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I would like to know if Blondie's family have ever been and been scared away or if they just have preconceptions?

 

When I first started wanting to see more ballet than my friends, I plucked up courage and started going on my own. I discovered, for quite a while, that I preferred to go on my own because I met more kind and interesting people to talk to (as I wouldn't have if I had been in company).

 

Even if I travel alone these days, I hardly ever end up on my own in the theatre - even in theatres that I don't usually go to! I always think that regular ballet-watchers are amongst the kindest and friendliest people I have ever met. Just one example - I was grumbling on this forum a couple of months ago about the lack of an attendable-in-a-day matinee for SFB. Another forum member, whom I do not know, contacted me privately to offer me a bed for the night. Unfortunately I then realised that the dates clashed with tickets I already had for NB and BRB but I was overwhelmed by the kindness of a fellow ballet-watcher.

 

I'm at BRB tonight and all day tomorrow. If anyone else is there, I'd love to meet you and natter about one of my favourite companies!

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Many years ago, my new husband and I attended various performances at the famed Academy of Music In Philadelphia - home of the world renowned Philadelhia Orchestra then under the baton of Eugene Ormandy. The Academy is a mirror image of La Scala - gold brass fittings, red velvet curtains separating the box seats (most of which were inherited from generation to generation). It hosted full seasons of not only the orchestra, but also NYC Opera and NYC Metropolitan Opera, and visiting artists such as Oistrakh, Stern, Horowitz, Bolshoi, etc.

 

While we watched these performances from the upper rafters (where seats became wood benches with just enough room for knees to meet chins) those boxes were occupied by America's version of royalty. Money didn't buy entree - lineage did. Philadelphia's Main Line Society considered British lineage as not quite "there" - it was the descendants of the Dutch patroons who occupied the social clouds - living in homes behind huge stone walls in parks miles from any public road, guarded by what looked like mansions but were, in fact, only the gate houses for the gate keeper.

 

One time a pair of tickets for one of these "inherited" box seats became available as the owners were unable to make the performance. We took the daring step of buying these two tickets - the cost of which was equivalent to two weeks worth of food. At the time my husband was in his last year of obtaining his university degree - so it was an immense sacrifice.

 

We found ourselves on that evening - by far the youngest - and by far the most invisible in that crowd of shimmering jewels, full length gowns, acres of mink and other furs, white and black tie, tailed tuxedoes, with a personal limosine and driver waiting at the curb outside. Some had personal attendants - one doesn't subject a prize fur to a public coat check facility.

 

How did we feel about that? It was a rare glimpse into a world we had only read about. We didn't feel intimidated. We didn't feel jealous. We had no thought of ever wanting to live like that - but we did aspire to some day having the possibility of making a success of our lives so that perhaps we might have some amenities should we chose to do so. Or at least be able to purchase tickets without giving up eating for two weeks.

 

How did they feel about us in their midst? I'm not sure they saw us. But, then, we tried to behave in a manner which did not infringe on the comfort or enjoyment of those around us. Our parents had taught us how to behave in public - and that had nothing to do with one's financial situation or neighborhood.

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In our family the children have been taken to the theatre admittedly panto from the age of 3. Even if one of the children actually slept through the performance. As they got older west end shows usually musicals we only started going to the ballet when DS got serious about ballet.

 

When he has the opportunity to perform on stage we try to support him by going to watch. For us though it is the cost involved so it usually means it's granny and mum who go. Can't afford more than 2 tickets. We did splash out one year and 4 of us went when he did Nutcracker. My mother though is one who will moan about the tall person in front of her or the person who won't sit still etc she's even collapsed during 2 performances!

 

Our DS is also with BRB at Salford we can't be there but hope to get tickets for Birmingham but it will just be Granny and me. Hubby always defers to Granny when we get tickets as she appreciates it and he would fall asleep.

 

I do like to think that all of the children in our family know how to behave in a theatre.

I wish more of us could go but it's not feasible.

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That's such a shame if they don't feel able to see him dance because they don't like the other audience members - I've found ballet-goers a pretty friendly bunch, especially when you tell them your child/grandson/nephew is on stage!

 

Whatever I'm seeing at the theatre or cinema I expect people to be quiet as soon as the music etc starts. I'm there to see/listen to the performance, not be disturbed by the people around me. I don't think that makes me a haughty middle aged woman! I think that makes me a considerate audience member.

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In Vienna it was -18c and I had to walk from the hotel to the theatre. I went in my sheepskin boots. I got some very strange looks but it was so cold I didn't care.

