kfw

Macaulay After one Year

42 posts in this topic

Mod's note: This thread was broken off the earlier thread on Macaulay's arrival at The New York Times.

--carbro

On the Mariinsky: NYCC thread Aurora writes

I wish he would just review the ballet(s). There is never much of a review--ballet history? yes. But review of dancers, not so much.

as was quoted in today's links, he said the most recent visit to the Kirov left him thinking:

"Maybe I don't like ballet after all?...Almost all of it left me cold."

His friends admitting they felt the same reassures him that he does in fact like ballet, however I've seen nothing in any of his reviews for the times to indicate that he likes very much of it, certainly anything that isn't by Balanchine.

MacCauley would vex me too if he sniffed at a performance I'd been thrilled by. And he sure gives his critics ammunition with this morning's confession -- I laughed out loud. But in that review alone he described the dancing of Vishnena, Lopatkina, Sarafanov, Tereshkina, Somova, Lobukhin, most or all of which he characterized in previous reviews this season.

Choreographers besides Balanchine he has expressed enthusiasm for in the pages of the Times include Wheeldon, Tudor, Ratmansky, Robbins, Millepied, MacMillan, Alleyne, Gaines and, of course, Petipa, and he has yet to review performances of work by Ashton, Bournonville or Joffrey.

I don't know of any critics who think we're in a great age of ballet performance, and of course given that the great choreographers are gone or still emerging, that's no surprise. In the interim, I value critics who give me close descriptions of what they like and dislike. MacCauley doesn't gripe anymore than Croce did, and who has had the more interesting moment in history?

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On the Mariinsky: NYCC thread Aurora writes

I wish he would just review the ballet(s). There is never much of a review--ballet history? yes. But review of dancers, not so much.

as was quoted in today's links, he said the most recent visit to the Kirov left him thinking:

“Maybe I don’t like ballet after all?...Almost all of it left me cold."

For me he is mostly on target. I think he is a critic of substance which is much needed. Also, my husband who is also a former dancer emailed Mr. Macauley and received a wonderful and insightful response. I only mention this to support my contention that he is not only a critic of substance, but someone who truly cares about dance.

I think we all, including myself, tend to like the critics we agree with and dislike the critics we don't agree with. At the same time I appreciate Mr. Macauley and Ms. Acocella (New Yorker) as the two remaining thoughtful dance reviewers that we have in the US. Honestly, with everyone else I skip over most content to get to the names to see if it was a thumbs up or down performance.

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Thanks, kfw and vipa, for reviving this thread. Time has passed, and it does seem time to discuss how we think Mr. Macaulay has done. In that Kirov thread, Mashinka quoted a poster who wrote:

I was very, very annoyed by Alistair MacAuley’s review. He should return to UK, I think.

Here's Mashinka's response:

Oh no, you wanted him and you're stuck with him as Alistair MacAuley is one emigrant I really don't want to see returning. I seem to remember some 15 pages eulogizing over A.M. on this forum when he first went to the New York Times with mine being just about the only dissenting voice.

so please forgive this Londoner with a very long memory for saying: I TOLD YOU SO

.

Others -- I am one -- still find his recent reviews insightful and educational, though perhaps not so effective as descriptions of the performances being reviewed as they once were. Descriptions of ballet -- the ability to convey in printed words what one is seeing on the stage how this feels -- has been in the past a strong point of Macaulay at his best.

So --after a year or so on the job at the New York Times -- what do you think?

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I have to say I am not a native English speaker. I therefore may not get his point exactly what he nuanced. However, after I read his reviews about the Kirov, he sounds he dose not enjoy classic ballet at all....or at least he does not like the kirov. An art is a subjective thing. Everybody has their own opinion. But I think that they also should respect others' . The Kirov is an epitome of classical ballet and the director,coaches, teachers and dancers all know ballet very very well of course. They choose programs and productions with their taste which was nurtured under the long tradition. In a sense they know the best. His way of criticism appears he lacks respects for this century old ballet tradition.

I have many things I want to say about his review since I really disagree with him at many points. But I'll stop it this time.

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So --after a year or so on the job at the New York Times -- what do you think?

