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August 13, 2009

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How do you acct for the fact that Tulsa got panned by the Times also?

The review in The New York Times fell short of professionalism in the fact that it said very little about the company's dancers or the quality of their dancing. Instead,it sought to ridicule Oklahoma's government officials and the residents who traveled here in support of their company and then, with the reviewer's nose up in the air, pan the choreographic offerings. That particular Times's reviewer doesn't possess the qualifying knowledge to assess what is "actual ballet" or to make a generalized statement that Nacho Duato's movement vocabulary is limited. That an irresponsible Times editor let her get away with it doesn't make her qualified either. Had Tulsa Ballet brought some marginal Balanchine or Wheeldon choreography to town, The Times and The Post would have been peeing all over themselves trying to pander to that element.

Dear Patrick -

There's little point in addressing the differences of opinion and perspective regarding my review of Tulsa Ballet, but I would like to address the inaccuracies and distortions in the assertions made here.

I sent Marcello Angelini a tape of my choreography thirteen years ago, in 1996. As did your unnamed source, I also recall that we had a cordial conversation. In my recollection, Angelini mentioned that if Tulsa instituted a choreographic workshop, he might consider my work. For this reason I followed up periodically (probably by phone or letter) until about 1999. As I don't have many records this old any longer my dates may be off by a year or so. I believe I sent him press releases for my own concerts until the last one in 2003.

I stopped choreographing in 2003 and haven't solicited choreographic work since before then. My editors are aware of my prior career - which ended more than half a decade before I took my current job. I make disclosures to them for any significant conflict of interest. I sent out hundreds of audition tapes in my career and it would have been impractical and unhealthy to consider rejection an insult. Though I obviously disagree with Angelini's repertory choices, as did several NY critics to some degree, there is no reason for me to single him out for any sort of revenge, nor did I do so.

You may disagree, but my review of Tulsa Ballet should be taken at face value.

Best regards,

Leigh Witchel

Haglund's Heel thanks you for the detailed confirmation of your conflict of interest with regard to reviewing Tulsa Ballet's season at the Joyce Theater.

While you indicated that you alert your editors to any "significant" conflict of interest, you stopped short of saying that you told them of your solicitation of work with the Tulsa Ballet. It is Haglund's Heel's position that you certainly should have disclosed this conflict of interest and ANY conflict, significant or otherwise, to the editors of the NY Post, and that the story should have been reassigned or at the very least, carefully vetted to include the disclosure and to exclude reckless hyperbolic suggestions that the company's rep stinks and that it wasn't good enough to perform in New York.

Clearly you were out to do damage with your review, and you succeeded.

The Haglund's Heels do not include anyone named Patrick, but we thank you for writing to us anyway.

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