My son, who was an apprentice with the company but wasn't dancing at that performance was in trainerish shoes. The way the usher looked him up and down was a picture. Also I tried to take my coat in and literally an arm shot forward and wouldn't let me move forward with my coat.

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The behaviour of others doesn't really stop me attending things, especially watching our son dance - maybe apart from a rapidly decreasing interest in watching football which started to decline after the Heysel disaster (now there's audience behavour to really criticise).

 

Things can be annoying, like noisy eaters. Things can be difficult but unavoidable. Is the problem that I am too short, or that the man in front is too tall! But ifi am getting irritated, I try to concentrate on the performance and giving the performers due respect.

 

We went to watch Ballet in London last night. An audience wearing suits, jeans, whatever. Young, old, it didn't matter as far as I could see. I probably irritate people by talking to them before and during the intervals! NEVER a dull conversation, it even got me an invite to visit Khazakstan!

 

(male, rapidly approaching middle age - but no! Now that starts at 60 evidently, YAY! Overweight - I prefer 'solidly built')

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I am unclear as to how you define "haughty" or snobby people? I am middle aged myself and am well spoken (which some people may misinterpret as being snobby as I don't have a regional accent?) - HOWEVER I am the least "snobby" or "haughty" person going - well, I imagine most of the people on here are the same!

I have been judged as "snobby" by people who don't know me purely by my lack of regional accent from time to time and it is a pet hate of mine.

I am sure .many are offended by these comments......

F

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Hi Frangapani,

I know what you mean and sympathize. I understand what British English speakers mean by "well-spoken", but speaking as a linguist (and a Canadian, where the accent issue isn't fraught as it still is in Britain), I should point out that it's a rather loaded term, and technically all varieties of the language are "well-spoken" (I'm just saying that on behalf of the people on the forum who do speak with a regional accent). I'm not criticizing, just pointing out an assumption underlying a common expression. I am sure you don't harbour prejudices against varieties of the language other than your own, just as you yourself realize how unfair that is.

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I too have been, in my opinion, wrongly judged as snobbish thanks to my very distinctive voice (people always know its me on the phone!!). Its a legacy of brummy mum, southern dad, Worcestershire childhood and years of speech therapy!

 

Whenever I go to any event it really doesn't bother me who sits near me as long as I can enjoy whatever it is I've paid to see! And like others on this forum, I've really enjoyed meeting other ballet fans from all walks of life - we are all human beings at the end of the day and it would never occur to me to not go to anything because of "haughty,over weight, middle aged ladies!!" ( That probably describes me by appearance and sound anyway :) ).

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I have read this thread with interest and I have to say that I did find myself becoming more and more irritated by the list of irritations at the theatre and dare I say, see why Blondie has "had a go". Whilst agreeing wholeheartedly that manners and respect for the performers are so important, I was a little horrified that "being overweight, being wide shouldered, being tall, breathing too heavily, moving your head, taking in a drink, clapping in the wrong place, clapping too soon, daring to cheer made you an unpleasant theatre companion. I don't know when to clap. I try to work it out. I might clap too soon if I am moved to do so. Sorry. I enjoy a drink while I watch. I have cheered. I know we all need a good moan now and again so I am not taking this too seriously but I think I might rather go to the theatre with Blondie ;)

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Well, each to their own, belljul! But to be fair, many people have listed only one or two irritations; it's not as if one person has listed 20 or 30 things which annoy them!

 

We're all entitled to have a little moan every now and then without being called names, which I think was what upset people. :-)

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It seems to me that the things that can irritate us should divided up into at least two categories: those things which can be changed and those which cannot.

 

We can also divide up into categories where the blame lies.

 

If someone with a very large head sits in front of me and obscures my view - I don't blame that person. I'm more irritated with the architect who maybe should have raked the angle of the audience seats a bit more. However, if someone with a large hat sits in front of me - that is another matter.

 

So, though I may have listed the large head as an irritant - it doesn't mean I blame the owner of the head.

 

(hopefully that makes me less of a snob):)

 

Same with a sip of waterr as opposed to crunching of bags and teeth full of crisps (potato chips).

 

Cheering for a performer is fine - but that's quite different when its a continual screech or a whistle that would be too loud in a train station.

 

Clapping in the "wrong" place is a mistake not a purposeful interruption. I don't blame the clapper.

 

Though a man sitting next to me has very wide shoulders and takes up my space (and arm rest) - I don't blame him. I blame the designer of the seats and the people who furnished the theater.

 

Just because some things may irritate us it doesn't mean we are unpleasant about it.

 

I think we just bemoan those things we can't change and hope that respect for others will take care of the rest.

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After giving this some thought, I’ve concluded that I’m a snob.

