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ENB's new image


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Interestingly, ENB's Swan Lake in the round at the Albert Hall is being advertised in the Sunday papers today in the old, traditional way. Maybe this says something about what Raymond Gubbay (who promotes the season) thinks of the new image?

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Well, since everything I've seen in the new format has been about promoting the company rather than their performances, perhaps that's not so surprising.  The Westwood version I saw in the national papers the other day didn't mention any forthcoming performances, or even give the website.

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Well, since everything I've seen in the new format has been about promoting the company rather than their performances, perhaps that's not so surprising.  The Westwood version I saw in the national papers the other day didn't mention any forthcoming performances, or even give the website.

 

I cannot get my head around the concept of a company existing aside from its core art and its performances. For several people I know the ads in the national papers conveyed an image (I won't say what!) very different from a troupe which aspires to be "Britain's best loved ballet company".

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I think the new ads and image work well and show ballet reaching out and alive to contemporary culture. I don't expect new advertising to appeal to all and those who go anyway don't really need advertising encouragement. This is about broadening the audience and changing perceptions rather then ballet trudging on in its 'ballet' way. Although I'm not comparing what ENB are doing to Diaghilev I sometimes think that if Diaghilev were to come along now then a sizable proportion of the traditional ballet fan base would be bitterly upset by his shot in the arm and cross arts, cross creatives, approach to an old art...

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I'd seen the ads on the tube, going down the escalator and it didn't register at first that they were for any sort of ballet, just rather ugly pics selling something I undoubtedly didn't want.  When I saw them in the Guardian I was very sad they are being used in conjunction with ENB and I wonder just how much this **** cost.  Answer: too much for a cash strapped ballet company.

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I would really like to think that Bruce is right and that ENB's new image will be the key to attracting new audiences. However, some of the people who have commented to me on the current advertising campaign are very much in the target age group and very 'modern' in most respects - and, as I said earlier, their views are entirely negative and, if anything, discourage booking for the April Triple Bill at the Coliseum for which, sadly, tickets are selling very slowly.

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I don't expect advertising that helps reposition a brand (brand ballet, brand ENB) to have instant effect - its takes time. And of course the Coliseum isn't selling - it was a huge flop in terms of tickets sales last year was it not? (if great to get cheap seats (£20?) in the Stalls which I did, but not healthy really.) That position is not going to instantly change. But at least the sales and marketing is changing from what didn't deliver success before - the strategy needs to run.

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'....>I sometimes think that if Diaghilev were to come along now then a sizable proportion of the traditional ballet fan base would be bitterly upset by his shot in the arm and cross arts, cross creatives, approach to an old art<...'

 

Well said, Bruce - clever point-making there!  Let's face it , we're talking Tamara here and I think she's making a  bold start; let's wish her the best (and keep our fingers crossed as well...).
 

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Well I would book for the triple bill if they would show casting on the website, fashion photographs don't help at all!

 

Actually the name "Ecstasy and death" is bound to put people off too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

 

Guardian Tamara Rojo shakes off the pink satin ribbons to put sex back in to ballet

 

The new head of English National Ballet believes it is time for her art form to rediscover its edge and aims to do just that in her first Coliseum season

 

Ballet is often seen as the perfect treat for a little girl: a confection of pastel tulle and gauze, where all the dancers should expect from an audience is the odd gasp of delight, or a sigh of contentment at a well-executed pirouette. But Tamara Rojo Spanish star of Covent Garden and new head of English National Ballet wants to bring down the curtain on such saccharine assumptions. Pink satin ribbons have restricted classical dance for too long, Rojo believes. It is time to reclaim her art form for the adult themes of sex and intense personal drama.

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2013/mar/31/tamara-rojo-sex-ballet

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I think Rojo is making a great start at making English National Ballet a better known name and has been getting great press recently (national press too, which is key for their touring presence). I personally applaud the new image and their attempt to be a company in line with current fashion and marketing - it can sometimes seem like ENB live in RB's shadow when they are performing in London and the new approach seems much more like the situation in New York with ABT and NYCB. There, two companies happily cohabit the same plaza (at least, when ABT have their Lincoln Center season) and it is quite clear by advertisement and repertoire that they are quite different companies and you will have two very different experiences watching them each perform. This makes neither seem to be in the shadow of the other, and certainly when I was in NYC I thought nothing of watching as most of both companies as I could.

 

Also, I think Corsaire is a great acquisition for ENB and will be a fantastic tour piece - a showstopper classical ballet that most audiences will not have necessarily been exposed to. I personally just wish that ENB had somewhere other than the Coliseum to perform whilst in London - would Sadlers' not be a better choice? I always find the Coli seats uncomfortable and most ballet companies (i.e. Mikhailovsky this week) seem to struggle to fill it, even with startling offers (like £10 stalls tickets).

