Jump to content


Farewell Performances and Criticism


  • Please log in to reply
105 replies to this topic

#61 kfw

kfw

    Sapphire Circle

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,267 posts

Posted 13 June 2010 - 09:10 AM

I made no comment about the rightness or wrongness of what was written about Borree. I was merely responding to GeorgeB fan's original post. Again, artists/performers who read reviews do so at their own peril.


Yes, and lots of artists don't read their reviews. These are probably the strongest of all.

Who knows, Borree may have stopped reading hers long ago. I suppose if one has certain faults and limitations and just can't overcome and exceed them, criticism may be destructive, but I admire artists who overcome what must be a natural antipathy to critics and humbly take their views under consideration.

milosr, I didn't mean to put words in your mouth, but I think Croce's words endorse LaRocca's approach.

#62 papeetepatrick

papeetepatrick

    Sapphire Circle

  • Inactive Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,486 posts

Posted 13 June 2010 - 09:31 AM

I admire artists who overcome what must be a natural antipathy to critics and humbly take their views under consideration.


That's cool. And I remember reading Pierre Boulez, who said no artist should be concerned by any other assessment of his work beyond his own. Of course, one takes that with a grain of salt (and PB is very free with his demolition of others' works), but it definitely defines a position one ought to be able to occupy from time to time, at least temporarily. And humility is no more a prerequisite for an artist than arrogance. There are examples of great artists who or either and, in fact, some people simply prefer a humbler personality, but there are others who really go for the arrogant types, and neither of these qualities determines the artistic excellence of the artist, at least not nearly always or one more than the other. 'Great artist' is morally neutral, and Picasso was not humble. Which doesn't mean I think 'great artist' is the ultimate thing to be, either. There are many worthy modes of being. But I always keep Boulez's over-the-top pronouncement in mind: If you don't care only about your own opinion at least some of the time, you won't ever find your own particular voice. Which also doesn't mean you shouldn't go to 'masters', and that is nicely covered by that slightly pop psychologist Ellen Langer, in her 'Mindful Learning' series.

What difference, really, than the constant criticism we all endure in real life? At some point, we may decide that some of it is totally unjustified, and we are all the more strengthened by the fact that we had to surmount the crap and go ahead with what our own vision is. Over Xmas I had precisely this, some absolutely scathing criticism that infuriated me, but actually spurred me on to do a much sharper job at something than I had expected to (I didn't know it would be important.) But I don't appreciate that critic, because I know he did not mean in it in a benevolent way, he meant it to be destructive--and I also consider that it was false. But still, it is possible to use even the meanness of the true destroyers, much less a mildly critical NYTimes critic, and go ahead and do something better than what it would have been before. In this case, it made me burn with rage and do something that I consider good, although I may or may not have done as well without it (this kind of thing is hard to assess.)

#63 dirac

dirac

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 25,029 posts

Posted 13 June 2010 - 09:33 AM

Performers have their jobs, critics have theirs. I don't think it matters to an artist's career if he reads his reviews or not. Some do, some don't, and some may be reading their notices and not admitting it, but they don't necessarily have anything to learn or gain by doing so.

Again, artists/performers who read reviews do so at their own peril.


Sums it up nicely.

#64 Leigh Witchel

Leigh Witchel

    Editorial Advisor

  • Editorial Advisor
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,466 posts

Posted 13 June 2010 - 09:35 AM

Having been on both sides of this fence, I think there's little an artist takes from individual reviews except a range of opinions, often contradictory and maybe a useful detail or two. As stated, they're a conversation with the reader and audience. We don't know the goals or the process of an artist - we only know what we saw last night. Read it if that's what you want to know; don't read it to get artistic advice. As a corollary, if you would rather engage in a dialogue with the artist, pick up the phone or send an email. Don't write a review.

#65 miliosr

miliosr

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,561 posts

Posted 13 June 2010 - 10:56 AM

the comment attributed above to Croce concerning "conversation," with the audience, was first stated by Edwin Denby in his essay on dance criticism now reprinted in collection(s) of his work, but written, originally, for Chujoy's Dance Encyclopedia in 1949.


