Critics Award of the Day: A.M. on James Kudelka

So, Alastair Macaulay makes the case for adding James Kudelka’s “The Ruins Proclaim the Building Was Beautiful” to C.C.’s Know When To Say When list; and then some. He writes:

“The Ruins Proclaim the Building Was Beautiful” (to music by César Franck soupily arranged for orchestra by Rodney Sharman) lasts no more than 30 minutes, but only by clock time. While you watch, you begin to feel that Bill Clinton probably eloped with Michelle Obama long ago, that the problems of Palestine and Iraq and Afghanistan must have all been sorted by now, that whole generations of human life have passed and aliens have surely taken over the planet and then departed, all while you are stuck there in the theater trying to find the least interest in watching the same tepid floozies doing the same limp steps. With its women so evidently “fallen” and its frock-coated men so pallid and ghoulish, I can see why a friend called it “The Best Little Whorehouse in Transylvania.” Even in Transylvania, though, aren’t most whorehouses livelier and more frolicsome than this dirge?

OMG, this is hot. Although, I’ve never been to an actual whorehouse. Unless art galleries count. And in that case, they’re actually pretty mellow.


Critics Award of the Day (CAD): L. Ro., for calling shit out

balletsets.jpgOMG. How hot is this!?

C.C. BFF and NYT dance critic, Claudia La Rocco, just sent a giant spit-ball hurling toward the ballet universe. Basically, she’s like, WTF is with ballet and old crappy sets from the sixties? We totally agree.

Christopher Wheeldon tries to excuse the disconnect with this theory:

“It’s O.K. that [the visual elements are] not that great because what’s within [them] is just so beautiful,” said Mr. Wheeldon…

Listen, ladies–and by “ladies,” I of course mean “ballet gays”–context is everything. Even the purest diamond placed in the wrong setting will look like a tacky piece of costume jewelry. So, A.) get over the sixties, and B.) stop being afraid of new objects.


elf6.jpgWe know we’ve only been in action since May, but we’ve been toiling away like little Christmas elves to bring you the badest, most awesomest, completely ridiculous critical commentary out there. We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we’ve tore a few new holes. But mainly, we’ve been genius. So we’re going out in 2007 by honoring the best (and worst) of this years criticism, performance and culture. Umm…don’t be surprised when we win Blog of the Year.

Performance of the Year: PS22 Chorus singing “Dragon” for Tori Amos

With a single video, the kids chorus of PS22 (check ’em out on our blog roll) on Staten Island became internet celebrities, and proved that children’s voices can make even the most vagi-centric song sound like an anthem for world peace.

elf2.jpgOutrageous Moment of the Year: Ann Liv Young and Family’s “The Radio Show” @ Rush Arts

Let’s just say, if dance aficionados out there are questioning whether or not Ann Liv Young is a choreographer, wait till they try to digest her parental habits. The inclusion of her four day-old infant as a performer/prop at the Rush Arts gallery back in September made this critic nervous and prompted our second most-read posts ever!

Dance of the Year: Jerome Bel’s “Pichet Klunchun and myself” @ DTW

Fuck. This one was tough. Just so’s you know, the short list included…David Neumann’s Feedforward (hot), Tere O’Connor’s Rammed Earth (cool), Batsheva’s Three (fierce), and Jeremy Wade’s first ensemble piece …and pulled out their hair (crazy!). But somebody had to win, and, more than Bel’s lyric conceptualism and sophisticated execution, the heartfelt emphasis on civil understanding tipped the scales.

elf3.jpgBest Orchestral Performance of the Year: Pierre Boulez and the Lucerne Festival Orchestra @ Carnegie Hall

Seriously, the best sound out of an orchestra we have ever heard in our entire lives, and Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 is no cakewalk. Some people think a teenage muppet bouncing off the podium is what will save concert music. Boulez kind of proved that its really music of the highest caliber that will save it, that is, if anything needs saving.

Best Opera of the Year: “The Marriage of Figaro” @ The Met

We’re going with our gut on this one. As much as we wanted to give this to Carmen (just cuz it was so much fun), The Met’s Le Nozze di Figaro wins the prize for its truly sophisticated set design and solid cast–including lispy American starlet Lisette Oropesa and the awesome Vanke Vondung in her Met debut–and for keeping opera alive and full of the breath of theater.

