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September 07, 2012

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Oh Haglund, I read that article and disregarded the "professional" opinion. I thought it was made out of context and lack of consideration about ballet as an art form. I cannot imagine not seeing La Bayadere ever again because someone got hung up on the story line. The next thing you know, the Russian should stop dancing Don Q because the story setting was set in Spain, "they should have Spanish dancers to perform it, that's so offending!" Seriously? Ballet without the classics?

Hi LBJ.

Some years back, Macaulay took a swipe at ABT for putting non-Hispanic dancers in the leading roles in Don Q. He's also referred to the dancers as "mock-Hispanic" and to the classics as "cliched".

As one commenter to Macaulay's recent article said, "This sounds like the dance equivalent of book burning." Indeed it does.

In a restructuring move, the NYT just demoted its most respected music critic, who actually has a music degree and significant applied knowledge, to a general culture writing post. And yet, they retain this ignoramus as dance critic when he has no applied knowledge in the field. He continually demonstrates a lack of knowledge and appreciation for the classical art form and uses his big windbag to lobby to try to get his own sexual preferences depicted in choreography.

This direction has been bothering me for quite some time. Can he observe that these depictions have a massive impact on how the audience views Turkish people, Indians, Hispanics? Does he witness how the audience indulges in racist delight every time the pasha appears on stage? Those are all things I don't really see happening. Yes, such bad things as racism still happens unfortunately but I don't see the direct relation to these ballets, and one can't deny the big change in attitude that has happened since those ballets were first performed until the present. If racism and stereotyping happens, it is definitely not celebrated in the theatres as before. Just my view. It is not the vibe I get from those companies; they aren't like "Haha, look at those hilarious TURKISH pashas and let's feel so much superior in our white skin!" and neither do I believe that a lot of people from the audience walks into the theatre with that in mind. When I watch these ballets, I do not see the characters' ethnicity being pushed to the forefront of everything. Of course, the ethnicity part is still there somewhere, but to me it does not march on stage in flashing lights as it seems to do for Mr Macaulay.

Hi Kallima. I totally agree with you. The vast majority of the reader comments that appeared following Macaulay's piece pushed back firmly at his narrow, unenlightened view. NYT closed the comments off rather abruptly; so, they must not have appreciated the feedback.

I really don't think ABT discriminates against dwarfs considering they have imported a guest fireplug who does more dancing than the pasha role has.

Wholeheartedly concur. Misplaced p.c. has no place in the arts. Short pasha is a stock character, and if you are one to get offended by that then you shouldn't bother attending all types of exhibitions or performances be they opera or broadway and certainly not ballet. Ballet requires broader characterization unlike plays or opera, that's just the way ballets are structured.

I feel that people who feign indignance over every perceived slights, real or imagined (in this case imagined), ard generally quite sanctimonious and judgemental themselves. These self-appointed p.c. police then sit back and take pride in how open-minded they are compared to insensitive racists around them. I have had lot of experience dealing with such enlightened people. I am part Asian so often I am made to experience MORE racial awareness by the very p.c. crowd who, oddly enough, see and define me by my ethnicity. True fact.

So true, Genna. Macaulay boldly wrote straight from his own ignorance. What an embarrassment to the NY Times and to Macaulay's editor, Jon Landman.

Thanks, DC - I had pushed the "guest fireplug" to the very back of my mind.

Haglund, your cast for an upcoming Corsaire sounds terrific--I'd absolutely buy a ticket to see Joe, Stella and Eric, and I bet they'd be great. BUT: I would also gladly buy a ticket to see all those guests whom you so often and so relentlessly deride in post after post, like a drum you just can't help yourself from beating. I realize that this is your blog, Haglund, to express what you wish, but this obsession of yours against guest artists at ABT has gotten to be very tiresome.

Hi G.I.

Good to hear that you'd be willing to buy a ticket to see ABT's own dancers. Those three dancers mentioned have lost their performing opportunities to the imported guests and we've lost the opportunity to see our own dancers grow and develop into artists who would be just as accomplished, respected and admired as the imported ones. I'll continue to rail against that for my eternity; in fact, I'm just getting started. No one is forcing you to type this blog address into your browser bar and peruse what is written here. Why bore yourself by doing so?

Seeing this post again, I was reminded of one of my favourite fairy tales, 'The Story of Little Muck'. Although the English wiki page states that his hunch-back is the reason for being disrespected, it is actually because of him being a 'dwarf'.
http://www.readbookonline.net/readOnLine/47121/
I wonder if there is a ballet based on this somewhere. The dwarf being the lead, should be scandalous! ;)

Oh, Kallima, Mr. Macaulay would have a problem with "The Story of Little Muck" if it were made into a ballet. He'd have to tell us AGAIN how he was born with a deformed this or that and how he was such a sensitive, self-conscious lad who was nearly ruined by bullying and teasing. We don't need to hear all that again.

Or he'd point out that it is offensive that the Little Muck isn't danced by someone under 4ft.
Has he truly done that in the past? I haven't followed his writings thoroughly or for a long time. That would add another bit to the whole picture of it.
Despite not needing to read such things again, I personally would love to see some of Hauff's stories as ballets. 'The Cold Heart', 'Caliph Stork' etc. have been among my favourite 'fairy tales'.

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