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May 09, 2016


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Gillian Murphy is one of the old guard. I'm sorry that she didn't have a good performance night. She may indeed be injured but due to ABT not training enough soloists to understudy...perhaps felt pressured to dance.

I've read that many seats were unfilled which should not be if ABT had a competent marketing team. This is totally due to the powers that be in this slipshod company pushing a few favorites over the rest of the dancers.

True, melponeme_k, there were many, many empty seats. I saw no legit press in their customary spots; so I don't know if they were collected elsewhere or perhaps ABT yanked the press tickets because they knew Gillian was dancing injured.

Even the Playbill was mediocre. The old, overused photo of Firebird with flames coming out of Copeland's begging ass was on the front, and inside a 10+ year old photo of Gillian and Stella in Symphony Concertante with a commendation article written by Kevin McKenzie's assistant's sister who tows the company's line. In it, McKenzie continues to hang the "Flagship Soloist" noose around Stella's neck. Honest to god, McKenzie is hellbent on killing the company.

"Honest to god, McKenzie is hellbent on killing the company."

Or maybe just move it to another part of the country. This is totally my own theory. But poor attendance has been a problem for awhile now. Besides the star strategy they have done nothing else to mitigate it. Since they moved their Nutcracker season to Segerstrom, would they move the bulk of their Spring season as well?

That center might offer them more and it would certainly shake loose dancers they don't want (at this point the best of the rest). Then they would still keep the fall Koch season as a fig leaf to state they haven't abandoned the East Coast.

I don't think so. Many years ago they thought about moving the company to Wash DC but came to their senses. No doubt they have looked at the potential opportunities in LA, where no ballet company has thrived including the wonderful Joffrey, which is why they've set up a satellite school. But they won't succeed there any more than anywhere else. It's not the problem of the challenging NYC market area being an obstacle; it's the problem of ABT being an obstacle to itself. The only way out of their predicament is directional change at the top.

So sad to read where this company seems to be headed if it keeps going down this road :(! I may be wrong but there are talents within who seems to be overlooked, and should be nurtured more vs importing from other companies. Now that they are loosing Baca, perhaps they will give notice to a few of the corps like Lavine, Waski, Williams, etc. I just feel that NYCB gives more opportunities to their corps than ABT?! If dancers are not given stage time or explored to their full potential I am not sure how they can improve, and there seems to be the issue?

Ugh. Just ugh. Murphy is getting to be too old now. Time to bow out gracefully. That's the big mistake Darci Kistler made. She hung on into her 40s and she could barely dance anything but Liebeslieder Walzer in those ballroom heels. ABT could have cast any number of soloists in Murphy's place. To answer the question above, Lavine won't see the light of day if MC has anything to do with it!

I think Gillian has years of good dancing ahead of her, but trying to keep performances on her calendar when she has a bad calf or hasn't completely recovered is not smart. If she blows out that calf, she will be out for at least 8 weeks. It is really poor planning by ABT not to have competent understudies ready to go at a moment's notice. Really poor planning.

I agree that MC could well be part of Courtney's arrested progress. Courtney represents everything that MC claims is white & wrong about ballet: beautiful, thin, long lovely limbs, not angry or pretending to be a victim. I could damn McKenzie all day & night for holding beautiful Courtney back. Imagine where she would be today if she had stuck it out at SAB where she was highly valued instead of being seduced to join ABT's studio company. We could be watching her tonight in Vienna Waltzes.

Reading this made my heart sink as I'm flying in for a 16 hour stay to see the Thursday night performance with Gillian and Marcelo. I've wanted to see Sylvia with this cast since reading your glowing 6/25/13 review and have prepared with multiple viewings of the RB 2005 DVD. I do not believe that it's time for Gillian to "bow out gracefully," I think there were other issues last night. I totally agree on the comments about Courtney L.; she is a beautiful dancer who immediately caught my eye.

Have hope, Patricia.

