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Leigh Witchel

John Rockwell's article in the NYT

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I think it's worth noting that, according to the fellow who contacted me about the show, it was John Rockwell's suggestion that Leigh and I were invited. That says to me that he is interested in the issues, and a dialogue of ideas.

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Do you know if this is simulcast on a website, for those of us not in New York?

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Yes. For simulcast, go to WNYC.org and click on the link you prefer for the FM show. The show may then be archived for later listening -- may -- and if it does, I will set a link after it becomes available. But for safety's sake, if possible, I'd recommend listening in real time.

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I think this is great news! And I agree with Farrell Fan, this is a very positive development for Ballet Alert. And it bodes well for Rockwell's tenure at the Times.

Soundcheck is a fine program, and I suspect that Shaeffer's approach is similar to what Rockwell hopes to bring to the pages of the Times. Although much of the programming is devoted to classical music and its particular audience, it also aims to broaden that scope. So whether it is Renee Fleming singing jazz and discussing both her limitations and interests in that genre, or a discourse on percussion in its various forms, the program really brings intelligence, ingenuity and originality to its approach.

I'm going to try to clear my business calendar on Monday so I can tune in.

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thanks so much for the web link, though I must admit it still stuns me that I can listen to the radio on my computer...

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thanks so much for the web link, though I must admit it still stuns me that I can listen to the radio on my computer...

Yeah, I find this something neat too. Also it seems so amazing that you can get stations all over the globe, no limitation on how far radio broadcast signals reach.

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:bash: I know WNYC well enough to be sure it's not a matter of good radio or bad. I can only assume someone's down with the flu or something.

Leigh, any mention of rescheduling? :)

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John Rockwell was on the show and said he was "sad" that Leigh Witchel "couldn't be here, I don't know why." He said it made him uncomfortable "speaking for" him and for Alexandra. The rest of what he said will be well-known to Ballet Alerters. Incidentally, he made fun of the overlapping forums and publications -- Ballet Alert, Ballet Talk, Dance View, etc. He came out firmly for "mongrelization" and "miscegination" in the arts as a way of strengthening them. He also said he was against Adolph Hitler and his theory of racial purity. This last was an unworthy cheap shot, but on the whole, Rockwell seems like the most reasonable of men and it is much too bad that Leigh Witchel "couldn't" be there.

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I won't repeat what FF said so well :thanks:, but I will say that my attempts to phone in to correct the record that Mr. Witchel "couldn't" be there were in vain. I got busy signals for 12 or so minutes, and when I tried another number, I got a voice mail menu with insufficient time to get through to a human before the broadcast ended. :angry2:

And I retract my post of yesterday -- that Leigh's cancellation was likely due to someone's flu.

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In Israel we have a saying, which can be loosely translated as: "A person who has to cite Hitler/Nazism in an argument has lost the argument." :angry2:

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There may have been some confusion. For the record, I came home to a phone message Friday afternoon inviting me to be on the show. I called them back a little after 4:00 p.m. and left a message that I couldn't be there because I taught Monday afternoons, but could do it by phone if we could arrange a hook up. Perhaps that message got passed along incorrectly. Perhaps they didn't want to go ahead with only one person "on the other side." Who knows?

I wrote an essay on the crossover issue for this week's danceviewtimes. I wanted to put down as briefly as possible what I see as the major issues. Golly gosh, I don't think I mentioned Hitler once :angry2:

http://www.danceviewtimes.com/2005/Winter/05/crossover.htm

Edited by Alexandra

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I'm still baffled by the comment about Hitler :angry2: So I guess all the people who disagree with Mr Rockwell on that point are supposed to be Nazis ? :thanks:

Well, it makes me think of several dance critics of some French newspapers, and for me that's not a compliment...

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---> Temporary link. When it moves to the show's archives and a permanent spot, I'll change it.

Unfortunately, it looks like you'll have to get through 40 minutes of a discussion of disco (and a related exhibition at NYPL at Lincoln Ctr) before hearing Mr. Rockwell's pas de trois -- I mean deux.

The fact of the earlier discussion is a sort of poetic reflection of the situation in question, is it not?

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Hmmm...Not having listened to this program, I can only guess at what kind of logic could have led Rockwell to make such a statement:

1. Saying that ballet companies should stick to ballet choreography and not modern is like saying that Aryans should only "mate" with other Aryans.

2. Anyone who doesn't think crossover "ballet" is a good thing is a racist bigot.

3. The consensus on Ballet Talk is that crossover is not such a great thing.

4. Alexandra and Leigh are "in charge" of Ballet Talk.

5. Alexandra and Leigh are like Hitler and Goebbels.

6. John Rockwell likes crossover.

7. John Rockwell is the voice of equality.

8. John Rockwell is obligated to speak out against bigotry and Nazism wherever it may surface, and to liberate the masses from the tyranny of the Ballet Elite.

:angry2:

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Rockwell remarked, in preface to his comments about cross-fertilization between ballet and modern dance, that “I think Hitler was wrong.” As Farrell Fan notes, this was a cheap shot and nothing more; I think we can safely leave it at that -- although I could not help noting that Rockwell used the term “miscegenation” at least three times in the broadcast, by my count.

He seems bemused, as if he can’t understand what all the fuss is about. (“Here’s where I got into trouble with this crowd,” “They were mightily offended when I called it a chat room,” “They hate the notion of crossover dance,” etc.) We are a prickly lot, it seems. He did mention that Alexandra had recently disassociated herself with the site, and his tone seemed to imply that this was some kind of mysterious development........

It is regrettable that neither Leigh nor Alexandra was there. Rockwell's discomfort at again having to relay their views was commendable, although IMO it would have been even more commendable for someone to have ensured that one or both of them could participate.

He also spoke about coming to the dance beat after having spent many years as an arts coverage generalist. He had some interesting things to say, and I recommend listening to the broadcast if you have the time. It's true that the disco segment comes first, but I enjoyed it, myself. :angry2:

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Err, could someone explain to me the meaning of "miscegenation" ?

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The connotation of "miscegenation" is very, very ugly in American English, as it refers to "mixed race marriages" usually between a white and a black American, an offense for which people were lynched. It would seem he is making an analogy between those who make such a distinction among human beings and all it implies, with those who make a distinction between modern dance and ballet.

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In Israel we have a saying, which can be loosely translated as: "A person who has to cite Hitler/Nazism in an argument has lost the argument."  :yahoo:

That's a wise saying. And while invoking Hitler may be an extreme example, I think that anyone who resorts to political correctness to validate his argument probably doesn't have much of an argument to begin with.

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