THE NEED FOR BALLET IRELAND

 

PHILIP SMITH,

Sir, - Michael Seaver's prominent article (Arts, April 16th) makes confusing reading. Quoting W.B. Yeats on Degas's painting of dancers, Ninette de Valois's Faun review from the 1928 Irish Times and the clerical denouncement of Anna Pavlova's company in Cork during 1929 seems to most fair-minded ballet fans as trawling the bottom in order to support the insupportable.

Like many others I greatly enjoyed Joan Denise Moriarty's production of The Playboy of the Western World with the Irish National Ballet. It was a lovely combination of quality literature by Synge, unique music by the ever-inventive Chieftains, wonderful classical ballet and creative choreography. Great stuff. The success or otherwise of the late Irish National Ballet Company and the new, exciting Ballet Ireland depends most of all on sound classical ballet training and all the hardship that such dedication demands.

Michael Seaver promotes the view that ballet must be Irish and contemporary to succeed in Ireland. Not true. On April 20th I enjoyed an exciting performance of Sleeping Beauty performed by Ballet Ireland in our splendid National Concert Hall. Mr Seaver unfairly pours scorn on Ballet Ireland's extensive touring programme. Rubbish. It is ridiculous to expect to develop an audience for ballet without such tours. His criticism of the Arts Council grant to Ballet Ireland speaks volumes for his anti-classical ballet attitude.

Gunther Falusy and Anne Maher, artistic directors of Ballet Ireland, their staff and dancers welcome fair criticism and, believe me, they know that they have to prove themselves in the real world. In my view they are up there with the best of the viable middle range ballet companies in Europe. Harsh, inaccurate comments inflict pain.

Back to Mr Seaver's question: "Do we need Ballet Ireland?" Yes we do. - Yours, etc.,

PHILIP SMITH,

Cluny Grove,

Killiney,

Co Dublin.