Joan Acocella on America's Skepticism of Ballet

(photo of Twyla Tharp’s Brief Fling by Lois Greenfield, from American Ballet Theater)

There’s a good article by Joan Acocella in this week’s New Yorker reviewing a couple of recent dances at Brooklyn Academy of Music. In it, she talks about American choreographers and their uneasiness with ballet, their distrust of the dance form as inherently European (and snobbish). Hence, their need constantly to compare and contrast it with other forms of dance, even to deconstruct it.

Funny, but when I saw Tharp’s Brief Fling recently during American Ballet’s Theater’s City Center season, as much as I liked the fun of it (especially since my favorites Marcelo Gomes and Craig Salstein danced in my program — both of whom really up the drama and humor as far as they can possibly go), I couldn’t help but get annoyed thinking, why do so many choreographers either contrast ballet with other dance forms (with modern, with American social, with aerobics, with tango — in Brief Fling, it was with traditional Celtic or Scottish dance) or try to take it apart and show its underpinnings, to critique it — like early William Forsythe, like Jorma Elo, like even the new piece ABT commissioned by Lauri Stallings? So, I was thankful for Acocella’s little historical discussion of American choreography and ballet. Go here for the article.

She also reviews, Urban Bush Women and Compagnie Jant-Bi and falls for African dance! Yes, Joan 😀

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