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Just watched the latest Bolshoi DVD of Swan Lake. Almost ruined by the clapping. These clappers cannot possibly be listening to the music.

But isn't that rather a Russian thing?  I always get irritated by the performers taking applause at the end of a turn when the companies come over here but I accept it is what they expect

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Bill, I assume you mean that (to me) highly irritating rather staccato clapping - sometimes during the dancing - as practised by certain audience members at the Bolshoi, rather than ordinary applause?  To judge by recent cinema broadcasts, it *is* getting very out of hand.

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We broached the subject of applause etiquette briefly on another thread so why not include all applause on this one?

 

When I saw, obviously on different occasions, the Bolshoi and the Mariinsky perform Giselle I found it most disconcerting that Giselle and Albrecht had a curtain call after Act 1 when we had just seen Giselle die!

 

The late Christopher Gable, when he was AD of Northern Ballet, preferred that there was no clapping during narrative works.  To this day I still feel the same and do not applaud unless there are obvious applause points built in e.g. after each national dance in Nutcracker.

 

I remember watching Chi's debut as Albrecht in 2003 when he was doing the most perfect set of entrechats in Act 2.  On one level my brain was acknowledging these but I was absolutely swept away by the emotion of the story-telling on stage.  This was almost ruined for me by people starting to clap while he was still dancing.

 

On another occasion we were being treated to a terrific performance of David Bentley's Gallantries and the applause at the end of the pas de trois ruined the flow of the piece.  In the evening it was very noticeable that the conductor continued the performance without a break, through the applause which quickly stopped.

 

I can appreciate that people can get carried away with their enthusiasm but it can be very distracting to the audience in general (and possibly the dancers and orchestra) if it affects the flow of the piece.

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This is what happened at the Nutcracker the other night.

 

It's bad enough when people clap just before the ending of a big pas de deux but then some clapping started up right in the middle of a variation......were the people saying ....okay we've had enough now ...next thing please!!

Of course I know it wasn't this but I do find this irritating. It started off on the left hand side of the Amphitheatre and then others started to join in .....including the young American tourist (who missed the whole of Act one!) sitting next to me and I felt she joined in as thought it was expected etc.

 

There were quite a lot of tourists there on the 28th so perhaps some just thought people did that at the ROH!

Edited by LinMM
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When I saw Giselle at the Fenice in Venice anyone who started clapping mid-act soon got shushed - it seems in Italy they didn't clap until the end of the Act proper - it DID help the flow of the story - however the ballet company was the Mikhailovsky and the dancers seemed a bit bewildered that no one clapped them all the way through!!

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You've just brought back memories of when I saw Swan Lake at the Fenice performed by the same company. I was so taken up with the whole experience of being there, I think I might have been guilty of clapping at the slightest prompt from the sheer joy of being there.

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Well not so much clapping too soon ....but I found myself actually cheering and shouting out and leaping to my feet!!.....at one ballet performance of Osipova and Vasiliev of Don Q before she joined the Royal. I am definitely not usually vociferous and showy with my support in this way but just couldn't help it .....the performance was just so fantastic!

 

we can all get carried away at times I think!!

 

Going back to the 28th at the ROH perhaps there was a group of Japonese tourists there that night who couldn't help themselves supporting their lovely Fumi Kaneko!!

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My pet hate is when Albrecht finishes his variation in Act 2 and gets up from lying flat on the floor with exhaustion to bow and acknowledge the audience's rapturous applause, usually with a big grin on his face!  The first time I saw this was with one of the big Russian companies but certain Italian principals are equally guilty (but not at the RB, I hasten to add).

 

Linda

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Well not so much clapping too soon ....but I found myself actually cheering and shouting out and leaping to my feet!!.....at one ballet performance of Osipova and Vasiliev of Don Q before she joined the Royal. I am definitely not usually vociferous and showy with my support in this way but just couldn't help it .....the performance was just so fantastic!

 

we can all get carried away at times I think!!

 

 

THAT performance and the other they did ...2009 I think.... were both amazing and I've never seen anything quite like it ever since. The atmosphere was electric wasn't it?!
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I  think that "inappropriate" applause is  a manifestation of culture clash.The audience at Christmas time is more mixed than at any other time of the year.There is a scattering of  British trained regular ballet goers who conform to their tribe's idea of correct audience behaviour. There is the "amateur audience" on their Christmas ballet visit which includes a significant subgroup of grandparents with grandchildren in tow and then there is the foreign element. This latter group is far from homogeneous. it includes several subgroups each with their own rules of appropriate audience behaviour.

 

Which do I find most annoying? The subgroup who believe that ballet is only being performed when there are people on stage moving and applaud when movement of any sort comes to an end,I am not sure whether they are the same group as those who seem to believe that an empty stage, even with a drop cloth clearly on view and an orchestra playing music, is an opportunity to converse.I suppose they could be a subgroup within a subgroup.Whatever they are. they are equally annoying. Perhaps one day  a sociologist at a lose end will undertake a study of audience behaviour at ballet performances and enlighten us all..However it won't stop annoying behaviour from being annoying.

