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alison

Bintley: BRB need to attract older audiences

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Also spotted in Graham Watts' interview with David Bintley (http://londondance.com/articles/interviews/david-bintley-interview-part-2/),

 

(Young people being naturally more attracted to contemporary dance,) "Ballet audiences are generally an older group and we have to accept that. Our main challenge is to attract that older audience."

 

Nice to know that *someone* recognises that :)

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Music to my (middle-aged) ears

 

Hope Mr Bintley can persuade his marketing department that he's not wrong and BRB can concentrate on putting on awesome performances instead of chasing non-existent yoof audiences.

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Also spotted in Graham Watts' interview with David Bintley (http://londondance.com/articles/interviews/david-bintley-interview-part-2/),(Young people being naturally more attracted to contemporary dance,) "Ballet audiences are generally an older group and we have to accept that. Our main challenge is to attract that older audience."Nice to know that *someone* recognises that :)

I think Bintley's got a major problem if he's struggling to attract his core audience.

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Having followed the company since 1982 I feel there is a huge disparity between his views and the attitude of the new Friends/publicity bods. I feel increasingly that they have no interest in the core audience and are only interested in trying to find new customers, preferably with plenty of money.

 

We are very fortunate in that Birmingham City Council have made a conscious decision to keep up their level of funding despite make in swingeing cuts elsewhere. I am not sure that this can continue indefinitely however. The company puts on some wonderful shows and genuinely interesting triple bills. Regrettably these do not get the support they deserve and I really do not know what is the answer.

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I feel there is a huge disparity between his views and the attitude of the new Friends/publicity bods. I feel increasingly that they have no interest in the core audience and are only interested in trying to find new customers, preferably with plenty of money.

Something which could be said of various other companies, too, of course. And in this time of swingeing cuts I dare say you can't really reproach people if they are looking for large, monied donors. After all, finding and keeping one of those is probably far more beneficial in terms of both time and finances than trying to satisfy lots of people who contribute far smaller amounts.

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(Young people being naturally more attracted to contemporary dance,) "Ballet audiences are generally an older group and we have to accept that. Our main challenge is to attract that older audience."

 

Nice to know that *someone* recognises that :)

 

Might be pragmatic at a moment in time but it's a doomed business strategy, as that audience will gradually die off !  His challenge is to marry that immediate seat filling approach up with selling the younger audiences on ballet so as to develop a sustainable market..

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Perhaps the problem is too much Bintley not enough of any other choreographer on a regular basis? Somewhere in the Dancing Times interview, which I have only skim read Bintley says that Peter Wright was too conservative in his choice of repertory for SWRB. Given that MacMillan's New Group must have put off a lot of people who had enjoyed the repertory of the Touring Company Wright's repertory choices were sensible. They restored the company, its reputation and audience. They were a very adept mixture of old and new. Never too much of any part of the repertory old or new with fascinating revivals of Massine's works and early Ashton including Capriol Suite.

 

Bintley is very proud of the amount of new work that his company produces but how good is it does it stand up to regular revival? Is it the new work that puts older audiences off because its not that interesting or the failure to perform Ashton, early MacMillan or the nineteenth century classics on a more regular basis? Sarasota Ballet seems to be doing rather well with the sort of repertory that is not that different from the works that Peter Wright used to programme. Webb and Barbieri seem to be attractinga broad demographic to their performances perhaps they have the right idea. Bintley has been in post for twenty year perhaps he has got a bit stale and out of touch with his core audience during that time. After all older people are in many ways the future of the company as they are often responsible for the Christmas trip to the ballet. If they fall out of love with the ballet the grandchildren will not get their introduction to ballet.

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My guess is that older people are simply getting poorer and too busy struggling to pay bills to worry much about going to the ballet.

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I don't think the city of Sarasota has a "broad demographic". They are mostly wealthy retirees taking refuge from the cold winters of the northern US and Canada in the warmth of Florida.

I think David Bintley does an excellent job of balancing BRB's repertoire, and I like his own ballets as well.

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One does have to way up ones trips to the ballet more often.

 

I like to think I'm more eclectic than I probably really am.

 

When push comes to shove I tend to go for my own personally favourite ballets.

