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Ballet Talk for Dancers

A Real Live Dance Recital

mini cooper

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Many have posted here about schools with which they have danced where the recital was interesting....


DD and I attended the recital of a friend tonight. The school is not a ballet school, but a competition dance school. For what it is, the dancers did well. However, the family members treated it as a sporting event. They hooted, they hollered, they talked during the performance. They came and went as they pleased. The only thing missing was someone selling beer in the stands.


DD's assesment was that it felt like we were at a basketball game.


The older dancers we pretty good, but they all could have benefitted from some ballet training. They did not appear to use their bodies efficiently. You could SEE their effort. The difficulty for me was seeing the cute little 3, 5, 6 and 10 year olds just shaking their little butts on stage in suggestive little costumes. It was fascinating. We've led such a sheltered ballet life!


I really don't mean to be critical. I've just seen with my own eyes what others have talked about. As the announcer described the school when it was originally founded twenty years ago, they offered ballet, toe, hula, tap, jazz, aerobics, and at least two other things - sort of a Burger King of dance (what was the old slogan???have it your way?) Clearly there is a market for this out there. It was interesting to encounter it.


By the way, dd's friend is a really good dancer. She has done SI's for this type of dance. As we talked about it this evening, I found her dancing to have a lot of integrity. She executed well. It was just such an interesting experience, I had to share with my ballet friends!




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In response to crowd behavior. My daughter attends a publci performing arts school and we had the final parent meeting this week. Because of the poor behavior of students and parents during performances - in all the arts areas - the school has decided to have meetings with the students at the beginning of the enxt school year to "teach" audience etiquette.


I wouldn't say the audience behaviors have been of the basketball level, but during DDs final choir concert one of the choir directors stopped the choir turned around and asked the audience to stop talking and stay in their seats until the change over of choirs.


It's hard to know if it was students or parents or both who were the main problem. Has there been an overall deterioration of etiquete over time?

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I know how you feel calamitious. I often wondered the same thing at my DD's public school. It amazes me everytime there is a performance where the audience is loud or walking in and out as they please. I often wondered if it was just my area that I live in being different from the area I came from. Still not sure. Even while the Principal is trying to talk people are chating so much that I can't really hear her. It makes me feel so bad. My DD's main dance school does have/teach proper etiquette. I commend them for that. Even if DD doesn't continue dancing her whole life, at least this was something she learned and that other kids somewhere actually know. Her second dance school doesn't keep up with the etiquette so much. So, when she has a class there I remind her to use proper etiquette even if others don't.....girls don't have their hair in a bun, no reverence, talking through class etc.


So, I'm still not sure what planet some other people have come from in this world. Hopefully, it will rub off the right way on some.

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Has there been an overall deterioration of etiquete over time?


Yes! But you're asking someone was was raised that you NEVER hooped and hollered. You applauded and yelled Bravo at the most, maybe threw a flower onstage if you were lucky enough to have seats up front. You dressed up to go the Ballet, or any Theatre for that matter. And you said, please and thank you so many times a day you had to beg to get other words to come out of your mouth.


But, don't look too far away from the ballet. At SERBA this year, the local director would come out each night and explain that applause was great, Brava/Bravo was fabulous, but please don't hoot. Didn't work, the kids hooted anyway. That doesn't happen at our studio, but it must happen at someone's.....this was a theatre full of ballet kids and teachers. Given that kids generally act better away from home than at home, what does that say?


*edited to make sure it was understood I meant hooting after a group finished at SERBA and not during.



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Not an apology for the behavior, but the audience response at the competition school recital is bred at dinkle competitions, where the groups perform their numbers and the audience watches, for perhaps as long as they can tolerate it, before they either get up to perform their number or,as parents, go to collect their dancers. At dinkle competitions, the energy level is high as all yell...GO DOLLY, GO DOLLY, GO DOLLY and WOOT WOOT etc. This behavior is then transferred to the year end recital.


As for other venues, ahhh, it seems to be the way of the world. As a defense, at least the young people in the audience are excited and enthusiastic about an arts presentation. They are rooting for their friends and class mates. As an ex high school teacher, classroom etiquette is not that hard to teach, but one must be clear about the expectation of that behavior transcending the classroom, let's say for example on a .... field trip or attendance at a performance. The behavior of the kids sadly indicates more information about the teachers and parents than about the kids themselves. However, I always enjoyed the happy faces and enthusiasm, keeps you young.

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I recently saw this behavior at RDA. Our dancers had been instructed a few times in advance of the festival to applaud and say "Bravo" and "Brava." But from the very first performance, audience members from other companies shouted and hollered and whistled, often at ear splitting volume. I had never attended an RDA performance prior to this and I was extremely surprised by the lapse in what I thought was expetced ballet performance etiquette.

