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Jan McNulty

Do you go to the Stage Door?

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I would posit it depends on many factors including whether they are still 'working' as in stage door or at a function, whether they are alone and willing to talk, in company and desiring privacy, what side they got out of the bed, if they are in a rush and a hundred other factors. Basically like the rest of us.

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I suspect that the arrival of social media has had some impact on 'stage door'.  Most dancers maintain Instagram pages and many actively engage with comments on there - which gives the audience a way of paying respects that the dancer can deal with in their own time.  It can also be easier for certain demographics of spectator - I'll sometimes compliment a performance online,  but as a man I'd feel distinctly creepy turning up at the stage door.

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I've been going to the stage door on and off since the 1990s and have never met with anything but friendliness and politeness from those I have met. They sign and pose for photographs and nothing seems to be too much trouble. I do try and gauge whether or not they are in a hurry and not delay them if they are obviously rushed but usually they seem happy to spend a bit of time with people who have taken the trouble to say how much they enjoyed their performance. I don't usually approach anyone who hasn't been dancing that night as I'm not sure what the etiquette is in that situation.

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I go to the stage door sometimes and have always found the dancers to be friendly and charming. There has to be some sensitivity applied; for instance, it’s usually obvious when a dancer is in a hurry and doesn’t want to be stopped - in which case, don’t - but as long as you bear in mind the fact that they are tired, others are waiting to speak to them as well, and don’t keep them too long, then it’s always positive in my experience.

 

You do occasionally get people who interrogate a dancer for what seems like ages, at the expense of others, and the dancer’s time, which is a big No for me. And a particular person who is there occasionally who doesn’t speak to the dancers but photographs them without asking their permission, and tells everyone else (including children, excited to see their idols) that there is no room and they should leave! 😡

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There are always more exits than the stage door, and if a dancer is in a real rush, or not in the mood to engage, he/she will exit another way.  I know of one dancer who used to do that most of the time.  Another dancer I know calls the stage door to ask if anyone is waiting for her, and if so she comes straight out so as not to keep people waiting.  

 

I have always had great experiences with meeting dancers;  actors are the ones I have found most disappointing.  Why?  I will leave it to Marlon Brando to explain:   “An actor is someone who, if you ain’t talking about him, ain’t listening.”

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57 minutes ago, Quintus said:

as a man I'd feel distinctly creepy turning up at the stage door

 

I’d suggest Quintus might be very pleasantly surprised.  I have sometimes gone to the Stage Door, particularly on very special occasions, and it has enhanced the whole evening for me - a fabulous opportunity to say ‘thank you’ and perhaps take a photo of a favourite dancer with her bouquets.  

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I went to the Stage Door at Sadler's Wells on Sunday and had a very nice chat with Matthew Ball, along with several other fans, and he was chatty and very gracious despite the fact he must have been exhausted.  

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I feel embarrassed enough tagging the dancers in some of my instagram photos of them, there’s no way I’d cope with trying to see them at the stage door.

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In no way am I equating myself with somehow being in the same echelon as, say, a Royal Ballet dancer*, but as someone who occasionally treads the boards in an amateur theatre capacity, I'm never anything but chuffed by people coming up to me in the bar afterwards to tell me they enjoyed my performance. Although sometimes on such occasions I suspect their acting abilities outstrip mine. 😄

 

* - Now known on these boards as "Cheryl Syndrome"

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BristolBillyBob, you remind me of the time I acquired a fan club of 8-year-old girls for the evening - I was singing in a Christmas carol service involving an 8-part professional choir (of whom I was one eighth) and a local school choir.  I ended up taking on a big solo and suddenly all the little girls wanted to be my friend afterwards.  It was very sweet :wub:

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4 hours ago, Rob S said:

I feel embarrassed enough tagging the dancers in some of my instagram photos of them, there’s no way I’d cope with trying to see them at the stage door.

 

You never know RobS - dancers might be very pleased to put a face to a name.

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On that note, Washington Post has an interesting article on this exact topic (and a little more).

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/theater_danc/hermes-bags-hugs-and-the-occasional-stalker-when-ballet-fans-go-overboard/2019/01/24/d38d3c38-1854-11e9-a804-c35766b9f234_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.6f6199991024

 

'Occasionally the cons can have more troubling consequences than a floral bruising. A stalker once sent Boylston threatening messages on social media and began waiting for her outside the theater. The police eventually intervened. “It’s wonderful to see the fans at the stage door, but you can be in a vulnerable position,” she said. “People feel like they know you. And we don’t have the level of security that Beyoncé has.'

 

😳

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I know I once arranged to meet a singer at ROH stage door (I actually can't remember who - somebody I knew well enough to have had social arrangements with them) and whisk them speedily out of the way of one of the stage door's less savoury opera regulars...

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Those of you who wait at ROH, how long generally do you wait? My 11yr old daughter is desperate to wait after we see DQ next week, but I have visions of her falling asleep standing up!!

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1 hour ago, Farawaydancer said:

Those of you who wait at ROH, how long generally do you wait? My 11yr old daughter is desperate to wait after we see DQ next week, but I have visions of her falling asleep standing up!!

 

I'm not a regular at the Stage Door but I suspect how long the waiting times are depends on who has been dancing and if you want to see someone specific.

 

The longest I have waited was around half an hour.

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From my pretty limited experience, there tends to be a fair bit of activity, people going in and out, perhaps chance to see the conductor/Kevin O’Hare/other coaches, some dancers are pretty quick and may not have been involved in curtain calls etc.  And there’s opportunity to chat to others waiting.  There is of course always the chance that the dancers your daughter most wishes to see may be last out/toolate.