Edited by FLOSS
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I  think that "inappropriate" applause is  a manifestation of culture clash.The audience at Christmas time is more mixed than at any other time of the year.There is a scattering of  British trained regular ballet goers who conform to their tribe's idea of correct audience behaviour. There is the "amateur audience" on their Christmas ballet visit which includes a significant subgroup of grandparents with grandchildren in tow and then there is the foreign element. This latter group is far from homogeneous. it includes several subgroups each with their own rules of appropriate audience behaviour.

 

Which do I find most annoying? The subgroup who believe that ballet is only being performed when there are people on stage moving and applaud when movement of any sort comes to an end,I am not sure whether they are the same group as those who seem to believe that an empty stage, even with a drop cloth clearly on view and an orchestra playing music, is an opportunity to converse.I suppose they could be a subgroup within a subgroup.Whatever they are. they are equally annoying. Perhaps one day  a sociologist at a lose end will undertake a study of audience behaviour at ballet performances and enlighten us all..However it won't stop annoying behaviour from being annoying.

 

 

FLOSS, I normally really enjoy your informed, informative, and entertaining posts, but I must say that the first paragraph sounds a little bit on the snobby side, and perhaps the 'and then there is the foreign element' could be taken as a little bit iffy in the wrong eyes. 

 

My view of the 'clapping' especially when considering the DVD being from the Bolshoi Ballet is that if people are going to speak about ' new, non-traditional, and non classical audiences', I think it is important to remember that the Bolshoi Ballet is an 18th century institution and as such the behaviour of their audience and their cultural traditions should very much be respected. So for them to clap their superb artists I think is very much understandable.

 

That Royal Ballet a 20th Century institution has a very different and traditionally reserved culture of being British, is fine at the Royal Opera House, and if those seasoned visitors get a bit annoyed or miffed by the 'rag tag' bunch of young viewers and 'newbies' who clap that they have seen something amazing for the first time, its up to each person that buys their ticket.

 

The fact that when Nureyev and the Bolshoi visited the UK, they were miffed that the audience didn't clap after each movement which was a point of pride of the British reserved audience. Then the Bolshoi can understand that they are in a foreign house and can learn that, for the British, clapping has it's time and place. Not to be confused with 'non-appreciation', as famously Russians have received many fantastic curtain calls in London.

 

I would hope also that if an RB member visited the Bolshoi (or bought a DVD), that they would not 'sniff' at the fact that there was so much clapping in their own house. Their (Russia) very much older and more traditional culture should be respected for the huge contribution they have given to ballet, so it is the UK's turn to 'be quiet'. Russia is a founding father of ballet, and are a cultural powerhouse of ballet, with far superior quality, history, tradition and contribution. 

 

It reminds me of a famous comedic sketch by the Two Ronnies (I know my place) 

 

So as the British are very fond of having a class system. You can be middle class and look down on the 'oiks' that come in at christmas, and 'minor ballet companies', but they know their place I am sure, and they certainly will love the virtuosity of a Russian Dancer, and they will rightly also love the subtle and romantic Ashton, Macmillan, and the amazing British dancers. But you should certainly 'look up' to the Russian Ballet houses and their traditions.

 

I would proffer that the 'UK audience' as a general should not 'look down on' clapping in Russian Ballet, because they were the ones that set the tradition and as such 'have breeding', if not very much money. 

Edited by SwissBalletFan
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An example of inappropriate clapping - in Romeo and Juliet - the lights go down on a 'dead' Juliet.........

 

Some people clap at the end of every short scene - killing the dramatic tension.

 

Another example - any clapping during Giselle Act 2.

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An example of inappropriate clapping - in Romeo and Juliet - the lights go down on a 'dead' Juliet.........

 

Some people clap at the end of every short scene - killing the dramatic tension.

 

Another example - any clapping during Giselle Act 2.

 

Billboyd, could you please at some point say 'in my view' or 'I think'?, you are certainly not the judge and jury of ballet audiences or culture.

 

Your opinion is fine, but in a world where the lights go down, people think the performance is finished and do not want to hesitate to show their appreciation and clap their emotions could be understandable.

 

There are also fantastic variations in Giselle Act 2, and after watching an amazing performance of Giselle last night With Friedemann Vogel and Viktorina Kapitonova, there was much applause in Act 2. Sniff as much as you like, about the behaviour of 'Swiss' or Minor ballet house not having a tradition.

 

I am ok with that, but your truth is not universal, not. at. all.

 

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Billboyd, could you please at some point say 'in my view' or 'I think'?, you are certainly not the judge and jury of ballet audiences or culture.

