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Subject: "New dance and ballet at the ROH: economics and the audience" Archived thread - Read only
 
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Lynette H

19-03-02, 03:42 PM (GMT)
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"New dance and ballet at the ROH: economics and the audience"
 
   New dance and ballet at the ROH: economics and the audience

At last night’s (18/3) performance of the Enduring Images mixed bill at the ROH, it was obvious that it had not sold particularly well. The corporate crowd were notably absent. The position of the price breaks in the auditorium was very obvious just before the beginning – there were clusters of people in the cheaper seats at the sides and back of the amphi with empty seats in front of them (which they moved into at curtain up). It was quite a lively audience all the same, who responded positively to a scorching version of In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated with Bussell in cracking form. Yanowsky looked like some angry avenging goddess.

That was probably the high point of the evening. In the Middle is danced in semi-darkness: it was a shame to follow this up with a series of equally dark works, rather than offering more contrasts. Putting another Forsythe work (The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude) on the same bill as In the Middle didn’t work too well – in a different context Vertiginous could have offered a sharp and salty contrast to a more dreamy or reflective piece. Here it just didn’t look to be in the same class as In the Middle.

Most of the works on the programme are not new to the Royal. In the Middle was first acquired back in 1992, and both Vertiginous and Remanso formed part of the first mixed bill at the reopened house back in 1999 (that didn’t sell particularly well either). The printed programme states that this time the whole of Remanso, instead of an excerpt is given: but the work show appears identical to its earlier counterpart with the same running time.

Remanso didn’t look to be a major work then, and even some fine dancers did not persuade me otherwise. It was a pleasure to see Bolle, Cope and Edward Watson having the stage to themselves to show off their moves, and Watson in particular finds depths and nuances in the simplest things. Although it’s quite a fun joke – various possibilities with three men, a wall and a plastic rose, it ultimately wears a bit thin. It’s hard to imagine getting more out of repeated viewings.

The big new acquisition is Duarto’s Por Vos Muero – a group work, no point shoes, very reminiscent of Kylian in its slow lines of people walking slowly into darkness. It was set to Spanish 15th and 16th century music. Rather unflattering costumes for the women. The episodic nature, with little vignettes set to different songs, was rather like the way Christopher Bruce can structure a work, but somehow it lacked the warmth and humanity he usually has. This was pleasant, not exactly ground breaking, generally pretty to look at, but not stunning. There didn’t seem any particular level of technical difficulty in it which really called for the combined talents of Rojo, Nunez, Yanowsky, Cope, Kobborg et al.

Stretton has indicated that this is very much the direction in which he wants to take the Royal, and that Duarto is exactly the type of choreographer he wants to introduce. These include Forsythe, Duarto, Ek, and in the future Mark Morris. These choreographers aren’t exactly unknown in the UK, and not all are new to the RB. Rather than address head on the issue of whether this is indeed where the Royal should be headed, I thought it was useful to consider the consequences, and to think about this in the context of other companies and audiences in the UK

The Royal will take on its first work by Mats Ek in April – Carmen, in which Guillem is scheduled to appear. But it’s not as if Ek is unknown in Britain. Rambert had one of his works in their repertory last year, and there is another this year (She was Black) on view at Sadlers in May. Mats Ek’s own Cullberg Ballet have been at the Edinburgh Festival, and also in London last year with their production of a radically revised Swan Lake. Forsythe’s Ballet Frankfurt have visited London twice in recent years, and George Piper have extensively toured Forsythe’s Steptext. NBT toured Duarto’s Jardi Tancat a year or two ago. NDT are regulars in Edinburgh and in London with modern works in the Kylian mould.

There are two key observations I would make about the audiences for these kind of works: first that they are probably not large enough to fill the 2200 seats of the Royal Opera House: and secondly that they are accustomed to much lower seat prices than the ROH charges.

