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Clive Barnes, 1927-2008

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28 replies to this topic

#16 richard53dog


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Posted 19 November 2008 - 06:08 PM

There was however, one time his usual tact was lacking. He praised another ballerina's debut in a Tudor role that was closely identified with Sallie Wilson, in a way she felt insulted her. During an intermission at the Met, she dumped a drink on his head........ he dined out on the story for ages!
May he rest in peace.

Well, I don't know if it was really a lack of tact on Barnes' part, really. Sallie was VERY protective of and sensitive about her Hagar. I heard her thoughts(???)
on this right from Sallie herself back in the early 70s :pinch:

#17 toeprints


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Posted 19 November 2008 - 06:51 PM

This is very sad news. He was such a class act. Mr. Barnes always hit the nail right on the head with his eloquence. One of the greatest dance critics there ever was. My condolences to his family. Rest in peace, Mr. Barnes, and thank you for a lifetime devoted to joyously spreading the word about ballet.

#18 Helene



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Posted 19 November 2008 - 08:46 PM

Apollinaire Scherr wrote a brief tribute to Barnes in her blog "foot in mouth":


He was old without ever being an old fart. Curious, never immune to enthusiasm, but no pollyanna either, he gave me faith that even a review of a couple of paragraphs could be worth the effort...

Clive Barnes seemed always at the peak of his form.

#19 Marga


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Posted 19 November 2008 - 10:37 PM

Clive Barnes was to me the ultimate dance critic. He was the first one I ever read and I've read him for 43 years. I pretty much revered him. The day he was the invited guest speaker at Adelphi where I was a dance major (1965-69) was a thrilling day for me. I'll never forget meeting him and speaking with him after his lecture, held in our dance studio.

My mother introduced his writing to me when I was a teenager. Both of us enjoyed him so much. Even after I moved to Canada 36 years ago, my mom would send me clippings of his columns in the New York Times. I just read his last column in the Post when I was in New York. His death came so suddenly. Liver cancer is usually a quick killer. I am so sorry it happened to him. My heartfelt condolences go to his family.

#20 rg


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Posted 20 November 2008 - 05:02 AM

I haven't learned much about arrangements concerning Clive Barnes except that the funeral itself will be private and that the New York Post is making plans for a memorial gathering some time hence, perhaps in 2 months or so, with help from CB's now understandably overwhelmed wife, Valerie.
If the memorial is open to the public, I'll post what I learn.
Jennifer Dunning wrote this morning to say that the comments left on the NYTimes site about CB are in many cases worth reading. (For anyone who doesn't know, JD began her NYT career as dance secretary to CB.)

#21 chiapuris


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Posted 20 November 2008 - 07:55 AM

Condolences to the family of Clive Barnes. May he rest in peace.

He was an eloquent writer about dance and ballet as a performing art.

We had met him in recent years at ballet intermissions at the Met through his wife, Valerie, a longtime friend of ours.
Last June we had lunch together before an ABT matinee. He was a delightful conversationalist!

Dance has lost one of its most grounded and deeply knowledgable advocates.

#22 Pamela Moberg

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Posted 20 November 2008 - 04:55 PM

Very sad news. Reading Clive Barne's writings carefully one could learn a lot about ballet - he gave me a deeper understanding. Reading various critics' opinion of a performance one always read Clive first. I started reading him very early on when he was co-editor of Dance and Dancers. Luckily, I have an archive full of Dance and Dancers.

#23 bart


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Posted 21 November 2008 - 10:36 AM

A good critic is a good teacher. I've learned quite a bit from Barnes over the years -- and also from some of the posts on this thread.

Apollinaire Scherr wrote a brief tribute to Barnes in her blog "foot in mouth":

He was old without ever being an old fart.

Thanks, Helene, for that quote. You've given me a new motto for the remainder of my life.

Jennifer Dunning wrote this morning to say that the comments left on the NYTimes site about CB are in many cases worth reading. (For anyone who doesn't know, JD began her NYT career as dance secretary to CB.)

Thanks, rg. I would never have looked if you hadn't posted this.

#24 jimmattimore


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Posted 21 November 2008 - 06:42 PM

By his writings Clive Barnes learned so many of us to appreciate ballet and he did until the very end. His contribution to ballet cannot be overestimated.

\\To all:

He was a wonderful man, and a great lover of dance.

May he be in ballet heaven.


#25 dancemed



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Posted 22 November 2008 - 06:42 PM

I will miss him. Clive & I became friends as colleagues who wrote about dance. He was attentive, thoughtful and always responsive whenever I called or bumped into him during a performance. Given his stature as a dance critic, I should have felt intimidated. I never did. I found him to be a man who loved dance, enjoyed pretty women, and was always open to discussing anything---even in the last few years when he was in obvious pain from his hip surgrery. Perhaps most importantly, I will miss his writing. Yet his legacy lives on in his pithy, concise, beautiful prose.

#26 rg


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Posted 24 November 2008 - 10:08 PM

A funeral for Clive Barnes was held Monday, November 24, at 3:30 at the Riverside Chapel on Amsterdam Avenue in Manhattan.

