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PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2008 3:46 pm 
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Susan Walker reviews "The Segull" in the Toronto Star:

Toronto Star

Paula Citron in The Globe and Mail:

The Globe and Mail


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2008 5:12 pm 
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Location: Ontario, Canada
Interesting counterpoint in the reviews.

Yesterday I saw the cast that wasn't reviewed - yes, that is me, the lowly Sunday matinee subscriber. Sigh.

I really do think that this is the kind of ballet someone like me needs to see more than once in order to properly comment...I am not sure that I have absorbed all that I need to.

I enjoyed the dancing of course, and once again got to see some talented young people I have watched "grow up" on stage. Robert Stephen again impressed, as did Aarik Wells and Elena Lobsonova. I would have enjoyed seeing Ms Lobsonova dance the role of Nina, but she was not in the Sunday matinee cast. Jillian Vanstone danced the role yesterday, and did wonderfully, but I feel I need to see another interpretation in order to comment accurately.

Ditto Heather Ogden as the mother and prima ballerina. Of course the steps were wonderful, but she is so young and beautiful I had trouble "seeing" her as the mother. Perhaps I just lack imagination.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2008 12:34 pm 
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Sunday matinees can be exciting because "new" casts are often tried out then. don't denegrate the Sunday matinee.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2008 11:20 am 
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Michael Crabb reviews "The Seagull" in The National Post:

National Post


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 21, 2008 4:49 pm 
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Location: Ontario, Canada
I have had season's tickets for Sunday matinee for a number of years, so do feel entitled to pout a bit - I can appreciate the need to try out new casts - but we shouldn't be ALWAYS in this position...especially when people like Ethan Stiefel are guesting for other performances.

I pay a lot of money for my season's tickets. Of course I make the choice to do this, and I make the choice to buy a more expensive seat. However, if I chose a different day for my subscription series I would not be guaranteed my same seat - it took me quite a while to "earn" this seat and I don't want to toss it! I live away from the city, it isn't easy to get to weekday evening performances on a week night. Therefore, I feel justified in my feelings of discrimination....

Do I enjoy the lesser casts? Yes I do, and I think my posts over time attest to that. However, I believe that my dollar should entitle me to one or two special guest artists! I should also not have to endure the Santa Claus parade traffic EVERY year. The november series usually has one Sunday mat that is not the subscriber series - why does THAT performance get the advantage of both the guest artist from Hamburg AND no Santa Claus parade?

Harumph.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 22, 2008 7:22 am 
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Perhaps they feel that Santa Claus IS the guest artist!

Seriously though, I feel your concerns. The Santa parade goes right by the theatre and parking and public transit are known to be a mess that day. I also think it would be nice to spread the gust appearances around a bit more since many people find it difficult to make it into town week nights.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 22, 2008 1:50 pm 
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I would agree that NBoC may have some learning to do with regards to appealing to patrons outside the immediate Toronto suburbs. Even a few years ago, appealing further outside the city might have been fairly unimportant, but given the vast expansion of the suburbs and the weak economic times, NBoC needs to appeal to as wide a population as possible.

Firstly, I would think that they would be more successful if opening nights/first nights were at the end of the week. Not only are people more willing to go out late/drive or ride the train home late on the weekends, but it makes for a nice day out in Toronto for non-residents. Admittedly, attendance appeared much better for the Wednesday opening of the triple bill rather than the Friday "The Seagull", but that may have more to do with the content of the programs.

I'd also like to see them think more about start times and length of programs. Earlier starts, as is usual now, are great during the business week. However, a three hour program - even starting at 7:30 - is very hard for those who have a long drive/ride home. For those of us who live 1+ hours outside Toronto, even a 10:30 end means not getting home until near midnight. If you start work earlier in the morning or have to get kids to school, it might be a no go.

However, starting at 7:30 on Friday or weekend doesn't seem so wise. Those are the days non-Torontonians are more likely to come to see the ballet, and especially on a Friday, there's traffic and it's nice to have a chance to go out to eat before the show. Plus one tends to be less worried about getting home late one the weekend. Yet, a 7:30 start time makes that hard if you can't leave work early and get stuck in traffic.

I would also agree that they should try and spread out the guest stars, though they may be limited by timing and contractual obligations. If your big spenders are likely to come on Friday night, that's when you want your guest star, and a principal who dances Friday night is probably contractually unavailable for a Saturday matinee.

