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The Dance Goodbye

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I was at a showing of The Dance Goodbye followed by a Q&A with Merrill Ashley and the film makers. Anyone else there? I enjoyed the film and especially the Q&A but I don't think the film was particularly well done. In the film, 3 or 4 different people expressed the idea that a dancer who retires questions their identity as in - I was a ballet dancer and now I am not, so who am I? A valid question but hearing the same thought from several different people felt like padding. The idea behind the film is universal. Anyone who goes through a transition not of their choosing can relate.

I was surprised that no NYCB people were interviewed aside from Jacques D'Amboise. John Meehan was interviewed as a "frequent partner." We see a little footage of Meehan and Ashley rehearsing Sleeping Beauty wedding pas but they couldn't have danced together a lot. That had to have been a guest appearance. The footage of Ashley's dancing was wonderful. The Q&A was delightful. I particularly liked a questions asked about how much choreography of Ballo was left on the cutting room floor - so to speak. The answer was, one step, and that was at Ashley's request.

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I was at a showing of The Dance Goodbye followed by a Q&A with Merrill Ashley and the film makers. Anyone else there? I enjoyed the film and especially the Q&A but I don't think the film was particularly well done. In the film, 3 or 4 different people expressed the idea that a dancer who retires questions their identity as in - I was a ballet dancer and now I am not, so who am I? A valid question but hearing the same thought from several different people felt like padding. The idea behind the film is universal. Anyone who goes through a transition not of their choosing can relate.

I was surprised that no NYCB people were interviewed aside from Jacques D'Amboise. John Meehan was interviewed as a "frequent partner." We see a little footage of Meehan and Ashley rehearsing Sleeping Beauty wedding pas but they couldn't have danced together a lot. That had to have been a guest appearance. The footage of Ashley's dancing was wonderful. The Q&A was delightful. I particularly liked a questions asked about how much choreography of Ballo was left on the cutting room floor - so to speak. The answer was, one step, and that was at Ashley's request.

I own the DVD of the film so I didn't bother to come to the Filmlinc showing. But I agree that the film was not particularly well done. If memory serves, it was also rather dated; i don't think it went into how Merrill now travels around for the Bslanchine Trust, setting and coaching ballets around the world.

As for no other NYCB dancers, I'm sure they could have made some effort to get some former dancers for the Q&A. I don't know if Ib Anderson lives here but Robbie La Fosse and Damian Woetzel both do. However, in a NYT article on Friday (I believe) Merrill said something to the effect that the current crop of NYCB dancers aren't willing to work hard and Merrill didn't want to feed them pablum. Well that remark drew a lot of anger from at least Sara Mearns in an Instagram post. She responded that NYCB dancers were the hardest working dancers she knew and that the remark was completely disrespectful. It doesn't surprise me there were no current NYCB dancers in attendance.

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The timing (of production and distribution) of this film seems a bit slow to me -- I know a project like this takes time, and there are all kinds of road blocks that can come up, but I think this would have been more significant if it had come out at least a couple of years ago, when our images of Ashley as a performer were more fresh.

It seems to me that we're really starting to expect a shorter turn-around time for projects like this one. With films like the Misty Copeland bio that made the festival circuit last year and was just on PBS, we see a film of someone who is currently working, and is still breaking ground. We're watching something as it unfolds, rather than reflecting on something that already happened.

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I own the DVD of the film so I didn't bother to come to the Filmlinc showing. But I agree that the film was not particularly well done. If memory serves, it was also rather dated; i don't think it went into how Merrill now travels around for the Bslanchine Trust, setting and coaching ballets around the world.

As for no other NYCB dancers, I'm sure they could have made some effort to get some former dancers for the Q&A. I don't know if Ib Anderson lives here but Robbie La Fosse and Damian Woetzel both do. However, in a NYT article on Friday (I believe) Merrill said something to the effect that the current crop of NYCB dancers aren't willing to work hard and Merrill didn't want to feed them pablum. Well that remark drew a lot of anger from at least Sara Mearns in an Instagram post. She responded that NYCB dancers were the hardest working dancers she knew and that the remark was completely disrespectful. It doesn't surprise me there were no current NYCB dancers in attendance.

More than the Q&A I was surprised that there weren't more NYCB dancers interviewed in the movie. Sean Lavery, Adam Luders, Peter Martins and others partnered her a lot yet in the film John Meehan was interviewed as a frequent partner. It seemed strange to me. I was too polite to ask in the Q&A

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