The Cullberg Ballet came to the Barbican Centre. The auditorium there is much smaller than the ROH and was only about half full. Sadlers Wells has 1400 seats: Rambert could not sell this out for the Ek works either. There are very few pure dance companies whose name is capable of shifting a lot of tickets (probably only Pina Bausch). There is a definite market - the difference is that the venues are generally smaller and more welcoming than the ROH, and ticker prices are probably at maximum 35 pounds or so, with much a lot cheaper than this.

If you are interested in Mats Ek, are you more likely to go to see Rambert for about 20 pounds for a decent seat at Sadlers where you can see the stage or for 40 pounds with a poorer view at the ROH ? I suspect the ROH’s marketing on this is mistaken. The regular audiences for Ek and the like will not be drawn to the ROH with an offer of a free glass of champagne (usually 8 pounds a glass).

I’m not clear what the ROH is trying to achieve - to get a new audience (one which is already well served by other venues and companies) into the ROH and to hope for some cross fertilization (“I liked that Forsythe piece so now I ‘ll try Sleeping Beauty”) ? Or to change the viewing habits of its existing audience ? The second also has its difficulties. Some ballet fans are also fond of dance, but not all: though perhaps this is greater than the proportion of dance fans who are interested in ballet. (The only research I’ve seen on this views the two audiences as quite distinct without much crossover, but this was based on a sample outside London).

If the Royal are to succeed in this direction, they might be better off abandoning the ROH as a venue for these kinds of programmes and mounting them at Sadlers instead, with ticket prices more in line with Sadlers usual prices. The venue does matter a lot – I have brought friends to see mixed programmes at the ROH and they have always professed themselves a bit intimidated by the idea of going there. Other venues carry less baggage. With a programme such as Enduring Images there is little need for an orchestra (they played for a total of 11 minutes) and some careful planning could put together a programme which did not require one.

The problem here is much older than Ross Stretton’s directorship. Previously new work (most from within the company) was often partitioned off to the Dance Bites tour, never a satisfactory solution, as the market for seeing new dance is probably stronger in the capital and some venues were disappointed by the lack of tutus on display. Now the Clore and Linbury – small venues of 200 and 400 seats – show some interesting new work, some of which deserves a much wider audience: these venues almost always sell out. There’s no staging post between these and the main auditorium.

If the mixed bills continue to sell poorly, then it is time to adjust the programming to a more attractive mix: or, if modern is what the destiny of the company is to be, then finances might push it towards a different audience, venue and price range. Box office really matters to the ROH – the grant might seem huge, but a collapse in sales can make major financial impact. I’m not saying that this is what I think ought to happen. The last time a dance company set off in this direction they renamed themselves Rambert Dance Company. But I doubt the ROH could forgo its corporate customers in any similar move.

A tricky problem, easier to describe than to solve. Though perhaps the Royal could look closer to home for new choreographers - Fenton’s Frozen, Marston’s Traces and Wheeldon’s There Where She Loves (all seen only briefly in the Linbury or Clore) were all much more interesting works than the Duarto pieces on offer yesterday.


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: New dance and ballet at the ROH: economics and the audie... Brendan McCarthymoderator 19-03-02 1
     RE: New dance and ballet at the ROH: economics and the audie... eugdog 19-03-02 2
         RE: New dance and ballet at the ROH: economics and the audie... Tim Powell 19-03-02 4
             RE: New dance and ballet at the ROH: economics and the audie... alison 20-03-02 9
  RE: New dance and ballet at the ROH: economics and the audie... MAB 19-03-02 3
     RE: New dance and ballet at the ROH: economics and the audie... katharine kanter 19-03-02 5
         RE: New dance and ballet at the ROH: economics and the audie... AEHandley 19-03-02 6
             RE: New dance and ballet at the ROH: economics and the audie... Steven 20-03-02 7
                 RE: New dance and ballet at the ROH: economics and the audie... alison 20-03-02 8
                     RE: New dance and ballet at the ROH: economics and the audie... eugdog 20-03-02 10
                         RE: New dance and ballet at the ROH: economics and the audie... Robert 20-03-02 11
                             RE: New dance and ballet at the ROH: economics and the audie... Benji 20-03-02 12
                             RE: New dance and ballet at the ROH: economics and the audie... Richard Jones 20-03-02 13
                             RE: New dance and ballet at the ROH: economics and the audie... Alexandra 20-03-02 14
             RE: New dance and ballet at the ROH: economics and the audie... Jonathan S 21-03-02 15
                 RE: New dance and ballet at the ROH: economics and the audie... katharine kanter 21-03-02 16
                     RE: New dance and ballet at the ROH: economics and the audie... eugdog 21-03-02 17

