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September 19, 2018

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You are in midseason form already. Thanks for the review.

Hi Haglund,

Thanks for the terrific review! Did you just say that Kowroski is greater than Farrell in Diamonds? I've loved them both for decades, and I can't wait to see Kowroski Thursday night.

Yes. I'm saying that Maria Kowroski surely would have been Balanchine's first choice for Diamonds. Her instrument is the fine jewelry that you see only once in a lifetime. It's always nice to have vivid memories of the past artists because seeing them has had such an impact on our lives and love of the art form. (I tend to feel this way about Cynthia Gregory whose Swan Lake was my first - and nearly her first too.) But it's difficult to deny that the dancers that NYCB puts on the stage today are both more capable and more interesting overall than any previous generation.

Haglund, if you substitute the words "musicians" or more assuredly, "athletes," in your final sentence, it rings just as true. To take an example freshly in mind, the world championships in rhythmic gymnastics were just completed (speaking of some impressive arabesques), and the athletes are undeniably better than even a decade ago. In figure skating, there are now women doing quads.

Yet somehow debates about now vs. then persist, if only as a testament to sentimentality and nostalgia. It is perhaps only in objective sports such as track and field, weightlifting, and so on that these debates are entirely foreclosed by the facts.

A world in which no improvement can be made is of course a very sad dystopia. And indeed we are living in a world very much the opposite, in which every incremental improvement, small and large, from medicine to nutrition and fields seemingly further apart, are reflected in the brilliant, and yes, better, performances we are lucky enough to witness.

Let's marvel at what we are seeing now in real time, and cast away any notion that we must temper our enjoyment in deference to the past. I'll step off my soapbox now.

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