I'm not sure how many of these would be Bintleys in the end......which is not to devalue him ......just saying that as an older person With only a certain amount of money to spend I might choose other personal favourite choreographers.

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Bintley is very proud of the amount of new work that his company produces but how good is it does it stand up to regular revival? Is it the new work that puts older audiences off because its not that interesting or the failure to perform Ashton, early MacMillan or the nineteenth century classics on a more regular basis?

Speaking as an older audience member, and I know that I am in a minority, but if I never saw another Ashton or MacMillan piece, I really wouldn't care! I'm much more excited by watching new works than seeing any of the old war horses. Mind you, it would be good to see some of the pieces that have fallen by the wayside, as well as some classic ballets that have never been in the repertoire.

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Bintley says that young people are more likely to turn to contemporary dance "because they feel closer that that."  I assume by this that he is talking about young adults. 

 

In my experience, children are much more likely to be attracted to the Tchaikovsky ballets, with their wonderful music, and clear story lines based on fairy tales.  And they also seem to love gorgeous tutus, and ballerinas in point shoes.  I have never yet had a child turn to me with shining eyes and beaming face after seeing a couple writhing together to some modern score, while dressed in their vest and pants. 

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Well as the parent of teenage girls I'm afraid he is wrong. There is a real resurgence in interest in all things ballet amongst teenage girls and it has become cool. Even girls who have never taken a ballet class are into it and all things associated with it. And they are hugely impressed with ballet and those who can do ballet and this is CLASSICAL ballet, not contemporary. They are not interested in contemporary ballet at all, so I would love to know where DB is getting his views from.

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My guess is that older people are simply getting poorer and too busy struggling to pay bills to worry much about going to the ballet.

 

But no theatre seems to think in terms of aged-related reductions. Even the old stand-by arrangement at the Coli seems to have been abandoned.

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In terms of my own experience, I often wonder whether the whole age-related issue is neither here nor there.  I 'found' classical music in my 40s and ballet/dance when almost 60.  All of those genres were always out there for me but I came to them when ready, and for reasons that would have had nothing at all to do with the best efforts of Artistic Directors to attract me.  But I may be unusual.

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I absolutely agree with you Ian.  I made a progression from bands to theatre, broadened my horizons to contemporary dance and then had an epiphany in 1984 when I saw Onegin.  I still haven't broadened my horizons to large scale musicals and I have been to a few operas but at the moment prefer them without the singing!

 

I think you come to things when you, as an individual, are ready.

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I think you come to things when you, as an individual, are ready.

 

Of course, Janet. But maybe there is also a need to retain older members of the audience?

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Now that is a really good point Capybara!  It's no good getting someone to go along once, we need to be entranced enough to go back.

 

Sadly for my bank balance I am way too entranced!

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Got a letter from ENB today they are putting up Friends prices to £60 and no more concession for members in the provinces so that's me out as a Friend then from next renewal sadly.

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Has it been mentioned anywhere on this website as to why the BRB are losing their season at the Coliseum?  If so, I am sorry, but I haven't seen it, could someone enlighten me?

 

 

In terms of my own experience, I often wonder whether the whole age-related issue is neither here nor there.  I 'found' classical music in my 40s and ballet/dance when almost 60.  All of those genres were always out there for me but I came to them when ready, and for reasons that would have had nothing at all to do with the best efforts of Artistic Directors to attract me.  But I may be unusual.

 

I don't think it is as much to do with age, as the image that ballet has now.  When I was a child, ballet was still basking in the huge interest generated by Fonteyn and Nureyev.  It wasn't considered fuddy duddy, or elitist, or as only having an appeal to nobs and toffs.  It was extremely popular, and I can remember my mother taking me on a coach trip to Covent Garden to a matinee organised by the WI. 

 

Today, a group outing of that sort would be much more like to go to see The Lion King.

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I think the Coliseum is cutting down on its dance events in favour of musicals. It is fairly widely know that BRB are looking at their London options but I get the impression the choice is not that large.

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Got a letter from ENB today they are putting up Friends prices to £60 and no more concession for members in the provinces so that's me out as a Friend then from next renewal sadly.

