Dale

Robert Gottlieb on New York City Ballet in the New

25 posts in this topic

I also agree with some and disagree with other comments about specific dancers (Jenifer Ringer -- BLAND????), but then, no two people will ever have the same opinions about dancers, casting, programming, etc. I certainly support Gottlieb's view on the set programs and those god-awful names.

His point, as I see it, comes down to his long-running artistic disagreement with Martins. There's a lot I dislike about Gottlieb (his smugness, his clothes) but his ardent and staunch support for Balanchine never wavers, and for that I will always respect him.

Share this post


Link to post
I don't always agree about specific dancers (different taste sometimes) but I felt as he did during Raymonda Variations. What do you think?
When I first read this post, my thought was, "Why, when Gottlieb can write something that I find maddening, do I so look forward to his criticism, when I look forward to finding links to the exasperating Lewis Segal about as much as I do when a read an article on figure skating that sounds like it was written by a Mike Lupica wannabee?"

My conclusion is that with Gottlieb, I feel like I'm deeply in the same world, looking at the same thing, even if my reaction is different, while with Segal, I wonder sometimes if I'm living on the same planet as he is. So when Gottlieb writes, "Miranda Weese, Jenifer Ringer, Yvonne Borree are all, despite their varying levels of competence, essentially bland," I find myself arguing as I continue reading, "I don't think Jenifer Ringer is bland. Not sparkly, but not bland. She's got a bloom and a perfume that's more subtle, but I don't think bland..." etc. etc.

But when I come to this part,

AND SPEAKING OF ROBBINS, THE PROGRAM devoted to him (“Jerome Robbins: An American Icon”) was badly misjudged. Robbins may be iconic, but 2 & 3 Part Inventions, A Suite of Dances, In Memory of… and I’m Old Fashioned are not.

The first is a useful if sterile exercise, made in 1995 for the School of American Ballet to show off the talent of eight of the graduating boys and girls (he used the same configuration of four boys and four girls to greater effect in Interplay, made exactly 50 years earlier); the second is a novelty solo, created for Baryshnikov; the third is a lugubrious lamentation that not even Suzanne Farrell, his original ballerina, could bring to life; the last is (bad) pastiche that, apart from its lack of original invention and unsatisfactory construction, shoots itself in the foot by dwarfing its all-too-mortal cast with huge screen images of the immortal Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth dancing overhead.

which distills so much into so few words, I wish I had written it.

Share this post


Link to post

Wicked, witty, wonderful Weese "bland"?

Gottlieb needs an eye check.

Share this post


Link to post

As usual with Gottlieb, I’m in violent agreement with about half of what he says and utterly baffled by the other half. Weese “bland” and Bar “uningratiating”? Perhaps his palate has been jaded by Sylve’s rather more gargantuan effects. (It is of course a matter of taste, but I much prefer Weese to Sylve in Tchai 2.)

One issue I have with Gottlieb’s criticism is that his assessments of dancers often read like personal attacks on their characters rather than as analyses of what their dancing is actually like in terms of technique and artistry. By the time he’s done extolling Whelan’s “modesty” it’s practically taken on the coloring of a moral failing – yet to my mind, her scrupulous modesty and honesty are among her glories and are what make her dancing in fact unconventional. Yes, casting Gold and La Cour together in Four T’s was probably ill considered, but Gottlieb’s assessment of the effect created thereby is perilously close to ridicule. He turned what might have been a valid point about NYCB's current casting conundrums into a mere cheap shot.

Share this post


Link to post

Actually, calling Ringer and Borree "bland" is less offensive than some of the things he's written about them in the past. As for the casting of Lowery in Four Temperments which Gottlieb call a very bad move, perhaps Martins was trying to incourage her dancing in a new direction? Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. What will be interesting is if he continues to miscast her in it.

Share this post


Link to post
What will be interesting is if he continues to miscast her in it.
"Interesting"?

Very diplomatic, perky. :blush: The ballets, however, deserve better.

As for the inclusion of Gold, LaCour and Reichlen in 4Ts, the height disparity between the men made it extremely uncomfortable to watch. Poor Tom Gold, reaching as high as he could, while Ask had to support his share of Reichlen's weight in midair at what looked like a particularly stressful level. She, meanwhile, was visibly working hard to keep herself level. I liked LaCour's Phlegmatic, but for him, just back from injury, it was the first (or second?) week of the season, and he was conspicuously refreshed.

The block program, at least for the first time out, did not seem to achieve one of its desired effects -- to spread the work so that everyone's performance is optimized throughout the run.

Share this post


Link to post
As for the inclusion of Gold, LaCour and Reichlen in 4Ts, the height disparity between the men made it extremely uncomfortable to watch. Poor Tom Gold, reaching as high as he could, while Ask had to support his share of Reichlen's weight in midair at what looked like a particularly stressful level. She, meanwhile, was visibly working hard to keep herself level. I liked LaCour's Phlegmatic, but for him, just back from injury, it was the first (or second?) week of the season, and he was conspicuously refreshed.

