Review: 60 Minutes on New York City Ballet


I often enjoy 60 Minutes for its hard-hitting and enlightening news segments, and I was especially looking forward this segment on New York City Ballet, which has had its summer home at Saratoga Performing Arts Center since it was founded, but will only be in residence for one week in 2013.

Lesley Stahl provided a good overview of NYCB for a general audience, but the segment lacked specifics. Yes, the dancers are as fit as athletes. Yes, Balanchine is one of the greatest artists of the 20th century. Yes, the audience for ballet is graying. Yes, NYCB has financial troubles, though we don’t get any financial details.

What we learn is that ballet master Peter Martins — a former NYCB dancer under Balanchine who didn’t really like to perform — is trying to continue the legacy of Balanchine and to build new audiences by such critically panned shows such as Paul McCartney’s “Ocean Kingdom” and by highlighting the male dancers, such as Robert Fairchild.

Though Stahl does ask the good, hard question of Martins about his reaction to the critically drubbing his choreography has gotten, especially with “Ocean Kingdom,” she let’s Martins get away with saying, basically, that the critics don’t know what they’re talking about and that he had sold-out houses for the McCartney-related shows. What the critically response means, though, is that once the thrill of having a Beatle do ballet fades away, City Ballet is left with a dance that may not last in its repertoire. In other words, that it doesn’t have a future.

That’s something that the piece doesn’t delve into enough: the future. How successful has Martins been in highlighting male dancers? The piece doesn’t say, though perhaps the 60 Minutes segment’s few minutes spent with Fairchild could create some more excitement for NYCB.


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