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Macaulay on Genius: Shakespeare, Mozart, Balanchine

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Okay, it was suggested that I start another thread on this aspect of the article by Macauley on Balanchine and NYCB. I've said my piece, but if anyone else has any ideas, put them here instead of bart's thread which is to focus on NYCB's performance of Balanchine as seen by Macaulay now.

I'll just reprint my whole post from over there, and there I'll delete the part that is focussed on here. Has to do with the question of proclaiming Top Geniuses. I'm sure plenty of people have strong ideas on this, so say something if you do--this has come up before and some people seem to think genius can only be one. I disagree totally. Anyway, as before:

He's good when talking about the specifics of NYCB, and esp. things like the descriptions of Von Aroldingen and Whelan in 'Union Jack'. Others will have been to NYCB more over the years, but I've been enough to see that he's characterized the evolution pretty well; it's Martins's company and it looks like it, tamer and tighter and paler. I liked the subtlety of the '4 years following Balanchine's death' as well, because I think of those years as having been especially inspired as well and went pretty frequently--in fact, the best performances (except one or two in the 70s as with Melissa in 'Swan Lake') I saw were in 1985, 1986, and 1987.

But, since you've linked to the whole article, I have to protest this kind of sophomoric thing:

"How long does it take a genius to dominate his art? While Shakespeare was alive and for some decades after, he was simply one of several excellent Elizabethan playwrights. Only gradually did he became accepted as England’s best, and it took more than 200 years for him to become the world’s. Mozart was established in most musicians’ minds as the supreme composer within 10 years of his death, yet even “Don Giovanni,” his most immediately successful opera in international terms, took 48 years before it reached Europe’s most prestigious theater, the Paris Opera"

Why anyone other than an undergraduate would write something that is reducible to 'My Favorite Geniuses Are, (By the Way) Also the Uber-Geniuses' is obvious, but not nearly everybody pays attention to this coarse kind of assessment. Shakespeare could perhaps be said to have become 'England's best playwright', but he can by no means be said to have managed 'in 200 years to become the world's greatest playwright.' This means that by becoming the best-known, be became somehow greater than Euripides, Sophocles and Racine, who are the ones to whom he deserves comparison (at very least these.) The Mozart pulp is even more absurd. The 'supreme composer'? Even within the time frame Macaulay gives, he has to be compared, and in all musical forms, to Bach, Haydn, Beethoven. After that, he would need to be compared to Wagner, Schumann, Berlioz, Debussy, Stravinsky, which he is tacitly if he's still being referred to in this lone lofty sphere by someone in the 21st century. But even if not, it's incredible that someone would try to say that there was any composer greater than Bach.

By the time he gets to Balanchine, it's almost like advertising and publicity. That Balanchine would be a 'growth industry' is testament to his greatness, but not to his 'greater than everybody else-ness'. There are many people who love Balanchine who do not think he was greater than Petipa or Graham. There is something about the way Macaulay writes it that makes it, as with Mozart and Shakespeare, a kind of hero worship that has a 'hyper' quality to it, and that people who are primarily interested in just great works of art (by whomever) are not taken in by.

Then there's this, which even with the 'disclaimer' (at least there's that), still comes across as a consolation prize:

"The posthumous pre-eminence he has now achieved has its negative aspects. There are a few features of Balanchine’s style and several parts of his surviving repertory that I don’t love. During his lifetime it was standard to talk of him as one of several of the great choreographers of the day. Now his contemporaries Frederick Ashton, Martha Graham and Antony Tudor are in danger of becoming the dance equivalents of Ben Jonson, Christopher Marlowe and Philip Massinger, whom Shakespeare eclipsed long after they had all died. Several of Balanchine’s slightest creations have been preserved, while some of the best works by Ashton, Graham and Tudor have become endangered species or extinct."

