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Macaulay After one YearHow's He Doing?


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#31 kfw

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Posted 15 April 2008 - 06:13 PM

Having just read Michael Popkin's review of the Kirov in DanceViewTimes I recommend it to any here who have been disappointed with Macaulay's unrelentingly grumpy reviews.

Thanks, zerbinetta. At the heart of Michael's thought provoking piece is this observation:

Seeing this repertory performed on one of Balanchine's stages, the interesting thing was how much the results (either intentionally or not) resembled many of that choreographer's one act ballets

He goes on to describe the "recipe" Balanchine took from Petipa for ballets such as La Source, Donizetti, Raymonda Variations, Walpurgisnacht Ballet, and Cortege Hongrois.

#32 miliosr

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Posted 03 November 2008 - 06:26 PM

I like Macaulay's writing but he drives me up and over the wall by including a reference to Balanchine in what seems like every review he writes. He did it again today in his review of ABT's all-Tudor bill. (He mentioned Balanchine's enthusiasm for Tudor's Romeo and Juliet.) I know he holds Balanchine in high regard but it's starting to become a cliche that some reference to Balanchine will occur in every review he writes.

#33 Farrell Fan

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Posted 03 November 2008 - 08:36 PM

I think we're in the golden age of dance criticism at the NY Times thanks to Alistair Macaulay. I couldn't be more pleased.

#34 leonid17

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Posted 04 November 2008 - 02:01 PM

I think we're in the golden age of dance criticism at the NY Times thanks to Alistair Macaulay. I couldn't be more pleased.


Dear Farrell Fan I concur.

I am extremely jealous that newspaper critics in New York can have so much space devoted to writing about ballet compared to their counterparts in London.
I trust Alistair Macaulay reviews because having read them regularly in London and from New York. I trust them because he has revealed his personal taste and expertise, which is what he is paid for. Over time, established critics will reveal themselves and their values and never have I hoped their prejudices.
There has always been a problem among some readers of ballet criticism. This is especially so, if they have acquired some preferential ownership of taste, in respect of particular dancers or choreographers. When this happens, the difference between a fan and an honest critic becomes apparent.
I am sorry that Mr Macaulay arrived in New York when NYCB is generally considered to be experiencing a decline, when he personally admires Balanchine so much. I am glad however that he has the ability to show enthusiasm for a choreographer when so much time at the ballet is spent in enthusing about dancers.
Ballet reviews at best and especially for works that are new or not well known, should talk about the ballet and its production because most readers will not have seen it and thus they become informed about the art and its genre.
I think it was legitimate in an article to quote Balanchine when talking about Tudor as Balanchine is entitled to be considered to have an authoritative view whether one personally agrees with it or not. I have not always concurred with Mr Macaulay’s opinions, but I sorely miss him from the London scene where I have only two or three critics, among what has become a plethora, to rely upon for some kind of intelligent and informed writing about ballet when the others appear to be only really interested in 'dance.
Writing about ballet and especially classical ballet, should be intelligible as it is discussing what is at its best, a high art, based upon the aesthetics of millennia that may entertain but it should never be produced or performed as an entertainment. In a review, a critic has a “l'œuvre à faire”. The manner in which they go about it varies. Clement Crisp rather jollily is reported to have said that, “No one should write about Swan Lake until they has seen it 500 times.” He meant I believe that they should be informed. I think Macaulay is informed.

PS

What does one call a group of ballet critics? Is it a ‘howl’ of critics, ‘a screech of critics’ or ‘disappointment’ of critics, or is it as it some time appears to be, ‘a coven’ of critics?

#35 zerbinetta

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Posted 04 November 2008 - 04:20 PM

A cacophony of critics?

#36 bart

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Posted 04 November 2008 - 05:09 PM

What does one call a group of ballet critics? Is it a ‘howl’ of critics, ‘a screech of critics’ or ‘disappointment’ of critics, or is it as it some time appears to be, ‘a coven’ of critics?

