Jump to content

Recommended Posts

ChrisChris posted this in the Alina Cojocaru joins ENB thread:

 

"Interesting, if slightly OTT, article from Ismene Brown about Cojocaru's move and what it says about the old company system. She refers to Cojocaru as a superstar, and mentions a few dancers that she claims the public want to see. I'd be interested to see if there are any statistics to back that up. In the UK, few ballet dancers have any kind of public profile, and I wonder whether, outside the small, hardcore fans, attendance or box office of particular ballets is impacted by particular dancers, or do people go simply because they like the look of the ballet.

 

http://www.theartsde...s-are-revolting "

 

 

I thought it might make an interesting topic in its own right!

 

When I first started ballet-watching (26/05/1984!), I mostly used to travel to London and due to leave and work commitments that meant that I was mostly restricted to weekends.  That, on the whole, meant that casting was irrelevant to me because I couldn't choose when to go.

 

I think the first 2 dancers I specifically started to look out for, if casting was announced, were Alexander Sombart and Irek Mukhamedov.

 

Then I started following NB and got used to having to take pot luck!  Then BRB stopped announcing casting until around 2 weeks before the performances.  So I have for many years been used to following the company rather than the dancer.

 

What I have discovered though, is that it does make me book more performances in the hopes of seeing more and different casts and sometimes I book last minute tickets to see favourite dancers when casting is announced.  I've got to admit that I booked an extra Coppelia to see Chi Cao and, of course, an extra to see Ambra and Vicky's final performances.

 

I've had a couple of random thoughts and would love to know what everyone else thinks!

 

If ballet moves more towards the "star" system would that mean that all companies will start to look the same and will lose their individuality?

 

Would it mean that "non-star" performances would not be full?

 

Would it have a dertimental impact on smaller companies who cannot afford to buy in "stars"?

 

Do people support stars or companies?  Is that impacted by which companies your are able to see?  If you want to see specific dancers do you take a chance and wait till casting is announced or do you book the seats you like for a performance that is convenient for you?

 

Please let me know what you think!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for starting a new thread Janet. Going back to the original article, i'm personally not sure if the principal casting has much effect on box office. I thought of this when I noticed a couple of articles about the RB being in crisis because they had lost a lot of principals. While I personally find the news and comings and goings interesting, and obviously people on here have their favourites, i'd be surprised if it registers with the wider public at all. In my opinion, people go to the RB because it is a famous company (probably mainly because it has the 'Royal' prefix), it performs well known classics, in an awesome building that has become a landmark, and people often seem to go there as part of a nice night out in London. I think people want to see principals perform the main roles, because principal usually equals best, but i'm not sure if the actual principals matter so much. I think Cojocaru joining the ENB is exciting for people that really follow ballet, and ballet journalists, who can be very inward looking generally, but I don't think it will have much impact on their financial success/ box office. Will people in Milton keynes rush to the ballet now because Cojocaru is on the bill? In my opinion, no. Will a load of new people who have never been to the ballet before go to the ROH because Osipova is joining? No, in my opinion. These new additions might bring much needed coverage in the newspapers, but does that translate to ticket sales? I think the ENB will survive if it can create exciting new work, and get a younger audience in to the ballet, which Rojo seems to be doing, but in my opinion it's the overall image, cost of tickets, venue and repertoire that bring people in, and the overall corps that define the performance.

 

In terms of my personal habits, I think i'm as guilty as most people on here, in that I have developed favourites and there are people that I look out for, but I originally went to the ballet just because I wanted to see what the fuss was about, and got hooked, and it tends to be more the ballet that I go for, rather than the dancers; I love narrative ballets but get really bored at the pure dance ones (Symphony in C, for example), so even if a dancer I loved was doing a triple bill, I probably wouldn't go.

