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Jan McNulty

Do you go to the Stage Door?

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Going to the ROH  Stage door in the 60's was an event ,to see Margot Fonteyn being so gracious signing and chatting to fans before being taken away in her car ,Dowell ,Sibley also were very gracious and beautifully dressed

At the Coliseum in the 60's and 70's  when LFB were performing the stage door was packed with fans ( they did have some very attractive men in the Co then)

Some of the new generation of dancers do come out of stage doors looking less glamorous ,I know they are tired but so were the stars of the 60' and 70'

Am I an old grump?

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Some years ago (well it must have been some years ago, Liverpool had just won something!), Liverpool FC had an open top bus ride around Liverpool on a Sunday afternoon.  I had taken my nieces for our customary cinema visit followed by a sit-down in Macdonalds.  As we were coming out and walking back to our car we were suddenly aware of a black Range Rover at the collection window of the drive-through with about 30 youngsters running towards it.  The passenger window wound down and Steven Gerrard was in the vehicle.  I am sure the other vehicles in the queue and the staff trying to get takeaways together did not mind that he signed an autograph for everyone who wanted one.  He did not need to do that, he could have just made excuses and gone but he didn't. 

 

That must have been exciting for your nieces. Are they football fans? And are you? Ballet Central did a rather sweet ballet about a girl and a footballer last year.

 

I can't get into the sport (though I have tried) and have only been to two matches in my life - and one of those was the university match in 1958.  I suppose some football fans say the same about ballet.

 

I think Gerard would have attracted some criticism in the Echo had he behaved in any other way. 

 

I quite agree with you about dancers respecting their public. After all, as I said in another context, it is we whether as theatre goers or taxpayers  who keep the ballerinas in pointe shoes.

 

Have a good weekend.

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Going to the ROH  Stage door in the 60's was an event ,to see Margot Fonteyn being so gracious signing and chatting to fans before being taken away in her car ,Dowell ,Sibley also were very gracious and beautifully dressed

At the Coliseum in the 60's and 70's  when LFB were performing the stage door was packed with fans ( they did have some very attractive men in the Co then)

Some of the new generation of dancers do come out of stage doors looking less glamorous ,I know they are tired but so were the stars of the 60' and 70'

Am I an old grump?

Look at most people attending a performance at ROH. They too dress down. Everywhere things are more relaxed, so is dressing "up" ( = more down nowadays).  

I don't think the stars of the 60's and 70's were ever as tired as the present day dancers, nor did they have such high physical demands the dancers face nowadays.  I wonder if Dame Margot Fonteyn would have ever worn her Dior coat after a day of rehearsals with Mr Wayne McGregor!

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If not her Dior coat perhaps her Givenchy ,she never looked like a bag lady coming out of the ROH unlike some of the new generation .I am old fashioned but to me going to the ROH is special ,smart attire would be nice 

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Oh I quite agree with you Mart! I love dressing up too (no pearls :) when going to ROH but others don't.

 

Plus: the ROH has made such a big effort not to be seen as elitist and one of the first things is of course accepting that some people like to attend wearing jeans and trainers...( I wonder if you did attend "Carbon Life" :D ).

It's a 21st C generation thing to dress in a more relaxed way, so do the present day dancers. 

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I usually aim for neat and tidy (I am not one of life's elegant people) but the recent problem with my big toe has meant that I have been wearing my shabby dog-walking shoes since October.  Since they look so disreputable, I have only been wearing jeans too.

 

In the very early 1990s (or possibly late 1980s) I was attending a matinee and the weather was absolutely foul.  I even took an emergency overnight kit with me in case I couldn't get home to Liverpool after the performance.  I was dressed for the weather.  People tutted me in the stalls bar as I walked past them!  Although dressing up is nice I prefer the more relaxed atmosphere these days.

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Never waited at the stage door and, to be honest, am regretting not doing so when Alina and Johann performed their final ballet in June. Like others I would be rather embarrassed and would be completely tongue tied. Do all the cast leave at roughly the same time, including the orchestra, because I am hopeless at recognising people in ordinary clothes.

