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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
    avid balletgoer
  • City**
    New York
  • State (US only)**, Country (Outside US only)**
    New York
  1. A bracing festival of dance and performance art from eastern Europe -- unfortunately scheduled for Thanksgiving Week when audiences are hard to come by. Somebody gave me a ticket and I'm glad I went! http://occupythearts.blogspot.com/2017/11/croats-and-poles-poking-holes.html
  2. Three years ago, mad as hell about New York City Ballet’s plan to triple and quadruple ticket prices, I and a few other balletomanes declared an audience strike against our long-time beloved ballet company. We hoped a boycott would shake up the management, and force a return to popular prices. Three years later, they win. Drawn by rave reviews and gorgeous pictures in the paper, I finally slunk back across my invisible picket line last week. I paid 62 dollars for a seat in Row G on the side in the fourth ring – three times what I would have paid just a few years ago. The reward was a brilliant triple bill of Balanchine classics – Serenade, Agon, and Symphony in C – from a company dancing better than it has in years. Is this the effect of prosperity? If so, you can’t argue with success. To read more, go to http://occupythearts.blogspot.com/2015/01/heart-and-spleen-confessions-of-strike.html
  3. Yes, indeed. The link above is my summary of it. I'd add that it's not a great documentary -- as one reviewer said, it's not as nimble as its subject. But Doris Payne is an original, a character with an amazing story, and she gets to tell it here. Well worth seeing.
  4. When Doris Payne was a little girl, in the coal country of West Virginia, she wanted to be a ballerina, but someone told her she couldn’t, because “they don’t have black ballerinas.” All right, she thought, if I can’t be what I want to be, I will be something else. more at http://occupythearts.blogspot.com/2014/06/a-dream-deferred.html
  5. On my way into Lincoln Center Saturday night I saw a poster for a ballet company with a quote from a critic: “At this level, ballet is a belief system.” The sentence flashed back during Serenade, as a girl arched into a full arabesque, bounding across the floor. Serenade is an initiation, for performers and audiences alike, into a great mystery. For better or worse, this girl was becoming a believer, in an art form that goes beyond normal human experience. SAB’s performance was full of little flaws, but they didn’t matter, they even added to the spell. Here, in every sense, were human beings in the process of becoming angels, messengers of the divine. More at http://occupythearts.blogspot.com/2014/06/serenade-at-eighty.html
  6. What macnellie said. My thoughts and feelings, exactly. It's quite a contrast to a newer movie about a struggling artist in New York, the Coen brothers' "Inside Llewyn Davis." But then their movies never have happy endings. I wrote a review which you can read here
  7. Frances is a dancer, a dancer and a choreographer, six or seven years out of the Vassar College dance department, living in New York and trying to make it in the modern dance scene. She’s an apprentice with a modern dance company, and both she and the company are strapped for cash. But she doesn’t even want to think about giving up her dream. Frances shares her dreams with her roommate, a brainy classmate who’s trying to make it on the literary scene. Together they are going to sweep the world off its feet, they’ll have an apartment in Paris, they’ll collect lovers and dozens of honorary degrees. But when roommate Sophie finds a rich new boyfriend, her life changes and she moves out, leaving Frances alone in an apartment she can’t afford. Frances moves in with a couple of guys, promising to raise her share of the rent once the company starts its Christmas show. But then she gets cut from the Christmas show. Thus begins her painful slide through increasing layers of desperation, toward realizing who she really is. Who she really is is a beautiful, compassionate, deeply intelligent and funny person who really does have a talent for choreography, but who isn’t going to be famous or rich in this world. Frances coming to terms with this world is the simple plot of this complex character study. Noah Baumbach is the director and Greta Gerwig is his co-writer, muse and star in this deceptively modest black-and-white flick. It’s a sometimes harrowing look at upper-middle-class college graduates looking for work, love, sex, home, and artistic fulfillment in New York. Most of the dance scenes are shot at a real Manhattan studio, with a narrow hallway strewn with the stretching bodies of twenty-something dance hopefuls. The company director is played by a real dancer, Charlotte D’Amboise, who has the look of someone toughened by years of showbiz, but who retains an eye and a heart for a person of real quality like Frances. I won’t spoil the ending with a description, but let’s just say Frances is finding her little niche in New York. Frances Ha is not her full name, but it’s partway there.