 

I think what often clinches it for me is the cost of tickets and the venue. I only ever go to the RB, partly because I think, in some way, I am attracted to the fact that they are the national company, and in my mind that kind of makes them the best, but also because having been to the ROH a few times, i've got to know where the good cheap seats are, where I know i'll be able to see every part of the stage and don't have to worry about someone really tall sitting in front of me. I was curious about a couple of perfomances at the coliseum and sadler's wells recently, but i've never been there before, and I ended up not bothering because I don't know the layout, and I was worried about spending money on tickets and ending up with a crap seat where I can't see the stage. Completely stupid I know, but I just decided to wait until the next RB season.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with the point that for the majority of the audience at Covent Garden they like to see principal casting but the identity of the actual principals is not important. The one Covent Garden principal who seems to have a personal impact on ticket sales way ahead of anyone else is Carlos Acosta. Unlike nearly all the recent visitors to the Coli he's had no trouble selling it out.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I book for the company mostly, mainly because I mostly book for the BRB and I book when tickets become available not when casting is announced and I only tend to find out casting on the night, same for NB. When I first booked for ENB I did wait to find out casting and then booked for the Rojo/Muntagirov show because I really wanted to see them and then when I got tickets for an extra show I went for the same casting because I wanted to see them again (Still would've gone for a different partnership, I just got lucky) and now Cojocaru is dancing with them I'm going to try and get tickets for her but I don't think it would make a difference to most people. Though for the Bolshoi I got tickets based on what nights I could go to, which I suspect a lot of tourists will do and maybe not look so much at principal casting unless they want to look them up. I suspect casting only has an influence on people who already follow ballet and are going for a particular dancer. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I book the company, and if I know the company I try to book on dates with performers I like. So far there are only very few performers I'd actively try to avoid, but there could be some casting changes that might persuade me to change my tickets to another date if possible.

 

So it's RB for most things for me or guesting Russians and assorted other visiting companies - if I liked their style, I go again if they come back. ENB if there are deals (balcony at Coli tends to induce back spasms, and I'd have to rob a bank to afford stalls...) and it's not Sleeping Beauty, during which I literally fell asleep so I figured it doesn't really do anything for me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I went to the other extreme once and have regretted it ever since!   When Baryshnikov firsy joined the RB I wanted to go to the saturday matinee of some big ballet or other. Didn't matter to me particularly what - just to visit the Opera House with its red plush curtains and gold angels and see the RB was enough and matinee tickets were always cheaper.  Well, when I got to the box office I was told that tickets were more expensive than usual because Baryshnikov was dancing.  When I complained that matinees were supposed to be cheaper I was told that he was doing the public a favour by dancing at a matinee!  Unfortunately, for some reason I had no idea who he was or what was all the fuss about.  I was a fairly newly wed I believe and perhaps had other things on my mind!   Anyway, I didn't want to spend so much money, so didn't go.  When I eventually became a total Baryshnikov groupie because of his films, I kicked myself for missing out on a live performance!  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh that's interesting about the ticket prices DiL.  I wonder what would have happened if he had been injured and unable to perform; what would the audience think about the inflated prices?

 

Actually, I suppose one of the facts of being a ballet-watcher is that you can never guarantee that you will see who you may have specifically booked to see. 

 

I have sometimes heard adverse comments in the audience when this has happened but most people seem accepting.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I started out going to the star for my first time (Miyako Yoshida), then started going to see the production (as everything was new to me), then my fave dancers having seen a few shows, then almost everything - now going back to see the 'stars' (well, they are stars in my eyes, maybe not necessarily the same stars everyone else sees)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For me seeing my favourites dancers tends to be the icing on the cake as I tend to go for the company and availability of tickets versus my availability.  I usually end up with not much choice of dates but my most seen company is BRB and casting is not usually known at the time of booking. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I went to the other extreme once and have regretted it ever since!   When Baryshnikov firsy joined the RB I wanted to go to the saturday matinee of some big ballet or other. Didn't matter to me particularly what - just to visit the Opera House with its red plush curtains and gold angels and see the RB was enough and matinee tickets were always cheaper.  Well, when I got to the box office I was told that tickets were more expensive than usual because Baryshnikov was dancing.  When I complained that matinees were supposed to be cheaper I was told that he was doing the public a favour by dancing at a matinee!  Unfortunately, for some reason I had no idea who he was or what was all the fuss about.  I was a fairly newly wed I believe and perhaps had other things on my mind!   Anyway, I didn't want to spend so much money, so didn't go.  When I eventually became a total Baryshnikov groupie because of his films, I kicked myself for missing out on a live performance!  

 

First a point of correction:  Baryshnikov only ever guested with the RB.  There is NO question however that he was a great dancer.

