Boy, today NYT's Alastair Macaulay really went over sanity’s edge in his effort to convey his sheer hate for the Royal Ballet’s The Judas Tree and the Kenneth MacMillan canon - of course, all the while hoping that readers will remember his unnatural and blind affections for everything Ashton and Balanchine.
When Macaulay started complaining about “sexual imagery in nonsexual contexts, acrobatic hyperextension, over-manipulative partnering, and jerkily-mechanical pure dance routines,” Haglund thought that he was talking about Balanchine and Christopher Wheeldon. In fact, it read like a description of Wheeldon’s DGV - Danse Grand Vitesse which Macaulay poured love over following a recent performance of the piece at City Center. There were more arbitrary crotch-splitting acrobatics in DGV than are seen at the Paradise Club of New York, but the needle on Macaulay’s brand new crotch-o-meter didn’t flinch. Maybe it depends on the crotches.In trashing MacMillan’s body of work, Macaulay complains “And almost every ballet he ever made remains controversial for its deficiencies in construction” Huh? Not quite. The only one trying to declare deficiencies in all of MacMillan’s ballets and make them controversial is Alastair Macaulay.
Honestly, opera can engage in killing children and get rave reviews as in Jenufa. Why does Macaulay find MacMillan choreography about sexual manipulation so reprehensible? Well, basically it’s because he hated MacMillan and whenever there is an opportunity to give him a kick, Macaulay will. The reason MacMillan’s acclaimed new biography hasn’t been released in the United States yet is that two NY pro-Balanchine newspaper critics declared to the British publisher that there was no interest in MacMillan in the United States and that people only wanted to read about Balanchine. How’s that for deceitful, underhanded, manipulative, backstabbing of a dead man and his world-respected reputation?
What a shame that The New York Times editors allow Macaulay to spew unfiltered his venom and hate at will and in doing so harm ballet as an art form and denigrate one of its geniuses of the 20th Century.
SEE FOR YOURSELF. To get a glimpse of the brilliant choreography about which Macaulay is complaining, go here to the Video section of the Kenneth MacMillan website. A 7 ½ minute clip of The Judas Tree is the icon in the middle of the second row of three. (Scroll down.) It is riveting with strong, sinister undertones, and a stirring example of how MacMillan turned ordinary human movement into compelling choreography. The body-chalking segment where the heroine refuses to die is pure genius as dance theater. Of course, it is all helped by Oscar-worthy dramatic performances by Irek Mukhamedov and Leanne Benjamin.