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PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 8:54 am 
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I shouldn’t be the only poster to make a fool of themselves writing about bats when the ballet was apparently about bees...


Ha! Since I'd read the program article on Pite basing the ballet on bees, I'm afraid I didn't see bats. When the women were en pointe in a cluster moving around the stage, the sound of their toes was like bees buzzing or insect wings flapping.

I found Emergence absolutely mesmerizing and it was definitely the highlight of the mixed programme. The woman beside me deemed it "too creepy," but I wished I could press rewind and watch it all over again right away. I loved everything about it, from the set to the music to the whispered counting. It was certainly creepy, but in a very cool way, IMO. Speaking as a younger ballet fan, this is the kind of thing that will keep me coming back for more. Considering how quickly some other pieces have come back into the repertoire, I hope to see it in the 2010/11 season.

The first piece was very enjoyable, and I quite liked the costumes and simple, yet elegant and effective set design. It was very pleasant, but nothing to write home about, and didn't wow me like Emergence did. I did really enjoy seeing Elena Lobsanova and Noah Long shine, though.

I'm afraid I wasn't moved by Sabrina Matthews' piece, and I'm surprised that it got the final slot. I suppose that's worked out quite far in advance, or I would have switched Pite and Matthews' ballets after the dress rehearsal! The choir and singers were great and I always enjoy Vivaldi, but the set design and colours were just so dreary! Why they put the dancers in such blah costumes is beyond me. The dancers were very good, of course, but as a whole the ballet fell flat. It just seemed to end without a grand finale; I was surprised when I saw the curtain coming down. So I was sorry the mixed programme ended with a whimper and not a bang, but c'est la vie.

I've never seen R&J, and I'm treating myself to an orchestra seat (I usually do rush tickets) for Nehemiah Kish's return. He was so magical in Cinderella, and I'm looking forward to seeing him again.

Also, there's a great article about Jason Reilly in the Star today.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 9:57 am 
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Hi Keira99, thanks for the review. Everyone seems to agree, for the exception of Michael Crabb, that Emergence will find a place in the National’s regular repertoire.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 10:16 am 
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You're very welcome, Michael. :)

This comment from Crabb mystifies me a bit:

Quote:
one wondered what purpose it all served beyond impressive display


Personally, impressive display is what I'm looking for in a ballet! That might make me an unsophisticated viewer, but I couldn't tear my eyes away from Emergence. And also:

Quote:
The movement vocabulary is hardly novel


Perhaps not, but when taken as a whole, the ballet is marvellous. To each their own, obviously, but I felt there was much more substance to Emergence than either of the other pieces.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 10:44 am 
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I totally agree with you! I’m tired of suffering through art for arts sake that requires the use of hairpins and a liter of coffee to keep my eyelids open! OMG! God forbid we’re actually entertained and have a good time at the ballet! I don’t care if Emergence is about bees or bats or whatever! It accomplished what it was supposed to do! I was entertained. My eyes were glued to the stage. The dancers looked fantastic! It was all good.

Me thinks Michael Crabb believes we should suffer for our art and be bored. I think it important to state that critics for the most part do not pay for their tickets or their paper will pay on their behalf and they get paid for something we pay to see. Grrrrrr.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 3:17 pm 
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Time for a quick survey to determine if Michael Goldbarth has bats in his belfry! I’ve included links throughout the body of this posting to bumblebees and bats. Let me know if you think the ballet Emergence costumes look like bees or bats?

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 10, 2009 7:48 am 
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I think the style of the pants the men wore did have an insect quality to them, but with all the black, it makes total sense that you would have thought they were bats. Don't worry, I'm sure no one thinks you're too crazy. ;)


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 10, 2009 9:32 am 
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Thank you; my ballet sanity has been restored! 1 good ballet out of 3 is not too bad.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 10, 2009 10:48 am 
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Hey, I was comparing the dancers to mice...

I fully agree about not necessarily wanting to be entertained by the ballet. Generally, I get to the theatre at the end of the day when I'm tired, trying not to think about all the things I didn't get done at work and stressed from traffic jams on the 401. So, I like to be able to sit down and be transported by the dance - I don't want to be reading 3 page synopses or trying to work out intricate meanings for the movements. Just transport me for a couple of hours into a different world! And Crystal Pite more than did that in her ballet.

