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Macaulay on Forsythe (Boston Ballet Tour)


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#16 kfw

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Posted 28 June 2014 - 06:43 AM

kbarber - agree.   flabbergasted.  Was there nothing postitive in the tremendous effort of Boston Ballet's team of artists and artistic staff that was worth mentioning?   unlikely. 

 

If he hated the ballets, the only positive thing to remark on would be the dancers, and their talents would be better shown in a better program. I'll be very surprised if he doesn't have at least some praise for them in his review of the second program.



#17 mimsyb

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Posted 28 June 2014 - 01:15 PM

I just saw the second detail in Toronto in May and I didn't think it looked stale at all. I was flabbergasted by the negativity of Macaulay's review.

Massine looks "stale" also.  He's still danced a lot.  One could argue DeMille looks 'stale" also unless coached really well.  The list goes on.   Sometimes it's good to look at older works, just to see and reflect on how far (or not) dance and choreography has come from the past years.  I'm just happy to be seeing the Boston Company.  Tonight is Program B and tomorrow is the A.  I am not afraid!



#18 Helene

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Posted 28 June 2014 - 01:24 PM

I think there's a big difference between "stale," and "dated."  Something that appears dated can be appreciated for what it is and in context.  Something stale, not so much, and, of course, lots of opposing views have been expressed among critics and among ourselves.



#19 dirac

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Posted 28 June 2014 - 02:44 PM

Nothing to see here IMO. Macaulay was warning darkly of Boston Ballet's suspicious Forsythiness years ago. He has never liked Forsythe's stuff and he's having another go at him. There are reasons not to care for Forsythe, and Macaulay has some points, but to me Macaulay on the subject has always sounded mainly cranky. 



#20 pherank

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Posted 28 June 2014 - 05:32 PM

Nothing to see here IMO. Macaulay was warning darkly of Boston Ballet's suspicious Forsythiness years ago. He has never liked Forsythe's stuff and he's having another go at him. There are reasons not to care for Forsythe, and Macaulay has some points, but to me Macaulay on the subject has always sounded mainly cranky. 

 

He's doing his best John Martin impression. And succeeding.

The issue for me is just that the online article purports to be a review of Boston Ballet, ending their 50th anniversary tour (which is what this thread originally was about), and Macaulay gives them nothing. That's what makes this 'review' mostly just rude, and no one really learns anything from it. As you say, Dirac, there's nothing to see here, really. If anyone wants to learn about the Program 1 performances they will have to look elsewhere.



#21 mira

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Posted 28 June 2014 - 07:57 PM

well put, pherank.  



#22 Swanilda8

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Posted 29 June 2014 - 10:33 AM

Agreed. I do think a critic should come out with strong opinions if they really believe in those opinions, but this review doesn't begin to address the superb dancers in the Boston Ballet. The only dancer he even mentions by name is Erica Cornejo, and he does so only to describe her costume. Possibly, he was having a hard time distinguishing the dancers from one another, since he doesn't know the company well? 

 

I also happen to strenuously disagree with him about the merits of The Second Detail and Cacti. I have seen Boston perform both works, and they are engaging, exciting pieces, both intellectually and viscerally. Cacti is very postmodern, and I wouldn't want every ballet to be so self-referential. But since it's actually a strikingly unusual work for the ballet world, particularly the ballet world in New York, I would have thought that it would be seen as refreshing and funny. I laughed so hard I almost cried. 

 

Since he seems to approve of the next program more (big surprise since it's anchored by a Balanchine work) maybe he's justifying this review by planning to praise the dancers in the next one. But it seems really unfair to review an out-of-town company and not comment on the quality of its performers at all. Though who knows how he'll react to Kylian. 



#23 sandik

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Posted 29 June 2014 - 08:00 PM

 

I just saw the second detail in Toronto in May and I didn't think it looked stale at all. I was flabbergasted by the negativity of Macaulay's review.

