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What is the best seat in the house?

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I can sometimes be found in row 5 of the orchestra at NY State Theatre,almost close enough to make out the sweat bead on Damian's nose. But the other day I was in row 4 of First Ring and it's almost a new ball game, the patterns are more discernable, but the closeness and the appearance of the dancers' expression is missing.

If money is no object, where do the cognoscenti - the primero balletomanes - prefer to sit?

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I'd like to sit in lots of different places all at once smile.gif For me, it depends on the theater and the ballet. For Balanchine, I'd like to see the patterns -- I can live without the dripping sweat. For the 19th century classics, I'd like to be halfway up the left aisle in the orchestra, because the patterns read better from the left. I seldom get to see ballet "dead on," sitting in the center, and have been surprised when I do. There are a lot of ballets (especially by less experiencned, or lesser, choreographers) that look great when you're sitting dead center, and a mess when you watch from an angle.

I used to love standing in the Kennedy Center. Best seat in the house, and in my day, it was $2 or $3. I'd try to switch from the right to the left side every night -- I learned a lot about ballet that way. You had a completely unobstructed view, there was enough of a rise that you could see the patterns, and yet the Kennedy Center is an intimate enough house that you could see the acting, if there was any (and far enough away not to be driven mad if there wasn't and there should be.)

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For years, my late wife and I sat in the orchestra of the New York State Theater. Then we graduated to the first ring and had a similar revelation. Seeing "Union Jack" from the orchestra had been pretty much of a mess. Now it made sense. The same was true for other ballets. Eventually we gave up our orchestra seats and sat in the first, second, or third rings only. Currently, I have three NYCB subscriptions -- one in the first ring, two in the second. I prefer the second ring because it's cheaper and the audience seems happier. A lot of people in the first ring never applaud -- some are critics, so that's understandable -- but many just seem bored.

I don't miss the sweat either, but I do miss seeing the dancers' faces. At one time I could recognize almost everyone in the corps if I saw them on the street. That's no longer the case.

I had just about the worst ballet seat I've ever had at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center this past October, for the Suzanne Farrell Ballet. It was in a box from which I could see only half the stage. But I'd already seen the company four times a short while earlier at the Kennedy Center, so I wasn't too distressed. Besides, there was a compensation. Two times I caught a glimpse of Suzanne herself, bustling around backstage.

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