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HOME > Biographical > 100 New Yorkers of the 1970s > WESTSIDER CLIVE BARNES
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Drama and dance critic


He's still the most famous drama critic in America, if not the world.

His name has not yet disappeared from the subway walls or from the signs in front of the theatres along Broadway. And even though Clive Barnes was recently replaced as the New York Times' drama critic, he remains the most-quoted authority in the newspaper ads. He is still the Times' dance critic. He still does his daily radio spot on theatre for WQXR Radio. He still lectures around the country and writes a column for the London Times. At 50, Barnes does not mind the slightly calmer pace his life has taken.

"I don't know why I was replaced," he says. "Papers have these policy decisions. I suppose they wanted a change. They wanted to split the two desks, dance and drama."

A refined, affable Englishman, Clive Barnes welcomes me into his West End Avenue home and invites me to sit down and have some coffee for five minutes while he puts the finishing touches on an article. His slim, attractive wife Trish and his 15-year-old son Christopher talk to him while he works. Soon the article is finished and he is relaxed in an armchair, ready to answer questions. He holds a pen in his lap and occasionally clicks it as we talk.

"Really, I much prefer New York to London," says Barnes, who spent the first 38 years of his life in the British capital. "I'll never leave New York, ever. When I first came here visiting before I came here to live, I adored it. It's just been a very long love affair between myself and the city."

Born the son of a London ambulance driver, Barnes won a scholarship to Oxford University, and while a student there began to write reviews on theatre and dance. Following graduation, he worked in city planning for 10 years while moonlighting as a critic of theatre, dance, films and music. Thus he built up a reservoir of knowledge in all the major performing arts. In 1965, several years after Barnes got into full-time journalism, he was doing such an impressive job as dance critic for the London Times that the New York Times made him a handsome salary offer to fill the same role for them. Two years later the Times offered him the post of drama critic as well. Barnes kept the dual role until this year, when the "new" New York Times asked him to concentrate strictly on dance.

"Certainly American dance is the most important in the world, and has been for at least ............
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