As a note, the company might want to encourage the parking companies to stop gouging patrons. I have no choice but to drive in (or risk my car in a VIA parking lot), and though the city lots are theoretically cheaper, it's hard to find them in the chaos of early evening Toronto traffic. And the 4 Seasons lot charges a flat rate of $20 for the evening - which can be just three hours. NOT cheap considering that the city lots advertise - though don't always seem to actually abide by - rates of $1.50-$2.50 per hour and caps of $6-7 if you enter after 6pm.

I don't think there are any easy answers, but I think NBoC - like any other company - needs to start thinking outside the box. It appalled me that the top tickets were $200. At NYCB, which has a much better theatre - i.e. you are always closer and there are almost no seats with poor sightlines - the top tickets are $105 (excepting Nutcracker). How many people these days are going to be able to continue to pay $200 a pop, or even $150 for good orchestra tickets ($90 in NY)? And that's not factoring in parking/train tickets, petrol etc., remembering that public transport to the suburbs is better in NYC (where I live here we don't have a direct train link to Toronto other than twice daily cross-Canada routes and taking a bus is no faster than driving in Toronto traffic).

Kate


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 23, 2008 12:05 pm 
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Location: Stouffville, Ontario, Canada
I’m glad to see that the National Ballet of Canada forum continued with my absence from a 2 week holiday in Berlin! Wow…we have a flurry of posts! Sadly, due to a conflict in schedule I had to exchange my regular season subscription performances for the mixed program and the Seagull for R & J and the Carmen mixed program.

I understand mom2’s comments about the inferior casts for the Sunday matinée cards but I also understand the National’s position. Like it or not, the Opening Night, along with the Friday and Saturday evening cards attract the most single ticket buyers who want a night out on the town. So, who are you going to cast to attract these buyers who may one day convert to subscribers? Obviously, you want your stars to dance on these nights.

As for kneds comments, boy do I hear you!

Quote:
“I’d also like to see them think more about start times and length of programs. Earlier starts, as is usual now, are great during the business week. However, a three hour program - even starting at 7:30 - is very hard for those who have a long drive/ride home.”


I would be very happy if they moved up the performance to 7. That would really help with my Go Bus ride home to Stouffville! I also agree that parking rates are insane if you want to park close to the Four Seasons. Lastly, I have posted on numerous occasions concerns over ticket prices. $200 for the top seats is just plain crazy. Unfortunately, I don’t see much support coming from the current Conservative government given the recession we’re in and below news:

Quote:
"It's horrifying," says Kevin Garland, executive director of the National Ballet of Canada, explaining she has been warned not to expect any income from the company's $20-million endowment before 2011. In previous years, that fund generated as much as $900,000 in income, which the ballet used to help cover its $24-million operating budget. "We have a $900,000 hole. First, we have been going through and carefully cutting costs where we can, and the second thing is to hopefully raise more money," she says, conceding, however, that selling more tickets or snagging more donations may be difficult if a recession takes hold.


In other news, the National will once again be broadcasting their Nutcracker via the Cineplex screen. Due to the costs of travelling, this is the only way many communities will see their Nut. There is obviously an appetite for live ballet across Canada as evidenced by Moscow Ballet’s Tour. This makes one ponder if the NBoC should drop Canada from its name to the National Ballet of Toronto, which is what it really is. If Moscow ballet thinks it can turn a buck, why can’t the NBoC tour more?

I would like to see the NBoC double the size of its company with members of BC and Winnipeg Ballet along with signing artists from other companies to try actually living up to its name and tour frequently across Canada. You have to wonder just how long Winnipeg, BC and smaller companies across Canada can keep afloat?

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The world revolves around the beauty of the ballerina.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 23, 2008 2:52 pm 
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Location: Ontario, Canada
Interesting points you make, Michael. Sounds like I might as well give up on the Sunday matinee - tickets just as costly, but my bum not as valuable as a Friday night or opening night one.

As for the performance time - I had warned some colleagues recently about Friday night traffic going IN to the city - but obviously didn't warn loudly enough. A friend spent an hour and a half in traffic, finally called the box office in desperation and was allowed to change the ticket to the following evening. If the performance started a bit later friend might have made it on time, even so I highly recommend the GO when travelling in on a Friday night at rush hour.

As for the Moscow ballet - I doubt very much that it will compete with shows put on by the NBOC and other companies. My daughter attended a performance last year (I think it was Swan Lake) with some of her dance friends ..... let's just say that they probably won't ask to see the company again.

As for the combination of NBOC with other companies - hmm. Not sure about that one. Surely this large country can support a variety of professional dance opportunities!


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 23, 2008 4:09 pm 
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Hi mom2! It wasn’t that long ago when the matinée subscription represented a savings but I guess the National realized subscribers were switching dates and thus ended the practice for the exception of seniors, etc.