This is just silly and could probably be described as solipsistic, as opposed to all the passages in which he talks about specific ballets and dancers. So, in order to 'feel good', do we also need to proclaim a 'greatest ballerina' (not just 'favourite', but rather 'absolute, undisputed greatest'), and will that definitely be Ms. Farrell, or will there be people who think Ms. Fonteyn, or Ms. Sizova, or Ms. Makarova, or Ms. Ulanova, or Ms. Plisetskaya, or Ms. Alonso, etc...And we certainly need to fasten on Joyce as 'supreme 20th century writer', because Proust, Faulkner, Beckett and the others were just not in the same league. Not that I don't think this need to anoint 'supreme beings' is not representative of a parallel with the 'top 1%' that is what distinguishes culture in some ways in the 80s, 90s and 00s. Along the lines of People Magazine's 'Sexiest Man Alive', etc.--'high-tabloid style', you might call it.

Macaulay therefore defines Shakespeare, Mozart, and Balanchine as Cults, and no mistake about it. I don't think any of the three would take this as a compliment.

Has Picasso surpassed Rembrandt and Michelangelo and Leonardo and Cezanne and Raphael? Enquiring minds want to know.

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I hear what you are saying Patrick, but I don't take it as seriously as you do.

I sort of liked Macaulay's comparisons of Balanchine to other "greats" such as Mozart -- and particuarly how the preception of greatness evolves over time. OTOH, if I thought that Macaulay was really proclaiming who the "greatest of the greats" are in the arts, I too would have a problem with his statements. However, I don't read him that way. I see his comments as interesting examples of possible ways of looking at historical figures in order to put flesh on his overall points. I see nothing wrong with such specualtion, and I have a very hard time believing that Macaulay himself actually thinks that somehow he is picking the absolute #1 great of all the greats in any given field. He's giving us analogy that's all......and like most analogy you can't take it to extremes.

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I admit that when I first read the article I loved thinking of Balanchine as part of a Holy Trinity, largely because I value his work just as highly as Shakepeare's and Mozart's. However, as you say, the idea that a single creator can "dominate his art" is simply incorrect. I wonder, though, how literally Macaulay makes us to take this.

Your post made me think of those public buildings raised by worthy institutions in the 19th century, each with its list of Great Men (rarely women, unless its a nursing school) engraved along the entablature. The names are often accompanied bas reliefs or busts). Which names go on the wall, and which do not, is culturally determined and will vary from place to place, time to time. It also depends on the prejudices of the people paying for the building.

I imagine that Macaulay's pieces are strictly limited as to word count. So reducing the names to three has the virtue of making the copy fit its allotted space, if nothing else. :)

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Sandy--he may not think it, but he does write it, at least in the case of Shakespeare--because it is not something established that Shakespeare became the world's greatest playwright. I think he frankly does it a bit more with Shakespeare and Mozart than even with Balanchine. While I think it is appropriate to see Balanchine as equal to Shakespeare and Mozart, it would be interesting to know what someone thinks in terms of how one genius is like another, which is where you would find the 'Trinities' that bart refers to. But there would be other 'trinities' for other geniuses, I think. Thanks for the remarks.

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Sandy--he may not think it, but he does write it, at least in the case of Shakespeare--because it is not something established that Shakespeare became the world's greatest playwright.

I don't know of any other playwright who has been translated into as many languages and is part of standard curriculum, advanced scholarship, and performance as Shakespeare, nor has been adopted informally as a national playwright by other countries, such as Russia and Germany. If not the world's greatest playwright, Shakespeare has proven to be the most important playwright of the last half millenium by those standards.

Love of Shakespeare is not universal. Once of my favorite fictional responses was by Gunilla Dahl-Soot in Robertson Davies' "The Lyre of Orpheus", who called him a "grocer".

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Sandy--he may not think it, but he does write it, at least in the case of Shakespeare--because it is not something established that Shakespeare became the world's greatest playwright.

I don't know of any other playwright who has been translated into as many languages and is part of standard curriculum, advanced scholarship, and performance as Shakespeare, nor has been adopted informally as a national playwright by other countries, such as Russia and Germany. If not the world's greatest playwright, Shakespeare has proven to be the most important playwright of the last half millenium.

He's the Nutcracker of English studies!

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Sandy--he may not think it, but he does write it, at least in the case of Shakespeare--because it is not something established that Shakespeare became the world's greatest playwright.

