According to the New York Times Arts Beat blog, Nilas Martins, longtime principal with New York City Ballet (and son of Artistic Dir. Peter Martins) has retired. Without a farewell performance, without flowers, without fanfare. The story is that he has a knee injury and suffered continuing problems with that, and ended up getting a job with the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at Kennedy Center and just didn’t feel up to coming back and giving a final performance. I can’t say I blame him. He’d received so much criticism the past couple years he probably just didn’t want to see the onslaught of newspaper articles. I want to write a larger post about this, but I received a recent comment on one of my prior posts on a NYCB retirement (that I now can’t seem to find) about how the critics were too negative with the retirements, writing about the dancers’ faults toward the end instead of their entire career.
It’s a real issue.
I do believe, as Arlene Croce famously said, that a critic’s duty in a democracy is to be critical. But on the other hand, I feel like maybe different standards should apply for the retirement performances. The person is retiring, do their current weaknesses at the end of their long career and the fact that they’re not dancing as well as they did in their twenties and early thirties really need to be focused on? It’s probably easily assumed by the public that they’re not dancing as well as they once did. And poor Yvonne Borree – the critic assigned to cover her farewell was the youngest on staff; too young to have seen Borree dance in her prime, so all she could say, apart from describing the performance, was that she as a viewer couldn’t ever connect with her. And she should have said what she felt without buttering it up; she’s a journalist not a publicist. But couldn’t they have found someone who’d followed Borree’s career and saw what had been so special about her cover her final performance?
Anyway, more thoughts on this later. For now, I wish Nilas a successful arts management career in DC.
Above photo from the Daily News.