Pity the dance critic who raises the ire of James Wolcott. From Wolcott’s Vanity Fair blog:

“When Alastair Macaulay springs a leak, it’s a gusher.

Gush–gushy praise and tender teardrops–has been Macaulay’s chief export since being named first-string dance critic of The New York Times, replacing John Rockwell, who had ironing to do. I first became acquainted with Macaulay’s dance criticism–probably most of us strapping balletomanes did–when he subbed for Arlene Croce twice at The New Yorker during her tours of duty with the Israeli Air Force, first in 1988 and again in 1992. What I remember about his New Yorker reviews was their frictionless, informed, unforced urbanity; his prose had a smooth, even spread, like Brendan Gill’s minus Gill’s boisterous, gentleman’s-club bonhomie. I also followed Macaulay after he joined the salmon pages of the Financial Times, where his reviews were distributed in smaller doses. There, like most Brit crits, he doled out the praise and demerits with smart, light little dabs, seldom making large claims but seldom sticking in a gratuitous dig either. When it was announced that Macaulay would take over the dance spot at the Times, I assumed he was bringing his elegant sheen with him, that he might class up the dump. Such foolish hopes. Yet again I overestimated the human animal, as I so often do when I extend the benefit of the doubt. Sometime during the transatlantic flight Senor Suavity seems to have transformed into a complete hayseed who writes as if he’s pinning corsages with each compliment and who inserts himself into the nougat center of every review. Perhaps the pale enamel of Croce’s Mother Superior austerity inhibited Macaulay during his first American sojourns, but now that she’s vacated the scene to her mink ranch in Rhode Island, he’s free to express every quivering sentiment and glandular effusion he once stored below deck, lathering and slathering his prose with palmfuls of the “simple creamy English charm” that was the blight and despair of Anthony Blanche in Brideshead Revisited. Worse, the cream has curdled, and the charm is so unctuous it seems to be begging for applause.”

Lest you wonder how Wolcott finds the time to be so au courant in dance criticism, he is married to New Criterion dance critic Laura Jacobs.

Via Ballet Alert.

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