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25 minutes ago, Leah said:

I am really sick of writers like the New Yorker one bemoaning “only” fourteen male principals. At that time there were and continue to be only nine female principals. The last four promotions to principal have all been male. And the recent firings have been used to create more opportunities for men rather than women in the company. 

Agreed. Crazy to think that the most recently promoted female principal was Lauren Lovette in 2015.

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1 hour ago, yukionna4869 said:

I was hoping there would be new info, but this seems more like a recap. 

I think the piece is primarily intended as a recap – explaining the story-so-far to readers of the magazine who haven’t been following it closely, or at all. Even so, Acocella had surprisingly little to add.

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1 hour ago, Leah said:

I am really sick of writers like the New Yorker one bemoaning “only” fourteen male principals. At that time there were and continue to be only nine female principals. The last four promotions to principal have all been male. And the recent firings have been used to create more opportunities for men rather than women in the company. 

It also skates past the fact that there are more than a few very promising talents in the junior males ranks, as well as the fact that although Finlay and Catazaro may have been "stars," as Accocella would have it, they weren't especially strong or particularly interesting dancers.

Based on the enthusiastic (and richly deserved) applause that greeted Taylor Stanley during his solo bow after yesterday's performance of Runaway, I'd hazard a guess that if NYCB has a male star right now, it's him. 

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2 hours ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

It also skates past the fact that there are more than a few very promising talents in the junior males ranks, as well as the fact that although Finlay and Catazaro may have been "stars," as Accocella would have it, they weren't especially strong or particularly interesting dancers.

To her credit, Acocella referred only to Finlay and Ramasar as "stars":

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Now, in one fell swoop, it lost three, and two of them, Ramasar and Finlay, were stars.

I suppose, in a rather broad sense, they both were — though perhaps only one of them primarily for the strength and interest of his dancing.

Edited by nanushka
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25 minutes ago, nanushka said:

To her credit, Acocella referred only to Finlay and Ramasar as "stars":

I suppose, in a rather broad sense, they both were — though perhaps only one of them primarily for the strength and interest of his dancing.

Ah - right you are! I should have checked the text again before I posted.

Well, the company certainly seemed to have tried its darndest to make a star out of Finlay from the get-go, which perhaps served its own interests more than his. 

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14 hours ago, Leah said:

I am really sick of writers like the New Yorker one bemoaning “only” fourteen male principals. At that time there were and continue to be only nine female principals. The last four promotions to principal have all been male. And the recent firings have been used to create more opportunities for men rather than women in the company. 

Well said, Leah

Edited by Jacqueline
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I disliked the entire article. I won't go into every point but, I've been a NYCB fan for a long time - starting with the Balanchine years. The company could have crumbled after Balanchine. I was doubtful of Martins' leadership at first, in fact for a number of years, but he kept the company going, IMO he grew into the job and at this point it is filled with incredible dancers that he chose. The depth of talent is amazing.  I'm not denying that there have been big mistakes but the company, at this point, the company is amazing.

I don't want to re-hash the good and bad of Martins, but the idea that the end of the his Sleeping Beauty has to mean that people should get over Balanchine and move on is absurd to me.

 

 

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1 hour ago, vipa said:

I don't want to re-hash the good and bad of Martins, but the idea that the end of the his Sleeping Beauty has to mean that people should get over Balanchine and move on is absurd to me.

It's pretty much a quote of Napoleon crowning himself without religious consecration, ie, his legitimacy was based entirely on his own talents, not bestowed by anyone. Since this wasn't the original ending or intention, I think the choice for that ending was pretty clear.

In similar tales, like the Magic Flute, where a foreigner marries into the family after proving himself, the power is transferred to the couple to renew the kingdom.  The couple doesn't seize the crown.

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I thought the article was a good summary of what happened at City Ballet – and almost a roll call of many of the discussion points here at Ballet Alert. What struck me as a wrong note was her attempt at assessing Balanchine's status in the arts (which always for some reason dance writers seem to need to defend and polish), as  "a kind of poetic force that made people, when they saw his ballets, think about their lives differently, more seriously". That seemed subjective and very personal – almost like a religious conversion – and out of character with the tone of the rest of the piece. Balanchine was a fairly modest man, and instead of comparing himself to Tolstoy, as Acocella does, he might have said ETA Hoffmann or Gogol. (And maybe Hugo Wolf instead of Bach.)

