Tag Archives: Alastair Macaulay

Updates: Maryhill and ‘Black Swan’

By Bob Hicks

The Plaza by GBD Architects. Watercolor rendering by C.S. Holmes.Maryhill Museum of Art officially breaks ground at 3:30 p.m. next Friday, Feb. 18, on its $10 million expansion project, which will give the Columbia Gorge landmark some much-needed elbow room. Between an expansive plaza and expanded indoor spaces, the project will add 25,500 square feet.  The museum will be open during construction: Maryhill’s 2011 season opens March 15. Read the update here on Art Daily. And read our original reporting here and here.


Meanwhile, Scatterers who remember chief correspondent Martha Ullman West’s take on the Oscar-nominated movie Black Swan — “In several places I got the giggles,” she wrote here about the ballet-bloodbath melodrama — might also be interested in Alastair MacAulay’s take here on the same movie, in which the New York Times dance critic considers Black Swan in Bette Davis terms. “Let’s also admit there have always been striking parallels between the ballet classics of the 19th century and the Hollywood women’s movies of the mid-20th century,” he writes. Let’s.

The Kirov takes it on the chin

It’s been fun watching from afar the struggles of Alastair Macaulay, the erudite, entertaining and occasionally uber-quibbly lead dance critic of the New York Times, to explain his love/hate relationship with the Kirov Ballet. The Kirov, that bright and shining survivor of the isolated and inbred Soviet art world (the company is based in the royal-bubble city of St. Petersburg, now a favorite haunt of the globe-trotting old and nouveau riche, and is known on its home turf as the Mariinsky) has spent the past three weeks in residence at New York City Center, and Macaulay has been by turns enthralled and unamused.

Unamused? Downright irritated is more like it. This morning, in his review of the Kirov’s final performance in New York, Macauley gave it to the dancers squarely on the chin — a chin, he complains (and I exaggerate only a little here) that the female dancers hold so resolutely high and upwardly angular that its determined thrust makes it seem almost a fifth limb to be integrated into the five positions. “In consequence,” he writes of dancer Alia Somova’s physical relationship to her onstage lover, “she was literally looking down her nose at him. House mannerisms like this make the Kirov’s kind of classicism seem the least sensible in the world.”

Now, I haven’t seen the Kirov dance since 1999, when I was in St. Petersburg and took in a performance of Marius Petipa‘s supremely nonsensical “Le Corsaire” — a sublime performance in a blatantly showmanlike style that had been rooted out of Western ballet traditions many decades before. It was a bit like jumping into a time machine, and that was a good deal of its charm.
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