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Alastair Macaulay @ NY Times


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#91 Amour

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Posted 25 June 2007 - 03:52 PM

I have to say I was dismayed that Kyra Nichols' farewell was prominently featured on the first page of the NYTimes Arts page while Ferri's was buried on page 5. Certainly Gia Kourlous wrote a lovely piece on Ferri and R&J, (a much nicer tribute than I suspect MacAuley would have) but the discrepancy in length and placement was unfair. His statement that Nichols is the greatest ballerina in the last 20 years is a comment that many could take issue with, considering the large number of equally great ballerinas it ignores (from Nina Anaiashvilli to Altynai Asylmuratova to Ferri). It was also a rude and disrepectful jab at Ferri (an equally great ballerina who achieved the kind of international superstar dance status Nichols did not) who retired the next day after a long and wonderful career.

While MacAuley paid tribute to Nichols, he didn't miss the opportunity to take a jab at the current state of City Ballet (by saying how the 80's generation of Calegari, Ashley, etc. were the greatest). For someone so new to the current NY dance scene, MacAuley's opinions on dancers has hardened awfully fast (the whole Martins family along with Veronika Part are on his hit list). To say I'm deeply disappointed in how this critic is turning out is an understatement.

#92 Figurante

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Posted 25 June 2007 - 05:15 PM

I could not be happier about this new appointment! Finally a critic who will tell it like it is! No more feeble brown nosers for City Ballet.. cheers!

#93 Juliet

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Posted 25 June 2007 - 05:28 PM

Mr. Macaulay is not new to the current NY dance scene. His appointment as Times critic is relatively recent, but he is a seasoned and astute observer.

I may be in error, but I believe that editors are responsible for article placement, not the writer.

#94 SanderO

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Posted 25 June 2007 - 05:37 PM

NYTimes messed up. Both dancers deserved their due, but the placement of the articles and even the fact that they appeared on the same day was a bone headed decision by the Times. Each article should have been first page of the Arts section on separate days. I wonder who was responsible for that???

#95 aurora

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Posted 25 June 2007 - 05:37 PM

I may be in error, but I believe that editors are responsible for article placement, not the writer.


Perhaps, but the fact that Macaulay, the chief critic, reviewed Nichols' farewell, while another critic (NOT the chief critic) reviewed Alessandra Ferri is not in dispute, and might have influenced the decision of said editors (who are not dance critics and would thus rank the two farewells accordingly).

#96 aurora

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Posted 25 June 2007 - 06:14 PM

NYTimes messed up. Both dancers deserved their due, but the placement of the articles and even the fact that they appeared on the same day was a bone headed decision by the Times. Each article should have been first page of the Arts section on separate days. I wonder who was responsible for that???


I can't imagine it was the editors. That is content. Wouldn't it be the purview of the chief critic?

NB--I'm asking here, not insinuating anything If someone(?) one of the professional critics on the board perhaps?, has any insight, I'd appreciate it!

It could just be that it is typical that fri and sat performances receive their reviews on Monday and no one thought to make any changes even with the unusual circumstances.

#97 ViolinConcerto

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Posted 25 June 2007 - 06:15 PM

Mr. Macauley is not new to the current NY dance scene. His appointment as Times critic is relatively recent, but he
is a seasoned and astute observer.

Yes, I agree. From reading his work, I find that he is very, very familiar with the dancers and companies here. He has mentioned memories of specific performers and performances as far back as in the 80's, which impresses me a great deal! I also find his writing very intelligent and well constructed.

#98 vipa

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Posted 25 June 2007 - 06:35 PM

NYTimes messed up. Both dancers deserved their due, but the placement of the articles and even the fact that they appeared on the same day was a bone headed decision by the Times. Each article should have been first page of the Arts section on separate days. I wonder who was responsible for that???


I can't imagine it was the editors. That is content. Wouldn't it be the purview of the chief critic?

NB--I'm asking here, not insinuating anything If someone(?) one of the professional critics on the board perhaps?, has any insight, I'd appreciate it!

It could just be that it is typical that fri and sat performances receive their reviews on Monday and no one thought to make any changes even with the unusual circumstances.


It could be simply that Nichols has been a constant in the NY dance scene for 33 years and one of the last of Balanchine's chosen. Ferri has not been as permanent a fixture and of late has been a guest artist (althought a great one) at ABT with a somewhat limited rep.

