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Macaulay on Balanchine at NYCB


bart

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The concept of "under-rehearsal" is one that arises constantly in accounts of life in the New York City Ballet. I wonder, however: wasn't this also the case (though perhaps not to the same extent) in Balanchine's day

Ah, but there is a difference. In those days Balanchine was there. He was the genius: he made the decisions months, days, even minutes before that curtain went up. The lack of his presence changes everything.

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Acocella has said essentially the same thing, quoting a company member to the effect that Martins gives an easier class, and concluding that "we are seeing the results." Greskovic, in a 2002 piece on the same subject wrote that

The thing about company class when Mr. B was there, was that many NYCB dancers never took his class. They did get the benefit of his coaching, having him choreograph or re-choreograph on them, but a lot of company members decided his class was not for them, so I don't see how company class can be a big part of the picture. There were people like Suzanne and Meryll Ashley who were took Mr. B's class faithfully but a lot of dancers didn't.

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While it's true that the standards at NYCB seemed to begin to slip sometime in the late 80's and into the 90's, I personally feel that the company is going through a renaissance of sorts - especially in terms of the depth of talent in its ranks. The current crop of female dancers in the company especially is astounding (Whelan, Bouder, Peck, Reichlen, Morgan, Mearns, etc.). While I greatly admire how other companies are dancing Balanchine (especially PNB and MCB), to me NYCB is still the standard bearer.

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I totally agree that NYCB has improved greatly since the '90s, and they have an amazing crop of ballerinas, but despite the phenomenal talent throughout the ranks, they still haven't quite recaptured the vitality in the corps work that I remember from the '70s and early-mid '80s. You might think it's a trick of memory, a romanticization in retrospect, but when I see Miami City Ballet, I recognize it.

Welcome to BalletTalk, kdubzz. :tiphat:

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I totally agree that NYCB has improved greatly since the '90s, and they have an amazing crop of ballerinas, but despite the phenomenal talent throughout the ranks, they still haven't quite recaptured the vitality in the corps work that I remember from the '70s and early-mid '80s. You might think it's a trick of memory, a romanticization in retrospect, but when I see Miami City Ballet, I recognize it.

Welcome to BalletTalk, kdubzz. :tiphat:

Thank you, Carbro! I agree that the company hasn't quite recaptured its earlier vitality - YET - but I see signs of hope and, on any given day during the ballet season in NY, will normally choose NYCB over another company...perhaps in spite of Martins' sometimes questionable choices; I'm just so impressed by the current crop of talent. I agree re: MCB, though - they are wonderful. There's always room for more Balanchine-oriented companies in my opinion, especially when they're run with such dedication and care.

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