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Subject: ""The arrogance of" age" Archived thread - Read only
 
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #2393
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Paul A

02-01-02, 03:05 PM (GMT)
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""The arrogance of" age"
 
   What's your reaction to the Clement Crisp interview in the magazine?

My subject is a misquote of CC, lambasting a young choreographer for his opinions.

For somebody who has read CC's reviews for a good 25 years (I remember still his Mayerling reviews to which he refers) I thought this was a fascinating interview - but must say I no longer find the same erudition in his reviews which seem now to have lapsed into self-parody. Sad as I would be to see CC retire maybe it's time for him to go - or for him to be as candid (without continuing to be as baroque as he has become) as he is in his views here.


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: "The arrogance of" age David L 03-01-02 1
  RE: "The arrogance of" age Viviane 03-01-02 2
     RE: "The arrogance of" age Helen 04-01-02 3
         RE: "The arrogance of" age AEHandley 04-01-02 4
  RE: "The arrogance of" age Bruce Madmin 05-01-02 5
  RE: "The arrogance of" age Bruce Madmin 08-01-02 6
     RE: "The arrogance of" age Robert 11-01-02 7
         RE: "The arrogance of" age Paul A 11-01-02 8
             RE: "The arrogance of" age Zarafa 11-01-02 9
                 RE: "The arrogance of" age Isobel Houghton 11-01-02 10
                     RE: "The arrogance of" age roddy 12-01-02 11
                         RE: "The arrogance of" age Robert 13-01-02 12
                     RE: "The arrogance of" age Zarafa 14-01-02 13
                         RE: "The arrogance of" age Brendan McCarthymoderator 14-01-02 14
                             RE: "The arrogance of" age katharine kanter 14-01-02 15
                             RE: "The arrogance of" age Brendan McCarthymoderator 14-01-02 16
                             RE: "The arrogance of" age Zarafa 15-01-02 18
                             RE: "The arrogance of" age Bruce Madmin 15-01-02 17
                             RE: "The arrogance of" age Carly Gillies 15-01-02 19
                             RE: "The arrogance of" age cclayt 17-01-02 20
                             RE: "The arrogance of" age Hazel 17-01-02 21
                             RE: "The arrogance of" age Brendan McCarthymoderator 18-01-02 22
                             RE: "The arrogance of" age alison 18-01-02 23
                             CC - again. Brendan McCarthymoderator 30-01-02 24
                             RE: CC - again. Zarafa 30-01-02 25

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David L

03-01-02, 11:15 AM (GMT)
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1. "RE: "The arrogance of" age"
In response to message #0
 
   The whole piece reminds me of the old joke:

Q. What's the difference between Clement Crisp and God?

A. God doesn't think he's Clement Crisp.


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Viviane

03-01-02, 10:32 PM (GMT)
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2. "RE: "The arrogance of" age"
In response to message #0
 
   Oh ! One and all ! Thought you were all asleep or having a hangover....

I have rather enjoyed the interview... CC is telling a lot of truth and Ismene Brown has navigated this interview in an excellent way.
More, I was surprised to hear no cautious talk about the situation of "handing over the art' "and .... that he mentioned "the school" ! And I have no problems with his prejudices : ".... very beautiful Russian-trained dancing, for New York speed, for French temperamental virtuosity and physical virtuosity - their need to show who they are"
I don't pay much attention towards his ideas about 'stars'...(I'm stil waiting for a reply of *one biased* fan of Sylvie... )
And I don't want to make a fuss over CC's thoughts about Kylian, Mats Ek and de Keersmaeker.... that's because of his age..?
Although..... I don't like (most of) de Keersmaeker either (something of a mortal sin in Belgium !).
We do have a lot of readers on this board who don't like dancers in swimsuits
Wished he wasn't so mysterious about Forsythe...but we can guess !?
And don't blame him for loving the 'older' ballerina's !
On the other hand, calling Jean-Christophe Maillot : 'that man in Monte Carlo' ...that's what I call arrogance...or was he only careless ?

