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June 07, 2017

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Per his IG, seems Alistair is "dragging" himself kicking and screaming to a number of performances, so hopefully the paper of record will finally review an ABT production this season other than Whipped Cream.

Le Corsaire is not my favorite, but I could not pass up the chance to see the cast with Skylar as Medora, so I'm prancing over to the Opera House myself :)

Well, my goodness, he chose to go see Hee Seo's Medora. Interesting choice.

Le Corsaire is not racist and does not ridicule Muslims in any way. There is no religious aspect to it at all. Do you suppose that Macaulay would be up in arms if an European company put on a ballet that treated American southern preachers with humor? Or American cowboys? Do he and his fellow critics harass Saturday Night Live for their humiliation of whomever will get a laugh? No. Macaulay's effort to assume the mantle of savior & enforcer of political correctness (as he sees it) just makes him look like a bigger pompous ass than he already is.

Trump has one thing right: the New York Times is fake news.

@Rachel - Oh my gosh, you have got to be kidding me. Macauley blocked me on Instagram. Because I left one polite comment on his page about hoping that he reviews the Lane/Simkin/Shevchenko debuts in Giselle. There is something very wrong going on at NYT.

Rose, not only fake news, but in allowing Macaulay to characterize something falsely as being racist and unfriendly to Muslims, NYT is actually making ABT a potential target for terror. It is irresponsible for NYT to allow him potentially to incite violence so that he can pump up his sense of self-worth.

Another news item you may have missed: Ana Sophia Scheller is departing NYCB and joining San Francisco Ballet. She will give her last performance with the company at the Kennedy Center on June 10 matinee.

Thank you, yukonna. I did see the news item about Ana and neglected to add it to the observations post.

While I am sorry to see her leave, I think that she will see more opportunities dancing the big works that she loves so much such as Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, and there will be more theater-intensive dance for her. I wish her well. I've always been a fan of her dancing. It would be nice to see her end up working for Tamara Rojo some day soon. That would be an ideal mentorship in my view.

Right on, HH. I wrote to the Times and mentioned that there is a company dancing its collective heart out and only the mediocre Mysterious Copland (mysterious how she became a ballerina with a modest technique, compared to most of the ladies in the company)rates a review with a picture no less. I did say that at least the review was such that if I were the lady reviewed, I would be mortified.

I wonder how the company feels? It reminds me of the days Erik Bruhn brought Carla Fracci with him and her "glamor?" sucked all the energy from performances where style replaced steps. With Mysterious, there is not even style to compensate.

Keep up the good work. I am a veteran ballet fanatic for 60! years and your reviews and observation sit "right" with me.

Thanks, Eddie. It's great to hear that you wrote to the Times. They clearly are more interested in pushing a certain perspective and agenda than reviewing and critiquing performances.

Macaulay's general take on Le Corsaire has always been off base. He thinks the pasha character is a religious figure because he doesn't wear western clothing, apparently. Pashas were military generals and political figures, sometimes also compared to the British knight. They were not religious leaders, for Pete's sake.

In the interest of objectivity, Gia Kourlas did a write up on Christine's Kitri and on Devon's Odette/Odile in the Times.


Thanks Anna. Except that Kourlas' write ups were not reviews of the performances -- which she wouldn't be qualified to do anyway. They were People Magazine puff pieces that revealed little about the quality of the performance.

Anna, further to Haglund's note above, both Christine's and Devon's were about their respective pending debuts, and, as Haglund notes, not a review of her actual performances. The one about Misty's debuts were admittedly about the performance, but there was no review of the production as whole - that spoke to the performances of any of the men (principal or otherwise), featured corps members, or even the staging/costumes sets (which warrant little or no comment for a production/staging that is not new). Not even the conductors have been commented upon this year.

I feel like it wasn't too long ago when reading the NYTimes review of a production highlighted performances I wanted to see in the future - whether it was remarking on which ballerinas stood out/were dominant in a given role (I recall a piece comparing Osipova and Vishneva Giselles), or noting a dancers in a pas de trois who stood out. We are simply getting none of that this season.

Less selfishly (:)), I think the performers themselves deserve critical consideration. I'm not suggesting the dancers themselves are motivated by the publicity, but they all work so hard, and their efforts are being completely overlooked!

Thanks for clearing up TDF Haglund. I was surprised that Sarah's exquisite Giselle debut didn't receive any mention in the N.Y. Times. Yet the celebrina and her "down to earth" Don Q got a full, flAttering review. Even though it basically said her acting was better than the actual dancing. Ugh.