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2 hours ago, Quiggin said:

I thought the article was a good summary of what happened at City Ballet – and almost a roll call of many of the discussion points here at Ballet Alert. What struck me as a wrong note was her attempt at assessing Balanchine's status in the arts (which always for some reason dance writers seem to need to defend and polish), as  "a kind of poetic force that made people, when they saw his ballets, think about their lives differently, more seriously". That seemed subjective and very personal – almost like a religious conversion – and out of character with the tone of the rest of the piece. Balanchine was a fairly modest man, and instead of comparing himself to Tolstoy, as Acocella does, he might have said ETA Hoffmann or Gogol. (And maybe Hugo Wolf instead of Bach.)

I disagree. That momentary assessment of Balanchine's status was for the purpose of making a point about Martins — that was the topic of the paragraph. It was not gratuitous, not a mere "seeming to need" to do something.

Acocella has long inhabited the NYC dance world, so her comment about what Balanchine's ballets "made people...think about" struck me as more reportorial than subjective and personal — i.e. I would imagine that she has talked with innumerable dance-goers, and that many have expressed the sorts of sentiments that led her to that overall characterization. (None of them need have put it in those particular terms, of course.) Heck, every time NYCB does an all-Balanchine program, I feel like this very board gets posts describing his work as a balm for the soul. And thinking differently, more seriously, about one's life for a time would hardly require anything like religious conversion.

As for Tolstoy and Bach, her point was not that Balanchine would compare himself to them; rather, she was comparing him to them. Balanchine's own degree of modesty doesn't seem particularly relevant to me.

(Also, Hoffmann lived to age 46, Gogol to age 42, Wolf to age 42 as well; none really fit Acocella's description of "a long career [and] an enormous range.")

Edited by nanushka
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4 hours ago, nanushka said:

I disagree. That momentary assessment of Balanchine's status was for the purpose of making a point about Martins — that was the topic of the paragraph...

(Also, Hoffmann lived to age 46, Gogol to age 42, Wolf to age 42 as well; none really fit Acocella's description of "a long career [and] an enormous range.")

I think Joan Acocella could have said that Balanchine was a giant of 20th century ballet, much as Bach was for music in the 18th, which to me would have been more in keeping with relatively straight reportage of the rest of the piece – and leave it at that.

 As far a Gogol's range, I think it was Doestovsky who said "we all came out of Gogol's Overcoat." I was also thinking of Wolf's musicality, the conterpoint of singer and pianist, the unique flavor of his work – somewhat like the odd flavor of the slow movement of Divertimento #15 (being performed here in SF this week), with its strange stop and go step patterns and rather bizarre overhead lifts. In general I was trying to link Balanchine with artists of some modesty and unique world view, rather than the biggest and best. It is odd though that Balanchine's stature often seems to have to be justified by dance writers whereas someone like Merce Cunningham's doesn't.

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5 hours ago, Quiggin said:

 

It is odd though that Balanchine's stature often seems to have to be justified by dance writers whereas someone like Merce Cunningham's doesn't.

I wonder if that isn't somehow indirectly influenced by the suspicion that ballet itself has to be justified. Cunningham obviously belongs to an avant garde that everyone takes very seriously (at least everyone who doesn't think their three year old could have painted Les Demoiselles D'Avignon). But if ballet isn't really a major art form then Balanchine can't be a major artist (Bach! Tolstoy!) and--turning that around--if Balanchine is major then ballet, at any rate, can't be all minor. That is, maybe there is a kind of not-always-conscious concern that ballet is not taken entirely seriously by many people who do otherwise care about the arts and underlining Balanchine's stature is a way of underlining ballet's stature.

Edited by Drew
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8 hours ago, Quiggin said:

I think Joan Acocella could have said that Balanchine was a giant of 20th century ballet, much as Bach was for music in the 18th, which to me would have been more in keeping with relatively straight reportage of the rest of the piece – and leave it at that.

I guess I don't see "straight reportage" as having been the sole nature of the rest of the piece, considering that it began with this passage:

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Dance, by virtue of its energy and its precision—and, often, its mounting intensity—brings us close to what many people in the world once looked for, and many still do, in religion. Music operates in the same way, of course, but most dance includes music, and it has something else as well: the body. On the dance stage, human beings place themselves before us much as, in old Italian frescoes, souls came before God: without words, without excuses, without much covering of any kind. They are more or less as they were when they came out of their mothers: flesh and energy, now with the addition of skill. That composite stands for what they are as moral beings, and what, in consequence, they tell us the world is. The better the dancer’s first arabesque penché—the more exact, the more spirited, the more singing its line—the more he or she will embody the promise of the ancient Greeks, lasting at least up to Keats, that beauty, truth, and virtue are inseparable, that we live in a good world.

Acocella's description of Balanchine seemed to me to be quite in keeping with that opening — her point being that his works fulfill that potential, answer those desires, while Martins' do not.