Hmm...I always feel respect for 'all those years of knowledge'...but I'm not that familiar with C.Crisp... so, I'm waiting for more substantial comments !



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Helen

04-01-02, 10:18 AM (GMT)
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3. "RE: "The arrogance of" age"
In response to message #2
 
   Well, this won't be exactly a "substantial" comment, but I enjoyed the interview very much. A critic who has seen as much as Crisp has is allowed to have prejudices, I think - they might be "postjudices", after all! Anyone who reads him regularly knows what they are, and makes allowances for them. I also enjoy his eccentricity, his trenchant views and his verbal acrobatics. I certainly don't think he should retire. There is a place for older critics in ballet. It would (I hope) be unthinkable to have a literary critic with little knowledge of the literature of the past; similarly, a knowledge of the past is essential to the understanding of ballet, and since ballet can't be written down, it helps if you have actually seen it. It gives context and perspective - something many younger critics lack.


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AEHandley

04-01-02, 07:59 PM (GMT)
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4. "RE: "The arrogance of" age"
In response to message #3
 
   Hmmm. I found it a very irritating piece. All he could say was "these kids today, they're not as good as the dancers of my day" without really substantiating it. I took the point about continuity and heritage (up to a point - I think he was over-precious) but honestly I thought it sounded like the bitter snipings of a (not THAT old!) man. From his tone I was surprised to find out how young he was!


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Bruce Madmin

05-01-02, 10:11 AM (GMT)
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5. "RE: "The arrogance of" age"
In response to message #0
 
   You can be arrogant at any age and its worth remembering that Crisp toped our Mini-poll on which critic you most trusted. He got 35% of the vote and the next highest 15%

I also think its impossible to debate with those who have seen dancers that you haven't about relative merits. No amount of words on Crisps part will substantiate or convince somebody of the greatness of a dancer in the past - its an impossible task. I don' think videos count in this either. One can though debate the past to some degree because of received wisdom from multiple sources.

What I look for is attitude, constructive argument around current or recent past issues/dancers and ultimately a set of prejudices I find interesting and worth listing to. I very much agree that critism is about prejudices and for critics to pretend otherwise seems pretty disingenuous. This I find in spades with Crisp. Its a splendid interview which you can disagree with or not, but the man has seen very much, draws conclusions and presents them entertainingly. Ismene Brown did a lovely job in 'releasing' this. There are other stories to tell and I hope we can cover those too.

Needless to say I don't subscribe to the view that Crisp should retire - there is room for many shades of dance critism and his is just one. He still has much to remind us of. Ballet is both old and new and we need people with conscience to push on both axis.


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Bruce Madmin

08-01-02, 11:06 AM (GMT)
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6. "RE: "The arrogance of" age"
In response to message #0
 
   I've added a link from the interview to this discussion. Here is a quick link to the original, unmissable, piece:
http://www.ballet.co.uk/magazines/yr_01/dec01/ismene_b_int_clement_c.htm


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Robert

11-01-02, 11:57 AM (GMT)
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7. "RE: "The arrogance of" age"
In response to message #6
 
   Paul you cannot seriously suggest CC should retire because you do not agree with him? Age has little to do with it he has opinions which one should respect, I am fortunate in often agreeing with him, but I read other critics who come out with a lot of hogwash but are still worth reading. Rupert Christianson on Opera often dislikes thing that I love but I understand him. Ismenie Brown was suggesting we go to see the latest Mark Baldwin, that does not make her a bad critic, just a bit deluded.


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Paul A

11-01-02, 01:18 PM (GMT)
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8. "RE: "The arrogance of" age"
In response to message #7
 
   Robert you misread my intentions - no I do not say CC has no place at the table because I disagree with him.

I often, though now less often, agree with him. What am suggesting is that despite learning enormously from CC over many years, I find that his reviews now show far less insight and good sense then they used to. I think this interview reveals him as knowledgeable and candid - but too often such rigour in his opinions, as now expressed in his reviews, become predictable, overblown whimsy.

