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Greskovic on Pied Piper


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#1 Alexandra

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Posted 12 June 2001 - 11:41 AM

Unfortunately, you can only get the Wall Street Journal online if you subscribe, but Robert Greskovic reviewed ABT's "The Pied Piper" (among other things).

Here's the first paragraph, from their extract:

PITY THE POOR, innocent child walking out of American Ballet Theatre's new production called "The Pied Piper." Besides being left
wondering what "pied" really means, given the barely pied quality of Ann Hould-Ward's bizarre and faded-looking costume for the central figure, the youngster might also ache to understand what on earth went on during the 55-minute display of confused and confusing activity, which I hesitate to call dancing.

Ostensibly put together for audiences of all ages, but with a special focus on boys and girls perhaps new to the experience of ballet theater, the one-act work, which had its premiere during the first half of ABT's annual spring season at the Metropolitan Opera House, turned out to be a total turkey. As a theatrical production it wastes the dancer talent entangled in its stage business and proves yet again that David Parsons, the former modern-dancer-turned-choreographer chosen for the supposedly forward-looking project, is one of the most overrated and least adept dancemakers around today.

--------------------------

So, did you like it, Robert????

#2 justafan

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Posted 12 June 2001 - 09:46 PM

I had to chuckle when I read your comment, Alexandra. I saw this review yesterday and it sort of took my breath away with its absolutism.

For some time I've read Greskovic's reviews of NYCB and Martins and have been simply amazed at his nastiness. I've chalked it up to just one more critic with an ax to grind against Martins. Now I see him in a new light -- obviously his venom is not limited to NYCB. Why do some critics believe that that they have to go over the top to make their point? For me, it always has the opposite effect. It discredits their point of view.

#3 BalletNut

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Posted 12 June 2001 - 10:02 PM

While I don't doubt that Greskovic has a personal vendetta against Peter Martins, and makes no bones about it, it seems he is equally over-the-top in his unwavering adoration of Kyra Nichols. Even in his panning of Martins' full-length Swan Lake--which I agreed with, by the way--he didn't hesitate to wax poetic on the beauty of his favorite ballerina, while slamming the performances of every other, including Kistler, Weese, and Whelan. Every review of his that mentions her--at least every review I've read-- is filled with pronouncements of joy at the artistry of La Nichols. I actually happen to like her, from what little I've seen, but Greskovic's bias in her favor is quite obvious and gets a bit tiresome.

I know it's off-topic, but I was reminded by this article of how biased so many of his writings are. And, for the record, I don't think bias is bad, but there's a difference between saying you don't like something and using actual put-downs to get the point across.

#4 Dale

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Posted 13 June 2001 - 06:45 AM

I guess I missed the bias. I thought RG made his points clearly and backed them up with examples. Whether I agree with a critic or not, that is one of the main things I want to get from them.

He also addressed the claims of the company that the production would have cutting-edge stage craft, was good entertainment for children, dramatic choreography etc... And although he was critical of the production, he did not trash the dancers.

Later in the article, I think he also wrote fairly about ABT's modern program, giving positive notices to the Tharp and Taylor.

Although I don't think it is wrong for a critic to be the lone voice in a sea of differing views, Greskovic didn't say anything more harshly or biased than New York Magazine's Tobi Tobias or Clive Barnes of the NY Post in regards to ABT's Pied Piper (to name two critics). And Barnes is usually very generous with his praise.

[ 06-13-2001: Message edited by: Dale ]

#5 Alexandra

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Posted 13 June 2001 - 07:01 AM

I think there's a fine line between "bias" and "strong aesthetic stance." I'd credit RG with the latter (disclaimer: we've been friends for years. I write this not to defend, because he doesn't need defending, nor to discourage negative comments).

I don't know how a writer can get this across, and maybe it's not possible. I think there's a difference between having a personal vendetta against someone (choreographer, artistic director, dancer) and having a strong view -- a way of seeing and thinking about an art form that's as integral to one's being as religious beliefs (for, to many of us, this is our religion).

I think the full review, as Dale said, is quite clear WHAT Greskovic doesn't like about the production and WHY.

For what it's worth, I've never noticed a particular stress on Kyra Nichols in his writing, certainly not at the expense of other dancers. But, like watching performances, reading is in the eyes of the beholder :)

#6 Michael

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Posted 13 June 2001 - 08:25 AM

"Pied Piper" certainly is an inviting, almost an irresistible target.

The claimed "great new innovations in stagecraft" proved to be computer screen savers, graphics from super nintendo, and cliches from 70's rock light shows. I wondered whether these people really thought they'd just discovered all this?

When the claims made on behalf of a work are so extreme, they invite debunking to the same extent. Nothing invites satire like pretence -- indeed, it's the very subject matter of satire.

#7 Dale

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Posted 13 June 2001 - 08:45 AM

As I wrote to someone recently, I could have managed the same stage effects with a slide projector, some felt and several chop sticks. I won't even get into the "choreography." I'll reserve that for another space. In addition to the hype the company put out, I think many critics felt that the money could have been used elsewhere, especially when ABT was forced to cancel their new production of Sleeping Beauty because of a lack of funds.

[ 06-13-2001: Message edited by: Dale ]


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