We all have enough knowledge of ballet to support our own entrenched opinions but I very much support Macauley's judgment and I, for one, am glad to have him at the Times. I think I know where he is coming from in his recent review of the Kirov's "Raymonda/Paquita/Bayadere" program. I also felt I was at one of those 'Stars of Tomorrow' programs (I only attended once--which was more than enough!); like eating too many sweets---not enough beef? When I recall the marvelous repertoires of Ballet Theatre, Ballet Russe, and the Sadler's Wells I realize what Ballet has lost; we have been sinking back to the 19th century for too many years now. I do get a bit weary of the cult of personality.

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When I recall the marvelous repertoires of Ballet Theatre, Ballet Russe, and the Sadler's Wells I realize what Ballet has lost; we have been sinking back to the 19th century for too many years now. I do get a bit weary of the cult of personality.

I would imagine commercial considerations play a big part in repertoire choices. When Gergiev brought two imaginative programmes to London as part of the Shostakovich festival, it was made very clear that new works weren't wanted and I imagine that future programming will reflect that rejection.

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It seems to me that ballet has taken on new prominence in the arts pages of the NY Times since Macaulay became chief critic and that's certainly a good thing. I find his reviews consistently interesting and the writing is livelier than it has been since Clive Barnes moved to the Post. I sent Macaulay an email correcting an error in one of his Sunday pieces (he referred to Balanchine as NYCB's "ballet master in chief," which he never was) and he responded immediately, thanking me and making the correction. As far as I'm concerned Macaulay is doing great!

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It seems to me that ballet has taken on new prominence in the arts pages of the NY Times since Macaulay became chief critic and that's certainly a good thing.

Yes, in a mere year he's reported from London, Miami, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco and Washington, DC. I don't remember Rockwell or Kisselgoff reporting from outside NYC so frequently.

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What Farrell Fan said.

We are very lucky to have Macaulay at the Times. I think it pretty much goes without saying that he likes ballet. :wink:

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When Gergiev brought two imaginative programmes to London as part of the Shostakovich festival, it was made very clear that new works weren't wanted and I imagine that future programming will reflect that rejection.

The public has to be educated. That's what Balanchine did in New York starting in the '40's. I will never forget my initial shock of seeing 'Concerto Barocco' for the first time in Leotards. I hated it.......but not for long.

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I have many things I want to say about his review since I really disagree with him at many points. But I'll stop it this time.
Please, Panda, don't hesitate to post on this. The Kirov has many fans and advocates here. All will benefit from a variety of knowledgeable opinion on this issue.
I would imagine commercial considerations play a big part in repertoire choices.
Indeed. This raises the question of a reviewer's responsibility to consider such issues. How sensitive should a reviewer be to a company's feeling that it must dance a certain repertoire, or in a certain manner, in order to pay the bills?

The review that sparked this recent discussion was of a specific Kirov program:

During most of the third program in the Kirov Ballet’s season at City Center â€â€ a quadruple bill of excerpts from late-19th-century ballets by Marius Petipa â€â€ an alarming question kept flashing into my mind: “Maybe I don’t like ballet after all?†Here were virtuoso episodes from “Le Corsaire†and “Don Quixoteâ€; here was the “Diana and Acteon†pas de deux; here came salvo after salvo of audience applause. And almost all of it left me cold.

This kind of gala program, indeed, make one wonder just a teeny bit about just how serious an art classical ballet remains. Macaulay is not alone in responding to such programs in that way.

His complete review -- and the larger body of his critical writing -- suggest to me that he is personally committed to the idea that classicism in dance is a living force and needs to be peformed as such. This may explain his pique when he feels that classical ballet is being danced in a manner which, to him, is less than it ought to be. Here's the heart of the criticism of this program, it seems to me:

I don’t actually care if what we’re shown isn’t authentic Petipa; I just want to see dancing that feels like dancing â€â€ musical, spontaneous, connected. But the Kirov has spent decades honing these chunks into material that makes ballet feel like a graduation exercise or professional competition.

The emphasis becomes so point-scoring and prize-oriented that there’s far less difference than there should be between the first three ballerinas.

It's damning, but not, I think, because Macaulay doesn't like classical ballet.

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How sensitive should a reviewer be to a company's feeling that it must dance a certain repertoire, or in a certain manner, in order to pay the bills?