Other FT critics are similar in this respect - though for me it is still the best arts page.

Interesting too that you single out two of few critics with rigour. I do share Ismene Brown's championing of Mark Baldwin - as if I remember correctly does CC. So I guess that makes me hopelessly deluded to use your word!

Fundamentally I do find the British obsession to revere the past at the expense of celebrating the best (note the distinction - not all) of the new to be debilitating - hence my increasing impatience with CC.


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Zarafa

11-01-02, 01:43 PM (GMT)
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9. "RE: "The arrogance of" age"
In response to message #8
 
   LAST EDITED ON 11-01-02 AT 02:04 PM (GMT)

LAST EDITED ON 11-01-02 AT 01:45 PM (GMT)

Can you substantiate the claim that Clement Crisp and other FT critics lack insight?

I may be partial as I work in the newspaper business, but I have always found the FT critics to offer substantiated, enlightened, well argued, thoughtful opinion.

Note the word opinion: no arts page is designed merely to be an unbiased reporting of the facts, which is why they appear in the comments and analysis section of all newspapers not the news section!

I have read extensively the back catalogue of Clement Crisp's work on FT.com (alas, I am not old enough to have read his early reviews) and I find a consistency in style and erudition, with no falling off of standard. Mr Crisp undoubtedly has a certain flair to his writing, but I find this is part of the enjoyment. Surely a critic is there to entertain as well as to inform?

All critics are themselves criticised: not least because of the old adage that you can not please all of the people all of the time. Critism of an art form such as ballet is particularly prone to disagreement, as it is based on aesthetics. I would refer others to the works of Plato inter alia on the difficulties of founding all-encompassing theories on aesthetics, and indeed of providing foundations for one's aesthetic judgements.

I think Mr Crisp should not be criticised, but rather saluted for his unabashed and unashamed views and his bravery in entering them into the public domain. Boris Johnson, when asked why he decided to run for Parliament, is reputed to have said "Because they don't make statues of the critics". Perhaps it is time to prove him wrong? Z.


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Isobel Houghton

11-01-02, 11:12 PM (GMT)
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10. "RE: "The arrogance of" age"
In response to message #9
 
   I felt I had to break a long silence and reply to this most arrogant of postings, so typical of the journalistic mindset, unable to withstand criticism of their criticisms
>
>Can you substantiate the claim that Clement Crisp and other FT
>critics lack insight?

Firstly Zarafa how many of Crisp's claims did he substantiate? Having rubbished artists the stature of Guillem, Kirkland, Nureyev with a handful of disparaging words, having rudely refused to accept others refutations of his assertions (the response to a Guillem supporter, being the most odious.) Crisp seems to want us to accept his view of greatness in a dancer as being the sole truth, without substantiating his claims with any other evidence other than the anecdotal.
>
I have always found the FT critics to offer substantiated, enlightened, well argued, thoughtful opinion. Note the word opinion:

Opinion Zarafa, yes I agree, however the short shrift Crisp gives to others opinions (Note the word opinion) is the biggest bone of critical contention to Crisps interview. As it happens I actually agree with much of what Crisp had to say, it was the way he put forward his views as being the sine qua non of dance appreciation that I find odious. You speak Zarafa of the evanescence of art and its criticism, yet you find nothing wrong with the judgement in stone mentality of Crisp. A way of thinking that in fact does serious harm to novices developing an interest in any art form. An inability to accept alternative view points is the antithesis of art or art which has any relevance to the world. A criticism "High art" forms constantly have levied against them, and which the attitude of Crisp does little to dispel.
>
Mr Crisp undoubtedly has a certain flair to his writing, but
I find this is part of the enjoyment. Surely a critic is there to entertain as well as to inform?