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From my one experience (on 5th October) the cast, orchestra and lots of other people trickled out singly and in groups!  I assume that is usually the case.

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I first went to the Stage Door in the 80s during the seasons given by the Bolshoi and the (then) Kirov Ballet Companies. At that time, their dancers seemed so very starry and exotic  - especially, perhaps, Semenyaka, Ananiashvili, Mukhamedov, Asylmuratova and Ruzimatov - and people crowded to see them after each show. Gediminas Taranda was also a particular favourite. 

 

When Irek Mukhamedov joined the Royal Ballet in 1990, I waited to see him afterwards a couple of times. Similarly when Altynai Asylmuratova guested with the RB. On each occasion, Floral Street was thronging with fans. Both were very gracious. Around that time, I also recall Jonathan Cope being asked by one person to sign a huge pile of programmes which he did without demur.

 

Nowadays, I do occasionally go to the Stage Door (both ENB and RB) and think that dancers really quite appreciate the attention.  Possibly, some of them feel a little shy as well. One night last week, I stopped an ENB dancer (not a Principal but someone who was very prominent during the run at the Coliseum) and he was soon surrounded for some 15 minutes by people wanting to talk and get his autograph. Later in the week, when I said that I hoped that he wasn't needing to get away quickly that evening, he replied that he had really enjoyed himself talking with the group.

 

Interestingly, some ballerinas (including Alina Cojocaru, Elena Glurdjidze and Daria Klimentova) sometimes appear inside the Stage Door in costume so that people don't have to wait too long. But you do have to be prepared to stand for up to an hour and a half on some occasions.

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Interestingly, some ballerinas (including Alina Cojocaru, Elena Glurdjidze and Daria Klimentova) sometimes appear inside the Stage Door in costume so that people don't have to wait too long.

That's very nice of them: I didn't know that. I suppose it depends on whether they need time to "come down" from the performance or not.

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That was very funny Jaqueline!!

 

I don't go to the stage door these days....well I am ancient! But did mill around in Floral Street after the RBS show last summer for the first time in 30 years!! And I even found myself thanking one of the young dancers from China(now at BRB) for her lovely dancing as she came out and ended up standing next to me......but it was still quite a while before I opted to speak! I had been hoping to say something to Joan Zamora but only if an appropriate moment came up.

My stage door days were confined to the mid seventies to very early eighties so have got Fonteyn and Nureyev Dowell (never did get Sibleys,) Makarova Baryshnikov Lesley Collier and Wayne Eaglings autographs ........the lot I think....though Helpmann and Gilpin the Tallchiefs and Alicia Alonso from when a child!!

 

I don't think there's anything that wrong with going to a stage door but just feel slightly silly doing this at my age so don't any more but nice for younger followers. Can I borrow someone's DD /DS to get Carlos Acosta before he retires!!

 

Maybe if its a Matinee for the Little Mermaid will try to get your sons autograph then hfbrew!! Hope he won't mind the odd granny!!

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I think the question on whether I'd ever stagedoor answered itself yesterday when 2 Hilarions and what looked like half the corps decent into a pub where my friend and I had a quick drink after the performance. I got a wee bit flustered, pretended that I had no idea who those people were and made my friend switch the conversation to opera and the use of hammers when removing hard drives. If I get flustered at that, I don't even want to imagine what I'd do if I attempted to speak to someone at the stage door.

 

Maybe Chrischris and I need to form a support group for flustered and tongue-tied fans.

Edited by Coated
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(never did get Sibleys,) 

 

Oh LinMM! :-) xxxx

 

And I shall be in the same room as Sibley next week and may even bump into her though I think that is unlikely.

 

However, if I do, I shall tell her your story and your other post about queueing all night to buy flowers to throw at the ballerinas. If she offers to sign a programme or something for you I will not discourage her.   In the very unlikely event of that happening does the Lin in your user name stand for Linda?  