 

I don’t want to sit next to someone wearing jeans. I don’t want to sit behind a big, moving head. I don’t want to sit shoulder to shoulder with someone fighting for armrest space. I don’t want a spilt drink flowing under my feet. I don’t want to see the glow of smart phones near me. And I certainly don’t want to hear anyone talking.

 

To avoid those people and those things that bother me, I endeavor to purchase box seats. Box seats remedy the spatial issues, as boxes provide plenty of elbow room, shoulder room, and head room for everyone (one exception is Palais Garnier – see, I’m snubbing my nose at Palais Garnier). Additionally, the audience behavior issues are resolved (or at least mitigated). I am of the belief that patrons who spend larger sums of money to obtain a box seat are more likely to dress nicely and more likely to be considerate of those around them.

 

Yes, I think I’m a snob. Please forgive me.

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audience behaviour - general rather than specific!

 

watching the Russian companies, there was a distinct difference in the amount of applause during the various acts. Watching one particular ballet performed by a Russian Company (I won't say which ballet just in case you have not seen it and don't know what happens! but it was Vasiliev and Osipova dancing ), after a dramatic death scene, the drama was a little spoiled by the 'dead' dancers coming immediately to life and receiving their (admittedly well deserved) applause... "It's a miracle" I wanted to shout.

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I am of the belief that patrons who spend larger sums of money to obtain a box seat are more likely to dress nicely and more likely to be considerate of those around them.

 

 

 

Those dressing nicely don't have the monopoly on good manners and/or consideration. In fact, some of the rudest, most unpleasant patrons I have come across at the ROH are those in the expensive seats. Most of us less well off fans treat each other with decency and civility, even if we can't afford a DJ to wear, and the most expensive item of clothing we own is a pair of levis...

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Those dressing nicely don't have the monopoly on good manners and/or consideration. In fact, some of the rudest, most unpleasant patrons I have come across at the ROH are those in the expensive seats. Most of us less well off fans treat each other with decency and civility, even if we can't afford a DJ to wear, and the most expensive item of clothing we own is a pair of levis...

 

I would take this further and say that manners and consideration of others are totally independent of wealth and the way one dresses. Good manners cost nothing to teach or to exhibit. I would add, also, that the wealthy, or those who choose to spend what available money that they have on the best seats, are not always the best dressed. I feel that one may wear what one likes as long as it is not offensive, or has been mentioned, it is something that would block the view of other patrons.

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I feel that one may wear what one likes as long as it is not offensive, or has been mentioned, it is something that would block the view of other patrons.

I couldn't agree more. As long as they aren't smelly I really don't care what my neighbours in a theatre are wearing. It's what they do that sometimes irks me, not what they look like.

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Absolutely! Money can't buy you consideration, manners, and decent behaviour.

 

We were at The Ritz for the Saturday evening dinner dance with my parents for a big birthday a few years ago. Although dh and I had scrimped and saved for months and months to be able to afford the evening, we felt perfectly at home and the staff were beautifully welcoming and treated us no differently than the regulars who seem to go every weekend.

 

Dd was dressed beautifully, behaved impeccably, and was one of three or four children there. The staff treated her like a princess, and she was having a wonderful time, but on her way to the loo with my mum, they passed some obviously wealthy regulars who tutted and said that the Ritz was no place for children, disgusting, what was the world coming to, etc.

 

My Mum stopped, gave them an icy glare, and said "My Grand-daughter is the most beautifully behaved 10 year old you could hope to meet, and has better manners than most adults", and swept dd off to the loo. :-)

 

Being wealthy most certainly does not give people the monopoly on considerate behaviour and good manners!

 

 

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I have just caught up with this thread, think all has been said, however thought some of you may find this "guide for first time attenders" from the BRB website helpful.

 

On dress code:

"Do I have to wear anything special?

Come as you are! There is no dress code, although some people choose to dress up to make their night

out a special occasion"

 

On when to clap:

"When should I clap?

There are no rules about showing your appreciation of a ballet performance – the dancers and

musicians get a huge buzz from hearing the audience applaud and even cheer! However, it is customary

to applaud as the conductor takes his or her stand in the pit, both at the start of the performance and

when the show recommences after the interval(s). You are also free to applaud during the performance

whenever a solo dance has finished or to show your appreciation for the performance as and when you

feel it is deserved and naturally at the end for the performers as they take their bows at the final curtain

call."

 

I often think we are a bit too reserved in the UK with our clapping. Remember watching a tv programme about ballet in Cuba and their audiences are very enthusiastic at showing their appreciation during the performance.

 

Here is the link to the guide:

http://www.brb.org.uk/search.html?q=when%20to%20clap

 

 

Best wishes to the sons of Blondie and Kathy and hope you enjoy watching your talented children.