Flair? Yes, however this "flair" constantly verges on the bitchy and insulting and often tips into the offensive. A critic is there to put forward as impartial a view of the form and performance as possible championing what he believes is excellent, yet being as constructive about what he finds to be poor as possible. Note his dismissal of contemporary dance, fine he may not be a fan, but dance is a huge topic which exists outside the opera house, if Crisp is unable to accept this or comment on it in any other way than a few words, perhaps he should not be a critic. Oh yes, if I want to be entertained (strange choice of words) I'll go to a comedy club. A review is not a try out for material for a stand up.
>
>
>All critics are themselves criticised:

True, just such a pity they are so patently unable to accept or listen to that criticism, otherwise we may have had a far more interesting interview than Clement Crisp's balletic take on "Mein Kampf"


I would refer others to the works of Plato inter alia on
the difficulties of founding all-encompassing theories on aesthetics, and indeed of providing foundations for one's
aesthetic judgements.

Cut the pretentious crap Zarafa, it's a poor mind that hides behind the works of a dead genius to substantiate claims and theories he is unable himself to express with any true eloquence or poignancy. In fact a lot like Crisp shouting down his critics. What do you think about aesthetics Zarafa? Is not your rubbishing of Crisp's critics, and your bringing up the name of Plato as much an example of the narrow-minded, elitist, aesthetic mindset you accuse Crisp's critics of adopting?
>
I think Mr Crisp should not be criticised, but rather saluted
for his unabashed and unashamed views and his bravery in
entering them into the public domain.

You know, Crisp has never had a problem with voicing his views loudly and at length. Bravery? Perhaps. Obnoxious? Could be, in his inabilty to accept discord with his views. What is they say? The empty vessel makes the most noise.


Boris Johnson, when asked why he decided to run for Parliament, is reputed to have said "Because they don't make statues of the
critics". Perhaps it is time to prove him wrong?

And here Zarafa you make your whole thesis bathetic and laughable, oh my God a country in which gurus such as Boris Johnson and Clement Crisp are immortalised in marble. Their benign wisdom a testament for future generations to pay wisdom to and ask their elders "What did you do in the great culture wars grandpa" Perhaps my Mein Kampf joke wasn't so far off the mark in this last most pretentious view of Zarafa's.


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roddy

12-01-02, 00:55 AM (GMT)
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11. "RE: "The arrogance of" age"
In response to message #10
 
   Content yourself, Isobel, that you will never have to watch Mr Crisp dance.


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Robert

13-01-02, 01:37 AM (GMT)
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12. "RE: "The arrogance of" age"
In response to message #11
 
   Help!

We have had C.Crisp and God, poor oppressed Sylvie, Plato, Adolph Hitler and Mien Kamph and now my MP Boris Johnson, he is a happy soul, leave him alone!
Surely CC is not as bad as Isabel suggests; he is only a critic.

PS Paul, I wrote a bit deluded, not hopelessly!


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Zarafa

14-01-02, 02:11 PM (GMT)
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13. "RE: "The arrogance of" age"
In response to message #10
 
   Ah, good to see lively debate lives on....

There is no need for this to descend into a slanging match, but I would just like to make one very short reply to Isobel and one very long one:

Firstly: my final paragraph: three little words:

deliberate satirical exaggeration

I thought the satire in the last comment would be obvious and that the exaggeration for effect would be recognised. Sorry to those of you who missed it: even sorrier for any stonemason out there who has started chipping away at the marble already!!

Next, I don't think it is fair to say that my reply was a 'most arrogant of postings, so typical of the journalistic mindset, unable to withstand criticism of their criticisms'.. I was not saying that those criticisms are not valid: I was trying to make a wider point about the difficulties of artistic criticism as a whole. Which is a fundamental philosophical question about, (and here I must, alas, steal the words of another 'dead genius': apologies for those who it offends), "the standard of taste" (Hume). I was making the point that Clement is no different from any other critic (or theatre goer) in being criticised for his views, because it is not possible to have all encompassing viewpoint or indeed an objective external foundations for aesthetic judgement. The vilification of Mr Crisp is unfair: for he is no better nor no worse than any other critic caught in the subjective/objective abyss.