 

There is, of course, nothing wrong in queueing up at the stage door to speak to or at least see the performers after a show. That is probably one of the reasons why many theatres identify the stage door as such.   It is just that I don't do that for all the reasons I gave the other day.  But ultimately it is  a matter for each individual.

 

One aspect that nobody has discussed in this thread so far is that social media and blogging now provide new opportunities for communicating with dancers. An example occurred this very day.   One of my followers on twitter re-tweeted this tweet from Steven McRae:

 

"I am honoured to have just been named 'Young Australian of the Year' @AusHouseLondon ...Thank you! #AustraliaDay pic.twitter.com/JPVgMqOGnH"

 

I re-tweeted McRae's tweet to my own followers and added a reply

 

"@AusHouseLondon Many congratulations to @_stevenmcrae and also to Lucinda Dunn of the Australian Ballet."

 

I mentioned Dunn in the same tweet because she was also honoured by her country today.  My tweet came to McRae's attention because he "favorited" (sic) it. I notice that the Royal Ballet solicits and republishes tweets in its HDTV transmissions so twitter is another way of expressing one's appreciation. It has several advantages over queueing at the stage door - principally that there is no danger of getting wet. 

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Ha ha we should.

 

I don't think i'd get flustered because i'm intimidated or anything, it would just be very weird. I go to a lot of tennis tournaments, and often see players walking around between courts, or after matches, and i've never once felt tempted to talk to them or ask them for an autograph or anything. I have no real interest in speaking to them, and the dynamic is instantly weird because you don't know each other, but you know who they are and they know you know who they are, and it would just feel weird.

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Yes it does Terpischore Linn is for Linda!! And M is for a very well known make of car!!

 

That's very nice of you to offer to get Sibleys autograph but when I did that sort of thing it was to also see the dancer "for real" so to speak to be able to stand near them though I never said anything very much apart from "thankyou" but I don't really feel the need so much for a signature any more!! If it arises naturally it is nice to be able to say how much you enjoyed a dancers performance though. But many thanks anyway so no need to chase after Sibley with a programme!! But would love to hear how that event goes!!

 

I often use to see dancers on the Piccadilly line when I used to have a long journey from Acton Town to Hollaway Road every day and after performances too. I think they normally dressed for what they were doing so class to home and back not really requiring much dressing up. Also after a performance if dancers are going straight home I don't see why they should dress up!!

Having said that some dancers naturally like dressing in the latest fashions (Darcey Bussell a good example) and others more casually. Even among the RBS students that afternoon some were looking very dressed up and others in shorts and T-shirts!! But again I suspect some were being taken out for meals after and some just going home.

 

It's difficult if you are suddenly confronted with a celebrity though!

A few years ago I was about to go into the little market in St.James Piccadilly and Joanna Lumley was just coming out so we sort of past at the gates. I couldn't help smiling (oh it's Joanna Lumley sort of smile) and then she beamed back (you've just recognised me sort of smile) and then we both carried on. To have spoken at that point would have spoiled the magic of the moment the smiling was enough!

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Many years ago when I was way to shy to say anything to anyone I was cutting through Lime St Station on my way to the Empire and I passed someone I thought I knew.  I said "Oh hello" and the lady replied "Oh hello" as we passed each other.  It was only about 5 minutes later I realised I had just said hello to Marion Tait!

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Yes it does Terpischore Linn is for Linda!! And M is for a very well known make of car!!

 

Well Ms Maserati I shall certainly report on the afternoon in my blog and if there is a suitable thread I shall cut and paste the report here. There was certainly never any danger of my chasing Sibley with a programme but as your posts about your salad days are so sweet I am sure anyone would be charmed by them and some might wish to acknowledge them with a note. 

 

But I think you are very wise not to press for her autograph now.   You saw Sibley when she was in her prime and there is still plenty of footage of her from that time. You don't need a scrap of paper.

 

I am so delighted to see Sibley again after all those years. Though Fonteyn is the dancer I most admired, Sibley is the dancer I most liked.