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Those of you who wait at ROH, how long generally do you wait? My 11yr old daughter is desperate to wait after we see DQ next week, but I have visions of her falling asleep standing up!!

 

I've been several times to the stage door recently and my experience has been it does depend very much on both the dancer and if dancers have backstage visits from family or friends. Also, for example a first night can generate family/friends visits resulting in delays. Just speaking generally Vadim is usually fairly quick (within half an hour of me arriving at stage door) whereas others such as Marianella can take much longer.

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I went to the ROH stage door last night as I had some photos I hoped to be autographed.  Lovely chats with Bennet Gartside (who signed my Judas Tree curtain call pic) and Lara Turk and a few hellos and "lovely show" with some other dancers and stage management.  But, I also had a Sylvia curtain call pic with Marianela Nuñez and Vadim Muntagirov and I was hoping they would come out sooner rather than later.  About 2305, Marianela came down, still in her tights but with a dance cardigan and wonderful woolly salopettes and boots over her shoes.  Even though she is still recovering from illness (which wasn't at all noticeable in her performance), she stayed for about 25 minutes.  Everyone who wanted to see her, queuing as if to meet Santa Claus,  got a hug, a picture and an autograph (or 2 or 4 or 5).  Some children asked for advice and Marianela answered with humility and encouragement.  She even took off her shoes and signed them for two young girls who were there (and went back to her room to get another for a third girl who was there).  The whole experience was unforgettable and so very heart-warming; one of the true stars of our age giving so selflessly of her time and enthusiasm.  

 

Left just after 2330 (work night...) with no sign of Vadim (so I'll have to do it again another time)!

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How terrible for you - I know you'll hate that so much ;) 

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3 hours ago, bangorballetboy said:

Left just after 2330 (work night...) with no sign of Vadim (so I'll have to do it again another time)!

 

I understand that the dancers were asked to 1) go and meet Prince Charles and 2) attend a reception for Sponsors.

Marianela often 'arranges' with people who have made contact with her to come down dressed thus and it is really heart-warming to see the way she relates to everyone.

You might have noticed that some of Vadim's 'Stage Door Regulars' were not there last night because the word had got around that he would not be coming out until much later. However, on the first night of Don Q, he too spent a very long time inside the Stage Door (autographs and selfies) and, then, equally long outside with a large group of children from a Portuguese ballet school. That, too, is lovely to see as he is particularly generous with his time as well.

 

Edited by capybara
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Just to be clear, I intended no slight whatsoever on Vadim Muntagirov in my earlier post.  I've seen a number of times how wonderful he is with those waiting for him at the stage door.  Perhaps I should have used an emoticon in my last sentence to confirm this, but that's hindsight for you.

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Let's just leave it that, they are an outstandingly talented pair of the most superlative dancers, and  evidently very nice people, and we are jolly lucky to have them in this fabulous partnership at RB, currently giving some performances the like of which I doubt I shall see again-  so 3 cheers for Vadim and Marianela (first names for once).

 

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So from what @bangorballetboy& @capybarahave said above, would I be right in inferring that dancers will usually take half an hour to an hour to exit even on nights where they don't have any functions to attend afterwards? That's useful to know. I had half thought of trying to stage door on Saturday but as I'd only be able to stay about 20 minutes at most it sounds like it wouldn't be worth trying.

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I haven't done it a lot but it is unpredictable but allow at least 30 mins!  

I was once waiting for a couple of students after a performance and they were the last to leave!! So waited well more than an hour!! 

I can only assume that they themselves were staying to meet and chat to the famous dancers there that night and get their autographs too!! 

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It really varies.  I don't go to stage door after ballet but occasionally do after opera, and sometimes have arranged to visit an artist backstage.  If somebody has a lot of visitors on their backstage list they might take longer to come out - I also remember one occasion when I went backstage to see a friend on the occasion of her company debut, and there was a short drinks reception somewhere down by the dressing rooms before they all left.  That's on top of the obvious considerations regarding how tricky somebody's costume and makeup are to remove.

 

On other occasions I've almost missed somebody altogether because they've come out with such speed that they are already at the door by the time I've been to the loo or queued for the cloakroom.

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The male leads are usually out the quickest (after about 30 minutes but sometimes longer if they have 'notes' from their coach afterwards and much longer after Nutcracker when the Prince's wig has to be de-glued). The female leads habitually take over an hour, except where they have arranged to come down specially to meet groups of fans or friends (as described by bangorballetboy above).

However, it isn't all about the Principals. Not all the dancers come out via the 'official' Stage Door but those who do appreciate being appreciated - as long as fans don't keep them for too long!

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By way of contrast to the time it takes the dancers to get out, I'm always amused by the speed at which the orchestra manage to make an exit. I've often managed to be one of the first audience leavers at Sadler's only to find sundry musicians with large instrument cases way ahead of me, legging it up Islington High St at a rate of knots!

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1 minute ago, Quintus said:

By way of contrast to the time it takes the dancers to get out, I'm always amused by the speed at which the orchestra manage to make an exit. I've often managed to be one of the first audience leavers at Sadler's only to find sundry musicians with large instrument cases way ahead of me, legging it up Islington High St at a rate of knots!

 

I confirm! The musicians are often leaving as if the building is itself on fire.

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32 minutes ago, capybara said:

Not all the dancers come out via the 'official' Stage Door but those who do appreciate being appreciated - as long as fans don't keep them for too long!

 

All dancers do appreciate "being appreciated", they really do, and they will listen with a sense of gratitude to anybody telling them how moved they are by their dancing and acting.

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