The Great Con

I don’t know if anybody has seen the BBC videos about the Royal Ballet. If not, please follow the link below. These videos really bug me, especially this one:

Ok, where to start? First of all, since when ballet is about seeing the expression on the dancers’ faces? For me it is about dancing, and portraying emotion through dance. Where I sit, high atop the amphitheatre, it is often difficult to see the detail on the dancers’ faces, and that does not subtract from the experience for me.

Second, and most irritating for me, is the claim that people have been enticed to see R & J at the O2 because of the prices: “£11 a head”. Well, you can also get tickets at Covent Garden for that price. All Royal Ballet triple bills have great seats in the amphitheatre for £13 and even better ones for £18. And you are much closer to the action than at the O2.

And this journalist even goes further saying that “they better not get used to these ticket prices, as tickets at the opera house cost as average of £100”. That is just bad journalism and a disgusting misuse of statistic. Having sat through countless statistics exams, this bothers me on so many levels.

This video report is actually encouraging the view that ballet is elitist and incredibly expensive. Technically yes, perhaps averaging out the price of tickets at ROH, from the incredibly expensive boxes to the £7 standing tickets does equal £100. But saying that an average ticket costs £100 implies that you would be hard pressed to find a decent ticket costing less that £100. Which is so not true.

Here is a selection of my Royal Ballet tickets covering the last 12 months or so:

As you can see, they are not even close to costing £100.

(actually, the image is not so great, so you can probably not see. The tickets are, from left to right, from the top: Scenes de Ballet/Voluntaries/The Rite of Spring: £18; La Fille mal Gardee: £28; Cinderella: £20; Ballo della regina/Live Fire Exercise: £10.20; Chroma/Tryst/Symphony in C:£11; La Valse/Invitus Invitam/ Winter dreams/ Theme and Variations: £18)

In fact, the most I have ever paid for a ticket is £51, for Alina Cojocaru’s Giselle. Actually, I did not even pay for them, as they were a graduation present from my parents (thank you).

Great seats. Actually, the best seats I have ever had at ROH. An amazing night. Still not £100.

And this is the great con, this idea that ballet is expensive. It is not that expensive. I mean, it can be very expensive, but it does not have to be.

Are you ready for a shocking revelation? It is more expensive to watch a football game than to go to the ballet. And I have proof:

The lovely husband and I are huge Tottenham Hotspurs fans. These seats are the second cheapest at White Hart Lane. And yet, they are still more expensive than all those 6 tickets picture above.

I do not mean to rant. But this really upsets me. It is a great con that has to be stopped. Ballet does not cost a fortune. Please do some research people, and do not be fooled by urban legend and bad journalism. The Royal Opera House is a wonderful place, that is open to everybody.

I hope you give it a try one day.