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Brendan McCarthymoderator

19-03-02, 04:17 PM (GMT)
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1. "RE: New dance and ballet at the ROH: economics and the audience"
In response to message #0
 
   LAST EDITED ON 19-03-02 AT 04:41 PM (GMT)

Another option might be a small company called RB2 (like NDT2). There was probably not a felt need for such a company for as long as SWRB was still based in London. Perhaps RB2 could offer new work and programmes from unfamiliar choreographers in the Linbury, occasionally at Sadler's Wells and, less frequently, further afield.

Deborah Bull, who must by now have been approached by Rambert's search committee, may be bridling at running a Linbury/Clore operation that has no secure funding. But if she were also to be artistic director of a small RB2 chamber company, that would be a good reason for her to stay at the ROH.


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eugdog

19-03-02, 04:41 PM (GMT)
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2. "RE: New dance and ballet at the ROH: economics and the audience"
In response to message #1
 
   LAST EDITED ON 19-03-02 AT 04:44 PM (GMT)

I cannot see the RB renting alternative theatre and leaving their own home theatre empty! Surely it makes more economic sense to remain at the ROH even if it is half full (unless the extra rent paid for an external venue is offset by the savings in not having to staff the ROH with ushers etc).

It would also have serious politcal and PR consequences. What would the newspaper say if the RB was renting alternative theatres whilst ROH was left empty despite millions of lottery money poured into it. The newspapers would have the ROH for breakfast!!!!

If the RB are going to use alternate venues then it better be in the regional theatres. Rather like they did in the past whe the company was split up and toured areas like Woking, High Wickham etc! Then they can justify renting alternate venues under the pretence of bring dance to a wider audience!


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Tim Powell

19-03-02, 05:39 PM (GMT)
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4. "RE: New dance and ballet at the ROH: economics and the audience"
In response to message #2
 
   Lynette
May I say what a perceptive and sensible posting this is. I hope that those who make decisions at the ROH read and take note.
The ROH gets a very significant income from ticket sales and subsidy and this imposes great responsibilities. That they must be able to take risks is undoubted and there will be low audience numbers as a result but this should in the cause of something rather better than we are getting at the moment some of which is mediocre and most of which far from new.
Far better programme planning is called for and the old system of introducing adventurous works alongside established and entertaing ones worked well because people bought tickets and came and maybe enjoyed the new work in the process.
The Opera House is not the place for new works from unproven choreographers and in the days of SWTB we were able to see the early efforts of Cranko and MacMillan quite readily at The Wells. This option has long since gone which is sad and I think that the suggestions made by Brendan sound well worthy of address.


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alison

20-03-02, 01:35 PM (GMT)
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9. "RE: New dance and ballet at the ROH: economics and the audience"
In response to message #4
 
   LAST EDITED ON 20-03-02 AT 01:36 PM (GMT)

>Lynette
>May I say what a perceptive
>and sensible posting this is.

I second that.