 

Your opinion is fine, but in a world where the lights go down, people think the performance is finished and do not want to hesitate to show their appreciation and clap their emotions could be understandable.

 

There are also fantastic variations in Giselle Act 2, and after watching an amazing performance of Giselle last night With Friedemann Vogel and Viktorina Kapitonova, there was much applause in Act 2. Sniff as much as you like, about the behaviour of 'Swiss' or Minor ballet house not having a tradition.

 

I am ok with that, but your truth is not universal, not. at. all.

 

I agree with Bill on this one!

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I can appreciate that different cultures have different etiquettes but it does ruin the flow of a true narrative ballet if the audience claps during the drama and ruins the flow.

 

There are some ballets that lend themselves to clapping as they move along - e.g. Don Q and some ballets have applause gaps built into them, whether I agree with those gaps or not.

 

But, if people are continually clapping (however stellar the performance) how are they "feeling" the dramatic narrative or are they just interested in the technique of the dancers on stage?

 

Does the clapping continuously become meaningless because the audience and the dancers expect it, rather than it being a spontaneous burst of the approval at the end of something wonderful?  Do standing ovations become meaningless if every performance gets one?

 

I would love to know how the different clapping patterns occur.  We clap "free hand" here but when I went to Russia the audience did a fast co-ordinated clap and in Budapest they started clapping slowly in unison and got faster and faster!

 

Bill, on the dvd you were watching, which caused you to start this thread, was it the claques I have read about that were doing the clapping?

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What do you agree with exactly Janet? One sentence posts only saying what is a wrong time to clap?

 

Or you agree with his views? The views is fine, but the way in which he demonstrates them is what I object to.

 

I was agreeing with Bill's examples of where I believe it is inappropriate to clap as it ruins the dramatic intention.  

 

As someone said somewhere on another thread a concise post can say more than a post the length of War and Peace!

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I've always assumed that some applause is built into the performance at least partially to give the dancers a bit of a breather eg in the Nutcracker SPF GPDD. Is it just my imagination or do audiences applaud more frequently these days and is there an increasing tendency for dancers to return to the stage for further applause after leaving it at the end of a variation or PDD? Personally, I'm not keen on the latter practice as I feel that it really slows down the pace of the ballet.

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I was agreeing with Bill's examples of where I believe it is inappropriate to clap as it ruins the dramatic intention.  

 

As someone said somewhere on another thread a concise post can say more than a post the length of War and Peace!

 

 

 To be concise or not to be concise....it depends on the subject of a post I'd say. 

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 To be concise or not to be concise....it depends on the subject of a post I'd say. 

 

 

 

Perhaps Shakespeare could write a play on that subject Nina!  I don't want to get into a discussion of the discussion but both longer and concise posts have been OK with me on this thread.

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Mr Abramov, mentioned in that article, is also interviewed in the forthcoming Bolshoi Babylon film.

 

The stacato clapping is really a form of standing ovation, without standing. One can hear it in France often too. In england, though the same clapping is more reserved for "why are we waiting"? the Bolshoi "O! O!" bravo-ing person is a claquer, and he's audible in just about every cinecast.

 

The Nutcracker GPDD does seem to lend itself to premature clapping, but I suppose if that's what people want to do, no one can stop them. I don't mind it too much, but I do mind as FLOSS above was saying, talking. And that's best placed in the Audience Behaviour thread, so I won't go into that here :)

 

I will clap at virtuosity, and at the end of variations, but really I would prefer things with as little clapping as possible, to sustain narrative - if it's a narrative ballet of course! In the real world, this won't happen of course.

 

 

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FLOSS, I normally really enjoy your informed, informative, and entertaining posts, but I must say that the first paragraph sounds a little bit on the snobby side, and perhaps the 'and then there is the foreign element' could be taken as a little bit iffy in the wrong eyes. 

 

 

Just to say that I read FLOSS's first paragraph as basically factual, with no automatically positive or negative inference about any of the groups mentioned.

Edited by bridiem
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THAT performance and the other they did ...2009 I think.... were both amazing and I've never seen anything quite like it ever since. The atmosphere was electric wasn't it?!

I was at the Sunday matinee in August 2010. It was the last performance of that year's visit and as you say, was absolutely electric. As I recall, Osipova replaced Zakharova who was expecting. I had booked to see the latter but Osipova and Vasiliev were getting rave reviews for all their performances and it was an incredible afternoon. They gave it their all and the energy and sheer exuberance from them and the whole cast made it unforgettable. I think the audience was enthralled, just applauding out of sheer excitement. The curtain calls went on for ages. 

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I personally prefer minimal clapping during a performance, but it seems unfair to judge people for clapping (if at appropriate moments) when they are simply expressing enjoyment or appreciation. Talking during a performance is an entirely different issue.

 

However, RB's Giselle Act II holds a special place in my heart (I'm sure I'm not alone!), and I dearly wish ROH would request no appause throughout this Act, as they do for Requiem.

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