In connection with a NYT multi-critic discussion on the shock value of art, Alastair Macaulay tailored a half dozen or so paragraphs to dismiss the Joffrey Ballet's historic reconstruction of Nijinsky's Le Sacre du Printemps which he claims he saw when the Joffrey took the production to Paris in 1990, where originally and allegedly a riot occurred when the music and choreography first premiered in 1913.
Macaulay claims that he just "happened to be passing through" Paris at the time of the Joffrey's premiere. "It proved easy that morning to buy a ticket," he says in order to imply that there wasn't much of a desire on the part of the public to see the performance. The audience "around" him was "politely bored." That would mean the people in front of him, on both sides of him, and behind him were bored.
Macaulay writes that while sitting in the back of the second ring (later apparently clarifying that it was the balcony), "A delectably well-dressed couple sat in the center of the front row, trying hard but unsuccessfully to be thrilled." Was he using his super powers of perception to look straight through the backs of their heads to see their faces -- in the darkened theater? Otherwise, how could he, from the back of the second balcony, have seen boredom on the faces of people sitting several rows in front of him in the dark?
Macaulay goes on to claim that this couple rested their heads on the balcony edge as if "the choreography was a lullaby" -- once again suggesting he had super powers of perception that enabled him to not only see through the backs of their heads that they were bored -- in the darkened theater -- but, damn, to perceive that it was the choreography that was putting them to sleep. He specifically saw and heard this couple yell "Bravo, bravo" during a pause and then, again, saw through the backs of their heads from the back of the balcony in the darkened theater that their "faces fell" when they realized the program was not over.
Macaulay claims that at the end, "There were many cries of Bravo but they came from people who had never once looked electrified by the dancing onstage." From the back of the second balcony in the darkened theater, Macaulay was able to assess all of the facial expressions for the people who cried "Bravo" at the conclusion of the performance? He watched every expression of all of these people -- in the darkened theater from the back of the second balcony -- and was able to interpret these expressions -- in the dark? When the hell did he watch any of the performance?
What kind of a fool is Macaulay's editor at the NYT, Jon Landman, that he lets this kind of garbage go to print? (Oh, wait, Landman let Jayson Blair submit his fictitious and fraudulent writing for umpteen months before taking the blinders off his own eyes.)
Macaulay couldn't remember one aspect of the actual performance to include in his report -- not even the name of one dancer. Not one detail of the performance itself is included in his report which clearly is aimed to dispute with his customary arrogance the wildly positive reviews written by others when the Joffrey took this production to Paris in 1990.
Anna Kisselgoff, the former NYT chief dance critic who had over a decade of applied technical ballet training when she took the job (Macaulay has no applied knowledge), has written that the Joffrey's Le Sacre was "a revelation" and "a masterpiece" and spent many paragraphs over several reviews over several years documenting why it was important, why it was authentic, and why it was highly entertaining.
According to the NYT's own account written in 1990, when the Joffrey took this ballet to Paris, the French press called it "dazzling" and reported that the audience gave it "thunderous applause and repeated curtain calls." (The Washington Post counted them and reported "a dozen vociferous curtain calls.") The French press cheered "the Theatre des Champs-Elysees for bringing it back 'to atone for the stupidity of those who in 1913 did not know how to recognize the combined genius of Igor and Vaslav.'"
Apparently, there is a dance critic at The New York Times who can't recognize it today. But it's good to know that he can see through the backs of people's heads in a darkened theater to observe the bored expressions on their faces.
Washington Post: Dance; In Paris, Joffrey's Glorious Rebirth of `The Rite of Spring'