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Sunday December 30

THE POINT OF BALLET: Scottish Ballet's decision to move away from traditional ballet meant there were no Nutcrackers this year. But "one might ask what is the point of having a Scottish ballet company if it doesn't plan to do the great ballets. It is like the English Shakespeare Company saying it is sick of doing Shakespeare. It would be much cheaper to do something with a lot fewer actors that didn't require such a big theatre." Glasgow Herald 12/29/01

Friday December 28

CLEMENT TIME: Financial Times dance critic Clement Crisp is one of the most respected critics in the UK. Crisp "commands English like a maestro controlling a vast orchestra of thousands upon thousands of instruments, some splendidly abstruse. Readers scurry to their dictionaries. Ballet, which of all the performing arts offers the highest challenge to any attempt to express it in words, has produced a tiny handful of star writers able to match the brilliance of the achievements they saw on stage with their own verbal artistry." Ballet.co.uk 12/01

Thursday December 27

THE DANCING SWAN: "Ever since Swan Lake got the choreography and the attention it deserved, it has been one of ballet's most frequently performed works. But in the course of its travels it has been tarted up, dumbed down, made over and psychologised more than any other ballet." The Guardian (UK) 12/26/01

Sunday December 23

WHO OWNS DANCE? "The Martha Graham Dance Company sits in an unfortunate limbo, having already discontinued performances for more than a year and a half. The oracular high priestess of modern dance could scarcely have foreseen that a bitter battle over the rights to her legacy would end up in federal court." The New York Times 12/22/01 (one-time registration required for access)

ROYAL REFORMER: London's Royal Ballet has been on a down cycle for a number of years. And lots of turmoil. Into the mix walks the company's new artistic director Ross Stretton. He's been given a mandate for big change. "Working in Mr. Stretton's favor is that he was not around in the late 1990's, when the Royal Ballet went through prolonged misery during the closure and reconstruction of the Royal Opera House." Still, it's likely to be a bumpy ride. The New York Times 12/22/01 (one-time registration required for access)

Thursday December 20

ABT CUTS PROGRAM TO CUT COSTS: American Ballet Theatre has canceled a planned Stravinsky program for the end of the season. "We're looking at the potential of a 5 to 10 percent problem on a $30 million budget. It's primarily a result of the recession that already existed before Sept. 11, but it's certainly been heightened since that time. The postponement of the program will save Ballet Theater about $400,000." The New York Times 12/20/01 (one-time registration required for access)

Wednesday December 19

CHILL IN THE AIR: Seems there's an English dancers' union rule that says dancers don't have to perform if the temperature in a theatre is below 19 degrees centigrade. Saturday the theatre in Liverpool was packed with kids for an afternoon performance by the English National Ballet, when, just a few minutes before the curtain was due to go up, dancers canceled the performance. Why? The temperature backstage was 18 degrees. Liverpool Daily Post 12/18/01

THE OFF-STAGE DANCE: "Where once every male classical dancer was assumed to be somewhat limp in the wrist, today such prejudice is untenable. Ballet's men have become progressively more rugged, more overtly masculine on stage. Off-stage, there are girlfriends, wives and children, viz Channel 4's Ballet Boyz – two series of video diaries (a third coming soon) made by a pair of ex-Royal Ballet dancers, the matey, unpretentious and decidedly straight William Trevitt and Michael Nunn." The Independent (UK) 12/19/01

Tuesday December 18

TAKING THE BULL BY THE HORNS: "Alberta Ballet is not dancing around the issue of its first deficit in more than a decade. It has appointed Larry Clausen, a Calgary businessman with a penchant for restoring the health of financially troubled companies, as its new board chair." Calgary Herald 12/18/01

Sunday December 16

BIRTHING A CLASSIC: A year ago Northeast Magazine held a contest to come up with a new "holiday classic" set in Connecticut. The winner features Elvis, dancing martini glasses, The Jetsons and insurance elves. Hartford Ballet took up the idea, and decided to produce it this Christmas. The story's author followed the process of turning her work into dance... Hartford Courant 12/16/01

