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Cartier-Bresson Balanchine photo made more better

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Do you know the photograph of Balanchine indicating his pointed foot? NYCB is employing a barely-recognizable black and white illustration based on it to promote "Balanchine 100," which is what they call the centennial year. This graphic might have been considered "modern" in the 1950s. Mr. B's right hand has become a sort of paddle with thumb attached. The other hand has disappeared, leaving only his left thumb stuck to his pants. His face has been reduced to a pointed nose, chin, and eyebrow. The loafer on his foot has acquired a lethal-looking point.

Having already been shocked by NYCB's Balanchine centennial plans, I consider this "adaptation" of the great Cartier-Bresson photograph a predictable act of vandalism.

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I recognized it immediately and think it is the perfect metaphor for the State of the Art at NYCB ca. 2004. It reflects a philosophy of presenting the broad outlines of Balanchine (the oeuvre/the man) without the humanizing details. I'm grateful it wasn't worse.


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They called me last night to ask if I had gotten all the materials and check to see if I was happy with the programming and ready to order my subscription.

I asked where the Balanchine was and the response I got was that Susan Stroman was doing a tribute piece that everyone is very excited about. And that Sleeping Beauty is coming back and Peter Martins and Christopher Wheeldon are also doing new pieces.

I gave my 2 minute speech on my dissatisfaction and said I would buy my tickets individually for the Balanchine programs.

Sorry, just felt the need to vent.

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Brava, Calliope, from me too.

A day or two after the Centennial plans were announced, I got a call asking me to renew my NYCB Guild membership. I explained that I was upset about the Balanchine plans and so I would not. The response was "You don't like Balanchine?" That had me spluttering incoherently, but eventually I got my point across, and was told that I should write a letter to Mr. Martins. I did, on July 3, and have yet to get a reply. (With the Saratoga season, followed by St.Petersburg, I suppose that's understandable.) But then I got another call, from someone in the NYCB administration. He knew nothing of my letter and was calling to see if I'd increase my annual contribution to the company. He gave me the same kind of story Calliope got. Apparently business-as-usual is really an homage to Balanchine. I told him I'd continue attending NYCB but would no longer contribute anything beyond the price of tickets.

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