The EvilImp™ 'Narcissus Made Whole'

It's no secret that here in TheLab™ we have very little time for the current AD of Sadler's Wells Theatre in London, Alistair Spadling. If he's not mouthing off some inscrutable crap about women he's programming some of the most populist, conformist dance makers in Christendom for his venue.

Mr Spalding has reached a new low with a piece in the London Times (at least the online version) which purports to be about the work of Pina Bausch but comes across, intentionally or not it's difficult to say, as nothing more than a cheerleading piece for Sadler's Well's Theatre and the shrewd player that is Mr Spalding himself.

Ostensibly the writing is attempting to decry the lack of understanding amongst the plebs for Ms Bausch's works. The old standards are trotted out on cue about the German dance maker who died unexpectedly three weeks ago.

When someone of Ms Bausch's stature passes we expect the hyperbole and the whimsical anecdotes from those that barely knew her. We know that the folks who knew her well would, or at least should, have the respect and the class to keep their thoughts and feelings where they belong, out of the media.

Check the coverage of Michael Jackson for a comparison, although one that is amplified a thousand times over.

Not Mr Spalding however who refers to his "friend" by second naming her six times throughout the piece. This might be the Times style guide kicking in through editors but even if that's the case strap on a pair and demand that respect is shown.

The name of his theatre appears no less than six times as do the names of several dance makers that are not only doing what they do because of Ms Bausch (according to Mr Spalding) but they also, shocking we know, have appeared at his theatre.

While reading this piece you get the feeling that Mr Spalding is attempting to paint himself as some sort of visionary. He alone could see the genius of Ms Bausch while the rest of the dance world looked on with nothing but disdain and confusion in equal measure. We don't get it, he does.

Unfortunately for Mr Spalding this writer experienced the work of Tanztheater Wuppertal not at Sadler's Wells and not even in London but at the Edinburgh Playhouse 14 years ago. That theatre holds more than 3,000 people, double that of Sadler's Wells, and was sold out for its 3 night run.

It seems the Edinburgh Festival was ahead of its time and the good folks in Scotland more than willing to go along for the ride, if Mr Spalding is to be believed of course.

Sentiment and feeling do not transfer well through the cold print of a newspaper or the neatly formatted typeface on a computer screen. Smart people know when to write and when to hold their fingers away from the keyboard. Mr Spalding exhibits no such self control.

Following his ill advised words about female dance makers several weeks ago his op-ed piece comes across as disingenuous at best and narcissistic posturing at worst.

Do yourself a favour Mr Spalding, go on holiday, for a very long time and get some sense.

[ The Times ]

  • Ben

    Can't believe no one has commented yet... is the world of dance on holidays or what?

    I read the piece (it was published in the Culture magazine of the Sunday Times) and thought it read as a SW advertorial too!

    However he does have a point: Pina Bausch influenced a lot of people, and UK critics did not always like her works...

    Also I thought it was interesting because, in the current SW season, apart from Rosas and Lotte van den berg (not sure of the spelling!), he hasn't taken many risks....

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