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Curtail standing ovations

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I just recently moved back to the Salt Lake area after a 41-year absence. I was uncertain just what things Salt Lakers stand for these days.

After attending the Utah Symphony, Pioneer Theatre plays, Ballet West, school programs, et al., I find that Salt Lakers stand up (at the end of performances) for everything: symphonies, ballets, plays, school programs, etc., and clap like crazy. If an event doesn't get a standing ovation, it must have been really, really bad.

For as long as I could remember, such a gesture anywhere meant an outstanding performance had just been witnessed, which was certainly not every arts event. Now, it seems the audience figures that a visiting artist, performer or a group of actors will never return to the valley if they don't get a standing ovation. A high-quality performance gets the same acclaim as a so-so performance.

Parents at school programs seem to think their children will lose their self-esteem if you don't give them a "standing O." After all, everybody else always gets one.

Is this also a part of the dumbing down of excellence, lest no one be offended?

A. Laurence Lyon

Salt Lake City