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Clive Barnes, 1927-2008


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I've just learned that Clive Barnes died in the early hours of this morning (Wednesday). He was 81 years old and had recently been diagnosed with cancer of the liver.

Clive Barnes along with Peter Williams, John Percival and Noel Goodwin writing in the magazine "Dance and Dancers" helped to form the ballet taste of at least two generations of ballet lovers in London in the 50's and 60's.

He wrote incisively and picturesquely, alerting one to aspects of production and performance that enriched appreciation of what had been seen. I feel he personally played a part in educating my observational powers and taste. A friendly and energetic personality, approachable and fearless in saying what needed to be said. It can be said he really led a life.

My condolencies to his family.

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I am very saddened by this news. One of the great 'traveling critics,' he gave us balletomanes so many years of insightful happiness! I had just seen Mr. Barnes in the audience for one of the October '08 San Fco Ballet-City Center performances, so he was still going to shows very recently.

May he rest in peace.

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And in his final ballet review he went out in style, with a rave, a memory, and a pun(ch):

...[simkin's] effortless dancing had the glint of gold to it, and, matched by a delicious Sarah Lane, he showed the ability to make classic bravura stylistically joyous. Here were two gorgeous dancers, with Simkin brilliantly maintaining the ABT tradition of superb male dancing.

An earlier part of that tradition was Julio Bocca, whose dancing and that of his partner, Cheryl Yeager, was one of the happiest memories I retain from Tharp's 1990 piece.

Today, with a glittering cast led by Xiomara Reyes and Herman Cornejo, I am sure "Brief Fling" is no worse performed. Yet the simplistic classroom vocabulary and its power-driven choreography has lost much of its shock value. That, I suppose, is the danger of shock. Or schlock.

How kind of Daniil and Sarah to give him this one, last, joy.

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Thanks for that last quote, drb. It shows Barnes's ability to write short and to the point, while still communicating a lot. He always seemed always to enjoy his job. The pleasure he took in a good performance, whether you read his reviews the next morning, heard him on the radio, or watched him during intermissions, was palpable. His regular contribution to Dance is -- I'm sorry, was -- always the first thing I turne(d) to.

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I will remember Clive Barnes for his kindness and tact, as well as his love of dance.

I remember Clive and his wife at the time, Patricia working to help Valery and Galina Panov get out of Russia, back in the bad old days.

There was however, one time his usual tact was lacking. He praised another ballerina's debut in a Tudor role that was closely identified with Sallie Wilson, in a way she felt insulted her. During an intermission at the Met, she dumped a drink on his head........ he dined out on the story for ages!

May he rest in peace.

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There was however, one time his usual tact was lacking. He praised another ballerina's debut in a Tudor role that was closely identified with Sallie Wilson, in a way she felt insulted her. During an intermission at the Met, she dumped a drink on his head........ he dined out on the story for ages!

May he rest in peace.

Well, I don't know if it was really a lack of tact on Barnes' part, really. Sallie was VERY protective of and sensitive about her Hagar. I heard her thoughts(???)

on this right from Sallie herself back in the early 70s :pinch:

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This is very sad news. He was such a class act. Mr. Barnes always hit the nail right on the head with his eloquence. One of the greatest dance critics there ever was. My condolences to his family. Rest in peace, Mr. Barnes, and thank you for a lifetime devoted to joyously spreading the word about ballet.

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Apollinaire Scherr wrote a brief tribute to Barnes in her blog "foot in mouth":

http://www.artsjournal.com/foot/2008/11/cl...7-2008_rip.html

He was old without ever being an old fart. Curious, never immune to enthusiasm, but no pollyanna either, he gave me faith that even a review of a couple of paragraphs could be worth the effort...

Clive Barnes seemed always at the peak of his form.

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Clive Barnes was to me the ultimate dance critic. He was the first one I ever read and I've read him for 43 years. I pretty much revered him. The day he was the invited guest speaker at Adelphi where I was a dance major (1965-69) was a thrilling day for me. I'll never forget meeting him and speaking with him after his lecture, held in our dance studio.

My mother introduced his writing to me when I was a teenager. Both of us enjoyed him so much. Even after I moved to Canada 36 years ago, my mom would send me clippings of his columns in the New York Times. I just read his last column in the Post when I was in New York. His death came so suddenly. Liver cancer is usually a quick killer. I am so sorry it happened to him. My heartfelt condolences go to his family.

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I haven't learned much about arrangements concerning Clive Barnes except that the funeral itself will be private and that the New York Post is making plans for a memorial gathering some time hence, perhaps in 2 months or so, with help from CB's now understandably overwhelmed wife, Valerie.

If the memorial is open to the public, I'll post what I learn.

Jennifer Dunning wrote this morning to say that the comments left on the NYTimes site about CB are in many cases worth reading. (For anyone who doesn't know, JD began her NYT career as dance secretary to CB.)

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Condolences to the family of Clive Barnes. May he rest in peace.

He was an eloquent writer about dance and ballet as a performing art.

We had met him in recent years at ballet intermissions at the Met through his wife, Valerie, a longtime friend of ours.

Last June we had lunch together before an ABT matinee. He was a delightful conversationalist!

Dance has lost one of its most grounded and deeply knowledgable advocates.

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Very sad news. Reading Clive Barne's writings carefully one could learn a lot about ballet - he gave me a deeper understanding. Reading various critics' opinion of a performance one always read Clive first. I started reading him very early on when he was co-editor of Dance and Dancers. Luckily, I have an archive full of Dance and Dancers.

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A good critic is a good teacher. I've learned quite a bit from Barnes over the years -- and also from some of the posts on this thread.

Apollinaire Scherr wrote a brief tribute to Barnes in her blog "foot in mouth":

http://www.artsjournal.com/foot/2008/11/cl...7-2008_rip.html

He was old without ever being an old fart.

Thanks, Helene, for that quote. You've given me a new motto for the remainder of my life.

Jennifer Dunning wrote this morning to say that the comments left on the NYTimes site about CB are in many cases worth reading. (For anyone who doesn't know, JD began her NYT career as dance secretary to CB.)

Thanks, rg. I would never have looked if you hadn't posted this.

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I will miss him. Clive & I became friends as colleagues who wrote about dance. He was attentive, thoughtful and always responsive whenever I called or bumped into him during a performance. Given his stature as a dance critic, I should have felt intimidated. I never did. I found him to be a man who loved dance, enjoyed pretty women, and was always open to discussing anything---even in the last few years when he was in obvious pain from his hip surgrery. Perhaps most importantly, I will miss his writing. Yet his legacy lives on in his pithy, concise, beautiful prose.

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