Tuesday, April 28, 2015


            On April 21st, I wrote a post on applause from the point of view of an audience member. This week, a dancer is gives his thoughts on the subject.  I promised him that I wouldn’t reveal his name.  All I can divulge is that he’s one of the finest dancers in the world and has been a principal dancer at two of the leading ballet companies in the world.

Do you think any time is the right time for applause?

I think that if someone wants to applaud because they are moved or excited, they should.  Although sometimes it can get out of hand and in the past I have wondered if a triple pirouette really moved someone so much they had to applaud.  I don't want to tamper anyone's enthusiasm for the art form, but frequent outbursts can distract from the overall performance.  I tend to think if something is extraordinary then go for it, if not save it for when they finish so everyone in the audience can appreciate their performance in a complete and full form.  

Has clapping ever affected your performance?

Audience clapping can have a dual affect.  It can take you out of your concentration, or it can bolster your performance even more.  As a performer, we crave to make the audience excited, or have them feel an emotion, essentially to take them to another place in their mind.  Sometimes this comes out as applause, and when it's right it can be amazing to feel the audience participation.  

What kind of audience to you consider ideal?

 I have performed all over the world.  Each audience is different.  In addition, an audience is made up of many people from unique backgrounds, so it's very difficult to say what an ideal audience is because appreciation is shown in many different ways.  In general, an appreciative, enthusiastic audience is ideal.  Like sports, not everyone is a season ticket holder who comes to the ballet every night.  However, if the audience gets invested in the art on stage, and acquires some new knowledge and appreciation, and reflects that in their response, then that is my ideal audience.  

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


The other night, I had the pleasure of going to the ballet.  There were pieces I liked, and pieces I didn’t like.  When I liked a particular piece, I would clap at the end of it.  I tend not to clap while someone is still performing because I don't want to do anything that could be disruptive to the performer or to fellow audience members.   That night, dancers didn’t have to do so much as lift their legs up high, and there was thunderous applause.  

I asked a good friend and ballet enthusiast his thoughts on when to clap and not to clap.
“I think it goes beyond etiquette and people knowledgeable about ballet get it – dancers have to hear the music to keep time. That’s hard to do over applause,” he explained.

He does agree it’s hard not to applaud for a phenomenal pirouette or pas de deux giving dancers a rush from the show of appreciation.  “But one should take care not to drown out the music,” he pointed out.

The same goes for opera, best to save the applause at the end and not after every high note.  Nothing terrible will happen for clapping when the feeling hits you but holding applause could make something wonderful happen – such as a magnificent, uninterrupted performance.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015


“What does “Yelp” mean?” asked a friend whose first language is French.  “It’s what little dogs do to get attention,” I explained.  And then I yelped a few times to demonstrate to her how annoying it is. And so are many comments on Yelp.  They are also mean, spiteful and are the handiwork of people with not much going on in their lives except to try and gain some kind of voice by trashing establishments and the people who work in them.  

Yelpers, I learned will actually post their negative review while sitting in the very restaurant. Question – if it’s so horrible why are you still there?  Why not pay the bill, stiff the server and go away? Or speak to the manager and give him/her the chance to make the situation right.

Resorting to Yelp is cowardly and worst, puts you in the class of cyber bullies.  Thankfully, restaurants can’t commit suicide but horrible things have happened to individuals because of the cyber bully culture.

Not all Yelpers are mean. Many take the time to point out the good in their experiences. They don’t yelp at the help.  They get pleasure out of writing something good.  They are from the old school.  “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.”

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Petitetiquette: Runny Nose at the Table? by Yvonne

Last night, in a restaurant, I saw a man blowing his nose with his dinner napkin. Ewww!  It happens, all of a sudden you have a runny nose and you're not at home. You can discreetly pat your nose and then go to the restroom.

When the meal is over, don't leave your napkin so that the side you patted your nose with is on the outside. Don't ball it up and throw in on the plate. Don't fold it up as if you're folding a pillow case, just leave it neatly on the table. Feel better!

