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September 28, 2018

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You are the only person I've read who sees the contradiction in what they say is a desire for a " dignified, pure,..." company and what they put onstage. Because the choreographer is black, he gets a complete pass on the lyrics. That's part of the game. Nothing to see here folks, ignore the lyrics, focus on our cool tribute to diversity.

I think I'm tired of everything at this point. Maybe the company is, too. They want to try to revitalize but they just don't know how. Yes, I realize this is a gala but everything new just seems trite today. Their new slogan is " First comes sweat, then beauty... " well, show me the beauty. Perhaps the problem is they haven't said their prayers as Balanchine insisted.

You're absolutely right that because the choreographer is black, he gets a complete pass on the lyrics chosen for his dance. This could not be more clear considering the grand hoopla that was made over lyrics in R&H Carousel recently. Also, the New York Times has a practice of overlooking violence celebrated in hip hop culture. They refer to it as "troubling back story."

"Après moi, le BORED."

Glad to read this. I was first confused and then uncomfortable with the lyrics about killing. There’s so much cool music out there, why would they put something so insensitive on stage? I was wondering if it was supposed to be funny, but I couldn’t figure it out and now that I read the lyrics, it’s as I thought. I did enjoy all the costumes, they were fun. And I was happy to see the dancers seemed to be enjoying themselves. But my mind kept flashing back to the night before. I’m glad I caught Wed night with Concerto Barocco, Tchai Pas (Tiler and Joaquin, his last time!), Violin Concerto (Maria!), and the sparkling Bizet Sym C. That’s the City Ballet I know and love!

Hello Haglund, I was in the audience Friday night, which included the three world premieres you mentioned, plus 'In Vento' by Mauro Bigonzetti from 2006. Thankfully, we were spared from listening to pontificating speeches. I agree that Neenan's piece was the most cohesively constructed on the program. He still hews to Balanchine's maxim, 'See the music, hear the dance.' Of the four pieces on the program, only in his piece did it seem like the dancers were actually expressing musical motifs. In the three other pieces, there was a disconnect - music happened and movement happened, and there wasn't much of an organic connection between them. In Neenan's piece, Tiler Peck was the shining star - there was excellent ensemble work, but whenever she was on stage, she was the gravitational center.

Neenan's piece was the first on the program, and Bigonzetti's piece 'In Vento' followed. It's very reminiscent of William Forsythe. Thinking about it the morning after, neither the movement nor the music (commissioned for the piece by Bruno Moretti) are memorable.

The next piece on the program, 'Judah' by Gianna Reisen, featured music by John Adams. Some of the middle movements had poor musical choices - there was no connection between the music and the movement.

You've mentioned the musical choices for the last piece, Kyle Abrahams' 'The Runaway'. I think ballet set to hip-hop can work, but I don't think this particular piece was a good example. There were two moments of brilliance - a bravura female manege (I think it was Ashley Bouder) and a bravura male solo (fantastic brise vole, among other steps) set to Kanye West. I found the juxtaposition compelling. Other than those two moments, the piece was so-so.

I have the impression that world premieres like the ones on this program will be performed at various points this season and never be revived again. The exception is Neenan's piece - it's the only piece from the program that I could see living past this season.

Thanks for all of the reports on this program. Hate to admit that I’m not compelled to travel from DC to NYC for this. I’ll save my dollars for the big DeLuz Farewell weekend.

Haglund, I have a question on your report of the introductory speeches. You mentioned a “recent suicide” at the institution (NYCB). How did I miss this? Who was this? Terribly sad, regardless of the individual.

Jeannette,

Peter Frame, an SAB instructor and former principal dancer, jumped to his death from his apartment building on W. 75th St at the end of August. He was 61. In 1986, his colleague, Joseph Duell, did the same from his apartment building on W. 77th St. Had he lived, he would have been the same age as Frame.

Wow, Haglund-so much to think about in what you wrote and the comments. I thought the speech was a bad idea. Not sure I can articulate all the reasons why but glad to see others had the same reaction.

I too am grateful for your willingness to call out hypocrisy even when it's committed by black people. :-) You were instrumental in framing the discussion of Copeland's ill advised promotion.

Haglund- do you know who chose these choreographers and what if any oversight was provided? Was it Peter Martins or the interim team? Is there any information on how much these designer galas raise - after ALL costs are factored in? Also usually Sarah Jessica Parker gets a lot of publicity for herself from these galas. I may have missed it but she seems to be MIA even though she's been actively promoting a new product line.