 

I lived in NYC during the end of the so-called dance boom.  I'm so glad that I did as EVERYTHING of international note eventually showed up there at some point.  Baryshnikov was a principal with ABT at that time and danced usually either with Gelsey Kirkland, Makarova (whose then most frequent partner was a fellow ABT principal at the time, Britain's Anthony Dowell) or Marianna Tcherkassy (although she frequently was partnered by another ABT principal, the glorious Fernando Bujones, another BRILLIANT dancer who died far too young at 50).  Of course Baryshnikov had briefly been a principal with NYCB and still guested there on occasion.  It should be noted that the ticket prices for ALL the performances (short of the very occasional charitable gala) remained the same no matter who was dancing on the Met stage.  There was no 'star sur-charge' for either ballet or opera and that remains the same practice today.  The same cannot always be said for the ROH sadly.  I find the fact that there is a sur-charge for the 'opening' of Don Quixote' most unfortunate.  Why then was there not a sur-charge for the opening of the Olympic triple collaboration bill.  Surely that was 'more unique'.  Perhaps it is just what the 'Royal's they' feel the traffic will bear regardless of their subsidy far in advance of anything the Americans ever dreamed of.  Surely that speaks for itself.

Edited by Meunier

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I tend to watch the companies, in some cases seeing different casts if time and budget allows.

 

I do like to see Laura Morera at RB so do tend to book accordingly, likewise there is one RB dancer we avoid.

 

In some companies eg BRB, Northern, BalletBlack and Ballet TheatreUk there are dancers I know so naturally I support them if I can.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I started out booking for the company (RB), then had to move to a specific dancer when my son fell in love with Tamara Rojo. But generally I think it would be company rather than star for me, also because there's always the possibility of changes due to injury, and I can't wait till the last minute because travel plans have to be made and hinge on having tickets. That said, I do try to see Nunez as much as I can, and there is another RB dancer I try to avoid. I saw Cojocaru at La Scala having twice booked to see her at ROH and missed her, perhaps I'll be luckier with ENB. 

And apart from company and star, a priority for me would be programme. Anyone putting on Onegin will have me doing my best to get there while Manon does not attract me, neither does Petit's Coppelia - which will be staged at the Teatro dell'Opera in Rome in September, and which I won't be going to see.

 

I may perhaps be in a minority here but I do like the Coliseum. I've only been there once, to see the Mikhailovsky's Swan Lake with Rojo, and I thought the stalls seats we had were better, and significantly cheaper, than at ROH. What could be an alternative venue for ENB? I don't find the idea of the RAH very appealing, it gives me the impression of being just too big, like the O2.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Perhaps the fact that he was "guesting" made them raise the prices?  He probably demanded more money than if he'd been a permanent member of the company.   In the late 1950s and 1960s when I was a frequent visitor to the "Garden", there were so many wonderful ballerinas, Fonteyn, Nerina, Park, Beriosova, Sibley, Seymour in the Royal that it really didn't matter whom I saw in the lead, although I had my preferences for the different ballets as each brought their own special quality to the roles.  Also in the 50's and 60s you had the same luxury of a stable of stars at Festival Ballet (now ENB).  My sister wasn't a great ballet fan, but she would come with us if we were going to see John Gilpin - he was so handsome!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The RB used to charge premium prices for Fonteyn and Nureyev, but I hadn't realised that had continued on into the 70s with other big names.

 

For me, it tends to be "dancer + role", so there are no dancers I would desperately try to avoid, at the RB or elsewhere (okay, actually there is one I usually avoid like the plague, but I'll even sit through a performance by him if the circumstances are right), but I would definitely put seeing Dancer A low on my list of Siegfrieds, say, or try and avoid Dancer B as Juliet, perhaps.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is very various for me I think.

First is the ballet itself. I book because I want to that ballet/ballets....and because London is really my nearest access point this does tend to be with the Royal Ballet though I like ENB as well and often doing different programme so will want to see it especially if its new.

Before what is now BRB and was Sadlers Wells touring company I would go to see both but have lost touch a bit with this company now unfortunately.

Then I do look at the casting but am often happy with various principals at the moment anyway unless someone is dancing in a role I really think doesn't suit them at all which isn't very often.....but lets just say if it is a dramatic ballet I do prefer dancers who can act!!

 

Sometimes I deliberately book to see new dancers in a role rather than the established principals but I have seen a lot of ballets a lot of times over the years something I cannot afford to do now....gone are the days of 50p standing tickets!!...so sometimes may give a whole booking period a miss if there is no ballet I particularly want to see that season but it doesn't mean I won't want to see it in a year or so!! Some of the one act ballets like Month in the country and Las Hermanas which don't get performed every year I always book and will try to see new dancers in the roles.

