sonatina1234

Macaulay on NYCB

80 posts in this topic

1 hour ago, dirac said:

The Times is the only US paper that sends its critics out of town to review dance performances in other parts of the country (and the world), so I would suggest that's actually a Good Thing.  I can also understand why Macaulay might be more interested in covering Ratmansky's new version of The Fairy's Kiss than re-reviewing Martins' Sleeping Beauty, even with cast changes  -- and some of his audience might be more interested in reading about it. (Ideally, there would be no choice to make and both would get reviewed.)

 

 

 Yes, on both counts.  The Times has really been covering the national scene much more thoroughly than they used to, and I'm grateful for that, especially as industry publications like Dance Magazine don't carry reviews any more.  And yes, while you want the paper to cover the field both locally and nationally, if you're engaged in following the career of someone like Ratmansky, you want to see what he's doing even if it's not for a New York-based company.

 

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Could we extend this to all of the publications that we're reading -- if your local paper doesn't cover dance, or covers it very sparingly, let them know you'd like to read more.

 

Good point, sandik.

 

abatt, your remark about the lifestyle trivia, with which I agree, is exactly the kind of complaint the paper needs to hear right now, because that is the direction in which their coverage is headed.

Edited by dirac
Edited to make it clear which point of sandik I was applauding. :)

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dirac:

 

" .... because that is the direction in which their coverage is headed."

 

Looking for more coverage on shrinking Times arts coverage, I came across this spicy account of an old fashioned fight over turf between theater critics and this (diminished) job description - 

 

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The ad for the position asked for candidates who’d work well with editors, interact with readers, and explore “new story forms.” It also included the line: “While a background writing about theater is a plus, it is not a prerequisite.” That doesn’t sound like a job for an old-school theater critic, or one quite so intimately familiar with the players as Charles Isherwood was. 

 

http://www.vulture.com/2017/02/why-was-times-theater-critic-charles-isherwood-fired.html

Edited by Quiggin

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On 2/22/2017 at 4:23 AM, miliosr said:

The decline in the number of actual reviews in the Times has become more noticeable in the last year. There has also been a corresponding rise in the number of dance "lifestyle" pieces that you would normally see in a publication like Vogue.

 

 

I was shocked when I started to see Macaulay posting on dancer Instagram feeds. I can't believe the Times allows this. And I have to wonder what the City Ballet dancers think of him posting on their Instagram feeds given what he wrote about Jenifer Ringer and Jared Angle several years ago.

Absolutely. It's vomitous and unprofessional in the extreme, just like 'Sugarplumgate....' which he MADE WORSE with a subsequent even more hostile, defensive, and specious column. 

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Beautifully expressed jsmu about Mearns!!  I could never quite get a handle on why he obsessed over Mearns.  She is a fine dancer and technician, but not what I look for in a dancer.

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16 hours ago, Quiggin said:

dirac:

 

" .... because that is the direction in which their coverage is headed."

 

Looking for more coverage on shrinking Times arts coverage, I came across this spicy account of an old fashioned fight over turf between theater critics and this (diminished) job description - 

 

 

http://www.vulture.com/2017/02/why-was-times-theater-critic-charles-isherwood-fired.html

 

Thanks, Quiggin. I did see that, having followed the Isherwood dustup with some interest. (I guess he's been stewing like some junior ballerina at the Royal waiting for Fonteyn to quit.)  Looks like they're seeking someone young and cheap who won't talk back to the principal. It is more than a little insulting to the craft. I presume the Times wouldn't hire, for example, an architectural critic who knew nothing of buildings except what he liked.

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Salon has a piece on changes in music coverage at the Times and what it means for jazz that sheds some light on the paper's thinking about arts coverage in general.

 

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Though the Times had not been making many editorial decisions based on analytics prior to last summer, it had been actively collecting data for about five years, according to Ratliff. One of the conclusions the Times drew from the data it collected was that reviews did not perform well.

 

 

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On 2/23/2017 at 9:09 PM, jsmu said:

Absolutely. It's vomitous and unprofessional in the extreme, just like 'Sugarplumgate....' which he MADE WORSE with a subsequent even more hostile, defensive, and specious column. 

