it was finished and started applausing, but in fact it was not completely finished, and there was a short, nostalgic section at the end- but the applauses totally covered the music (accordion played on stage)... :)

When my fiance started attending ballet performances with me, he was a bit puzzled about when to applause. The rule I told him (well, that's what I do) was: wait until the stage is dark for a rather long time (to avoid applausing when there's just a tiny pause between two movements), or until the dancers do reverences.

An exception is the POB défilé- but it's made especially for applauses! That's simple: the dancers arrive on stage and do reverences, and the audience applauses until they have red, hurting hands! :)

Link to comment

I read a letter by Giannina in the print version of Ballet Alert once, and felt compelled to respond with a letter of my own. Primarily, I disagreed with lumping together the audiences of ABT and NYCB. It seemed to me then, and still does, that the ABT audience often applauds inappropriately (halfway through those 32 fouettes, for instance), and the NYCB audience doesn't applaud enough. Be that as it may, I heartily endorse Giannina's formulation here of when to applaud. Giselle has been ruined for me more than once by clapping and bellowing at the most ethereal moments.

I again take exception though, to holding up the symphony audience as a model of appropriate behavior, as syr does here: "A mildly educated audience of classical music would not dare applaud until the conductor's baton comes down at the very end." Personally, I would much rather hear spontaneous applause between movements than the coughing, hawking, shuffling, and wheezing which is the norm. I'd hate to bring that joyless, intimidating atmosphere to ballet. At the other extreme, as Ed Waffle points out, is the opera audience, which routinely greets truly atrocious renditions of famous arias with applause and bravos. I think if one pays attention to what's going on and uses taste and common sense, one will know when to applaud and when not to.

Link to comment

unfair, Farrell Fan!:) but a point to you as, of course ANY sound is better than "hawking and wheezing!" Meanwhile, I think something wierd happened over a generation's time, and people just want to believe that whatever they are seeing is exceptional and cheer, cheer, cheer. As a kid, going to a Broadway show, really, a standing O was not that common. Now no matter WHAT I go see, it seems people want to give that ovation, as if the collective sense of what is really extraordinary has been lost.

Link to comment

Farrell Fan raises an interesting point regarding applause at the concert hall. I thought I had read (years ago) that holding applause between movements of a symphony or concerto and only applauding at the end of a piece was relatively recent behavior and that it was largely due to the needs of engineers who were recording the concert. I am trying to find a reference for this.

The ways that audiences react to what is on stage continues to change. It was Richard Wagner who insisted that the lights in the auditorium be turned down--and this was due partially, at least, to advances in stage lighting that were much more effective when seen from relative darkness. It now seems "natural" to do so, but 150 years ago it was natural to not to keep the lights up.

Link to comment

This is one of my hobby horses I'm afraid.

I find applause in the middle of a ballet egregious and mood-shattering. One of the posts on this tread mentioned applause in Giselle. For once, I would like to see/hear a second act of Giselle without any applause so the other-wordliness could shine through. As it is now, there is a knee-jerk reaction and loud applause when the Willies are crossing the stage in arabesques. Sigh, Sigh.

Was anyone at ABT's City Center performances of Balanchine's Sympathy in C? At two of the Bizet performances Susan Jaffe was not only loudly applauded in the MIDDLE of the ballet, but flowers were tossed on stage in the MIDDLE OF THE BALLET!! I know the ABT audience is not familiar with this ballet, but really . . . .

Perhaps we could go back to the days when Robbins insisted that an insert be put in the program for Goldberg Variations asking the audience to hold its applause until the end. And it worked!!! Oh that it could be done with today's audience. Maybe we could take a poll on inappropriate applause and if the poll numbers agree, we can "petition" the powers that be.

Link to comment

Ed, at the Paris Opera, the lights still were on on in the auditorium until Serge Lifar's arrival in 1935.