In fairness to Mr. Martins, Gold's inclusion was one of those last-hour emergencies, the dreaded "injury or illness" program insert. Of course, the casting imbalance was repeated for the rest of the run of The Four Temperaments. So it couldn't have been all that bad in the eyes of those in control. Or maybe no-one else in the company knew the part. It is, after all, a minor part in an obsolete antiquity of a ballet. :blush:

The block program, at least for the first time out, did not seem to achieve one of its desired effects -- to spread the work so that everyone's performance is optimized throughout the run.

To put it mildly! Ask Ashley Bouder. 13/14 perfs in one two-week interval, followed by 1/14 in the next two.

Share this post


Link to post
As usual with Gottlieb, I’m in violent agreement with about half of what he says and utterly baffled by the other half. Weese “bland” and Bar “uningratiating”?

...........One issue I have with Gottlieb’s criticism is that his assessments of dancers often read like personal attacks on their characters rather than as analyses of what their dancing is actually like in terms of technique and artistry. ..........Yes, casting Gold and La Cour together in Four T’s was probably ill considered, but Gottlieb’s assessment of the effect created thereby is perilously close to ridicule. He turned what might have been a valid point about NYCB's current casting conundrums into a mere cheap shot.

That's what I meant by smugness.

Share this post


Link to post

I just wanted to add that I was not at all unhappy to see Gold cast in 4Ts -- I hope my original post didn't suggest that I was. He’s a dancer I’ve watched with pleasure for many year and I was interested to see what he would do with the role. In the end, I didn’t find him wholly persuasive in it but I’m glad that I got a chance to see him give it a shot nonetheless. Yes, the height disparities were unfortunate, but the performance of 4Ts that I saw was problematic for plenty of other reasons -- putting a taller dancer in Melancholic or a shorter dancer in Phlegmatic wouldn't have salvaged it.

Share this post


Link to post

I completely agree, Kathleen.

Share this post


Link to post
The block program, at least for the first time out, did not seem to achieve one of its desired effects -- to spread the work so that everyone's performance is optimized throughout the run.
It's a difficult enough model for mid-sized companies to achieve when they only do one or two (SFB, for example) program at a time. Injuries and illness can shatter the best plans, and when there's a new work, the choreographer's initial choices may not always work out in the long run, or the piece can take on different dimensions with more demands.

To accomplish this within the demands of a large company with so many performances and program diversity required by subscribers is even more so. I don't know how long NYCB will stick with it, but I suspect there were a lot of lessons learned this season.

Share this post


Link to post

As ViolinConcerto wrote (and others have echoed): "Jenifer Ringer -- BLAND????"

Sometimes reactions to dancers are matters of opinion--but an 'opinion' may also indicate that someone has missed something that IS happening on stage or is just unresponsive to it...I do like to read Gottlieb and take him (more or less) seriously, but I really stumbled over this one...

(I picked the weekend that included performances of The Four Temperaments to come to New York for my once-a-year chance to see some ballet and I was disappointed to see such uneven performances of the ballet--which has not always faired badly during the Martins regime--and especially disconcerted by the casting of Sanguinic. So I understand Gottlieb's dismay...but for my taste, too, he was a little too snyde when alluding to the height disparity problem between Gold and LaCour...)

Share this post


Link to post

Why don't you send Gottlieb an email and ask him to further explain his opinions. His address is at the end of his review.

I think saying Bouree is bland was too polite....

I also like reading Gottlieb because of his serious and strong opinions. He clearly cares about what is happening (good and bad) at NYCB, and when a season is not at its best, he's not going to sugar coat any of it.

And for further thought, if Gold was the only option to put together with LaCour, and 4Ts was overall so poorly cast, that's a flaming-red sign that very little attention is being given to rehearsing Balanchine ballets, sufficiently. I think Gottlieb was reacting to that with first response knives rather than getting underneath the symptom.... and perhaps he cannot go underneath the symptom(s) because he is no longer an insider.... so he just reacts with fury. I can appreciate that even if I don't agree with every comment. I think Gottlieb was correct to call this past season City Ballet Blues.... with too few exceptions, it was not overall cast well or danced at its best.

It'll be interesting to read the new NYTimes dance critic soon......

Share this post


Link to post
I also agree with some and disagree with other comments about specific dancers (Jenifer Ringer -- BLAND????), but then, no two people will ever have the same opinions about dancers, casting, programming, etc. I certainly support Gottlieb's view on the set programs and those god-awful names.

His point, as I see it, comes down to his long-running artistic disagreement with Martins. There's a lot I dislike about Gottlieb (his smugness, his clothes) but his ardent and staunch support for Balanchine never wavers, and for that I will always respect him.

:devil: "his ardent and staunch support for Balanchine never wavers, and for that I will always

respect him." AMEN Martins has little interest in dancers of intelligence, only in their being thin to the point of skin a shade of blue plus a worship of him as being his self titled "chief in chief blah blah", which Balanchine would never have approved. OH, where are you, Damion??????? Do something.... We will help you.....Honestly.