What I was asking for was substantiation of those criticisms in order to obtain a truly informed debate. Also, by asking those critics of Mr Crisp for a further elucidation of their views, I think the point is made about how difficult it is to found one's own opinions. Which is not to say that those opinions are incorrect, but brings into question the subjective/objective divide on (specifically aesthetic) judgement. The shortness of Mr Crisp's dismissals of certain forms/dancers does seem breathtaking: but for those with a recognition that there is no universalist foundation of aesthetic judgement, what matter that that opinion takes the form of three words or three thousand? Would any Guillem fan have protested less to a ten thousand word discussion, than to Mr Crisp's comments? Surely not, for it is the fundamental difference of judgement that is (or should be) at the heart of their disagreement. How we express or justify that judgement (or that difference) is immaterial, because it does not change the fundamental disagreement.

Isobel states that criticism should be impartial. This suggests that there is an impartial view to take. For those who do not follow the objectivist views of values existent in the world, this very approach is risible. For those, who follow a subjectivist line (that values lie not in the world but in our response to the world), it would appear to be impossible to be impartial: for if one take's away one's own self then there is no opinion.

As for my views on aesthetics, I take a normative dispositional approach, i.e. that the world is devoid of value, but that it contains things which have the power to effect us in a certain way within a normative framework, i.e. in a framework where we postulate values outside ourselves but not in the world, and not external to human thought (i.e. open to debate). Therefore x is beautiful iff (if and only if) x gives rise to a sentiment of approbation in a competent judge, where the definition of a competent judge involves the concept of them making correct judgements.

As to quoting dead guys: I think it is neither elitist nor narrow minded. Philosophical works and commentaries on them are widely and freely available on the web, and therefore access at all levels is freely open to all. Surely this exactly counters the kind of criticism that high art has had thrown at it? Equally, it is more narrow minded to think that some of the world's greatest thinkers don't have something to say on this: more snobbish to think that if one points others to the works of Kant on aesthetic judgement, Plato's Gorgias, and Hume on the standard of taste, that one is pretensiously hiding behind great thinkers, instead of extending and enlivening the debate. I refuse to apologise for being interested in philosophy and the arts: and can see no reason not to widen the scope of what we discuss if it is relevant to the topic. I referred to it only by Plato's name because that was all time allowed.

I think Isobel, that it would be better for any critic, rather
than attempting to be seen to be impartial, to recognise the intrinsic subjectivism of his viewpoint. I think the perceived failure to do so by Mr Crisp is what prompted this barrage in the first place. If Mr Crisp is trying to be the "sine qua non" of ballet critism and to allow no other opinion, then I too have an objection (albeit on philosophical grounds) and would agree with you Isobel. But I think this is have seen him talking with John Percival enough to know that he is at least aware of the existence of others! Perhaps he thinks he is the mythical competent judge?!?!?

Apologies for the long post. This is indeed only a partial defence... but time and space allow only this much. In all seriousness, though, I am pleased that my post invoked a thought-ut response, even if it was a hostile one!


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Brendan McCarthymoderator

14-01-02, 03:21 PM (GMT)
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14. "RE: "The arrogance of" age"
In response to message #13
 
   Clement Crisp has several great qualities. Like the others of his generation, Mary Clarke, John Percival and Clive Barnes, he has a long memory and a huge mental library of dance. He has 'hinterland' and he can write.

But he is also a creature of prejudice and his writing can lapse into self-caricature. He has disturbing certainties, and I am not sure this is completely right for a critic. To be a good dance critic is, in part, to articulate in print form something that is essentially visual. Crisp does that. A critics is also to some extent a partner in the creative process, and should attempt to engage, even with that which is not instantly palatable. Crisp doesn't. Critics can be hideously hurtful (I speak from experience of a very wounding review when I was a young radio producer): sometimes harshness can be deserved - but I don't know if Crisp has any sense of when he should soften his words. And he dos not seem prone to self-questioning, as the following exchange shows:

Question: Can that get in the way, though, of allowing times to change?

