Robert Gottlieb, Reading Dancean anthology of dance writing
Posted 07 December 2008 - 10:21 AM
Posted 08 December 2008 - 04:21 PM
Posted 08 December 2008 - 04:41 PM
I think this is appropriate for this thread since it concerns what's in the book. I agree, 'Mozartiana' is anything but a minor ballet. It's tall even, one might say.
Posted 12 December 2008 - 02:50 PM
Posted 25 December 2008 - 12:37 PM
I'm keeping it on my coffee table to show off a bit for some guests that are coming. Is that wrong?
Posted 25 December 2008 - 12:55 PM
Hope you enjoy the book, Perky. I've been dipping into it for a month or so and find the selection of pieces to be remarkably varied and fascinating. But it will -- and should, I think -- take a long time to finish.
My most recent dip: Llincoln Kirstein on Nijinsky. Here Kirstein confronts the issue of individual and majority taste:
Posted 31 December 2008 - 09:03 AM
Posted 12 January 2009 - 05:34 PM
The Farrell section is choice. I especially appreciated the Ballet Review interviews conducted by David Daniel with SF and Diana Adams (although the latter may have had a hard time getting a word in edgewise - reminded me of those fake interviews Nabokov used to concoct).
Posted 04 November 2009 - 04:34 PM
Questions of commerce aside, this like a terrific book, something one can open almost anywhere and get lost for an hour or an afternoon. Gottlieb rounded up most of the usual suspects and it is nice to see, in addition to Leigh, that Nancy Dalva's work was included.
I happened to open it to a very brief notice by Denby for the New York Herald Tribune in 1944 entitled "The Rockettes and Rhythm" which is a compact and illuminating discussion of the different uses of rhythm in ballet and tap. It also contains the following: "The Music Hall has a charming chorus of classical-ballet girls too..." which made me smile.
I love books like this--perfect for wintertime, staying inside during a blizzard and wallowing in its 1300 pages.
Posted 05 November 2009 - 08:46 AM
I read Nancy Goldner's piece on The Bolshoi from The Nation (1975) the other night and laughed out loud at her description of Grigorovich's pas de deux in Ivan The Terrible;
"Then, for the grand finale, he boosts her straight up into the air, as if she were the prize trophy of a turkey shoot."
I just love visually descriptive criticism like that!
Posted 05 November 2009 - 10:16 AM
Perky, you got me to turn to Goldner's piece on the Bolshoi. Like all first-rate critics, she has the skill of making you SEE what she is describing. This is especially when she is sharpening and wielding a knife. For example:
As soon as the Khachaturian score for Spartacus or the Prokofiev conglomerate for Ivan the Terrible hits adagio, one knows that the man is going to lift the lady across his shoulder blades, slide her down the side of his leg, and then flip her head first over one shoulder so as to block her face and chest from view. (How telling that we rarely see the woman full-face and upside up at those very moments supposedly most expressive of the characters' feelings.) Then, for the grand finale, he boosts her straight up into the air, as if she were the prize trophy of a turkey shoot.
The woman, besides needing an infant's cast-iron stomach to weather her upside-down state of being, must play dead so that we may admire the man's strength in maneuvering her body so easily around his own; in the last duet of Ivan the Terrible, Anastasia actually is dead.
Necrophiliac duets hae long been tempting to the many choreographers who have done Romeo and Juliet, but Grigorovich does not need the excuse of plot to indulge his fancy. Necrophilia is the subject of all his duets, and the only confusion in the metaphor is that what looks corpse-like to me stands for passion in Grigorovich's eyes. (*)
I'll never look at Spartacus again without thinking of that.
My most recent foray into Gottlieb: Alastair Macaulay, "Sex, Violence and Kenneth MacMillan" (Times Literary Supplement, 2003). Macaulay gives us company history, performance reports, and artistic evaluation, including glimpses into the dark side of MacMillan's vision. A very useful and fascinating piece.
(*) Note: I broke up the Goldner selection into shorter paragraphs for easier on-line reading.
Posted 05 November 2009 - 12:57 PM
Posted 20 April 2010 - 03:34 PM
Rose: "What's the Shakespeare in Balanchine?"
Gottlieb: "It's the vast variety of understanding. He could do everything. You feel that Shakespeare, if he hadn't written King Lear, Twelfth Night and 20 other great masterpieces, he would have written 20 other great masterpieces. [. . .] There was nothing that he [Balanchine like Shakespeare] couldn't turn to and make the best of."
Posted 20 April 2010 - 04:48 PM
-- He says that there are people (including his friend Antonia Fraser) who are "dance deaf," though they may love something like opera. And there are others (including himself) who knew the first time they attended a dance performance that it spoke to them directly and in an important way. All of us who follow Ballet Talk are in that second group. We need a catchy label for ourselves. What's the opposite of "dance deaf"?
-- He recognizes that his own love of dance was partly a "function of history" -- the fortuitous experience of growing up in New York City at a time when it just about to become the most creative place for dance and dancers. For Gottlieb this was 1948, when he was 17, the year Balanchine and Kirstein formed NY City Ballet. Gottlieb attended the first City Center seasons. I first started going to City Center a decade later. All of us who were in that place at that time were fortunate indeed.
I also like his emphasis on good writing, which was his first criterion. Thinking about it, this is the special qualitiyof this anthology as compared to many. It does not try to cover everything. Covering a lot of ground may be one of the goals, but only if the writing is good. Gottlieb mentions only two "good" dancer-writers: Allegra Kent ("you can tell after reading the first three sentences") and Serge Lifar (someone he otherwise does not like). I've read Kent's book, but now I'm curious about investigating the two selections from Lifar's memoirs: one about Diaghilev and the other about Goebbels.
Posted 20 April 2010 - 05:02 PM
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