You are right, rg!

Croce gave an interview with the late, lamented Dance Ink in the aftermath of the "Discussing the Undiscussable" furor in which she responded as follows:

Q: Would you like to be more influential on dancers or companies?

A: No! Absolutely not. That's not ever the point. They should do what they do: go to class, listen to the teacher, work hard, look in the mirror, get onstage, get it over with, come back, do it again. The critic doesn't exist to write for the dancer, but for the public. This is a point that Edwin [Denby] made better than I can: "Criticism is a conversation that the audience has with itself, and if the performer wants to eavesdrop on the conversation, he does so at his own risk."


I made no comment about the rightness or wrongness of what was written about Borree. I was merely responding to GeorgeB fan's original post. Again, artists/performers who read reviews do so at their own peril.


Yes, and lots of artists don't read their reviews. These are probably the strongest of all.

Who knows, Borree may have stopped reading hers long ago. I suppose if one has certain faults and limitations and just can't overcome and exceed them, criticism may be destructive, but I admire artists who overcome what must be a natural antipathy to critics and humbly take their views under consideration.

milosr, I didn't mean to put words in your mouth, but I think Croce's words endorse LaRocca's approach.


No harm no foul. :sweatingbullets:

#66 kfw

kfw

    Sapphire Circle

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,267 posts

Posted 13 June 2010 - 04:56 PM

I remember reading Pierre Boulez, who said no artist should be concerned by any other assessment of his work beyond his own. Of course, one takes that with a grain of salt (and PB is very free with his demolition of others' works), but it definitely defines a position one ought to be able to occupy from time to time, at least temporarily. And humility is no more a prerequisite for an artist than arrogance. There are examples of great artists who or either and, in fact, some people simply prefer a humbler personality, but there are others who really go for the arrogant types, and neither of these qualities determines the artistic excellence of the artist, at least not nearly always or one more than the other. 'Great artist' is morally neutral, and Picasso was not humble. Which doesn't mean I think 'great artist' is the ultimate thing to be, either. There are many worthy modes of being. But I always keep Boulez's over-the-top pronouncement in mind: If you don't care only about your own opinion at least some of the time, you won't ever find your own particular voice.

Patrick, I don't think humility makes for a better artist necessarily, but definitely for a better human being, which is why I admire those particular artists, especially since along with humility they might need courage. I also think it stands to reason that a young artist is bound to have a lot to learn from an older critic, not on the technical side of things, but about the art form in general, and for that reason I would hope that artists would be encouraged, in general, with understandable exceptions, to read them. What they would learn might not make a difference on stage for most dancers, but I'd think it would for some. Speculating wildly, I'd think it might help to produce some of the individuality and soul that many longtime observers find missing in many of today's dancers. But I like your paraphrased lesson from Boulez, which is perhaps what he really meant beneath the arrogant pronouncement. :sweatingbullets:

#67 abatt

abatt

    Sapphire Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,616 posts

Posted 29 June 2010 - 10:15 AM

Macauley at the Times couldn't resist some last zingers at Darci. I was pleased as I read the initial paragraphs of the review, as he recounted her past glory. Then, it was time for the zingers, calling her performance in M&M "wretched", and alluding to her hair. I'm sure she was expecting it, and she probably doesn't really give a ---- about what he says. It's her last performance; give it a rest, Alastair.

#68 dirac

dirac

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 25,029 posts

Posted 29 June 2010 - 11:09 AM

He's not writing for Kistler but for his readers. Macaulay said what he thought and what he saw onstage, and he didn't end the review on a sour note.

#69 Farrell Fan

Farrell Fan

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,930 posts

Posted 29 June 2010 - 12:42 PM

I thought Macauley's review was excellent -- beautifully done. What's wrong with mentioning her hair? Her hair was glorious, as is this thoughtful, balanced, beautiful review.

#70 abatt

abatt

    Sapphire Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,616 posts

Posted 29 June 2010 - 01:06 PM

. What's wrong with mentioning her hair? Her hair was glorious,


I agree that there is nothing wrong with her hair. I'm not sure why Macauley refers to her "mane" as "mere shtick" in the article, though.

