SUMMING UP STRETTON

Ross Stretton is barely into his first season as director of London’s Royal Ballet, but his influence is already being keenly felt. “His line on the ‘heritage’ repertory seems tough – ballets, he says, need to change over the generations because dancers today are so different from ‘the chocolate box-sized ballerinas of 50 years ago’.” The Guardian (UK) 11/28/01

IS WAR GOOD FOR DANCE?

Has September 11th saved American dance? TNR’s Jenifer Homans observes that post-modernist dance had become ingrown and vacant. “September 11 certainly has focused our minds, and some things, at least, are clearer than they were before. It is now possible to say, with a new conviction, that nostalgia, sentimentality, and postmodern narcissism make for inadequate and spiritually vacant art.” The New Republic 11/26/01

BARE AMBITION

Five young dancers with the Australia Ballet have stripped down to their underwear to pose for a men’s magazine. They say they want to “counter the ballet’s reputation as a stronghold of fusty traditionalism.” But critics say the “seductively posed and scantily dressed ballerinas strutting their stuff in men’s mags debases the art form.” The Age (Melbourne) 11/25/01

PREPARING NOT TO DANCE

“Old dancers never die, the saying goes, they just shuffle off. First a knee goes, then an ankle, then a hamstring. The paychecks get to be too skimpy. Or the traveling gets to be too much. Not all dancers can or want to choreograph or teach. But dancers possess traits like discipline and vitality that are treasured by employers.” The New York Times 11/25/01 (one-time registration required for access)

A BARBIE NUTCRACKER

Has it come to this? Is Barbie cashing in on the popularity of The Nutcracker or is this some misguided hope that more little girls will take to dance if their little plastic pal is a dancer? “The computer-animated Barbie in the Nutcracker is a higgledy-piggledy mix of dialogue, action adventure and dance that owes as much to Disney as it does to Tchaikovsky or ballet. If you took a Barbie in your hand and made it fly through the air, you’d get a fair idea of how stiff the animated figures sometimes seem, not a good sign for a film in which Barbie plays a ballet dancer who performs the role of Clara and dances a pas de deux with Prince Eric, played by Ken.” The New York Times 11/22/01 (one-time registration required for access)

BATTLE-TESTED

Alina Cojocaru had only been with the Royal Ballet one year when she was promoted on-stage – a signal honour, comparable to battlefield promotion for a soldier – to the rank of principal. And she’s only 19, daughter of the Romanian proletariat, chosen as a child by Russian ballet masters for training in Kiev. Is she really that good? The Telegraph (UK) 11/21/01

ISADORA – 10 YEARS IN THE MAKING

“I’m lucky. I signed to do Isadora Duncan’s biography 10 years ago, in another world, nation, century, millennium and life. My agent worked me like a dog on the proposal — he kept sending it back. It’s good, he’d say, but not good enough; more of this, less of that. I came down to New York from Vermont to meet some big editors, but ultimately decided to stay with Little, Brown. For a moment, I felt golden and secure. But I had two secrets no one knew about. The first was that I was dying of AIDS. The second was that I knew nothing about Isadora Duncan; nothing at all.” Salon 11/12/01