Great question. In this case, given the commercial success -- someone correct me if I'm mistaken -- that the Bolshoi had with unfamiliar work at the much larger Met in 2005, I'm not surprised MacCauley didn't feel constrained in his criticism.

atm711, thanks for sharing your memory. More blog posts, please. :wink:

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The review that sparked this recent discussion was of a specific Kirov program:
During most of the third program in the Kirov Ballet’s season at City Center â€â€ a quadruple bill of excerpts from late-19th-century ballets by Marius Petipa â€â€ an alarming question kept flashing into my mind: “Maybe I don’t like ballet after all?” Here were virtuoso episodes from “Le Corsaire” and “Don Quixote”; here was the “Diana and Acteon” pas de deux; here came salvo after salvo of audience applause. And almost all of it left me cold.

This kind of gala program of old warhorses can, indeed, make one wonder just a teeny bit about just how serious an art classical ballet remains. Another Corsaire? One more Don Quixote? Macaulay is not alone in responding to such programs in that way.

His complete review -- and the larger body of his critical writing -- suggest to me that he is personally committed to the idea that classicism in dance is a living force and needs to be peformed as such. This may explain his pique when he feels that classical ballet is being danced in a manner which, to him, is less than it ought to be. Here's the heart of the criticism of this program, it seems to me:

I don’t actually care if what we’re shown isn’t authentic Petipa; I just want to see dancing that feels like dancing â€â€ musical, spontaneous, connected. But the Kirov has spent decades honing these chunks into material that makes ballet feel like a graduation exercise or professional competition.

The emphasis becomes so point-scoring and prize-oriented that there’s far less difference than there should be between the first three ballerinas.

It's damning, but not, I think, because he doesn't like classical ballet.

Without commenting on Macaulay's merits (He is a valued colleague. End of discussion.) I will say that I think that the above can be looked at another way. In the same way that Bob Gottlieb (another valued colleague and friend) judged the POB for not being enough like NYCB when they dance, I'd argue that Macaulay is not letting the Mariinsky be the Mariinsky. He may not like that, but plenty of other people (including the Russians) do. I say this as a Balanchine man - but the evolutionary endpoint of all ballet companies is not to become New York City Ballet even at its most ideal point. Let's let the company reflect the culture that surrounds it.

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Hmm. Since I'm not able to get to or sit in a theater anymore, I haven't seen the performances Macaulay is talking about, so I'm mute about that (By the way, hasn't the Kirov returned to its original name, or did the marketing people decide that a whole different name was too confusing for the American public?) But this great discussion does raise some important points about what a good critic does.

I pretty much agree with those who feel it isn't the critic's business to affirm fan passions or support and respect major enterprises. My notion of a great critic is the person in the crowd who sometimes just has to say (or snarl) "the emperor is naked!" S/he's the sensibility that focuses without fear or favor and has no hesitation about major heresy. He's the G.B. Shaw who went way over the edge denouncing Shakespeare because he was right about the issues of theater his generation's Shakespearolotry raised. Most of us have a whole set of assumptions and preconceived notions that a good critic should challenge constantly. We need to keep re-thinking things, and freshening our eye and our responses. And frankly, most of the critics who can do this are themselves obsessed by a particular vision of the arts, usually represented by some creative figure - for Shaw it was Ibsen and Wagner. For Croce it was Balanchine. It gives them a weapon, so to speak, to deal with the mediocre and meretricious, the empty and cliche-ridden. Otherwise as audiences we get fat, lazy and self-satisfied. We can tend to wallow in unearned emotions, like soap-opera fans, which I'm guessing was part of Macaulay's dissatisfaction with the recent Kirov programs. But it seems to me Macaulay's criticism is in the right vein, and I hope he continues to roil the critical waters and keep us all exercised.

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It seems to me that ballet has taken on new prominence in the arts pages of the NY Times since Macaulay became chief critic and that's certainly a good thing.

Yes, in a mere year he's reported from London, Miami, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco and Washington, DC. I don't remember Rockwell or Kisselgoff reporting from outside NYC so frequently.

Also Boston. And didn't he review Nina's Georgian Ballet in Chicago as well?

He has been getting around which may explain a certain grumpiness I find in the Kirov reviews. He seems to be accentuating the negative, like the complaint on using the same drop for two ballets. The Kirov probably doesn't have a big selection of small drops as City Center is no doubt one of the smallest stages they dance on.

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But the Kirov has spent decades honing these chunks into material that makes ballet feel like a graduation exercise or professional competition.

The emphasis becomes so point-scoring and prize-oriented that there’s far less difference than there should be between the first three ballerinas.

It's damning, but not, I think, because Macaulay doesn't like classical ballet.

