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 Post subject: Ballet - The Future, Marketing and the Next Generation
PostPosted: Sun Apr 22, 2007 4:07 am 
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Location: Canada
A really interesting, intriguing article from the NY Times about where ballet is headed, and current marketing techniques to try and draw in the next generation. It raises a lot of point with interesting comments from big names in the field, but doesn't try to come up with any quick answers...

Quote:
Seeking Fans, Ballet Scrambles for a Killer App

By CLAUDIA LA ROCCO
Published: April 22, 2007

THE New York State Theater was positively surging at a matinee in February. Audience members played clapping games, thumping in their seats like jackhammers. Cheers and shushes erupted when the house lights dimmed. It was the New York City Ballet’s annual winter performance for local students, and the energy was wildly different from that of many a sleepy matinee.

Warren Betha, a student from Fort Lee High School in New Jersey who takes a variety of dance classes, said after the show that he could see connections between many techniques, but that in the end he preferred hip-hop because “it’s more alive.”

That is a verdict guaranteed to make fine arts marketing directors everywhere wince. Ballet, like opera and classical music, has a serious image problem in America, and companies are increasingly trying to combat it and attract new, younger viewers.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 22, 2007 4:09 am 
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Location: Canada
Related short article:

Quote:
How About a ‘Sleeping Beauty’ for Insomniacs (Sponsored by Ambien)?

By JENNIFER DUNNING
Published: April 22, 2007

The subscription series “Girls’ Night Out” was born at New York City Ballet last winter, but the description in the current brochure is much less sedate. “Ladies, with this series you can plan to spend time with your best girlfriends and maybe even make some new ones,” the blurb says, continuing with promises of “plenty of ‘girl talk’ with ballerinas.” (Is nothing sacred? Do those “girls” get battle pay?) Oh, and there’s also “the beauty of the ballet,” represented here by “Romeo and Juliet” and an all-Bach program.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 22, 2007 4:29 pm 
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Joined: Sat Nov 06, 2004 12:01 am
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Location: Paris
What Luca Veggetti says In the article by Claudia La Rocco hits the nail on the head.

If the culture is degenerate, don't pander to it.

if Dante had pandered to the ambient culture, there would be no Italy today. The joint would be a collection of warring principalities tied together by the name Romani-stan, with a total population of about 25,000 haggard faces and an individual life expectancy of 37 years.

We have to face the fact that our culture is, at this point, totally degenerate. There is virtually nothing good about it, as an overview of the daily news broadcasts shew.

Pander to Basic Instinct, and there will be nothing left.

The difference between popular culture today, and popular culture a century or so ago, is that everything known as "popular" at the present time is as synthetic as Kool-Aid, a creation of the large financial groups that run Hollywood, rock-'music', and the video-game industry. Over the past century, those financial groups have succeeded in 'nurturing', if that is the word, a Western population that has become almost entirely predictable - because neuroses (Basic Instinct, unfettered), being a logical system, will always be predictable.

I mean, if any one out there still thinks that the video-game industry is clean innocent fun, consult your nearest Ornithologist for an explanation of how the Ostrich works.

If we in the so-called art world pander to popular culture, we are actually pandering to the paymasters in Hollywood and the rock-and-video-game industry. And turning our back on our job, which is to give youth a chance to think about something other than the latest snuff-film.

The fantastic thing - among other fantastic things, actually - about music, dancing and singing, is that they are the basic form of art. They are produced by man himself, without aid of anything external - one can sing, make music and dance, without make-up, scenery, costumes, lighting, props, amplifiers .... and nevertheless, it fascinates. It's intrinsic to the art form. Any child can understand that, assuming we do.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2007 1:10 am 
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Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 3:20 am
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Location: Germany
Hi there,

this is a discussion as old as art itself.

I believe that a wrong way of selling a product (yes art is a product) is to explain its costumers what they get has nothing to do with the product.

quote:
Oh, and there’s also “the beauty of the ballet,” represented here by “Romeo and Juliet” and an all-Bach program.

You do not sell your product, you are excusing it.

I cannot say anything about the development of dance and financial politics in the states, but I can give a short history check up of what happened in Germany the last 20 years.

