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Robert Gottlieb on Jewels


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We might each pick different favorite writers, but I think we three may still agree that the most valuable dance writing anchors the reader's mind in description of what the writer saw and carries the reader along with the writer's thinking to the writer's conclusions and judgements - showing how these conclusions were arrived at.  

The reader is always free at the end of it to disagree with those conclusions, but seeing the whole process - "riding along" with the writer for a moment - can help readers learn to make their own better judgements of performances the writer isn't even writing about, or that they haven't even read about.  It's good exercise, good practice.

This effect might sometimes be accidental, or intuitive, but at least sometimes it's intentional:  Meeting one of my "favorites," I told him what I liked abut his writing, along the lines of what I just said - helping people to appreciate other ballets than the one written about, ballets they haven't even seen -  and he replied that that was just what he was trying to do.  

But Gottlieb's commentary is usually more condensed, more compressed - he doesn't "connect the dots" often, and once in a while he even remarks that he's not much of a critic, if one at all; just an amateur -  but those of us who have read him for a time have gotten to know him, gotten to know his mind, and we've learned a little about "where he's coming from" so we can interpret (or interpolate?) some of what he leaves out.

Here he's an insider, mostly reminiscing, and watching Balanchine's company was such a formative and nourishing experience for me, I'm enjoying it (and I'm glad for his information on the contemporary scene, too) even when I demur from some of his opinions.  

Edited by Jack Reed
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