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 Post subject: Boston vs. Cambridge
PostPosted: Fri May 03, 2002 8:32 am 
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An interesting commentary in the Boston Herald today. I can't really comment because I have no first hand knowledge. Citibob, d'ici, anyone else?<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Cambridge, Boston are worlds apart <P>Dance/by Theodore Bale <BR>Friday, May 3, 2002<P><BR>At times the dissimilarity of dance in Boston and Cambridge is particularly striking, and this week was certainly one of those times. The situation reminds me of New York, where dance is often described as being either ``uptown'' or ``downtown.''<P><BR>Boston is certainly our ``uptown,'' with larger venues, more conservative programming and higher ticket prices. Cambridge has more intimate settings such as Dance Complex and Green Street Studios, programs with an ``anything goes'' slant and ticket prices that are easier on the wallet.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><A HREF="http://www2.bostonherald.com/entertainment/arts_culture/danc05032002.htm" TARGET=_blank><B>more...</B></A>


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 Post subject: Re: Boston vs. Cambridge
PostPosted: Fri May 03, 2002 11:01 am 
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Cambridge and Boston are separated by a river but connected by several bridges. I used to do a brisk walk, crossing the Longfellow and MIT bridges during a lunch hour. If “Cambridge, Boston are worlds apart“, that made me a world traveler.<P>Even given the hyperbolic nature criticism in dailies, the distinction in dance between the two parts of the metropolis is exaggerated. It is much more accurate to look at the metropolitan area than the two parts of the inner city. The vitality of dance in the larger ring is both sophisticated in the material and exhilarating in the performances. To name but two that come to mind, The Boston Conservatory gives imaginative modern dance recitals, and the Massachusetts Youth Ballet giving recitals in the suburban colleges, is a jewel for those willing to search it out. It’s programs, dominated by Balanchine’s choreography, are performed by students in age from 12 to 17 years, roles normally danced by older professional ballet dancers and assisted by male guest artists in partnering roles. But do not assume that this is a typical dance school recital. It has the grace and promise of seeing Seranade for the first time.<BR> <BR>A critic of note, Marcia B. Siegel, wrote of the 1999 performance of Milk and Roses, “Massachusetts Youth Ballet's teenage dancers are technically excellent, but their Balanchine gives off a certain innocence, almost a perfume, I never saw at New York City Ballet.”<P>Boston Ballet is mainline but has stagnated for the last 10 years. The upcoming season promises an extensive and imaginative program, but it is only a promise and the corporation, for Boston Ballet is one, is better at advertising than at creating dance. Cambridge's Mateo’s Ballet Theater, has a choreographer of vision, but no school of note, and mostly a pick up company that limits his work to fundamental school vocabulary. It is important to note that none of the dancer could conceive of executing Aurora’s pas de deux. The assertion that they would not want to is beside the point.<P>I would point out that the dance vitality in the metro is much better than of the dance criticism. Unfortunately the gap between good and pedestrian criticism is greater than any bridge can span.<BR>

