Thursday, January 26, 2012

Firebird at the NYCB

The NYCB is known for its diverse triple bill offerings, but occasionally one piece on the program so dominates the evening that one rushes home and can hardly think of anything else. That happened tonight when the NYCB performed Firebird, with Ashley Bouder in the title role. She was so commanding, and the performance such a memorable introduction (for me) to the work, that it was like. huh, Donizetti Variations? There was a Donizetti Variations?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The phenomenon of Uncle Newt

I recently found Newt Gingrich's youtube channel. In light of Gingrich's South Carolina primary win, I've been watching a few of these videos. I find them fascinating, and not really for the right reasons. Since these are videos uploaded by the Gingrich campaign, I suppose these are the videos he thinks best represent him.

The most striking thing about these videos is their consistent, unabashed, gleeful meanness. Most politicians when running for president affect a geniality that everyone knows is probably phony, but at the same time, totally necessary. You have to kiss those babies and praise those townhall moms whether it's at 5 in the morning or in a midnight rally. You have your wife or mom next to you on the campaign trail to show that you're really just a family man at heart. That's part of the American political process, the unrelieved peppiness that politicians have to fake on the campaign trail. This is reflected to an almost painful degree in the perma-grin/grimace Mitt Romney has pasted on his face at all times.

Well Uncle Newt has totally circumvented all that fakeness. He's been married three times, and two of his ex-wives have made the rounds on TV shows talking about what an awful guy he is. He's the only guy who's ever had to utter the words "open marriage" in a debate. His former Congressional colleagues have also spoken to the presses quite frankly about Gingrich's uh, personality. Not that Newt would disagree with his ex-wives' assessments of him, I suspect. On his youtube channel, you can hear him talk about his plan for America's enemies: kill them. You can see him wagging his finger at Juan Williams in a tone that veers dangerously close to "don't get uppity with me, boy" racism. You can hear him call President Obama stupid. In all of the videos, there's not a single "See, I'm just a nice, normal guy" moment. Newt might be the most openly, gleefully mean prominent American politician since Sen. Joseph McCarthy.

I know politicians are complex. I am sure there is more to Newt than the Angriest White Man to ever Angry White Man. What's scary isn't Gingrich's Uncle Scrooge personality and politics, it's the fact that so many Americans are eating it up. Is this really the person people want leading the nation for the next four years? If this is what America wants, well, God bless America.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

NYCB Winter Season Opening Night

The NYCB's winter season kicked off tonight with an all-Balanchine program that, while maybe not the most exciting, was a good reminder of all the reasons to love the company. Four Balanchine ballets was a nice way to start the season, even if the first half of the program lacked a bit of excitement. The program got better as it went along, and it ended with a truly spectacular performance of Who Cares? It's so good to have ballet season back in NYC that isn't the Nutcracker, however much I might love Nutcracker.

Balanchine's Nutcracker pops up ... everywhere

It's December 2020 and the world is going through a furious, deadly second wave of the covid pandemic. Most performances have been cance...