Clive Barnes (1927-2008), RIP

What a bright soul.

I didn’t know Clive Barnes, but we smiled–he with his lovely wife, Valerie–whenever we encountered each other on the aisle, and I always read his reviews in the New York Post and his columns in Dance Magazine with delight.

He was old without ever being an old fart. Curious, never immune to enthusiasm, but no pollyanna either, he gave me faith that even a review of a couple of paragraphs could be worth the effort. Here’s one of those paragraphs, about Christopher Wheeldon’s “Within the Golden Hour” for the San Francisco Ballet:

The whole impression is of beautiful creatures at artless play. The choreography is brilliant but unforced, with the dancing so spontaneous that they seem like co-conspirators rather than simple performers. It’s a delightful work, revealing Wheeldon at his best.

Written just weeks ago, when Barnes must have been in terrible pain.

And about Damian Woetzel at his farewell performance for New York City Ballet this spring:

Woetzel was simply magnificent, both as the cheeky World War II sailor on shore leave, then as the penitent prodigal seeking his father’s forgiving embrace. He takes his leave at the peak of his form — that perfect crossover mark between physical possibilities and artistic maturity.

Clive Barnes seemed always at the peak of his form.

He’ll be much missed.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on RedditEmail this to someone


  1. says

    Dear Apollinaire,
    I enjoyed reading your comments about Clive, I did know him and always found him to be a gentleman, and so enthusiastic about all things Art.
    He was the last reviewer who could write a money review, as we say in the Theatre World. Broadway will miss Clive.
    He will be missed, by all who had the good fortune to know him.

  2. lori says

    It’s always a shock to miss a friend. Even one I didn’t know personally. I’ll miss seeing this allegiant fixture of the dance concert and the level-headed reviews he wrote until he couldn’t. He was an exemplary individualist. If he had riling opinions, I’m left with the impression that he was open-minded. He could turn the head of the conservative critic and the general public alike, bridging the gap between them, and opening the door for artists.
    I saw him at every Complexions concert. Choreographer Dwight Rhoden rankles many critics but he has a huge popular appeal. Barnes questioned the choreographers ceaseless invention but he was always there on a hopeful mission to understand the next one. His absence at the company’s Tuesday opening was all the more obvious with Wednesday’s sad news.

  3. DeeDee Bott says

    Clive Barnes spoke in Houston some 20 years ago and transfixed a ballroom filled with women in the arts. I feel fortunate to have heard him speak. What a treasure he was.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *