Male Ballerinas, Bad Non-Brazil-Rooting Ballroom Dancers, and Social Issues at the ABT

My pics from the Manhattan DanceSport Championships are now up on the photo page. It was a lot of fun — I always like this comp because, being in Brooklyn Heights, it’s in an area easily accessible by public transportation and near courthouse-area parks and Montague Street eateries, and, since it’s local, I end up knowing lots of people and reconnecting with old dance friends. Expectedly, Jonathan Wilkins and Katusha Demidova won the Standard, Tony Dovolani and Elena Grinenko the American Rhythm, and one of my favorite couples — Maxim Kozhevnikov and Yulia Zagorouitchenko won the Latin (current US champs Andrei Gavriline and Elena Kruychkova didn’t compete for some reason; I didn’t see the American Smooth comp). The only grumble I had was, on Saturday the 3rd, after finishing watching my friend compete in Pro/Am Standard, I ran to the hotel bar to catch the second half of the World Cup game only to see, horribly, Brazil lose. And all of the crazed Standard dancers watching with me cheered wildly when France won??? Ugh, evil Standard people! That never would have been the case had the Latin comps been underway at the time! Actually, it well could have been the same. Almost all ballroom dancers, Standard and Latin both, are European and likely root for European teams. Plus, I think I am the only person who actually takes an interest in the culture from which these dances emerge. . .

Anyway, backtracking a bit, I went to the ballet (ABT) on Friday night to see Marcelo! and Julie perfom Swan Lake. The ballet is not one of my favorites, but Marcelo! is. This year marks Julie’s, I think 20th anniversary with the company, and during curtain call, Marcelo! did a Nureyev and bowed down to her, and on one knee, took her hand and dramatically kissed it:):):) Of course Fonteyn scolded the boy Rudik, telling him it made her feel like an old lady. Julie seems too sweetly down-to-earth to say the same though. Earlier, when Marcelo! came out alone, someone tossed a bouquet onstage, and he caught it mid-air with one hand, just like a football (American football of course). Gia Kourlas of TONY said of Julio, after removing his ballet shoes and placing them atop Giselle’s grave during his last ever performance of that ballet a week ago, “Bocca may not be a ballerina but he certainly knows how to act like one.” Well, Julio was Marcelo!’s little-boy role model so… Although I think Marcelo!’s a much more interesting ballerina — a big, brawny, 20-foot-high leaping, football-catching, leading-lady-worshipping one! Marcelo!’s inner ballerina rocks!!

On a more serious note, included in the ABT’s Playbill this month was a survey form that they asked be filled out and deposited in a box in the opera house or mailed in. The survey consisted of interesting questions such as which are your favorite full-length ballets and what do you like about them, and who are your favorite choreographers, both contemporary and classical, and why. It made me think, and I started to answer. Then, at the bottom of the form, it asked for the survey-taker’s salary. It listed many ranges, but extremely specific ones, starting from ‘under $50,000’ and going up in less than $10,000 increments, ending at ‘above $175,000’. I found this interesting. I’ve definitely seen surveys asking for the person’s general income-level, but in $50,000 increments, so the testers basically wanted to know who their demographic was. But this form was too specific for that, they seemed to want to know your exact salary, as if the degree to which they intended to take into account my choice of ballets and choreographers was based on what level of patronage I could give them. First, I think that’s rude to be so obvious, and second, don’t they know that the wealthiest people in New York are living off of trust funds and don’t even have salaries? They would have been better served asking what’s in people’s bank accounts or investment portfolios. I don’t even really like most of the ballets they put on; I come for the dancers. They nicely offered first-time subscribers discounted orchestra tickets, so I’ve been sitting either in the orchestra, for performances that are either part of my subscription plan or for matinees which are less expensive, otherwise in the balcony. Friday night was almost sold out, and they only had family circle tickets left, so I sat up there. And I realized that, unless you’re in the first couple of rows in the orchestra, you can see almost the same from the family circle as you can from anywhere else. I also encountered lots of interesting people up there — there were several giggly teenaged girls who were obviously dance students and would burst out laughing whenever the dancers did something impossibly great. I honestly felt like I learned something just listening to them. Next to me was a large, burly construction-worker-type who resembled Herb Ritts’ Vladimir without his makeup on, sitting, interestingly, alone, and, judging by his howls during the curtain call, was a fellow Marcelo! fan. And behind me were several elderly couples watching with mesmerized looks on their faces, as well as a young mother trying to explain to her two little daughters the beauty of the ballet. I honestly found family circle patrons a much more interesting bunch than the people who sit in orchestra and, although I understand a large ballet company’s need for financial support, family circle patrons’ interests should not be taken lightly! Anyway, whatever bad taste ABT’s management left in my mouth, happily, my fellow family-circle spectators and Marcelo! cured 🙂

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