 

I usually see Nutcracker and Swan Lake about every two years and alternate between the Royal and ENB.

 

So star or company? At the moment I would say company on the whole. But perhaps that's because there are so many good principals

But not so many truly evocative partnerships....though many good ones but if that should change I could get star struck again!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

American Ballet Theatre at the MET season charges different prices according to casting, Don Quixote staring Osipova and Vasiliev was the most expensive ticket of this season.  They didn't have that pricing strategy before, only recently they began to do this.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for letting me know Naomi.  I think the new policy is a shame.  It can but belittle the many.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is good when a star leads one to discover a company (and its productions) which one probably would not have booked for otherwise.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am, as my username reveals, new to the world of ballet and live in London, so I have gravitated towards the RB too. While I'm keen to see as many different ballets as I can, I would probably first look for the production itself - for instance I've just booked for the triple bill including Rite of Spring for the ballet not the dancers.

However I actually find I'm almost more interested in the 'anonymous' corps de ballet than in the principals dancing the lead roles- I mean that the cast lists never tell you who specifically is dancing what in the corps on any given night. As I don't know enough to be able to tell good from bad in the dancing, I sort of assume that all the principals are automatically amazing, and I'm more interested in watching and identifying those in the background, and tracing their careers as they move up through the company. Often it's one of those dancers who really catches my eye - I saw Claudia Dean in the corps a while ago and couldn't take my eyes off her, so I've booked to see her in the Rite of Spring. But likewise when I saw ENB I couldn't stop watching Nancy Osbaldeston and I'm hoping to be able to go and see her soon too.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But likewise when I saw ENB I couldn't stop watching Nancy Osbaldeston and I'm hoping to be able to go and see her soon too.

 

Did you know, newballetfan, that Nancy is cast as The Ballerina in Petrushka in ENB's forthcoming Tribute to Nureyev? She is scheduled to dance on Friday and Saturday evenings (26th and 27th July). I believe that she will also have a solo slot in Raymonda.

 

[Apologies for going slightly off-thread!]

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think very often it can be the music that leads people to initially enter the ballet's doors.  I remember years ago when Prince did a programme with the Joffrey Ballet that it brought them in buzzing and McGregor, of course, did that programme with Boy George et al which was extremely popular for a triple bill.  I also remember ABT with the Sinatra Suite by Tharp ... but then that had Baryshnikov dancing which I'm sure did not hurt.  I'm sure part of the the reason NYCB brought West Side Story Suite by Robbins into their fold was because it attracts (well, hopefully) a non-traditional ballet audience base.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with Meunier that the music is sometimes what gets newcomers through the door. Besides the Carbon Life bill (in my experience, Mark Ronson was the bigger draw, for me it was Alison Mosshart but I digress), even for the classics, I find it much easier to get people to come to the Nutcracker or Swan Lake because they know the music, I remember inviting a friend to see the Nutcracker, she only agreed after listening to the music, she probably would have gone to any company, and the dancers really didn't matter
I also know someone who claims not to really care about ballet but will still very happily go see Carlos Acosta in pretty much anything.


To answer the question, at first I go for the company, once I get to know them, I navigate towards dancers in particular. But so far the only company where I actually make decision based on the cast is the RB, it doesn't help that most other companies I get to see where it would make a difference don't necessarily announce their casting (much) in advance.

In cases like the ones in the article that started the conversation, I would go see all those dancers regardless of the company, not quite in anything, but I'm sure they are savvy enough about their careers that they will only appear in shows they believe in.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

capybara, isn't Nancy down to dance on *Thursday* and Saturday evenings? (Btw, is Zdenek not dancing at all? Shame, as he's supposed to be so good in SoaW)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So sorry everyone. As Aileen says, Nancy is dancing on Thursday and Saturday evenings. There have been so many manoeverings in the casting that I got confused. [And btw it appears that Zdenek is not now dancing in SOAW.]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Newballetfan I went to the RBS school performance a couple of years ago and Claudia Dean was one of the ones I circled in the programme that day!! She stood out then anyway. Also in the corps though may now be a soloist is Beatrix Stix-Brunell who I believe unfortunately has been injured recently so hope she's okay soon. I saw her do Alice(I think Cuthbertson another promising one was injured then and the ballet was created around her so a shame for her too) but Beatrix was very good in Alice and in Las Hermanas recently so am looking out for castings of her and Dean.