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I wonder if the problem is two-fold: that students in schools don't get enough opportunity practicing as a group to be an audience. And dance schools, soccer teams, music schools, acting classes, etc., don't practice, with their students on a fairly regular basis, how to be an audience.


And the second problem is parents. They are every bit as bad,if not worse, than the kids.


In Irish dance, the culture at a feis (competition) has always been that it's OK to talk while dancers at a lower level are competing. There are often 3 stages in one auditorium so it can get pretty noisy just by itself. But at the championship level, where dancers compete alone or in pairs, we expect quiet audience members. Very hard to enforce it nowadays.


At the major competition events, when trophies are awarded, we have had to stop audiences from their shrieking and stamping. I remember one major event where it got very ugly. The announcer finally lost her cool and yelled at the audience who then booed her! I was embarrassed to be part of that culture that night. It was an awful display and I was furious at parents. Look at what they modeled for their kids!!


Interestingly, that must've been the lowest point because this year, at the same major annual event, audiences were quite respectful. I think everyone must've realized that they'd descended into "Lord of the Flies" territory last year.

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You think hooting and hollering is bad listen to this!


DD and I also attended a "dolly" recital a few weeks ago, where there was a fist fight !! apparently it was between a father and a step father. The police were called and removed the men from the audience.


We actually just sat there in amazement for the entire show :innocent:

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Some people have not learned the meaning of "no flash photography"


This is not the red carpet people! They have this rule for a reason. You can usually spot the kids who are being photographed. They stop dead in their tracks, look at their parents and pose....and pose....and pose.

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I recently saw this behavior at RDA.  Our dancers had been instructed a few times in advance of the festival to applaud and say "Bravo" and "Brava."  But from the very first performance, audience members from other companies shouted and hollered and whistled, often at ear splitting volume.  I had never attended an RDA performance prior to this and I was extremely surprised by the lapse in what I thought was expetced ballet performance etiquette.


I am glad you bought this up. I went to one RDA as an observer as I was interested in joining. But it looked and sounded like any other competition to me. Hooting hollering and at the dinner when the "presentations" were given out, all the studios stuck together and whooped an hollered I might as well have been at starsomething dance comp. I was looking for something else and it was more of the same. It is great to be excited I have done my share of whooping myself. But I think there is a time and place for everything.



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Thanks for your explanation. This does shed a little light on the competition environment.


Fist fight? Yikes! That would be scary.


Gremlin, your post about the kids who are being photographed is interesting. I was surprised at how many parents would wave at their children from the audience. The theatre was small, but even then, I suspect it was difficult for the kids to tell which one was their daddy.


DD and I had a lengthy detox visit about the performance this morning. It was such a different kind of experience, we still had much to talk about.

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If it ever gets to gunfights, I retire from this business entirely!

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that students in schools don't get enough opportunity practicing as a group to be an audience


Very good point! We frequent the ballet/theatre in our area (it's metro) as well as do other dancers at our studio. However, that may not always be the case. In some cases, the kids rarely get to see performances, yet are always in them.


"no flash photography"

On my soapbox now, YES your newfangled digital camera with the preview screen counts as flash photography. It may not blind the dancers but it definitely blinds the 6-8 rows of people behind you who would like to see the performance instead of you sneaking photos.


And lastly, when they come out and announce turn off your cell phones & beepers. PLEASE! No matter how sure you are that you turned yours off, pull the thing out and check it again anyway. Those who are "sure" are surely the one with a phone ring at the worst time and then they drop everything out of their purse loudly on the floor if the phone ringing wasn't enough.



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I do think there's a line between appreciative whooping and rudeness -- it's just that many folks haven't found it. To see truly wonderful whooping, watch the Born to be Wild video of the ABT men. There's a scene of Carre˜o dancing at the Havana festival, and the crowd is just wild! It's a terrific scene.


I do think sometimes we in the ballet world err on the side of teaching "prim and proper." At our last RDA festival, the host AD cut short some truly appreciative and enthusiastic celebration when a popular teacher was introduced at the first performance. Clearly, these kids had enjoyed his class that day and were telling him so. After being chastised -- there is no other word, although in the ballet world we would no doubt term it a "correction" -- the kids duly clapped politely for the rest of the evening. I, for one, thought a great deal was lost in that moment.


Like everyone else, though, I hate the parents who scream for their kids and no other, who get up and leave as soon as Susie is done dancing, who chatter away as long as nothing of interest is going on onstage (meaning, Susie isn't there to watch.)

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Maybe, but I do believe an entire Metropolitan Opera House going "Woof, woof, woof" would be more than my simple soul could stand.

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