#71 bart

bart

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,320 posts

Posted 29 June 2010 - 01:29 PM

I last saw Kistler on stage a number of times in those first years. As a new, very young arrival -- cast in major roles -- she generated excitement and high expectations unlike any new dancer since Kirkland joined the company.

Macaulay's tribute to her during those years brought back wonderful visual and emotional memories that I had forgotten were there. The photo of Kistler in Tchaikovsky Suite (1980) captures her freedom and expansiveness. Her early injury -- and long layoff -- were a serious loss for her, but also for everyone who cared about NYCB.

It seems to me that Macaulay tells a complex story. He is "balanced" in that he pays tribute to what he loved, reports rather fairly what he did not love, and (something rare in such reviews) gives you a sense of just how complex and interesting her long career was, in dancer terms.

Early strengths may have faded, but Macaulay does justice to what was left. His reference on several occasions to the "sweetness of her presence" seems right on target. As compliments go, it's a rather nice thing to say. :wink:

#72 papeetepatrick

papeetepatrick

    Sapphire Circle

  • Inactive Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,486 posts

Posted 29 June 2010 - 02:05 PM

It seems to me that Macaulay tells a complex story. He is "balanced" in that he pays tribute to what he loved, reports rather fairly what he did not love, and (something rare in such reviews) gives you a sense of just how complex and interesting her long career was, in dancer terms.

Early strengths may have faded, but Macaulay does justice to what was left. His reference on several occasions to the "sweetness of her presence" seems right on target. As compliments go, it's a rather nice thing to say. :wink:


Thanks, bart, for once I don't have to add a thing, as you've summed up exactly how I thought the quite excellent article read. But the 'sweetness of manner' was especially welcome, and I remember in 2004, in a bunch of perfs. of 'Serenade', how that was always there even if all the earlier agility wasn't. It's very natural, you'd hardly believe she was also capable of entirely suppressing it! (as you have to do with the Siren). I really liked his synopsis of her fireworks-like first two years, I didn't get to see her then, and I liked what he said about her 'full-blown rose' even at that early stage, and talked about specific perfs.

#73 dirac

dirac

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 25,029 posts

Posted 29 June 2010 - 04:59 PM

. What's wrong with mentioning her hair? Her hair was glorious,


I agree that there is nothing wrong with her hair. I'm not sure why Macauley refers to her "mane" as "mere shtick" in the article, though.


I took him to mean that initially Kistler's display and use of her gorgeous hair was part of her dazzle but later it became for him a form of mannerism.

#74 Helene

Helene

    Administrator

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11,124 posts

Posted 29 June 2010 - 07:14 PM

I think Macaulay covered the bases in describing:

1. A dancer was a knockout from the word go and why
2. A dancer who gave deeper performances close to a year after giving her initial amazing ones
3. The dancer's characteristics
4. How the dancer was appreciated by two of the great choreographers in ballet history
5. How early injury affected the dancer's career
6. Her comeback
7. The beginning of the decline
8. The dancer now
9. The dancer in her final performance
10. The final bow

For anyone doing the math, of a 30-year career, he assesses the first 13 as the peak -- and from that years of injury to be subtracted -- and the next 17 as the decline. I think it's perfectly legitimate to ask what Kistler's career meant to a ballet goer from after the peak. If a person has never seen or has only glimpsed greatness, it's hard to be invested.

What knocked the wind out of me was that after describing Monumentum/Movements in the 8th paragraph, and the rest of the program in paragraphs nine and ten, that just when I thought it was safe, he returned to the M/M performance and called it "wretched". That was like a kick in the gut. He may be right, and it may be what a lot of people wish they had said, but that's as big a surprise as I've had in a while.

#75 papeetepatrick

papeetepatrick

    Sapphire Circle

  • Inactive Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,486 posts

Posted 29 June 2010 - 07:21 PM

Yeah, I thought that was an unnecessarily harsh word myself, because even 'no longer capable of executing most of the difficult steps' is quite sufficient, and is what he meant. Although I'd rather be called 'wretched' than 'a dweeb'. He's probably still reeling from that.


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases (adblockers may block display):