At the Watteau Show with a Dance Critic

Posted in exhibitions, reviews by Editor on November 29, 2009

In today’s New York Times, Alastair Macaulay considers Frederick Wiseman’s new documentary La Danse alongside the Watteau exhibition now at the Met:

Nicolas Lancret, "La Camargo Dancing” ca. 1730 (DC: National Gallery)

. . . Many of us who love ballet have found our feelings on this film to be conflicted. By chance, I saw it a few hours before I attended the Metropolitan Museum’s exhibition “Watteau, Music and Theater.” What a difference! If you love dance, “La Danse” isn’t the place to see why; “Watteau, Music and Theater” certainly is. The display fills only two rooms. Many of its pictures, especially those by Watteau himself, are not related to dance. Yet it spans, and often illuminates, the first century of existence of the institution in the film, the Paris Opera Ballet. True, ballet then was almost a different species. The paintings here help show the impact of the most famous achievement of the celebrated Paris Opera ballerina Marie Camargo, seen in a classic Nicolas Lancret painting from about 1730: the shortening of her skirts to give full exposure to her ankles and lower calves. “Watteau, Music and Theater” makes the dance of that era feel pristine. Here is the sunrise of a tradition. . .

For the full article, click here»

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