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NY Times Writings on ABT

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https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/28/arts/dance/misty-copelands-down-to-earth-debuts-in-don-quixote-and-giselle.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Farts&action=click&contentCollection=arts&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=sectionfront&_r=0

 

 

I thought this review was a pretty accurate account of Misty's performance in Giselle.  I guess the Times doesn't regard the other debuts in Giselle that occurred on Saturday as worthy of review.

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I have mixed feelings about Seibert's piece. On the one hand, it seems unfortunate that Seibert writes so extensively about two apparently (at least to his eyes, as his descriptions suggest) middling performances when other excellent ballerinas are also performing. On the other hand, Seibert's appraisals strike me as refreshingly honest and a valuable reminder to his readers that ballet can be so much more than what now appears on the Met stage approximately twice each week.

Edited by nanushka

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Unless other evidence surfaces to the contrary, presumably Seibert wrote about Copeland's performances because they interested him, with or without encouragement from an editor who might think readers would be interested as well, and no slight to other dancers was intended by him or the Times. 

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3 minutes ago, dirac said:

Unless other evidence surfaces to the contrary, presumably Seibert wrote about Copeland's performances because they interested him, with or without encouragement from an editor who might think readers would be interested as well, and no slight to other dancers was intended by him or the Times. 

 

That seems no more presumable to me than any number of other explanations for the piece's appearance. And I say that with no particular agenda or implication in mind. I just don't think we can presume such a thing (indeed, "unless...evidence surfaces to the contrary") about Seibert's or the paper's purpose for writing or publishing the piece -- nor do I particularly think their motivation(s) matter(s) all that much. The piece exists, as a thing to be commented on, regardless of why.

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 I just don't think we can presume such a thing (indeed, "unless...evidence surfaces to the contrary") about Seibert's or the paper's purpose for writing or publishing the piece -- nor do I particularly think their motivation(s) matter(s) all that much.

 

Hmmmm.....I don't see why not, but leaving that aside, the OP referred specifically to the Times' motivation for publishing a piece discussing Copeland's performances rather than those of other dancers cast in the same roles, and I was commenting on that. 

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The piece exists, as a thing to be commented on, regardless of why.

 

No argument there, and such discussion is welcome.

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Copeland is an anomaly in some ways. She is a ballet star who has an audience who, to some degree, is drawn to her because she is a black woman who has achieved a particular status in her field. Her achievement is admirable and inspiring but how to write about her is a problem. Do you write about her separately from other dancers, or you do you compare her to others in a particular role and risk saying she falls short in comparison to others. It's complicated.

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She is a prima ballerina at ABT. As such, I think it would be degrading to not treat her as we do others, on the merits of her dancing. Why should she be treated any differently?

 

 

 

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I wrote a calendar spotlight about Anna Pavlova and The Dumb Girl of Portici (showing at the local film festival this Saturday morning!) recently, and had to think about this distinction.  For those of us already in the dance world, we will look at Copeland's work in a different context than the majority of the NYT readers -- we want the compare and contrast elements, and we want to shed light on the rest of the cast.  For many other readers, Copeland is the familiar element -- they know her through her celebrity, and so she's the pitch that brings them to the story.  For them, she is like Julia Child or Carl Sagan -- a name identified with a skill set or a body of knowledge that they may not be familiar with. 

 

Looking at it from a writer's point of view, I thought Seibert did a great job of illuminating the challenges that Copeland faced with these two, very distinct, roles, describing her approach to each and examining how her interpretation did or did not work in each case.  And he did it in just over 650 words -- that's very, very impressive.

 

 

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The NYT has neglected to review any of the exciting soloist debuts at ABT in the last few weeks when the ballet world has absolutely been buzzing about them. My question is why? What is their agenda? This is troubling to me.

 

As far as Misty goes, her reviews are clickbait for readers who know little about ballet but will fill the seats for her performances. I guess it's a win-win for ABT and the NYT in that regard, but the integrity of the critics suffers for it. 

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3 minutes ago, Fleurfairy said:

The NYT has neglected to review any of the exciting soloist debuts at ABT in the last few weeks when the ballet world has absolutely been buzzing about them. My question is why? What is their agenda? This is troubling to me.

 

As far as Misty goes, her reviews are clickbait for readers who know little about ballet but will fill the seats for her performances. I guess it's a win-win for ABT and the NYT in that regard, but the integrity of the critics suffers for it. 

 

I couldn't agree more. I've been checking the dance section religiously hoping to see a review, but obviously by now it's not coming. It's extremely disappointing.

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5 minutes ago, Fleurfairy said:

The NYT has neglected to review any of the exciting soloist debuts at ABT in the last few weeks when the ballet world has absolutely been buzzing about them. My question is why? What is their agenda? This is troubling to me.

 

As far as Misty goes, her reviews are clickbait for readers who know little about ballet but will fill the seats for her performances. I guess it's a win-win for ABT and the NYT in that regard, but the integrity of the critics suffers for it. 

 

They have been neglecting to review much of anything, certainly anything ABT. The only Giselle or Don Q reviews I recall seeing was that combo review of Misty.

 

According to their head critic, it is due to the cuts to their arts coverage, although since he is certainly staff, and since they get free tickets *and* people have seen him attending many of these shows I don't think it really explains it...