#99 Amour

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Posted 25 June 2007 - 06:45 PM

Mr. Macauley is not new to the current NY dance scene. His appointment as Times critic is relatively recent, but he
is a seasoned and astute observer.


In one of his earliest reviews MacAuley (when he was lamenting the current state of NYCB) talked about when he first saw NYCB in the late 70's/early 80's (and how great they were then) and mentioned that he hadn't seen NYCB more than a few times since the 80's. The reason he so often mentions NYCB/ABT dancers from the 80's is that he saw those dancers but hasn't seen much in NY since then. He wrote about Merce Cunningham as though he were in current forefront of NY modern dance (I love Merce but he has been a mainstay of modern dance since the 50's and is hardly an example of what is new). To get familiar with the NY scene he should be regularly going to the Joyce, to DTW and the Kitchen to see what is really current and avant garde. The fact that he so often compares specific performances to those of Royal Ballet dancers (despite the fact the his NYTimes audience would likely not have seen these dancers) consistently shows he is much more comfortable and familiar with the British dance scene than NY one.

#100 Amour

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Posted 25 June 2007 - 07:26 PM

Even today in the Nichols' tribute, MacAuley's passing reference to Richard Buckle (a British dance historian/biographer) and Margot Fonteyn, as opposed to someone like Bernard Taper (Balanchine's biographer) shows his bias/comfort level with British vs. American dance.

#101 Amy Reusch

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Posted 25 June 2007 - 07:45 PM

Does it perhaps have something to do with Nichols being older and retiring from a longer career while Ferri is only retiring from ABT and hasn't ruled out dancing for other companies? Does it have something to do with Nichols having been chosen by Balanchine himself? It's funny, but before the Farewell reviews, it almost seemed that Nichols was the one getting less attention... perhaps it was to even things out?

#102 carbro

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Posted 25 June 2007 - 07:59 PM

The fact that he so often compares specific performances to those of Royal Ballet dancers (despite the fact the his NYTimes audience would likely not have seen these dancers) consistently shows he is much more comfortable and familiar with the British dance scene than NY one.

This would have been truer in the primitive days before the internet. Interested people from all over the globe (and some wi-fi zones beyond, perhaps?) can go to NYTimes.com for all sorts of things. And balletos in the know simply come to our Links forum.

To get familiar with the NY scene he should be regularly going to the Joyce, to DTW and the Kitchen to see what is really current and avant garde.

This takes time. He was not at ABT for Ferri's farewell because he was at the Baryshnikov Arts Center, familiarizing himself with the current scene. :)

#103 aurora

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Posted 25 June 2007 - 08:13 PM

To get familiar with the NY scene he should be regularly going to the Joyce, to DTW and the Kitchen to see what is really current and avant garde.

This takes time. He was not at ABT for Ferri's farewell because he was at the Baryshnikov Arts Center, familiarizing himself with the current scene. :)


Well of course, but he could have done that friday night during Nichols' farewell or sunday matinee, no? ;)
(I'm not saying he SHOULD have, merely, that he made a choice)

#104 Amour

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Posted 25 June 2007 - 08:29 PM

He was not at ABT for Ferri's farewell because he was at the Baryshnikov Arts Center, familiarizing himself with the current scene. :)

Let's hope he keeps going to the Center even when Baryshnikov, himself, isn't the one performing.

#105 ViolinConcerto

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Posted 25 June 2007 - 08:44 PM

Even today in the Nichols' tribute, MacAuley's passing reference to Richard Buckle (a British dance historian/biographer) and Margot Fonteyn, as opposed to someone like Bernard Taper (Balanchine's biographer) shows his bias/comfort level with British vs. American dance.


Well, duh, he's from England, and has only been here a few months (and really, Buckle is a very important historian/biographer and Fonteyn is Fonteyn!).

Would you rather have Rockwell back? A man with experience as a rock critic, whose ONLY exposure to dance (well, maybe nearly ONLY) was a brief, long-ago stint with Ana Halperin in SF -- a very fine woman to be sure, but one whose influence on dance was very brief and very narrow.

I'm really pleased to have someone with the breadth of experience and knowledge that MacCauley brings to the job. I'm sure there will be things he writes that I will disagree with, but he is serious about his work and thusfar I respect him.

I think we're being too quick with our judgements -- give him a chance.


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