I too like to see new young dancers trying out roles and hope to see more of Yuhui Choe as well as saw her in a small piece and thought she was very engaging and bright lovely to watch.

 

Certain dancers do tend to particularly connect with certain roles like Nunez in Fille but would like to see Cuthbertson do this role now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I saw Beatrix do Alice too, fairly recently and thought she was brilliant! Isn't it interesting how even knowing nothing about dance and not understanding WHY a certain dancer really catches my eye, it often tends to be the same ones that knowledgable dance people like too! Suggests it really can be a universal thing.

Thank you capybara for those dates, I shall investigate :)

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I saw Beatrix do Alice too, fairly recently and thought she was brilliant! Isn't it interesting how even knowing nothing about dance and not understanding WHY a certain dancer really catches my eye, it often tends to be the same ones that knowledgable dance people like too! Suggests it really can be a universal thing.

Thank you capybara for those dates, I shall investigate :)

I saw Beatriz Stix-Brunell and Yuhui Choe dance Alice and think they are the best too. I've always thought what you say about not knowing anything technically about ballet but instinctively knowing when something is special is true, this happens when I go to the opera, which I know nothing about, when I want to applaud the most so do the opera fans! 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For me it is probably a combination of ballet ,star and company. When I became very keen on ballet in 1990 after seeing the Kirov in Manchester and then Birminghmam I wanted to see them as much as possible. Then I became keen on Igor Zelensky and saw as many of his performances as I could (given we live in Lancashire!) both with the Kirov and guesting with the Royal ballet. We even started doing house exchanges in 1999 for 2 weeks in the summer so we could see whatever visiting Russian Company was in London and holiday with our dog who was too old to go in kennels! (We are doing the same this summer for part of the Bolshoi).

Later I became more interested in individual ballets but because we can't see London companies too often I tend to select the casting for these ballets. So this Jan/Feb. I saw Alina and Marianella twice each in Onegin which is one of my favourite ballets. Both versions were sensational. I love seeing Osipova and Vasiliev and saw their Don Q twice this Easter and also her Giselle which I thought amazing and can't wait to see her in the Peter Wright version. Also booked to see Steven in the Royal's Don Q as I'm curious about the ballet and always enjoy seeing him (hoping for Osipova as a partner??) and also booked to see Osipova and Carlos in Romeo. This is a ballet I wouldn't normally book for so the choice of casting definately influenced my decision. By first day of public booking both performances were virtually sold out so I do think casting can have an effect on box office. it is interesting that Osipova and Vasiliev performances do sell quicker; their Flames of Paris possibly sold out during the Hochhauser advance week or very early in public booking.  It is interesting that their performances sell out because unlike Carlos or Darcey I didn't think they were well known apart from ballet enthusiasts. Whether this is a good thing in that it may make other casts feel undervalued and people reluctant to book for other pefrormaces I don't know.  if I lived in London I would go to a lot more performances and see a greater range of casting. I would love to be like the earlier fellow  poster and follow a dancer through from Corps to principal but living at such a distance it isn't really possible.  Joan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe with Osipova and Vasiliev it is the partnership which is important too. It will be interesting to see them separately.....I too am seeing Osipova with Acosta in R and J a ballet I like if the couple are believable which doesn't always happen.

 

Lots of principal "stars" like Acosta don't really seem to have developed any particular partnership though they do have certain regular partners. But not in the Fonteyn/Nureyev or Sibley/Dowell mold.

 

Osipova and Vasiliev have a good partnership going which I think makes them more attractive as well as their extraordinary technical skills etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I always go for the dancer, i think it's like drinking wine; if you want something really special, you don't just pick a region and buy. There are particular vintage years, villages etc and the more you know about them, the better you can choose.

 

Two thoughts though. Firstly, I think 'the star' is an off putting word. It sounds like you're going because they're 'famous' which isn't necessarily the case.

 

Also I think part of the problem is the 'first night' structure. Critics are pushed into reviewing the leading couple - of course you do hear about stand out new dancers and performances, but it takes more work than just reading printed reviews. So leading dancers can keep their position de facto

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...