It's hard to imagine that Kaufman
has been watching ongoing performances of Balanchine by San Francisco Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and Ballet Arizona when she writes:
We are cursed with George Balanchine, cursed with an overload of his ballets as well as with the ubiquity of the sinewy style he favored, his preference for plotless works on a naked stage, his taste for fast, skinny, emotionally guarded dancers.
That's not to say I haven't seen emotionally inscrutable performances by Natalia Magnicaballi at BA or Batkhurel Bold at PNB, for example, but time after time, I've seen anything but skinny, emotionally guarded dancers. (They are fast, though.) And I'll take the naked stage over Tony Walton's sets for SFB's "Jewels" any day of the week.
When she wrote
Gone, in new work, is theater, spectacle, satire, flesh-and-blood characters, the ache of real life, the escape offered by a sharp, piercing little story. Now more than ever, American ballet, artistically speaking, is a homogeneous entity. We are a thoroughly Balanchine nation.
I doubt she had seen Ginger Smith and Astrit Zejnati or Tzu-Chia Huang and Ross Clarke in the Kay Mazzo/Peter Martins roles in one of Balanchine's most abstract creations, "Stravinsky Violin Concerto", in which each couple painted a strikingly different portrait of a relationship through choices in phrasing and dynamics in complete service to the score. The audience met the end of Aria II by the first couple with an intense silence and by the second with audible sighs. I doubt the ache of real life escaped anyone.
These are not isolated examples that I've seen in the last decade.