>The ROH gets a very significant
>income from ticket sales and
>subsidy and this imposes great
>responsibilities. That they must be
>able to take risks is
>undoubted and there will be
>low audience numbers as a
>result but this should in
>the cause of something rather
>better than we are getting
>at the moment

What I haven't been able to understand in recent weeks is that, even with programmes that aren't selling particularly well, the ROH doesn't seem to be offering standbys any more. When you look at some of the standby categories (students, under-18s, unemployed, WC2 residents, etc.), surely there is potential there for new audiences, always assuming that they can afford £12.50. Despite poor sales for the Bartok/Schoenberg opera bill, all that was on offer appeared to be half-price on top seats. I don't think £45 is a good price for attracting newcomers, even if it is half-price. £15, on the other hand, probably is. Friends in seats along the side of the amphi have reported seeing large numbers of seats in the expensive areas which appeared not to have been sold at all. Surely it'd be better in the long term to sell the seats at standby price than not sell them at all? You might convert people. I was talking to a lady only recently at another venue who'd previously seen only one ballet, was attending her second and was getting quite enthusiastic about going to see more.

One of my colleagues actually went to a performance of Bayadère some years ago on the basis of a cheap offer, and that broke down the barriers for her. Now she and her husband go, admittedly only on an occasional basis, *but* when they do go they push the boat out and go for top-price seats. *And* she absolutely refuses to go anywhere but the ROH, as she's convinced that nowhere else will have the same atmosphere .


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MAB

19-03-02, 05:33 PM (GMT)
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3. "RE: New dance and ballet at the ROH: economics and the audience"
In response to message #0
 
   Lynette is addressing some very important issues here. I would have thought that after the very troubled recent history of the ROH, box office returns would be a more important consideration, if only to appease the kind of people that would like to amalgamate the RB and ENB. Anyone looking at the current triple bill could have predicted that it wouldn't sell, as what is essentially modern dance will only be accepted by a small proportion of an ROH audience. After many years of watching both modern and classical, I can confirm there is very little crossover between the two forms of dance.

Surely the priority for the RB is to develop or find a choreographer able to create effectively within the classical genre. Even choreographers that are to some degrees "tolerated" by a ROH audience, such as Forsythe or Kylian are really only admired by a small minority.

Getting back to seat prices: in Paris, programmes of works by Kylian or Prelocaj are sold in a lower price band to classical programmes and they sell out completely, although the high attendance figures are in some way due to the Opera Garnier being such a huge tourist attraction in itself. Surely this is the only logical way to sell these "modern programmes" here – to significantly reduce seat prices for those performances that would otherwise not have a hope in hell of selling out.


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katharine kanter

19-03-02, 07:37 PM (GMT)
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5. "RE: New dance and ballet at the ROH: economics and the audience"
In response to message #3
 
   The passivity with which the public appears to greet the idea that classical ballet is about to drop off the edge of the planet, is what concerns me.

What has classical dance - and dancers - ever done to deserve this kind of punishment - or to be replaced by Mats Ek and Kylian - talk about knee-high to a grasshopper ?


There have got to be found truly great new choreographers, that is true - but if we stop teaching and performing the greats of the past, that is never going to happen.

Is there a musician anywhere who believes that Bach should be cut out of the curriculum for composition students ? Or that his works are out-of-date and should no longer be performed ?

What is out of date about the vocabulary of classical dance ? Nothing.

What has intervened, is the absolute artistic sterility of what passes today for artistic management.


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AEHandley

19-03-02, 09:36 PM (GMT)
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6. "RE: New dance and ballet at the ROH: economics and the audience"
In response to message #5
 
   >Is there a musician anywhere who
>believes that Bach should be
>cut out of the curriculum
>for composition students ?
>Or that his works are
>out-of-date and should no longer
>be performed ?

Oh, I'm absolutely certain there are lots of them!


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Steven

20-03-02, 11:38 AM (GMT)
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7. "RE: New dance and ballet at the ROH: economics and the audience"
In response to message #6
 
   The concept of a Royal Ballet (or a separate RB2 style spin-off) performing at a different venue or venues is an interesting one. "New" audiences are never going to pay the high Opera House prices when they can get closer to good dance elsewhere for a fraction.

However, this doesn't have to mean the Opera House is left empty. There is the Royal Opera too which could be performing high-earning La Bohemes or Turandots on those nights - or a main Royal Ballet company could be on there, selling out with Sleeping Beauties or Nutcrackers.