You'll be seeing the company's fifth performance of Sylvia. They should have it together by then. As far as Gillian's cranky calf or whatever was ailing her, we'll just have to hope for the best.

MacCauley seemed to love it (eyeroll)

His "review" didn't read as though he was actually at the performance.

[The writer granted permission to publish the comment.]

Dear Haglund:
I'm not looking for this to be published. Sent to the NYT Editor today.

To Whom This May Concern:
Over the years, it has become more and more apparent that the chief dance critic of the New York Times is showing favoritism to the specific dancers and choreographers that he has a personal connection to. With predictability, any informed dancegoer is able to foresee which performances will be well-received by Alistair Macauley and which will be torn to shreds. Understanding that his role is mostly subjective, it is acceptable that he will certainly promote a certain type of dancer of choreographer but it is more obvious than ever that Mr. Macauley does not approach his criticism with any attempt at objectivity.

In recent months his favoritisms have become more obvious. Mr. Macauley is now a regular presence on Instagram, cozying up to the dancers that almost always receive praise in his reviews. He comments regularly on dancers' posts, implying that he either has a personal relationship with them or that he is fishing for one. I would think that this makes the dancers uncomfortable and also makes the regular readers of the New York Times question his ability to separate his eagerness to befriend dancers from his criticism. I often wondered why he continually mentions certain corps de ballet dancers that had little choreographic opportunity to distinguish themselves, but I now see that he comments on their Instagram pages regularly. Why does he make sure to attend certain debuts but skip others? It's all on Instagram. The attempt to be a part of their world is frustrating for those of us that want valuable criticism at The Times.

Additionally, Mr. Macauley's dance reviews have turned into error-ridden dance histories. When was the last review that did not require that the reader skim through six or seven paragraphs of "history" or boastful memories of decades-old performances to get to anything that addresses what happened on the day he was in the audience? It has become tired and far removed from the criticism we expect at the New York Times. These issues don't arise in your music or art criticism. There have been too many years of Macauley's pre-determined reviews. There have been too many years of Maccauley attempting to prove that he's been to the ballet on different continents and in different decades even if it does not provide any insight into what he is reviewing. It is time to provide knowledgable dance criticism for readers at the New York Times. At least someone that isn't trying to be at the cool kids table.


Excellent letter. Couldn't agree with you more. Imagine if a dancer becomes uncomfortable with Macaulay's efforts to "reach out" to him on Instagram. Does he block Macaulay and risk retaliation in future reviews?

Shortly after Macaulay began his Instagram "initiative" his own IG account got hacked. Visitors were welcomed with a XXX solicitation with the lovely seller's photo inserted over Macaulay's. I really have to applaud the ingenuity. It took a couple of days for Macaulay to regain control of his IG account. He made it private, but of course, his comments on other people's public accounts are very public.

Please let us know here on the blog if you get any kind of a reply from the NYTimes.

Thank you very much for sharing the contents of your communication with us.


The last paragraph of the comment posted by "not another review" perfectly describes Macauley's approach. It was literally the next to last paragraph of his review of Sylvia that mentioned the dancers who performed on the evening he presumably attended. So frustrating! If I wanted to read about the background of a particular ballet, I know where to find it. A review can provide context but should focus on describing the actual performance the reviewer attended.

ITA, Jennifer. It is also possible that Macaulay wasn't technically familiar enough with the choreography to actually know what was missing or what went wrong –– if he was there.

Seriously, it was possible to write this article straight off the ABT press release about casting.


Ever since last year, when this so-called critic referred to the wig worn by the Queen in Ratmansky’s Sleeping Beauty as an anachronistic “Marie-Antoinette beehive coiffure,” I’ve had little regard for his ill-educated opinions. (A little bit of online research would have shown him exactly what he was looking at, which was hardly an anachronism.) Now I see his ignorance and toadying are far worse than I’d imagined. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear he’s been taking bribes from certain parties, like some sort of oily Congressional lobbyist. Whatever connections he may have, I assume he’s as sheltered in his cushy newspaper job as the dreadful ABT AD. I only hope I’m still around to see the two of them ejected from their positions, which neither of them deserve to hold.

