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10 minutes ago, Sim said:

Yes.  There is a plot there which always gives rise to lots of discussion.  Both plot and theme in this case!

 

But if many of these plots are looked at from a contemporary point of view, then I could see several of MacMillan's ballets being criticised for the misogynistic attitudes of many the male characters.  Rape is a feature in some, along with forced marriages.  

 

Not to mention all that groping of prostitutes, and drunken behaviour.....

 

 

Edited by Fonty
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Oh they are all the time, Fonty, you are right.  They would probably never see the light of day if they were choreographed now!  It's as if all these awful things don't happen anymore....

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24 minutes ago, bridiem said:

 

I think it's a review with a contemporary bias, if you like, and that's tricky especially when reviewing works made in the past. But I do agree that it's generally worth reading all reviews whether or not you agree with them, even if only to help clarify why you don't agree with them.

 

If that's the case we'll soon see Contemporary art critics reviewing classical paintings at the National Gallery (and other art institutions showing art from the past) totally out of their historical context and rubbishing the art. 

 

If Winship is contemporary biased she should stick to reviewing contemporary ballets and leave reviewing works from the past to those knowledgeable ballet critics who do have a full historical and choreographic understanding of ballets created in the past.

 

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5 minutes ago, Xandra Newman said:

 

If that's the case we'll soon see Contemporary art critics reviewing classical paintings at the National Gallery (and other art institutions showing art from the past) totally out of their historical context and rubbishing the art. 

 

If Winship is contemporary biased she should stick to reviewing contemporary ballets and leave reviewing works from the past to those knowledgeable ballet critics who do have a full historical and choreographic understanding of ballets created in the past.

 

Well said, Xandra.

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37 minutes ago, Xandra Newman said:

 

If that's the case we'll soon see Contemporary art critics reviewing classical paintings at the National Gallery (and other art institutions showing art from the past) totally out of their historical context and rubbishing the art. 

 

If Winship is contemporary biased she should stick to reviewing contemporary ballets and leave reviewing works from the past to those knowledgeable ballet critics who do have a full historical and choreographic understanding of ballets created in the past.

 

 

I agree, except that even with contemporary works I prefer to read reviews written by someone who has some sort of historical perspective rather than someone who can only see with contemporary eyes.

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1 hour ago, Sim said:

  I avoided Luke Jennings because he always had an agenda which I largely disagreed with. 

 

I quite often did agree with LJ’s agenda, and I was pretty fed up with reading him going on about it by the end.

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Maybe that’s actually what happened to me, Lizbie!  I just got so fed up with it that I was totally put off...although I never agreed with him more than about 60% !!

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Whether one likes or dislikes the views/reviews of a professional journalist, they write under their own byline and their readers can, in deciding whether or not to read the reviews and articles, form an opinion based on what they write and what’s known about their background. 

 

I make the point that most of the Ballet Forum posts are written under pseudonyms (mine included) and readers have no way of knowing if the poster has any detailed knowledge or training of that of which they write (sometimes in very great detail).

 

So, although I didn’t always agree with LJ, I appreciated and accepted his perspective and his credibility as a reviewer. 

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2 minutes ago, RobR said:

Whether one likes or dislikes the views/reviews of a professional journalist, they write under their own byline and their readers can, in deciding whether or not to read the reviews and articles, form an opinion based on what they write and what’s known about their background. 

 

I make the point that most of the Ballet Forum posts are written under pseudonyms (mine included) and readers have no way of knowing if the poster has any detailed knowledge or training of that of which they write (sometimes in very great detail).

 

So, although I didn’t always agree with LJ, I appreciated and accepted his perspective and his credibility as a reviewer. 

 

I don't think that knowing a reviewer's background helps me to form an opinion about their writing. In fact I know next to nothing about the background of current professional dance critics. It's what they write, how they write it, and where relevant how that reflects what I have seen myself (whether or not I agree with it) that dictates my opinion of a writer.

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19 minutes ago, RobR said:

Whether one likes or dislikes the views/reviews of a professional journalist, they write under their own byline and their readers can, in deciding whether or not to read the reviews and articles, form an opinion based on what they write and what’s known about their background.

 

I make the point that most of the Ballet Forum posts are written under pseudonyms (mine included) and readers have no way of knowing if the poster has any detailed knowledge or training of that of which they write (sometimes in very great detail).

 

So, although I didn’t always agree with LJ, I appreciated and accepted his perspective and his credibility as a reviewer.