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 Post subject: Re: Boston vs. Cambridge
PostPosted: Sat May 04, 2002 3:39 am 
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In Boston, commercial enterprise is found in four main areas: Downtown, Back Bay, the Fenway, and Cambridge. Functionally, Cambridge is a part of Boston, not just a nearby suburb. It would almost certainly have been subsumed by Boston in the 19th Century, as happened to a dozen other towns, except that Cambridge was across the river in a separate county.<P>And yet, even at only 100,000 residents, Cambridge maintains an identity distinct from Boston. Home to two world-class universities, Cambridge has always held an intellectual self-image. Fully a third of its residents, significantly more highly educated than average, work in education. Since the 1960's, Cambridge has prided itself on its multicultural diversity as well. More recently, Cambridge real estate has achieved Manhattan valuations, making it difficult for the city to maintain its arts and its diversity.<P>Bale's analogy to New York is perceptive, but as with any analogy, it shouldn't be taken too far.<P>I found it interesting that Mateo was mentioned as an exception to the "downtown" nature of Cambridge. His company actually has a lot in common with its neighbors, even though being ballet, it is of necessity more institutionalized. To take the New York analogy one step further, Mateo's company may play a role in Cambridge similar to that of Eliot Feld's company with its Joyce Theatre in downtown Manhattan: a semi-experimental ballet company, an institutional resource in an "anything goes" milieu. Boston is desperately in need of additional dance/theater performance spaces; the Sanctuary Theatre may adress that need in the future as well.<P>Mateo has mentioned that his company has received much better public support in Cambridge than it ever did in Boston. This is not surprising, given Cambridge's intellectual self-image. Cambridge has a long history of support for the arts. Mateo has received the royal treatment from the Mayor's office.<P>Even corporate sponsorship is better in Cambridge; The Inn at Harvard, for example --- a classy $200 hotel located nextdoor to Ballet Theatre --- offered a $100 special price to Nutcracker patrons this year. The Inn also hosted Ballet Theatre's Nutcracker press party in fine fashion. Here we were, a bunch of sweaty dancers, and suddenly we became mini-celebrities. It certainly encouraged me, made me feel valued.<P>Rozann Kraus is an interesting, energetic personality. I wish I had more time to get to know her. But we're in our own little institutional world at Ballet Theatre, we don't get much opportunity to dance with the rest of Cambridge. That's the nature of Ballet.<P>I could truly relate to Kraus's statement about Mateo: ``He has brought so many people into ballet, either as students, audience members or performers, who might never have gone that route, because their sense of ballet was only Boston Ballet, you know, that whole very stringent hierarchy, and nothing else,'' said Kraus.<P>In the future, arts in Boston will probably move increasingly to more remote areas. Roxbury, Lynn, Chealsea, Waltham, for example. Downtown Boston and Cambridge are simply not affordable anymore.<P>A few facts about Jose Mateo's Ballet Theatre:<P>Of the 13 dancers with Ballet Theatre for its recently-finished Spring season, only two out of the 13 dancers were newly hired for the Spring season. I expect that 10 will be back for the Fall season as well. On average, the dancers have danced for and trained with Mateo for over 4 years. The three female principle dancers have trained with Mateo, and danced with him consistently, for over 30 years collectively. At this time, there are no men capable of prinicple roles. Four out of the 13 dancers are products of the associated school. I believe these retention rates are higher than average for ballet.<P>Three of the 13 dancers also teach in the associated school. The New York Times (1/1/02) mentioned that Mateo has "bred a generation of teachers who've built the finest open enrollment school in the region." "To fulfill the artistic objective it's necessary to have systematic training, a movement style with integrity and integrated choreography," he [Mateo] said.<P>When I first met Mateo and before I'd seen the company, I asked him if he had trouble hiring dancers of the skill he desired. His answer: "not at all". In my experience, Mateo seems to have felt the most limited with a small minority of experienced dancers --- ballet competition winners with long careers behind them --- who are unwilling to change the way they dance. These people have unexpected trouble with his choreography.<p>[This message has been edited by citibob (edited May 04, 2002).]


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 Post subject: Re: Boston vs. Cambridge
PostPosted: Sat May 04, 2002 7:55 am 
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Bob, it's interesting what you say about Mr. Mateo having trouble working with highly trained ballet dancers. In the modern dancer world (especially here in San Francsico) we often say exactly the same things. You can spot a bunhead when she walks in the door for class and you sometimes take bets on how long she'll stay. Sometimes we're surprised and they actually are able to adapt. Usually not.<P>I have never really thought of the Boston metropolitan area as a hotbed of modern dance. Am I wrong? <P>Thanks for the input. Anyone else?