Me, too, LLF.

It kind of creeps me out to see some of Macaulay's comments on dancers' Instagrams. It's weird that he thinks it's necessary to correct other people's spelling and volunteer history lessons. Maybe there is a pharmacological reason for his sudden social butterfly syndrome.

Bravo on that letter!!!

Haglund has heard from two distinct sources that Blaine Hoven acquitted himself very well last night in his debut as Aminta in Sylvia. No favorable comments about his farcical partner.

HH, Check out the change in casting for tonight's (May 12th) Sylvia! Whaaaaa? It was supposed to be Gillian. Im going so Ill report back later.

They're making a joke out of Sylvia. So lame and unnecessary.

More fallout from Macaulay's worthless review. The following letter to NYT's culture editor (Mattoon) printed with permission from the author:

Dear Ms. Mattoon:

I have, on occasion, written to the NYTimes regarding Alistair Macaulay’s so-called reviews of ballet performances, but today’s review of ABT’s opening night SYLVIA really wins the booby prize. To begin with, I don’t believe that Mr. Macaulay was really in attendance since he was not in his customary seat, or anywhere else near that area. Further supporting the possibility that Mr. Macaulay was not in attendance at the performance, is that his so-called review drones on for columns and columns about SYLVIA production history, of only mild import to anyone but himself. The second to last paragraph, a very short one at that, finally gets to the “dancing” by stating that Macaulay has seen Gillian Murphy dance SYLVIA much better on other occasions and that her partner, Marcelo Gomes, was a pillar of strength (or similar drivel). Having nothing more to say, Mr. Macaulay’s closing paragraph simply lists the remaining casts of the ballet.

The NYTimes calls THIS a review? Shame on the Culture Editors for allowing this kind of trivial and uniformed writing pass as dance criticism! When will the Times send Mr. Macaulay out to pasture and hire someone who really knows dance and is willing to write about actual performances rather that overloading us with dance history? In a private email of this morning, a former ballerina who also happened to be in the audience on Monday evening, says about Macaulay’s review: “What a dishonest, unethical, continuing episode of meaningless dance criticism in the NYT.” Your readers demand better.



On which dancers Instagram accounts is Macaulay posting? I'm assuming Mearns since he's obsessed with her and has never said a bad word about her dancing, even when it was warranted.

Too many to mention. Mostly NYCB dancers. He was even commenting on Ashley Bouder's baby pictures.

I saw a lot of Macauley comments on Ashly Isaacs recent trip to Indonesia. I was shocked to see those comments.

Oh, gross. Coercive and corrosive at the same time. Macaulay's stalking of the dancers on Instagram and forcing his attention on them is pretty disgusting. I've also witnessed him in his flirtatious mode when approaching NYCB corps dancers on the Promenade. It reminds one of the time when he was hovering around the little children on the beach in England to take photographs of them in their bathing suits - for which he was arrested and jailed. He then tried to cultivate his innocence in a newspaper article knowing full well that the police would not engage in a public debate with him about their closed case or the evidence in their possession. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/3638958/The-CCTV-recorded-me-taking-two-photographs-one-of-a-group-of-children.html

Many of his comments on the dancers' Instagram accounts are geared toward talking about himself and trying to interest everyone in his own life. It is all so sick.

God that creeps me out. For lack of anything better to do the other night, I looked at some of the corps dancers's Instagrams. He made some comment on a photo of Unity Phelan's saying he had never met her but he loves watching her on stage or something to that effect. This is a breach of journalistic integrity. And how interesting, he has made no comment on any of Megan Fairchild's photos (a dancer he routinely criticizes in reviews). WTH is The Times thinking keeping this gross lech on the payroll?

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