Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Minnesota culture

Here is a story about what the people of Minnesota are like.

The other day I told you about how I went to a Russian Ballet and it was bad. But I enjoyed hating it. After the intermission I'd had enough pleasure from despising it and tried to see what virtues I could find in it in the second half. I found a few, a bit of the dancing maybe, a costume, but it was still a ruthlessly terrible ballet, with cartoonishly, over telegraphed expressions, pantomimed dancing and absurdly posed plot points. The choreography was remedial, and there was a curious lack of real dance between the bad posing and false drama.

I watched it in a lovely theater called "The Northrup" along with pretty much every Russian person who currently lives in the twin cities. I only know one Russian emigre, someone I worked with once. She was there along with everyone she knew. The Russians were all Minnesotans too, though, and there were plenty of non Russian Minnesotans as well. It was a full house.

Hating the ballet, as I did, I hoped everyone else would share my good judgement as well. I think for the most part they did. But this is Minnesota, so here's what happened: The curtain went down and the audience applauded politely. The curtain went up for the bows and, then, still applauding politely and without any enthusiasm, our audience proceeded to give a standing ovation.

Perhaps the Russians were confused by this, because they seemed to take it as a cue to run through a long series of bows. Standing and tiredly clapping, the audience struggled through the dancer by dancer bows. Half applauding, at an astonishingly muted level, the crowd, while gathering their things, managed to keep up the appearance of applause until at long last the Russian dancers were finished basking in glory, and the final curtain went down.

Then, this ever so Minnesota crowd shuffled out of the theater, complaining quietly together about how bad this ballet was. 

Yes, alas, Minnesota is where they give a standing ovation just to be polite.


  1. There are only two good reasons for a standing ovation: First, a truly magnificent performance of whatever type. Second, to give your legs and butt a break.

    1. So by this we should take it that these Minnesotans were exhausted from sitting?

      Okay, fair enough. Perhaps it's what distinguishes us as a crowd: we tire of sitting more easily than other crowds.


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