CriticalDance Forum

appalled by dance audiences in NYC (and elsewhere)!!
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Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sat Nov 26, 2005 8:04 am ]
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In high-tech Tallinn, it is becoming common for people to take cell phone calls in the cinema. Normally they are on silent mode and the conversations sotto-voce, but I still find it irritating.

As you say, Kate, it is a different ball game in the theatre with live performers. I can't remember hearing cell phones going off in concerts or at the ballet in Tallinn.

Author:  Michael Goldbarth [ Sat Nov 26, 2005 8:42 am ]
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Bravo to Richard Griffiths and Kevin Spacey! We in Toronto are a fairly civilized lot so I myself haven’t experienced many problems in the theatre. Now the movie house is a totally different story. I think the theatre is partly to blame here. Enforce your rules. If you catch someone with a ringing cell phone, an usher should be informed and someone should ask for their ticket stub, look up their name in the computer, and place them on a warning list. Do it again and you face a hefty fine or perhaps banishment from the theatre for repeat offenses.

Ushers should be doing more than handing out theatre programs. They should help the elderly into their seats; help children see the production with a helper seat; and, of course, they should help theatre-goers find their seats. Why not add dealing with rude patrons to the list? Most theatres already have security in house to back them up. I’m a big believer in following the rules. We live or are supposed to live in a just society.

Author:  Alex R [ Sat Nov 26, 2005 11:09 am ]
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Michael Goldbarth wrote:
Ushers should be doing more than handing out theatre programs. They should help the elderly into their seats; help children see the production with a helper seat; and, of course, they should help theatre-goers find their seats.

as an usher in a 1800 seat theatre I can say that it would be almost impossible to do this as the majority of the audience do not decide to enter the auditorium until the 5 minute call is made, and you cannot ask a crowd of people to wait at the doors while you show each person to their seat individually, that would take a considerable amount of time. simply telling them which side of the aisle their seats are on is the best we can do really.

Author:  Michael Goldbarth [ Sat Nov 26, 2005 11:34 am ]
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Most people know where they are sitting. Of course, given the volume they deal with, they should give them directions. I’m just saying more can be done to police theatre goers. Perhaps simply stating the theatre’s policy for bad behavior and the repercussions will be enough of a deterrent?

Author:  Dancing Earth [ Sun Dec 04, 2005 5:23 am ]
Post subject:  appalled by dance audiences in NY (and elsewhere!!)

Hi from a newcomer. Interesting topic and a good, varied selection of feedback. I saw Rambert Dance on Friday (Dec 2) in Plymouth, UK. I applaud Xerograph from USSR for expressing what I believe is the crux of the matter "If you create something which is honest and beautiful which people can relate to'll EARN the respect and admiraiton of the audience" I speak of contemporary dance here as I don't go to the Ballet (having trained at the RBS, UK as a young girl and decided it was about control not creativity). There is no soul in dance today. Very few choreographers are making dances which speak to audiences. The Rambert pieces were, frankly, boring - apart from lighting and some costumes. Of course, one admires - (is in awe of?)- the athleticism and hard work that goes into making an incredibly strong and supple body, but as a total experience that makes one feel involved in something significant - sacred even,- forget it. For my money, Mark Morris' L'allegro is one of the very few pieces of dance that expresses joy, celebration, humour and the sacred. We all watch, or participate in dance, for different reasons. For me, it has to be a meaningful experience. Rambert's choreography is disappointingly repetitive, leaving me, as an audience person, feeling resentful that I have spent so much money and made such an effort to get to the venue (I live in a rural area two hours drive form the theatre)
I did clap out of politeness, but in truth, I wished I could have just walked out. So did my partner who nearly fell asleep during the perfomance. This is a very sad state of affairs for Rambert in particular and maybe the world of dance in general. We need choroegraphers with vision, courage and a sense of beauty. If not, dancers will be flogging dead horses with their gruelling daily routines and audiences will continue to be sold short. There has been alot of talk about the consumerist culture and the selfishness of audiences (especially those in US) but its the artists/creators that have responsibility to inspire and nourish. We need them more than ever now as we all go down the slippery slope of of the 21st century.

Author:  salzberg [ Sun Dec 04, 2005 5:32 am ]
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Welcome to criticaldance, Dancing Earth.

I think the question now is: How do we develop and encourage choreographers with vision?

Author:  Michael Auer [ Tue Dec 13, 2005 5:07 pm ]
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I think one must examine the role of the choreographer in the first place. Do we expect too much from choreographers? From vision and concept to selection of music. From movement vocabulary to rehearsing. From costuming to production values. Is this too much too handle?

Author:  salzberg [ Tue Dec 13, 2005 7:22 pm ]
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Well, all that I, personally, expect from a choreographer in terms of costuming (or lighting, or setting) is to give guidance to the designer, in only the most general terms, and then let her/him do the job s/he was trained to do.

Call me a dreamer....

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Wed Dec 14, 2005 1:59 am ]
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While the direction that choreography could take is a fascinating theme, should we set up a new topic, as it seems to have little to do with the theme of this topic: "appalled by dance audiences in NYC (and elsewhere)!!" and it would be good to have further revelations and comments on that theme.

