I am a huge fan of Alastair Macaulay. I know the man has had some highs and lows in the field of dance writing, but for the majority of his articles I leave the pages feeling interested and intrigued. And while I favor The New Yorker, with the fabulous Joan Acocella, in style and format, I do pleasantly check the New York Times website for dance updates from time-to-time. This recent article is a good example of such:
The quantity of ballet performance history currently available to us on YouTube alone is staggering. No ballet illustrates this better than “Giselle.”
In this short article, Macaulay blends his critic eye with the more tech savvy viewer eye of Youtube to look at various ballerinas and their performances in Giselle. As a twenty-first century reader, I am bored to tears with older writers complaining about the Internet and social media. Thankfully, Macaulay writes about utilizing Youtube clips for serious study and nostalgia (which can get annoying- yes, we get it- you’ve seen ALL the great twentieth century primas dance Giselle).
I grew up during the transition of the print formats and Internet which was difficult but exciting when looking at dance. I was first starting to get interested in specific dancers and companies at around twelve, and since those days I’ve been using Youtube like a madwoman. Daily searching and sometimes periods of four hour checks of Youtube during weekends dictated my adolescent life because the library VHS and DVD collection of dance had been exhausted. I wanted to see dancers and companies that I’ve only read about. Suddenly, Youtube was born in 2005 and has since allowed these myths to come to life.
This is one reason why I seem to gravitate towards talking about dance and the Internet so fondly and fiercely. Is the Internet and modern technology completely wonderful? No! Of course the flaws from recent technology on the human race and generations to follow are starting to show, but the positives of this information era seem to outweigh those negatives. For me at least.
Using Youtube for dance by means of archival or live streams or advertisement (all topics of my past musings) is a noble venture to keep dance alive on the screen. And I often find myself performing the critical scan that Macaulay has presented within this article. For example, I look at Sleeping Beauty variations OVER and OVER and OVER. It’s a pet-project of mine, and without Youtube I would have never found the Dancer’s Dream series, a documentary style recording of Nuryeuv’s Sleeping Beauty. Everything can connect and expand on the web!
Rejoice that we have the capabilities to enjoy this clip from Youtube!