CriticalDance Forum

Standing Ovations - Becoming Ordinary?
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Author:  Basheva [ Fri Aug 02, 2002 4:49 am ]
Post subject:  Standing Ovations - Becoming Ordinary?

From the Los Angeles Times:<P><B>Standing Ritual<BR>Most L.A. theater productions get a standing ovation. Are we less discerning, more easygoing or just polite?</B><P>By DIANE HAITHMAN, Times Staff Writer<P><BR> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>The reviews are in: <BR> "They remembered their lines!" <BR> "The whole cast showed up!" <BR> "Nobody fell into the orchestra pit!" <BR> "People sang stuff and danced!" <BR> In reality, no publication printed these reviews; you'd never find a legitimate theater critic waxing rhapsodic over the basic requirements of putting on a show. The production that they didn't write about does not exist either. <BR> But, after years of observing the behavior of theatergoers in Greater Los Angeles, one reaches the conclusion that neither the nonexistence of this show--nor its astonishing mediocrity--would stop an L.A. audience from giving it a standing ovation.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><BR><A HREF=",1419,L-LATimes-Theater-X!ArticleDetail-67875,00.html" TARGET=_blank><B>MORE...</B></A> <BR>

Author:  Marie [ Fri Aug 02, 2002 1:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Standing Ovations - Becoming Ordinary?

Lol, Montreal has the same thing going on, I like to call it ovationitis.

Author:  djb [ Fri Aug 02, 2002 1:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Standing Ovations - Becoming Ordinary?

I don't think the San Francisco Ballet audience overdoes standing ovations. But I'm often pleasantly surprised by the enthusiasm of the final ovations after the classics, because throughout the ballet, the audience will have applauded barely long enough for the soloist to take one bow and get into the wings. It's a far cry from what I see on videos of Kirov and Bolshoi performances, in which the stars are brought back for numerous bows after every variation, with the audience cheering and doing the rhythmic clapping bit indiscriminately, it seems to me.

Author:  HelenB [ Fri Aug 02, 2002 9:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Standing Ovations - Becoming Ordinary?

Standing ovations are very rare in Britain - in fact I don't think I've ever seen one - but this thread interested me, because I know an English cathedral organist who gave a series of recitals in America. He had a standing ovation at the first one (sorry, can't remember where), and was very thrilled because in England this would be a very unusual tribute. However after playing in more cities, and getting more standing ovations, he realised that this was actualy a standard response, and didn't mean a lot.

Author:  Basheva [ Sat Aug 03, 2002 4:12 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Standing Ovations - Becoming Ordinary?

Standing ovations happen very often here in Southern California - in fact almost everytime. But I have noticed that it happens more as the years go by - it was rarer twenty years ago. Or so it seems to me.<P>The feeling I get from the audience (so this is just a personal perspective) is that the message being sent is not only appreciation for a good performance, but 'thanks for coming' and, when the company is from abroad, as a bridge across a cultural/national/political divide. <P>I went to one performance a couple of years ago of a dance and singing company from Georgia, Russia, and the ticket sales had been abysmal. In fact the tickets ended up being given away to school children, library volunteers, city employees, etc. And still the theatre was barely a quarter filled. Though the company was excellent and deserved an ovation, in that case the audience wanted the artists to know that though there were not many of us, those that were there had enjoyed ourselves very much.<P>So, I think there are lots of reasons - appreciation - thanks - a cultural bridge - embarrassement for the performers that the theater isn't filled.<P>But I have to tell you, that my husband has another reason for standing and that is when other people do, and he remains seated - he can no longer see the performers taking their bows. So he stands up. <P>That's another reason.<P>Many, many years ago when we lived in Philadelphia and attended Philadelphia orchestra and Metropolitan Opera seasons (we were neophytes lost in a sea of a very seasoned and informed audience), I don't ever remember a standing ovation.

Author:  salzberg [ Sat Aug 03, 2002 4:50 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Standing Ovations - Becoming Ordinary?

It's an ego thing. I'm not sure if I can explain it, but in a way, it's similar to the motivation that leads people to seek autographs. They think that if they're somehow associated with great talent (or sometimes just with great celebrity, regardless of talent level -- how else can one explain the adulation of certain rock stars?), somehow that greatness will rub off on them. In the case of audience members, they're already associated, if only by proximity, to the artists, so the standing ovation is their means of convincing themselves that it was, indeed, great art.

Usually, it wasn't.

Author:  Basheva [ Sat Aug 03, 2002 5:32 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Standing Ovations - Becoming Ordinary?

...and sometimes it is to say thank you.<P><BR>I am not generally an autograph seeker, but I did go seek one in particular.....<P>I was at a performance of "Lucia de Lammermoor" with Richard Bonyage conducting. Joan Sutherland was not singing (she was already retired), so I looked for her in the audience. She was not easy to miss. So during the intermission I went up to her and asked her to sign my program. <P>At first she demurred, since she wasn't singing any more. But then she very graciously did.<P>I can tell you why I sought that autograph. I adored her singing, she had given me many many hours (years, actually) of joy listening to my recordings of her operas. As she signed the program I got a chance to say 'thank you' for all those wonderful hours.<P>Her answer? "Singing gave me joy too." What a lovely lady.<p>[This message has been edited by Basheva (edited August 03, 2002).]

Author:  sylvia [ Sat Aug 03, 2002 8:22 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Standing Ovations - Becoming Ordinary?