Because of some truly excellent choreographers coming out of the Stuttgart ballet in the 70ies and 80ies, Kilian, Neumeier, Scholz, Forsythe to mention the real stars (over here)
They moved contemporary dance of their time to a completely new level. Of course now they are not the most modern of the modern, but still alive, (except Scholz) and working.

To follow that boom, all the way throughout the eighties and even more in the nineties, many theatres moved from classical ballet to modern. Myself I was practically all my 15 active professional years dancing in contemporary companies, luckily quite stabile ones.

But there are not so many geniouses out there. And the need of getting more and more and more modern started to scare away the audience. And too many staight forward bad performances where covered under the excuse, "art"

For the companies that they have not closed by now, many are moving toward a more classical direction again, maybe only because it easier for the audience to recognice quality in a classical performance than in many shows that are too avant garde for a general ballet audience.

In twenty years, there will come up some truly genious choreographers again and this trend will repeat itself. Different but probably with parallels.

I believe when a theatre excuse instead of promoting their main product, things will be hard.

I would sugest this commercial,
"you get the best dancers in the city on stage, the best musicians in the pit, the best ballet shows available in your area, and by the way, you can meet people who shares your interests! Enjoy ballet on the top level with us! We care for the dance/ballet passion!"

cheers

Ingve

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2007 2:24 pm 
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Location: San Francisco
ksneds, thanks for posting this article. I read it and thought it would be an interesting topic for the forum.

I don't have a problem with trying to market ballet to younger/newer audiences. While I hate the name "Girls Night Out," I think selling tickets to a specific group of performances and including an educational component about dance is a great strategy. Ballet can be perceived as elitist, anything to demystify dance is a step in the right direction. I've read that people want a participatory experience for their entertainment and traditional performing arts don't provide that well. So, I think educating your is the best thing to do to combat this issue. If people know more about dance they will feel comfortable discussing it with peers and analyzing what they see on-stage.

I do hate the idea of creating a ballet just to draw an audience. Don't make another Dracula unless you really want to. I think this is rarely successful. It could end up a bad ballet because the creators don't believe in it. Or, because it is so different from the rest of the company's repertory, the new audience won't come back. I think educating the audience about your company's aesthetic is critical.

Even as an experienced dance-goer, I'd love to attend a beer and ballet performance. My tastes are varied and there are a huge range of things competing for my entertainment dollar. I'm in the SF Bay Area and I can see great dance, theater and music year round, in addition to baseball, go Giants. Also, we have good weather year round, getting out to the beach or hiking on Mt. Tam can be just as enticing as dance.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2007 3:40 pm 
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Posts: 943
Location: Santa Barbara, CA USA
shoelessjoe wrote:
While I hate the name "Girls Night Out," I think selling tickets to a specific group of performances and including an educational component about dance is a great strategy.


At our local company's gala last month, one of the auction items that was really popular were 4 tickets to LA Ballet with a limo ride (because LA is about 90 miles away), and a picnic basket meal, because it was a great way to hang out with your friends. I agree that the art itself should remain inviolate, and no one needs another version of Dracula or Carmina Burana, but a good packaging strategy can show people how ballet can fit into and enhance their lifestyles. Too often, people think that a trip to the ballet (or any other performing art) is like some forced activity that you do because it's good for you, and not because it's enjoyable in and of itself.

--Andre


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 11, 2009 8:18 am 
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Joined: Sun Dec 12, 1999 12:01 am
Posts: 3663
Location: The Bronx is up; the Battery's down
Dire economic circumstances often create fertile times for the arts. People need distractions, and people need hope.

Just look at the 1930s here in the US. The Hoover Depression gave us the remarkable photography of Dorothea Lange, some great films, and modern dance pieces that influenced the lives and careers of choreographers and dancers for decades after.

But here's the catch: it needs to be populist art. Audiences need to feel that it, in some way, reflects their lives. This doesn't mean we need to pander. It doesn't mean we need to find the lowest common denominator; after all, one of the most famous and successful works to come out of the Hoover Depression was the staging of a play by William Shakespeare -- the Orson Welles/John Houseman "Voodoo" Macbeth.

It does mean, however, that we can't let people think that ballet and other classical arts forms are elitist. The degree to which audiences -- and we ourselves -- think that ballet and its proponents are somehow "above" the common masses is the degree to which we will fail.

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Dance Lighting Design
http://www.jeffsalzberg.com


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