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Subject: "Anne Sacks Watch!" Archived thread - Read only
 
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #118
Reading Topic #118
Eugene Merrett

07-07-99, 02:46 PM (GMT)
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"Anne Sacks Watch!"
 
   The delightful Anne Sacks delivers another sour review in the Evening Standard this time of the Bolshoi. She says that the glory days have gone.

She also describes La Bayadere as so politically incorrect as to be downright offensive. The only thing that is politically incorrect about La Bayadere is the Disneyish, story book version of India. I am not sure whether the fourth act is omitted from the Bolshoi version. But the 4th act does make Nikiya less of a helpless victim and more an avenging angel of death. So it is not intentionally politically incorrect.


Ms Sacks says that Petipa had yet to realise his full potential when he choreographed La Bayadere. So what about the Kingdom of the Shade scene? It is my favourite scene in any traditional ballet (but the rest of the ballet is not so great IMHO).

Like the Independent she is unimpressed by the dancers particularly Gracheva whom she describes as "brittle"!

She also makes the claim that the Bolshoi production is peculiar as it has Gamzatti as a tutu dancing role. That is definitely news to me! The ABT, Royal Ballet and Kirov (seen on video) give a fully fledged high octane role to Gamzatti(have you even seen Terekova do it on the Kirov video -incredible!!). Only the Paris Opera as far as I know make the role more subdued but she still dances and wears a tutu!!

I am being to question Ms Sacks knowledge in the field of classical ballet. This is not the first time she has made mistakes.


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: Anne Sacks Watch! Kate R 07-07-99 1
     RE: Anne Sacks Watch! j s 08-07-99 7
  RE: Anne Sacks Watch! Jeannie 07-07-99 3
  RE: Anne Sacks Watch! Jane S 07-07-99 4
     RE: Anne Sacks Watch! Jeannie 07-07-99 5
         RE: Anne Sacks Watch! JD 08-07-99 6
     RE: Anne Sacks Watch! Jonathan 08-07-99 8
  RE: Anne Sacks Watch! Bruceadmin 08-07-99 9
     Evening Standard watch !! gerald dowler 08-07-99 10
         RE: Evening Standard watch !! Eugene Merrett 08-07-99 11
             RE: Evening Standard watch !! Bruce Madmin 08-07-99 12
             RE: Evening Standard watch !! jonathan 08-07-99 13
                 RE: Evening Standard watch !! Jenny Delaney 08-07-99 14
                     RE: Evening Standard watch !! Olga 09-07-99 15
                         RE: Evening Standard watch !! Eugene Merrett 09-07-99 16
                             RE: Evening Standard watch !! Dame Blandine 10-07-99 18
                             RE: Evening Standard watch !! Stuart Sweeney 10-07-99 19
                         RE: Evening Standard watch !! Stephanie 09-07-99 17
                             Offensiveness and spelling Jenny Delaney 10-07-99 20
                             RE: Offensiveness and spelling Blandine 11-07-99 21

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Kate R

07-07-99, 03:23 PM (GMT)
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1. "RE: Anne Sacks Watch!"
In response to message #0
 
   I have long doubted the credibility of this particular critic. In fact I am making a collection of "Sacks howlers" which one day if I can summon the time and enthusiasm I will send to her editor. Having an off the wall opinion is one thing, getting your facts wrong is quite another.

The best howler I have seen to date was not, I think I am correct in saying, down to this lady. In a review of The Sleeping Beauty there was a character called the Mauve Fairy. Perhaps it faded in the wash.


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j s

08-07-99, 04:49 AM (GMT)
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7. "RE: Anne Sacks Watch!"
In response to message #1
 
   >In a review
>of The Sleeping Beauty there was
>a character called the Mauve Fairy.
> Perhaps it faded in the
>wash.

Or perhaps she meant the choreographer.


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Jeannie

07-07-99, 04:49 PM (GMT)
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3. "RE: Anne Sacks Watch!"
In response to message #0
 
   I haven't read the review yet, Eugene. I bet that Anne Sacks made a typo and intended to write that the Bolshoi Gamzatti wears pointe shoes throughout the ballet (Kirov & other versions have Gamzatti in sandals during Act I). As for the tutu, I can't think of a version that does not have Gamzatti wear one in the Betrothal Scene.


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Jane S

07-07-99, 04:52 PM (GMT)
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4. "RE: Anne Sacks Watch!"
In response to message #0
 
   I imagine the politically incorrect bit she was complaining about might have been the 6 young women 'blacked up' as negro attendants and doing a comic dance. This may be traditional but you could feel the audience squirming with discomfort.


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Jeannie

07-07-99, 05:28 PM (GMT)
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5. "RE: Anne Sacks Watch!"
In response to message #4
 
   That's probably it but, as far as I'm concerned, it is utter nonsense to become all hot-and-bothered over a few little black sambos cavorting with the Golden Idol.