Best Theater Experience: Nature Theater of Oklahoma’s “No Dice”

elf4.jpgIf we hadn’t seen this little mini-masterpiece of theater just two weeks ago, we would have given this award to Mexican company Teatro de Ciertos Habitantes’ De Monstruos y Prodigios, which was a riotous tour de force that questioned beauty, fame, and fashion. But the sweethearts of the zany Nature Theater of Oklahoma won us over with their child-like exuberance and mad acting skills. The Wooster Group’s Hamlet was a close third, but, to be honest, we’re still digesting that one. I mean…we didn’t even blog about it.

Let Down of the Year: Yvonne Rainer’s “RoS Indexical”

Is it possible to write too much about a bad thing? Maybe. Click here for the the uber list of posts we dedicated to this let-down of the millennium, or what we’ve dubbed “The Yvonne Rainer Drainer.” This thing was an SBD all the way, and it doesn’t help its cause when certain douche bags try to rush to Rainer’s defense.

Let Down of the Year – Honorary Mention: Lucia Poop, Beethoven Compressed, Dismantled, Doll Parts, and the choreography for Harry Partch’s Delusion of the Fury at Japan Society: It was just…awful.

elf5.jpgYouTube of the Year: She without arm, he without leg – ballet – Hand in Hand

“Dancing For Your Limbs” is the perhaps more (in)appropriate title. Either way, this glorious number is set to a song that won’t leave you (…ever), and is cheered on by perhaps one of the most actively disinterested audiences on record.

Top Post of the Year: FIRST WORD REVIEW, The Met’s “Iphigenie en Tauride”

Who the F knew that a review of a new production of an obscure Gluck opera by The Met would bring down the most hits out of any post we have ever written, far surpassing the other front runners, the aforementioned, andthe little post that could.

Newcomer Critic of the Year: Britney

Despite stellar contributions to this site from Sidekick and L.A. correspondent, Benn Widdey, the Newcomer Critic of the Year Award goes to Britney Spears for her candid, gum-smacky, and mostly sober cameo critique of Elliott Carter’s 99th Birthday/music concert at the Miller Theater.

Douche of the Year: Alastair Macaulay

elf7.jpgWhether he’s trodding up to Lincoln Center for an evening to mainline more ballet than most humans could possibly ever digest in an entire lifetime, lecturing little Barnard dancers about the future of an illusion, or whether he’s whisping off away to Paris for like…ever, handing over some prime media real estate to the French for some inexplicable reason (seriously, folks, what’s up with that?), Alastair Macaulay is the dance critic we love to hate, and hate to love. He’s received both awards of praise and the big old douche. And, to tell the truth, his awful writing about Merce Cunningham, way back when, is what inspired us to start this blog. Perhaps we can say then that, like Golum, even the creepiest, slimiest, smelliest creature in Middle Earth can still be responsible for a modicum of good in the world.

Critic of the Year: Claudia La Rocco

elf8.jpgIs anyone surprised? I mean, seriously, come on! You know, we may have given her a douche and a half over the past seven months (you know we did it out of love), but the fact remains that her writing on dance (and even a little theater) is the sharpest, most insightful you will find. Not only does she tend to go for the really edgy shit, but she expects the highest level of professionalism from artists and isn’t smoke-screened by reputations or hype. She also totally knows how to take down some god-awful piece of shit in like two seconds flat. And even though we accused her of being old and crusty (which, you know, we might have been not right about), she’s turned out to be a critic (with a darling speaking voice) we love to read and write about, and our affection for her work has even landed her one of the most awesome nom de blogs out there: You can call her L. Ro.