Author:  salzberg [ Thu Dec 28, 2006 6:19 am ]
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Miss Manners weighs in:

Concert halls and opera houses are packed with belligerent people who disdain complaining politely (with a regretful and sympathetic look) and get right down to insult and violence. Is there something about classical music that inspires this?

Read more here.

Author:  LMCtech [ Thu Dec 28, 2006 1:57 pm ]
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I'm not sure what pisses me off more the child or the evil old woman. IMHO the evil old woman was creating more of a nuisance than the child. I would have given told her so at intermission and reminded her that she just ruined the entire live performance experience for that family and they may never go to one again.

She should be encouraging a young family to culture their children not the other way around.

That said, two is too young for the theater. I would consider 4 to be the minimum for a 2 hour ballet like Nutcracker. the child also should have been briefed on the story before the show to curtail questions.

Author:  ksneds [ Thu Dec 28, 2006 4:44 pm ]
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It sounds like the performance in question was at NYCB, and from very recent experience I can say that there are a LOT of poorly behaved children at the Nutcracker. It's partially the company's fault because they milk the Nutcracker cash cow to the extreme so there are plenty of kids who come who are not ready for the experience. They may look cute, but when it's $45 a ticket up in the 4th ring and up to $200 for orchestra, you want to get your money's worth.

It sounds like the person in the above example was being a bit extreme, but I can certainly understand the sentiments. I like quiet at the ballet - the occasional murmerred word is OK, but not talking, humming, foot tapping, leaning heads together, kids on parent's lap etc etc).

I'm definately more forgiving at Nutcracker time, but there are limits. The 4 - 7 year old in front of me who insisted on sitting far forward to peer through her binoculars, repeatedly talking to her mother, constantly moving around and then sitting on her mother's lap, thereby blocking a good chunk of my mother's view was pretty much intolerable. I had to tap the mother's shoulder twice for her to not block the view and the mother basically did nothing. And this was in the 4th ring where the conderable rake makes it very hard to block someone's view - but this kid managed to do so constantly.

I have no problem with kids at performances - I started going when I was a very wee thing - but parents these days often don't seem to have a clue about appropriate behavior and discipline. It's the MTV generation for you - they've been brought up in front a TV, so they don't know how to behave for a live performance. Frankly, I think younger children 10 or 20 years ago would probably have been much better behaved at the ballet, but now many more parents have a feeling of entitlement - I've paid, so I can do what I want - and are less effective managers of toddler behavior.

Even for the "Nutcracker", children need to be old and mature enough to sit still - and in their own seat - for 45 minutes (the occasionally restlessness or 'ohhh' excepted). And for most kids that's not until 4 or 5. And parents need to be able to correct their children when they are not behaving appropriately and to know when and if a limit has been reached and they need to leave the theatre.

I have noticed that many theatres are getting better about setting reccomended minimum ages for performances and some even have a lower age limit for ticket purchases. I would very much encourage theatres to set minimums and/or display reccomended ages prominently on ticket purchasing sites and to instruct all patrons that all theatre attenders must be in their own seat at all times. And to support and give ushers the authority to remove offenders from the theatre.

That all said, I think the most offensive person at the Nutcracker was the young woman the row below me who was taking photgraphs during the performance. What part of 'NO photographs' did she not understand?! Unfortunately I think theatres have encouraged this type of behaviour by condoning photography during curtain calls. At Covent Garden I was practically elbowed out of my standing room place so some amateur with a massive camera could take a zillion flash photos of the curtain calls - and that for a company that sells many inexpensive postcards with photos from the repertoire. In an ideal world, we'd be able to permit non-flash photos with point & click cameras during curtain calls, but too many people already blatantly abuse these policies.


Author:  LizCA [ Thu Dec 28, 2006 8:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Parents fault

I have come to expect the worst when in public these days. I'm so jaded that I order tickets to minimize contact with other seats. I buy front and side so the chances of someone ruining my experience is lowered.
Having said that, during Sacramento ballet's Carmina Burana, it happened again.

There is a no food rule in the theater but the family behind us snuck in the loudest food possible and chatted as well. They had small children who did not understand Carmina and were whimpering to leave. Dirty looks did not work so I had to report them to the usher. Not much help.

In Salt Lake a woman held an open cell phone up so family could listen and she frequently narrated in case they did not know what was happening.

Behavior like this is going to hurt the arts because we yearn to see a live performance but the stress will negate the ticket price and we will stay home

Author:  Lucy [ Thu Dec 28, 2006 11:46 pm ]
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The worst for me was a lady changing a baby in her seat during a Nutcracker intermission. I was speechless and horrified.

I did hear Kelly Rippa say on a Regis and Kelly show that she had taken her little daughter to see the NYCB Nut and found it helpfull to have a page of instructions for the audience on behavior.

It all comes down to manners, and sorry those seem to be lacking these days.

Author:  Azlan [ Sun Jun 07, 2009 3:36 pm ]
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I guess it's getting worse!

Here's an article from the Wall Street Journal:

The litany of misdemeanors is long. During a Saturday matinee of the Holocaust drama "Irena's Vow," a man walked in late and called up to actress Tovah Feldshuh to halt her monologue until he got settled. "He shouted, 'Can you please wait a second?' and then continued on toward his seat," recalls Nick Ahlers, a science teacher from Newark, N.J., who was in the audience. He says the actress complied.


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