CriticalDance Forum

Clive Barnes on NYCB
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Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sat Jan 15, 2000 4:01 am ]
Post subject:  Clive Barnes on NYCB

Clive Barnes enthuses about Wendy Whelan and Miranda Weeses and the general state of NYCB in the NY Post. Two areas of controversy to discuss. Firstly, how is Barnes rated as a ballet and dance critic these days? My main memory of him from this side of the pond is his intense dislike of Macmillan's work. <P>Secondly, do you agree with him about NYCB? Opinions about the company seem to vary between 'ruined' to upholding '..the living traditions of the company with great success and even fidelity...' from Barnes. I don't recall hearing such wide-ranging views about a ballet company. <P>I'm keen to hear any views or comments. <BR> <BR> <A HREF="" TARGET=_blank></A> <P><p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited 01-15-2000).]

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Tue Jan 18, 2000 4:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Clive Barnes on NYCB

While it is difficult for me (and perhaps others) who live in the remote outpost of the U.S. "left coast" to generate the visceral response that this message might have received in another forum, both parts of your query are well worth some time and, I'll have a go at it.<P>Mr. Barnes, who began his career as a London drama critic with no particular education or training in dance, migrated to this side of the pond in the early post-WWII era and secured a journalistic niche for himself in an era of expansion of both Ballet Theatre and City Ballet. Early in his career, he was an exponent of the Tudor/Ashton repertoire then on the ascendant at Ballet Theatre and, concomitantly, found Balanchine to be a slowly acquired taste. He has always been a daily journalist, as opposed to an essayist after the fashion of Arlene Croce. He does not write for the soi-disant newspaper of record, the New York Times, but rather for the Post, a tabloid (with all the sensationalist overtones appertaining thereto). Hence, it is difficult to pinpoint how he "rates" as a ballet and dance critic. <P>The dislike of Macmillan must be in the wiring, given his affinity for Tudor and Ashton.<P>I believe that his opening statement about Balanchine ballerinas no longer being Balanchine (trained) ballerinas 17 years after Balanchine's passing is a politically pragmatic statement of fact: with the exception of Darci Kistler and Kyra Nichols, there is virtually no one left dancing in NYCB today who ever had any contact with Mr. B. He then goes on to extol the virtues of two of today's leading lights, Wendy Whelan and Miranda Weese. Again, pragmatic: this is who we have; let's see if there are any virtues to enjoy, as opposed to a lament for the memory of Suzanne Farrell, Allegra Kent, Patricia McBride, etc.<P>Mr. Barnes, in his pragmatic determination to attempt to enjoy that with which he is presented, is a bit out of the mainstream of New York journalistic treatment of NYCB, which appears to feel that one *needs* to take a stand for or against Mr. Martins' directorship. The unseen agenda has to do with Mr. Martins' apparent banishment of Suzanne Farrell from the precincts of NYCB, presumably for actions perceived as tending to undermine his authority. (And it's been point/counterpoint ever since.) Hence, the perception to those of us with something to do other than eat/drink/sleep NYCB politics all day, is that there seem to be some unaccountably "wide-ranging views" about the state of the company....

Author:  Azlan [ Tue Jan 18, 2000 8:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Clive Barnes on NYCB

Francis, thank you for your insightful comments. Sometimes though I wonder if critics shouldn't just cover the performance instead of trying to sway public opinion. While sometimes there is a need to expose injustice or to uncover a problem, the end result of negative publicity usually hurts a company *and* the dancers in the company.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sun Jan 23, 2000 12:08 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Clive Barnes on NYCB

My thanks too, Francis.<P>********************************************<BR>Mr. Barnes, in his pragmatic determination to attempt to enjoy that with which he is presented, is a bit out of the mainstream of New York journalistic treatment of NYCB<BR>********************************************<P>This seems like a reasonable approach as there are clearly outstanding dancers in the company who give a lot of pleasure to audiences. It certainly sounds as though Suzanne Farrell has a lot to offer. But if she was trying to run the Company and undermine his position (as opposed to expressing a dissenting view to her boss) then it's easy to see that she had to go. Let's hope that some intermediary manages to heal the wounded egos and brings them together again.<P><BR>

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sun Jan 23, 2000 1:28 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Clive Barnes on NYCB

Another article about NYCB, but this one focusses mainly on Kowroski, who seems to be havung a great start to her season. The link should last until Jan 30th.<BR> <A HREF="" TARGET=_blank></A>

Author:  Michael [ Sun Jan 23, 2000 12:51 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Clive Barnes on NYCB

Thanks, Stuart, for the Korowski article. It seems rare to read something about NYCB that isn't about internal politics. <P>So long-legged Korowski and her long-legged partner kick each other at rehearsals. I wonder how tall they are, and if they have trouble finding other partners because of their height.<P>Have we discussed the topic of tall dancers on another thread?<P>

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