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 Post subject: Re: Boston vs. Cambridge
PostPosted: Sat May 04, 2002 7:51 pm 
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To be crystal clear: everyone in Mateo's ballet company is a highly trained ballet dancer and most got a large part of their training elsewhere. Only a very few are unable to adapt. At first I was surprised by this, since these people clearly had a lot of good experience. Now I've learned to see it coming, and I too take bets on how long certain people will stay.<P>Although I've never seen a modern dance company up-close, I'm coming to believe that Mateo's company operates more typically of modern dance than of ballet. You just mentioned one more way in which that's the case. Mateo had a background in modern dance before ballet, so that's not too surprising.<P>I don't know whether or not Boston qualifies as a hotbed of modern dance; what are some qualifying features of a hotbed? I can say that most of Boston's modern dance is located in Central Square, Cambridge.<BR>


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 Post subject: Re: Boston vs. Cambridge
PostPosted: Sun May 05, 2002 7:16 am 
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Theodore Bale, the dance critic of Boston Herald wrote: “At times the dissimilarity of dance in Boston and Cambridge is particularly striking, ........ The situation reminds me of New York, where dance is often described as being either ``uptown'' or ``downtown.'' “. The subject clearly was the difference of dance in the two parts of the city.<P>While the student population, the status of the two universities or the support shown by the mayor, are all interesting topics, they are irrelevant or at most tangential to the topic raised by T. Bale. For example, writing , “The Inn at Harvard, for example --- a classy $200 hotel located nextdoor to Ballet Theatre --- offered a $100 special price to Nutcracker patrons this year”, approaches gratuitous advertising for favors previously done. But such value judgements apparently are inconsequential for a dancer, after all he has the inside view of the subject. <P>But let’s return to the subject – DANCE and DANCERS and the question of the art, the quality of dance and all the implications. Or are we to examine its status through a lens that emphasizes equality of opportunity, democracy, psychiatriatic therapy, adult education or some other socially desirable reformation? The choice is open but let’s keep in mind the historical consequences when the simplicity of ‘art for art’s sake’ is replaced by a higher reality: the prima ballerina keeps her position by favors to a bureaucrat or the whole of ballet, is made to serve Social Realism and the corruption that this entails as documented by Plisetskaya. <P>In the May 04, 2002 05:39 note is an extraordinary sentence, “Of the 13 dancers with Ballet Theatre for its recently-finished Spring season, only two out of the 13 dancers were newly hired for the Spring season. I expect that 10 will be back for the Fall season as well. On average, the dancers have danced for and trained with Mateo for over 4 years. The three female principle dancers have trained with Mateo, and danced with him consistently, for over 30 years collectively. At this time, there are no men capable of prinicple roles”.<P>Since we are dealing with statistics, let’s take a major company: 150 dancers, about 40 in the soloist and principal roles requiring about 5-8 years past the 8 years of training in SAB. That equals, collectively, about 1400 years. The ratio for the 30 years of Mateo’s company is about 2%. Let’s continue in this linear extrapolation and assume that artistic excellence is somehow related and we arrive at the astonishing conclusion that the company can perform on the average of 2% of that of a major company.<P>As to the statement, “At this time, there are no men capable of prinicple roles.” Well yes, whatever ‘prinicple’ means but hardly of a soloist role either, and it does not take a balletomane to discern this. On a second viewing of From Worlds Within, I asked two women who were first time to the Mateo’s company what they thought of the men dancers? Very poor was the response.<P>“To be crystal clear: everyone in Mateo's ballet company is a highly trained ballet dancer”, a detail, a question? Is a ‘professional’ who can’t execute a double tour en l’air, a ‘highly trained ballet dancer’? In the Vaganova syllabus a 4th – 5th year exercise. With the 8th year, ‘stressing the physical development of virtuosity and artistry’, that is what my understanding of ‘highly trained’ dancer is.<P>And the assertion, “Although I've never seen a modern dance company up-close, I'm coming to believe that Mateo's company operates more typically of modern dance than of ballet.”<BR> <BR>This sounds very like, ‘I don’t know art but I know good art when I see it!” Previously the writer maintained that he did not understand what neoclassical ballet was, now he compounds the confusion by ‘newer seen a modern dance company up-close’ and then inviting us to consider that his insight that ‘Mateo's company operates more typically of modern dance than of ballet’ has some value.<BR> <BR>It would appear that the prized goal of a Harvard education, of learning how to think clearly has gone by the side with grade inflation.<BR>

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 Post subject: Re: Boston vs. Cambridge
PostPosted: Sun May 05, 2002 8:21 am 
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Of course, one rarely sees the entire group of soloists and principals onstage at onece, so comparing cumulative experience is an interesting but not wholly relevant intellectual exercise; what counts is the experience and ability of the 3 or 4 who are onstage at any given time.<p>[This message has been edited by salzberg (edited May 05, 2002).]

