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April 26, 2017

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I don't think Martin and company are set to bury Balanchine. But again, an art form is only alive by the amount of people practicing and creating it. I think Martin feels he should find the next dance genius. But it is getting in the way of the original work, the reason the company exists.

All our arts are under attack due to political reasons. Even ballet has not escaped this fact. It ties into culture conditioning theories in socialist Maoism/Marxism.

We do still have people dancing, it is the creating part that is stymied. Choreographers today don't have a foundation in the philosophy that dance was built upon. This philosophy is purposely not taught to our students. It has been thrown out as passe. We all keep going back to Modernism, which isn't art, it just wants to shock, to be new. I feel choreographers should go back to classicism, to learn it's philosophy. Classical ballet thought the human body to be the epitome of beauty. Many people, including contemporary choreographers, don't believe that today and it shows. In everything from the sloppy upper body work in choreography to the ugly costumes sans tights.

Thanks melponeme_k.

Another problem is that people who decide to be choreographers are ones who were not particularly successful as dancers. It's a way to get recognition, and in NYCB's case, it's a way out of the corps.

Just look at the work of the one dancer who rose to principal status based on her dancing before she put her choreography on stage. Lauren Lovette's "For Clara" was heads and shoulders above anything that Peck or Schumacher have created for NYCB.

The all but complete loss of a general liberal arts education in our culture contributes to the loss of creativity in our arts, as well. It's such a shame.

I am deeply disappointed in Martins's new scheduling. The less Balanchine is performed, the fewer the opportunities for young upcoming dancers to stretch their wings in this exhilarating repertoire. Balanchine technique will erode even more than it already has. I have been watching NYCB since the seventies, and in the last decade or so the company has shown a heartening rededication to Balanchinean standards, and now Martins is "moving on." How tragically misguided. I think it's time for Martins to "move on" -- into retirement.

Hello Haglund,
You did not mention Square Dance, and Theme & Variations...why? Not your favourite? I love them, it's difficult for me because I am not naturally gifted in petits allegros, but I still love dancing them. Once in a while I visit your site, really appreciate your insight.
J.A.D

Hi J.A.D!

I didn't mention Square Dance because it is, indeed, on the schedule for next year. I did include T&V in the list -- right after Slaughter. But my list wasn't by any means complete. There are other less known Balanchine pieces that I truly enjoy seeing once in a while, but the biggies on the list should never be subordinated to new work.

Pamela,

Thanks much for your comment.

Other choreographers who have been dealt this treatment have ended up being mostly represented on the regional and municipal ballet circuits and performed with dedication but little skill at the collegiate level.

The truth is that Wheeldon, Peck, and Ratmansky don't come close to the talent of Balanchine and never will even if given chances to put their work on stage every night at NYCB. All three of them are less interested in quality and more interested in quantity – spreading their work as far and as wide as possible. They're like dogs who want to pee on every tree to leave their scent. If they were interested in quality, they wouldn't create more than one work per year anywhere and would make it the best they could possibly do. Ratmansky has received huge monetary awards and grants which should allow him to slow down and be more careful, but he doesn't. He just keeps churning out dances as fast as he can.

"If they were interested in quality, they wouldn't create more than one work per year anywhere and would make it the best they could possibly do." Exactly Haglund! I have been thinking this for quite some time. I completely agree with your post and the comments afterwards. I don't see the point of churning out crap just for the sake of getting your name on a bill or in print. I am dying to see Symphony in C and hate that I won't have a chance any time soon. Doesn't Martins understand that people go to NYCB to see Balanchine? Great art never gets old, ever.

Hi, SM. So, true - great art never gets old.

Chiming in to support the comments posted. I haven't seen enough Peck to have an opinion, but feel Wheeldon and Ratmansky are extraordinarily talented and would prefer to see their works over almost anything by Martins. However, their ballets can't compare to a strong Balanchine on a mixed bill.

Agree also on churning out new works. Balanchine was so prolific that maybe today's choreographers feel he set the standard they should match, or maybe the economics of today's commissioned ballets mean too many works are being produced without enough time for development and refinement. I think a choreographer might be better remembered by a couple of masterworks of supreme effort than a dozens of lesser works (Peter Martins).

Thanks, elfantgirl.

IMO, ballets should not be purchased by companies until they are nearly finished and have been "edited" by someone capable of clearing out the stuttering steps and polishing what needs to be polished, not to mention intervening in unfortunate costume choices. Directors should have the balls to point out to a choreographer that s/he is repeating her/himself or has fallen into a rut. Unfortunately, our ballet companies have devolved into entertainment companies where anything new goes on the stage that will get media attention. The directors don't have the gumption to demand that a bad (dance) joke get axed or a line get changed as do directors and producers on Broadway. Maybe that's why Broadway is so much more successful than ballet -- more directional discipline.

Speaking as a person who lives quite a ways from the city, I would not spend the time and money to go see NYCB unless it is for a Balanchine ballet. And I think The Powers That Be will find that to be the case for most ticket holders. I don't care how many "critics" laud Justin Peck as the next big thing. His ballets lack beauty and inspiration.

I think you're right, Rose. If NYCB can keep its head above water by pushing $36.50 tickets on TDF for the non-Balanchine evenings and comping whoever asks for tickets, then more power to them.

For NYCB to suggest that Peck, Wheeldon and Ratmansky make good substitutes for Balanchine's work or represent some kind of advancement or progress away from Balanchine is arrogance that competes with Trump's. There is no moving forward in anything that any of these three have created.

On opening night of the Here and Now festival, Martins' remarks and lauding of Wheeldon made me think that he wants Wheeldon to be his successor. What a terrible mistake it would be to turn this great institution over to a non-ballet master (who never danced Balanchine's greatest works as a principal) simply because he's a choreographer/celebrity. The worst thing that could happen to NYCB is for it to decide that it needs a choreographer/celebrity to be its next chief, especially one who danced so insignificantly as a soloist with the company. I wish Jon Stafford would express a desire for the job. Wheeldon, Millepied, Woetzel, Boal, Lopez would all be inferior picks.

I "love" that they call one of the programs "Classic NYCB" and have included an unannounced 2017 ballet..... Maybe the message is "Classic NYCB is always innovating?".......

Bring back the Balanchine, I say. Or AT LEAST remove all the Martins.

I agree with you Rachel. I've previously seen all of the works presented in the Here and Now Festival (except for the Peck premiere) and I know that I am not missing anything by sitting out these four weeks. In fact, I'm saving annoyance, frustration, and a lot of money.

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