His credibility as a reviewer, even though he had once been a dancer, is I guess a matter of opinion.   I am not disputing that he knew his stuff, but I think that often, what he was reviewing came second to whatever social points he was trying to make by way of a dance review.

 

I always used to read Mr Crisp's reviews, even though I often disagreed with them.  He wrote beautifully, stuck to the subject at hand (often enhancing it with a bit of history about the piece he was reviewing, or the choreographer, or both) and made me want to read what he'd written at least twice over.  So I do read critics even if I know I may disagree with them.  I always remember at university a lecturer of mine giving me a very high mark on an essay.  Her comment was "I disagree with just about everything you say in this essay, but because you've written it so well and put your points across so cogently, I am awarding you this mark."  That's how I feel about approaching a critic's pieces!

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Thanks Bridiem,

I appreciate that point of view, but surely a review or opinion from an accredited expert on ballet; whether it be a journalist of the calibre of a Clarke, Craine or Mackrell, or a former and well regarded ballet dancer, must be both better informed and of more interest than that of an opinion or review posted by an anonymous forum poster?

Edited by RobR
Missing comma
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25 minutes ago, RobR said:

Thanks Bridiem,

I appreciate that point of view, but surely a review or opinion from an accredited expert on ballet; whether it be a journalist of the calibre of a Clarke, Craine or Mackrell, or a former and well regarded ballet dancer must be both better informed and of more interest than that of an opinion or review posted by an anonymous forum poster?

Not necessarily.  There are plenty of people on this forum, and others such as Dansomanie and Ballet Alert, who have been watching ballet for a lot longer than most of the critics writing, and who have gained plenty of insight, experience and knowledge over the years.  There are also very few critics who go to the same production numerous times, as many of us do (thus giving us a broad scope and viewpoint).  I don't think they are 'better informed' than many people on this forum.  As a matter of fact, we often spot mistakes in critics' reviews.

 

I spoke to a well-known dance critic once and asked her what her background in ballet/dance was.  She said she didn't have any, but because she could write her newspaper asked her to review dance.  She then learned on the hoof, as it were, and became a very respected critic.

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29 minutes ago, RobR said:

Thanks Bridiem,

I appreciate that point of view, but surely a review or opinion from an accredited expert on ballet; whether it be a journalist of the calibre of a Clarke, Craine or Mackrell, or a former and well regarded ballet dancer, must be both better informed and of more interest than that of an opinion or review posted by an anonymous forum poster?

 

Not necessarily. People get (or don't get) jobs as journalists for all sorts of reasons not always connected with their knowledge or the real quality of their writing; and a lot of people with expert knowledge don't necessarily have perception or great writing skills. Reputation is gained by what you write, not who you are.

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1 hour ago, Sim said:

I always used to read Mr Crisp's reviews, even though I often disagreed with them.  He wrote beautifully, stuck to the subject at hand (often enhancing it with a bit of history about the piece he was reviewing, or the choreographer, or both) and made me want to read what he'd written at least twice over.  So I do read critics even if I know I may disagree with them.

 

Totally agree with you, Sim.  If a book came out containing all the ballet reviews he has written, I would buy it without a moment's hesitation.

 

Perhaps we should start a separate thread about critics? 

 

In the meantime, I agree that the plot  for Two Pigeons is not everyone's cup of tea.  But it was never Ashton's intention for it to be a rather twee story,  and if it comes across that way then it is the fault of the performers.  For a critic to dismiss a ballet and urge the RB to throw it in the dance dustbin on the grounds that she thinks the story is a bit thin and she disapproves of the characters shows that she is probably in the wrong job.  So, every ballet has to show gritty realism does it?  Or no story at all.  To say ""all that talent and training could be put to better use" and urging the RB to "make space for whoever the next big thing might be" shows crass stupidity IMO.

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I wrote to complain to the Guardian when I knew LW had been appointed as I knew from an ENB masterclass I attended where she led discussion how little she knew about ballet history (I told them that half the audience there were more knowledgeable than she was) and that the paper which had previously had eminent critics James Monahan and Mary Clarke, should appoint someone with more expertise. One of her first articles for the Guardian stated that ballerinas are universally petite (Zen?)

But I don't agree about Clement Crisp, in my view he may often had an agenda, attacking the Royal in the past (during that period he lauded BRB much more than usual, as part of his campaign) and promoting Russian companies and dancers he was associated with.