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 Post subject: Re: Boston vs. Cambridge
PostPosted: Sun May 05, 2002 8:26 am 
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From the description of the "Issues" forum:<P>"Discuss issues in dance (Keep it nice and civilized. <I>Be respectful</I>)"

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 Post subject: Re: Boston vs. Cambridge
PostPosted: Mon May 06, 2002 9:10 am 
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Yikes - what does Harvard have to do with this topic? This is certainly not the forum for making uninformed, inflammatory comments about Harvard's grade inflation, let alone more relevant topics to this discussion. <P><BR>"It would appear that the prized goal of a Harvard education, of learning how to think clearly has gone by the side with grade inflation."<BR>


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 Post subject: Re: Boston vs. Cambridge
PostPosted: Mon May 06, 2002 9:29 am 
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and any dance person who uses the thinks principal is 'principle' should be barred from verbal discourse about the art form!


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 Post subject: Re: Boston vs. Cambridge
PostPosted: Mon May 06, 2002 10:17 am 
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“and any dance person who uses the thinks principal is 'principle' should be barred from verbal discourse about the art form!”<P>Gigi,<BR>That is a bit harsh, for not knowing how to use a spell checker!<BR>What if you were thrown out of class for a coupé dessous when you did a coupé dessus i.e. koo pay deh soo instead of koo pay deh seeh.<BR>See what I mean?<BR>

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 Post subject: Re: Boston vs. Cambridge
PostPosted: Mon May 06, 2002 11:10 am 
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I would be barred from discussion then! People make mistakes. I am one of them! I used to use the term Principle and know alot of people who do. I think it is a common ,innocent, minor mistake! I do not think one should be barred!<P> Should you be barred for starting a sentence with and?<P>------------------<BR> ~Being happy doesn't mean everything's perfect, it just means you've decided to see beyond the imperfections.<P><BR>


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 Post subject: Re: Boston vs. Cambridge
PostPosted: Mon May 06, 2002 11:57 am 
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I have no issue with colloquial phrasing or typing mistakes. <P>I see the word 'principle' frequently on this site, however, and it suggests that many contributors don't know the difference. <P>It's embarassing, particularly considering the word is a fundamental, English part of the ballet vocabulary.<P>


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 Post subject: Re: Boston vs. Cambridge
PostPosted: Mon May 06, 2002 12:26 pm 
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Saying Principle for Principal is not that huge of an offense in the English Language. It is a very common one as you have noted. I don't think it is more embarassing to say that then to say <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>and any dance person who uses the thinks principal is 'principle' should be barred from verbal discourse about the art form!<HR></BLOCKQUOTE> <P> Now , I am not trying to be rude or mean , but I don't think it is fair to say it is embarassing to Say principle for Principal ,which atleast sound alike, and say people should be barred from talking about art if they do. Yet,you don't find your grammar embarassing.<P> Sorry if this is out of line. Just had to say it. Also read my signature.<P><BR>------------------<BR> ~Being happy doesn't mean everything's perfect, it just means you've decided to see beyond the imperfections.<P><BR><p>[This message has been edited by Danseur (edited May 06, 2002).]


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 Post subject: Re: Boston vs. Cambridge
PostPosted: Mon May 06, 2002 3:09 pm 
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Okay people, time to stop arguing semantics and go back to the topic. Is Boston dance really that different from Cambridge dance and why?<P>Citibob, don't get me wrong about my training comment. I know that all you Mateo dancers are highly trained. I simply meant that there are some ballet dancers who are maybe overly trained to the point of affectation and inflexibility (and I don't mean of the joints). It is a fallacy to believe that ballet dancers who choose to move differently are somehow incapable of moving the way others do or that they haven't been trained to move the way others do. I do not hold to that fallacy. Though I have not yet seen Mr. Mateo's company, I hold him and his dancers in high regard for their commitment to the artform and to their continued training. It's hard to be the underdog.


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