 

guys guys. lets all take  a deep breath here.I agree with everyone here-- that the instagram thing is unprofessional, there's no other way to describe it--my jaw dropped when I saw him obsessively commenting on dancers' instagrams. not so much bc the dancers would feel obligated to respond--I don't think they do, and I don't think they feel the threat of a negative review--I just think it looks needy and pathetic, on the other side. As in,I may have just eviscerated your colleague in print but look, I'm really a nice guy! Love me!!! lets go pound some brewskis!


If you want to be a critic, have the courage of your convictions and be remorseless, adamantine, yet just. It's a lonely office by definition. if you can't deal with that, get out of the way and let someone else write the criticism for the times. instagram is already an orgy of congratulation and self congratulation, with everyone patting everyone else on the back in the name of thinly veiled self promotion--do we really need to add a critic into the mix here?


nonetheless-he was 100% right about his "sugarplum" review. And I thought his follow up was, though a little too personal for my taste, still cogently argued.

 

I think some of this is not his fault--his reviews got markedly "nicer," or less perceptive, after the jenifer ringer incident, I'm sure bc his editor told him the NYT was getting too much negative press and he had to seem more appealing and relatable. So I don't know if it's his impulse to comment on instagrams, or if the paper has directed him to try and look more like a regular guy and not such a jackhole. I think it is a sickening trend and I hate it.

Edited by jkr3855
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On 2/24/2017 at 10:27 PM, kfw said:

Salon has a piece on changes in music coverage at the Times and what it means for jazz that sheds some light on the paper's thinking about arts coverage in general.

 

"...making many editorial decisions based on analytics prior to last summer"

 

 

This is appalling, and it's why I canceled my subscription a few months ago. Popular internet trends should not dictate content. Maybe I should let them know.

Edited by jkr3855
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12 hours ago, jkr3855 said:

 

 


nonetheless-he was 100% right about his "sugarplum" review. And I thought his follow up was, though a little too personal for my taste, still cogently argued.

 

I think some of this is not his fault--his reviews got markedly "nicer," or less perceptive, after the jenifer ringer incident, I'm sure bc his editor told him the NYT was getting too much negative press and he had to seem more appealing and relatable. So I don't know if it's his impulse to comment on instagrams, or if the paper has directed him to try and look more like a regular guy and not such a jackhole. I think it is a sickening trend and I hate it.

Sorry. You are both 1000% wrong about Sugarplumgate, about Ringer, about weight, and probably about many other things. The 'follow up' was not only illogical and factitious, it was a personal attack of an even more offensive nature. Ringer was not fat; she was not even overweight, and from what she says in her very charming and readable autobiography the entire NYCB was ready to lynch Macaulay not only for his stupidity on the subject of physical appearance and weight but for his sheer obnoxiousness.

Edited by jsmu

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I also find it bizarre that Macaulay is following and commenting on the dancers' instagram feeds. I wonder though if this is his idea, or if he's being told to do it by his editors, in the Times' attempt to look more modern. And I agree about too many puff pieces on the dancers. On the other hand, the Times has also been running sort of "preview" articles analyzing a particular aspect of an upcoming ballet, such as one on the rose adagio for SB, and one entitled "Who is Sugarplum?" or something like that. I find these pieces interesting and useful. My partner, who thought he didn't like Nutcracker, read the article on Sugarplum and got interested enough to come to a performance, which he then loved. 

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I just ran across a Macaulay review of NYCB in London in Ballet Review 1984 (12:1, Spring; 84-96) in which he strenuously defends Balanchine and the NYCB dancers against the preponderance of British critics.

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Why Macaulay writes what he does or posts on Instagram is purely speculation until he says something about it.  I don't get commenting on dancers' social media though, by critics.  

 

I disagree about Sugarplumgate itself, but  I agree that the follow-up was, at best, ill-conceived.  He could have said what she herself said on her book tour: She did not come into the season at perfect weight or shape, and  it took her a few weeks of rehearsal and performance to get there.  If I had a dancer with that pattern, unless there was an emergency, I would not be casting him or her on Opening Night, but later in the run instead.  This was not a world premiere in which she was first cast and no one else could cover, it wasn't the end of the run where injuries were accumulating, and I've never seen it published anywhere that the entire company was wiped out by illness at the time, and she was the only one left standing.