  8. This is a misleading piece with a badly flawed premise. Early on, Stahl says the job of saving Classical Ballet from becoming a dying art form has fallen on the shoulders of Peter Martins. Martins seems to agree, saying that someone has to devote his life to “preserve and protect” Balanchine’s legacy. Excuse me? Never mind that Balanchine’s work is NOT Classical Ballet, and there are other people taking care of that. How about the other people who are taking care of Balanchine’s work, in many cases doing arguably a more successful job than Martins? Stahl mentions that there are other companies run by NYCB alumni, but never names one. For her, NYCB is the “mother ship,” and the very survival of Ballet depends on Martins’ quest to fill empty chairs at Lincoln Center. This is the Gotham-centric view taken to an extreme. (I’m a New Yorker and I do think we’re the capital of the world, but the world does not rise or fall on what happens here.) Stahl does confront Martins with the horrendous reviews of his choreography, which he brushes off as merely the work of the ignorant. But more pointedly, she raises the question of how a guy who admits saying “all ballerinas are bitches,” can run a company whose founder believed “ballet is woman.” For Martins and Stahl, the ballerina ideal is passé. Their dreamed-of new audience seems to consist mostly of young women swooning over sexy young male performers, a la Justin Bieber or Beatlemania. The most astonishing thing about this piece is that it includes not one word from a woman. In 13 minutes, the only speakers are Martins, Sir Paul McCartney, Robbie Fairchild, and some little boys from SAB. Sara Mearns, Tiler Peck, Wendy Whelan et al are seen but not heard or named. Suzanne Farrell appears only as a fleeting image over Martins’ crack that he doesn’t like ballerinas. I realize that 60 Minutes is not conventional journalism. It likes to focus on one place and one scene rather than a survey. But this claims to be a report on the state of Ballet today, and it is no such thing. Full disclosure: I’m no more objective than Lesley Stahl. In fact I am an audience member On Strike against New York City Ballet. I began my protest nearly a year ago; you can read it at http://occupythearts...0&max-results=3
  9. I'm now "officially" on strike against NYCB and the David H. Koch Theater. Just before one Saturday matinee of Nutcracker, I staged a one-man picket line with a sign that said "Audience Member on Strike against Koch Theater ticket prices." The response from arriving ticket holders was curious and mostly friendly, though one young lady informed me that this type of performance was not for just anyone and if I couldn't afford it I should look for a cheaper Nutcracker. "They're all the same," she assured me. Others, including a mom in a mink coat, gave me a thumbs-up. After about 15 minutes a Lincoln Center security guard asked me (politely) if I would take my protest out to the sidewalk along Columbus Avenue, and I complied. I was still able to meet a stream of audience people as they crossed the street. Security people kept their eye on me and later two of them asked me what this was all about. I told them, they laughed and said they agreed with me. My conclusions from this experience were a. it's possible to protest at Lincoln Center without getting beaten up or arrested. b. It would be a lot more effective with more people. If you'd like to join some kind of a protest during the upcoming winter season, email me flipsy23@gmail.com and we can talk about tactics. You can read more of my adventure at http://occupythearts...ity-ballet.html
  10. Opening night was the first time I'd seen Ratmansky's Nutcracker, and I couldn't resist writing a compare-and-contrast essay about ABT and NYCB. Here's an excerpt: "If I were a judge on the 'Battle of the Nutcrackers' playing this week on cable TV, I would have to give Act Two to Balanchine's version, for its unhurried, distinct delights, its sense of repose in action. But I would give Act One to ABT for pure energy and drama." To read the whole piece go to http://www.danceview...m/tom_phillips/
  11. Blog post: "When New York City Ballet and New York City Opera jointly announced in 2008 that David H. Koch would donate 100 million dollars to renovate the New York State Theater, the opera called it a “transformative gift.” The ballet said it would “ensure the integrity of George Balanchine’s vision for the theater ..for decades to come.” Three years later, the renovation is complete. But the opera company has left the building, now called the David H. Koch Theater, and Balanchine’s vision is in the dumpster." to read the whole story go to http://occupythearts.blogspot.com/2011/12/david-h-koch-nutcracker.html
  12. My theory is that this has less to do with NYCB's financial condition than their spiritual state, which is near death. Popular pricing was an essential part of Kirstein and Balanchine's vision for the NY State Theater. Charging whatever the market will bear is the mark of David H. Koch and the current board. Count me in, I'm on strike.
  13. I've been organizing family excursions to NYCB's Nutcracker since the 1960s. We usually sit in the third ring, and up to now it's been an affordable family treat. Imagine my surprise yesterday when the guy at the box office told me the only available third-ring seats for this Friday 12/2 would be $112! I wound up taking two in the fourth ring, row D, for $91 each. But it looks like the David H. Koch Theater is no place for middle-class family excursions. That's a shame, because Kirstein and Balanchine, Morton Baum and even Nelson Rockefeller had a definite vision for Lincoln Center as a place where fine arts would be available to the masses, at least the middle-class masses. It paid off in the ballet boom of the 20th century, and the countless kids who decided to try ballet after their parents took them to see the Nutcracker. What do you suppose the effect will be of pricing them out of the theater?
  14. "In 37 minutes “Veronique Doisneau” reveals the toll a lifetime of physical and emotional discipline takes on a beautiful young woman. But the film-maker is a dancer himself, and his portrayal does not slight the sublime nature of her toil. The result is a dancer’s story, told with a dancer’s exquisitely refined sense of balance." This is from a review of "Veronique Doisneau" in danceviewtimes.com. You can read it at at http://www.danceviewtimes.com/2009/03/a-da...tory-.html#more
  15. Kathleen's points are well taken. I'm sure I've seen a picture of Merrill Ashley doing the same step, and the angle of the bent leg wasn't as extreme. So actually I've never seen anything like that grand pas de chat at NYCB. But what I meant by "authenticity" was something deeper -- an honesty and commitment, a selflessness and boldness in the dancing that I remember from the days when Balanchine was there, which I'm afraid has given way at NYCB to a sketchy, smudgy reproduction of his style: e.g. "whatever" pas de chats where the toe never even rises to the thigh, gargouillades that give up after one leg, etc. Miami has definitely added a Latin touch (especially in that upper torso) to the traditional neo-classic style, so its authenticity is its own, not a museum-like reproduction of NYCB in the fifties or sixties. But that's how art develops. NYCB certainly has the talent to match anything Miami does. Contrary to their publicity campaign, MCB's dancers are not "Superhuman." They're just winning because they want to dance more.
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