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Subject: "Where should you sit?" Archived thread - Read only
 
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Suzanne McCarthy

23-09-01, 04:27 PM (GMT)
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"Where should you sit?"
 
   Management consultants urge their clients to seek different perspectives on their business. Is this advice equally valid when it comes to watching dance? And, if beneficial, should the knowledge of where people might sit influence choreographers in what they create and dancers in how they perform? Is there a distance (either vertically or horizontally) from the stage where the relationship between audience and performers becomes so tenuous that it is a breach of management responsibility to the paying public to sell tickets for such seats?

It might be argued that these issues apply equally to the other performing arts. The one profound difference is that with dance the audience has paid to see movement that remains a kissing cousin of mime. Even if you can’t clearly see the singers, actors or musicians on stage, you can still hear the sounds they are making. But, no matter how wonderful the accompanying music, it is probably not the primary reason why you have booked to see a dance performance.

From a financial perspective, bums on seats, no matter where they are, equal pounds in the box office purse. Eliminating certain seating from sale in the larger venues would probably necessitate others costing even more. The result, dance, and ballet in particular, is in even greater danger of being accused of being an elitist art. Yet there is a point where, if you are sitting up in the “Gods”, the figures on stage become meaningless unless you have the eyes of an eagle. Alternatively you can sit too close. That is unless you want to concentrate only on the orchestra and/or the artists’ feet and ankles.

If we want to interest more children in dance then we have to make sure they can see it properly. Maybe, like supermarkets car parks, certain areas should be reserved as children seating, at least for some performances, in order that the little ones have a decent view of the action on stage. Otherwise the likelihood is that they will remember the visit to the Christmas Nutcracker more for the ice cream in the interval than for the magic of the Sugar Plum Fairy’s performance.

Movie choreographers like Busby Berkeley purposely created intricate patterns designed especially to be seen from an aerial perspective. Similarly, some modern works, like Mark Morris’ pieces, contain movements and outlines that can be appreciated differently depending on whether you are seated in the stalls or in the higher circles (sometimes the best place to see his work). It may be that this is more often the case with contemporary dance than with 19th century narrative ballet as traditionally produced. If so, does that say something about where the classics should be staged? In examining this could ENB’s ventures in the round at the Royal Albert Hall be the way forward? It might also be a clue as to how new venues should be designed. Would it be better for these to be smaller and better raked, say like the more intimate spaces of the ROH’s Linbury and Clore studios?

As usual this all comes back to politics and the subject of government subsidy. Without decent investment of public money dance will continue, at least in our larger theatres, to remain inaccessible to some, even if they pay to see it.



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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: Where should you sit? Sarah 23-09-01 1
     RE: Where should you sit? David 23-09-01 2
         RE: Where should you sit? Robert 24-09-01 5
     RE: Where should you sit? Bruce Madmin 23-09-01 3
         RE: Where should you sit? Ann Williams 24-09-01 4
  RE: Where should you sit? Anneliese 24-09-01 6
     RE: Where should you sit? Jim 24-09-01 7

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Sarah

23-09-01, 04:41 PM (GMT)
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1. "RE: Where should you sit?"
In response to message #0
 
   My what an incisive analysis, and so true. I also think by your logic that there should be a sliding scale of payment required to view dance in correlation to length of piece, distance from stage and also prestige of venue and choreographer. Afterall why pay high prices to view dance in any venue other than the ROH, I do so object to paying more than £15 to view dance in venues without a Royal prefix. That's why I'm glad I missed the San Franciso Ballet at Sadlers Wells and waited to see them at the ROH, I feel i got so much more for my money.

I also think that there should be an "large head in front of one" fine to be paid by the venue to all those whose view is impaired (but only in good seats).

I think that until the dance world wises up and invests good money in management consultancy firms to work out a "sliding scale" payment policy (afterall wallpaper is sold by the metre, why should art and dance be any different) the state of the art will not get any better, and the government will be justified in their lack of support of the art. Afterall why should they care if dance itself will not apply such pragmatic rules to its payment policy.

It's so good to see dance lovers like yourself really get to grips with the real problems of the art in contemporary Britain. Cheers the soul. As to where you should sit? I suggest far right - as always.


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David

23-09-01, 05:47 PM (GMT)
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2. "RE: Where should you sit?"
In response to message #1
 
   Sarah - have you really read Suzanne's piece? I think you've missed the point.


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Robert

24-09-01, 03:34 PM (GMT)
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5. "RE: Where should you sit?"
In response to message #2
 
   Surely the size, sex,and number of dancers should be considered when paying for dance.(OOps I am not sure if you should pay more to see men or women! Sorry.)


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Bruce Madmin

23-09-01, 06:33 PM (GMT)
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3. "RE: Where should you sit?"
In response to message #1
 
  
I think you've missed the point too. It seems highly pertinent for us to discuss the view we get from seats and think fresh thoughts rather than just carry on in the same old way. This is not a political issues either. If the audiance see a good deal more will come - this is good for them and good for dancers and dance companies too.

It would be nice to see some more constructive thought about the lot of those who pay the bills - both at the box office and in their taxes...


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Ann Williams

24-09-01, 09:56 AM (GMT)
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4. "RE: Where should you sit?"
In response to message #3
 
   Yes, I'm puzzled too having read Suzanne's reasonable-seeming posting twice now.

Could you tell us what it is that you object to, Sarah?


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Anneliese

24-09-01, 09:33 PM (GMT)
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6. "RE: Where should you sit?"
In response to message #0
 
   >Management consultants urge their clients to
>seek different perspectives on their
>business. Is this advice equally
>valid when it comes to
>watching dance? And, if
>beneficial, should the knowledge of
>where people might sit influence
>choreographers in what they create
>and dancers in how they
>perform?
......
>Movie choreographers like Busby Berkeley purposely
>created intricate patterns designed especially
>to be seen from an
>aerial perspective. Similarly, some modern
>works, like Mark Morris’ pieces,
>contain movements and outlines that
>can be appreciated differently depending
>on whether you are seated
>in the stalls or in
>the higher circles (sometimes the
>best place to see his
>work). It may be
>that this is more often
>the case with contemporary dance
>than with 19th century narrative
>ballet as traditionally produced.

Hmm, I would disagree with your last postulate. Swan Lake and Les Sylphides and Giselle and possibly even Nutcracker and Beauty all work well from a distance - any work with a traditional big corps making patterns on stage is worth seeing from above.


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Jim

24-09-01, 11:14 PM (GMT)
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7. "RE: Where should you sit?"
In response to message #6
 
   >any work with a traditional big corps
>making patterns on stage is worth seeing from above.

I agree absolutely. For the fine detail I use my 45 x 65 ex-WW2 German tank binoculars mounted on a monopod.



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