dirac

Alastair Macaulay @ NY Times

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I'm really excited about this appointment, having enjoyed his writing at the New Yorker and other places. It will be good to have a cheif critic at the New York Times who has a strong base in dance.

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One quote from the piece:

That Macaulay hails from London is another slap in the face. The Times couldn't come up with one worthy critic from its home town? Because it is low on funds, dance is largely a local matter. All sorts of dance species have evolved here, never to be seen elsewhere. A Londoner wouldn't know about them. Of course, Macaulay will have "the girls" to cover for him until he's up to speed.

Thanks for that link, Dale. I'm not sure this appointment makes Macaulay a rooster among hens or that being from the UK is necessarily a disadvantage. It’s not as if the Times has never had a woman in the top slot.

Thoughts?

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Ms. Scherr is distressed that a man was chosen over women, implying that Dunning and the stringers were ignored. But from the Dance Insider interview, I infer that Dunning was a hidden hand in Macauley's appointment:

PBI: As far as you know, will Jennifer Dunning, as well as current freelancers Gia Kourlas and Roslyn Sulcas, still be reviewing for the Times?

AM: As far as I know, not only will they, but so will Claudia La Rocco. I have been in regular contact with Jennifer Dunning (whom I first met in 1980) since November about the possibility of working together at the "Times."

The offer only materialized at the end of last week (February 8-9), I only spoke to the FT and considered their counter-offer on Monday (February 12), and only on the afternoon of Tuesday 13 (British time) did I advise both newspapers that I would be accepting the Times offer.

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I think it's wonderful news. I expected the "why bring in a furriner" objections, and I expect more. I don't think they chose him because he's a man, but because he's good. Some of them are, you know :) I am very glad to have someone who takes dance seriously and who has as wide a viewing range -- both in taste and in time. I look forward to reading him.

Or, to put it another way:

:huepfen024:

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I expected the "why bring in a furriner" objections, and I expect more. I don't think they chose him because he's a man, but because he's good. Some of them are, you know :) I am very glad to have someone who takes dance seriously and who has as wide a viewing range -- both in taste and in time. I look forward to reading him.

Me too! Remembering some of his New Yorker reviews and reading about all the effort he's made to see dance for so many years, I'm thrilled. Besides which a furriner should have a fresh perspective on NYC's downtown dance scene.

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Excellent news. Mr. Macauley should bring eome necessary coherence to Times dance reviews.

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Excellent news. Mr. Macauley should bring eome necessary coherence to Times dance reviews.

Can you imagine, a critic who can teach us what we'd like to know:

Writing on the Fred Step

...the enchainment is as follows—pose en arabesque (i.e. a step onto pointe, or onto the ball of the foot, with the other leg stretched straight behind), coupe dessous (i.e. a small step back, transferring the weight onto the other foot, while picking up the first foot), small developpé a là seconde (in which the raised foot is brought into the ankle of the supporting leg, is drawn up a little, and is then extended out to the side), pas de bourrée dessous (a series of four small steps, transferring the weight sideways in the direction of the developpé), pas de chat (a sideways jump in which the knees are bent and which begins and ends with the feet closed together in fifth position).

and then list in detail all the places it occurs in Ashton's works! From

http://www.ashtonarchive.com/fredstep.htm

Who can place a new Mark Morris work in context:

Reviewing last month's world premiere of Mark Morris’s Italian Concerto:

... only Morris could have conceived so powerfully original a response. Choreographers since George Balanchine have all tended to set a concerto’s slow movement as some poetic male-female drama for the leading dancers also featured in the fast outer movements. But Morris – who gives the first movement to one male-female couple, and starts the third with a second male-female couple – makes the slow movement a solo for himself, now 50 years old. Just to watch his weirdly heavy, semi-galumphing walk, making us hear anew the music’s tread, is to feel the spell that is unique to him. Unforgettable is the way he mimes a single, fast, beat of the heart, or the way he stretches a slow, elongated lunging gesture.

From

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2d8634d4-aaf7-11db...00779e2340.html

And review Mr. Wheeldon too:

With each ballet, Wheeldon leaves two separate impressions. The mind that constructs them seems often clinical, analytical; the human impulse that carries his dancers along seems lyrical, mysterious, coherent.... In "Continuum" (2002), choreographed to Ligeti piano etudes, Wheeldon shows himself a complete master of his medium from the opening dance on. The last of its several duets, danced by Muriel Maffre and Benjamin Pierce, is the strongest spellbinder of the whole evening. Yet what a strange spell it is: again, the choreographic brain that constructs it is clear, while the heart that beats within stays opaque.