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alison

20-03-02, 01:19 PM (GMT)
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8. "RE: New dance and ballet at the ROH: economics and the audience"
In response to message #7
 
   >However, this doesn't have to mean
>the Opera House is left
>empty. There is the
>Royal Opera too which could
>be performing high-earning La Bohemes
>or Turandots on those nights
>- or a main Royal
>Ballet company could be on
>there, selling out with Sleeping
>Beauties or Nutcrackers.

In which case you'd probably need rather more dancers in the company, given the present problems of filling the casting for 3-act ballets. But yes, no reason the RB couldn't be performing elsewhere during an opera season, surely? (Back to Dance Bites again in some form or other, I suppose).


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eugdog

20-03-02, 02:15 PM (GMT)
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10. "RE: New dance and ballet at the ROH: economics and the audience"
In response to message #8
 
   Regarding the possibility of ROH staging La Bohemes and Turandot etc in lieu of unpopular triple bills - that is only viable if the operating cost for these events are less then the ticket revenue. I am told that for opera this is not the case - all opera looses money on an operating revenue basis ie revenue less incremental costs of staging it. And also remember there are only a certain number of La Bohemes etc you can stage before you become saturated with them!


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Robert

20-03-02, 05:18 PM (GMT)
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11. "RE: New dance and ballet at the ROH: economics and the audience"
In response to message #10
 
   At one time the Royal Ballet made a large profit and the Royal Opera made a huge loss. Now that has changed, the ballet makes a massive loss too. It is a myth to believe that the Opera can just run popular opera to full houses of nice but dim people and make a profit. As these artforms are heavily subsidised it is best to not perform and pocket the grant, a bit like in the film. “The Producers”. Welsh National Opera who are cash strapped recently cut out Oxford their very best venue to save money touring. I read somewhere that the Richard Alston company could perform without an audience. Christopher Bruce who took over an almost bankrupt Rambert from Alston, has always had to aim at getting an audience, that is why he milked Cruel Garden so hard as it was both good and put bums on seats. I am afraid his other programmes do not do so well. I am always sorry to see so many empty seats (even when he is doing Matt Ek) Interestingly some of the poverty stricken Russian classical touring companies does better, but then they have to. As they have no grant even low wages cannot save them. Matthew Bourne managed to attract audiences and new audiences and survive without many handouts, but his ballets were attractive to a wider public. The RB despite its grant needs an audience; most of their repertoire should attract the public. Covent Garden despite the poor sight lines is a wonderful theatre and going there is an event, it is a huge advantage. Sadlers Wells cannot compete (I find the audiences there less friendly!) It is dark dingy and difficult to get to (or from) The Royal Ballet cannot afford to set up a second company anyway. Perhaps they should come to an arrangement with other dance companies to take the best of their works and dancers, it happened with Sadlers Wells Ballet it could happen again.


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Benji

20-03-02, 08:07 PM (GMT)
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12. "RE: New dance and ballet at the ROH: economics and the audience"
In response to message #11
 
   Well I cant quiet believe what I am reading. I am shocked I thought ballet was an art form not a business. Of course the opera house has to make money but at the same time they should not sacrifice it for art. I am sorry but if they programmed a season of Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty I am sure the house would be full every night and it would balance the books, but oh god how boring. What is neccesary is a balance. If you just put new works on a secondary stage they will never be given the respect that is neccesary. For dance to be a progressive art mistakes have to be made, do I have to plug that old worn out story about swan lake being panned at its premiere, did they realise at the time what they were booing would become one of the most famous and greatest ballet of all time.

The opera house does have other performing spaces but they will lose all credit if they are used as a dumping ground for works that arent financially viable enough for the main stage.

The opera house has to make money, so it should programme a balance. It is there responsibility to create a programme that will actract audiences and at the same time develop the company artistically.

Choreographers like Forsythe, Duato, Kylian and Ek are major players in the way that ballet and dance is moving. They will make mistakes but they have also made great works. Not everything Petipa choreographed turned into a great ballet, but dont we all thank him for his succesess.