Wednesday December 12

THE PREGNANT DANCER: "Ballet dancers are among the leanest, fittest women on the planet. Their professional success is won by exerting phenomenal control over their minds and bodies. They are a completely different species from the gently swelling mother-to-be, whose world is ruled by hormone rushes, heartburn, bloated ankles and piles. While a few dancers embrace the mad biology of motherhood with pleasure, most will confess that it's hard to ditch the habits of a lifetime." The Guardian (UK) 12/12/01

SKIN TIGHT: Some ballerinas from the Australian Ballet posed in bikinis in a popular magazine. But "some patrons of the Australian Ballet, the country's premier ballet company, have cancelled their subscriptions in protest at the pictures in the January issue of the Australian edition of FHM magazine." The Independent (UK) 12/12/01

Monday December 10

SAN JOSE A YEAR LATER: It's been a year since Cleveland San Jose Ballet left the midwest to reform in Silicon Valley. "Ballet San Jose now operates on a $6.5 million budget, making it one of the 14 largest ballets in the United States. Among the 40 dancers now listed on the Ballet San Jose roster, only 14 performed in Cleveland. More than 20 members of the former Cleveland troupe moved to California last year when the company collapsed. But several departed at the end of the season to pursue other careers or join ballet companies in less expensive cities." The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 12/09/01

AILEY'S CHOROEOGRAPHY PROBLEM: While conceding that the Alvin Ailey company has terrific dancers, New Yorker critic Joan Acocella believes the company's choreography has never lived up to the quality of its performers. That may be changing with the addition of Ronald Brown's work; he comes out of a Garth Fagan tradition rather than that of Ailey. The New Yorker 12/10/01

HARD NUT: Going to The Nutcracker is supposed to be fun, right? Nothing serious. Nothing important. A San Francisco woman takes her kids to a performance and finds the audience full of Grinches. "Their grimaces said it all: Life is a chore and going to the ballet is serious business." San Francisco Chronicle 12/10/01

Friday December 7

LOSING DANCE: "The issue of preservation is uniquely difficult for dance. A performance vanishes with the closing curtain. Afterwards it cannot comprehensively be recaptured either from notation or video. The camera often misses key detail, concentrating perhaps on the central action to the detriment of what may be happening elsewhere on stage. This is true even of companies' specially commissioned video-records, some of which fail woefully to document work properly. As a result, much still depends on dancers' memories; without them it is harder to make a piece come alive." Ballet.magazine 12/01

Thursday December 6

LOOKING FOR HOMEGROWN: "A quiet revolution is taking place in British ballet, a revolution that has seen the future of dance at the highest level entrusted – almost entirely – to overseas choreographers." Now, as another British company looks for a new artistic director, will the job be entrusted to a Briton? The Independent (UK) 12/06/01

SCOTTISH BALLET BOARD REFUSES TO QUIT: The board of the Scottish Ballet has refused to resign after a parliamentary committee condemned the board's inept management of the the company. "Chris Barron, chief executive of Scottish Ballet, described the report of the education, culture and sport committee as 'a classic of inaccuracy' and said there were no grounds for any resignations by board members." The Scotsman 12/06/01

Sunday December 2

SCOTTISH ROW OVER DANCE: Scottish Ballet wasnt to turn itself into a modern dance company. But this week a Scottish Parliament committee condemned Scottish Ballet’s financial plans as "hopes, wishes and false expectations," and accused it of erecting a "necessary smokescreen" in announcing it would be moving away from traditional ballet. Now the wife of the Scottish First Minister says she supports the company's plans. The Scotsman 12/01/01

THE ATHLETE BECOMES DANCE: Judith Jamison has created a dance about Olympic athlete Florence Griffith Joyner for her Alvin Ailey company. She writes about the process of choreographing an idea into dance. The New York Times 12/02/01 (one-time registration required for access)

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