Reputable critics often make mistakes. The recent article on Apollo by Alistair Macaulay claimed that the ballet was unique among Balanchine's works in having a narrative (Davidsbundlertanze? even more so, A  Midsummer Nights Dream? The Night Shadow?). In the programme for Trio Concerto Dance, Sarah Crompton claims that Sadler's Wells Theatre Ballet toured during the war (started 1947)

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I accept that someone may not like a ballet or may not like a performance, but what I find difficult to accept about the review in the Guardian is the complete failure to appreciate the purpose of or place for the ballet (in this case the Two Pigeons) in the context of ballet's repertory. To describe the Two Pigeons as "a 1961 romcom" and "whimsy" is, to me a shocking failure of knowledge and appreciation of what ballet is about and how different topics can be approached. Serious and important topics can frequently be approached and addressed in ways which are both tangential and indirect. The concepts of subtlety and symbolism as well as the existence of a subtext all appear non-existent to the writer.

I thought the review both inadequate and disgraceful.

Members of the forum are free to make their views known on the website if they wish as several already have done. 

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1 hour ago, RobR said:

Thanks Bridiem,

I appreciate that point of view, but surely a review or opinion from an accredited expert on ballet; whether it be a journalist of the calibre of a Clarke, Craine or Mackrell, or a former and well regarded ballet dancer, must be both better informed and of more interest than that of an opinion or review posted by an anonymous forum poster?

 

Must it?  I don't think so.

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I don't think anonymity or the reverse has anything to do with it. Some of the forum posters clearly have a huge amount of expertise and knowledge: some journalists clearly have very little.

I don't mind dance critics having strong views and personal prejudices and expressing them at times- but, I think the critic of a national paper should make some effort to be fair and to look at works in context. That ought  to be the job- if one wants to just sound off about one's personal prejudices, posting anonymously on a forum seems the way to do it - writing a proper column in a major newspaper should be a different exercise.

 

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23 minutes ago, bangorballetboy said:

Must it?  I don't think so.

Nor I......I have learned so much more of interest about ballet from members of this forum, than from any critic's review I  have read.  

Edited by Richard LH
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Sorry everyone.

i appreciate I’m in a minority of those who have posted so far.

Rather more 'cat among the pigeons' than Two Pigeons.

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I didn’t read an agenda in Winship’s review, just a self serving cynicism. She clearly didn’t like Pigeons, which is fine, but could not form a cogent criticism of the choreography or performance. In fact, she begrudgingly praised both. So, she needed to come up with something to support her personal taste. The result appears petty. 

 

A shame, as there was much to celebrate about the performance. I saw a diverse young audience, thoroughly enjoying their time at the ballet. Two Pigeons seemed to go down particularly well, rightly too as there were great performances all round (one pigeon excepted). Is this not what we want? Is this not what open up is all about? 

 

Incidentally, for all their posturing, you have to wonder what the marketing department are doing. This really is a brilliant programme for casual ballet goers or first timers: light hearted and accessible, but with great artistic depth. It’s easy to sell out Swan Lake, but this is where a marketing department earns their money. I’m not sure they are…

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1 hour ago, RobR said:

Thanks Bridiem,

I appreciate that point of view, but surely a review or opinion from an accredited expert on ballet; whether it be a journalist of the calibre of a Clarke, Craine or Mackrell, or a former and well regarded ballet dancer, must be both better informed and of more interest than that of an opinion or review posted by an anonymous forum poster?

 

The only concrete thing distinguishing one from the other is the presence of editorial control, and the fact that the "big name" critic is lent additional credibility by the fact that a "big name" publication has chosen to commission their work.

 

That doesn't mean an "amateur" specialist writer cannot produce output of equivalent or superior quality, simply that they don't have the weight of this level of professional assurance behind their work, perhaps merely because they have never sought it.

 

Additionally, a good (ex-) dancer is no more automatically a good writer or critic than they are automatically a good, for example, dance teacher.

Edited by RuthE
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Surely one of the qualifications for being a critic is that you have to actually like the art form you’re covering? I don’t always get the impression that LW does, or at least not outside a certain sub-sector.

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6 hours ago, SheilaC said:

I wrote to complain to the Guardian when I knew LW had been appointed as I knew from an ENB masterclass I attended where she led discussion how little she knew about ballet history (I told them that half the audience there were more knowledgeable than she was) and that the paper which had previously had eminent critics James Monahan and Mary Clarke, should appoint someone with more expertise. One of her first articles for the Guardian stated that ballerinas are universally petite (Zen?)

