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Subject: "Thread II(a) - Eleietism, Social Class and Ballet" Archived thread - Read only
 
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #2502
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Bruce Madmin

17-02-02, 04:50 PM (GMT)
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"Thread II(a) - Eleietism, Social Class and Ballet"
 
   The last thread has rapidly grown to capacity and in taking the discussion forward we've decided to split the subject down. The ballet and racism issues are being discussed on http://www.balletblack.org.uk/phpBB/viewtopic.php?topic=20&forum=4&0 and this thread is being used to talk around Elitism and social class.

To pick things up you may well want to go back to the original thread at:
http://www.danze.co.uk/dcforum/happening/2494.html

As I posted on that thread the ROH who are often criticised for lack of easy access, are very much 'on the move' at the moment:

There was a piece in the Indie last week about ROH going and doing more big screen relays, work with TV etc:
http://enjoyment.independent.co.uk/theatre/news/story.jsp?story=119741
(and there was the start of a discussion at http://www.danze.co.uk/dcforum/news/1183.html)

And here is something I posted today and based on an ROH....

I thought I would also post this here - its an entry I just put in the reviews links page and seems very pertinent..

ROH Audience
Why it's trainers, not tiaras, for a night out at the opera.
Vanessa Thorpe, arts correspondent
Good to see the ROH coming out fighting re their posh image! An interesting story and nice to see some metrics around about who visits the Opera House. However I'm not sure I've detected much, if any, change in the (ballet) audience since the ROH was reopened. Hopefully they will be able to repeat their research in a couple of years and see how things are moving.
"For generations, the popular image of the average Covent Garden operagoer has remained the same: grey-haired and doddery, the men wearing formal evening dress, the women draped in the family jewels. But the Royal Opera House has discovered that its audience is much more in tune with the twenty-first century than expected.
    "The modern opera or ballet fan is much less well-off and younger than Royal Opera House officials had believed, according to new research.
    "Ticket-holders are now just as likely to arrive dressed in ordinary high-street fashions as designer labels. And, after the performance, a large proportion of them will return to a student flat or a modest starter home. 'These independent figures are encouraging, as they show we are already attracting a far broader spectrum of the population than was previously thought,' said Tony Hall, executive director of the opera house, who is leading efforts to dump its elitist image after its £78.5m National Lottery award for refurbishment."
http://www.observer.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,6903,651649,00.html

I'm really pleased to see them coming out but like all 'messages' it needs testing and interpretation...

The question I ask readers is "over the last 10 years have you seen a change in the RB Covent Garden audience and if so in what direction etc?"


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: Thread II(a) - Eleietism, Social Class and Ballet Viviane 17-02-02 1
     RE: Thread II(a) - Eleietism, Social Class and Ballet Jim 18-02-02 2
  RE: Thread II(a) - Eleietism, Social Class and Ballet Anneliese 18-02-02 3
     RE: Thread II(a) - Elitism, Social Class and Ballet Brendan McCarthymoderator 18-02-02 4
         RE: Thread II(a) - Elitism, Social Class and Ballet Jim 18-02-02 5
             RE: Thread II(a) - Elitism, Social Class and Ballet Mike 18-02-02 6
                 RE: Thread II(a) - Elitism, Social Class and Ballet roddy 18-02-02 7
                     RE: Thread II(a) - Elitism, Social Class and Ballet Brendan McCarthymoderator 18-02-02 8
                         RE: Thread II(a) - Elitism, Social Class and Ballet eugdog 18-02-02 9
                             RE: Thread II(a) - Elitism, Social Class and Ballet Jim 18-02-02 11
                             RE: Thread II(a) - Elitism, Social Class and Ballet Paul A 18-02-02 13
                             RE: Thread II(a) - Elitism, Social Class and Ballet Viviane 18-02-02 12
                         RE: Thread II(a) - Elitism, Social Class and Ballet Paul A 18-02-02 10
                     RE: Thread II(a) - Elitism, Social Class and Ballet Isobel Houghton 18-02-02 14
                         RE: Thread II(a) - Elitism, Social Class and Ballet Anneliese 18-02-02 15
                             RE: Thread II(a) - Elitism, Social Class and Ballet Paul A 18-02-02 16
                             RE: Thread II(a) - Elitism, Social Class and Ballet eugdog 18-02-02 17
                             RE: Thread II(a) - Elitism, Social Class and Ballet Anneliese 18-02-02 18
                             RE: Thread II(a) - Elitism, Social Class and Ballet Anneliese 18-02-02 19
                             RE: Thread II(a) - Elitism, Social Class and Ballet Anneliese 18-02-02 20
                             RE: Thread II(a) - Elitism, Social Class and Ballet Helen 18-02-02 25
                             RE: Thread II(a) - Elitism, Social Class and Ballet Helen 18-02-02 27
                             RE: Thread II(a) - Elitism, Social Class and Ballet Isobel Houghton 18-02-02 21
                             RE: Thread II(a) - Elitism, Social Class and Ballet Viviane 18-02-02 22
                             RE: Thread II(a) - Elitism, Social Class and Ballet Brendan McCarthymoderator 18-02-02 23
                             RE: Thread II(a) - Elitism, Social Class and Ballet Paul A 18-02-02 24
                             RE: Thread II(a) - Elitism, Social Class and Ballet Jim 18-02-02 26
                             RE: Thread II(a) - Elitism, Social Class and Ballet Brendan McCarthymoderator 18-02-02 28
                             Enough Bruceadmin 19-02-02 29

