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Marcia

Phillip,

Enjoyed seeing the pictures of the park near your house.
The rest of it...made we wish I knew more about the ballet.

Love ya,

Marcia

philip

Wow, welcome to my blog! It's great to see your message here.

You & Howard will have to come down and hike the Park with me sometime. Maybe we can get Debbie to join us!

Nicole

Hey,

you have attended a lot of dance events. Have you ever heard dancers complaining about the lack of technique in the dancers, who repeatedly get the solo roles. if so, how do you respond?

philip

I think dancers see flaws in other dancers who are getting good roles, partially out of jealousy and but also often with good reason. Sometimes a dancer - or a singer, for that matter - gets roles in spite of what seems like technical shortcomings. But whoever is doing the casting must see or hear something in that performer that they think will work in the piece being mounted.

It's also true that dancers and singers can see/hear flaws in other performers that we average observers can't detect.

Just the other night a dancer was telling me about how one of the ballerinas had simplified a step in a famous ballet in order to make it work for her. It caused quite a ruckus in the company. I said that I thought the majority of the audience would probably not have realized the step was altered and would rather see the dancer do something slightly easier and do it well than have a problem trying to do something that was beyond her. Then the question was, 'why was she cast in the ballet if she can't do the steps?' I guess I would say if her performance overall looked good and 'said something' about the piece, then I would forgive her for making a small change.

This season at the Met a famous mezzo took an aria down 1/2 tone after struggling with the climax of it at the prima. I would say most people couldn't tell; I knew it was lower but I didn't care because instead of shrieking the high notes she sang the lowered version strongly and it added to the excitement of her portrayal.

I remember Franco Zeffirelli blew up in an interview once when Callas was having difficulties and omitted a couple high notes. He was furious that people could not accept a performance that was 99% extraordinary because of one or two notes.

My general feeling is, ballet and opera make rigorous demands on the performer. If an artist can give you a beautiful experience in, say, NORMA or SWAN LAKE but has to make small alterations to get thru it, I tend to be forgiving. But I know lots of people who aren't.

And of course, being human, I will forgive a singer or dancer I love much quicker than someone I don't care all that much for. Unfair, I know, but that's just the way of it.

This is a very interesting topic and if anyone else wants to add to it, I'd love to know what people think. But please: no scolding of specific singers or dancers.

Dmitry

Hmm....interesting topic, indeed. Of course we all make allowances for singers and dancers (and actors and writers) we like and tend to be unreasonably harsh with those we don't. It's all part of being fans; our passions are not rational. For example, Martin Scorsese can receive an Oscar he doesn't really deserve (for "The Departed") because he never got the Oscars he did (for "Taxi Driver," "Raging Bull," "Goodfellas.") And who's going to complain? Casting decisions in ballet and opera tend to be quite tricky and often politically motivated. But also practical. We as fans can be quite puzzled by why singer A would get a role that Singers B and C can sing so much better. But we rarely have insight as to why A was cast - perhaps B and C were unavailable, not interested, etc. One solution can be that the opera should not be done if B and C are not around to do it. But no doubt A has fans of his/her own. It's hard to discuss this without naming names... I love sitting around and speculating on how I would cast a certain opera in my own opera house. But in my more lucid moments I understand that my ideal casting may very well not work for any number of reasons. And then one has to start making substitutions. And things start to fall apart.

Then again, sometimes the people in charge of casting are just stupid and make the worst decisions!

Nicole

Sorry it took a while for me to read this Phillip. Excellent answers and insights by everyone. In the case of the very critical dancers, I suspect it was due to partial jealousy, frustration, and truth. We all know that this is par for the course in all careers.

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