Haglund's

Wolcott Meets Macaulay

17 posts in this topic

In his October 4 blog Wolcott relives his meeting with Macauley at a Nureyev biography book party:

Although sometimes my stoic mask fits so snug that I retreat into the castle of myself, as I did last night, only to emerge from a cloud of ill-timed introspection to find myself shaking hands with Alastair Macaulay, the chief dance critic of The New York Times! Yes, the same Alastair Macaulay with whom I've been tempestuously embroiled in a one-sided feud that has caused a massive rift in the dance community the size of a paper cut! And yet here we were, shaking hands and saying hello like civilized people and defying all those naysayers who doubted a peace accord was possible in this crazy, mixed-up world of strife. If the members of Ballet Talk had witnessed this historic Camp David moment they would have fainted into their Cup-a-Soups.

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It's a good thing there was someone around to keep me from drowning.

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One of the remarkable things about blogs is the way that you often end up learning about the blogger's root canals and such. You disbelieve? Scroll down to the end of the third paragraph.

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I had to get what was my first and I hope last crown recently, but my dentist offers DVDs instead of television. His DVD playlist tends toward things like The Lion King and Stepmom, but luckily he also offered Godfathers I & II, so I was able to watch Luca Brasi and Sonny Corleone get theirs to the sound of the drill and that thing that vacuums up your blood and drool. This helped, because it allowed me to reflect on how much worse it could be; instead of being garroted while my hand was pinned to a bar by a knife, or plugged full of holes at a toll booth, I was merely sitting in a dentist’s chair benumbed to the ears while various implements were plunged into my gums.

I’m sorry, bart, what were you saying..............?

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I thought everyone on here ate smoked salmon on blinis.

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The latest from Wolcott:

For those familiar with the NY dance scene, there are lotsa laffs in the Heel's brief sketches of the reviewers involved in running over innocent bystanders with the Welcome Wagon and the composition of the BalletTalk chatboard--"a NYCB-centric forum that celebrates all things Balanchine and counts no fewer than 1,000 experts on Balanchine’s every choreographic intent during his life and from his grave." How twue, how twue. Though there are a constellation of Veronika Part fans there, so much can be forgiven.

Ahem.

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It's like that old saying, we like a critic when he agrees with us. Wolcott has linked to Ballet Talk before, with no hesitation. The original barb came from a BT member who has chosen to post their own blog. I say to both: Best wishes and see you at the ballet.

Editing to add: I do defend this board's attitude to smaller companies. Most people agree with the view that MCB is dancing Balanchine with excellent results, just read the board's reviews when the company visited NYCB. Same as SFB, PNB, PA Ballet etc... susanger reported enthusiastically after attending Tulsa Ballet earlier this week.

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The latest from Wolcott:
For those familiar with the NY dance scene, there are lotsa laffs in the Heel's brief sketches of the reviewers involved in running over innocent bystanders with the Welcome Wagon and the composition of the BalletTalk chatboard--"a NYCB-centric forum that celebrates all things Balanchine and counts no fewer than 1,000 experts on Balanchine’s every choreographic intent during his life and from his grave." How twue, how twue. Though there are a constellation of Veronika Part fans there, so much can be forgiven.

Ahem.

Skipping to a particularly mean-spirited passage from the blog Haglund's Heel that Wolcott refers to, I fail to see the critical analysis practiced by Kourlas and Witchel in their respective publications as equivalent to "a lack of hospitality displayed when visitors from Less-than-liberal-land come to our city to present the art form that we love." The passages Haglund quotes are not at all vituperous! It's criticism, and a lot of it was actually very positive. As Haglund himself goes on to say (attacking Witchel's interrogating of some very questionable-sounding stereotypes)--virtually contradicting the tone of anti-elitism that that blog post strove to establish, btw--"Get over it. This is New York."

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It's like that old saying, we like a critic when he agrees with us. Wolcott has linked to Ballet Talk before, with no hesitation. The original barb came from a BT member who has chosen to post their own blog. I say to both: Best wishes and see you at the ballet.

Wolcott linked to the original 'barb' with an enthusiastic endorsement and elected to use that quote, however. It is worth asking if the occasional link makes up for the occasional sneer, but I suppose it is best to return good for evil.

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As an interested but-oh-so-faraway bystander to the "NY dance scene", I doubt that Wolcott or Haglund have taken the time to really read BT for a while. BT is far from NYCB-centric.

I know that blogs are like baby dragons that demand to be fed ever more frequently, but isn't it parochial and kind of provincial to imply that there's anything wrong with a US based ballet board that "celebrates all things Balanchine".

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The latest fusillade from Wolcott.

And then there are those willing to accept stories, if they approve of the lessons being told, such as critic Apollinaire Scherr, who writes, "If only Wheeldon had carried his metrosexual plot to its logical conclusion and had the butch woman fall for the urbane man's effete ways, while he loved her for galloping free." Oh yeah, like that would have worked, as if "butch" and Tiler Peck could ever coexist in the same sentence, and metrosexuality was really what was in Wheeldon's imagination when he made this. Hey, Apolllaire, there's a reason you're sitting in the audience taking notes and not choreographing ballet scenarios for a living. Nobody needs you sticking notes in the Suggestion Box.

Watch out, dance board commenters, Wolcott's got his eye on you:

I've seen commenters on dance blogs express their preference for unadulterated Balanchine classics as if story ballets are intrinsically coarser than plotless dances and lack the universality of abstract ballet.

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dirac, thanks for bringing us more from the World According to Wolcott. He wrote last year that Ballet Talk is a place which "celebrates all things Balanchine ... [with] no fewer than 1,000 experts on Balanchine’s every choreographic intent during his life and from his grave." So the following -- which I found in your Links thread for today -- should certainly be of interest to all of us.

The Balanchine purists have become a pox on ballet, a reactionary drag that betrays Balanchine's forward spirit. Choreographer after choreographer gets scolded and rapped with the nun's ruler over not being Balanchine enough or being too Balanchine derivative, and it's a bore.

Is Wolcott channeling Sarah Kaufman nowadays?

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What a pill he is. What he says directed to another reviewer -- "you're sitting in the audience taking notes and not choreographing ballet scenarios for a living" --

could be directed back to him and his short career as a novelist. So such is life, what does it matter. His long standing obsession with Details magazine as a measure of not quite male-enoughness probably figures in this too. What does he care so much about any of this, Balanchine not being Jane Austen, the big white room of modernism, what is he protecting us all from?

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dirac, thanks for bringing us more from the World According to Wolcott. He wrote last year that Ballet Talk is a place which "celebrates all things Balanchine ... [with] no fewer than 1,000 experts on Balanchine’s every choreographic intent during his life and from his grave."

He was quoting another blogger, bart, and it's not at all clear from the context that it was intended as a compliment by either party, although of course one tries to think good thoughts. Going by what Wolcott wrote this time around, Kaufman might be one of those wielding the nun's ruler at choreographers who are too derivative, but then again he might enlist her in his crusade. I agree with Quiggin about his, uh, tone.

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I agree with Quiggin about his, uh, tone.
Add me to the list of those who agree with you. :sweatingbullets:

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Is Wolcott channeling Sarah Kaufman nowadays?

Your question made me laugh out loud. But not nearly so loud as when I read a whole lot of comments about him on youtube.

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