I don't know of any other playwright who has been translated into as many languages and is part of standard curriculum, advanced scholarship, and performance as Shakespeare, nor has been adopted informally as a national playwright by other countries, such as Russia and Germany. If not the world's greatest playwright, Shakespeare has proven to be the most important playwright of the last half millenium.

He's the Nutcracker of English studies!

Oh, I adore Shakespeare and don't think of any playwright as greater. My emphasis on this as that certain forms of expression are from other periods and ways of experiencing and thinking, so it's never accessible to one 'greatest' person. Sophocles couldn't write 'a Midsummer Night's Dream' and Shakespeare could not write 'Antigone'. For another example, many French think Racine is greater than Shakespeare, and I've found him quite as impressive, even though the output is far smaller. I imagine I'm sometimes taken off-guard when Macaulay tries to do these big sweeping things, because they never seem to be nearly as convincing as when he talks about the individual works (incidentally, a Macaulay review of Martha Graham Dance Company in NYC in 2007 is also very interesting, because he is actually talking about 'Night Journey' in specific ways, just as he talks about 'Union Jack' in this one (the description of Von Aroldingen was worth the whole review), not making hierarchies based on putting Ashton, Graham, and Tudor into little categories as Jonson, Marlowe, etc., These I find tiresome mainly because they are never accurate and illuminating the way his insights into actual pieces, recent performances, and dancers are. I think I'm always a bit allergic to anything that has too much suggestion of Cult, though, and that Mozart- and Wagner-lovers can be especially extreme here--and these are two of my favourite composer, by the way.

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I hear what you are saying Patrick, but I don't take it as seriously as you do.

I sort of liked Macaulay's comparisons of Balanchine to other "greats" such as Mozart -- and particuarly how the preception of greatness evolves over time. OTOH, if I thought that Macaulay was really proclaiming who the "greatest of the greats" are in the arts, I too would have a problem with his statements. However, I don't read him that way. I see his comments as interesting examples of possible ways of looking at historical figures in order to put flesh on his overall points. I see nothing wrong with such specualtion, and I have a very hard time believing that Macaulay himself actually thinks that somehow he is picking the absolute #1 great of all the greats in any given field. He's giving us analogy that's all......and like most analogy you can't take it to extremes.

I would add that Macaulay was probably using popular 'genius' figures that would be recognized immediately by general interest readers, as a sort of shorthand to indicate the kind of company in which Balanchine belongs and, as Sandy says, to flesh out his points.

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Sandy--he may not think it, but he does write it, at least in the case of Shakespeare--because it is not something established that Shakespeare became the world's greatest playwright.

I don't know of any other playwright who has been translated into as many languages and is part of standard curriculum, advanced scholarship, and performance as Shakespeare, nor has been adopted informally as a national playwright by other countries, such as Russia and Germany. If not the world's greatest playwright, Shakespeare has proven to be the most important playwright of the last half millenium by those standards..

That's the sense I get from it, that he's not ranking Shakespeare, Mozart and Balanchine but referring to how they're ranked by the general populace. He at first only writes of Shakespeare's being "accepted" as England's best playwright, and of Mozart likewise being accorded supremacy soon after his death (which was considerably before the time of most of composers who'd be mentioned in the same breath). He goes on from that first comparison to call Balanchine "a growth industry," not the greatest choreographer of all time.

Of course he does later write of "Balanchine’s supremacy" and that of Shakespeare and Mozart, but then a short while later he laments that Balanchine's contemporaries are being eclipsed in the same way Jonson, Marlowe and Masinger were. All in all, he could have been clearer.

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Maybe this needs to be a third thread discussing Macaulay's article from Sunday but I thought the paragraph in which he compares Ashton, Graham and Tudor to Jonson, Marlowe and Massinger (second to last in the article) should have been the lead paragraph.

I can only speak for myself but I would rather have read Macaulay's thoughts on how to preserve Ashton, Graham and Tudor (and others) in the face of the global Balanchine onslaught than read yet another article about the extent to which performances of the Balanchine repertory have/have not declined under Peter Martins' leadership. (And, for the record, a more apt comparison would have been between Ashton, Graham and Tudor on the one hand and Baal, Isis and Odin on the other. After all, we still have the texts of Shakespeare's contemporaries. But dances are perishable goods. Once lost, they're as impossible to revive as the cult of Isis.) :)

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:) miliosr, you made me laugh. The cult of Baal may be lost for ever, but I'm pretty sure the Ancient Egyptians left enough written material to be able to revive the cult of Isis (and thanks to the Rosetta Stone, we can even read it).

