Eight is Enough
The NYCB's new trove of Diamond Project commissions demonstrate, as they do annually, that the golden age of ballet choreography is long gone.
The New York City Ballet is celebrating the tenth anniversary of its Diamond Project this season. Named for its chief benefactor, Irene Diamond, it was ostensibly devised to keep the company's repertoire on the cutting edge by a periodic wholesale commissioning of new work in the classical vocabulary. Theoretically, the plan is admirable; the results so far -- 49 pieces by 27 dance-makers -- have been dismal. This comes as no surprise, really. With the passing of Balanchine (and the genius of the British school, Frederick Ashton), ballet choreography entered the Age of Lead. Mrs. Diamond might have put her generosity to better use -- the tending of the Balanchine canon, to cite the company's most urgent need.
No surprises, for those who regularly read Ms. Tobias, but a very good stating, I think, of the position of those who find the Diamond Project less than satisfactory. (not just this quote; the whole article) Her discussion of classical and nonclassical dance is interesting; she divides the Diamond Project into Traditional and Modern, just like, as she puts it, furniture showrooms in department stores.
(BTW, totally off-topic, but there's an interesting section in this week's New York Magazine on Harlem; link on home page at www.newyorkmag.com)