The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

January 29, 2010


(This most likely won't be published, but some people wanted to read it, 
so here it is, group-sent, apologies for this, love Alan)



---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 27 Jan 2010 09:46:29 -0500 (EST)
From: Alan Sondheim <sondheim@panix.com>
To: dance@nytimes.com
Subject: To the Editor: (in response to Macaulay's review 1/22/10)




To the Editor:


I'm writing to respond to Alastair Macaulay's review of our performances, 
in the January 22 Dance Section.

I've never responded to a review, negative or positive, before, but 
Macaulay's demands it. The review is a diatribe, neither a description, 
nor an analysis. No one reading it would have the slightest idea of the 
evenings themselves. We deserve better.

Macaulay's dismisses the music/song as follows: "Meanwhile, he is 
accompanied by two colleagues. Alan Sondheim plays a variety of stringed 
instruments; Azure Carter sings her own songs in a series of pretty frocks 
and petticoats, and even dances a little. Both are entirely trivial." This 
is sexist and obviously insulting. He may not have liked the music, but 
this says nothing. (I should mention that there were dancers, musicians, 
and choreographers in the audience - some quite well known, etc. - and 
none of them had this reaction; far from it. We also played to large 
houses, in spite of the review.)

Macaulay also dismisses Foofwa d'Imobilite's name as follows: "Mr. 
d'Imobilite has provided several pages of accompanying literature. These 
cover his 'conceptual libretto' for 'Musings,' the wordplay within its 
title and his own name, his methodology and the inspiration behind 
'Involuntaries.' It's all clever, but, like his name, damnably arch and 
contrived." This is stupid and ad hominem. The "several pages" were 
written by d'Imobilite, Carter, and myself, by the way - Macaulay 
apparently paid no attention to the distinction.

He likewise paid no attention to the half-hour video, intended as an 
introduction to Involuntaries; he paid no attention to the lighting of 
Musings, which was computer-controled and designed as a dance performance 
in itself; and he apparently paid no attention to the details of 
Involuntaries itself. He thinks otherwise: "Mr. d'Imobilite's choreography 
for himself consists almost entirely of spasms." I've seen spasms, and 
this is as nonsensical as saying that Michael Jackson's choreography is 
just prancing about. In fact, the sections of Involuntaries are quite 
distinct from each other, as the audience understood.

I don't know Macaulay, and don't want to, but he appears to favor an ugly 
form of connoisseurship I've seen far too often. Rather than attempting to 
understand the work (reading the program notes? watching the video? 
watching the performance itself?), the performance is used as an excuse 
for yet another agenda - in this case, I assume, a return to ballet or 
traditional Cunningham. The readers of the Times deserve far better than 
this. The Times stands alone, in a sense, and for better or worse, 
functions as an arbiter, if not of taste, at least of what one might see 
of an evening. And for that, we need analysis and care, and at least 
someone who loves downtown dance, someone who understands it, to review 
these occasions. It's difficult enough to work on a kind of edge without 
being slammed by relatively unresponsive critics in the Times.

Thank you.

Sincerely Yours,

Alan Sondheim
sondheim@panix.com
718-813-3285

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