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He's the Nutcracker of English studies!

You know, it's not nice to make me laugh like that, and splutter all over the monitor!

I thought that Macaulay made some very important points in this essay, particularly about the changes that occur over time, after an artist has stopped producing new work. Bach's importance as a composer waned and then waxed after his death, as far as the general musical population is concerned -- I don't know that time is always the most accurate editor of history, but it's certainly the most inexorable one.

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That's the sense I get from it, that he's not ranking Shakespeare, Mozart and Balanchine but referring to how they're ranked by the general populace.
Thse posts have sparked a lot of interesting thoughts. I think, on the whole, that kfw's makes the most sense as to Macaulay's use of these three exemplars.

What's important to me is to see Balanchine -- someone not hugely understood outside ballet circles -- placed on a pinnacle along with much more generally familiar Great Names. I thank Macaulay for that -- and for explaining rather persuasively why Balanchine should be in such select company.

I also hope that more thoughtful and intelligent writers will start to think in terms like these. It's about time that "ballet" rejoined the company of the higher arts, where it was -- briefly and perhaps only locally -- when Balanchine was creating in New York City in the 40s-70s.

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GWTW -- Reviving the Cult of Isis is analogous to reviving Antony Tudor's Romeo & Juliet, isn't it? We can figure out (with some certitude) what the principals (Isis/Osiris, Romeo/Juliet) should be doing but what about all those pesky corp members/other Egyptian dieties?? And, the cost of recreating all those ancient Egyptian temples/head pieces would appear to be as beyond us as recreating those marvelous sets/costumes from Romeo & Juliet!

Alas, I'm beginning to feel a bit like Julian the Apostate. Except where his dying saying was "Vicisti, Galilaee," mine will be "Vicisti, Balanchinean"!!! :wink:

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That's the sense I get from it, that he's not ranking Shakespeare, Mozart and Balanchine but referring to how they're ranked by the general populace.
Thse posts have sparked a lot of interesting thoughts. I think, on the whole, that kfw's makes the most sense as to Macaulay's use of these three exemplars.

What's important to me is to see Balanchine -- someone not hugely understood outside ballet circles -- placed on a pinnacle along with much more generally familiar Great Names. I thank Macaulay for that -- and for explaining rather persuasively why Balanchine should be in such select company.

I also hope that more thoughtful and intelligent writers will start to think in terms like these. It's about time that "ballet" rejoined the company of the higher arts, where it was -- briefly and perhaps only locally -- when Balanchine was creating in New York City in the 40s-70s.

Well, it has sparked some interesting thoughts, but I still disagree with much of it. The only rationale is that it is only a newspaper article, half-polished, not an essay of the sort a real writer would publish (as opposed to someone who writes excellent dance criticism, which he does), because even though I think kfw and dirac are probably right to some degree (but not nearly all) that Macaulay is referring to rankings by the general populace, that is not a subtext one should be expected to realize. You should not have to read beyond a literal statement of what Macaulay proclaims Shakespeare to be, unless you have the right to disagree with it (and he is neither clear about this, nor is he correct, for the reasons I've given.) It should be clear on its surface, otherwise it is really not written for 'general interest readers', but rather for those intellectual and probing enough to be looking for subtexts in newspaper articles (which is not where they should be; journalism is not literature.) Macaulay does not need to convince me that Balanchine should be in such select company, as I already see him there--and 'Mozart' is only the buzzword of the 'general populace' because of the boon created by the movie 'Amadeus', notable for having nothing to do with Mozart and/or Salieri, cf., Peter Gay's Mozart bio. It would only be interesting to me if he explained why he chose those particular Titans with whom to 'place Balanchine'--what the kinship is (in any case, he, like all of us here, makes only a ripple by making such judgments, there's then the March of Time). The 'other trinities' I was talking about could be as when people make a trinity of greatest 20th century artistic revolutionaries--although I'm not going to be limiited to trinities, if there are 4, I think we can accommodate it: Here we often hear Picasso, Graham, Stravinsky and Joyce as having come up with the most original new languages and artistic expressions. There is not one of these great artists and many others who does not have a cult, and cults are irrational, you do not argue with them. And those who make a point of claiming not to be cults nearly always are the most exclusive and elite cults. This is just a fact of life, like religions you don't share.