From

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?...30/DD303175.DTL

Now let us hope that the NYT gives him enough space!

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Women don't do so well in a journalistic culture. We are likely to be late starters: by journalistic standards, behind before we've even begun. Pauline Kael didn't start writing for pay until her 40s; the unusual part is that she succeeded anyway. In journalism you have to be willing to improvise--to say what you think with hardly any time to think it. Women are more inclined to want to be sure of themselves before they make their thoughts public. Or they are until their mid-30s, when they realize that their conscientiousness is getting them nowhere. That's how it was for me and many of my friends, anyway.

Heavens -- someone get the smelling salts and help the delicate Ms. Scherr to the fainting couch! :speechless-smiley-003: I've been in journalism for almost 30 years -- and female my whole life :wink: -- and have never seen such a ridiculous description of the business. I can't count the number of tough, smart women I've known over the years who are doing just fine in this allegedly hostile "journalistic culture" and have risen to the absolute heights of the editing and writing and, yes, critical, ranks of their newspapers. If this critic didn't find her voice until her mid-30s, maybe she needs to look inward rather outward. I doubt it's because she's a "girl." :blush:

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Perhaps Ms. Scherr could establish the Molly Ivins Memorial Scholarship to be awarded annually to a young female writer in need of assertiveness training.

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I've admired, and benefited from, his work for a long time. Good luck to him in this new setting.

Dirac quoted the following from the Scher piece:

That Macaulay hails from London is another slap in the face. The Times couldn't come up with one worthy critic from its home town? Because it is low on funds, dance is largely a local matter. All sorts of dance species have evolved here, never to be seen elsewhere. A Londoner wouldn't know about them. Of course, Macaulay will have "the girls" to cover for him until he's up to speed.
There's an astonishing insult in this: the idea that, if he doesn't know something, he will be unable or unwilling to learn about it on his own.

It can be dangerous to romanticize "local" quality of any artistic subculture: even a rich subculture like the dance scene in New York City. A really big danger is that those who inhabit the scene exclusively (and relate primarily and sometimes incestuously to other people who inhabit it) may start to lose their objectivity, and care nothing about the new insights that an outsider can bring.

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Ms Scherr's article is very very odd.

I consider myself a feminist and agree that it's inappropriate for John Rockwell to refer to the women working there as "the girls."

But that has nothing to do with Alastair Macaulay's appointment. He hasn't adopted that policy so far as we know. She seems to tar them with the same brush just because they are both men. Which is, quite frankly, just as sexist as she states the Times' behaviour is.

Quite frankly I don't think any of the reviews in the times are very good.

She admits herself that none of the women merit promotion to the top spot, but then suggests having dual chiefs, with one being a woman, even if she has fewer credentials. Why? Clearly women have as many opportunities within the field as men do now, as a run down of the dance critics at the times shows. If none of the women currently working in the field (in NY, another of her requirements) merit promotion to the top spot, you don't promote them. I don't think you do the cause of women's rights any favors by promoting a clearly underqualified and unprepared person to the top spot and then watching them get roasted on the fire.

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Could it possibly be that Ms. Scherr is envious?

That question will be asked of any writer who questions the appointment, I think, but if this was in her blog, she may just as well be writing to be proocative -- asking a question to encourage discussion.

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S]he may just as well be writing to be proocative -- asking a question to encourage discussion.
That was certainly true of Socrates. But Scher's tone and word-choice suggest something else is going on. More was revealed than probbly was intended. :speechless-smiley-003:

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Scherr's blog now includes some responses, the most substantial from Paul Parish on Macaulay's qualifications as a Londoner for the post in New York:

"Alastair's lack of a passionate interest in the New York art scene, the kind that means you have to GO SEE STUFF and develop your taste in the only way you can, which is in direct contact with the strict taste-making organ of the artists, which must be experienced over time for you to have a real feel for how that organ operates, when it constricts and when it dilates..... If you don't know that, you don't really know the first thing.

And that's what Alastair as a Londoner ain't got" (Foot in Mouth 2/17/07)

Scherr's comments aside, this is the first negative thing I've heard about him--what do others think of Parish's criticism?

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Scherr's blog now includes some responses, the most substantial from Paul Parish on Macaulay's qualifications as a Londoner for the post in New York:

"...If you don't know that, you don't really know the first thing.

