Obviously the answer to that question is no. Sometimes it just takes me a few tries to kick the grumpy old lady out of my seat and replace her with the positive 30-year-old. So imagine my dismay when a critic at a national English newspaper basically dismissed the new audiences at the Royal Opera House as pushovers who don’t know a dancer’s foot from his hand because they are »unused to the flexible physiques that regular ballet-goers take for granted.« Now, I’ll admit that I may or may not have sent the odd tweet about my dissatisfaction with the ballet-newbies behind me. Nonetheless, during the first interval I turned around and offered them my program so they could familiarize themselves with the evening’s second piece, which had a somewhat tricky storyline. Because, noisy foods and cluelessness aside, they were enjoying the performance – even while Mark Ronson wasn’t on stage. They just hadn’t received the memo about ballet etiquette. And here’s the thing: with or without etiquette, the ballet desperately needs walk-in customers. Because even if we see every performance more than once, there simply aren’t enough ballet geeks in this world to keep filling those magic seats.
So dear critics – please don’t alienate the so-called new audiences. That is not your job. Your job is to either tell them what to expect of a performance or to give them an opinion that they can use as a discussion partner for their own experience.
Dear new audiences – just like it’s uncool to throw a fit when somebody accidentally steps on your foot at a rock concert, it’s equally uncool to be loud and fidgety throughout 2/3 of a triple bill just because Mark Ronson isn’t on stage.
Dear me – try harder when kicking the grumpy old lady.
That is all. See you at the ballet.