Kate – I just posted the ‘expansion’ on my initial night-of-performance review (same thing, just more of it), and saw your comments. [Actually, it’s been a few hours already – I have computer issues.]
I take it that Macaulay slammed it. I haven’t read his (or anyone else’s) review yet, but wanting to attack it is understandable. At the least, it was disappointing; at most, really bad. But I also felt that something else was going on: First, that the music was so unusually good, and such a welcome relief, that it needed to be emphasized (and that if there was any chance of creating more of the same, that that be encouraged). Second, as poor an effort as it appeared to be, it may not have been entirely his doing (although no doubt he’s responsible for what ended up on stage). Although I have disliked some of Martins’s pieces, I’ve liked others. What I saw on stage didn’t look like his work (except for the dancing canaries, which, unfortunately, did) - but I concede that I haven’t been in a position to have seen everything he’s done. In any event, I thought that perhaps something else was going on (too much extraneous input; too much unrestrained license), and that an ‘encouragingly’ negative review might prompt changes. There’s a ballet in there; it just didn’t show up on stage. If it wouldn’t have sounded silly, I would have asked for a do-over. [Funny you mentioned Wheeldon - one of the first things I said to a friend as we exited the theater was that it was the kind of piece that Wheeldon would have done a better job with.]
But I don’t agree with calls for Martins to be replaced. I don’t know if he deserves the credit, but the company has been dancing extraordinarily well in the past few years – and I know I’m not the only one to have made that observation. More important, to me, is that ample opportunities are provided for young dancers to grow. He takes casting chances, and they work. [Remember the extraordinary opportunity given to Erica Pereira who wasn’t yet in the corps, to dance Juliet in its premiere season? And she delivered a super performance.]
It is undoubtedly true that the ‘new’ NYCB choreography – except for works created by Wheeldon and Ratmansky, has not been very successful, but there are only so many Wheeldons and Ratmanskys (and even they have not had universal success; no one could). I have no quarrel with his providing testing grounds for what prove to be disappointing works, or for taking chances. At least he takes chances that make sense – even if only on paper. [The ticket pricing decision is extremely unfortunate. I can understand why it was done, but it was an extremely bad PR move, and they’ve already backtracked from it somewhat. And I don’t know if I’d blame Martins or some bean counter for the decision. In any event, the bigger problem is ‘flexible pricing’, which is endemic, and should be illegal. I’ve gone to box offices, asked what the price for a particular ticket is for some future performance, and am told that they don’t know because it changes day to day and from performance to performance.]
Re: your Swan Lake comments. I certainly can appreciate that it looked better on the Danes, and I’ll accept that they have better mime and dance-acting training. But I’ve been surprised at the acting ability demonstrated by NYCB dancers who aren’t supposed to be able to act. And at the two performances I saw, the mime was done reasonably well – there just wasn’t much mime in the production (maybe some of it was cut from the Danish production?), and it all moved prohibitively quickly.
Also, is it possible that the tempo was slower in the Danish performances? I thought that Teresa Reichlen’s Odette showed more character development that Sterling Hyltin’s, but I also thought that the tempo for Ms. Reichlen’s performance was slower than for Ms. Hyltin’s.(whether because of conducting differences, or because it was ratcheted down a notch to accommodate Ms. Reichlen’s larger size -- she can’t possibly move as fast as Ms. Hyltin), and that the slower tempo (not much slower – it’s relative) facilitated character development. But I couldn’t be certain, so I didn’t discuss that possibility in the review.
Incidentally, though I was ready to toss rotten eggs at Kirkeby’s sets when I first saw them, I grew to like them. I just didn’t think they had anything to do with Swan Lake – unless it was a Swan Lake with a totally different concept. When I considered it in that light, it all seemed to come together – I just didn’t think it worked.