Bart--there's very little difference in what he says about the Kirov here and what you linked me to in his disparaging of POB's 'point-scoring' campaign (since I'm going to call it that, not seeing it that way myself). That, combined with his 'refreshingly unsophisticated' love of Minkus's organ-grinder claptrap makes him of no interest to me personally; if he has a fondness for this sort of trash, then talking about how a program of virtuoso pieces that brought 'salvo after salvo of audience applause' still is not very convincing in the alarm he experienced upon wondering whether he liked classical ballet or not. It is not as pretentious as Stanley Fish on art, or on the same level of screamy umbrage as Lewis Segal's talk about 'irrelevance'. It is more along the lines of Cleveland Amory's old TV Guide reviews of 'television as a vast wasteland' or people reviewing the Academy Awards ceremonies as if they should be a cohesive artistic whole in themselves. Almost all of these kinds of writings are some form of attempt to identify with something thought 'higher than' all this populism. Probably anyone else doing this job would be about the same, so he's all right with me--I don't read him except in excerpt here.

Leigh is right about letting the companies be who they are. After all, 'New York City Ballet at its most ideal point' is over and gone and can never be retrieved. It is very clear that New York City Ballet is not THE star of the ballet world at all any more, and that there are several companies that are better than its current configuration. I'd definitely go see either 'Romeo and Juliet' and 'Giselle' at ABT at this point than anything at NYCB; the ABT stars are a thousand times more exciting to me, although ABT is not one of the companies I meant as being 'greater'.

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Thank you for encouraging me to write.

I like one of Balanchine''s words,

Ballet is important and significant -yse. But first of all it is a pleasure.

I feel that Mr.Macaulay is missing "a pleasure".

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combined with [MacCauley's] 'refreshingly unsophisticated' love of Minkus's organ-grinder claptrap makes him of no interest to me personally; if he has a fondness for this sort of trash, then talking about how a program of virtuoso pieces that brought 'salvo after salvo of audience applause' still is not very convincing in the alarm he experienced upon wondering whether he liked classical ballet or not.

I don't know, I bow to your much greater musical sophistication, but isn't there a place for simple pleasures, for hot dogs as well as beef bourguignon? Sometimes I want a three course dinner, sometimes I want a dog (make mine Chicago-style, please).

Leigh is right about letting the companies be who they are. After all, 'New York City Ballet at its most ideal point' is over and gone and can never be retrieved.

NYCB is past its prime because Balanchine is gone; fans who saw the company in Balanchine's day don't fault Martins' for that, but for the fact that he hasn't adequately passed on the spirit of the ballets. Petipa has been gone much longer than Balanchine, and I guess if MacCauley is correct, complaints about the way his own company danced his ballets date back at least as far, and have an authoritative precedent as great as, Fokine. Still, at this late date it's probably futile for MacCauley to complain about corruptions in text and tone (his real concern, he says). The Kirov dances Balanchine with an accent too. It will be interesting to see if MacCauley finds fault with that.

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isn't there a place for simple pleasures, for hot dogs as well as beef bourguignon? Sometimes I want a three course dinner, sometimes I want a dog (make mine Chicago-style, please).

Absolutely there is, and I am not quite sure why I cannot stand 'Paquita' even when well-performed and do like 'Don Q' when well-performed (and thinking here of the same company)--they're both Minkus. It may have to do with what LaCotte did, although I have no way of knowing. 'Don Quixote' is boisterous and as broad as possible--but if I get to see my new Belle Aurelie Dupont, I am never complaining...But this PAQUITA!! it is one endless corps boredom after another, punctuated with brilliant male variations--so that I just don't understand how someone who can't stand the way POB 'makes a silk purse out of a sow's ear' (and despite all this unbelievable tedium, POB has the good humour to dance it like it amounted to something important), how he could then start talking about this 'irrestible music.' I mean, isn't 'Coppelia' also broad and simple? And yet I love to see it. It must be that with 'Don Quixote' the Minkus music actually is slightly brought to life it wouldn't otherwise have by an Aurelie or a Nina Ananiashvili. But what I noticed in 'Paquita' was Minkus not at least being redeemed somehow by the choreography it served. You hear Minkus naked--and it is NOT a pretty sight! The thing that I found most objectionable is his attempts to write more reflective, quiet, piano sounds--and yet they still sound deafeningly loud in some sense. Saint-Saens is a pretty good example of someone who can also write these very easily accessible and raucous things, but there is not always a loudness! :wink: I don't know how else to explain my annoyance at that score, but I never meant to imply that we needed only late Beethoven.

