Alastair Macaulay is the new head dance critic at the New York Times. I’m feeling too lazy to do the research but I know he came from some important paper in London, and apparently tells it like it is. He’s been blogged about intensively by the New York dance blogging community (see: Counter Critic), so what the heck, I’m going to blog about him too.

Ballet Hispanico made up part of the lineup at City Center Fall for Dance series. If you are not familiar with Fall for Dance (yeah, I wasn’t), The Winger’s Matthew Murphy has a nice description. Since I’m going to see them soon, this part of his review caught my eye:

Ballet Hispanico theatricalized Latin dancing, especially the rumba, in an excerpt from “Club Havana” (2000, to an insidious music medley), but Pedro Ruiz’s choreography relied on the same few tricks in each section. Just as you thought “What a heavenly slow, low, far-traveling pas de chat lift!” you saw it again, and again. Then in “The 5th Wheel” Carmen deLavallade performed yet another rumba, clowning and shimmying in mimicking response to a four-part jazz band. The work, though flimsy as dance, was a fun encounter with a veteran who looked more mobile than her advanced years gave her any right to be, and as jolly as can be as well.

I didn’t see the piece, so I really can’t argue with the review, but reading it almost makes me think Macaulay doesn’t understand latin club dancing so well. Comments like “clowning and shimmying in mimicking response…flimsy as dance” seem to disregard the importance of improvisation and back-and-forth that goes on between the soneros (musicians) and the salseros (dancers). And to say that something is not dance or not-quite-dance, is insulting to any artist who is moved by the music. I’m not going to even touch that last line about Carmen de Lavallade’s age. Words such as “mobile” and “jolly”? Come on now…

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