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.
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?