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I thought that was an exceptionally strong program tonight. I love Walpurgisnacht. To me, it's an often underrated gem - it's a perfect opening to an NYCB repertory program and it was especially exciting tonight with near perfect performances by Sara Mearns and Ana Sophia Scheller and a fine performance by Ask LaCour as well. I talked briefly to Suki Schorer during intermission and she was thrilled with Sara's performance in particular.

As you know, Liebeslieder is one of my all-time favorite Balanchine ballets (I know it isn't for everyone but at the same time I don't quite understand why everyone doesn't in fact recognize and appreciate its transcendent beauty)and it was brilliantly danced tonight. Everyone in the cast (and the singers) were all superb but if I had to single someone (or someones) out, I guess it would have to be Darci and Kyra - they bring to the ballet a level of mature artistry that only comes from dancing at a world-class level for so many years (and of course, they are the last of Balanchine's hand-picked ballerinas).

Symphony in Three Movements also sizzled tonight - three curtain calls at the end of a long evening was quite a tribute (and a well-deserved one) to the cast. I was initially disappointed that I wasn't going to see Ashley and Abi but you can't complain too much about Tiler and Wendy as backups, can you. A dynamic performance from beginning to end! I would love to have one of those critics (we all know who they are) who like to talk about the Balanchine repertory not being in good shape at NYCB attend this program tonight and tell me with a straight face that Balanchine wouldn't have loved what was happening on the stage of the New York State theater tonight. I went home on a real high!

A final thought on Liebeslieder - I wouldn't trade it for all the story ballets in the world!


Yes, I really felt at the end of the evening that Mr. B was alive and well! SYMPHONY IN 3 MOVEMENTS especially seemed to really soar, right from the opening line-up of the girls.


Critics write for the general public, not for the dancers, not for the fans. I think if anyone is going to get all upset over the reviews, best not to read them at all... isn't that what you do, philip?


Critics say bad things all the time about my favorite dancers and choreographers; they're certainly entitled to their opinions,especially if they back up what they say with support, as at least one of those Balanchine critics does, Bob. I've certainly never had a nervous breakdown over it and I seriously worry about people who do...


I don't consider myself a 'critic', just an observer. My focus is on the dancers, really, not so much on 'issues' although inevitably those come into play when you are writing about ballet, or opera/film/etc. I sometimes read other ('professional') reviews but only to see if the writers agreed with me or not. Basically I go and watch and then write about what I saw and how I felt seeing it.


The only thing that upsets me in reading reviews is that most writers do not take into consideration things like injuries and necessities of casting that are part and parcel of running a ballet repertory Company. It's always sad to see some dancer getting bashed for being 'off' when they are working their way back from an injury, or to get dumped on when they've stepped in for someone else and are trying to keep the show running. I think sometimes people have unrealistic ideas about what goes into putting on these long seasons. Dancing is a short, arduous and risky career; I always keep that in mind when I'm watching. If things turn out gorgeously, which they often do, so much the better.


Tonya, I assure you I'm not close to a nervous breakdown - never have been and hopefully never will. Nor do I really get terribly upset over any review. I was just making an observation about certain contemporary critics who in recent years have seemed incapable of any degree of objectivity with regard to NYCB at all, particularly those who have harped on the idea that the Balanchine repertory has not been well preserved by the Martins regime. Of course, critics are entitled to be negative, when it is done in a reasonably balanced way
and I will continue to read them (because I'm too curious not too)and feel free to either agree or disagree. It's just that I was especially aware last night, when seeing the "Essential Balanchine" program, of what great shape the Balanchine repertory is still in. I am so very sorry that because of your travels you're missing that particular program.


As Sir Rudolf Bing once said, famously: "Critics?! All they do is criticize!"


But everyone here is a critic, too. You guys just aren't getting paid for it.

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