Edited by nanushka
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I live in a university town in Connecticut and most people here have no idea who Balanchine was and have never heard of him.  For those not familiar with US geography, Connecticut is a small state adjacent to New York, practically bordering the city (in Seattle, an American born cashier asked me if Connecticut were next to Tennessee).   Having grown up in the NY  metropolitan area and then lived for a decade in Manhattan before living in other parts of the country, I can tell you, the rest of the country is not a less densely populated version of the city.  The gap in what is known about dance inside NYC vs outside NYC is extraordinary.   

 

However,  in these other parts if the country, the populace have heard of the New York Times.   They all know who Picasso and Bach are, why shouldn't they know the major names in dance?   A great many also know the New Yorker.

Is it possible that the NY Times & New Yorker dance writers are trying to write for the rest of the country as well as New York City, and this is why they mention Balanchine's stature?  

Edited by Amy Reusch
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7 minutes ago, Amy Reusch said:

I live in a university town in Connecticut and most people here have no idea who Balanchine was and have never heard of him.  For those not familiar with US geography, Connecticut is a small state adjacent to New York, practically bordering the city (in Seattle, an American born cashier asked me if Connecticut were next to Tennessee).   Having grown up in the NY  metropolitan area and then lived for a decade in Manhattan before living in other parts of the country, I can tell you, the rest of the country is not a less densely populated version of the city.  The gap in what is known about dance inside NYC vs outside NYC is extraordinary.   

 

However,  in these other parts if the country, the populace have heard of the New York Times.   They all know who Picasso and Bach are, why shouldn't they know the major names in dance?   A great many also know the New Yorker.

Is it possible that the NY Times & New Yorker dance writers are trying to write for the rest of the country as well as New York City, and this is why they mention Balanchine's stature?  

You make some excellent points, especially about the household word status of Picasso and Bach.  I live in Boston and know intelligent people who have never heard of Balanchine or read the New Yorker. They have no interest in dance or opera, visual arts or music.  I do think the NYT writers try not to assume a certain level of dance knowledge or sophistication of their readers.

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Joan Acocella's current New Yorker article is a powerful summation of the NYCB situation. I have to praise the inclusion of an audio narration (just below the main image) for both the visually impaired and the computer multi-taskers.  😉
>> Note that there is very strong adult language used (quotes from the perpetrator's e-mail conversations), so the New Yorker really should include a warning with the audio (not for listening to out-loud at work!). I'm hoping these audio narrations will become the new normal.

What Went Wrong at New York City Ballet
https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/02/18/what-went-wrong-at-new-york-city-ballet

 

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43 minutes ago, pherank said:

I'm hoping these audio narrations will become the new normal.

The Audm app (subscription required, but not too expensive) has audio versions of many New Yorker articles, released in conjunction with those posted online. The app also features articles from other publications, such as The AtlanticNew York Magazine, London Review of BooksBuzzfeed News, and others, all with quite decent readers. (They seem to carry the most content from The New Yorker, though.)

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17 minutes ago, nubka said:

So, we have Jonathan Stafford and Wendy Whelan.  Happy thought indeed.  Not.

Curious as to why you say "not"?  I'm not surprised at this choice.  Nor can I say with complete conviction that it should have been X, Y, or Z chosen instead. I  AM  surprised that there haven't been more comments here on the board.  I wasn't a partisan of anyone in particular, although I thought Woetzel would have been great if he weren't already taken.  Is it significant that the announcement came now,   soon after the clash between Martins and Stafford, rather than at the  gala in May.

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9 minutes ago, Marta said:

 Is it significant that the announcement came now,   soon after the clash between Martins and Stafford, rather than at the  gala in May.

Oh, I suspect the Board's gala committee will be able to fill more tables with a leadership team in place than they would be with a hint that a "big announcement" might get made at the gala itself. 

Also, the foundations and government agencies that provide a decent chunk of the company's funding were probably as eager to see the leadership question wrapped up as everyone else. (Organizational stability is one of the key factors foundations consider when they make funding decisions.) Delaying the decision for much longer might have put some of their funding at risk or a least created a little friction with the institutional donor base.

And ... at least a subset of potential gala donors will happily pony up for Whelan. Being able to put her name on the invitation is a good thing. 

 

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I expect that there’s relatively little comment because the pros and cons of the appointees have already been discussed at length.

 The choice has a rather Cheneyesque flavor, but at least it’s a choice. It’ll be interesting to see how things go as Stafford and Whelan jostle for position ( a certain amount of jostling seems inevitable given the job descriptions, no matter how well they get on personally). No doubt the Times will be on the case.

 Fingers crossed for the Balanchine repertory.

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