 

It's clear in my reading of him that he's hardly a critic who has one body type idea and slams anyone who doesn't meet it:  if he liked skinny, he hardly would be admiring Mearns.  If Ringer wasn't in perfect fighting shape when she danced, there's no set-in-stone reason Macaulay should not have brought it up:  his job is to write about the performance, and her eating disorder alone should not determine whether a critic determines it impacts that performance, however well-loved the dancer is and how understandable his or her colleagues response to criticism is.  

 

Unfortunately, he was too clever for his own good and his wording itself read as a set-up to the real slam, her partner, who apparently looked like he had eaten half the Kingdom of the Sweets.  That was mostly lost in Sugarplumgate, and where were the colleagues up in arms about that?  And in a career that spans decades and many, many printed words, I don't think any critic of his stature has made mistakes and regretted what he or she has written.  Usually this is remembered, if at all, by people who are in or watch ballet, a very small number of us, and it rarely gets hashed out in the main stream media or network television or book tours.

 

 

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I'm actually a fan of both Macaulay's interest in historical research and his overall writing style.

 

That said, he's had three tendencies in the past that he's gradually overcome.

 

I think that his interest in companies' stylistic lineage initially led him to criticize dancers who worked outside of his sometimes limited vision of a company's style. He's definitely come to expand his definition of the types of dancer each company "should" contain...and I suspect watching the career arc of the very dramatic Mearns at the very "cool" NYCB--not to mention seeing over the past few years that Balanchine is about FAR more than the black-and-white ballets--has played a role in this.

 

He's also now less prone to criticize dancers unreservedly for their casting and interpretation. The former is completely beyond their control (even Whelan has said that she couldn't control how she was cast...far less Ringer).  And even interpretation is sometimes more in the hands of a repetiteur or director than an artist might like.  Major artists in the world of opera and theater have far more control over those things:  I think that he may have come to realize this.

Edited by choriamb

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It's ironic that the New Yorker is writing about the dearth of reviews at the NYT when its own dance writer hardly writes about dance in the magazine. She has written a few small items on the web but not the long critical pieces we used to see.

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Posted (edited)

I haven't followed this thread so my comments might seem out of place. There's been plenty of discussion about the New York Times and its dance coverage.

 

With my background, I tend to view most things through a business and financial set of lenses. So I just did a quick check, less than five minutes worth, on the NYT.

 

http://s1.q4cdn.com/156149269/files/doc_financials/quarterly/2016/Press-Release-12.25.2016.pdf

 

Quote

Operating profit decreased to $55.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2016 from $87.7 million in the same period of 2015. The decline was largely driven by a pension settlement charge, lower print advertising revenues and higher costs, which were partially offset by higher circulation revenues. Adjusted operating profit (defined below) was $95.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2016 compared with $117.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2015.

...

“As we said we would, we returned to double-digit digital advertising growth in the second half of 2016. In Q4, we were up 11 percent year-over-year from solid performances in smartphone, marketing services, branded content and programmatic advertising, with growth in these businesses more than making up for stress on the legacy parts of digital advertising. We continue to experience significant headwinds in print advertising, but the robustness of our consumer business, which we expect will continue, provides a strong counter balance to these market challenges. We will remain focused on our legacy cost base while continuing to invest in digital growth and innovation.”
...

Total advertising revenues in the first quarter of 2017 are expected to decrease in the high-single digits compared to the first quarter of 2016.

 

While NYT enjoyed good subscriber growth of 276,000 digital subscribers, there were offsetting factors. In the "Outlook" section, we see that total advertising revenues are expected to decrease in the high-single digits. As the company stated it will remain focused on its legacy cost base. In short, it remains a challenging environment. The "Outlook" stuff is critical. As a general comment, a company can do amazingly well during the last quarter and issue a weak outlook. Analysts will often largely ignore the great performance and will focus instead on the weak guidance.

 

In addition to hard quantitative stuff, a company's 10K statement often provides some helpful qualitative stuff. For those of you that might be interested, you can look around the company's investor site here: http://investors.nytco.com/investors/default.aspx.