Every production of BAYADERE except for the Makarova stagings at the Royal and ABT, includes the sambos. Can you image, America has become so hyper-sensitive about this that when the Kirov took its BAYADERE to NY (ca. 1992), it had to replace the sambos with a group of young women in saris? I suppose that next time they'll have to delete the Tom-Tom Dance for fear of offending Native Americans! And maybe we Hispanics will take great offense to the lascivious backbends in the Spanish Dance of SWAN LAKE?


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JD

08-07-99, 00:02 AM (GMT)
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6. "RE: Anne Sacks Watch!"
In response to message #5
 
   I agree with Jane on the squirming audience. It just seemed ridiculous.

As for other comments, can I please remind people that there are libel laws in this country, and defamatory comments about how people may or may not have got their jobs could land ballet.co in a lot of trouble, despite disclaimers, etc.


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Jonathan

08-07-99, 05:37 AM (GMT)
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8. "RE: Anne Sacks Watch!"
In response to message #4
 
   >I imagine the politically incorrect bit she
>was complaining about might have been
>the 6 young women 'blacked up'
>as negro attendants and doing a
>comic dance. This may be traditional
>but you could feel the audience
>squirming with discomfort.

Her precise words were "It is so politically incorrrect as to be offensive. Its hierarchy, supported by a vast underclass of Indian temple dancers and slaves, was originally meant to reflect Tsarist Russia, but jars in an age of European democracy."

In the same edition of the Standard, Rhoda Koenig (Why Fagin really has to be Jewish) says that ITV's decision not to portray Fagin (in their forthcoming Oliver Twist) as a Jew "exemplifies not only a lack of understanding of our literary heritage but a contempt for the past itself".

Shame they didn't compare notes in the canteen, or perhaps in McDonalds, where they could both have witnessed contemporary European democracy at work.



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Bruceadmin

08-07-99, 06:27 AM (GMT)
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9. "RE: Anne Sacks Watch!"
In response to message #0
 
   I have just seen and deleted a posting in this thread from somebody called JG who did not have the guts to leave either their full name or an email address.

Such personal and spiteful remarks cannot be justified in any way, shape or form. I'm absolutely appalled and disgusted. If people want to quibble about reviews that is fine but to extend this to something that many would regard as highly offensive will not be tolerated and indeed jeopardises the free exchange nature of postings board like this.

In 8,000 post we have *never* had such a post before and I sincerely hope that we never, ever, see anything like it again. Whoever did it should grow up.

Bruce Marriott


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gerald dowler

08-07-99, 10:08 AM (GMT)
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10. "Evening Standard watch !!"
In response to message #9
 
   Getting away from personal insults, are you not rather fed up with the Standard overall ? The 'gossip' column opposite the leader has contained many misleading and patronising titbits, but recently they outdid themselves using Jonny Cope's illness as the opportunity to a) slag off the Royal by saying there wasn't anyone else competent enough to replace him in Giselle and b) do the usual stereotype by talikng about 'our man in tights' and c) infer that the company were furious that Hilaire was coming over to partner Sylvie.
The fact that SHE probably wanted Hilaire to partner her (she lets few have the privilege and he is one of her regulars) and the fact that Cooper returns to replace Cope in Fearful Symmetries were conveniently not included.
Another typically anti-RB biased piece from the Stndard.
Incidentally I wrote to the Editor complaining about Miss Sacks after her Birthday Offering review last summer and received a tart response saying that a good critic always provokes a strong response and the vast majority of the public think she's wonderful...


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Eugene Merrett

08-07-99, 10:22 AM (GMT)
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11. "RE: Evening Standard watch !!"
In response to message #10
 
   I am a bit lost as to where this inflammatory posting is (not from me I hope!!!)

However after seeing La Bayadere yesterday I thought Ms Sacks does has a point about the political correctness. The sambo thing was pretty yucky!!!!!

I wonder what the African leaders who went to Moscow during the cold war to discuss anti-colonialism must have thought of it????

I did see some Indians at La Bayadere at the RB a few years ago. I hope they were not too offended!!


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Bruce Madmin

08-07-99, 04:05 PM (GMT)
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12. "RE: Evening Standard watch !!"
In response to message #11
 
   >I am a bit lost as to
>where this inflammatory posting is
>(not from me I hope!!!)

I removed the posting - to leave it on the site would merely have compounded a dreadful error.


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jonathan

08-07-99, 06:18 PM (GMT)
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13. "RE: Evening Standard watch !!"
In response to message #11
 
   >I did see some Indians at La
>Bayadere at the RB a few
>years ago. I hope they
>were not too offended!!

Perhaps they were going to have a good laugh: "Goodness Gracious Me" did a lot to knock the stuffing out of meaningless political correctness, and I can imagine Sanjeev Bhaskar and Meera Syal making a very funny sketch out of this thread.