Bobbi, I don't know if I've just been lucky or if the French audience is quieter from that point of view, but I don't remember hearing any applauses during "Giselle"'s Willis section (and hope I will never!)

Link to comment

And, as another aside to Bobbi and everyone :), the new software lets us have a "window of opportunity" to go back and edit something without the dread "edited by" appearing at the bottom. (There's a Preview feature, too, if you want to see how it will look before you post it. Hit the Preview button, right next to the submit button.)

BUT if 5 minutes later you realize you've accused Balanchine of choreographing Rodeo, you can sneak in and change it before anyone knows :)

Link to comment

My heart goes out to you who've experienced clapping from the unthinking audience during the appearance of Queen Myrtha and the Wilis! :mad::(

Here, here! I applaud your replies and may there be many more! Perhaps it will evolve into a learning experience for some of us.:cool:

Link to comment

Have to say I'm grateful for the cold but at least quiet London audiences especially in the recent Giselle performances. I've always had the impression that the pause between the end of a variation and the clapping was more due to uncertainty that it really is the end rather than an audience stunned into silence!

Iohna Loots of the Royal Ballet corps pointed out in an insight evening, was how distracting untimely applause could be. Like in the long lines of Wilis hopping in arabesque, the audience here is silent throughout and if the audience were to erupt the dancers would panic in straining to hear the music. And then she brought up, I think POB, who are used to hearing applause half-way in the same hops but when they were abroad and confronted by an audience who didn't clap half-way they were wondering what they were doing wrong! She said it was really rewarding to hear applause if they'd done something really difficult, but only at the end. So that's ok by me! I'm all for waiting!

Link to comment

I'm not a very experienced ballet goer, and I must say that I don't like the convention of applauding in the middle of the performance very nice. It shatters my concentration on the piece and the mood very much.

In between acts, or after a particularly good variation once or twice during the ballet, or something such, maybe, but why on Earth do people clap their hands when the music is still playing and the dancer still dancing?

I guess I'll get used to it by time - but right now I cannot help being a bit uncomfortable with it.

Link to comment

I share a general lack of experience as an audience member, but I've always rationalized the mid-variation applause, as well as the multiple-curtain-call-applause/brava/flower-throw as a form of extra compensation for dancers who survive the major-league-type odds and debilitating injuries for a life of minor-league pay.

Of course, all the 'bravas' in the world won't get you on the downtown local after the show . . .

Link to comment

Let's not forget dancers who milk applause out of the audience when they really shouldn't. Wendy Whelan, God bless her, has an unfortunate habit of drawwwing oouuuttt the head-to-the-knee penchee in 2nd Mvt. Symphony in C, and, of course, the audience applauds (and I cringe). I remember years ago when the National Ballet of Cuba was at the Met, Loipa Araujo dancing Myrtha managed to accomplish much the same feat with, shall we say, expressive phrasing of a simple developpe a la seconde. (I do think that audiences of certain nationalities tend to be much more demonstrative than others!) I was rather awestruck by Araujo's accomplishment.

Speaking of awe and cringing, it's not Maria Kowroski's fault she has a heart-stopping arabesque, but it is unfortunate that it seems to have become de rigeur at NYCB to applaud when she gets turned about in that arabesque in Serenade.

And while we're looking for villians, let's not forget the management of certain ballet companies. A single, overwrought balletomane might've taken it upon himself to disrupt a performance of Symphony in C at ABT's City Center season last fall by tossing a big fat and expensive bouquet of roses at Julie Kent's feet after the second movement, but to have it happen every time it was danced? (Did this happen in Washington?)

Link to comment

and what about an "entrance applause"?

For example, with NYCB, the Sugarplum's entrance

or say the Swan Queen's entrance at ABT?

Some clap, some don't and some people don't know whether to follow or not.

Personally, I don't clap, if the music is still playing, I find it rude to the musicians. I save the applause for the curtain calls.

Link to comment
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...