 

The 10K itself is here: http://s1.q4cdn.com/156149269/files/doc_financials/quarterly/2016/q4/As-filed-2016-10-K.pdf

 

Quarterly earnings conference calls are very helpful, too. The company will often provide some "color" as to how its strategies are progressing. It discusses its various financial metrics and then opens itself up to questions from the analyst community. If anyone wants to get neck deep in this stuff, you can sign up at seekingalpha.com for free. Once you are there, you can read more about NYT.

 

The key point of my entire message is that newspapers are tough businesses. So, look for companies to focus their energies where they can get their highest returns.

Edited by Stecyk

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Thanks for the analysis -- though I'm a freelance journalist, this is not my area of expertise.

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Posted (edited)

13 hours ago, sandik said:

Thanks for the analysis -- though I'm a freelance journalist, this is not my area of expertise.

 

Thank you for your comment. While I didn’t offer any analysis, I did highlight a few sentences from its last earnings release statement. From its earnings release, we know that the business climate remains challenging.

 

I will provide a few more words on this topic and then let it go. I suspect most aren’t interested in the business considerations.

 

One of my interests is in photography, so I have been peripherally following the media sector. I don’t recall which billionaire took over a famous newspaper in Chicago; however, I seem to recall that many of the news photographers were let go. That scenario has played across North America with other media organizations. Furthermore, various newspapers have combined news sections to reduce “redundancy.”

 

Jeff Bezos recently acquired the Washington Post. My understanding is that while he is not directly involved in its editorial and news content, he has encouraged the company to use data science, much like Amazon does. And you know that Amazon is very efficient and effective.

 

I expect that most large news organizations now know who clicks on which articles. For every article, it knows the demographics of the readership, when they read, how long they read, how many refer the article to others by way of the email feature, which articles they read next, and so on. I wouldn’t be surprised if the news organizations know your every click on their site.

 

Indeed, many news sites now provide “recommended for you” articles. Thus, they know what I like and read.

 

They also know that when an article cracks the “top ten” list, it gets a further boost in popularity.

 

When I read a “touchy feely” article in the Wall Street Journal, I note that many readers often comment to the effect that such an article doesn’t belong in the Journal. I at once know that those readers are dumber than a sack of hammers because the Journal has the data. It knows what its readers read. Even more amazing, those who can’t stand such topics read the article and then bother to write that the article shouldn’t exist. As a word to the wise, don’t read the Journal’s readers’ comments, for they are usually very caustic and political.

 

If the news organizations don’t already inform their writers of the various metrics, I expect that they soon will. A writer can or will be able to login and see key metrics about their articles, even in real time.

 

Is this all bad? Not necessarily. For example, a newspaper might show that the readership of dance articles is skewing heavily to those that are older, much like the general population of attendees at a dance performance. The writer is then encouraged to write some articles to attract a younger audience. The writer can then pitch a dance company with a feature article that will appeal to a younger audience. The dance company, too, wants to attract younger audiences. So, their interests in the upcoming article are aligned.

 

Data science is the “hot new thing” in university. Graduates with varied backgrounds gather and analyze huge amounts of data and then present the results. I am confident that the larger news organizations are learning and adapting, because their future depends upon it.

Edited by Stecyk

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When I read a “touchy feely” article in the Wall Street Journal, I note that many readers often comment to the effect that such an article doesn’t belong in the Journal. I at once know that those readers are dumber than a sack of hammers because the Journal has the data. It knows what its readers read. Even more amazing, those who can’t stand such topics read the article and then bother to write that the article shouldn’t exist. As a word to the wise, don’t read the Journal’s readers’ comments, for they are usually very caustic and political.

 

They may well be longtime readers, and probably subscribers, to the WSJ who are familiar with the paper’s traditional focus on business and politics. You seem to be saying that readers aren’t allowed to complain when they think their publication of choice is becoming a slave to clickbait and their only option is “If you don’t like it, don’t read it."

 

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Posted (edited)

9 hours ago, dirac said:

 

They may well be longtime readers, and probably subscribers, to the WSJ who are familiar with the paper’s traditional focus on business and politics. You seem to be saying that readers aren’t allowed to complain when they think their publication of choice is becoming a slave to clickbait and their only option is “If you don’t like it, don’t read it."