 

He is on twitter and instagram so you can ask him about it directly, but police your tone or he will block you.

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Just now, aurora said:

He is on twitter and instagram so you can ask him about it directly, but police your tone or he will block you.

 That isn't a criticism of you, I speak from experience!

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At least we're mostly spared reading how much Macaulay hates Corsaire this way!

 

 

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Unless it's a typo (but he should spell-check), I don't like how he keeps shortening Teuscher's last name to "Teusch". I find it disrespectful.

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I think she may use Teusch on her instagram account. Given the fact that he said glowing things about her, Devon may not care much that Macauley used a shortened version of her name. I found Macauley's explanation of why he dislikes Corsaire very persuasive.  There is also a not-so-subtle jab at Macauley's Times colleague regarding the recent dust up about whether the Ratmansky ballet Odessa depicts rape.  Macauley correctly points out that Corsaire overtly references the subjugation and rape of women.

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13 minutes ago, abatt said:

I think she may use Teusch on her instagram account. Given the fact that he said glowing things about her, Devon may not care much that Macauley used a shortened version of her name. I found Macauley's explanation of why he dislikes Corsaire very persuasive.  There is also a not-so-subtle jab at Macauley's Times colleague regarding the recent dust up about whether the Ratmansky ballet Odessa depicts rape.  Macauley correctly points out that Corsaire overtly references the subjugation and rape of women.

 

You are correct, she does (devon.teusch).

 

And I don't disagree that his reasons for disliking Corsaire have a certain validity, however I didn't even have to read them to know what they were because he has explained them ad nauseam in his reviews of this ballet over the years he has worked at the NYTimes.

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I think it very likely the Times' 'agenda' is not to go bankrupt, and in their judgment--rightly or wrongly--that means to cover the arts less, but Macaulay or someone else will probably write an end of season summation, as he dies most years and debuts may be mentioned then. 

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1 hour ago, aurora said:

And I don't disagree that his reasons for disliking Corsaire have a certain validity, however I didn't even have to read them to know what they were because he has explained them ad nauseam in his reviews of this ballet over the years he has worked at the NYTimes.

 

Critics repeat a lot of material from article to article -- we're not supposed to assume that readers have been following along all this time.  It's a challenge, to find yet another way to say that George Balanchine was the architect of neo-classical ballet, or that Nutcracker is the economic engine of most American ballet companies, but that's part of the job.  I know that the dance audience in NYC doesn't need to be educated in the specifics of the art form, but the paper has to assume that they are not the only readers.  When he writes for specialty publications like Ballet Review, Macaulay can leave out those details -- in the daily paper, he really can't.

 

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According to their head critic, it is due to the cuts to their arts coverage, although since he is certainly staff, and since they get free tickets *and* people have seen him attending many of these shows I don't think it really explains it...

 

You've got an apples and oranges argument going here.  Yes, critics go to many, many performances that they don't review, and the companies want them in the audience.  (those tickets often come from the company, although some papers do pay for their own.)  I call it "doing the homework" -- I see far more work than I have the opportunity to write about, but when I do get an assignment, I want to know as much as I can about the artists I'm discussing -- that can only happen if I've put in the time in the theater beforehand.

 

Cuts in coverage are all about the balance between column inches for copy and display advertising.  Even a paper that publishes web-exclusive work as well as print editions has a limited amount of space they can afford to run.  Choosing what gets covered and what does not is yet another task that editors must do, making them some of the least liked people in the business.

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2 minutes ago, Drew said:

 

I think it very likely the Times' 'agenda' is not to go bankrupt, and in their judgment--rightly or wrongly--that means to cover the arts less, but Macaulay or someone else will probably write an end of season summation, as he dies most years and debuts may be mentioned then. 

 

And a critic may be writing about this season for another publication as well (though Macaulay doesn't do this as often as he used to) -- it really is all grist for the mill.

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2 hours ago, aurora said:

 

 

According to their head critic, it is due to the cuts to their arts coverage, although since he is certainly staff, and since they get free tickets *and* people have seen him attending many of these shows I don't think it really explains it...

NY Times pays for all of its tickets to all performances, including but not limited to ballet. 

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20 minutes ago, abatt said:

NY Times pays for all of its tickets to all performances, including but not limited to ballet. 

 

good to know. I'm sorry for the inaccurate information.

 

Do you know when this policy changed? The Ethics in Journalism document for the New York Times, clearly states that reviewers can accept press passes and tickets to events they are reviewing.

 

In any case, even if it is out of economic necessity it is still sad that the arts coverage has been so drastically curtailed.

 

 

Edited by aurora

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5 hours ago, aurora said:

[...] it is still sad that the arts coverage has been so drastically curtailed.

 

 

 

Very...

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As someone who doesn't see ABT very often, and isn't familiar with this production of Swan Lake, I thought the review did an excellent job of discussing a specific performance, the lead couple, and the strengths and weaknesses of the production.  In just over 650 words.

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Interesting review that IMO described the flaws in the production well, and gave the reader an idea of the qualities of the performers. I found it a bit odd though, that he chose to review Swan Lake after seeing just 1 performance, so he couldn't comment on other interpretations. Also, unless I somehow missed it, he didn't review Giselle at all even though there were 3 debuts in the title role.

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