How about something related to movement: "swarm,"for instance, or "scuffle, "or "scrum" -- or, using the international language of ballet, the French word melee", with accent on the first "e"?

#37 miliosr

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Posted 04 November 2008 - 06:11 PM

Hmmm.

The only point I was making in my prior post is that Macaulay finds a way to include Balanchine's name in many of his reviews no matter how tenuous the connection to the subject at hand. I don't believe I said anything negative about the overall quality of his reviews, which are a big step up from those of John Rockwell and Anna Kisselgoff.

At the end of the day, I don't like the constant namedropping of Balanchine. Sorry -- we'll just have to agree to disagree on that score.

#38 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 04 November 2008 - 07:43 PM

At the end of the day, I don't like the constant namedropping of Balanchine. Sorry -- we'll just have to agree to disagree on that score.

...which makes two of us now. This is even more confusing-(and sometimes frustrating)- for someone who might have a little knowledge of ballet-(by having seen a considerable amount of performances in his/her lifetime)- but may be not familiar to Balanchine's works, because of several different reasons.

#39 Quiggin

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Posted 05 November 2008 - 12:01 AM

He mentioned Balanchine's enthusiasm for Tudor's Romeo and Juliet.


In this case Macaulay is sort of complimenting Tudor on being (a bit of) a choreographer's choreographer. Also Balanchine seemed to have had an especially keen eye for what was true and what was phony.

In the overall of dance criticism, look at Croce and Garis and Denby, they wrote about Balanchine most of the time. Balanchine is like Beethoven or Mahler for music critics--how can you not refer to them again and again, albeit a little obsessively so (like a first love).

A gaggle of critics?

#40 leonid17

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Posted 05 November 2008 - 04:19 AM

Hmmm.

The only point I was making in my prior post is that Macaulay finds a way to include Balanchine's name in many of his reviews no matter how tenuous the connection to the subject at hand. I don't believe I said anything negative about the overall quality of his reviews, which are a big step up from those of John Rockwell and Anna Kisselgoff.

At the end of the day, I don't like the constant namedropping of Balanchine. Sorry -- we'll just have to agree to disagree on that score.


If it annoys you it annoys you. I was only referring to one particular review where I thought it legitimate to use the B name. As there are less than a handful of choreographic exemplars available to use, it is inevitable that the repetition of Balanchine or Petipa for instance could appear very, very frequently in reviews dealing with ballet. It is an example device perhaps established upon the assumption of Balanchine’s stellar career being based for a long time in New York and is therefore a commonly known reference point. Macaulay is after all writing for the hard copy New York Times not a national paper or international paper. I know no more than you do why he used Mr. B so often and I only offer a possible explanation.

Regards

#41 bart

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Posted 05 November 2008 - 05:56 AM

I've been following Macaulay's writing since he was in Britain. Although I can't say that I've noticed any pattern of constant and/or irrelevant references to Balanchine, Macaulay IS one of those writers -- llike Croce and Denby -- whose thoughts are formed by a well thought-out personal aesthetic and, possibly, by an ideal image of what dance can or even should be. He does nto hide this. It's something that separates him from many other dance writers whose reviews sometimes seem to isolate the dance form they're writing about.

As ballet paradigms go, one could do worse than Balanchine. :thumbsup:

#42 DeborahB

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Posted 05 November 2008 - 10:26 AM

In this day of newspaper cuts/layoffs (as in the recently defunct New York Sun), we are very lucky (as Leonid mentions early in this thread) to have so much ballet coverage in NYC. As I've written before, I do know Mr. Macaulay casually (I sit behind him at the NYCB), and we have a bit of a professional connection. And yes, I am a fan even when I disagree with him (all or partly). He brings an energy and passion to his reviews that is most welcome (and he did the same with his theatre reviews for the Financial Times). I also enjoy Roslyn Sulcas's review in the NYT's, as well as Tobi Tobias's in the Village Voice (and elsewhere) and Eric Taub's (Ballet.co.uk), among others.


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