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Jenny Delaney

08-07-99, 06:33 PM (GMT)
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14. "RE: Evening Standard watch !!"
In response to message #13
 
   Although I'd love to have heard Benazir Hussein's comments when she was first cast as Gamzatti . . .

Anyway, in my eyes there's a difference between the treatment of Indians in Bayadere and the black and white minstrel show we were treated to by the Bolshoi. There was absolutely no reason for those characters to be blacked up and it added absolutely nothing to the plot. It was a painful anachronism that jarred like mad in my eyes.


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Olga

09-07-99, 02:36 PM (GMT)
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15. "RE: Evening Standard watch !!"
In response to message #14
 
   First of all I want to apologize for my English. I can only hope you will understand me.
I've seen La Bayadere a lot of times at the Bolshoi and the Mariinsky (by the way why do you still call it Kirov. It's Soviet atavism).
But even in the most horrible dreams I could not guess that somebody can find anything unethical or political incorrect in this old romantic ballet.
So with the huge surprise I read about it in the Times and on this site.
North American Indians and Black slavery had been in our history if we like it or not. We can try to pretend it did not ever happened to avoid unwelcome memories but it's a policy of ostrich.
So there are no reasons to blame Bolshoi.
P.S. Do you feel the same indegnation when Pavarotti black him up to sing Otello?


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Eugene Merrett

09-07-99, 03:38 PM (GMT)
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16. "RE: Evening Standard watch !!"
In response to message #15
 
   I do not think Pavrotti has sung Otello very much. It is Domingo who is the great interpretor of this role.

But I am sorry but I do not thing the comparison is entirely fair. It is not so much the blacking up which is the problem. It is the characters they are portraying. The dumb stupid characters as portrayed in La Bayadere absolutely at variance with a character like Otello. Otello is portrayed as an essentially decent and courage man brought down his naivity and jealousy. He is a complex and world rounded character who we can still sympathize.

I advised one of my black business colleagues ( a drinks wholesaler) not see La Bayadere as she and her daughter would be disturbed at what they would see.

However I do think we (or rather I) has said too much about this. It will probably be gone from the next production of La Bayadere.


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Dame Blandine

10-07-99, 02:10 PM (GMT)
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18. "RE: Evening Standard watch !!"
In response to message #16
 
   > I advised one of my black
>business colleagues ( a drinks wholesaler)
>not see La Bayadere as she
>and her daughter would be disturbed
>at what they would see.

How can you know whether they would be offended or not? You could as easily argue that most English ballet companies were institutionally racist because of the small proportion (less so nowadays) of non-white dancers, which given the appropriate inflammatory intonation, might cause far more offence


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Stuart Sweeney

10-07-99, 03:44 PM (GMT)
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19. "RE: Evening Standard watch !!"
In response to message #18
 
   You
>could as easily argue that most
>English ballet companies were institutionally racist
>because of the small proportion (less
>so nowadays) of non-white dancers, which
>given the appropriate inflammatory intonation, might
>cause far more offence

Things have moved on with the boys. However, I wouldn't want to defend the English ballet companies for equal opps for the girls in our ballet companies when it comes to afro-carribean dancers as opposed to those of asian background. 10 to anyone who can name 5. It wouldn't be hard to do for contemporary dance companies.



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Stephanie

09-07-99, 03:40 PM (GMT)
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17. "RE: Evening Standard watch !!"
In response to message #15
 
   LAST EDITED ON 09-Jul-99 AT 03:45 PM (GMT)

I reckon that we still say the Kirov instead of Mariinsky because the former is easier to spell!
PS. v good point about Othello - although I don't find it offensive it still looks ludicrous!


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Jenny Delaney

10-07-99, 11:55 PM (GMT)
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20. "Offensiveness and spelling"
In response to message #17
 
   I find the "blacking up" in Bayadere offensive because it adds nothing to the plot or the dance. Ballet's about the suspension of disbelief - no-one has any trouble with Carlos Acosta popping up in Fille or in My Brothers My Sisters, because first and foremost, he's an excellent dancer. Similarly, Pavarotti or Domingo black up in Otello because Otello is supposed to be black. But no-one else blacks up in Bayadere,while it could be argued that it's equally valid for all the other characters - or browns up, if you prefer.

As for the name - the Maryinsky's name abroad is the Kirov. The Soviet name was kept for touring purposes because it had recognition with foreign audiences.


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Blandine

11-07-99, 07:23 AM (GMT)
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21. "RE: Offensiveness and spelling"
In response to message #20
 
   >As for the name - the Maryinsky's
>name abroad is the Kirov. The
>Soviet name was kept for touring
>purposes because it had recognition with
>foreign audiences.

My dear Jenny, your concern for spelling is as always admirable, but I would not sleep if I did not point out to one of my best former pupils that the correct Library of Congress transliteration of the name is Mariinskii. Your tendency to jotate is linquistically quite correct, but not current among bibliographers.
With warmest regards.


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