Massine looks "stale" also.  He's still danced a lot.  One could argue DeMille looks 'stale" also unless coached really well.  The list goes on.   Sometimes it's good to look at older works, just to see and reflect on how far (or not) dance and choreography has come from the past years.  I'm just happy to be seeing the Boston Company.  Tonight is Program B and tomorrow is the A.  I am not afraid!

 

 

Other aspects notwithstanding, is Massine really "danced a lot" lately?



#24 mimsyb

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Posted 30 June 2014 - 06:33 AM

Went to Sun. mat with my husband and had a delightful time.  This was my first viewing of BB so first off the dancers - beautiful bodies, technically strong, teeming with energy and joy.

 

I liked The Second Detail (Forsythe) but know he isn't everyone's cup of tea.  I think he is an excellent craftsman.  He can move groups well and have a lot happening on onstage while still directing your eye, so it never feels like random chaos.  I really enjoy the combination of attack and fluidity in the work.  In the piece I also felt as if the dancers were creating a community onstage, a community of individuals.  It was like the ballet was a world of its own.  I just want to add the the piece shows the dancers off very well.

 

I didn't like Resonance (Martinez), but the dancers again looked great.  I just didn't find the piece very musical or interesting.  There were elements that I guess were supposed to be meaningful such as having a wall that was moved, sometime casting large shadows of the dancers, and 2 pianos.  One was upstage and one at the lip of the stage.  Anyway I lost interest in the piece, took out my opera glasses and started watching individual dancers!

 

Cacti was delightful.  I was surprised to read that the choreographer, Alexander Ekman is just 30 years old.  The piece is funny, charming, self referential, inventive and well constructed.  I smiled and laughed the whole way through.  The dancers on squares beating out rhythms, the voice over coming in with pretentious nonsense, the dancers carrying cacti in stage, the couple dancing to the voice over saying their thoughts.  I was totally delighted and charmed.   There were a lot of children in the audience who obvious loved this.  It is a piece that is funny on so many different levels that I can see how it would appeal to a child as well as an experienced theater goer. 

 

I look forward to seeing more of these dancers.  I have a relative in Boston who I'll be making well timed visits to see.

I couldn't agree more, Vipa.  While I didn't love all of the Forsythe, still it shows the dancers to their excellent best.  Felt the same about Resonance.  It simply faded choreographically by the end. But the delicious Cacti saved the day!!  What a romp!  I don't recall laughing so much in a ballet for a long while.  It just sent up EVERYTHING we hold dear and think we know about dance and art in general.  No wonder Macauley didn't like it.  It even skewered critics or people like him who propose to inform us all about so much, but in the end tell us nothing.  There were so many clever aspects to this work and they went by so fast, my mind can barely register them all.  An astute eye could even make out references to every ballet that Boston presented here this week.  I caught arm references to the Balanchine, as well as the specific hands of Faun.  I loved the "white way" that was laid down for the hysterical pas de deux danced to the music of the inner thoughts of the dancers.  Doesn't Paul Taylor use that diagonal all the time?  His are done with light; here it was Marley flooring!  And that the dancers began this work on platforms (which might be related to the pedestals we put artists on at times), and then re-arranged these platforms (pedestals) in a silly jumble as if to say "none of this matters".  The use of the cacti was golden!  How ridiculous!  How perfect!  I heard one older man say as we exited; "why cactus"?  Exactly!  Why in ever not cactus?   This was a superb closing to a courageous, thrilling and magnificent showing of BB!  Please come back and soon! 



#25 kfw

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Posted 30 June 2014 - 07:02 AM

the delicious Cacti saved the day!!  What a romp!  I don't recall laughing so much in a ballet for a long while.  It just sent up EVERYTHING we hold dear and think we know about dance and art in general.  No wonder Macauley didn't like it.  

 

From Macaulay's 8/15/13 review of Olivier Wevers' company, Whim W'Him:

 

Because the Seattle company Whim W’Him is straining against the orthodoxies of ballet, it made, on Monday and Tuesday, a usefully provocative addition to the Joyce Theater’s current Ballet v6.0 festival, which features small experimental ballet troupes. It challenges conventional ballet’s presentations of sociology, gender and music. That’s welcome. 