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As if she hasn't been "reclaiming her art form" with all those MacMillan ballets she danced during her time with the RB, anyway!  But yes, she obviously does need to attract adult audiences too, without alienating those with children.  A tricky tightrope to walk: I was under the distinct impression that the lower age limit for "Manon" was very offputting to regional audiences and one reason for the poor sales (although entirely appropriate, when you consider some of the scenes in it.  Which in turn leads me to wonder how many people will be taking their children to the Mikhailovsky Laurencia over the next few days and realising that it's not really appropriate).

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I think Rojo is making a great start at making English National Ballet a better known name and has been getting great press recently (national press too, which is key for their touring presence). I personally applaud the new image and their attempt to be a company in line with current fashion and marketing - it can sometimes seem like ENB live in RB's shadow when they are performing in London and the new approach seems much more like the situation in New York with ABT and NYCB. There, two companies happily cohabit the same plaza (at least, when ABT have their Lincoln Center season) and it is quite clear by advertisement and repertoire that they are quite different companies and you will have two very different experiences watching them each perform. This makes neither seem to be in the shadow of the other, and certainly when I was in NYC I thought nothing of watching as most of both companies as I could.

 

Also, I think Corsaire is a great acquisition for ENB and will be a fantastic tour piece - a showstopper classical ballet that most audiences will not have necessarily been exposed to. I personally just wish that ENB had somewhere other than the Coliseum to perform whilst in London - would Sadlers' not be a better choice? I always find the Coli seats uncomfortable and most ballet companies (i.e. Mikhailovsky this week) seem to struggle to fill it, even with startling offers (like £10 stalls tickets).

 

 

David, I also think that Corsaire is a fantastic acquisition for ENB but I fear for it because as you say "most audiences will not necessarily have been exposed to".

 

An acquaintance recently telephoned me.  During the course of the conversation she asked me if I still went to the ballet. I said I did but had to travel because we don't get that much in Liverpool.  I then added that I had just booked to see Don Quixote at the Empire in July.  She then informed me that she had seen most ballets but had never heard of that one.  I explained its provenance and fame in the ballet world but she wouldn't have any of it!!  I expect Corsaire will get the same reaction.

 

I know that ENB has a loyal audience and I hope enough of them go to see Corsaire while it is on tour because they are fans of ENB because the non-aficionados that we are up north surely won't go to see Corsaire.  I expect that is why the uber-non-afficionados of Liverpool are getting Nutcracker! 

Edited by Janet McNulty
Edited to change one word in 2 places
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Going back to ENB's new image, I regret to report that the ads. for Ecstasy and Death in the weekend papers did not, on the basis of asking friends, immediately cause people to register that it was a programme of ballet which was being promoted. The umbrella title itself did not appeal to them either. And, in previous weeks, there have been quite large spreads of the Vivienne Westwood - clothed photos which have made no reference at all to upcoming shows.

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I loved the images when I saw them online but didn't like them so much on the flyer. I think the company is right to try this different approach but they do need to make sure the public knows who is being advertised.

 

 

I absolutely agree,

 

Rebrand and collaborations with other art forms are great, but when it comes to advertise the show, you need to tell the audience what to expect. You want to attract the audience who would enjoy these three ballets, rather then somebody who expects to see something about ecstasy and fashion.

 

This is a great triple bill with 3 masterpieces, that would appeal to all types of audience. Plus all three are visually stunning to provide great images for advertising(just as edgy).

I feel like a lot of people will miss out not seeing it, just because they had wrong idea about what is advertised...

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  • 2 weeks later...

My take on it is, that ENB is trying to tap into the audience that so massively supports Matthew Bourne.  This is not a bad idea as I am sure many people who enjoy MB would enjoy ENB.  But how to convince them to give it a try?

 

There is a similar conundrum in the music world - how to get the audience which attends the Proms each summer to continue their concert going for the rest of the year.

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We saw the posters on the underground recently too, and my ballet-obsessed 14-year-old daughter said "Ugh, that looks horrible - I don't think I want to go and see that"!

 

I think part of the point is that they probably weren't aiming for 14-yr old girls already into ballet for this programme. Indeed, I don't think the bill would be suited for children in the slightest!

 

I personally think the name was an excellent choice, along with the advertisement campaign. There was certainly a wider range of people at the Coliseum on Saturday night than I have seen at any ballet since Carbon Life at the ROH. I think it's important to realise that ENB probably weren't aiming for us balletomanes with the ad campaigns!

 

This bill was a great introduction to ballet for newcomers - abstract, narrative and classical all in one evening (in fact, a similar mix to the Carbon Life triple at ROH last year). I know a lot of my friends said they'd prefer to go see this bill than, say, Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty.

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It seems like Rojo is doing well in re-branding the ENB and bringing in a younger audience. I just hope this can translate in to bringing in a large audience, as it appears that with this bill the ENB has failed once again to fill out the coliseum. Hopefully that will change over time.

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