Ok...I'll step into the arena
Well, I tend to think that Gottlieb, like some critics is somewhat stuck in the past and far too negative. We can't stop time-Balachine has been dead for nearly two decades, and his hand-picked dancers are retiring. Face it-things are going to change (as they always have) and we can't just constantly compare today to the past.
Dancers have changed-careers, especially for those who never make it out of the corps are shorter and not nearly so focused on just ballet. Dancers are getting married, having kids, taking college classs, dancing with other companies etc. It's a different world, and the newer dancers are a different generation.
I've disagreed with many of Martins' choices in dancers, casting and programs, but he's really in a no-win situation. No-one will ever live up to Balanchine.
Also, I tend to think this season's problem was the choice of ballets, not the dancers.
Borree has her issues, but she's a good dancer. Over the years she's been excellent in ballet such as "La Sonnambula". I really liked her Helena (or Hermia?) in Midsummer's.
I very much disagree with Gottlieb about Ringer. Has she been dancing with NYCB for 13 years?-she's only just 30, I think. While T&V is not an idealrole for her, she did a elegant job. I would have liked to see Somogyi in the role, but for all we know, with all the injuries, Martins may not have been able to work the schedule out to have her do T&V enough times to make it worth the rehearsal time. Better to wait rather than risk exhasuting her to the point of an injury or illness.
(I think in many cases it's not completely fair for us to negatively comment on casting when we are unaware of a lot of the issues-minor & major injuried, partner incompatibilties, attitude issues, dedication or lack there of etc.)
Ringer was born to do "Who Cares"-with both Neal and Hubbe, she was spectacular.
Her first Midsummer's PdD was a tad tentative (I doubt she got very much rehearsal), but it was beautiful. I think it will be spectacular by the end of the run next Spring Season.
I agree that NYCB has some issues in its upper male ranks, but am less worried now that I was a year ago.
Woetzel has actually been on stage nearly twenty years-he joined the Los Angeles Ballet when he was 16. He's been with NYCB for 17 years. Obviously, Woetzel has lost some power with age, but he's still pretty darn good. Yes, he was not at his best in Midsummer's, but anyone who is familiar with Woetzel knows that he doesn't give 100% in every performance or every role. He looked a little off on Wednesday, but his Saturday matinee performance of Oberon was excellent.
Boal and Soto are not young chickens, but still are great assets on the stage and over at SAB. Soto may not be ideally built, but he and Whelan were so breathtaking in the Midsummer's PdD that I didn't even think about his physique.
I think Millepied and Marcovici have great promise, and Fayette has carved his own niche as a solid, elegant partner. After all, Balachine's male choreography, in general, is much more about supporting the women thant individual dancing. Angle and Hofmans (of the exquisite feet!) are also ones to watch.
ABT obviously has an excess of fabulous male talent. Yet, NYCB does not need a roster full of explosive technicians. The NYCB rep demands partnering skills, solid technique and somtimes bravura skill. I'd love to see Corella in the NYCB rep, but I don't think some of the other ABT men would be so comfortable at NYCB. And I don't think Martins lost Stiefel-Stiefel's always been a wanderer and still is off dancing around the globe at every chance.
I prefer to look at the positive-and there's plenty to look foward to in coming seasons. Antonio Carmena has grown physically and technically this season, and Martins is giving Dan Ulbricht every opportunity to show off his talent(he's debuting in Tarantella next week). Ansanelli is great, and there are many appealing young women in the corps.
If I were to constant think of the negatives, it wouldn't be worth the effort to go to the ballet. Each performance to me is a chance to see the positives-more some nights than others. So, Mr. Gottlieb, lighten up and look for the good in life. NYCB will never be the NYCB of 10 or 20 years ago, and that's good in many ways. My generation is different from yours, and thus so is the ballets.
And things aren't so hunky-dory over at ABT.
Looking foward to NYCB this winter!