Let’s Not Be Hasty

To the Editor:

Chris Lehmann wrote a great article on the coming Congressional races [“Bush Flickers Out, Republicans Face Mass Hibernation,” Feb. 13]. It was very interesting, but I have been the communications director for four Congressional campaigns in New York City and Westchester County, and I found his conclusions to be very premature.

First, nationalized Congressional races are a rare thing.

Second, Congressional race trends coalesce later than Presidential races (if they do so at all). Since the last two Presidential races did not fully come together until mid-October, one cannot expect to get a good feel for the Congressional trend until at least that point.

Third, we have seen huge swings in polling for Congress—35 percent approval at this stage is historically not bad, as that number generally increases as Congress buffs up its image over the summer. The approval could easily be 45 percent even before summer.

Fourth, people may say they disapprove of Congress, but they tend to like their own Representative, which of course aids incumbents, and in this case that means it aids Republicans.

Finally, the “right track/wrong track” number isn’t always what it seems. If a voter is opposed to gay marriage and the election of Hamas, they will tell a pollster “wrong track,” but being social conservatives who support the war on terror, they are probably Republican voters nonetheless.

Vincent Giandurco

Fairfield, Conn.

Forget Oprah, I like you anyway

To the Editor:

If I were Oprah, I would have picked Simon Doonan’s wonderful book Nasty for her club [“Why Oprah Spurned Me: I Am the Un-Frey,” Simon Says, Feb. 6]. America needs more stories about Betty, Mr. Doonan’s roommates and the homemade hooch. I read it last summer and laughed myself silly at some of the anecdotes. But his book also serves as a lesson about making one’s (supposed) liabilities into assets. I loved the sweetness that came through his words, and I was left feeling that he was someone I’d like to know.

I hope Mr. Doonan’s busy scribbling another volume. I’m looking forward to hearing more of his adventures. And I would have liked to hear the purse descriptions (he’s right about how ugly a lot of the new “It” purses are). People underestimates its readers!

Martina J. Flynn


Making Music, Making Moves

To the Editor:

Thanks to Mr. Gottlieb for a very interesting take on Christopher Wheeldon’s work [“Wheeldon Waxing Romantic; City Ballet Missing the Mark,” The Dance, Feb. 6].

In general, it seems to me that young musicians find their way more easily than young choreographers, because the musicians (unless they’re composers) deal with merging their own mental-physical interpretation onto a piece; the score is their guide. There may be comparisons to past artists to face (as with Mr. Gottlieb’s comment on Schnabel’s Hammerklavier vs. Pollini’s), and they may imitate their teachers a bit too much at first; but they still can stand alone.

Choreographers must graft movement on, in or against the score, which offers a whole set of problems—one of them, as he points out, being the mistake of seeing a movement as a stand-alone piece when, conceptually, it’s not. But then, I’ve met very few young choreographers (and not a few older ones) who have no real understanding of music; with them, feeling expresses understanding.

Craig Smith

Dance Critic,

Santa Fe New Mexican

Santa Fe, N.M.

Heart and Soul

To the Editor:

I have enjoyed Robert Gottlieb’s evaluations of the ballet world for quite some time. He has been “on the money” so much, I must commend him. Bravo! He sees what so many of us diehard ballet fans see. I couldn’t agree more about Sofiane, Darci and Nilas.

I also saw the A.B.T. performances that he wrote about last season, of Vishneva and Corella in Giselle. It was most memorable.

So few brilliant performances stay with one’s soul. Fonteyn and Nureyev definitely had a few that I saw; Marguerite and Armand in Seattle, and Sibley and Dowell in A Midsummer Night’s Dream were others; Lynn Seymour (in a good period) in Romeo and Juliet and The Two Pigeons sticks in my memory, and does Ferri in Manon. But my all-time favorite would have to be Fonteyn in Giselle.

Mr. Gottlieb understands that if the soul and heart are not in the performance, technical brilliance is wasted.

Karin Schwalb

Bernardsville, N.J. Letters