The newly installed Times chief dance critic John Rockwell fires back at the online forum Ballet Talk and letters from the site’s founder, Alexandra Tomalonis, and leader, Leigh Witchel:

?Funny how much fretting an innocent, optimistic essay I wrote two weeks ago, about the unity of dance and the helpful fructification of one dance form by another, has provoked. From letters I’ve received and chat-room exchanges on the Internet, it seems to me that certain ballet lovers are so profoundly anxious about the future of their art that they resist obvious solutions to the problems they decry . . .

There were two particularly thoughtful letters from critics associated with a quarterly magazine Dance View, and a linked Internet site, Ballet Alert (www. The arguments of Alexandra Tomalonis, the editor, and Leigh Witchell were similar, clearly a result of shared beliefs and mutual consultation.

To paraphrase them in ways they will no doubt find distorted: ballet companies that engage modern-dance choreographers (thus, “crossover dance”) are creating only throwaway novelties. They do so cynically, not to welcome important new ballets into the repertory but to achieve facile trendiness. (Take that, Serge Diaghilev, who struggled to remain au courant.) Ms. Tomalonis believes that “there hasn’t been a first-rate classical ballet created in 25 years.” (Take that, Christopher Wheeldon.)?

I’ll post my thoughts on the debate tomorrow. In the meantime, the folks at Ballet Talk have plenty to say . . .

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