But I don't agree about Clement Crisp, in my view he may often had an agenda, attacking the Royal in the past (during that period he lauded BRB much more than usual, as part of his campaign) and promoting Russian companies and dancers he was associated with.

Reputable critics often make mistakes. The recent article on Apollo by Alistair Macaulay claimed that the ballet was unique among Balanchine's works in having a narrative (Davidsbundlertanze? even more so, A  Midsummer Nights Dream? The Night Shadow?). In the programme for Trio Concerto Dance, Sarah Crompton claims that Sadler's Wells Theatre Ballet toured during the war (started 1947)

I criticized LW in a previous thread as I found her columns in the Evening Standard utterly atrocious - no love for ballet, scant knowledge, often factually inaccurate,  spelling mistakes. I stopped reading them and I won't bother reading them in The Guardian either. 

 

I do agree agree with SheilaC's comment about Clement Crisp. He almost seemed to be a reverse version of Winship (ie hated contemporary dance, loved most ballet), except to make that comparison is almost too kind to LW, for Crisp was a far better writer. I thought that Crisp could often be unnecessarily cruel and bitchy: had he ever tried to dance or choreograph himself? 

 

I miss John Percival's reviews. 

Edited by Darlex
my spelling mistakes!
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5 hours ago, Saodan said:

I didn’t read an agenda in Winship’s review, just a self serving cynicism. She clearly didn’t like Pigeons, which is fine, but could not form a cogent criticism of the choreography or performance. In fact, she begrudgingly praised both. So, she needed to come up with something to support her personal taste. The result appears petty. 

 

A shame, as there was much to celebrate about the performance. I saw a diverse young audience, thoroughly enjoying their time at the ballet. Two Pigeons seemed to go down particularly well, rightly too as there were great performances all round (one pigeon excepted). Is this not what we want? Is this not what open up is all about? 

 

Incidentally, for all their posturing, you have to wonder what the marketing department are doing. This really is a brilliant programme for casual ballet goers or first timers: light hearted and accessible, but with great artistic depth. It’s easy to sell out Swan Lake, but this is where a marketing department earns their money. I’m not sure they are…

Regarding the marketing department, my thoughts exactly Saodan.

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17 hours ago, Douglas Allen said:

I accept that someone may not like a ballet or may not like a performance, but what I find difficult to accept about the review in the Guardian is the complete failure to appreciate the purpose of or place for the ballet (in this case the Two Pigeons) in the context of ballet's repertory. To describe the Two Pigeons as "a 1961 romcom" and "whimsy" is, to me a shocking failure of knowledge and appreciation of what ballet is about and how different topics can be approached. Serious and important topics can frequently be approached and addressed in ways which are both tangential and indirect. The concepts of subtlety and symbolism as well as the existence of a subtext all appear non-existent to the writer.

I thought the review both inadequate and disgraceful.

Members of the forum are free to make their views known on the website if they wish as several already have done. 

 

Exactly, thank you. Some of what you say is echoed in this morning’s lengthy - and blistering - comment following LW’s “review”, you might like to take a look. 

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Interesting from Louise Levene in the Financial Times:

 

"There are those (my own benighted husband among them) who would rather chew tinfoil than endure all this, but wise balletgoers revere it for its enchanting Messager score, its pretty Jacques Dupont designs and the roles it offers the Royal Ballet’s Ashton stylists." My emphasis.

 

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2 hours ago, Geoff said:

 

Exactly, thank you. Some of what you say is echoed in this morning’s lengthy - and blistering - comment following LW’s “review”, you might like to take a look.

Where is this please, Geoff?

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55 minutes ago, Saodan said:

Interesting from Louise Levene in the Financial Times:

 

"There are those (my own benighted husband among them) who would rather chew tinfoil than endure all this, but wise balletgoers revere it for its enchanting Messager score, its pretty Jacques Dupont designs and the roles it offers the Royal Ballet’s Ashton stylists." My emphasis.

 

indeed- but 'wise ballet-goers' revere it firstly for the choreography, surely- odd to mention the music and the designs first, but, they are indeed very charming and the three elements work so delightfuly well together .

 

The Guardian Winship review- with some very good comments- is in the Links Sim.

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Thanks Mary.  I read it in the Links, but obviously before the comments were made so I will have another look!

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