According to the Itar-Tass news agency, Grigorovich’s Spartacus has just won the “Champion” title of Ballet of the 21st Century. And it was such an underdog. Apparently, the Russians didn’t get the memo from Jennifer Homans that Spartacus was “quite clearly a degraded form of art” – oh, my goodness. Oh, wait, was that Spartacus on the front of the Summer 2010Ballet Review? How can there be a degraded form of art on the cover of this ballet scholar quarterly? Oh, my goodness, again.
Haglund wishes that the Balanchinistas would stop their jihadish effort to portray all choreographers as inferior to Balanchine. It’s starting to look like the Elvis fans attacking the Beatles, and Balanchine didn’t even come close to what Elvis was. It’s truly tiresome and a turn-off.
Any Balanchinista’s quality-comparison of choreography she knows intimately as the result of performing it to choreography she knows only casually as a spectator doesn’t square. The bias can’t be controlled for. It doesn’t add up to anything but a gassy pile of digested beans.
Haglund remembers walking out on a Pacific Northwest Ballet performance in the early '80s, when the company was a marginal Balanchine franchise, because he was so offended by the women’s substitution of Balanchine cliches and faults for fundamental ballet technique. Flapping wrists, practiced overbites, splayed fingers, crotch-displaying arabesques, flailing arms – that was the aesthetic presented at that time. Thank goodness it’s dying – if all too slowly. Thank goodness NYCB women don’t dance like they used to dance. Thank goodness.
Now, for a Spartacus thrill, go here. This clip is a splicing together of performances by Vasiliev/Maximova and Mukhamedov/Bessmertnova – sixteen years apart. Thrilling. Dramatic. Passionate.