 

NL

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Thanks for that, Nana Lily. You've reminded me that ENB used to have something similar on their website, although whether it's been done away with in the latest revision I don't know.

 

I often think we are a bit too reserved in the UK with our clapping. Remember watching a tv programme about ballet in Cuba and their audiences are very enthusiastic at showing their appreciation during the performance.

 

Well, it's a cultural thing, isn't it? There are countries where people are far more enthusiastic in their applause, and others where they tend to be rather more restrained - is it China where pretty much nobody applauds until the end of the performance? What was described above is pretty much the norm for the UK.

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I think what most people on this thread have failed to understand is that it is exactly "a cultural thing". What has been termed "good behaviour" is a mode of behaving historically defined by a very particular section of the English upper and middle classes to demonstrate their superiority to those of lower class/foreigners who fail to understand/accept that shared code. Behaving in accordance with that code allows those who are not themselves of upper class origins to ape that feeling of superiority and "belonging" to an elite. As a classical musician, I feel that the kind of "exclusive" atmosphere generated by such audiences alienates not only those who are not accustomed to attending classical concerts/opera/ballet but also many of the performers who feel they are serving up a museum piece rather than participating in a living art form. For that reason I have played in more proms concerts than I have attended as an audience member over the past decade since I find the smug "jolly good chaps and chapesses" atmosphere of the promenaders almost unbearable. Few people seem to appreciate that the expectation that audiences will sit in reverent, hushed silence is a very modern phenomenon rather than a timeless standard of "civilised behaviour". A bit of warmth and informality rather than "hallowed tradition" and icy disdain for those who are different would go a long way to attracting the "new audiences" everyone claims to be courting.

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Lindsay, if I'm understanding your post correctly, then I must disagree with your reasons why people behave in a considerate manner and are irked if others don't follow suit.

 

I like to think that by nature, I am a considerate person and that I treat others in the same way that I would wish to be treated. That has nothing to do with class, elitism or a sense of superiority. It is called consideration for fellow humans which I believe is classless.

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But is the way you would wish to be treated exactly the same as everyone else on this board? We have already seen that some are happy to sit next to people in jeans and some are not. Some turn faint at the sight of smartphones while I know that other balletomanes tweet until the second the lights go down. Surely it is a relative rather than an absolute standard?

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No idea, I can only speak for myself.

 

The jeans certainly wouldn't bother me; the phone thing might depending on whether the show/ballet has started. It wouldn't bother me while the lights are still up, but it's very distracting in the dark.

 

I'm saying that if a person tries to behave considerately to others then they have a right to hope that others afford them the same courtesy, and a right to be upset if that is not the case. That is not a cultural issue, nor is it a class issue borne of any sense of superiority.

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I'm sorry spanner but the fact that your idea of what constitutes consideration is not exactly the same as everyone else's indicates that it is precisely a cultural issue. I think the ballet companies recognise this, hence BRBs deliberately non-prescriptive advice on audience dress and behaviour. It is the tutting audience members who do not. Like Blondie I was depressed by much of the narrow-mindedness and disdain displayed in this thread.

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I'm sorry spanner but the fact that your idea of what constitutes consideration is not exactly the same as everyone else's indicates that it is precisely a cultural issue. I think the ballet companies recognise this, hence BRBs deliberately non-prescriptive advice on audience dress and behaviour. It is the tutting audience members who do not. Like Blondie I was depressed by much of the narrow-mindedness and disdain displayed in this thread.

 

All I really want is to be able to enjoy the performance for which I have paid. To do that, I'd appreciate that those around me don't talk or play with their 'phone(s) during the performance (which is also courteous to the performers). Is that really so narrow-minded?

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You are completely missing my point. Those are by no means the only things people have been objecting to on this thread, demonstrating that your definition of enjoyment is not the same for everyone. For example my definition of consideration would involve far less tutting, shushing and glaring, not to mention grumbling from early arrivals when people politely ask to be let through to the middle of the row. I could also live without groups of ROH regulars spending the intervals loudly b*tching about the weight and appearance of some dancers/singers while drooling salaciously over others but I accept that not everyone feels the same way.

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But Lindsay, your original point seemed to be that people like to insist on codes of behaviour out of some misplaced desire to appear superior and to ape the middle classes. Now you seem to be accusing prommers of being smug, and ROH audience members of drooling salaciously and commenting about dancers' weight (which I have never heard anyone do). Forgive me if I am confused about what your actual point IS.

 

I stand by my assertion that consideration for your fellow human is neither a cultural nor a class issue.

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