The British ballet audience is a bit stingy with their standing ovations I agree. It's pretty rare that they even bring back the dancers past the standard 3 curtain calls. In the last couple years the only time I've seen one was for what I thought was the least deserving, Sylvie Guillem's production of Giselle with La Scala. It was so disappointing, and the clapping went on and on and on. I couldn't think for the life of me why, except that it's Guillem and she's a star. The only other one I've seen was for Anthony Dowell's final night as director. I think it's a pity we don't do them at all here - I think it's a nice way of acknowledging really special performances.

Author:  kurinuku [ Mon Dec 22, 2003 9:21 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Standing Ovations - Becoming Ordinary?

The Tyranny of the Standing Ovation

The New York Times
December 21, 2003

A few weeks back, just after "Taboo" opened to harsh reviews, lackluster ticket sales and rumors of its imminent demise, a press representative for Rosie O'Donnell, the show's producer, proudly announced that the production was a success.

The proof? "We've played 21 performances," the press rep said. "And have received 21 standing ovations."

Well, not to be a Grinch, but that and two bucks would get Ms. O'Donnell on the subway. Go to nearly any Broadway house, any night, and you can catch a crowd jumping up for the curtain call like politicians at a State of the Union address. And just as in politics, the intensity of the ovation doesn't necessarily reflect the quality of the performance.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Mon Dec 22, 2003 9:25 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Standing Ovations - Becoming Ordinary?

For the few performances I have attended in the US, I have been surprised at how common are standing ovations.

Even British audiences, who used to insist that they "only stand for the Queen," have been seen leaping to their feet on the West End.
I don't see many musicals, but for ballet and dance in the UK, they are very rare, while loud applause and "Bravo" (at ballet) or "Whoa" (at modern) are common. When a standing ovation does occur, it is for something truly outstanding. Bill T Jones received it for his solo "Breathing Show" a few years ago, because it was such an intense and personal experience.

I have to say I like having a hierarchy of responses.

<small>[ 22 December 2003, 10:33 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>

Author:  Torrignani [ Sun Jan 11, 2004 10:24 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Standing Ovations - Becoming Ordinary?

In my exeprience, dance audiences are among the stingiest for standing ovations, followed closely by opera audiences. American audiences are far more gracious with standing o's in all aspects. European audiences rarely give standing ovations, but are much more vocal with bravos and other cheers. In Paris last year at Ballet Opera Garnier's Manon, there were about 6 curtain calls all greeted with enthused applause and a chorus of bravos - but not one person stood. You may get a standing ovation at an American performance, but the only sound you are likely to hear is the applause, with a few brief vocalizations.

I agree than in the U.S. standing o's are becoming almost routine, which I think is unfortunate (who wants chocolate cake with every single meal??). However, I attended a London Symphony concert here in America a couple of years ago, and the audience gave a standing o after one of their pieces simply because it was brilliantly rendered - one of the most truly enthusiastic and genuine ovations I've ever seen...

Author:  tempusfugit1 [ Mon Jan 12, 2004 2:54 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Standing Ovations - Becoming Ordinary?

One of the alarming elements about standing ovations in the US now is their brevity. In the past, an ovation occurred (rarely) after prolonged and vivacious applause, or (even MORE rarely) when an audience leapt as one to its feet, driven to frenzy by the brilliance of the performance. Now the ovation appears to be a connection between the theater seat and the parking garage. has anyone else noticed this? :mad:

Author:  salzberg [ Sun Sep 18, 2005 3:22 am ]
Post subject:  OK! Enough with the standing ovations, already!

From the Houston Chronicle:

Hey, you! Sit down! It wasn't that good.

As anyone who has recently attended a performance can tell you, almost everything -- excellent, good, or even mediocre -- now receives a standing ovation. Concerts or shows followed by mere applause are now the exception. (Those poor performers.)

I'm sick of it.

"Thirty or forty years ago I think audiences may have been more discerning," veteran film and theatrical producer David Brown told the Wall Street Journal awhile back. "The only time you'd get a standing ovation was for Laurence Olivier or John Gielguld."

Back then, the big O still meant something. Even 10 years ago, it recognized a special night, a stunning achievement. It was worth noting in a review, worth mentioning to your friends who'd missed out. But now the thrill is gone.

What happened? Herewith, a few theories.

Author:  Georgie [ Sat May 06, 2006 5:31 pm ]
Post subject: 

The trend in North America is to llump everything and everyone into the same pile. So, overdoing standing ovations is not a surprise. People in recent years have confused mediocrity for greatness, in both the arts and acamemics. Glad to hear Britain still has some standards, regarding excellence. It is the same as repeated telling your chile they are great! that's great! awsome! empty praise for the sake of praise, in hopes that it will turn them into some sort of genius.

Author:  thatsempresstoyou [ Fri Oct 13, 2006 9:50 am ]
Post subject: 

For a long time I thought the knee-jerk standing O was a Bay Area phenomenon, brought about by our deep-seated inferiority complex. The worst perpetrators are Cal Performance audiences, who jump out of their Birkenstocks and roar for every out of town dance company, particularly NY companies, no matter how mediocre, uninspired, or tour-worn the performance might be. Now I notice it happening more and more in all situations, from the Opera House to a 50-seat theater in the Mission. While sometimes I think it's provincialism, at others it seems more an expression of support for the community, which is a good thing. But is there a way to express support while at the same time exercising one's critical facilities?

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