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 Post subject: Connecting with the Audience - What's Its All About
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2001 3:44 pm 
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Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 13071
Location: San Diego, California, USA
Recently I had the pleasure of meeting one of our members whilst at a performance of the Paris Opera Ballet. Subsequently we exchanged a couple of e-mails regarding the performance and another he had seen of a local Southern California company in a performance of Coppelia. <P>He mentioned to me that he noted that the local company, dancing in a smaller venue, seemed to connect with the audience in a much warmer way than Paris Opera Ballet had in a much larger venue, dancing La Bayadere. We decided that it might make an interesting thread - what makes a company connect with an audience?<P>Is it the venue? A large versus a smaller one?<P>Does the type of ballet presented matter, a ballet blanc, such as La Bayadere as opposed to the warmth and humor of Coppelia?<P>Is it the dancers? The Paris Opera Dancers are obviously world class, while the local company is not.<P>Is it the local company dancing before a home audience?<P>Is it the age of the dancers? He told me that the company dancing Coppelia was generally older - and the dancers not as sleek as the Paris Opera dancers. Could this make connection easier? The dancers seemingly not quite so remote from everyday experience.<P>What do we mean by connection? is it the transference of an experience? Is it the call upon our heart rather than our eyes? <P>I think connection is what it is all about, really. <P>What sayest thou?<P><BR>


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 Post subject: Re: Connecting with the Audience - What's Its All About
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2001 4:12 pm 
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Joined: Tue Nov 02, 1999 12:01 am
Posts: 2708
Location: Seattle, WA USA
Good topic...a couple of guesses. Maybe it's the style of the ballets in question...Copppelia is a much lighter, demi-charactere, comedic ballet; the dancers really get to "ham it up" because it's such a cute story. Easy to connect and "play to the audience". "La Bayadere" is more of a warhorse, 'CLASSIC" ..you know what I mean? Serious, dramatic story. Not as flirty as Coppelia. Of course, Coppelia is a classic too. But a slightly different genre. I dont' know, just a guess. <BR>Also, smaller venues (smaller stages, less distance between audience and performers, smaller auditorium) generally have a more intimate, friendlier feel. Less division between audience and dancers.<p>[This message has been edited by trina (edited May 15, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: Connecting with the Audience - What's Its All About
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2001 5:30 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 29, 2001 12:01 am
Posts: 369
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Thanks for starting this thread, Basheva.<P>I was only aware of this because the LA Times initial review of La Bayedere was critical of the lack of emotion in the dancers. So, I was on the look out for this on Saturday night. I noticed the distance between myself and the stage made it difficult to really see the performers faces as they acted the story. Using opera glasses helped tremendously, but it was an awkward way to watch an entire performance. I'm glad to say I've got much better seat for the remaining shows this year.<P>That was why the emotional connection with Coppelia was so surprising. Being new to dance, I was not really aware of the different styles as much as the difference in companies and venues. The immediate differences to me were the smaller venue for Coppelia meaning even the furthest seats were close to the stage, and the age range of the performers. I wondered if the older average age of the regional company doing Coppelia brought an added depth to the performance, versus a younger, less experienced (in life that is) though technically more proficient group on a larger stage. <P>It makes me curious to see if a more mature performer (not that the POB members weren't mature) could communicate better on a large stage. I felt immediately connected to the Inland Pacific Ballet corps the minute the curtain went up. It took the POB into the second act before I felt they really were able to reach out to the audience. But once they got there, they held us rapt with their artistry. <P>I also felt the preformance of Swan Lake at the Greek was distant and emotionally lacking. <P>An aside, it was nice to see the corps of the Inland Pacific Ballet made up of people who looked like people, not like someone on the verge of starvation. This plays into the debate on aethetics going on right now. I like seeing both, but the IPB did feel very accessible.