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Viviane

17-02-02, 10:38 PM (GMT)
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1. "RE: Thread II(a) - Eleietism, Social Class and Ballet"
In response to message #0
 
   There are some lines that catched my attention in the Observer-piece :

"As there are no performances or rehearsals on Sundays, the day has always been very important for technical work,' said a Covent Garden spokesman. 'But we are looking at ways to allow more commercial events to make use of the stages."

It has always surprised me that unlike other great operahouses in Europe there is no activity on Sundays at the ROH.
A bit unbelievable that such an important investment has enough with 6 out of the 7 available days ?!
A Sunday matinée -now and then- would be welcome to a lot of balletfans I think, not sure what will be the impact on the other days though.
But it surely will attrack more 'outside-London' people.


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Jim

18-02-02, 09:11 AM (GMT)
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2. "RE: Thread II(a) - Eleietism, Social Class and Ballet"
In response to message #1
 
   I'd like to pick up on a point made by Jonathan S in the previous thread:

Yes, it might be interesting to gather the evidence, do statistical analyses, talk about the sorites paradox involved in working out how many black swans you need in Swan Lake before it looks right, or discuss who thinks an audition for black or ethnic minorities is 'racist' or not. At the end of it, we'll all put down our teacups and say 'must do this again some time'.

Jonathan, I respect all that you say, and agree with some of it, but I tend to side with Carly on this one. The allegation has been made that there is racism in ballet (I think certain companies/schools have been implicated, but I will leave that for now). This seems to me to be a rather serious allegation of which convention allows only one of two outcomes: "guilty" or "not guilty". If "guilty" then something needs to be done about it pretty damn quick. If "not guilty" then we need to understand the factors with militate to create the perception in some people. Because of the emotive nature of the topic, human judgements are likeley to be, at best, subjective or, at worst, prejudiced. Maybe that gathering the evidence and applying the cold mathematical impartiality of the Central Limit Theorem will help to give an unbiased picture of the situation.
I speak as a Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society (Oooops - sorry about the "Royal" )


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Anneliese

18-02-02, 10:05 AM (GMT)
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3. "RE: Thread II(a) - Eleietism, Social Class and Ballet"
In response to message #0
 
   Can I just step off-topic here and say that I am still waiting for Ms Houghton to apologise for her extremely offensive and unjustifiable remarks about me?


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Brendan McCarthymoderator

18-02-02, 10:24 AM (GMT)
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4. "RE: Thread II(a) - Elitism, Social Class and Ballet"
In response to message #3
 
   I think Anneliese deserves her apology. Robust argument is fine -but not name-calling or querying of good faith.


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Jim

18-02-02, 10:30 AM (GMT)
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5. "RE: Thread II(a) - Elitism, Social Class and Ballet"
In response to message #4
 
   >I think Anneliese deserves her apology.
>Robust argument is fine -but
>not name-calling or querying of
>good faith.

I too agree. Personal abuse is the last resort of those who have run out of argument.


