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The National Ballet of Anywhere!


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#16 BalletNut

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Posted 17 May 2002 - 12:10 AM

I would also like to clarify what I meant when I said I was glad not to be a critic. It isn't so much that I hate the face of dance today as much as it is that I am so very opinionated, picky, and hard to please that, were I a critic, I'd be buried under millions of defamation lawsuits!:D

#17 Morris Neighbor

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Posted 13 May 2002 - 06:38 PM

This may be a parochial view, but we don't get much Balanchine here in New York (the Kirov excepted, of course.) The National Ballet of Anywhere rarely stages works that are familiar locally. Do you want to show a third-rate Jewels to critics who have seen Farrell, Martins, MacBride, Villela, and Verdi? We mostly get the hip-hop Oedipus, the all-male The Women, the re-conceived national epic of Nowhereistan, sixth-generation xeroxes of Pina Bausch, and of course, the Artistic Director's re-interpretation of A Midsummer Night's Dream as a passionate plea against nuclear power.

Thank God I never realized my dream of becoming a dance critic!

#18 Morris Neighbor

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Posted 15 May 2002 - 05:50 PM

Nanatchka, please do not misinterpret my meaning. My point was not that dance is today in decline, but that the works many companies feel compelled to perform and the venues in which they feel compelled to perform are often ill-chosen. Absent these self-defined limits (as I have seen for myself attending performances in other venues), the companies have much to offer.

At the same time, however, I must note that the increasingly commercial nature of support for arts institutions (at least here in the US, and from what I have seen, in Western Europe as well) has a constricting effect. For instance, the New York City Ballet has offered a Christmas-season Nutcracker for some four decades. Faced with four weeks of the same ballet, dancers tended to rebel, and the New Year's Eve performance became known for its high-jinx -- pink bows on the mouses' tails, multiple dancers leaping from the "Tea" box, a conducter (Robert Irving) appearing in full drag for the second act, and so on. In recent years, Peter Martins has forcefully discouraged such trickery, on the grounds that "the audience has paid too much to see anything but the real thing."

OK, but he's also discouraged me from attending my umpteenth performance.

When it comes to Nutcracker commentaries, Mark Morris has written the book. His The Cracked Nut, set to the original score and alluding to the original scenario, but including a black drag nanny and Freud to help Tchaikivsky deal with his fantasies, puts the work in a contemporary context. Its audience was limited but its insights are worth noting.


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