Just an aside - after a dinner party at a friend's home in Milan, Italy, I folded my dinner napkin up as if it were clean laundry. The host said, "Never do that. I it means you're never coming back to my house."

Thursday, March 5, 2015


Bad blogger, bad blogger, I’ve fallen behind on posts.

Yesterday, Grammar Girl reminded me that March 4th is National Grammar Day.  I don’t think it made a difference in many people’s lives. Poor grammar is like typos; we start believing in it and see nothing wrong. And we rarely correct our friends and family – children we will correct, and that’s the right thing to do. Our friends whose first language isn't English, we're also more apt to correct.

When I lived in Milan, Italy, my goal was to speak Italian well. I didn’t want to sound like a three year old just learning to speak.  I was fortunate to have good friends who would correct me in a respectful way. They would repeat what I had said incorrectly, correctly, but not in a reprimanding way but in a caring way. I wasn't every shy about asking what was the right way to say something. An American who once lived in Florence gave me a tip. “When Italians speak to you, repeat what they say and then continue the conversation.”

One of my pet peeves is, “Between you and I.”  The grammarian, Patricia T. O’Conner points out that oftentimes we want to sound gentile, in doing so we make innocent grammatical errors for a lifetime. Her book, WOE IS I, The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English, is terrific. You can even email her when in doubt.

James Baldwin said that in England when you open your mouth you tell everything about yourself - who your father was, who your mother was, etc. Speaking proper grammar shouldn’t have anything to do with class but improper grammar will tell on you. 

If you find any grammatical errors in this post, let me know.

Thursday, February 19, 2015


  •     Just the other day, on the No. 6 downtown line a banker type didn’t budge from the door.
  •     A woman had a value box of 12 packs of Doritos, she ate one bag while talking to her friend with his backpack on.
  •     Man spread seems to be spreading. 

I have a theory about the MTA etiquette campaign running  on subway cars. It’s not working. I think it’s not working because the figures in the campaign don’t look human. They look like  technicolor versions of The Blue Man Group.  I wonder if real people were used if the campaign would resonate better with real people.  The lady who was enjoying her Doritos probably thought the sign was directed at a red male stick figure. So, she just munched on.

What do you think?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Valentine's Day And The Importance Of Sweetness

Many couples will celebrate their love on February 14th sitting in restaurants festooned with hearts dangling from the ceilings and red splashed everywhere. Men will clutch bunches of flowers and women will come up with cute, romantic ideas to make the day special.

Whatever comes your way, accept it and show how gracious you can be. Temper your expectations because for some men and women when it comes to Valentine's Day, they're just not that into it.

If it's important to you and you've been dating someone for more than three months, make it known. Even if it's not important, make that known too.

Avoid gloating at every cost. There is no need to call a friend whose relationship may not be as solid as yours and tell her or him in great detail what you received on Valentine's Day. If a friend calls and wants to know, share. They asked for it. 

Yvette ranted about Valentine's Day to an ex-boyfriend and noticed he remained silent. After she finished, he quietly told her that he liked The Sweetest Day, a special day celebrated in Ohio. Instead of a celebration of love, it began as a day to do something sweet for the less fortunate. While it's evolved into a more romantic day we hope that some diehards still think of the needy especially during these trying times.

I didn't know about the Sweetest Day several years ago when I brought sheets of stickers to the kitchen where I served the homeless. I made each and every man and woman my Valentine by pressing a sticker onto their napkins. Most didn't notice but some did.
I saw the smiles and felt the love.

We like the Sweetest Day. Maybe there's an elderly neighbor who could use some heart. Maybe this year with so many people unemployed, there's a way we can make this their sweetest day until something better comes along. And we all want that to be soon.

We wish you the sweetest Valentine's Day no matter how you want to look at it.

*We ran this post before, the message still stands and it's still sweet.