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grace

Macauley on MacMillan

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the RAD gazette has an article about macmillan online at

http://www.rad.org.uk/dance_gazette/feature9.htm

At sixtytwo, he died much younger than those four – all of whom had influenced him – and at a time when he, for decades the Angry Young man of British ballet, had recently outgrown his own anger.   .................  in The Prince of the Pagodas (1989), this Angry Young Man served notice that he was now an Old Master. Alas, Pagodas was no masterpiece – as always when MacMillan tried his hand at classicism, both his inspiration and his craftsmanship were fitful ..........   MacMillan’s muse was more unpredictable than most: in Pagodas, she seemed to nod off for half an hour at a time and then suddenly take brilliant flight in the middle of a none too relevant divertissement.
i noticed this article linked to, at ballet.co & thought some of you might like to read it - if you haven't already.

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Thanks too. It's an interesting article, and I wondered if anyone had any comments on Macauley's assessment of MacMillan, or the article generally?

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Well, I do (have a comment or two), but I should say right up front that I am an unabashed and whole hearted admirer of Macauley, and no fan of Macmillan, whom I feel he treats with admirable even-handness and even-mindedness and a fine discrimination I could not myself muster. I particularly admire two aspects of this article: the movement at the end towards a broader criticisim of the Royal Ballet rep and some comments about the future there, which is a fine move from the particular to the general; and the long view throughout. We also hear, in his own words, from Frederick Ashton, courtesy of material from one of Macauley's own interviews with Sir Fred. Imagine! Ashton on MacMillan. Who knew? It's a rare treat to read that, no? As for Macauley's opening question--who's your favorite choreographer? Mine is Merce Cunningham, who is blessedly still alive and working, but it is an interesting side note that right around the time of MacMillan's death in 1992, his musical director the modernist guru John Cage died. This simple coincidence made me consider MacMillan as I never had--as a modernist, or really, not. He certainly resisted modernity as I think of it. Because Macaulay set an historical context, he gave me a framework to think of Macmillan in large terms. Finally, I am a big fan of the remark "So what?" In the context of a large, great, artist--I admit I am not thinking of MacMillan here--we get the occasional clunker work. But so what? Let's think largely, and with fine discrimination, just as Macauley writes.

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I also enjoy reading Macaulay – it was great seeing his byline in The New Yorker once upon a time, however briefly – and this is a very good piece for the reasons mentioned. He's honest, but fair.

It's interesting that as an "Angry Young Man" MacMillan worked with another such, the playwright John Osborne on the latter's famous, or I should say notorious – flop musical, "The World of Paul Slickey." (Gielgud could be seen in the gallery, booing heartily; the author made his escape from resentful patrons down an alley. Several of Osborne's early plays received controversial receptions similar to those described by Macaulay here, so I imagine there was an affinity! Osborne later expressed considerable regard for MacMillan's talent, calling him a genius, not a word he threw around casually.

Macaulay's assessment of the influence of Lady MacMillan is equally balanced. I wonder, though, if the dissolution of Royal Ballet style can be attributed not only to the current grab-bag approach to repertory, but in the deep stylistic divide between Ashton and MacMillan that became apparent decades ago; could any company in such conflict not experience a major crisis in style?

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I wonder, though, if the dissolution of Royal Ballet style can be attributed not only to the current grab-bag approach to repertory, but in the deep stylistic divide between Ashton and MacMillan that became apparent decades ago; could any company in such conflict not experience a major crisis in style?
interesting observation, dirac...they DO represent extremes, IMO, within ballet. or at least they DID, until mark morris, twyla tharp and billy forsythe came along.

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