Here are some of my recollections of the emotional gathering:

This particular Chapel, I don’t know if there are others in the building, was long and narrow, with a color scheme very like that of the stucco palette to the colonnaded architecture - "The Corridor of Muses" - defining Theater/Rossi Street in St. Petersburg, site of the onetime imperal theater school, now Vaganova Academy: pale yellows and warm whites.

The coffin was pale wood that looked bleached but I think the finish is the result of treatment called “pickling.” A spray of white and yellow flowers, with “Beloved Husband” written on the bow’s ribbon, covered the lid. (The casket was closed.)
The room was quite full.

I didn’t know everybody, to be sure, but besides Clive’s immediate family included his widow Valerie Taylor Barnes, as well as his second wife Patricia, his daughter Maya and son Christopher, and his third wife Amy. Maya’s husband was there too as were her two children, Ben and Sara.

Valerie spoke only briefly to thank everyone for coming.

Father Tom Miller, an Episcopal priest spoke and directed the proceedings. He quipped that he was formerly with a church in Woodstock, site of Clive’s country place, where he often saw Clive, before adding: “Though not in church.” (Fr. Miller is now affiliated with Church of St. John the Divine here in Manhattan.) He noted that Clive used to say he was an Atheist but recently admitted to being an Agnostic, thus, in the priest’s words (I’m afraid I didn’t get his name) perhaps Clive was branching out in the area. He spoke much of Clive’s writing, calling him a poet and noting his impact and accomplishments.

Maya spoke, with much emotional difficulty, mostly about Clive’s mother, Frida, and bit too about his father, whom she noted did return to Clive’s mother after leaving her early on, when Clive was 12 or so, and spent a wonderful day with them all before he met his own sudden death.

Trish spoke, also with much emotion and difficulty, mostly of Clive’s dearest, oldest friend, British dance critic John Percival, who could not be in attendance because he was not himself very well right now.

Christopher spoke off the cuff to say that he felt that his dad hadn’t yet gone straight to heaven because he wanted to hover around everyone (and everywhere, theater-wise) for a good deal longer since he wasn’t at all ready to leave NYC and its cultural life.

A man whose name may or may not have been Ellis, who was Clive’s first? “copy boy” at the New York Times told of how fond he became of Clive as they worked together and how much attention Clive paid to Ellis own writing once he began to do some work of his own.

After the priest read an excerpt from a Psalm, he recited the Lord’s Prayer and invited David Vaughan to read a poem, by Ninette de Valois, which Valerie had chosen, and which seems has been read at some Royal Ballet-related funerals in the past, notably, someone thought, by Michael Somes at the service for Margot Fonteyn.

The text is given here:


Said the Child .....

“I love you ....
I shall love you as long as you live
And when you are dead
I shall love you as long as I live,
And when I am dead
I shall love you as long as God lives.”

When death passes by
There is a rebirth of love,
Recurring, unswerving,
Philosophically wrought.
What more can God ask
Of the faithful than this?
Ninette de Valois

Among those in attendance, in addition to any number of New York Post writers and editors, etc, were: Anna Kisselgoff, Jack Anderson, George Dorris, Richard Philp, Joan Acocella, Alastair Macaulay, Craig Wright, Georgina Parkinson, Roy Round, Robert Gottlieb, John Simon, Joe Franklin, Howard Kissel, Paul Szilard, Arthur Mitchell, Kelly Ryan, Susie Morgan, Leslie Getz, Don McDonagh, Oleg Briansky, Mirelle Briane, Robert Johnson, Kevin Krichlow, Marvin Hoshino, and any number of people I can’t now name.

Also, Fr. Miller noted when he asked if any had come with something prepared to say, he stressed that there would be a further memorial, when more people would be speaking. When any dates are set, I understand there might even be more than one, I'll post the information here.

#27 sandik


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Posted 25 November 2008 - 09:32 AM

Barnes always looked like he expected the most wonderful thing in the world awaited him behind the curtain. Even on those awful nights he memorialized so well, I think it did.

I understand that Walter Terry had a similarly optimistic viewpoint when he was walking into the theater -- even if the first act was a total dud, supposedly he still believed that the second act could redeem all. A great quality in a critic.

#28 Marga


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Posted 25 November 2008 - 12:41 PM

Thank you so much rg, for the report on Clive Barnes's funeral.

#29 drb


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Posted 19 December 2008 - 02:39 PM

From today's Gia Kourlas article in Links, a singularly beautiful farewell to Mr. Barnes:

While it would be easy to recall some of the more insipid performances and festivals of the year, the most tragic event was the death of Clive Barnes in November at the age of 81. He lived a full life, but for all who had the pleasure to know him, it simply wasn’t long enough. A way to remember someone—especially a critic—is to appreciate something or someone they loved. The next time you’re at NYCB, pay attention to the luminous young talent Kathryn Morgan. As you watch her dance, think about Barnes. He adored her.

Whenever I see her again, I suspect I'll think of Clive. There could be no more beautiful monument.

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