I also argue that if you just perform these £ worthy ballets, dancers will get bored and choose to dance in a company where they can challenge a fuller repetoire. Then we will be loosing our best dancers and loosing the standard of the company. Believe me it is not every ballet dancers dream to aspire to odette or siegfreid, does that shock.

We need money for to ballet to continue, but to get the money it looks as though you want to strangle the art form. Im not asking you to like every ballet that is shown, but to gain an audience for these newer works they have to be taught about moden dance and ballet and where it is coming from.


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Richard Jones

20-03-02, 08:26 PM (GMT)
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13. "RE: New dance and ballet at the ROH: economics and the audience"
In response to message #11
 
   LAST EDITED ON 20-03-02 AT 09:37 PM (GMT)

It seems there are various strands in this important discussion. One inevitably concerns Ross Stretton's plans for the future direction of the RB.

Am I right in thinking that he wants to re-align the RB to have stronger links with other European companies? Up till now, there have been mainly three traditions it seems to me: that of Tsarist Russia; the English school of Ashton et al.; and a touch of Americana. The first of these started with de Valois' contact with Diaghilev and Sergeyev's possession of the Stepanov notebooks; the English tradition was nurtured in the early years of the RB; the American influence was slow in arriving - it wasn't till 1964 that Serenade was performed, and the ballets of Robbins have not been seen as often as many would have liked. I remember seeing Petit's 'Paradise Lost' with Fonteyn and Nureyev in 1967, but I don't think that ballets by choreographers such as Petit have been seen much at the ROH, have they? Stretton will have to judge his audience carefully if he wants to nudge the RB onto a different axis.

Regarding the division of audiences between those who prefer ballet (mainly very traditional) and those who support companies such as Rambert, I have to say that I find it very sad when I meet people who are great fans of one idiom but won't look at the other. If worthwhile new developments in ballet are to succeed, will companies such as the RB have to rely on somehow attracting fans of modern (=contemporary) dance in order to build an audience? Perhaps some barriers need to be broken down, so that audiences of all types may be able to recognise the value of tradition as well as be able to approach new work in a well-informed way.

How about a Rambert week at the ROH for a start (it would have to be separately sponsored), while sending the RB out on the road? I still have a programme for the RB in Bristol in 1992, when Manon and a triple (Monotones, Winter Dreams, Symphony in C) were presented. The dancers included Dowell, Bussell, Mukhamedov, etc, etc. Once seen in the provinces, the RB could attract a new audience not normally inclined to go to London to watch ballet, while Rambert at the ROH might surprise even a few corporate guests, (and I can't imagine it would be any harder selling tickets for Rambert in such a space than it was for the recent Bartok/Schoenberg programme by the RO).


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Alexandra

20-03-02, 10:55 PM (GMT)
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14. "RE: New dance and ballet at the ROH: economics and the audience"
In response to message #13
 
   I wanted to thank Lynette for her post -- it's one of the most well-stated, thorough articles I've read on this issue. The discussion that follows has been most interesting, as well.

I also wanted to confess that I've posted a link to this thread on Ballet Alert! So if someone you don't "know" pops in with a comment, it's my fault

I find the economics angle very interesting. I'm with those who think that economics should not be the dominant factor. Program what's right, then find the money, I say. I think when businessmen try to program for the arts based on money, they make mistakes. Demographics can be deceiving. I think what happens is that managers look at a demographic survey of a company's audience and it says that X percent are over 55 and X percent are under 25. Just breaking it down that way already segments the audience; assumptions are made. (In America, there would be racial demographics as well.) Perhaps -- oh, let's go out on a limb and pick something outrageous here -- a "Memories" evening might result; something for the aunties. And then, to grab that under 25 crowd, schedule a New! Now! evening. Trouble is, of course, that Auntie might be quite curious about Forsythe and her great-nephew Nic might genuinely enjoy "Swan Lake."

Yes, a season of "Swan Lakes" would definitely sell out, but do the marketeers realize that it might be dangerous to sell tickets primarily to tourists? Programming to sell is, I think, short-sighted and doesn't allow a company to serve its real audience well.

