It's interesting to read all these rave reviews of the Swan Lake performance and then to see Gia Kourlas' sad, mean little review in the NYT. Contrary to all the posts here, she writes the same old stuff she always writes - it was boring, nobody but Gomes was good enough for her, Simkin can't partner, Hallberg was dull, the ballet didn't really start until Gomes came out. Not surprising from a modern dance person. But then she confuses Odette/Odile getting the parts mixed up. What does that say about the standard of dance writing at the NYT? If she can't tell Odette from Odile why would you listen to her about anyone's performance, or the tempi, etc. If they insist on retaining her why not assign her to performances that are more to her taste? That is to say, modern dance.
I'm actually more concerned that editors don't catch this type of thing (Odette/Odile) - it's a huge problem in the age of 'instant news' and Tweets. Writers, especially writers under a short deadline, can scramble things in their heads, to be sure. But editors are there to make sense out of things, ask pertinent questions, and bring the writer back down to earth if necessary. But I'm seeing very little 'editing' of online reports and essays these days.
Not to defend Kourlas, but I was reading Patrick Kennedy's Swan Lake review today, and I appreciated the fact that he pointed out what he thought were real issues with the SL costumes and staging - something I hadn't heard before. And he was cleraly not as smitten with the general performance aesthetic as some:
"In the realm of dance, Swan Lake occupies the kind of place that Pride and Prejudice occupies in the realm of literature-held up as a prim and pointless display of technique, subjected to endless riffs and parodies, but actually smart and challenging in ways that the detractors always overlook. There is an unruly, beautiful tangle of interpretive possibilities beneath the surface of Swan Lake, and the ABT production doesn't unearth any of them. It's all surface, all dazzling, melodramatic surface. Surface isn't enough."
I've been disturbed by Kourlas' interviews. I think some of the people she interviewed spoke too freely to their detriment. Given that she is a seasoned journalist, I sometimes feel that the people she is interviewing are relatively naive and inexperienced in dealing with publicity and the press, and that Kourlas is capitalizing on their naivete.
It's worth noting that most dancers have lived in a tightly controlled, closed environment, and are certainly not trained to handle themselves well with the press, or general public for that matter. Even though stage performers are normally thought of as 'public figures', at least to some degree, I think relatively few dancers qualify as true public figures or media darlings. In Russia, yes, it happens, but not in the West.