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Ms. Maserati I wish!! :) I like the two names together though!

 

A slightly more ordinary type of car (in fact not sure if produced any more) but centred not far from Oxford!! I suspect you guessed that in reality though!!

I will PM you about the May performances of the young Dutch company by the way.

 

There are still many dancers whose autographs I would have liked to have collected at the time but didn't frequent stage doors that often in the end......had to get home etc!!

Though once after a Fonteyn Nureyev performance.... and the night I got Fonteyns autograph in fact...I was on such a high I walked all the way home to my then Bedsit room near Gloucester Road!! Well I was twenty something!!

Edited by LinMM
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I notice that the Royal Ballet solicits and republishes tweets in its HDTV transmissions so twitter is another way of expressing one's appreciation. It has several advantages over queueing at the stage door - principally that there is no danger of getting wet. 

 

After yesterday afternoon's thunderstorm, I can certainly see the advantages of that :)

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I don’t think people realise how important contact at the Stage Door can be for dancers, especially those at the start of their careers. I remember how excited my friend Karen Paisey was (one of the youngest dancers to be promoted to Principal by the Royal Ballet in the 1980s) the first time she was allowed to sit in the Stage Doorman’s Lodge at Covent Garden’s old stage door to sign autographs.  (I believe it may have been after one of her first Auroras.) I think the audience would be amazed at how difficult it is to gauge the volume or intensity of applause from the audience when you are onstage and dancers have often been surprised when I have told them they received lots of applause for a solo etc. A dancer’s life is one of constant correction, from themselves and from the artistic staff, and compliments are a rare commodity so it can be very confidence-boosting and greatly appreciated when members of the audience make the effort to wait at the stage door to congratulate them or ask for autographs or photographs and I have never known a dancer decline these requests.  Of course, you don’t want to engage them in too long a conversation as they usually have to take public transport home like the rest of us or if it is a matinee they may want to get to the shops while they can! As Capybara has already mentioned, some dancers such as Klimentova and Glurdjize will come in costume to the Stage Door at the Coliseum when they have guests or have been told that fans are there to see them (and I do remember one occasion when Karen Paisey and Mark Silver came to the Stage Door at Covent Garden in costume after a ‘Nutcracker’ performance to sign autographs) but usually one can expect to wait at least half an hour for Principals to appear (the first out are the orchestra members, usually followed by the male dancers who have less to change out of and less make-up to remove!) as, after notes from the Artistic Staff they usually like to shower and often wash their hair, depending on the amount of hairspray that has had to be used! If, while waiting for the Principals, you recognise some of the other dancers whose performances you have enjoyed, please don’t hesitate to tell them as you can really make their day, especially if they have had no feedback from anyone else. It also helps if you tell the orchestra members how much you have enjoyed their playing!

And it may surprise you who you might meet at the Stage Door!  When I first arrived in London as a student in 1977, I had to collect some photos from the Stage Door area at Covent Garden mid afternoon.  This was the old one which hardly had room for two people to pass each other in front of the Stage Doorman’s Lodge. To my amazement, I could see Margot Fonteyn on the other side of the door, chatting happily to the Stage Doorman!  As the door opened inwards, I didn’t want to touch it for fear of hitting her so I just stood there on the outside.  She then noticed me and, with her dazzling smile, held the door open for me and said “Would you like to come in?”.   So there I was, having the door held open for me by Dame Margot!!! I was so starstruck that all I could say was “thank you very much” and I didn’t have the presence of mind to ask for her autograph at that time (luckily I did get it some time later).

So, if you have the time following a performance, don’t be shy about waiting at the Stage Door and you too may meet a living legend!

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I know of a couple of people who have left anonymous presents for actors in theatre productions, which I think is a lovely gesture, and I imagine would be really appreciated, whatever your profession.

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Lovely Jacqueline and hbfrew!