I'm so sorry to hear that the concertmaster of the ABT orchestra is leaving. They had someone else playing in that chair a few years ago, and the Swan Lake pas de deux was so badly played that I was gritting my teeth and wondering how La Part could possibly dance to all those wrong notes. Then the next year I guess they got Benjamin Bowman and I was so relieved. I assume he'll be playing for next week's Swan Lake before he leaves. As for his replacement, you would think the ABT orchestra could find a competent, if not stellar, violinist in New York!

Hi Haglund,

I was wondering if you could expand your thoughts on NYT trying to capture the African American demographic readership? Just super curious because I'm the target demographic (I also did ballet for 17 years) and I've been reading NYT for years. NYT is not perfect but I find them relatively balanced, which is an extremely important task as they are the newspaper of record. However, if NYT wants to increase readership period then one has to highlight the importance of journalism early on which requires a certain form of civic education, which we don't have collectively in American society. Consequently, NYT is still a publication for the educated elite, not a source of media for the masses. If you are a university student/graduate and your university isn't stingy you can have free access to all the media you want. However, the financial realities of going to university in the US still means many will have limited or no access to this source of information. So until they figure out a way around that obstacle, I don't see how a picture of Misty will attract the readership they want frankly. The article about partner chemistry is what caught my eye first in the culture section.

Perhaps it's different for me considering my background already in ballet but I follow the social media handles of various dancers so my opinion of Misty is more muted. I admire what she symbolizes for younger generations and the overall good press she brings to ballet. However, critiques about her technique are not unfounded. Especially after seeing her earlier videos (pre 2014-2015), it is clear that she has an energy and precision that I haven't seen since she has become principal until the videos Romeo and Juliet with Roberto Bolle at La Scala showed up. With that said, I think the article in NYT from May 9th 2017 sheds a lot of light on her shortcomings and she seems to be working on it. I'm glad that she is because your reflections on ABT this season are completely on point in relation to the corps and female soloists. I personally would love to see Devon Teuscher become a principal: her video rehearsing Swan Lake for the show at Kennedy Center on Instagram was just mesmerizing, wow. However, I agree that Sarah Lane deserves the promotion even though I personally don't find her as captivating as Devon.

Hi T.A.E. Thanks for the comment. I'll lightly step over your assessment of NYT as being the newspaper of record -- because I don't believe that it has been that for a long, long time. But with regard to NYT's demographic focus, these days it wants whomever it can get but continues to amplify that it is a newspaper of high influence among the affluent readers of news everywhere.

The primary goal of The New York Times entity is to make money for its shareholders -- that is the truth. There use to be a journalistic integrity that separated the editorial side of the business from the advertising side of the business so as to make sure that advertising did not influence the news side of the operations. It was sort of like the separation of church & state. But that has gone to wayside now. NYT's journalism has become all about getting clicks on the website. It has become more careless and more obvious in its drive to acquire readership even if the journalism quality suffers. This is the cause of non-factual information turning up in stories that appear on the front page – the extant story being the NYT's "scoop" about Trump campaign staff having repeated contact with "Senior Russian intelligence officials" which James Comey testified was untrue and which NYT is now softly backpedaling in its back pages.

If one reviews the coverage of NYT's dance in the past few years, there are many times when an article has little or nothing to do with Misty Copeland, but there will appear a picture of her, usually a big one. It is to drive to the Times (and to its advertisers) her purchased celebrity-craving audience that buys into her stories of her struggles against and her victimization by white ballet. This is the audience that she cultivates, surrounds herself with, and lines up for advertisers - it is how she qualifies herself for endorsements. Through PR promotion, she has been made into a hot advertising property that far exceeds her artistic value. Being the hot advertising property gets the media attention even though it won't help artistry and technique.

Then there is another issue of the NYT critic advancing Misty for personal gain -- most notably, Gia Kourlas who is writing a book specifically about the struggles of black ballerinas. Her most recent profile on Misty was bright yellow journalism -- a veritable banana.

Misty is turning into a budget version of Volochkova with her shameless self-promotion. Hopefully, she'll quit ABT and go solo at some point instead of continuously cheapening the art.

Budget version, indeed. Before Volochkova went off the rails, she was quite an accomplished classical ballerina who was a pleasure to watch:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSV2ZZSlk8s
Not so with Misty.

Yes, I remember Volochkova in mid-nineties. She joined Bolshoi Ballet the same year I entered Vaganova ballet Academy and she really became my ballet idol until her meltdown in 2003. I used to root for Misty and admire her talent so much, but indeed she was never as accomplished as Volochkova in her prime.

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