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Buzz, 4-2: Fault-lines
Quelle Diable!: Diablo Ballet Wants Your Money but doesn't want Critics
at "Earthquake''s 'World Premiere'
Copyright 2006 The Dance Insider
Take a look at the website
of San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and you'll see
"Earthquake," the ballet Diablo Ballet is presenting there Wednesday,
described as a "world premiere," the privilege for seeing which
the public is being asked to cough up as much as $25 per ticket.
for Computers & Structures, Inc., the structural and earthquake
engineering software company which commissioned the ballet from
Diablo co-artistic director Nikolai Kabaniaev, also calls Wednesday's
performance the ballet's 'world premiere.' And the press release
we received last week from co-artistic director Lauren Jonas says,
"For tickets to the world premiere... Wednesday, April 5, 2006,
at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, call (415)
978-ARTS." And yet, when we requested press tickets to review, Jonas
wrote back to tell us, "We are not having press reviews for this
performance since it's a preview." When I wrote back to ask how
a 'world premiere' had become a 'preview' in the less than 24 hours
between when she'd sent me the press release and when she'd responded
to our press ticket request, I received the following response from
Ashraf Habibullah, coincidentally president of both Diablo Ballet
and of Computers & Structures:
"As you know all dance
productions are faced with the challenges of technical difficulties,
scheduling and coordination issues, not to talk about injuries.
Small mishaps or miscommunications can trigger major changes in
the direction of events.... I also am sure that this is not first
time you have been faced with cancelled shows or modified schedules....The
complexity of this production has created some unforeseen technical
issues that are beyond our control. Cancelling the show is not a
viable option at this stage. Also, I think it will be unfair to
your large international reader base to have them read about a product
that may not be at its best."
My response to Mr. Habibullah:
"Thanks for your note,
but you don't address the fundamental questions. I am well aware
that dance productions are faced with the various 'challenges' you
mentioned. However, this is the first time I've heard of in 25 years
of covering dance that a company is telling the paying public it's
presenting a 'world premiere,' but telling critics -- not in the
press release, but if they happen to ask for press tickets to review
-- that this is a 'preview' essentially unfit for review. If you're
asking the public to pay for it, it should be open for review. If
it's not ready for prime time, you should be telling the public.
Also, if it would be 'unfair to (our) large international reader
base to have them read about a product that may not be at its best,'
why is it fair to charge your local public to see it? Are you informing
them that the product which they're paying to see 'may not be at
If it has not done so
already, I urge Diablo Ballet to tell not just critics, but its
paying audience for what it's calling "Earthquake"'s 'world premiere'
Wednesday that this is really a 'preview,' and that they will be
seeing a "product that may not be at its best."