I LOVE good hot dogs!

It's the Kirov Balanchine I'll be seeing, so I agree it will be interesting if he doesn't like the Kirov tone on Balanchine too. But the things he's objected to in the Kirov and POB--down to using the exact same term 'point-scoring'--I already don't have sympathy with. There is much in both Kirov and POB today that is most entrancing and magnetic. I also know, both from reports here and having been to a good number of NYCB performances from 2004-Xmas, 2006, that there is much that is still good at NYCB, but I've stopped going--they are in no way magnetic to me in the way that several other companies are.

Edited to add: but part of my point that I almost forgot is that, given the joy of 'simple pleasures', why be so intolerant of an audience really getting off on an evening of showy warhorses? I could take that a lot better than the Minkus!

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I am not really confident to be able to express well enough what I think. I'll try.

When I saw the Kirov was going to perform at City Center Theater,which is very small. I did not expect they would do full length classics. They obviously chose to do excerpts and perform like a concert. How do you expect some coherence of story in this context??? If we see "Paquita, grand pas" in a program, I think many people expect to see soloist dancers to show off their dancing skills and their individuality. Yes it is very show off piece. If you see Don Q pdd in a concert we expect to see super technique and we gasp and crap hands when a dancer dose incredible foette, of course. Then Mr.Macualay criticized these pieces not artistic? They are touring with restricted budget. Why dose he complain about back drops of DonQ pdd? What dose he want to put there? Don Q scenery? They did for another purpose. Le corsaire was composed of wonderful dancing pieces together from full length le corsaire to make a fun piece for the concert. When they performed as a full length ballet, three odalisques do not dance in the scene Le Jardin. Yes it's mixture. It dose not make sense. They know that. It is a dancing piece. Why dose he complain?

If they performed at the Met, they would do full length works and of course they would emphasize more artistic points rather than technique. By seeing this season's program only and criticize they pursue circus techniques is one sided view,I think. The kirov (classical ballet itself)has many kinds of things together. I enjoy many aspects of ballet like sheer technique , musicality and drama(Giselle,for example) which depend on what they do in which occasion.

They did very simple steps graciously and musically in the beginning of the Le corsaire with bell sound, he said NO choreograph. For him the beginning of La bayader , which is very simple ,doesn't bother at all. Some balanchine works also have many simple steps and NO meaning. Why does he praise these and dislike others?

Maybe I might be wrong. But the way how he describes is like from the top? Somehow he provoked some anger to the Kirov or traditional classical ballet fans, I think. I like serenade ,theme and variation,Symphony in C etc. I really enjoy them. Even so, I treasure old classics like the swan lake very much. The kirov is the best company who can do the swan lake artistically without any doubt. I never have thought Balanchine works are on the top over these classics. They are existed in parallel. And probably many people outside of the U.S. think like me.

That he prefers Balanchine to others is no problem. But I wish him to find better way to write. Whatever he thinks, the Kirov adjusted their way of dancing for this small theater and give us very intense beautiful performances everyday. They pour 100(120?)% energy. I was moved by them. They are giving us wonderful pleasure moments.

I am not sure I could make me understood well, though. If I misundestood what Mr. Macaulay wrote, I have to apologize.

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Panda, thanks so much for telling us what you think. :) You expressed yourself very well. I don't think MacCauley undervalues Petipa. He calls "Raymonda," "La Bayadere," and the Grand Pas from "Paquita" "the core texts of ballet classicism," ballets from which "there is an infinity of detail to be learned." What he doesn't like is the way the Kirov tends to dance them, which he considers unmusical, and destructive of choreographic logic of the work. I think that's the heart of his complaint, that the dance is made to serve the dancer instead of the dancer serving the ballet. Only in that sense do I see that he prefers Balanchine: not Balanchine's ballets over Petipa's, but Balanchine's sense of how dancer, dance and music should relate over the Kirov's.

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I think the Macauley controversy stems from one basic fact: should a critic of a major newspaper such as the NYTimes have a wide variety of taste? MacCauley doesn't, and his biases are very obvious -- he loves Balanchine, most British ballet, some of the more academic classics, such as Sleeping Beauty, but has very little tolerance for anything else. He dislikes Russian ballet vehemently, and I've stopped reading his reviews of the ABT altogether. I admire his writing abilities, and his knowledge of ballet history, but very often I think he goes to performances with a closed mind.