#26 Andre Yew

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Posted 30 June 2014 - 12:14 PM

Whether one agrees or not with Macaulay, the way he went about writing his review was not the right way to do it. Certainly negative reviews are necessary, and I'd argue that well-written critiques are few and far between today, but far more needed today than ever.

 

The problem with Macaulay's review is that he's telling us about his internal emotional dialogue without giving us a basis on which to judge or even understand his pronouncements. It doesn't help that he uses somewhat disingenuous devices like his imagined Forsythe dialogue, too.

 

Imagine two different people describing the same sunrise: "Ugh, why am I still up? I hate this job!" Or "That's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen." Both are equally valid impressions of the same event, but how much does it tell someone who's never seen a sunrise before?



#27 its the mom

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Posted 01 July 2014 - 02:04 AM

A good read:  http://www.jirikylia...tics_criticism/



#28 dirac

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Posted 01 July 2014 - 11:00 AM

Macaulay has a right not to care for Forsythe. But I've heard enough from him on the subject myself, and possibly the Boston Ballet dancers and the Times' readership would have benefited had the paper sent another reviewer. In any case, he seems to have tried to address the issue in his latest:

 

The company opened its season last week at the Koch Theater with a triple bill of works in which it was hard to care who was dancing, since each ballet made its performers look insincere, horrid or foolish. With the four highly dissimilar ballets of program B, on Friday, things became far more complex.

 



#29 California

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Posted 01 July 2014 - 11:53 AM

The review by Robert Gottlieb (for me, a must-read critic) is also pretty brutal. The link just appeared in today's "links": 

 

http://observer.com/...week-for-dance/



#30 pherank

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Posted 01 July 2014 - 12:17 PM

 

Macaulay has a right not to care for Forsythe. But I've heard enough from him on the subject myself, and possibly the Boston Ballet dancers and the Times' readership would have benefited had the paper sent another reviewer.

 

 

I have to agree that Macaulay was a poor choice of reviewers given his already professed dislike for these choreographers, but Gottlieb isin't much better. Macaulay finally gets down to brass tacks with his closing statement -

 

"The works by William Forsythe, José Martinez, Alexander Ekman, Mr. Elo and Mr. Kylian show unpleasing taste in choreography on the part of the artistic director Mikko Nissinen. The casting of central roles in the Balanchine and Nijinsky works added further problems. It’s to be regretted that some of the company’s finest dancers were not shown in better vehicles, and that, this time, New Yorkers saw so few of its best productions."

 

So it's the director's fault, and not Macaulay's inability to appreciate any of the choreography. Got it. To each his own, right?

 

The review by Robert Gottlieb (for me, a must-read critic) is also pretty brutal. The link just appeared in today's "links": 

 

http://observer.com/...week-for-dance/

 

To his credit, Gottlieb comes right out and states his various issues - it just happens to be over-the-top, imo:

 

"The disappointment comes from the unwelcome revelation that although its dancers are devoted and agreeable, it’s a gigantic artistic mess. The pain comes because the company is clearly so proud of its awful aesthetic. They’re up there in Beantown isolated from the realities: Sorry, guys, but William Forsythe is old hat (and was a pernicious phenomenon when he was new hat); Jorma Elo—the Finnish resident choreographer—churns out frantic and empty pieces every 10 minutes; and most of the rest of the repertory on display here is what we used to call Eurotrash—although Europe’s in enough trouble already without having to shoulder the blame for a tsunami of bad art."

 

Nothing worse for an American company than to be associated with "Eurotrash". LOL

 

I may have to change my mind and say that Gottlieb is now doing the best impression of John Martin, not Macaulay. Anyway, to cut to the chase - if all this trashy, loathsome choreography (from Europe) were removed, what would BB be left with to dance? Are they seriously supposed to mimic NYCB and ABT? "Little NYCB"? Why, oh why does anyone need that?




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