"All art is quite useless," Oscar Wilde proclaimed impudently in The Picture of Dorian Gray. Wilde's assertion might well be leveled against the procession of new and refurbished dramatic ballets produced in recent decades.
The clichéd rivalry between the East and West Coasts of the United States confounds those of us who grew up in distant lands. When it comes to ballet, in particular, many American balletomanes appear oblivious to the bustle outside the precincts of New York City.
This is an extraordinary time in the dance world, when five of the greatest ballerinas of our time, from leading American ballet companies, have, coincidentally, all announced their retirement within months of each other.
Artistic director Michael Pink has built an ensemble that deliberately eschews the cookie-cutter look of traditional ballet companies; these are dancers of striking individuality, many of whom have risen through the ranks of Milwaukee Ballet's second company.
Payne Bradley's new suite of dances entitled Up in the Air appear to be her way of having a conversation with legendary, long dead choreographers. She speaks the language of classical ballet with fluency and a modern accent. There is also an elegance, a very American chic.
With American ballet company directors and boards lamenting the low status of ballet in the minds of the general public, what would happen if our ballet companies offered more options during the holiday season? How did we get ourselves trapped in a can of Nuts?