Can Canada support more than 1 Ballet Company? Of course, as it has for decades now but I guess the real question is does this make sen$e? Perhaps there can be savings realized by pooling resources? I imagine administration/management staff could also be reduced realizing savings. My main pointe is the National Ballet of Canada is not fulfilling its ‘Mission Statement’ by primarily performing in Toronto with a tour here and there.

Quote:
To perform to the highest and most exacting artistic levels the masterworks of classical and contemporary ballet, to provide opportunities for growth of dancers and choreographers and to establish itself as a standard bearer for classical and contemporary ballet in Canada and for Canadian culture worldwide.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 23, 2008 4:13 pm 
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I don't think a 7pm start time would be at all wise - most people would not be able to leave work that early and/or have a chance to grab a bit to eat. Nor would it help much with the traffic issue. 7:30 is as early as you want to go on a weekday. My issue is with a three hour long program - my understanding is that companies like NYCB aim for no more than 2.5 hours, preferably closer to 2 hours when programming weekday night programs.

I haven't had that much trouble getting in - yes the traffic is horrific, but I always leave plenty of time to account for jams/accidents/weather and finding a spot in the city. NBoC was nice to change the ticket, given that the traffic is out of their hands.

Kate


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 23, 2008 5:15 pm 
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I see your pointe in regards to gobbling down dinner in time to attend the ballet but the Toronto Maple Leafs start many of their games at 7 so….why not the ballet? With a 7 start, you may still have time for a late dinner.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2008 8:13 am 
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" So, who are you going to cast to attract these buyers who may one day convert to subscribers? Obviously, you want your stars to dance on these nights. "

I hope that NB of C would first of all please the subscribers that it already has, and who have proved to be loyal for years. It is nice to attract new paying customers, but is that wise if it is at the expense of those already paying?


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2008 11:19 am 
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Location: Stouffville, Ontario, Canada
Great pointe Millie! Now I have seen some principal casting for Sunday matinees but that was back in the 70s, 80s and 90s when the National had a large and very impressive list of dancers. With many pregnancies, a reduced roster, and losing principals over the years like Nehemiah Kish to other companies, the National has been forced to be more selective in regards to casting.

* Nehemiah Kish is listed as a principal but he was not performing for the mixed program or the Seagull, as predicted by Michael Goldbarth

Quote:
The breaking OLD news story by Michael Crabb forced the National to respond with a press release boasting of the supposed dual principal status. I have no doubt Nehemiah Kish will probably return for R & J and perhaps Giselle but I wonder how much time his schedule will afford him with the Danes having a very full season? This is good news if you live in Copenhagen. I doubt Kish will enjoy the 6 hour time change and jet lag jetting across the ocean to dance a full season with the National. I’m sure Kish will guest from time to time but he will not perform the same schedule.

It’s a shame the National invested so much time to develop his talents only to see him leave. Kudos to Kish. You have to look out for #1! I have no doubt he will dance to a much more appreciative audience, enjoy far greater artistic opportunities, and enjoy a much longer and more pro$perou$ career. For many fans, he was rated the National’s 2nd best principal male dancer and will be missed.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2008 9:32 pm 
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One has to remember that there may be very loyal ballet-goers who attend a number of performances each year, but aren't subscribers because of distance, money or varying work schedules. It's not easy for everyone to spend money up front, or commit to dates months in advance.

There are a lot of us who live outside Toronto, so coming in to the city on a regular basis is not feasible, especially with 10:30pm endings. And with unpredictable winter weather - there's no direct public transport in many regions other than buses which are no better than cars when it comes to traffic or bad road conditions (like right now..it may have rained in Toronto, but we had snow all day followed by fine rain which is making a slick mess out of the roads.).

While subscribers do form an important core, single ticket purchasers are an growing and vital group. As I pointed out, with the continued expansion of the Toronto suburbs and the decreasing finances of the average consumer, NBoC needs to appeal more and more to a wider population. That includes those who may not be subscribers, but who will buy 2-4 tickets a year on varying dates and/or may need a couple-several years as single ticket buyers before they are interested enough or can afford to pay up front to become subscribers. Unless you sit up in the fifth ring, you're looking at a minimum payment of $240 per person, and when you think of a family of 3 or 4, that's a lot to be paying at once. And you only save $5 a ticket from the single price which could be less than the interest on your credit card if you pay up front.

Also, given the fact that there are flexible subscriptions, shouldn't they be spreading the top dancers out to as many dates are possible since you don't know when your subscribers might be coming?

Kate


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