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February 11, 2019


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Love the review and the award! And I'm no choreographer, or musician for that matter, but sign me up for choosing the music. Since becoming a ballet fan, I can't help but listen to music for its ballet-worthiness.

Here's an especially danceable new piece called Music for Beasts in five movements for brass band by American composer Daniel Nelson.


Thanks, Shawn.

Nelson's propulsive tune sounds a little like Michael Nyman's music, particularly MGV Musique à Grande Vitesse which Christopher Wheeldon turned into DGV Danse à Grande Vitesse with great success -- first for the Royal Ballet, then NYCB, and more recently Pennsylvania Ballet.

Hi Haglund,

I love the review too. I saw Variations ...Soupir a few years ago with the same cast. I was absolutely dazzled by it and their performance. It was on a program with much much newer work but was still the most original, most radical and most surprising ballet on the program!

Really enjoyed the clips of DGV on the NYCB website Haglund, especially the one featuring the gorgeous Teresa Reichlen, my favorite of the company's dancers.

Musically, there's an important distinction to be made between what bears repeated listening and what will work for a performance.

If I had to choose only a few pieces of music to listen to for life, I'd take the masterworks, Beethoven's piano sonatas and string quartets, Bach's cello sonatas. Others would choose Mahler's symphonies. These pieces are of course endlessly fascinating and rewarding.

As for a ballet performance, I think so called "minimalist" compositions work really well. (Would also really like to see Wheeldon's After the Rain.) The themes are more readily discernible and in the best works the repetition isn't tiresome upon first listen.

Maybe there's a broader point here too, that speaks to your suggestion about the NYCB dividing up the labor in creating new works. Better to simply do the hard work of creating than to get hung up on the notion of genius. Balanchine and Stravinsky aren't walking through that door. And even worse still than simply waiting on a genius savior, is to pretend that mediocrity is in fact genius.

If no one has to take the mantle of genius, then maybe collaboration can shift the focus to where it should be, on music, technique, order, and beauty, as opposed to say relevance, identity, shock value, and self-aggrandizement.

But the bar

Hi Haglund, I'm wondering if you saw this New Yorker article about NYC Ballet, and if so, what you thought of it?


I did see it and was very disappointed in Joan Acocella's lack of professional judgement. It seemed to be a "I haven't gotten my whacks in yet" story in which she offered no new information, no new light, no new nothing. She simply regurgitated the Macaulay/Kourlas brand of libel. Maybe she's being considered for Macaulay's job and wants to make it clear that she can be just as disgusting.

Acocella's assessment of the Waterbury allegations against Catazaro, Finlay, and Ramasar in which she takes them at face value further shows the erosion of journalism. She hasn't seen the evidence. She hasn't read any depositions. She doesn't even know what the law is, but she feels the need to blow her old judgemental bagpipe as loudly as she can.

I think you're mischaracterizing the article. Acocella makes no judgments about the three men - she clearly states that she's quoting from the complaint that Waterbury's lawyer filed. She also acknowledges the various attorneys' denials. She never says the three men did anything illegal. The emails tell enough of a story that is irrelevant to whatever the law might be. I have yet to read that their authenticity is being called into doubt. Her take on Peter Martins is much more important, in my opinion. She's a critic and is entitled to her opinions, but her description of his tenure rings true for me. Like it or not, the court that matters here is the court of public opinion, and, as far as Mr. Martins's history goes, there is a great deal to ponder.

Frankly, I'm less troubled by what may have been said in the emails than by what NYCB chose to promote using Kanye West's hateful and misogynist lyrics in its new dance. I hear people say, "Well, you can't even understand what he's saying." Doesn't matter. If it was an anti-semetic rant that was the underlying lyric but unintelligible, would people have the same tolerance for it? I doubt it.

You have yet to read that the email authenticity has been called into doubt, as you say, because the defense attorneys aren't mounting a public relations campaign to make their cases. All anyone has heard -- anyone anywhere -- is what Waterbury's attorney wants released.

I, as do many, many others continue to hold Martins in high esteem and are grateful for the thirty plus years in which he steered NYCB to where it is now. Acocella is a dance critic, not an expert on crime or abuse. She doesn't know anything more about Peter Martins than what she reads in the NYT. She doesn't know what the hell she's talking about. And the fact that she has tried to wade into it now after so much yellow journalism has already created so much harm to NYCB and the art form, makes me question the value of anything she has to say about anything.

Let's focus on the emails/text messages. The defense attorneys have denied much of what Waterbury's complaint alleges, but none of them have challenged the authenticity of the messages, unless I've missed something. Why haven't they denied that the messages are accurate as being reported? It makes no sense that they would be silent about them, allowing the press to publicize the content, while they are on record as challenging other aspects of the complaint. So if the messages are accurate, it leaves the question of whether NYCB is justified in firing the three men based on this conduct. This has little to do with what Waterbury is alleging - it reflects upon their character. The company can certainly refuse to engage Kanye West again if they don't like his work - and that's "artistic freedom" - so why can't they apply a similar standard to the three men?

Some of the defense attorneys have only made general defense-attorney type denials. The press hasn't published the emails. They've published selections that Waterbury's attorney wants to make public and added their own color commentary to them in order to assist the plaintiff.

As for your artistic freedom argument -- yes, NYCB could choose not to mount works set to lyrics that are violent or misogynistic, but the hiring/firing of its dancers is governed by contract and they have to agree to allow the disputes to be arbitrated.

No one should believe that Waterbury is a victim of Catazaro, Finlay, Ramasar, NYCB, or SAB until she proves that she's been a victim and what her injuries are. We're not a 3rd world country where accusers are automatically believed and their injuries go unquestioned; nor, hopefully, will we ever be.


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