I think MacCauley might work a lot better in a more "niche-y" environment, where he's not forced to review ballets and companies he has no interest in. To use another example entirely, I think Suzanne Farrell has done a great job coaching Balanchine repertoire in so many different companies around the world, but I'd never want to see her coach, say, Giselle. She has no interest in 19th century story ballets, and that's fine.

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I think kfw put the distinctions very clearly.

For the past 20 years in America, at least, newspaper criticism isn't really criticism. It's been a very politically-aware tightrope act, trying not to offend companies or readers. As we often see on this board, what most ballet fans read is: "He hates my favorite dancer or company! Bad bad critic." Or, "She loves my favorite dancer and choreographer. What a brilliant woman!!"

Doing what Macaulay is real criticism: an intelligent man who knows his field and has seen an enormous amount of not only dance, but other live performance (theater, opera, concert music) to have a clear, uncompromising standard against which he measures what he is seeing now. "Objectivity" in criticism doesn't mean not having biases -- everyone has biases. It means looking at something from the outside, and judging what one sees, rather than merely writing, however attractively, about what one likes. I think he is upsetting people, but he's also bringing back people who gave up reading newspaper criticism years ago when it stopped being criticism and became boosterism. There are other opinionated writers out there (most notably Robert Greskovic of the Wall Street Journal, whose reviews are now starting to appear on line!!!) and I'm very grateful to read them. Even when I disagree with them, I know it's not just "an opinion," but reasoned judgment. If it's expressed passionately, or wittily, all the better.

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I find the following to be particularly helpful in pinning down what Macaulay is after.

I think that's the heart of his complaint, that the dance is made to serve the dancer instead of the dancer serving the ballet.
This raises a complex of important issues -- relating to programming and marketing choices, aesthetic decision-making, power politics within companies, current audience preferences, etc. -- that deserves to be addressed.

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Doing what Macaulay is real criticism: an intelligent man who knows his field and has seen an enormous amount of not only dance, but other live performance (theater, opera, concert music) to have a clear, uncompromising standard against which he measures what he is seeing now.

He is all right, and seeing an enormous amount of live performance and knowing the field well in an encyclopedic sense is indeed enough for a critic, which is not especially lofty to begin with. Critics sometimes do show the desire to think of themselves as artists (John Simon was an example of a critic who thought his criticism was art even though it wasn't), since critique does not usually quite manage to reach that realm unless the person also has the aura of illumined theorist or philosopher as well--and I haven't found that the best of these usually do see themselves like that. There are a few writers whose criticism is secondary to their other writing who are artists; non-controversial examples of this are Martin Amis and even Larry McMurtry, whose book about film 'Film-Flam Man' is pervaded by how unimportant he considers it to be by comparison to 'Lonesome Dove' or any of his other real writing.

Knowing fields encyclopedically therefore is enough to be an official critic, although it never guarantees taste. I don't like Macauley's taste, but I also don't care if he has the job. It is still going to have some form of 'boosterism' in it, even if it's more refined in his case or less so in his case or some other critic's case.

The real issue seems to be the 'role of the critic', and for those involved with the daily business of ballet, it is more important than it is to others. Then, to some ballet lovers, it also appears from these comments to be very important to them. I have been sorry for some firings (Deborah Jowitt, from whom I learned a lot over the years) and glad for others (Lewis Segal). Macauley I do not really like as I did Jowitt, but since I don't personally pay attention to the dance critics much, he is at least not offensive even if I can't stand some of his taste. It's the same with most critics in all fields who are not themselves well-known as writer-artists. We're stuck with people like Ben Brantley and Stephen Holden, and if we are very involved with the art, we learn how to 'read around them'. I can see how Macauley would be a good 'read-around' critic. I find him provocative enough in an acceptable way. Great dancers probably usually don't want to be critics, although I wonder if some might be good ones. In literature, it's still the exception rather than the rule for a real writer to do the review, remembering now Joan Didion's review for NYTBook Review of Mailer's The Executioner's Song, and many things in NYReview of Books, as the famous Mary McCarthy review of 'Pale Fire.'

Anyway, if your convinced as well of the supreme importance of your own 'opinion' (however often wrong and in need of correction), the critic, a minor functionary, is not usually a major issue. After all, everybody says stupid things sometimes, and it may even be a good sign if it doesn't happen overtly too often.

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