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Macaulay on All-American Ballerinas


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#46 kfw

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Posted 14 July 2013 - 01:47 PM

 

Yes, I was just trying to get an idea of why he thought they did not excel or when....

 

Sorry to misunderstand you.



#47 jsmu

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Posted 23 September 2013 - 02:08 PM

reposting, as the discussion moved here:

Well, Macualay as usual has his opinions. These are some of his dimmest in recent memory.

Sarah van Patten is questionable (especially when omitting FRANCES CHUNG, a vastly superior and more brilliant dancer), but Patricia Delgado? There are corps and soloist dancers in every major US company better than Patricia Delgado. She's no sister Jeanette, that is for sure.

Sterling Hyltin (?!?!??!!) and no Melissa Hough, Margaret Severin-Hansen, Victoria Jaiani, CARRIE IMLER, Carla Korbes, Julie DIana, or Wendy Whelan?

Hough and Severin-Hansen are great ballerinas by any standard, but clearly only certain companies are worth Macaulay's royal attention--and only certain dancers in those companies (cf. Chung, Imler, Diana, Whelan--whom he has so often and stupidly trashed.....)

Ludicrous.



#48 Helene

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Posted 23 September 2013 - 02:57 PM

Korbes was born in Brazil and trained there until she was a young teenager and didn't fit Macaulay's criteria.  I was shocked that she wasn't on his list until this was pointed out to me.



#49 pherank

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Posted 23 September 2013 - 06:02 PM

Sarah van Patten is questionable (especially when omitting FRANCES CHUNG, a vastly superior and more brilliant dancer

 

Sorry, no, I have to disagree with that statement. .

 

There aren't an awful lot of dance writers these days that can be truly inspiring in their words - not like an Edwin Denby.



#50 volcanohunter

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Posted 23 September 2013 - 06:42 PM

Frances Chung was born and trained in Canada, so her exclusion may boil down to that.



#51 Helene

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Posted 23 September 2013 - 07:09 PM

Chung, like Alex Wong (formerly MCB), trained at Goh Ballet in Vancouver.



#52 sf_herminator

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 12:46 PM

reposting, as the discussion moved here:

Well, Macualay as usual has his opinions. These are some of his dimmest in recent memory.

Sarah van Patten is questionable (especially when omitting FRANCES CHUNG, a vastly superior and more brilliant dancer), but Patricia Delgado? There are corps and soloist dancers in every major US company better than Patricia Delgado. She's no sister Jeanette, that is for sure.

Sterling Hyltin (?!?!??!!) and no Melissa Hough, Margaret Severin-Hansen, Victoria Jaiani, CARRIE IMLER, Carla Korbes, Julie DIana, or Wendy Whelan?

Hough and Severin-Hansen are great ballerinas by any standard, but clearly only certain companies are worth Macaulay's royal attention--and only certain dancers in those companies (cf. Chung, Imler, Diana, Whelan--whom he has so often and stupidly trashed.....)

Ludicrous.

 

It looks like the article is about American-born dancers - in the seventh paragraph he mentions that Gillian Murphy was actually born in Britain.  Frances Chung is from Vancouver, Canada (http://www.sfballet....s/Frances_Chung) - therefore I forgive for her exclusion..... And Carla Körbes is from Brazil (http://www.pnb.org/A...arlaKorbes.aspx).



#53 abatt

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 12:53 PM

 

Well, Macualay as usual has his opinions. These are some of his dimmest in recent memory.

Ludicrous.

 

He can't stand Wendy Whelan. He almost always gave her negative reviews. Also, he was not a reviewer for the NY Times while Wendy was in her prime, and when she had her legendary partnership w. J. Soto.  I think Whelan gave electrifying and intense performances of certain neoclassical roles (Agon, 4Ts, SVC) which have not been matched by her successors at NYCB.



#54 jsmu

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Posted 25 September 2013 - 08:52 AM

 

Sarah van Patten is questionable (especially when omitting FRANCES CHUNG, a vastly superior and more brilliant dancer

 

Sorry, no, I have to disagree with that statement.

 

 

From a technical standpoint, there is no comparison of van Patten and Chung in terms of precision, footwork, placement, and speed.  Chung's virtuosity is rare, and van Patten's technique has never been her strongest point.



#55 pherank

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Posted 25 September 2013 - 11:16 AM

From a technical standpoint, there is no comparison of van Patten and Chung in terms of precision, footwork, placement, and speed.  Chung's virtuosity is rare, and van Patten's technique has never been her strongest point.

 

JSMU, you are totally entitled to your viewpoint. Ballet dancers are more than athletes, or technicians. They are supposed to be artists, which is a whole different realm, and a very subjective one. The All-American Ballerinas have to be exceptional interpreters of their art form.