Alexandra


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Jonathan S

21-03-02, 08:23 AM (GMT)
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15. "RE: New dance and ballet at the ROH: economics and the audience"
In response to message #6
 
   LAST EDITED ON 21-03-02 AT 08:34 AM (GMT)

>>Is there a musician anywhere who
>>believes that Bach should be
>>cut out of the curriculum
>>for composition students ?
>>Or that his works are
>>out-of-date and should no longer
>>be performed ?
>
>Oh, I'm absolutely certain there are
>lots of them!

I don't agree; for one thing, it's only when works are relatively recent that one thinks of them as out of date. On the other hand, there are plenty of people who think it's time to give Sheep May Safely Graze or the Brandenburg concertos a rest and listen to one of the lesser-known cantatas instead. Perhaps the ballet world needs its own versions of Classic FM and Radio 3.

I think Katharine's point raises an interesting and important issue - that the ballet world seems to have an extraordinary lack of self-esteem when it comes to its own heritage.

For me, it was a real treat to see Les Biches at the ROH, and the Trocks do La Vivandière - however camped up it may have been. What's more, I'd love to go to Copenhagen to see A Folk Tale, and I expect I shall never see as much of Balanchine's work as I'd like. I was mesmerized by Dante Sonata, I loved the artist's impressions of Pavlova, Wilson Kepple and Betty, Little Titch and Loie Fuller that Wayne Sleep put together for his Dash to the Coliseum a few years ago, and I was mortified to have missed Excelsior in Paris.

It's tantalizing to be able to read so much about these works but not to be able to see them. Perhaps its simplistic and unrealistic to draw comparisons between the worlds of music and ballet, but all the same, it is strange that there doesn't seem to be the dance equivalent of going to a concert to hear a programme of Poulenc, Weber, Schütz, Copland and Maconchy. Ballet programming seems to veer between safe blockbusters, 'concept' programmes, triple bills and galas, rather than presenting dance as an art form with a variety of repertoire and genres old and new.

Katharine's right - you simply wouldn't say Bach's old-fashioned or out of date, probably because there is a whole history of music education in schools and universities which takes music and composers seriously. The difference becomes apparent when when you see how often the ballet composers Minkus and Pugni are slated for being "hacks", whereas Donizetti - to my mind a vacuous and dull composer - is admitted to the ranks of the great and the good because he wrote operas.

But all this is a particularly British thing - there's poor old Scottish Ballet battling it out over the ballet vs. contemporary issue, and the Arts Council funding tedious drivel with two people and a dog on Dance for the Camera, while in Australia, there's the terrific Australian Dance Collection and New York City Ballet and ABT have websites with enormous resources about their own repertoire. Look on the ROH site, by comparison, and the 'education' section is little more than a departmental overview, and if you want to know about their repertoire or history, you're better off looking on Ballet.co.

Stretton says in his Ballet Introduction that the Royal Ballet has an 'exceptional heritage and limitless future' and that de Valois saw ballet as a continuum, 'with its heritage forming a springboard for the present and future'. I hope that some time there is some evidence of this heritage - if only on their website. At the moment, they seem hopelessly stuck in the present.



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katharine kanter

21-03-02, 12:10 PM (GMT)
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16. "RE: New dance and ballet at the ROH: economics and the audience"
In response to message #15
 
   "Hopelessly stuck in the present" - too true, and screamingly funny as well.

(As an aside, "Excelsior" was the absolute pits. You missed nothing, save perhaps a trip to Paris...)



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eugdog

21-03-02, 12:37 PM (GMT)
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17. "RE: New dance and ballet at the ROH: economics and the audience"
In response to message #16
 
   Perhaps a good alternative is to rent out the ROH to other dance companies and other cultural activities at very advantageous rents when the RB are on tour. In fact they have already done this with the ENB.

BTW if Derek Deane of ENB do you think the ROH would ever rent out its premises to the likes of him?


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