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An interview with Alastair Macaulay


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#1 Jane Simpson

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Posted 31 August 2010 - 12:43 AM

Ballet.co (Magazine) has just published a long (very long!)interview with Alastair Macaulay, written by Alan Helms. How he became a critic, what he wants to see in others' reviews etc etc etc - haven't had time to read the whole thing myself yet!

Edited to add that 'very long' = 17,000 words!

#2 Bonnette

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Posted 31 August 2010 - 08:15 AM

Oh, thank you, that is just wonderful. I have even more respect for him, having read this interview, than before. Macaulay's visceral excitement and aliveness to dance and theater inform almost every statement he makes. So much of this quality of being present to each performance has to do with bodily response, and I was struck by his lengthy discourse about that: his first epiphany about his own body in relation to the expansiveness of ballet has continued to unfold throughout his long career, in such a way that ballet literally lives and expresses itself in his bones.

There is an older thread on this forum in which the relationship between understanding through performance, v. understanding through witness, is discussed - and that theme is very poignantly explored in this Macaulay interview. He feels the dance in his body - it moves him - he remembers steps and sequences and dances them alone in his room after a performance (though he is not a trained dancer); he demonstrates steps to his friends, in his classes and lectures; he is physically alive to the performance and understands what drives it.

I have bookmarked this interview to read again and again, as it is so fresh and invigorating and reminds one of what it feels like to dance internally, even when the body is still. Thank you again for posting this link.

#3 Mashinka

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Posted 01 September 2010 - 02:05 AM

I found this interview long winded and self regarding; compare it with this far more incisive Ismene Brown interview with Clement Crisp in the same series:

http://www.ballet.co...t_clement_c.htm

It struck me as very odd that Macaulay had been watching dance for about thirty years and not seen Revelations. The Alvin Ailey dance company dances infrequently in the UK but in those thirty years he would still have had ample opportunity to see Revelations, a work with which the company always concludes its programmes in Britain. So he is actually saying he has never been bothered to go and see this major company with an international reputation. I actually find that unacceptable in someone who claims to be a major critic of dance.

#4 bart

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Posted 01 September 2010 - 07:44 AM

I found this interview long winded and self regarding;

I can see how someone might experience it as such. Macaulay's apparent lack of experience with Revelations might possibly be excused in one who has seen, and remembered in detail, so many other works (including, at his estimate, about 300 Swan Lakes).

Personally, I found the interview completely fascinating and full of insight. Macaulay went where the interviewer, Alan Helms, led him. I assume that the length is a result of Helms's decision to print in full and with few editorial interventions. The lack of space constraints on the internet must have been a factor, too.

For me, the heart of Macaulay's story is about growing up into an love of dance -- learning how to look at dance, coming to appreciate how it is performed, constantly learning and re-learning, experiencing and re-experiencing. I especially love the way he can move so smoothly from a small detail (a pointing of the foot; the stretching of an arm) to something much larger. His passion for the art and his belief in its significance are clear.

I actually printed out the entire interview and am reading it carefully. Those of us who, like Macaulay, came to ballet from the outside may find much to identify with. I certainly did.

I wish we had comparable personal statement from Croce and a handful of others.

#5 rg

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Posted 01 September 2010 - 08:16 AM

re: Croce's speaking about her career and field, there was a substantive interview w/ her (by S. Winfield, if mem. serves) in a late issue of the now defunct DANCE INK.
also, Sally Banes' REINVENTING THE 1960S includes an interview w/ Croce conducted by Banes and Joan Acocella. (i think this may be on google books.)

#6 bart

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Posted 01 September 2010 - 08:34 AM

Sally Banes' REINVENTING THE 1960S includes an interview w/ Croce conducted by Banes and Joan Acocella. (i think this may be on google books.)

It IS on Google books !!!
http://books.google......ella"&f=false

Thank you, rg, If I may take the liberty of choreographing a brief emoticon-ballet to express my responses to your amazing memory: :jawdrop::flowers::tiphat: With music by: :toot:

#7 chiapuris

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Posted 03 September 2010 - 04:13 AM

Ballet.co (Magazine) has just published a long (very long!)interview with Alastair Macaulay, written by Alan Helms.


I read it rather quickly as soon as I found it on D. McLennan's ArtsJournal.

It pays re-reading more carefully.

Here's a quote from it that I found interesting:
[size="2"][/size]"Occasionally, balletomania sounds distressingly close to pornography. Dancers matter less than choreography, and no dancer can transcend trash choreography - though some can release the most engaging aspects of trash."

#8 leonid17

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Posted 03 September 2010 - 10:35 AM

I found this interview long winded and self regarding; compare it with this far more incisive Ismene Brown interview with Clement Crisp in the same series:

http://www.ballet.co...t_clement_c.htm

It struck me as very odd that Macaulay had been watching dance for about thirty years and not seen Revelations. The Alvin Ailey dance company dances infrequently in the UK but in those thirty years he would still have had ample opportunity to see Revelations, a work with which the company always concludes its programmes in Britain. So he is actually saying he has never been bothered to go and see this major company with an international reputation. I actually find that unacceptable in someone who claims to be a major critic of dance.


I personally admired the Alvin Ailey Dance Company of the sixtites and seventies and saw many of their performances in London and in Amsterdam.

Why would anyone question a critics failure to attend any performance of any company. Was it that another dance writer from his newspaper covered the Alvin Ailey seasons? I would think so. Which in the end, is all that any company wants.

I like "...self-regarding;" myself, it smacks of authority and whilst I do not agree with all Mr Macalay's views, I generally find them eminently readable.

I found the Ismene Brown interview naff on her part and Mr Crisp playing that well exposed role once again and as always, enjoyable in the process.


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