Answer: No, because we have changed with time too.


He is not always rigorous. Last week he finished a review of the Moscow Stanislavsky Ballet's Swan Lake as follows: "Too much for my rising gorge: I had to miss the fourth act". It's not necessarily unprofessional - just something that most journalists would feel intensely uncomfortable about doing.

Crisp is a wonderful stylist, he's opinionated and he's a ballet mystic. Perhaps we should read him as a mystic and a polemicist rather than always as a critic.


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katharine kanter

14-01-02, 05:23 PM (GMT)
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15. "RE: "The arrogance of" age"
In response to message #14
 
   A number of people seem to have taken strong exception to Clement Crisp's remarks. Indeed, someone has even compared him to Hitler ! Disagree with him as one may on this or that, as a writer myself, I do think there must be space in the world for a delightful old fellow, who has the guts to call a spade a spade. There seems to be something of a menace in the air, that 'twere better for us all, were he to be muzzled.

People read Clement's reviews precisely because, at the end of the day, he is passionate about classical dance, and he is, by today's standards at least, fearless. Can we no longer enjoy a good polemic, roll up our sleeves, and get into a slap-down battle over aesthetic questions ? And have FUN with it ? Personally, I could not care less whether I agree with him: he's an asset to the art, because he takes it seriously, and he gets people reading and thinking about the issues. And, in these down-at-the-mouth times, grey, turgid times, he can be screamingly funny.

When in an Attack Mode (I must admit to preferring Clement in an Attack Mode), he is unbeatable. In fact, I've even filed away some of his more rambunctious pieces, such as the following (extracts, from a piece he did for the FT on October 5th, 2001), to read over when gloom threatens:

"The Barbican management very kindly placed notices outside its theatre warning patrons of the noise levels in Tuesday night's appearance by the Batsheva Dance troupe from Tel-Aviv. They would have done better to alert us to the appalling nature of the evening's offering - Ohad Naharin's Sabotage Baby. The "music" was actually very jolly. It was provided by Orkater, a Dutch ensemble which manufactures din from a complex of machines and gizmos that lurk at the back of the stage. Peter Zegveld and Thijs van der Poll (the musician/ machinists) busy themselves furiously amid this deranged gamelan, which is a cross between the Titfield Thunderbolt and Da Vinci's prototype for a Teasmade. Crazed tootlings, fearful borborygms, the occasional twang, fill the air, while Naharin's hapless cast lumber about, by turns lethargic or frenetic.

"The staging is, of course, both incomprehensible and regrettable. The cast wears dun-coloured outfits that hang depressingly to the ground - the dancers look like the Sodom and Gomorrah League of Health and Beauty, and behave in suitable fashion. ....The choreography - such a big word for such a tiny effect - is predictably anxious and unrewarding. As the evening wears suicidally on, four figures on stilts, sporting teeny feathered knapsacks and expressions of direst menace, totter above the common herd (and few herds have looked more common than these straining performers). I hoped they might have come from some pest-control agency."


Great stuff. And I fear it was all too true !


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Brendan McCarthymoderator

14-01-02, 05:28 PM (GMT)
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16. "RE: "The arrogance of" age"
In response to message #15
 
   I agree with Katherine Kanter. Reading my last contribution, I wonder if it wasn't too precious.


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Zarafa

15-01-02, 12:43 PM (GMT)
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18. "RE: "The arrogance of" age"
In response to message #15
 
   Exactly katherine!

A critic is there to entertain!

And Clement does brighten up those pink pages!


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Bruce Madmin

15-01-02, 07:49 AM (GMT)
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17. "RE: "The arrogance of" age"
In response to message #14
 
  
>He is not always rigorous. Last
>week he finished a review
>of the Moscow Stanislavsky Ballet's
>Swan Lake as follows: "Too
>much for my rising gorge:
>I had to miss the
>fourth act". It's not necessarily
>unprofessional - just something that
>most journalists would feel intensely
>uncomfortable about doing.

