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NYCB on 60 Minutes, Sun Nov 25

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Heads up everyone. Leslie Stahl (who happens to be on the NYCB Board) will profile the NYCB on this Sunday's 60 Minutes. Stahl also follows Robbie Fairchild's debut in Apollo at NYCB. Be careful about the timing if you are recording the program. Sunday Night Football always seems to run late. A teaser can be found on the 60 Minutes offical webpage.

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Heads up everyone. Leslie Stahl (who happens to be on the NYCB Board) will profile the NYCB on this Sunday's 60 Minutes. Stahl also follows Robbie Fairchild's debut in Apollo at NYCB. Be careful about the timing if you are recording the program. Sunday Night Football always seems to run late. A teaser can be found on the 60 Minutes offical webpage.

The preview clip is here: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=50135558n

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I'm a little surprised this info has not been posted on the NYCB home page or twitter page.

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I'm a little surprised this info has not been posted on the NYCB home page or twitter page.

Surprising, yes, especially the absence of a notice on Twitter.

I first heard about this from a Google-alert I have to "New York City Ballet," which sent me to the CBS site. For companies of special interest, it's worth setting up the Google-alert along with Twitter, so you don't miss anythinng.

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Yes, the Google alert worked well to provide this info.

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The clip emphasizes throughout the effort dancers put into dance, a common theme I've noticed in dance promotion. Why do they do that? This seems to me to set people up for what they're not going to see: If the dancers are any good at all, it looks easy. If it looks hard, something's amiss. Anybody think they've got a piece of the explanation?

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The clip emphasizes throughout the effort dancers put into dance, a common theme I've noticed in dance promotion. Why do they do that? This seems to me to set people up for what they're not going to see: If the dancers are any good at all, it looks easy. If it looks hard, something's amiss. Anybody think they've got a piece of the explanation?

This behind-the-scenes emphasis on hard work goes back a long way. Think of the rehearsal and company class scenes in The Turning Point and Dancers. But I've always thought that was a good thing, as it shows Americans (especially American boys) how athletic and strenuous ballet is. Not something for sissies!

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The clip emphasizes throughout the effort dancers put into dance, a common theme I've noticed in dance promotion. Why do they do that? This seems to me to set people up for what they're not going to see: If the dancers are any good at all, it looks easy. If it looks hard, something's amiss. Anybody think they've got a piece of the explanation?

This behind-the-scenes emphasis on hard work goes back a long way. Think of the rehearsal and company class scenes in The Turning Point and Dancers. But I've always thought that was a good thing, as it shows Americans (especially American boys) how athletic and strenuous ballet is. Not something for sissies!

I agree, California. If anything, it makes it even more amazing to see how effortless they make it look. Something like 60 minutes has such a vast audience of non-balletomanes, who just don't realize what goes into it and indeed think it's something for sissies. Heck, I've seen a lot of ballet (including Apollo many times) and had no idea Apollo was collapsed in the wings!

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I've never understood why people say they are surprised that dance is hard work. Getting up out of my chair requires effort. Running down the block requires stamina, strength, and energy. Ballet dancers make movement look beautiful, sometimes airy, and often meaningful, but do not convey a lack of physical and other types of preparation.

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I think Stahl was looking for an honest, behind the scenes look at how much hard work goes into being a ballet dancer. Yes, it is amazing that Fairchild looked so fresh and energized on stage, but was panting for air as soon as he left the stage. I wonder if Fairchild ever contemplated that the footage of him sprawled out on the floor gasping for breath would end up on national television and the internet.

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This behind-the-scenes emphasis on hard work goes back a long way. ... But I've always thought that was a good thing, as it shows Americans (especially American boys) how athletic and strenuous ballet is. Not something for sissies!

Not something for "sissies" to do, for sure. So, the purpose of this kind of publicity is to recruit dancers who aren't afraid of great effort? And not to recruit spectators who enjoy the magical ease and apparent lightness of good ballet performance?