I dropped them last time they got rid of all the discounts :( I was surprised to see they'd made a return, since the reason for originally dropping them was, I thought, something about offering discounts perhaps conflicting with their charitable status or something. I can't remember the precise reason. 

 

It might be worth considering the ATG card if the theatre near you is an ATG one. *That* was offering half-price seats for opening nights or something - I think I took advantage of it for Le Corsaire in Oxford. Presumably that won't have changed.

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It might be worth considering the ATG card if the theatre near you is an ATG one. *That* was offering half-price seats for opening nights or something - I think I took advantage of it for Le Corsaire in Oxford. Presumably that won't have changed.

 

Another thing for us 'old people' to do is ONLY buy ATG tickets in person at the box office (i.e., not online or over the phone).  ENB's Corsaire tour rarely sold out - well, at Oxford and Southampton at any rate - and so I was happily able to buy the least expensive tickets without having to pay for all of ATG's truly exorbitant booking AND administrative fees.  This was, of course, a bit of a risk as I don't live locally to either of those theatres so I could only buy them immediately prior to the performances themsleves.  Still it was a calculated one - much as one is now - as forced by the government's support of so many of the previously imprudent - to exercise with one's savings.  Whereas they (our government that is) used to insist that senior folk exercise a certain caution in protection of what one was previously taught was a rightful status quo they too now (our government authorities again) appear to want all and sundry to spend, spend, spend while they still can.   Will 'young people' re-discover ballet in the future?  I really cannot tell.  Will they support it into their old age?  That, I fear, seems uncertain.  Will they find (or be able to afford) a leave to care in this regard?  I very much doubt it.  One thing I am now fairly certain of, however, given the debt they will inevitably (and sadly) inherit in this country, their lives in general will - of necessity - be a struggle and - in the overall scheme of things - poorer.  Given the odds I'm glad - indeed proud - to have been born when I was.   

Edited by Bruce Wall
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I have just renewed my ATG card for the 3rd year and within weeks I am £20 up on what I have booked for myself on ticket prices alone! You also do not have to pay booking fees or postage.

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I have just renewed my ATG card for the 3rd year and within weeks I am £20 up on what I have booked for myself on ticket prices alone! You also do not have to pay booking fees or postage.

 

That is excellent, Janet, I agree.  I was only making my suggestion for those who would not otherwise be attending an ATG facility with any frequency.  For those living in central London, (which may not be many on this board, I don't know) you would have to make fairly regular trips, say, to Richmond, Wimbledon or Bromley.  Not, of course, that such may not be attractive in and of itself should the balance of those particular overall ATG bills (often understandably similar) be of interest.  Still, there too, one has to count in the ever increasing London transport costs for those of us still under the increased 'Freedom Pass' threshold which can top up the costs considerably as well.  

Edited by Bruce Wall

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 One thing I am now fairly certain of, however, given the debt they will inevitably (and sadly) inherit in this country, their lives in general will - of necessity - be a struggle and - in the overall scheme of things - poorer.  Given the odds I'm glad - indeed proud - to have been born when I was.   

 

Many old people will have suffered extreme poverty in their lives and far too many still do.  The wealthy pensioners we hear so much about are in reality a minority, their existence bandied about by politicians as an excuse to do nothing to alleviate the hardship so many old people currently suffer.

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I agree with Ribbons that in my experience my dd loves classical ballet and not contemporary. I, as a 'middle aged' person with no dancing knowledge other than being a dancing mum, also have no interest in contemporary. I think classical ballet is much easier (maybe in a superficial way) for new obervers than contemporary. At least still there is usually a story to follow and I think the strength etc is more obvious. I wished the Prix had 2 classical dances instead of 1 of each.

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Although I should add maybe non ballet dancing children may prefer contemporary?

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Another point Mr Bintley may wish to consider if he wishes to retain his older core audience is that as you get on in life you are less able to see a dark stage. I am getting more and more irritated but the current trend to relight old favourites which seems to lead increasingly to 'atmosphere' over being able to see the dancers clearly. When this is coupled with darker designs, Les Rendezvous being a good example, so much of the spectator's joy is lost.

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