And now, the award you’ve all been waiting for…

Blog of the Year: Counter Critic

elf9.jpgWe told you not to be surprised. I mean, think of it this way. In that one America’s Next Top Model episode, there were like four chicks left, and scary Tyra asked each of them, one at a time, who had the most potential to be America’s Next Top Model, and like, the only one who didn’t say herself, totally got the boot (probably a Prada boot, still a boot). So, we’re shining with vaseline confidence here and giving our blog the biggest award there is out there ever in the entire history of human awards (that even includes the Gold, Frankincense and Mhyr that the baby Jesus won from the wisemen). Thanks to our gloriously bored-at-work readers for keeping loyal and chatty. Douches to all who got catty. And try not to forget us while we go on vaca. We might even check in every now and then. And maybe, if you’ve bought presents for everyone else this year, you can treat yourself to the Counter Critic RSS Feed, which will let you know each and every time we decide to post something awesome and stupid. Do it for yourself. Do it for the world.

Happy Holidays, everyone.

Critics Award of the Day (CAD): Alessandra Stanley on Today

anncurry.jpgPut down the remote control, and check out Alessandra Stanley’s morning television check-up in The Times. This is Stanley’s second Caddy, the first going to her coverage of Victoria Beckham’s one-night-stand reality ride.

It was really hard to pick a favorite passage from this lampooning of morning television’s feminine consumer-driven lameness. So we’re gonna give you two.

First, there’s this observation about the last of the four hours that the Today Show now runs:

…the fourth hour of “Today” has tipped the balance of the program: The more newsy first hour… seems increasingly at odds with the long, tranquilizing estrogen stretch that follows. Continue reading

Time(s) To Dance: Mini-Award Edition

L. Ro. is a poet. And you’ll know it when you read her review of the girl/boy double bill of Beth Gill and Daniel Linehan at DTW, so we’re giving her the Mini-CADDY

Dunning is just…dry in her review of Gina Gibney, so she gets a Mini-Douche

Roslyn Sulcas gets a Mini-CADDY for using the word “denuded” in her review of Pappa Tarahumara‘s “Ship in a View” at BAM

And Alastair Macaulay gets, of course, the Mini-Douche, since I couldn’t even get through the first sentence of his latest piece, which begins, “For those of us who attend too many galas…”

Critics Award of the Day (CAD): Anne Midgette on Style VS Technique

Anne Midgette knows what’s up. She takes the occasion of reviewing The Met’s current production of Norma to articulate the divide between two major schools of thought regarding what kind of opera singers ideal. Although, like most dichotomies, there tend to be benefits to both sides, and a truly engaged presenting house should be able to chose appropriately for a given production and for specific roles. But that’s what we think.

Midge comes out on the heavier side of the argument:

Where Ms. Papian was doing her best just to scale her role, Ms. Zajick had hers solidly in her voice, and could begin to do things with it: the messe di voce and dramatic crescendos and clean coloratura and beautiful high pianos that represent textbook bel canto singing. Ms. Papian had no such textbook because she had no such technique. The bottom line is, whom would you rather listen to? This listener preferred Ms. Zajick.

No such technique? It’s gonna take a few days for Hasmik Papian to walk that off.

Critics Award of the Day: L. Ro. on Goldberg

Choreographers: Claudia La Rocco got your back.

The 60’s nostalgia that folks have been mainlining during this year’s Performa extravaganza, has been irking me to no small degree. You all know how we feel about this. While I’m down with taking the best things we learned from that era, and moving forward with it–recognizing the present we live in–I hate all of the bellyaching that usually comes from people who were alive then, which isn’t something they earned, but rather, is more an act of chance.

So kudos to L. Ro. when, at the end of her piece on the dance film series focusing on unseen film documents of 60’s Judson and Grand Union dances, she calls out Performa organizer and Performance Art History Guru, Rosalee Goldberg:

…Performa’s founder, RoseLee Goldberg, is wrong to suggest, as she seemed to do in brief remarks Monday, that contemporary New York choreographers must reconnect with the conceptual and intellectual rigor of early postmodern dance. The Judson era may still be a guiding preoccupation in France, but here it has been well digested and is just one more artistic strategy for choreographers making different, more culturally relevant re-evaluations of performance than the landmark but now often dated work of the 1960s and ’70s.

Damn, I felt like I was taking crazy pills! It’s unfortunate, though, that Goldberg comes off as being so out of touch with the dance world.

BTW, has Performa been to Brooklyn lately?