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Mike

18-02-02, 10:59 AM (GMT)
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6. "RE: Thread II(a) - Elitism, Social Class and Ballet"
In response to message #5
 
   I agree with the majority of what Anneliese said in her earlier postings, and would like to assure her that I too go to watch ballet, opera and theatre for the enjoyment (like, I'm sure, the majority of posters to this forum)

I was extremely sorry to see what started off as a lively and interesting discussion degenerate into personal abuse, and I also feel that an apology from Isobel is appropriate

The lowering of the tone of this discussion has stopped me from adding my own views to this thread, and I think is a pity that I am probably not alone in feeling constrained from entering into this discussion, mainly due to the content and tone of a number of recent postings in this thread


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roddy

18-02-02, 11:33 AM (GMT)
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7. "RE: Thread II(a) - Elitism, Social Class and Ballet"
In response to message #6
 
   You are entitled, Anneliese but don't hold your breath. Misanthropy dressed up as 'concern for the underdog' has little room for apologies.


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Brendan McCarthymoderator

18-02-02, 11:55 AM (GMT)
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8. "RE: Thread II(a) - Elitism, Social Class and Ballet"
In response to message #7
 
   OK - point made. Please can we all get back to the substantive topic.


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eugdog

18-02-02, 12:33 PM (GMT)
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9. "RE: Thread II(a) - Elitism, Social Class and Ballet"
In response to message #8
 
   Someone made the point that ROH is closed on Sunday whilst most European houses do Sunday afternoon performance.

I think part of the reason is that English culture really cherish Sunday as a day of rest. It might be difficult to fill the opera house regularly on Sunday. If you go to Paris, the cinimas and theatre are packed on Sunday. We cannot say the same for England

Also perhaps ROH have to compete with the shopping trade. In Europe most shops are closed on Sunday and have very strict regulations concerning Sunday openings.

Of course this purely annecdotal - it might be because Unions have objected to or the overtime rates do not make it viable.


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Jim

18-02-02, 12:47 PM (GMT)
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11. "RE: Thread II(a) - Elitism, Social Class and Ballet"
In response to message #9
 
   >I think part of the reason
>is that English culture really
>cherish Sunday as a day
>of rest.

But, Eugene, I'm not sure if this holds good when you can get some ballet sometimes on a Sunday - witness the Beryl Grey gala at Sadlers Wells on 10 March. Maybe you're nearer the mark with the costs of salaries idea. But then you'd think this'd be recovered by the revenue, wouldn't you?


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Paul A

18-02-02, 01:19 PM (GMT)
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13. "RE: Thread II(a) - Elitism, Social Class and Ballet"
In response to message #11
 
   >>I think part of the reason
>>is that English culture really
>>cherish Sunday as a day
>>of rest.

Have you seen the West End or the queues for Bluewater on a Sunday - far more frantic than a Saturday!

>Maybe you're nearer the mark
>with the costs of salaries
>idea. But then you'd think
>this'd be recovered by the
>revenue, wouldn't you?


Why not make Monday the dark day instead as many New York theatres do?


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Viviane

18-02-02, 01:12 PM (GMT)
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12. "RE: Thread II(a) - Elitism, Social Class and Ballet"
In response to message #9
 
   LAST EDITED ON 18-02-02 AT 01:20 PM (GMT)

Eugene, I can't believe you're serious on this : "...English culture cherish Sunday as a day of rest..." ! Ever been in a shoppingstreet on Sundays ?
We -on the other side of the Channel- go to musea, opera and ballet on a Sunday !

Jim, we seldom have performances on Sunday-evening overhere, because of too less interest !
Hope this will cause no problems for Beryl Grey !


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Paul A

18-02-02, 12:34 PM (GMT)
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10. "RE: Thread II(a) - Elitism, Social Class and Ballet"
In response to message #8
 
   Beyond the comments I have made about costs/ not being value for money elsewhere on these threads I reiterate my feeling that the ROH has become more unwelcoming since the reopening.

Costs for programmes, sandwiches, drinks etc are all exclusive. Bravo to those who bring their own and munch on the upstairs terrace.

Outsourcing the front of house staff has diminished the family feel that the ROH always had before.

The way the crush room is so little used also gives me cause for concern. It's now like a private club with no soul.

And as I have said before the impact of corporate members in the composition of the audience is the biggest barrier. Surely the ROH are not so inept in their public affairs work with government/ Arts Council that they cannot negotiate bigger state funding. Presumably all these big screen relays are a sop by the ROH to help get bigger future subsidies.

