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Ray

Bad ballet reviews

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I'm very grateful to the editors I've had, even (on a good day!) the ones that I've had big fights with about coverage and point of view, because almost all of them have found some really dreadful gaff that I was about to commit in print, and either made me change it, or claim it as my own work.

I've certainly made my own mistakes. But it's one thing to make them in haste under deadline pressure writing for a daily or even a weekly, and another for neither writer nor editor to take time to print out and proofread when the publication is a quarterly.

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Wouldn't it be fascinating to be able to look into the future and observe what people will considered "good writing," "good criticism," and "good journalism" a generation or two from now?

I find it a difficult project myself into that future with much optimism, when the general level of ballet criticism today, is often somewhat disappointing.

Where would the stimulus for your, "good writing", "good criticism" and "good journalism", come from?

Living in London, I have in the last twenty years, witnessed a hiatus in the continuity of literary ballet criticism that had existed in the previous sixty years. This is in spite of the considerable growth in the number of critics being published.

Today I feel I am often reading a publicist’s blurb desperately trying to disguise itself as criticism supported by middle aged writers trying to be what was once called “hip.” In this I reiterate both sandik’s, “We are trading some of the more considered phrase-making for the zest of immediacy.” and bart’s, “Personally, I'm all for zest in writing. I am also for thoughtfulness, clarity of expression, accuracy.”

Alistair Macaulay may be the despair of some of our friends across the sea, but I find in many of his reviews, the tone of a distinguished critic which is sorely missed in London.

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Good discussion. I can say that in Los Angeles there's no literary "voice" for ballet; and there's no resident company. The dance going public makes do with the annual tours of the major companies. I long for the days when Martin Bernheimer was the sage of dance at the L.A. Times. Lewis Segal is Bernheimer Lite. I agree with Leonid on his point about the dearth of exemplary dance criticism in London. Now, the only critic I look forward to reading is Clement Crisp. In the Bay Area the

SF Chronicle is the pom-pom squad for the SFB: They can do no wrong, and visiting troops are unfavorably measured by

the SFB standard. In St. Petersburg Igor Stupnikov is an eloquent and vividly expressive wordsmith. The Anti-Stupnikov

is Kevin Ng who contributes to the St. Petersburg Times. He usually publishes and posts his reviews days or weeks after the fact. When I've visited the Mariinsky I've often wondered whether Ng was really sitting in the audience, or outside in the Square.

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