If you've read through the entire thread(s) on this subject, and been a reader of Macaulay's articles, then you know that one of the main themes of this thread has been Macaulay's need to praise one dancer by putting down others. As Jock Soto put it,

"Dear Alastair Macaulay, if you are going to write about great ballerinas, can you do so without insulting them? Also if you knew what these ballerinas do to become themselves then why don't you put on a pair of Pointe shoes for the next twenty years. It's time for the NY Times to fire you. Have a nice day."

Please don't do the same thing by putting down one deserving dancer to raise your own champion. [Interesting that in this case Macaulay himself would probably disagree with you.]

Enjoy the dancing of Frances Chung this upcoming season: it should be a really good season (if they can just get their labor contract signed).



#56 bart

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Posted 25 September 2013 - 11:33 AM

Macaulay is always a fascinating topic on Ballet Alert.  innocent.gif

 

I suspect this is due to more than matters of taste.

 

One advantage Macaulay has is that he gets to see an enormous number and range of performances, including many by companies and dancers who are outside the NYC market.  Few reviewers have this kind of travel budget and access to print.  He does his research.  The few times I have observed him in the audience, he seemed to be deeply attentive to what is going on onstage.  His visual memory is exceptional.

 

Most of us focus by necessity on one or just a few companies.  Our viewing experience is such that we become experts on the dancers we have the chance to see, which often breeds emotional commitments that make it hard for us to hear criticism (or, worse, indifference) from outsiders.  (I'm talking live performance, here.   DVDs and YouTube tell us a lot, but not, perhaps, as much as we would like to think.)



#57 pherank

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Posted 25 September 2013 - 12:24 PM

Most of us focus by necessity on one or just a few companies.  Our viewing experience is such that we become experts on the dancers we have the chance to see, which often breeds emotional commitments that make it hard for us to hear criticism (or, worse, indifference) from outsiders.  (I'm talking live performance, here.   DVDs and YouTube tell us a lot, but not, perhaps, as much as we would like to think.)

 

I don't actually question Macaulay's capabilities as a dance writer, but I do question his choices, and perhaps his ethics.

 

This just appeared on another thread, but this BEST OF SEASON 2012 - 2013 list pretty much ignores any contribution from the Americas. Apparently Julie Kent was the only exceptional US dancer this past year - and Sonia Rodriguez in Canada.

Sonia Rodriguez, National Ballet of Canada


#58 brokenwing

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Posted 25 September 2013 - 04:05 PM

I have to say I agree with Pherank on this one. I respectfully disagree with your opinions on both Sarah Van Patten and Patricia Delgado, as I've seen both give near-definitive performances of several coveted roles, particularly in the Balanchine rep. I may prefer them to Chung, but that opinion is perhaps not even relevant to this conversation. I think it would be nice if we simply presented the dancers we loved most in America. By putting dancers down to elevate those we like, it puts us on the level many complain Macaulay is stooping to, especially when it's pitting sister against sister. 

 

I'm not sure that his exclusion of several wonderful ballerinas has anything to do with him showing preference to specific companies. I, too, love Margaret Severin-Hansen, but perhaps he simply hasn't seen Carolina Ballet perform. Macauley is certainly a lightning-rod for controversy, but ultimately, and in spite of some comments in his work that irk me, he writes intelligently and with passion, and that is what matters to me. 



#59 bart

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Posted 25 September 2013 - 05:25 PM

brokenwing, I'm definitely with you on this:

 

By putting dancers down to elevate those we like, it puts us on the level many complain Macaulay is stooping to, especially when it's pitting sister against sister.


#60 Jayne

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Posted 25 September 2013 - 06:24 PM

Some people argue over their favorite automobiles, we debate the best American ballet dancers.  Artists can be the best in their field, without needing to be the best in all fields.  Van Gogh, Picasso, Rembrandt, Sargent, and so many others are all the best painters of their genres, but do not need to cross genres to justify themselves.  Actors can be great without being wonderful at comedy.  Meryl Streep could never play Winnie Mandela.  But she is still a great actress of our time.  (although Robert Downey Jr was uniquely wonderful in Tropic Thunder - crossing racial and comedy lines).  

 

I feel the same way about neoclassical dancers.  Ms Whelan does not need to excel as Giselle, Juliet or Raymonda in order to be great.  Likewise Natalia Makarova does not need to excel in the entire Balanchine rep in order to be great.   Actors can be great without being wonderful at comedy.  

 

Ballet companies are expanding their rep to include more and more modern pieces.  This is fine, except that critics and fans nitpick them for falling short of the original dancers' style in the modern genre.  Is this really fair?  If the Merce Cunningham company decided to put on a traditional, romantic Giselle - wouldn't that seem strange?   They wouldn't look like the Romantic visions because their bodies have trained in a different genre for so long.

 

The expectations for ballerinas has expanded so widely that it is well-nigh impossible to meet the standard in the critic (or fan's) imagination.

 

Perhaps a better standard will be based on emotion "I will regret so much her retirement from the stage, because no one dances like her" 




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