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Mary Clarke (1923-2015)


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Mary Clarke wasn't just a good critic, she was a strong-minded woman of formidable energies and large sympathieslike Lilian Bayliss or Ninette de Valois, who provided a balance of good criticism to the pioneering work those ladies did in producing ballet, without which the art would not have gained the prestige and the place in the culture that it did very rapidly. She was not there in the first generation, but the critics whom she joined when she arrived on the scene welcomed her and by all accounts really befriended her and welcomed her into the enterprise. And she was good to the next generation, And she gave them a place to work. She could not only write good criticism, she could get other people to do it too, SHe WAS the Dancing Times, and she flourished at it for over 50 years. I sure wish I had known her. But I know that I owe her a great debt, we all do; her work improved ballet, and it also helped make room in the world for ballet. We need people like her now, seriously, to make the case to the bean counters who're increasingly questioning the value of the work of the imagination and are in a position to bring the high arts crashing down.

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From Judith Mackrell's commentary.

"She told me once that “it took 20 years to become a proper critic”, yet it wasn’t a remark designed to intimidate."

This is such a heartening observation.

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From the Telegraph essay

Clarke, on one of Macmillan's works. “You can’t pretend to 'like’ a ballet of this nature but goodness how you have to admire it. The accumulation of evil and horror is brilliantly achieved.”

In this world of Facebook "friends," how lovely to read someone parse the language like this.

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