As for ballet 'rejoining the company of the higher arts', I am surprised to hear you say that, as it has never left them. Balanchine's work did not 'briefly and locally' place it back 'up there.' His work is important and it is among the greatest of all artistic work, but the Kirov and POB were operating well before 'Balanchine in New York' as 'high art' (as was Balanchine himself before New York, by the way. There was also major work at ABT). Dance at its greatest is obviously one of the High Arts, and has been for the entire 20th century, not to mention the 19th, where we get the Petipa. There's been a dance department at Juilliard longer than there has a drama dept. You wouldn't have had Stravinsky writing for Balanchine and Barber, Menotti, Schuman and Copland writing for Graham. Even great performances of the Romantic Petipa repertory are 'high art'. What I would say about the periods in which Balanchine was most prolific and profound is that that is the only period in which Balanchine himself will ever be quite that profound, whether or not the 'growth industry'. In the 'global Balanchine onslaught', in miliosr's term (I don't sympathize with that either, but I do see it as a reaction to a concept of cult), there is a popularization of his work that is exactly like the gradual popularization of Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake, but that will never be comparable to the exciting period of creative fruition when he was still alive and coming up with new works. Martha Graham Dance Company is somewhat different, in that the directors are not trying to do a new company for Ms. Mycene and Ms. Dakin, but to hold the works of Graham sacred as Suzanne Farrell does Balanchine's; Martins is doing this combination of Martins and Martinized Balanchine, maybe. Even so, live performances of Graham are not quite what you see on film with Martha herself, Bertram Ross, Matt Turney, et alia. In short, this is a dispersion and popularization which is just fine with me, but it has to do with different kinds of sensibilities than that of the cutting edge, which all things lose. So we do need 'growth industries' of great artists like Balanchine, but not nearly so much as we need much more cutting edge. I think there will be new cultural changes due to unmentionable events which may allow the cutting edge to get sharp and ruthless again, instead of having to work in hiding.

Other examples are of the romantic concert pianist, whose pinnacle was surely Franz Liszt in that he was treated and adored like a rock star. In the 20th century, Horowitz may have come closest, but he was anything but glamorous, so it took on another dimension with his magnificent playing. Maria Callas excited opera lovers more than anyone else does now. There are all sorts of examples, but while all these geniuses 'live on' to some degree, they do not make up for the need for new art of an equivalent genius, and thus are all to some degree museum pieces. This is incomplete, and I don't have time to polish it either, but it's too long anyway and just a forum comment post :wink:

Oh, and as regards Ba'al, I still worship him and many other pagan gods. I agree with Isaac Asimov that Jezebel got a bad rap, and had a lot of things going for her. Polytheism in general has a lot going for it, too. Idolatry can be defined in many ways--money and fame are often referred to as 'gods', etc.

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In his statement,

While Shakespeare was alive and for some decades after, he was simply one of several excellent Elizabethan playwrights. Only gradually did he became accepted as England’s best, and it took more than 200 years for him to become the world’s.

I thought that the underlying question was what made Shakespear turn into the "great" one, as opposed to his contemporaries, with analogy of what made Balanchine become the "great" one compared to his great contemporaries, like Ashton and Tudor. While he then goes on for several pages to explain this in artistic terms, towards the end, he writes:

During his lifetime it was standard to talk of him as one of several of the great choreographers of the day. Now his contemporaries Frederick Ashton, Martha Graham and Antony Tudor are in danger of becoming the dance equivalents of Ben Jonson, Christopher Marlowe and Philip Massinger, whom Shakespeare eclipsed long after they had all died. Several of Balanchine’s slightest creations have been preserved, while some of the best works by Ashton, Graham and Tudor have become endangered species or extinct.