Share this post


Link to post
Why don't you send Gottlieb an email and ask him to further explain his opinions. His address is at the end of his review.

sz -- I wasn't sure if your question was directed to my post or to everyone commenting on Gottlieb. So I'll reply for myself. I enjoy posting on Ballettalkand reading what others have to say--but no, I don't think, I have some deep argument with Robert Gottlieb worth his time (or mine) for a private or public debate. (I do think that some so-called differences of opinion are matters of judgment not just personal taste. In fact, that's why Gottlieb is often a critic worth discussing--because he knows something about ballet and presumably isn't just offering opinions)

Share this post


Link to post

Interesting topic to resume, Jayne. What has happened to the Diamond Project, anyway? (Not that I'm complaining about its absence.) One important thing that has happened since that article was published is that many of the principals who gave problematic performances have now retired. The current crop of principals (and new soloists!) is, overall, a very impressive group. I tend to read Gottlieb's articles on a regular basis. I think Gottlieb himself may now be less critical of the company now than he was back when that old linked article was published. Now if we could only bring Eddie Villela on board to coach now that he is back in NYc. Wishful thinking.

Share this post


Link to post

At the Paley Center last week Villella said he wants to teach - he wants to coach

and the Balanchine Trust has requests for him to do so. He recently coached

Prodigal Son for the Cincinnati Ballet and there's a nice video on their website

of Villella and Paul Boos rehearsing with the company. The performances are

this week end.

http://www.cballet.org/p213/prodigalson

Share this post


Link to post

I have not liked either DeLuz or Ulbricht in Prodigal. It's not about their technical ability- which is first rate. The problem is that neither DeLuz nor Ulbricht have mastered the dramatic nuances. I wish Damien Woetzel or Villella would coach them.

Share this post


Link to post

.... Now if we could only bring Eddie Villela on board to coach now that he is back in NYc. Wishful thinking.

Wishful thinking indeed. For this spectator, an essential difference between NYCB and MCB has been Martins's exclusion of those who can coach Balanchine's repertory to look like Balanchine himself were supervising it and Villella's inclusion of many of them - not only himself but also Allegra Kent, Violette Verdy, Jean-Piere Bonnefoux and Suzanne Farrell, to name some off the top of my head. And Roma Sosenko continues as Ballet Mistress at MCB, I believe.

... [Villella] recently coached Prodigal Son for the Cincinnati Ballet and there's a nice video on their website

of Villella and Paul Boos rehearsing with the company. The performances are this week end.

http://www.cballet.o...213/prodigalson

Some of the best news of the season for this Balanchine addict! (But the link didn't work: "The requested page could not be found.")

I have not like either DeLuz or Ulbricht in Prodigal. It's not about their technical ability- which is first rate. The problem is that neither DeLuz nor Ulbricht have mastered the dramatic nuances. I wish Damien Woetzel or Villella would coach them.

A few years ago, MCB presented Prodigal Son, and Jeremy Cox's performances there put me in mind of Villella's and Baryshnikov's - not quite the same level, but the three form a natural group in my limited experience. There were alternates to Cox, but they did not move me anything like those three. I didn't see Woetzel - watching NYCB has done nothing for me since the mid-'80s, so I rarely do - and Mischa has moved on so far he might reasonably decline to coach if asked. And Cox is still performing, somewhere, I hope, although that may not preclude coaching.

Share this post


Link to post

Go to the Home Page for Cincinnati Ballet - click on Prodigal Son for the Video.

I don't know how to post a video. Sorry.

Share this post


Link to post

abatt, unfortunately Martins is hell-bent on denying NYCB dancers the coaching which could and probably would make them great. (It is a miracle that anything like Bouder, Peck, and Reichlen emerged under his regime--every dog has his day, I suppose.) He has not only fired the best (Farrell, Verdy, Ashley--I could go on and on) from his staff, he completely refuses to have any of the ballerinas still living (or in Villella's case, danseurs) coach the roles MADE on them. MCB, PNB, SFB, and every other B in America worth its salt begs Ashley, Verdy, Farrell, McBride, Tallchief, etc. to come and coach the ballets they created; Martins is clearly bent on eradicating anything or anyone who might demonstrate the appalling truth of Gottlieb 's criticisms (for example--Arlene Croce was even more vituperative and even more absolutely right) of him. You will notice, in looking at his current masthead, that he has NO true star ballerinas from the past (Sorry, but von Aroldingen doesn't come close to that category) nor any of the strongest men (Cook, who also mysteriously disappeared from NYCB's staff, for example...); Hendl was a great dancer who never made it to principal, somewhat unfairly, and the rest were corps or titular soloists. This is no accident, nor is the fact that this masthead used to be dripping with the names of great dancers from the past who now are great coaches. Calegari, anyone? Nichols? Saland? heavens no. We wouldn't want anyone to appear more intelligent and artistic than Martins, now would we???

Share this post


Link to post

Thank you for that wonderful video, I really enjoyed it (and wish PNB would revive it soon!!!!)

Share this post


Link to post