Lastly - thank you so much for your piece on Lourdes Lopez. I am appalled that anyone would consider her for NYCB AD. I watched in horror as she destroyed the brilliant company that Edward Villella created. A company that had Paris standing in line around the block begging for tickets. A company that the critics and balletomanes regularly flew to Florida to see Balanchine the way it was meant to be danced. She has turned that company into a meh regional company. Yes - she has AD experience but it's telling that she was hired by the same Board that was stupid enough to fire Villella right after the company's triumph in Paris. And - as a feminist - I am appalled by the way she has treated many of the company's most senior and beloved ballerinas. Perhaps because of jealousy - Lopez was never an outstanding NYCB dancer. And as you so eloquently pointed out Haglund - she's basically been mediocre at everything she's done.

Thanks for the clarification, Haglund. I knew that Peter Frame (and Arthur Mitchell) had recently passed away but not the suicide part with regard to Frame. Sad.

You are so right, Slippersgirl, especially about Lourdes Lopez. I have been a subscriber to Miami City Ballet for years, and have watched her destroy quality and the Balanchine performances so perfected by Villella. Her new "avante garde" programming is awful and good dancers try, unsuccessfully usually, to interpret her point of view. The ncoming season is one big bore. And she keeps repeating same programs.
phylfut

I don't think that Lourdes will be moving to NYCB. She and her husband currently have an apparently unresolved Federal Tax Lien of $364,438 per public records in Florida. It would be irresponsible for NYCB's board to bring in someone with that type of negative baggage in addition to all the other negatives -- unless, of course, Sarah Jessica Parker wants Lourdes so badly that she coughs up $364,438 for her.

Besides, they've got the most qualified candidate in-house as the interim leader right now. He didn't walk away with a chip on his shoulder when he retired like Wendy Whelan did. He became an integral part of the management and artistic staff of SAB and was a highly valued ballet master for the company.

It's down right scary to think that there is anyone out there who actually believes Wendy is qualified to run NYCB.

NYCB has become as tiresome and sullied as Washington politics. I’m over it and the incompetent members of the board.

Gerry, come on, surely you don't mean that... NYCB has a few serious distractions right now, but it is still putting out great art on its stage – most of the time.

Gerry, come on! NYCB is the dancers and the repertoire, not the board! The company looks great.
Not to mention that nothing could be as sullied as Washington politics.

Gerry, you need a little TLC with some T&V. The perfect antidote for a Washington politico-depression will be de Luz's Farewell on October 14th – the only T&V of the season. We have to wait until mid-Spring 2019 to see it again. Come on down (up, in or out), if you can, or try to make it to a Prodigal Son earlier that week

Nothing's as bad as what we've got going in DC. I never dreamed we'd ever see anything worse than Watergate. But something seems to top it every week.

And Kanye West is so in love with (and in the pocket of) President TwitterAss that he now advocates abolishing the constitutional amendment that abolished slavery. https://pagesix.com/2018/09/30/kanye-west-supports-abolishing-amendment-that-outlaws-slavery/

What next NYCB? Perhaps a ballet set to Horst Wessel Lied/ Die Fahne Hoch? You can bet that the New York Times would overlook that, too.

Greetings, Haglund--Of course, I read your comments on "The Runaway" before experiencing it yesterday afternoon but was in no way prepared for how disgracefully derrière guarde the whole enterprise would be. It infuriated me on several counts: One was the management's betrayal of the trust an audience has to have in an institution to buy tickets and another was the depressing experience of encountering yet another creative who believes that what is ugly and base and violent is more real than what is beautiful, elevated and contemplative of what is ideal. Yes, the dancing was astounding, but what a waste of talent in the service of lies. I felt at the end of the piece that a bucket of waste (not the word I used at the time) had been emptied over my head. I was encouraged by the sight of two young people sitting in front of us leaving at the work's mid-point; they came back for the closing piece. I almost walked out as well, but decided to stay and observe. My takeaway is not that art must not touch on what is horrible about being human: On the contrary, it must--but with compassion and love. The unapologetic presentation, even promotion, of pathology using tools that are intended to craft beauty is a perversion of the worshipful intentionalities of Art and adds to the toxicity of the world. I was never so grateful to see a Martins work as I was for "Fearful Symmetries" that closed the program. In movement, music and aspiration, it cleansed.

Eulalia --

You said it best about Kyle Abraham's new The Runaway: it "adds to the toxicity of the world." That seems to be the goal of Kanye West. Unfortunately, Abraham and some of the dancers have embraced that as a resolution for whatever they are unhappy about.

Those dancers praising The Runaway, such as Bouder who is in her mid 30s but has the intellect of a 12-year-old, may feel extreme guilt about having had everything they needed to fulfill their employment quests as dancers handed to them for free by a generous culture that values art. Yes, they are privileged–-more privileged than most of the people who watch them and who toil at thankless, mundane jobs day-in and day-out to scrape up the money to buy tickets to their performances. Privileged dancers pointing fingers at others is not going to help the box office.


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