 

 

@dirac, thank you for your reply.

 

Because you are a board moderator, please feel free to move my response to a separate thread. I feel guilty taking away from the original focus of this thread. Let me respond, however, to your comment.

 

WSJ has for a long time written about topics other than business and politics. Indeed, one of its most enduring and well read sections is its "A-HED" column where the topic is typically something unusual. I often enjoy those articles. And in today's arts section of the WSJ, there's an article titled "‘Curlew River,’ ‘Dido and Aeneas’ and ‘Otello’ Reviews: Classics Get a Refresh" about an opera, with no comments, that demonstrates that the WSJ is not only about business and finance.

 

Now, to come to your main point about my purportedly "...saying that readers aren't allowed to complain when they think their publication of choice is becoming a slave to clickbait and their only option is 'If you don’t like it, don’t read it,'" no, that's not what I am saying. Of course, people, especially paying customers, should voice their concerns. There is, however, a difference between voicing your concerns and trolling. And to your point, if the subject matter doesn't interest you, then yes, I suggest skipping over it. Why waste your time? Even more importantly, by skipping over it, you are voicing your lack of interest. If there's no interest, there will be no future articles. For example, I am reading one health article now on WSJ and there are forty-one trackers, with twenty-four dedicated to advertising; ten to site analytics; two to essential, whatever that means; two to customer interaction; two for audio and video; and one for social media. WSJ knows exactly what its readers are reading.

 

Having said all that, I went back to review some touchy feely articles and their comments. Surprisingly the comments aren't as bad as I recall them to be. Perhaps the WSJ does a better job at moderating the comments now than it used to. It got so bad that I didn't even bother to read the comments.

 

I was going demonstrate with article along with two readers' comments, but I can't see how to add pictures to my post. So that's out. It's not a big deal.

 

When I read articles in various newspapers, I typically scan the comments because sometimes someone has something valuable to share, other than he or she agrees or disagrees. The other person might be familiar with the latest research or have come across important information that isn't widely known or has an interesting analytical view on the subject. Sometimes a reader contributes more than the writer.

 

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article "We’re All Internet Trolls (Sometimes)" dated March 5, 2017.

 

Quote

Admit it: At one point or another, you have probably said something unpleasant online that you later regretted—and that you wouldn’t have said in person. It might have seemed justified, but to someone else, it probably felt inappropriate, egregious or like a personal attack.

 

In other words, you were a troll.

 

New research by computer scientists from Stanford and Cornell universities suggests this sort of thing—a generally reasonable person writing a post or leaving a comment that includes an attack or even outright harassment—happens all the time. The most likely time for people to turn into trolls? Sunday and Monday nights, from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m.

 

I believe this article is behind a paywall. If you or anyone else is interested, please send me a private message along with your email, and I can probably send you an invitation to read the article.

 

 

Edited by Stecyk

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On ‎3‎/‎14‎/‎2017 at 8:48 AM, miliosr said:

 New York Theatre Ballet performed recently in New York and, unless I missed it, there was never a review.

 

I've just started a new thread with a review of the New York Theatre Ballet performance by Jerry Hochman.

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It's ironic that the New Yorker is writing about the dearth of reviews at the NYT when its own dance writer hardly writes about dance in the magazine. She has written a few small items on the web but not the long critical pieces we used to see.

That’s been the case for years, alas. As Joan Acocella has said, most recently to Ballet Review, for a long time she couldn't find much to engage her in what was going on. While I understand that some dance eras are less inspiriting than others, I often wished that if such were the case, the magazine might consider making room for a dance critic who was actually interested in the dance beat. Of course, the editor in chief has a lot to do with such things, and perhaps David Remnick is just not that interested in dance.

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Remnick, who reported from Russia back-in-the-day was very interested in the Bolshoi after Filin was attacked:

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2013/03/18/danse-macabre

 

I would not be surprised if he and Acocella were on the same page about what dance and what in dance is worth writing about.

 

That's not surprising, because while Croce wrote about modern dance, she tended to stick with the big guns of the time, if not exclusively.

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