Part of the answer to the underlying question is institutional and luck-based. We've discussed on Ballet Talk, and it was a major theme of Martin Duberman's "The Worlds of Lincoln Kirstein" that what we consider a given, the success of Balanchine and New York City Ballet, was so tentative for so long.

But then we consider the irony of the man who always said it would fall apart after his death, and "who cares?", to have had an institution that ensures that what happened to Ashton and Tudor does not happen to his works, at least in the near term, and a "family" that has extended his work across the US and the world.

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In his statement,
While Shakespeare was alive and for some decades after, he was simply one of several excellent Elizabethan playwrights. Only gradually did he became accepted as England’s best, and it took more than 200 years for him to become the world’s.

I thought that the underlying question was what made Shakespear turn into the "great" one, as opposed to his contemporaries, with analogy of what made Balanchine become the "great" one compared to his great contemporaries, like Ashton and Tudor. While he then goes on for several pages to explain this in artistic terms, towards the end, he writes:

During his lifetime it was standard to talk of him as one of several of the great choreographers of the day. Now his contemporaries Frederick Ashton, Martha Graham and Antony Tudor are in danger of becoming the dance equivalents of Ben Jonson, Christopher Marlowe and Philip Massinger, whom Shakespeare eclipsed long after they had all died. Several of Balanchine’s slightest creations have been preserved, while some of the best works by Ashton, Graham and Tudor have become endangered species or extinct.

Part of the answer to the underlying question is institutional and luck-based. We've discussed on Ballet Talk, and it was a major theme of Martin Duberman's "The Worlds of Lincoln Kirstein" that what we consider a given, the success of Balanchine and New York City Ballet, was so tentative for so long.

But then we consider the irony of the man who always said it would fall apart after his death, and "who cares?", to have had an institution that ensures that what happened to Ashton and Tudor does not happen to his works, at least in the near term, and a "family" that has extended his work across the US and the world.

That's not the underlying question for all of us, but rather for Macaulay and whomever else. I think the analogy of Shakespeare and his contemporaries with Balanchine and his contemporaries is very poor. It doesn't mean anything, unless the 'growth industry' and popularizing determines all there is to the Value of Art. And it doesn't. The analogies need to be made with other great figures from other periods, because Mozart would not necessarily win even within his own lifetime. That's revisionist history, and he certainly did know who Bach was.

Another way of putting it is that the analogy of Shakespeare with his contemporaries is certainly apt, but not at all an analogy to Balanchine and Tudor, Graham, and Ashton. And certainly the 200 years later becoming the world's greatest needs all the great playwrights since recorded plays to mean anything at all.

You do have a point in the institutional luck, and the award for that goes first and foremost to NYCB, no matter what its faults. Then the industry spreads to Suzanne Farrell Ballet, MCB, PNB, and everybody else who love to dance these great works. I'm just talking about Macaulay, not Balanchine.

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'Mozart' is only the buzzword of the 'general populace' because of the boon created by the movie 'Amadeus'

I tend to agree.

Now, would this be interesting???? How about a similar movie based on Balanchine's life. It seems to me (seriously) that Balanchine's life would make a fascinating movie. It would have it all.....escape from an oppressive regime, wild life of youth, success and failure, genius, 6 marriages (or how ever you count), beautiful sexy babes everywhere, great artistic achievement, Hollywood, Broadway, his friendship with Stravinsky, the Suzzane Farrell entanglement of unrequited love. Makes Mozart's life seem humdrum in comparison!

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Well, it has sparked some interesting thoughts, but I still disagree with much of it. The only rationale is that it is only a newspaper article, half-polished, not an essay of the sort a real writer would publish (as opposed to someone who writes excellent dance criticism, which he does),

I wouldn’t say ‘only a newspaper article.’ Denby wrote a lot of his best stuff for the papers. Macaulay is writing for an audience of general interest readers as well as dance fans, which does make a difference. It doesn’t make the writing sloppier or necessarily inferior.

As for ballet 'rejoining the company of the higher arts', I am surprised to hear you say that, as it has never left them. Balanchine's work did not 'briefly and locally' place it back 'up there.'