Many jounalists might well feel a little uncomfortable, but some would not mention it in their final piece. It's typical that Clement does - he is truthfall to himself and calls things exactly as he sees them. He has a passion that the politically correct are unlikely to get. There is much I don't agree with but I still see Crisp as the best and when he finally hangs his slippers up we will have lost much.


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Carly Gillies

15-01-02, 09:28 PM (GMT)
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19. "RE: "The arrogance of" age"
In response to message #17
 
   Re Zarafas comments and Isobel Houghton's reply:

I really don't see what is pretentious about quoting philosophers in a philosophical discussion!
I may be wrong but I had thought that aesthetics was one of the 5 main branches of philosophy, and what better place than a ballet discussion board to talk about aesthetics. The subject comes up time and time again with differences of opinion about ballets/dancers/choreographers.
I agree too about the impossibility of impartiality. We are all critics and none of us is impartial. Passion doesn't allow it.( and vice versa )

As to Clement Crisp's interview. I enjoyed it.
I was personally delighted with his response to my own question about Scottish Ballet and his thoughts about ADs. He apparently chose not to offer anything constructive at all but merely observed that in his opinion Peter Darrell should never have gone to Scotland in the first place. - A lovely seeing-the-wood-rather-than-the-trees opinion if ever I saw one!

He also specifically rejects any impartiality on his own part:-

"no unprejudiced criticism is worth reading. Or worth writing. Prejudice is what makes a critic interesting."

Anyway as John Lennon said
"It's better to be controversial than boring"
( Hope it's not too pretentious to quote a dead pop star!)


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cclayt

17-01-02, 08:34 PM (GMT)
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20. "RE: "The arrogance of" age"
In response to message #19
 
   I am very very far from being a ballet expert, but I was knocked out by the CC interview, I found it completely fascinating. His words were so obviously those of someone who knows absolutely what he is talking about, and so what if some of his opinions are controversial and do not fit in with received wisdom? I don't agree with what he said about Nuryev, for example, but I was intrigued to read it. And he is right regarding "unprejudiced criticism"...who wants to read something non-committal, frightened of expressing a real opinion? Do we only want to read critics whose opinions tally with our own, or do we want to be entertained, informed, stimulated and provoked? In any case, doesn't just about everyone who contributes to the postings pages have their own personal prejudices?


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Hazel

17-01-02, 09:09 PM (GMT)
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21. "RE: "The arrogance of" age"
In response to message #20
 
   I think someone somewhere on this posting thread mentioned that a critic should be impartial. How can a critic be impartial? If a critic wasn't expressing an opinion then all we'd get was a running commentary about prformance. That isn't the point of a review. Reviews are designed to give an opinion. Yes opinions need to show both good and bad points of a performance or they become one way and not open minded. But there is a difference between being open minded and completely impartial. A critic who doesn't give a passionate opinion about a perfromance (either one way or another) isn't worth reading as they don't leave you with an impression of the perfromance they saw. The job of a critic is to give an opinion and a passionate opinion that reads entertainingly is the only type of opinion worth reading. Anything else is bland, boring and completely unconvincing (and the author was probably attempting impartiality!).
I like to be left in no doubt of a critic's opinion - good or bad, and what exactly is was that made that performance stand out like that. At least Crisp does that - even if his opinions are sometimes contraversial, and he commands certain respect with me for telling like it is. No wishy washy half measures just what he saw, his opinion described with very entertaining use of the English language!


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Brendan McCarthymoderator

18-01-02, 01:45 AM (GMT)
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22. "RE: "The arrogance of" age"
In response to message #21
 
   It is interesting in the light of the interview with Clement Crisp to re-read Bruce's interview with Judith Mackrell of the Guardian for Ballet.co's magazine in May 1999. (Link to article)

In 1998 the Swedish anthropologist Helena Wulff published a study of ballet cultures. She differentiated between older critics who relied on having watched or seen vast numbers of performances of the classical repertoire, and younger critics with a tendency to prefer contemporary work. Wullf interviewed Mary Clarke, who argued that reviewing classical ballets was more demanding than reviewing contemporary dance. The critic needed to know the classical ballets very well, Clarke argued, and this knowledge could only be gained by watching a ballet many many times.