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Although 60 Minutes is a highly rated show I'm not sure that this segment would necessarily translate into any additional customers for NYCB. I think appearances by ballet dancers on shows like Dancing with the Stars and other programs of that ilk are more likely reach potential new audiences for ballet. Nevertheless, any publicity is good publicity. I hope it is not primarily a puffery piece about Peter Martins, and his great stewardship skills, by his NYCB Board member pal..

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On the whole, I thought it was a pretty balanced piece. I'm glad Stahl disclosed her relationship w. the company at the outset. Also, she quoted some of Martins' critics re his choreography, so it wasn't just a fluff piece that stroked his ego. .

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Well done for the most part... some statements one could get picky over, but over all the company looks good... I would like the company to get a choreographer back in house as good as Balanchine... but wouldn't we all... and wouldn't all companies...

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I agree that overall, the segment was pretty well done (excepting the cringe-worthy, "great genius of all time" comment). I rather enjoyed the clips of Apollo (and Robbie Fairchild), and the emphasis on the strenuous nature of ballet. Emphasizing the physicallity of the art is something that is likely to work better with an American audience that feels little connection to the history of ballet, and the stories/myths that it often draws upon for inspiration. Also, Martins remarks about partnering were especially interesting to me.

One line that struck me: "young people tend to see classical ballet as stuffy and inauthentic". Now, If that were true, I would argue that young people don't know what IS 'authentic'. ;)

It's actually easy to argue that an art form that is passed down as a verbal/physical tradition from one generation to the next, and employing storylines that are deeply rooted in those cultures, is as authentic as one is likely to get with an art form.

Peter Martins was certainly not 'wrong' in creating a ballet with Paul McCartney, but the important thing is TO MAKE IT WORK. And many people felt that the ballet wasn't a success. But whatever, they gave it a shot. It's all about putting in the effort, after all.

RE: the loss of masters like Balanchine in the ballet world - I am reminded of Melissa Hayden talking about her realization (during the Stravinksy Festival, I believe) that Balanchine wouldn't be choreographing any more works on her, and that the primary roles would keep going to the young stars. And so, she decided to leave the company, because, what was the point, if she couldn't be a part of the creative process. What her generation didn't know, was that they were quite spoiled by circumstances, and that very few dancers are ever in a position to have a world-class choreographer create on them. NYCB has simply moved on to how things normally are - no genius in the house. Fortunately, art doesn't actually require genius to get done, just hard-working, caring artists.

I recommend watching this 'extra' video of footage not in the 60 Minutes show - there's a short sequence of Tanaquil LeClercq and Balanchine at the beginning.

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504803_162-57552618-10391709/the-genius-of-balanchine-a-visual-breakdown/

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Yes! It is so true that most dancers never get to work personally with "great choreographers" and have works created on them! There are, though, quite a few not-so-well-known choreographers out there doing quite good work, creating works on their dancers, and they will probably never really be "recognised" outside of their areas.

quote pherank: Fortunately, art doesn't actually require genius to get done, just hard-working, caring artists.

Yep. I second that. smile.png

I would add that it appears there is perhaps a ratio of something like 95% hard work and perseverance and about 5% "genius" in every "great work".

(maybe slightly more towards the "hard work" side...)

-d-

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Thanks Lesley Stahl for your comments on Martins choreography.....thirty years to prove himself as a choreographer and still comes up lacking......happy.png

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I am no fan of Martins' choreography, but I thought he handled the question about the hostile reviews of the McCartney ballet very well. Balanchine got negative reviews for early works that became classics. He had occasional flops later on as well. PAMTGG anybody? Martha Graham liked to tell insecure young choreographers to go to the library and read her early (horrible) reviews.

Choreographers have to take risks and try new things. Sometimes there are flat out failures. Sometimes critics need time to catch up and change their minds. I'm not defending Ocean's Kingdom, but rather Mr. Martins' point that an artist has to be true to himself, regardless of the criticism.

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I am no fan of Martins' choreography, but I thought he handled the question about the hostile reviews of the McCartney ballet very well. Balanchine got negative reviews for early works that became classics. He had occasional flops later on as well. PAMTGG anybody? Martha Graham liked to tell insecure young choreographers to go to the library and read her early (horrible) reviews.