Most of us posting here would certainly agree that ballet never left, but the intelligentsia’s interest in ballet peaked with Diaghilev and later with Balanchine. However, I don’t think ballet will ever return to the time when many people, even highly educated and cultured ones, did not know what it was or condescended to it.

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As for ballet 'rejoining the company of the higher arts', I am surprised to hear you say that, as it has never left them.
Patrick, I see your point. I was aiming at irony and clearly missed the target.

I did not mean to suggest that ballet was not a higher art, just that it is no longer perceived as such to the extent that it was in Balanchine's day. It's not "ballet" that has changed, necessarily. But the cultural environment IS significantly altered, especially in the decline of the role of intellectuals as cultural commentators.

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:wink:

As for ballet 'rejoining the company of the higher arts', I am surprised to hear you say that, as it has never left them.
Patrick, I see your point. I was aiming at irony and clearly missed the target.

I did not mean to suggest that ballet was not a higher art, just that it is no longer perceived as such to the extent that it was in Balanchine's day. It's not "ballet" that has changed, necessarily. But the cultural environment IS significantly altered, especially in the decline of the role of intellectuals as cultural commentators.

I concur.

Balanchine in not merely important, he is significant I say this with sincerity even though neo-classicism is my second love in ballet. He, his legacy and contemporary performance of his oeuvre

needs to be commented upon and occasionally looked at from a different angle. It is healthy to do so. I believe we all need to be challenged on our appreciation and views as our deep consideration and response, may help keep senility at bay. :thanks:

I do not know what is like in New York, in London it seems that many commentators are terrified that an interest in the "high arts" and the consideration of using the descriptive "high" is politically incorrect and would avoid the expression at all costs. The problem here has been that we have a large number of critics who think they have an authoritative position, but regrettably they apply little or no intellectual rigour or knowledge in what they write to justify this self view. I believe many critics in London prefer to write about dance as they feel (like fans) that they are part of the creative performance process by witnessing new works and touched by the celebrity of the event. Regrettably they also write about ballet. I'll say this now and say it often, ballet, is not for everyone. If you do not love it, know it in depth and see it often over a period of years, you will never reach that mystery that ballet has to elevate the spirit which the "high arts" can do in a special way, but not the only way. Ballet can entertain, but it is not entertainment and there are some who want to change this. There are those that want to see “real life and experience” expressed on the ballet stage if in doing so, it will become "more inclusive". Fine, just remember ballet is an old tradition and it has it own rules and there are still more people every year that want to see ballet as an experience of a “high art” and not go to see something they could see on the television or a film. Balanchine's genius stands comparison and should be compared to ensure that his stature is confirmed and that his works are not just part of a night out.

I would say support any writer that looks in depth at the art of ballet and if they are a newspaper critic and you do not agree with what they have to say, write to the editor. Or better still do what we are doing now, post it on ballettalk.

PS

I have not always agreed with his views

but I now miss Mr Macauley's

presence in London.

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I'll say this now and say it often, ballet, is not for everyone. If you do not love it, know it in depth and see it often over a period of years, you will never reach that mystery that ballet has to elevate the spirit which the "high arts" can do in a special way, but not the only way. Ballet can entertain, but it is not entertainment and there are some who want to change this.

I sure don't want to change it, but I do disagree with you that one has to be knowledgeable about ballet, or about any art, to experience it as art and not merely entertainment. The more one knows, the richer the experience is, of course. But I think even novices can experience that uplift. I did.

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I'll say this now and say it often, ballet, is not for everyone. If you do not love it, know it in depth and see it often over a period of years, you will never reach that mystery that ballet has to elevate the spirit which the "high arts" can do in a special way, but not the only way. Ballet can entertain, but it is not entertainment and there are some who want to change this.

I sure don't want to change it, but I do disagree with you that one has to be knowledgeable about ballet, or about any art, to experience it as art and not merely entertainment. The more one knows, the richer the experience is, of course. But I think even novices can experience that uplift. I did.

Your right, Of course your right. I was hooked as a teenager the first time I saw "Giselle".

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