To be honest, I tend not to put much emphasis on the 'explanations' offered in playbill articles or choreographer interviews or synopses. Firstly, I think that a ballet should stand on its own - if you need pages and pages to explain the ballet, the dance isn't doing it's job. Also, my feeling is that a lot of choreographers forget to step back and see how their piece looks - and not just from the orchestra (where they often sit in tech rehearsals) - but from the higher seats where most of the audience is seated. What might look great from closer up can dissolve into blur from the balconies - like, I suspect, the masks in Emergence. She may have had bees in mind, but from a distance, there were any number of ways to interpret them.

The other fascinating thing with abstract ballets (i.e. a ballet without a specific storyline) is how interpretation can change over time. I've had the privilege of getting to see a number of ballets in Denmark over the last couple of weeks of rehearsal prior to a premiere, and it intrigues me how my feelings & thoughts & interpretations change in that time. It can depend on the casting, the level of rehearsal (studio, on stage), whether or not the dancers are costume, whether it's full orchestra or rehearsal piano, comments by the choreographer and/or dancers, and how many times I've seen the particular ballet. I've tried to make a habit of jotting down personal notes when I see these rehearsals, and it's fascinating to look back and see how my perceptions have changed. Sometimes my views and perceptions are completely different from that of the choreographer and/or other critics, but I don't think there's anything wrong with that.

Please post about Kish's performance - I am sorry that he's not done any opening nights and am half thinking of buying a ticket for one of his performances. Any advice on what tickets are best when balancing out the factors of price and view?

Kate


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 10, 2009 11:09 am 
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To add...

There are a number of factors in determining the order of ballets in a triple (or multiple) bill, including sets, casting, music and outside factors like choirs. The choice generally has to be made well, well in advance of opening night because it directly affects a number of important issues.

Firstly, when casting a triple bill - especially in a smaller company - you have to factor in which dancers are in which ballets and whether they can do more than one ballet in a row. Dancers need a reasonable amount of rest between ballets - some union contract specifically dictate the minimum intermission time depending on whether or not there's a costume change - so if you use ballet dancer X in Ballet A, he/she may not be available for Ballet B if you have a short intermission or have a complicated costume/makeup/wig etc.

Secondly, you have to factor in the orchestra or the lack there-of. While it may sometimes work better if the pieces for the orchestra come first, so the orchestra can leave (which might be cheaper, depending on the contract), it sometimes is better to alternate recorded and live played scores.

Sets are also a consideration. And I suspect that was a big factor for this NBoC triple bill. A ballet with a complicated set may need to come first or last, depending on whether the set is harder to put together or take apart. One year at the Edinburgh Festival, and otherwise good triple bill of ballets was all but destroyed by an inordinately long second intermission, due, I believe in large part to problems getting a set together. In the NBoC case, the choir risers may have required a long time to deal with, so best to put it last or first where the crew had more time at one end. And since sets have to be stored and hung in the right locations above stage and backstage, the order has to be decided well in advance of stage rehearsals so that the tech folks can make sure it will all work as it should.

Finally, there are the extras - in this case, the choir. It could be that by putting Matthews' piece last, the choir didn't need to arrive until later on and that would have reduced the chaos backstage and given the choir time to warm up (I don't know if these singers are all full-time choral professionals or whether they might have other choral/music or non music related day jobs).

Plus, of course, ADs try to spread out ballets to make triple bills make sense - here they probably thought the big ballet with the choir and dancers was the biggest splash. And I would posit that they didn't get it right this time...


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 10, 2009 11:41 am 
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Hi Kate, thanks so much for the detailed feedback. I didn’t want to comment on the masks because even through the use of my Opera Glasses, I couldn’t quite make out the masks because of the dark set. They could easily have been mice.

The best seats for myself price wise for a subscription are Ring 3 $657. I would also purchase Ring 3 for a single ticket: $120. For me it’s the perfect blend between seeing the whole stage for the dance patterns and then switching to my opera glasses for the more intimate dances when there isn’t a lot of moving around. I’m in the front row and hence don’t have to worry about people with large melons!