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 Post subject: Re: Connecting with the Audience - What's Its All About
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2001 6:26 pm 
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Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2000 11:01 pm
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
One thing I have made a habit of doing is never reading a review before seeing a performance. Even if I am linking in reviews to this board - I won't read them if I am seeing that performance. <P>For me, I like to go to see a performance without anyone else's words in my head. If I am writing a review, then I don't read any other reviews until my own is written - and I don't change mine. I want it to be fresh and solely my own point of view.<P>Speaking of smaller versus larger venues - I have related this in another thread on this board, but it fits in here. When Sadlers Wells Ballet had moved into the much larger theater at Covent Garden, they ran into a problem. The lead ballerina, Margot Fonteyn, couldn't seem to connect with the audience. This was a potential disaster for the ballet company.<P>One day, Frederick Ashton the chief choreographer, sat in the audience seats during a dress rehearsal to see if he could somehow understand why this beautiful dancer was not connecting. After watching for a while, he went backstage and gave her only two words of advice "linger awhile". It was sublime advice. He wanted her to remain in her poses - like arabesque - for a second longer - time for it to register to the furthest seats in the much larger house. The rest is history.<P>There is an adjustment to be made betwixt venues. However, someone like Margot Fonteyn could dance in the Hollywood Bowl - a venue of immense proportions, and register to the very last row. <P>I also think it is the persona of the dancer. Baryshnikov always came across to me as perfect, but cold. Nureyev as imperfect but a flame.<P>And, I think that Trina makes a good point - Coppelia is a warm fun ballet. But for the magic of Swan Lake to happen (another ballet blanc) it also has to connect. You have to "feel" the catastrophe of the Prince's error in breaking his promise. <P>But, then there is the crystaline beauty of the corps de ballet in third act La Bayadere. No real emotional connection there - but a vision of pure beauty. And that certainly connected with me.<P>So, maybe "connection" is not always on an emotional level.........? <P>


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 Post subject: Re: Connecting with the Audience - What's Its All About
PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2001 12:48 pm 
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Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2001 11:01 pm
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Location: El Granada, CA, USA
I don't think age has much to do with it. I see a lot of kids perform and sometimes the younger ones have more of a connection than others. It is a matter of "lingering" : with the eyes, the head, the shoulders, even the hips or the back. You have to get the audience to register that you are looking at them. In modern dance we also call it focus. A dancer with a strong outward focus will seem more personable even sexy than the dancer that has a more inward focus. <P>I do think venue has something to do with it, but an experienced performer will know how to overcome great distances. Opera singers know all about this. I saw Prince a couple of weeks ago with about 35,000 other people, but he made me feel like the huge arena was a steamy little jazz club and he was singing just to me.


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 Post subject: Re: Connecting with the Audience - What's Its All About
PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2001 8:57 am 
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Joined: Tue Apr 10, 2001 11:01 pm
Posts: 257
Location: St. Peters, MO USA
I'ld like to give my two cents worth in. i've only been dancing for 2 years, so i don't know if what i'm saying is even acurate. i've been in only three performances, but from what i've learned and seen in other performances is that the dancer needs to have a love for dancing. i watched recently a performance done by the teachers and pro-dancers from the dance studio where i take lessons- St. louis Ballet company. The dancers there love to dance, and you see it in their eyes, faces and it came through their movements. My teacher was in one of the acts, and he is a real ham. he loves to be on stage, and the audience could see it. he was doing a latin flamingo dance, which started with him and his partner sitting on chairs between a guitar player. every now and then my teacher would look straight out into the audience, then back at the guitarit, as if he was inviting them into enjoying the guitarist. then as he was walking off the stage, he turned to the audience, and give them a flamingo flip of his hand and a big smile. everyone loved it. my friend kept asking me, is he like that outside the studio? i had to laugh. then during the bow, he was in front of the group, and he lead them forward, into a bow, then back, then again forward, bow, back. just as we thought they were going off stage, he did it again! the audience went nuts. everyone talked about the wonderful ham who lead the group. So i believe it just loving what you do. of see the audience as your friend, not just a paycheck. when i saw the joffrey ballet, they seemed so distant and mechanical. i felt like a paycheck, not their friend. Maybe i'm wrong, but when i see the audience as my friends i do much better, and i'm not as nervous - it seems easier for me to enjoy them as much as they are enjoying me. Does that sound silly?

_________________
Great Dancers are not great dancers because of their technique: they are great dancers because of their passion -- Martha Graham<P>


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 Post subject: Re: Connecting with the Audience - What's Its All About
PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2001 9:17 am 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
Kim Dawn - it doesn't sound silly to me at all. Sounds just about right.


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