 

Have to say that after watching Carlos Acosta at the Colli with a friend , the night before we were to watch our DD's at the end of the WL SS we did go to the stage door and wait for an autograph. We were delighted when Zenaida Yanowsky spent an age talking to a group of young admirers, she was a delight. When Carlos finally came out, though he was clearly tired he was charming. My friend and I have a lovely photo and autograph. While waiting we met a lovely lady who was by herself and after we invited her to join us for an après ballet cocktail and made a new friend, ballet.co style!

 

Terpshicore, I am intuited by your name, tell us are you a Muse of Dance or Choral Music, or from Hexam's only broad based dance studio for dancers ages 2.5 and up ;). Great name!

 

NL

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Terpshicore, I have just read you profile and link to your blog, thanks for sharing and I will enjoy your posts.

 

NL

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I'd dearly love to meet my favourite dancers but I'd be embarrassed to hang around the stage door as all you can really do presumably is gush a bit, and I fear they must see it as an ordeal to be got through.  My spot for inadvertently bumping into celebrities seems to be the train - I've sat opposite Richard Curtis, John Peel, Rick Wakeman and Malcolm McLaren  - but I've always left them in peace.  When I was working in Soho however (stop giggling at the back , I was a consultant), I was once asked for directions by a very elegant lady who it dawned on me was Jenny Agutter, and she did have a natter.  A gentler surrogate for the stage door is Facebook - quite a few of the big names will accept friend requests (particularly the Russians, for some reason), and while some of these are PR-type pages, some are 'genuine' and give interesting insights into their lives. Leaving a compliment on a photo and getting a thanks back is also for me a nicely unintrusive way of connecting.

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I don't go to the stage door as standing is very difficult for me. However, Dd and I saw Giselle last week with dd's best ballet friend and her Mum. Not only did I finally get to meet Sim, but Matthew Golding was sitting behind us. Before the ballet started I said that I was very sorry to bother him, but by any chance would he mind having a photo with the girls in the interval. He very kindly said yes.

 

In the interval he posed for a photo with the girls, chatted with them about their training, and was most charming. He even stopped on the way out to say how nice it was to have met us. He was lovely; very nice and very genuine.

 

So I met two lovely people without having to leave my seat. Bonus! :-)

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Although Matthew Golding has appeared with the RB as a guest, both he and Vadim Muntagirov will soon be making their debuts as Royal Ballet Dancers. I know that MG has garnered mixed opinions on here but, if you enjoy their performances, there is no better way of welcoming them to the company than to go to the Stage Door and greet them when they leave. Experience at ENB suggests that both of these dancers are very courteous and appreciative of people's interest. 

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I did something today that I said that I would do and that was to go to the stage door to meet a dancer. 

 

It was by invitation and there wasn't a stage door as such in the Stockport Plaza - just a couple of doors leading behind the stage.

 

I had arranged to say hello to David Wilson of Dave Tries Ballet which has been my favourite ballet blog ever since I discovered it in Autumn. Dave had been dancing the king and a ballet teacher at the Bristol Russian Youth Theatre Company's production in Bristol. He had some very difficult steps and at one point he had to lift the ballerina. It would have been a creditable performance had been dancing since he was child and trained at a major ballet school but he took his first lesson at a fairly advanced age it was even more remarkable.

 

We couldn't chat long as a bus was waiting to take the dancers back to the West Country but we did have a chance to shake hands and say hello. He is a very likeable young man and I wish him well with his dissertation, viva and subsequent career .

 

Before I met Dave a gentleman called Ian from the Dancing Times came up to me while I was having a cup of tea in the interval and said that JanetMcNulty had told him I was coming and asked him  to look out for me. We had a nice chat for a few minutes. He told me that Glurdjidzke (whom he referred to as Lena) was his favourite ballerina. As I am also one of her fans it was nice to hear. Thanks for putting us in touch Janet.

 

I will write a proper review after in the new discussion I have written up about Northern Ballet's open day.  

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Will look forward to your review. I am so annoyed with myself as I had intended to go and watch this ballet, which is fairly local to us. But what with work, appraisals and driving around the county to collect DDs I completely forgot :(. Did so want to see it.

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