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 Post subject: Big or small?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2005 2:35 am 
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Joined: Sat May 24, 2003 11:01 pm
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Location: Birmingham Uni / UWM Milwaukee
i realise straight away that what i am about to write is not an important or significant topic, but it is something that i've been thinking about in the last few days.
it came about on saturday (26th Feb) when i sent to see Random Dance perform Ataxia in the Laban centre, London. I had seen the work before at Sadlers Wells last may, but i noticed that as Sadlers Wells must hold at least 1200-1500 people, the Laban centre theatre could only hold around 400 at most, and so although i was watching the same piece, they were, to an extent, different.
my query is, quite simply, do people feel that it is better to watch a piece of dance in a big or small theatre? Using Ataxia as an example, in Sadlers Wells there was live music and the technical side was a bit more fluent, whereas in the Laban centre the music was recorded and there is always potential for the piece to seem cluttered on a smaller stage and the piece can lose it's "epic" feel (maybe not the best word to use but hopefully you'll get what i mean). however you are sitting closer to the dancers and so feel more involved and can see their faces much better. also the blurred screens work much better close up in my opinion.
of course there is also the advantage that smaller theatre ticket prices are usually much cheaper.
just curious to see what people think!


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 Post subject: Re: Big or small?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2005 2:51 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Actually I do think it's an important question, AlexR and thanks for posing it.

I believe this will get a greater discussion in our "Dance Issues" forum, so I'll move it there.

<small>[ 01 March 2005, 09:34 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Big or small?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2005 7:40 am 
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Location: Maryland USA
For viewing I prefer a smaller venue. It is more intimate and offers a better experience for the most part. But there are some dances that may be inhibited by a small stage. I remember a couple of years ago when the Opera House at the Kennedy Center was undergoing renovations, there was an International Ballet Festival that featured some small pieces that fit well in the Eisenhower Theater. But some of the larger pieces, like the Kirov's The Kingdom of the Shades from La Bayadere, was very limited by the size of the stage.
One of the best for viewing venues was the England Studio (a rehearsal studio) of the Washington Ballet. Up close and personal. But it was uncomfortable, sitting on hard wooden benches.


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 Post subject: Re: Big or small?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 4:21 am 
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Joined: Sun Dec 12, 1999 12:01 am
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Location: The Bronx is up; the Battery's down
To me, it's contextual. I wouldn't care, I think, to watch a grand ballet such as Swan Lake or Moby Dick in a postage-stamp sized theatre, no matter how big the stage (and why architects feel that small houses must have small stages is a windmill for another joust); nor would I care to see an intimate, introspective modern dance work in a large opera haouse.

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Jeffrey E. Salzberg,
Dance Lighting Design
http://www.jeffsalzberg.com


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 Post subject: Re: Big or small?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 6:20 am 
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Lucky you, Alex R, to see "Ataxia" in such contrasted theatres that both achieve high standards of audience friendliness - sightlines, leg space and so on.

Jeff's "horses for courses" point is well taken. However, the shape of the auditorium also has a lot to do with it. London's 2200-seater Royal Opera House is an 18th Century horseshoe shape, which means that a lot of seats are a long way from the stage and I often feel remote from the dancers there. The 2700 Coliseum, built around 100 years ago, is less of a problem in this respect.

Pacific Northwest Ballet really appreciated the design of Sadler's Wells, because, although it is a 1500-seater, they found it easy to reach out to the audience. The Lowry at Salford is 1800 seats, but it is wide rather than deep and the majority of people feel in touch with the dancers. I love performances in Tallinn's 800-seater Opera House, but the relatively small size of the stage drives dancers and choreographers nuts.

On balance, though, some of the most memorable performances I have seen have been with small ensembles in 100-300 seater theatres. The intensity generated in a small space can produce an extraordinary atmosphere.

<small>[ 02 March 2005, 07:47 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Big or small?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 7:41 am 
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Location: Birmingham Uni / UWM Milwaukee
Well actually for me the leg room at Laban wasn't great but once a performance starts i forget all about it. also just a side note on Ataxia, even though not relevant to this topic, my girlfriend found the piece 'scary and disturbing' which i found an interesting reaction, or at least worth mentioning. she is still a "novice" when it comes to modern dance though.
another thing to remember is technical capacity. for those who have seen Ataxia you will remember that about mid-way through the piece clear screens (not the half-blurred ones towards the end) come down and kinda map out the paths of light which the dancers use. these were absent on teh Laban stage, i'm assuming because the rigging above the stage couldn't handle so many screens. this was disappointing because first time round i didn't understand the purpose of these screens so i was hoping seeing them again would help me.


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 Post subject: Re: Big or small?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 8:24 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
<img src="http://www.randomdance.org/random/content/upcoming/AtaXia.jpg" alt="" />

For those who want to know more about "AtaXia", without moving away from the central theme of this discussion, here is the link to our topic about this work:

http://forum.criticaldance.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=5;t=002610


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