Another of Wulff's interviewees, Sally Banes, a former critic and now a dance scholar, argued that since classical choreography is already known, classical ballet criticism is more evaluative than criticism of contemporary dance, which tends to be characterised by description.

There is I think a clear fault-line between Clement Crisp and Judith Mackrell. An interesting question is whether this is generational in the wider sense, and whether it is possible to draw clear distinctions between the sensibilities of all of the younger critics and those of their seniors.


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alison

18-01-02, 05:35 PM (GMT)
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23. "RE: "The arrogance of" age"
In response to message #21
 
   How
>can a critic be impartial?
>If a critic wasn't expressing
>an opinion then all we'd
>get was a running commentary
>about prformance. That isn't the
>point of a review.

Oh, how I agree! I've read reviews of concerts, plays, opera, dance, all sorts of things, where all that's been given is basically a description of what happened, with no quality judgements at all, and I've ended up wanting to shout at the critic: "Yes, but was it any good?!!". Anybody can go to a performance and give a summary of what happened in it, but professional critics by definition are supposed to apply their critical faculties. One concert review I read a few years ago (I think it was of a piece with a distinct narrative - perhaps Pictures at an Exhibition, Firebird or something) just had the reviewer talking about what happened during the piece; I could have gleaned that much simply from listening to a CD. In fact, if the soloist or conductor's attire hadn't been mentioned I wouldn't have been sure that the reviewer had been there at all!

(Admittedly my own "review" of Mark Morris Dance Group's "L'Allegro" which is in the reviews database is virtually purely descriptive, but that was a deliberate choice, as I was more concerned to try and convey the performance for those who hadn't been able to see it than to add another "critical" review to the database)


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Brendan McCarthymoderator

30-01-02, 07:55 AM (GMT)
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24. "CC - again."
In response to message #23
 
   Compare and contrast the following reviews of Stephen Baynes 'Beyond Bach'. Never mind the intrinsic merits or otherwise of the ballet, what do they tell us about the writers? Answers on one side of A4.

Clement Crisp in today's FT

"It may be that the company's Australian director, Ross Stretton, believes that the Australian Stephen Baynes has something choreographically to offer with his Beyond Bach, which begins the evening. I am damned if I can see what it is. The music is a "gems from Bach" selection - Classic FM would approve - and we are told that there is "an element of the spiritual" in the piece. Cue a muddy set that aspires to Bernini and attains hotel pomposity. Cue a gaggle of dancers, looking under-rehearsed and ill- outfitted with academic cliches, who traverse the stage in what seems a not-elaborate-enough game of Follow My Leader. Cue questions as to why this dull, provincial piece has reached Covent Garden".

Luke Jennings in Monday's Standard

In Beyond Bach, Stephen Baynes and designer Andrew Carter have dreamed on a grand scale and presented us with nothing less than the sunlit dawn of the Enlightenment. For his first cast Baynes has doubled Darcey Bussell with Marianela Nunez. Symmetry here, for these are very much two of a kind. Both have a taste for the heart-stopping risk, both achieve liberation through the most exacting science, and it is precisely this paradox - freedom through control, boundlessness through precision geometry - that Baynes is expressing. The company found a fine baroque lustre on Saturday, even if some dancers appeared unaware that the intended effect is of a seamless whole rather than a series of personalised cameos. There is a moment when Nunez and Bussell strike identical flying arabesques along paired beams of light which speaks - or rather sings - volumes, not least about ballet's continuity.


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Zarafa

30-01-02, 06:08 PM (GMT)
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25. "RE: CC - again."
In response to message #24
 
   One is a critical bombast, the other is a bombastic critic?

Although, I guess which is which depends on your "corps values".


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