I think such relays are inconsequential. How much do they draw new audiences into the ROH? Does the ROH need to develop new audiences? Probably not in the sense that they sell out most of the time without trying even at their frightful prices. They don't need to try - and we sense it in their attitude, particularly since reopening. Definitely if want to see an audience that wants to be there - but is there an audience big enough to secure the operation if we didn't have the corporate audience. I'm not so sure.

For one who has never been intimidated by the ethos of the building nor the content of what is performed on stage I must say that visiting the ROH is no longer a pleasure nor a sense of occasion.

I used to regard the ROH as the elite of what the lyric arts had to offer. In traditional terms it probably still is (although more exciting work is being performed by the many chamber groups we now have).

How did we get from a state where the elite was celebrated as a role model - I mean it generally, be it the arts, sport, physical prowess, sense to win, excellence in education, public service et al - , to something now where it is vilified? to


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Isobel Houghton

18-02-02, 02:28 PM (GMT)
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14. "RE: Thread II(a) - Elitism, Social Class and Ballet"
In response to message #7
 
   >You are entitled, Anneliese but don't
>hold your breath. Misanthropy dressed
>up as 'concern for the
>underdog' has little room for
>apologies.


I seriously object to that statement. I never said I had concern for the underdog.



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Anneliese

18-02-02, 03:26 PM (GMT)
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15. "RE: Thread II(a) - Elitism, Social Class and Ballet"
In response to message #14
 
   I think your lack of concern for your fellow human beings has been noted...


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Paul A

18-02-02, 03:36 PM (GMT)
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16. "RE: Thread II(a) - Elitism, Social Class and Ballet"
In response to message #15
 
   I think that makes the scores love all.

All of us who use this sort of site must expect some flak for our opinions - but please let not the flak detract from the debates we have.


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eugdog

18-02-02, 03:43 PM (GMT)
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17. "RE: Thread II(a) - Elitism, Social Class and Ballet"
In response to message #16
 
   Well did mention the competition shops gives to theatre etc on Sundays. But it is noticeable how much more crowded cinemas are in Paris on Sunday afternoon as opposed to London.


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Anneliese

18-02-02, 03:46 PM (GMT)
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18. "RE: Thread II(a) - Elitism, Social Class and Ballet"
In response to message #16
 
   Well, I reckon I'll stand back and take it for so long and then I'm entitled to fight dirty as well... I don't think I've ever been abused so thoroughly or ignored for so long, and I've actually been very very patient.


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Anneliese

18-02-02, 03:48 PM (GMT)
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19. "RE: Thread II(a) - Elitism, Social Class and Ballet"
In response to message #16
 
   Flak, yes; personal abuse, no. I have waited 48 hours for an apology, and now I feel entitled to hit back. I don't like being libelled.


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Anneliese

18-02-02, 03:49 PM (GMT)
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20. "RE: Thread II(a) - Elitism, Social Class and Ballet"
In response to message #19
 
   oops, thought one of those hadn't got through. Will now desist from reading this thread - I have been checking for an apology all weekend and I now realise I'm wasting my time.


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Helen

18-02-02, 04:47 PM (GMT)
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25. "RE: Thread II(a) - Elitism, Social Class and Ballet"
In response to message #20
 
   I think you are entitled to feel angry, Anneliese, but please don't leave us - I always find your contributions interesting.

Now to the subject: I've been thinking about it, and particularly Bruce's last question about changes in the audiences. It's a bit hard for me to comment, because I now sit in more expensive seats than I used to and so can't make direct comparisons, but for what it's worth I don't think audiences have changed much. I don't find the ROH any more or less "inclusive", because I don't think it was ever "exclusive". There were always the two strands, those there for the ballet or opera and those there for social reasons. Obviously there are more of the latter in the dearer seats, but one thing that I have learnt is that people who pay a lot are often just as keen and dedicated as those in the cheaper seats - when young we despised the stalls and Grand Tier, assuming that they were just there for the social cachet and knew nothing - well, not as much as we did, anyway. This is not true! Or not necessarily true. There are many sorts of snobbery.

I have never found the ROH in the least intimidating, partly I suppose because theatres generally have always been part of my life, and I'm there for the performance, so if I was sitting next to the Queen I would barely notice. Food and drink is very expensive, yes, but you don't have to have them - sandwiches from home or work were always munched in the amphi, if I remember rightly.


