Here's hoping that the NYT's maintenance staff has sufficient cleaning solvents to restore Alastair Macaulay's chair seat after today's orgasmic eruption over David Hallberg. Oh Lord:
Ballet — large parts of which are still old-fashioned and riddled with class distinctions — still has plenty of room for dancers who play princes, kings, immortal spirits and divine powers. What’s extraordinary is that Mr. Hallberg — born in Rapid City, S.D., and who began his dance studies in Phoenix — is the first American dancer in history who seems tailor-made for these, as much by temperament as by physique. Duke Albrecht (“Giselle”), Prince Siegfried (“Swan Lake”), Prince Désiré or Florimund (“The Sleeping Beauty”): Where other dancers have to impose themselves on these roles, he seems to have them by birthright.
It seems that American history is now a specialty of Alastair's, and he has decided that it starts and stops with what he has witnessed.
Let's see – where to start –
How about Royes Fernandez who was born in New Orleans? Gayle Young - born in Kentucky? Fernando Bujones - born in Miami? Or Patrick Bissell, Clark Tippet, Jeremy Collins to name a few sterling American-born ABT danseurs from the 1950s into the 1980s who were born to dance princey roles but who Alastair has most likely only seen on video, if at all.
Even though Haglund was still in short pants when he saw Royes Fernandez and Gayle Young perform Prince Siegfried and his memories of them may be more memories of childhood excitement rather than critical notes, the historical photos and accounts bear out that during ABT's first 40 years, the company had several exceptionally fine American-born danseurs who were tailor-made for princey roles.
As wonderful as David Hallberg is as a dancer, and as historically important as the NYT wants to make him, he is definitely not the first American in history who was tailor-made to dance the big princey roles. He may well be the most important American dancer who Alastair Macaulay ever chooses to write about, but that's another story in itself.
Now, it's time to tidy up and hurry ourselves to the Bolshoi's Swan Lake before Olga Smirnova and Semyon Chudin start the party without us.