And that's what Alastair as a Londoner ain't got" (Foot in Mouth 2/17/07

Has Macauley ever been based in New York? It would seem from the interview that his NY trips have been either on assignment for his papers or lecture and research oriented. I don't see how we can predict whether or not he may develop wider interests once he arrives. Perhaps Mr. Parish might have said 'ain't got .. '"yet"'. There seems little point in blaming someone for not possessing virtues if he has not yet had the opportunity to do so.

There is a rather snarky tone in Scherr's responses to those who disagree with her which does little to strengthen her argument.

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I just don't get this objection. Macauley was The New Yorker's dance writer for several years after Arlene Croce.

[EDITED to correct myself. I'm wrong. He did write for the New Yorker for a significantly shorter period.]

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I think the interview with Macaulay indicates lots of passion, lots of interest and lots of hard work, much of it voluntary -- all about dance.

Perhaps, like the so-called "stiff upper lip," his British style of writing translates as "disinterested" to Americans. I know that British humor has often required translation.

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Perhaps, like the so-called "stiff upper lip," his British style of writing translates as "disinterested" to Americans.

Excuse the grammatical quibble, but a critic should always be disinterested (impartial). However, he should never be uninterested (indifferent). :wallbash:

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Perhaps, like the so-called "stiff upper lip," his British style of writing translates as "disinterested" to Americans.

Excuse the grammatical quibble, but a critic should always be disinterested (impartial). However, he should never be uninterested (indifferent). :wallbash:

Thanks for quibbling! But see the beginning of Michael Skapinker's "Why I will continue to split hairs over split infinitives," an article in the 10 Feb. Financial Times that addresses this issue in a very interested fashion:

A few weeks ago, I implored my colleagues to maintain the distinction between "uninterested" and "disinterested" after a couple of instances of us mixing them up. You know the difference. "Uninterested" means not interested. "Disinterested" means impartial.

People say "I am completely disinterested in
Celebrity Big Brother
" when they mean they are uninterested. Disinterested would mean they held no shares in the production company.

Or so I thought until I read Steven Pinker's magnificent book
The Language Instinct
. Pinker, a Harvard psychology professor, also loathes people getting the words confused. "Since we already have the word uninterested, there can be no reason to rob discerning language-lovers of disinterestedby merging their meanings, except as a tacky attempt to sound more high-falutin'," he writes.

But having got that off his chest, Pinker tells himself: "Chill out, Professor. The original 18th-century meaning of disinterested turns out to be - yes, 'uninterested'." Oh.

You can keep reading the article at: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/5a7eb714-b8ac-11db...00779e2340.html

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Thanks for the link, Ray. That's an amusing article and it's instructive to note that these usage disinctions are often only temporary.

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Thanks from me, too, Ray, though my own rigid snobbery about split infinitives gets a (no doubt) healthy dose of correction:

eginning a sentence with "because" is not ungrammatical. Neither are split infinitives. (The rule that says they cannot be split is another holdover from Latin, whose infinitives cannot be split because they are one word.) Grammatical speech is the way people speak.

Imagine, says Pinker, watching a wildlife documentary. The narrator does not like what he sees. "Dolphins do not execute their swimming strokes properly. White-crowned sparrows carelessly debase their calls . . . the song of the humpback whale contains several well-known errors and monkeys' cries have been in a state of chaos and degeneration for hundreds of years."

To get back to the topic, I doubt that Macaulay EVER splits infinitives (in print, anyway).

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Nobody doubts that Alastair Macaulay will be a better head critic than either of his predecessors at the Times. I supported Apollinaire because she was bringing an idealist's perspective to the question. It's clear that she knows that Alastair will be a big improvement over his predecessors, and that nevertheless there STILL ARE THINGS about the appointment that are less than ideal.

He is a dancer, demonstrates in the lobby with panache, can lose himself in hte movement with the best of them. What a relief! He won't be rehashing the secondary sources, which was all Rockwell could do.

But if he knows who, say, Ellen Cornfield is, I'd be very surprised. I suspect it would only be as a great jumper in the Cunningham company of old, not as the very fine, almost unregarded choreographer she is. And that's the old guard. He can come to know the scene, eventually, but it won't be easy arriving with lots of fanfare and a high profile to put in hte time sitting on hte floor trying to figure out what the artists are including and what they're in all their fastidiousness excluding from their work, and why, and whether he really cares.

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