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Helen

18-02-02, 04:51 PM (GMT)
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27. "RE: Thread II(a) - Elitism, Social Class and Ballet"
In response to message #20
 
   I think you are entitled to feel angry, Anneliese, but please don't leave us - I always find your contributions interesting.

Now to the subject: I've been thinking about it, and particularly Bruce's last question about changes in the audiences. It's a bit hard for me to comment, because I now sit in more expensive seats than I used to and so can't make direct comparisons, but for what it's worth I don't think audiences have changed much. I don't find the ROH any more or less "inclusive", because I don't think it was ever "exclusive". There were always the two strands, those there for the ballet or opera and those there for social reasons. Obviously there are more of the latter in the dearer seats, but one thing that I have learnt is that people who pay a lot are often just as keen and dedicated as those in the cheaper seats - when young we despised the stalls and Grand Tier, assuming that they were just there for the social cachet and knew nothing - well, not as much as we did, anyway. This is not true! Or not necessarily true. There are many sorts of snobbery.

I have never found the ROH in the least intimidating, partly I suppose because theatres generally have always been part of my life, and I'm there for the performance, so if I was sitting next to the Queen I would barely notice. Food and drink is very expensive, yes, but you don't have to have them - sandwiches from home or work were always munched in the amphi, if I remember rightly.


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Isobel Houghton

18-02-02, 04:26 PM (GMT)
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21. "RE: Thread II(a) - Elitism, Social Class and Ballet"
In response to message #15
 
   >I think your lack of concern
>for your fellow human beings
>has been noted...

I seriously object to that statement. Who said I was a human being?



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Viviane

18-02-02, 04:42 PM (GMT)
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22. "RE: Thread II(a) - Elitism, Social Class and Ballet"
In response to message #21
 
   Oh, Isobel ! You sound like my lawyer
Bruce, maybe you need to split-up this thread again ?


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Brendan McCarthymoderator

18-02-02, 04:46 PM (GMT)
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23. "RE: Thread II(a) - Elitism, Social Class and Ballet"
In response to message #22
 
   Bruce is out of contact at the moment. Can I plead with everybody to limit themselves to substantive postings on the subject matter of the thread only. Short exchanges are best conducted on the chat link. That's http://www.ballet.co.uk/update/chat.htm


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Paul A

18-02-02, 04:47 PM (GMT)
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24. "RE: Thread II(a) - Elitism, Social Class and Ballet"
In response to message #22
 
   This has become puerile.

Bruce - can you lock this thread and maybe start again for more substantive comments if anybody still has anything to say?


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Jim

18-02-02, 04:49 PM (GMT)
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26. "RE: Thread II(a) - Elitism, Social Class and Ballet"
In response to message #21
 
   >>I think your lack of concern
>>for your fellow human beings
>>has been noted...
>
>I seriously object to that statement.
>Who said I was a
>human being?


I should've thought that was axiomatic. Question is, are you a fellow?


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Brendan McCarthymoderator

18-02-02, 05:07 PM (GMT)
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28. "RE: Thread II(a) - Elitism, Social Class and Ballet"
In response to message #26
 
   I am locking this queue until such time as Bruce is able to take a view of what we should do next. If you have good substantive points to make, hold on to them and post when we re-open the subject.


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Bruceadmin

19-02-02, 01:13 AM (GMT)
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29. "Enough"
In response to message #28
 
   Well I was up at 5:30 this morning and I've just got back from Leeds (its 1AM) after a pleasant day with NBT and seeing Madame Butterfly tonight. I am now ready for bed and this is not where I want to be. Not where any of us want to be, so I will keep it short. Thanks to Brendan for locking the thread and giving everybody time to reflect.

Accusations, sad abuse, demands, mix-ups and intolerance has been flying all over and the first thing that strikes you as you skate through post after post is how childish it all looks and how everybody involved really ought to apologise to everybody else. I'm not going to exclude anybody, hand out red or yellow cards because all this is not the work of one person - what I observe is a generally sad deterioration and steady spiraling down and not just in this thread either. This is not good enough and you shouldn't need me to tell you.

We are here because we love ballet and dance and nobody should feel driven away, misunderstood or unloved. I hope however that everybody now sees where things can go when we aren't civilised in debate or show respect for others. And if you don't think somebody has shown you respect, that's no excuse for behaving badly yourself in return. That's it: end of sermon. If anybody feels particularly hard-done-by then email me. I would however strongly suggest that we all put this behind us and just move on - the wiser.


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