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Article on Stroman and Tharp in The New Republic


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#1 dirac

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Posted 21 November 2002 - 04:23 PM

Jennifer Homans reviews Stroman's and Tharp's recent efforts on Broadway for The New Republic in the December 2, 2002 issue of The New Republic. (Unavailable online at present.)

#2 dirac

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Posted 25 November 2002 - 12:13 PM

Here it is:



http://www.thenewrep...&s=homans120202

#3 balletmama

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Posted 25 November 2002 - 02:22 PM

Gee, and I thought I was the only one who felt that way about the Girl in the Yellow Dress scene. Just couldn't see what all the fuss was about. Thought I was just getting too old to appreciate that sort of thing...;-)

#4 BW

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Posted 25 November 2002 - 03:25 PM

Interesting to read - had vaguely thought of trying to see "Movin' Out"...but don't think I will make the attempt now. Actually never knew what the theme of the musical was supposed to be. Billy Joel doesn't really go with the 60's coming of age or the Viet Nam war in my opinion, either.

Her juxtaposition of the two choreographers was interesting to read. I have seen Contact, didn't want to see the new version of Oklahoma...

I also read the older article she wrote about the "crisis" in ballet - titled "Steps, Steps, Steps - in which, rather than skewering NYCB, as some might say she did in the NY Times earlier this year, Ms. Homans takes the ballerinas of ABT to task instead...after a history lesson. I don't know if this article was discussed earlier or not...I suppose I should go back in cyber time and take a look because I would think it must have roused some posts.

I'll be waiting to see if any others care to comment on this writer's views of Stroman's and Tharp's "history" and choreography.

#5 dirac

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Posted 25 November 2002 - 03:47 PM

It did indeed arouse some comments, BW -- here's the link to the old thread:



http://www.balletale...&threadid=2898


Homans' "history lessons" are there because TNR is a general interest publication that specializes in politics and public policy -- not a readership that can be assumed to have a profound knowledge of dance. :) I do have to wonder about the contents of the lessons, sometimes. For example, she lumps Astaire, Kelly, Balanchine, and Jack Cole together as "interwar" Broadway choreographers, when the first two were performers who did their own dances and the third was a ballet choreographer who was doing work on Broadway strictly from hunger. Odd grouping. It also seemed a little funny to have Robbins departing Broadway in part because of the ascendancy of Bob Fosse, when I recall that Fosse had a standing invite from Robbins to do a piece for NYCB, and Fosse himself revered Robbins. Michael Bennett did groundbreaking work that doesn't even merit a mention. There's more, but I'll leave it there.

It's true, Billy Joel is not an obvious fit with the Vietnam War era.

#6 Nanatchka

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Posted 26 November 2002 - 08:46 AM

To me Billy Joel is an obvious fit with the Vietnam Era. It's when he came of age. More on the show later. I think it's fabulous.

#7 BW

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Posted 26 November 2002 - 09:24 AM

Oh good Nanatchka! I look forward to your description of "Movin' Out"!

Re the Billy Joel/Vietnam connection and his coming of age during that period of time... I hadn't thought about it from that point of view.

How old is Billy J.? I am on the "young" side of actually coming of age during Vietnam, although I marched against it locally, carrying a lighted candle down to the Quaker Meeting House in our town...not really having a decent knowledge of what the "conflict" was about...but when I think of that era, to me, the music that comes to mind is the music one hears in the movies "Coming Home," "The Deer Hunter" and, of course, "Apocalypse Now" because those were the songs that were playing at the time of the Vietnam war.

In thinking about it from your point of view, I suppose you are right that the music listened to by these young soldiers, as they came of age, may well have been more in keeping with Billy Joel's style of music...as opposed to the music they fought with.

Again, I'm looking forward to your review. :)

#8 dirac

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Posted 26 November 2002 - 10:16 AM

I don't think Homans was referrring to Joel's chronological age (he was born in 1949), but more to his music, which, as she notes, has a smoothness characteristic of much seventies rock, as opposed to the rougher edges of the rock of the sixties, which was a more musically adventurous era. Even when he tackles a tough subject, as in "Allentown," Joel ties it to a nice bouncy tune. By the same token, this might make his style more amenable to adaptation to Broadway I don't know if Tharp uses these particular songs, but gloppy pop stuff like She's Always a Woman to Me and Don't Ask Me Why would do just fine as showtunes.


None of the above would necessarily prevent Tharp from making a good show from the material, of course, and the consensus seems to be that she has.

#9 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 26 November 2002 - 01:54 PM

For those who have already seen it, how does it compare (choreographically and otherwise) to Hair? Tharp choreographed Milos Forman's version of the musical. It's been written (I'm paraphrasing Sybil Shearer, I think) that Balanchine carried the aesthetic of the 1920s with him through his life. Was Tharp formed by the sixties in the same way?

Haven't seen the show yet, but I have to admit I don't think of those songs as being Vietnam Era at all. I remember when they all came out - late 70s and early eighties (although Piano Man might have been earlier) and for me, they're written from the point of view of someone who knows how Saigon and Watergate were going to turn out.

#10 dirac

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Posted 26 November 2002 - 03:29 PM

This is making me feel very old. :) I can remember when "Piano Man" came out, and this thread is making things like "Seasons in the Sun" and "Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves" come back to me as well. I wish all choreographers would stick with the classics. At least when I'm watching Liebeslieder Walzer, I'm not forced to reflect on the fact that I was around when it was new.

#11 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 26 November 2002 - 03:50 PM

I usually don't get dictatorial about my prerogatives as Assistant Director of Ballet Talk, but I think this is justified as an emergency situation.

Any further mentions of Cher will be summarily and severely punished. And it will only be worse for you if you mention Sonny Bono.

Halfbreed. . .that's all I ever hearrrrd. . .

LAW
(And the beat goes on!)

#12 dirac

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Posted 26 November 2002 - 04:15 PM

If I could turn back time...okay, I'll desist.

Looking forward to your review, Nanatchka.

#13 BW

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Posted 27 November 2002 - 03:44 PM

You are pretty funny, dirac and Leigh! :)

#14 dirac

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Posted 02 December 2002 - 04:37 PM

We try!

Laura Jacobs reviews the show, and discusses Tharp at length, for The New Criterion:


http://www.newcriter...ec02/jacobs.htm

#15 BW

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Posted 02 December 2002 - 05:03 PM

Wow! I don't know anything about Laura Jacobs, but boy does she hate Twyla Tharp!:rolleyes: If anyone ever thought Jennifer Homans was tough on NYCB or Peter Martins - they ain't seen nothin' yet! Yikes!

I really can't comment as I'm not sure that I've really seen Ms. Tharp's work...though I must have, mustn't I? Ms. Jacobs certainly goes for the jugular.


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