Choreographers have to take risks and try new things. Sometimes there are flat out failures. Sometimes critics need time to catch up and change their minds. I'm not defending Ocean's Kingdom, but rather Mr. Martins' point that an artist has to be true to himself, regardless of the criticism.

I agree, LiLing!

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I am no fan of Martins' choreography, but I thought he handled the question about the hostile reviews of the McCartney ballet very well. Balanchine got negative reviews for early works that became classics. He had occasional flops later on as well. PAMTGG anybody? Martha Graham liked to tell insecure young choreographers to go to the library and read her early (horrible) reviews.

Choreographers have to take risks and try new things. Sometimes there are flat out failures. Sometimes critics need time to catch up and change their minds. I'm not defending Ocean's Kingdom, but rather Mr. Martins' point that an artist has to be true to himself, regardless of the criticism.

It's pretty much guaranteed that Balanchine never heard "great genius of all time" during his lifetime. Certainly Stravinsky never did.

I actually think that Balanchine made a wise choice in picking Martins and Robbins together to carry the company forward. They needed someone loyal to NYCB who knew the dancers and their method inside and out, and respected it enough to be the caretaker (Martins), and they needed someone to add important works to the repetoire (Robbins). It was asking too much to find a single person to do all that. Given the circumstances, it was a wise decision. The fact that Martins didn't turn out to be a great choreographer himself isn't the biggest deal as long as NYCB is able to get ballets from other, significant choreographers. In fact, none of the "sons of Balanchine" have turned out to be genius choreographers at their respective companies (SF Ballet, PNB, Miami City Ballet). That's life. Balanchine was also smart in telling Martins that fund raising was going to become a big deal in the future, and fortunately, Martins did not shy away from that side of things. It simply has to be done in the U.S., but it ain't art. ;)

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I was surprised that they allowed Stahl to do the report, as she is a former ballet board member. Additionally, this seemed to sit in the can for a year. The McCartney ballet premiered in the fall of 2011. And I believe Fairchild made his Apollo debut also in early fall 2011. I find Martins' decision to invite Paul McCartney to compose his ballet to attract new, young audiences questionable at best. Young under-30, or even under-40, audiences are not seeking out music from a geezer like the ex-Beatle. That ballet is aimed at aging baby boomers, who are now reaching social security age. I will finally note that the ballet and dance audiences I experience (granted not in New York) are considerably younger than the classical music audiences. I don't think aging audiences are the ballet's biggest problem -- at least not in the Washington, D.C. area where I'm seeing many young professionals and young families making up the ballet crowd.

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I was surprised that they allowed Stahl to do the report, as she is a former ballet board member.

I thought it was a strangely unfocused piece, as much about Peter Martins as about its ostensible subject, and with a few laughably simplistic if not risible assertions, for example that “saving [classical ballet] from becoming a dying art form has fallen on the shoulders of Peter Martins” and, earlier, that “just about everyone thought [NYCB] could not survive,” period, “with the loss of George Balanchine,” the implication being that Martins saved it, period. Oh, and something to the effect that Martins made “Apollo” popular.

What was the point of the piece? Apparently that Martins has brought NYCB “into the 21st century,” “sustaining the legacy of the great George Balanchine.” Was Stahl trying to advance a point of view? She noted that the audience is greying while other forms of dance are attracting renewed attention. Martins then offered an explanation, which seems to be that audiences have slipped because the Cold War is over. (In other words, people were coming to see "heroes," not ballet). He then basically contradicted her, claiming (falsely) that the company has “sold our houses, all the time.”

That's journalism? Why run this piece now anyhow? I suppose it was a halfway decent introduction to the company for people who’ve never paid it any attention. I just expected better of 60 Minutes.

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Additionally, this seemed to sit in the can for a year. The McCartney ballet premiered in the fall of 2011. And I believe Fairchild made his Apollo debut also in early fall 2011.

This makes sense. Note that there was no mention of the Valentino gala in fall 2012. Sarah Jessica Parker (now a board member) had specifically said she hoped this would attract younger audience members.

I don't know what kind of ratings TV shows get on the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend, but with so many people travelling, this might have been a good time to use an old episode, especially with the Nutcracker footage.

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