All Hallow’s Eve: How can Pacific Northwest Ballet treat you?

31 Oct

Happy Halloween!  The last Reader Appreciation post is a juicy one, and is dedicated to all of you but with a special “come hither” directed at Seattle area readers.  This can only mean one thing: the involvement of Pacific Northwest Ballet.  However, readers who do not reside here shouldn’t feel left out…that is the beauty of the internet is it not?  A ballet company can reach out to fans all over the world and hopefully inspire them to travel and make one of their shows part of a vacation.  Trust me, IT WORKS.  I can’t even begin to describe how desperate I am to go to London and see The Royal Ballet in their element, on the hallowed grounds of Covent Garden.  Yes, I have seen them live but it’s the way in which I’ve been able to stay connected via the Royal Opera House’s multimedia on iTunes and YouTube, as well as reviews/tweets by Royal Ballet goers that keeps my yearning burning (it’s kind of ridiculous how nuttercrackers I’m going over the fact that they’ll be doing Manon in the spring…aaaaah!).  It’s not just them though, as many ballet companies have awesome multimedia bits for us to chew on, and Pacific Northwest Ballet’s YouTube channel is a delicious one…be sure to check it out (if you haven’t already) before proceeding with this post:

Link to Pacific Northwest Ballet on YouTube

PNB’s channel features a vast variety of videos, including rehearsal footage, performance excerpts, show trailers, discussions with artistic director Peter Boal, dancer profiles and a multitude of interviews.  I’m not going to mention any names, but this is far beyond what some other ballet companies are doing and is a fantastic usage of new media to connect with fans and audiences, so kudos and kuditos to you PNB, for staying up to date.  The question then becomes, what more can they do?  Or perhaps the better question is what else can they do?  PNB’s video editor got in touch with me and I’m hoping to help open the lines of communication with this blog (like you do) and get your input.  What do you want to see?  More studio footage?  More interviews?  Dancers playing Twister?  A full-length recording of Dances at a Gathering? (okay, never going to happen, I’ll get over it…eventually)  This is your chance to speak and more importantly, be heard!  Without an audience there is no ballet, and as audience members we have a responsibility to develop our voices just as the performers and administration do theirs.

For example, one of my favorite things they did very recently actually, was to post rehearsal footage with running commentary by the dancers.  Normally, I like to wait and see a dance on stage (which is saying a lot because I have the patience of a squirrel) because I like the surprise and mystical atmosphere that comes with viewing a finished product.  Obviously, studio footage is much different from full costumes, lighting, etc. but what’s unique about listening to the dancers talk about their work is that it really gives us the opportunity to be clued into the process and gain a sense of what might go through a dancer’s mind while performing.  I think sometimes we want to believe dancers are so invested into their roles that they “become them” (and sometimes they do) but I like knowing dancers are human and that they occasionally talk to each other on stage when they’re not supposed to or think “oh crap” when something goes haywire.  I think humanizing dancers is a great way to bring in new audiences because even though dancers perform spectacular feats both physically and emotionally, I think audiences still want to find ways to relate to them.  I suppose many enjoy idolizing their favorite dancers as elusive, almost alien beings but for me that’s unrealistic because we’re all human.  Therefore, when it comes to listening to dancers speak in a casual voice, I am all for it…I’d rather know more about who they are than who they think we should think they are.

Accordingly, I’m all about the dancer profiles…but I’d love for them to be longer!  So far, they seem to be just enough time to cram in “this is how old when I started, this is how I got here, this is my favorite role, I love to dance, goodbye.”  Something I would really like to see would be along the same lines of what The Royal Opera house did, which was follow soloist Yuhui Choi around for an entire day (watch ‘A Day in the Life of a Ballerina’).  Obviously the finished mini-documentary wasn’t the whole day but selected bits and pieces which give a more complete picture of what it’s really like to be a professional dancer—from class, rehearsals, physiotherapy, make-up and finally show time.  However, I think a potentially fun idea might be to have dancers introduce Seattle as they see it, taking fans on a virtual tour of some of their favorite places because sometimes it’s more than just getting people to come see ballet but also a matter of promoting the culture of the city where the ballet lives.  Even people who live in Seattle might not know about some of its curious little treasures…like where’s the best place to get Thai food or saltwater taffy?  I need to know…and there’s a chance other people do too.  At any rate, I feel like PNB’s YouTube channel could use some more “face time” in general though, with highlight reels of specific dancers, which can help to make them more recognizable onstage (especially for those of us who sit in the balcony!) and even faculty bios or interviews with students of the school.  I know for me, different teaching philosophies (as well as the teachers’ backgrounds) can be just as fascinating as an interview with a working dancer.  When you find out that one teacher took class with this famous teacher or danced with that famous dancer, it creates a unique web that really does bring a community together.  I’ve even experienced it in my own little corner of the ballet world and enjoy the feeling of being a part of something larger than life itself.

So here’s the deal my little chickpeas, I’ve created a little poll and am asking for some mass voting!  However, the poll only reflects some basic ideas about videos and such, so it is of the utmost importance that you consider leaving a comment too with additional feedback!  Like what are your thoughts on more formal interviews from dancers versus a casual voice?  The more detailed you can be, the better!  Oh and nothing mundane like “how tall is such and such dancer” because even though we all want to know that stuff anyway, there are much better things to be learned.  Priorities, people, priorities!

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3 Responses to “All Hallow’s Eve: How can Pacific Northwest Ballet treat you?”

  1. Hilary November 9, 2010 at 5:33 am #

    Eek, I voted! Sorry, I know I don’t live in the area, but I’m helpless to resist a poll! 🙂

    • youdancefunny November 9, 2010 at 2:17 pm #

      They want anybody and everybody to vote! To entice thee to make PNB a part of a visit some day!

  2. The Ballet Bag November 11, 2010 at 7:55 am #

    Same as Hilary, don’t live in the area but we voted (love PNB’s vids by the way…)

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