Seeking Fall for Dance Tix? Good Luck

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At about 11:05 this lazy Sunday morning, I had a sudden, seizing revelation: Fall for Dance tickets had gone on sale, just 5 minutes earlier. I tossed my almond croissant down on the table and ran to my computer. A few seconds later, I was on New York City Center's Web site, only to discover that I was Number 2,578 on the waiting list.

Is all lost? Have I lost my chance to see Merce Cunningham's Xover, Paul Taylor's Company B, or Keigwin + Company's Megalopolis, featuring music by Steve Reich and MIA? All at the unbeatable price of ten dollars?

Hard to say. Fifty minutes later, I am Number 616; my wife is somewhere in the 800s and a friend of ours, with whom we're coordinating, is just a few slots behind me. According to the Web site, I could've gotten onto the waiting list at 10 am. This is the first year the Fall for Dance crew has created a virtual waiting room. The organizers have clearly realized what a huge institution the dance series has become -- but that's what $10 tickets and a certain populist bent will do to the masses. Dance has become enormously popular in this country -- consider the clout of TV shows So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing With the Stars -- but for most of us, accessing the physical world of dance seems a daunting process. And expensive. In addition to grappling with ticket prices that are often well above what it costs to say, watch a movie, one has to contend with dance reviews that can seem impenetrable and academic to outsiders.

Which is why Fall for Dance works. I've attended for the last three or four years and although there are invariably some drowsy classical routines, or coldly abstract contemporary ones, I generally have faith in the curation.

Okay, it's been over an hour and I'm still only Number 417 -- despite the Web site promising a max wait time of one hour. Everything seems to have stalled. My friend just called and said he'd suddenly been pushed back, from Number 500 to Number 1,200. Fall for Dance, what's happening here??

Ahh, Fall for Dance Helpdesk staff is apparently on the job. "Temporary slow down," the Web site just announced. "Things should be improving now!"

Where was I?

Worst case, you go for a show (this season, shows run from Sept. 28 through Oct. 9), it disappoints, and you're out ten bucks. But for those of us who lack the mental stamina to sit through a single, exhausting performance, FFD makes sense, as it offers a mezze: a platter of dance selections, culled from major and not-so-major performances. And the energy in the crowd is palpable: thousands of audience members, many of them as excited, and inarticulate, about dance as you are.

Uh-oh. "There was a temporary issue with the credit card server (for about 5 minutes) but now we're back!"

Number 59... Number 4... alright, I'm finally in, a mere 100 minutes after logging in.

Lots of tickets were already sold out, but I was able to get blocks of 5 seats for three shows:

   1. Merce Cunningham/Gallim Dance/Madhavi Mudgal/Miami City Ballet
   2. Shu-Yi/San Francisco Ballet/Emanuel Gat Dance/Paul Taylor
   3. Keigwin+Company/Corella Ballet Castilla Y Leon/Russell Maliphant Company/Jason Samuels Smith & Friends

Total cost for 16 tickets (I got 6 tickets for one of those shows): $272

Those confounded "facility fees" bump up the per-ticket price to $17. Annoying, but still, not too bad. And for some reason I'm feeling a sense of accomplishment. And expectation. For those of you got through in time: See you at City Center.