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High praise -- or is it?


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#1 Treefrog

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Posted 10 February 2004 - 08:43 PM

Given the, um, mixed reviews ABT has been getting in DC, I was tickled to find this review gracing the ad for their upcoming Chicago run:

It's rare a critic can say this -- no praise could be too high for the whole company.

--Clive Barnes, New York Post


You have to read it with just the right emphasis to see why this is so funny!

#2 carbro

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Posted 10 February 2004 - 09:37 PM

Sharp eyes, Treefrog! :cool2:

#3 Alexandra

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Posted 10 February 2004 - 10:14 PM

What are they bringing to Chicago, Treefrog? (I'll be very interested in the view from there.)

#4 Cabriole

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Posted 11 February 2004 - 04:23 AM

Alexandra, they are bringing an entire run of Swan Lake with varying casts...They are of the belief that a 'mixed bill' is a poor play in the midwest :thumbsup:

#5 Mel Johnson

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Posted 11 February 2004 - 04:30 AM

The Barnes quote is what is sometimes called a "pan rave". It can be a double-bitted axe that depends a lot on how you say it. There is also the "rave pan", which bombs the show with a phrase like, "I find it incredible that a mess like this ever got to Broadway!" The company flacks just quote "...incredible...."

#6 Alexandra

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Posted 11 February 2004 - 07:31 AM

Cabriole, if that thought spares you from the mixed bill we had here, consider yourself lucky!

#7 BW

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Posted 11 February 2004 - 08:25 AM

Thanks for the chuckles! :grinning:

#8 Watermill

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Posted 11 February 2004 - 08:44 AM

Other well worn stage door pan raves I have had to use after being dragged to some horrific amatuer theatricals:

"Well, _____, you've done it again!"

(Now don't do it again.)

"Gee, ______, "great" just wasn't the word for it!"

(But here are a few choice words that are...)

"I just can't tell you what it was like to be in the audience. I'm speechless!"

(...with remorse for the art form you just butchered.)

Etcetera...

#9 silvy

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Posted 11 February 2004 - 10:41 AM

I am sorry I dont understand- is anyone able to explain to me why the reviews have been so bad? What is exactly that is going on?

Please forgive my ignorance, but it happens that I am writing from almost the other end of the American Continent!!!!! :wacko:

Silvy

#10 samsara

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Posted 11 February 2004 - 11:21 AM

It saddens me to read so many mean-spirited comments about the ABT performances in Washington, DC. I realize that there is trouble at ABT, that they need new and better coaches, (perhaps the present ones have simply become too old and have lost the freshness in their artistic vision), that they many new corps members that have to go "on due to injuries by older, more experienced members, and many other things that I admit need to be addressed. However, I find the extremely negative comments are beneath the posters and are causing readers to turn away. If we really love the ballet and ABT, perhaps it would be more useful and effective writing to ABT's management and/or Board of Directors and expressing your feelings about the state of the company and maybe they would realize do something, rather than attack the company to turn those people who are not as sophisticated about ballet as Ballet Alert posters and still enjoy the performances. By being so negative and harsh in your remarks, you might turn people away from buying tickets and that only hurts the dancers who are mostly not at fault. By the way, did anyone attend the Saturday matinee performance?
If anyone did, you would know that Ashley Tuttle was lovely and moving and Angel Corella was extraordinary, every nuance and detail of his characterization and dancing was absolutely beautiful.

Let's help ABT with constructive criticism - please write to Management and to the Board about the problems you see but don't be so cruel to the Dancers as it is the Dancers that we hurt. Thank you.

#11 Alexandra

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Posted 11 February 2004 - 11:29 AM

I didn't find anything posted here meanspirted, samsara, and was quite pleased that people who enjoyed the performances posted as well as those who did not. They didn't seem intimidated at all, and their comments were welcome. But comments by people who were not happy with the performances are welcome too. We're not here to either "trash" a company or boost it, but to provide a place to talk about ballet.

It doesn't do a company any favors to say "Wow! It was great! The best ever!" when it's not. If someone is drawn to a performance expecting perfection and finds something ordinary, or not at all perfect, that could turn them off ballet, too.

Silvy, there are many posts on the ABT forum about the company's week there, as well as the reviews in thie Washington Post and Washington Times (posted on Links when the reviews came out), that would answer your question.

Back to the Clive Barnes quote that began this topic, I think Mr Barnes has penned many similar, very useful, lines!

Watermill, an older critic told me, when I first started, the line that he used when he bumped into the Mother of the Choreographer (whose work he did not like) or dancer, or whoever: "You must be very proud!"

#12 dirac

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Posted 11 February 2004 - 01:47 PM

I'd add to Mel's gloss on the "pan rave" that many critics, I regret to say, deliberately put in such adjectives so that they can be extracted from an otherwise indifferent review.

There is such a thing as constructive negative criticism. Also, remember that performers are voluntarily going out there to receive our praise (and our hard-earned dough) for their efforts, in additional to any larger artistic goals. This gives us certain rights, such as to withhold said praise and explain why.

#13 Alexandra

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Posted 11 February 2004 - 02:19 PM

One learns early in one's writing life NOT to write something like: "The National Ballet of Wal-Mart has managed to totally destroy 'Sleeping Beauty,' one of the most exquisite, sublime ballets ever created in human history" the first time one sees a poster that says:

Opening tonight! The National Ballet of Wal-Mart in Sleeping Beauty:

"The most exquisite, sublime ballet in human history!" [Critic Dumbo, The Daily Whatsit]


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