R & J is more of an orchestra seat ballet; so front row ($135) in section 1.2 close to the stage would be fine as well. * You also get the bonus of Subscriber Rush seats when you subscribe:

Quote:
Subscriber Rush
All subscribers have the exclusive benefit of purchasing two additional tickets per production; per subscriber account at 50% off the regular price (to a minimum of $25) during the National Ballet’s main season performances. Tickets are available at the Box Office or by phone (service charges apply on phone orders). This offer is subject to availability and seating restrictions apply. This offer does not apply to The Nutcracker or the Gala.

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Last edited by Michael Goldbarth on Tue Mar 10, 2009 8:40 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 10, 2009 12:14 pm 
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I was about to edit my above post, as I looked up prices and they're a bit more than I'm willing to pay. Now I understand why there seem to be so many empty seats - many people these days probably can no longer afford the prices.

Here is a comparison (in US dollars) of NBoC (bottom) and NYCB (top). Both companies seem to offer comparable student discounts (though both with an age cap...), and NYCB also offers both a set number of 50% off tickets in the orchestra section for most performances and the $20 4th ring society which allows you to buy up to 2 4th ring tickets for $15 for any winter or spring repertory performance. I would point out, that based on my experience, the NYCB's theatre has generally better sightlines and seats that are generally much closer to the stage (it's more a vertical theatre than a horizontal theatre)


-------- $90 ------ $105 --- $80 ---$65 --- $48/$32/$20 ($15)
$122/$105/$90 --- $156 --- $94 --- $66 --- $35/$16

Interesting that NBoC's most expensive tickets are lot more pricey, but it evens out towards the end (The $48 tickets at NYCB are the first two rows of the 4th tier which are a step better than the rest of the 4th tier.)

Any clues as to why NBoC has prices some tickets so high? Are they paying rent for the 4 Seasons Centre or helping to pay off the debts from the construction? Or do they have more costs to offset in a shorter season?

Kate


Last edited by ksneds on Tue Mar 10, 2009 12:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 10, 2009 12:27 pm 
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Well, I believe only Mrs. K or board members could intelligently answer above. My guess is they goosed prices after the move from the Hummingbird Centre to offset high rent costs and le$$ in donations. You are correct that we are pricier than many companies with a higher stature in the ballet world.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 10, 2009 1:25 pm 
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I went for a $135 orchestra seat near the front, but the closest seat to the middle. I figure for the sake a few feet, I'll save the $20! But on the other hand, I'd rather spend the extra $15 and be in the orchestra rather than the 3rd ring. Of course, this is just for one performance -- no way could I afford season tickets at this level! This will be my first time not doing the rush. Since I live downtown, it usually makes the most sense for me to do that, since I generally don't mind lining up for a couple of hours. I've always managed to get great seats either on the first level or the Grand Ring since I go early. The Grand Ring seats are my favourite, because you're very close, but have a little bit of perspective by being higher.

The only downside to the rush seats is that the rear corner of the stage of whichever side you're on is obstructed. However, they don't dance into the back corners too often, so it's a minor issue. Worth it to only spend $30, that's for sure.

But yes, the ticket prices are indeed very high. I'd love to go to the Eric Bruhn competition, but it's a work day and I can't do the rush.

Here's a question for you more knowledgeable posters: Why do they run the ballets for such a short period of time? R&J is obviously going longer because of the March Break, but why do most of the ballets only go on for five days? It seems to me that after all that work and rehearsal time, it would at least warrant a two-week showing. Is it too taxing on the dancers? Or perhaps they can't sell enough tickets for two weeks for the lesser known ballets?

And yes, I'll be sure to post about Nehemiah Kish's Romeo. :)


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 10, 2009 1:46 pm 
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Hi Keira99, it is the later in that there is not enough interest to warrant a longer run. If there is, we have had instances where they added a few dates. When the National presents a ballet they are in a losing position by about 50% on the price of the ticket. Sponsors and donations offset this.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 10, 2009 1:57 pm 
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Ah, that makes sense. Thanks Michael!

Btw, you can just call me Keira. The 99 was because I had to register twice for this forum (never got approved the first time for some reason), but the username was taken (by me, yet I couldn't post). So I had to throw something on there. :)


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