CriticalDance Forum

Extended statement of the CriticalDance courtesy rule
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Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sun Jan 19, 2003 7:40 am ]
Post subject:  Extended statement of the CriticalDance courtesy rule

As some of you will have noticed, from time to time we get discourteous posting to CriticalDance. Rest assured that we take action and will continue to do all we can to maintain the courteous discussion of the art form here. This policy has made the site popular with artists and administrators as well as fans.

To help people understand what is courteous and visa-versa, here is an expanded statement on the theme and over the next week we will put up links from the forums. I am going to close this topic, but I will set up another for people to discuss this text.

Courtesy on CriticalDance

Criticaldance is an artist-friendly website and we want artists to be able to log on without fear of reading discourteous remarks about themselves, their friends or those they respect. Here are some guidelines to help people understand what we mean by our "courtesy rule" as applied to postings here. Where the Moderator team believes the guidelines have been breached we will usually contact the poster first, but we will take direct action if necessary. The decision of the Moderators is final. Repeated breaking of the courtesy rule or single instances of libellous postings may lead to the suspension of posting rights.

Reviews - This is a primary area where our "courtesy" rule applies. Critics were once described as, "Like those who observe a battle from a hill and afterwards go down and torment the wounded." In general we seek to maintain a high standard in this regard and thus you should not be guided by what you read elsewhere. We will request or make changes to postings where we feel our guidelines have been breached. Please remember that reviewers, especially relative newcomers, need to bear in mind:

- negative reviews have their place, but if you comment on a dance you didn't care for, it is helpful to say exactly what you disliked about it, and why. Remember that when you write it may be your credibility that suffers rather than that of the artist. For your first few reviews, we recommend that you stick to performances that you enjoyed.

- while passion is fine in a positive sense it needs to be treated with care when applied to negative criticism. In addition, moderate language and a constructive attitude will enhance your credibility. Mark Morris has said that he would rather read constructive criticism than bland appreciation.

- the artist may read the report and you should be happy to defend your words in person to the individual concerned. Imagine yourself in that position and if it would cause you undue embarressment than don't write it.

- a particular performance by a dancer or a company may have been disappointing, but avoid generalisations such as "X is a sloppy dancer", unless you have seen them several times and you are sure of your ground. If other people have expressed a view you can mention that by reference, but it is not appropriate to try and pass that view off as your own.

- from time to time many of us make quiet remarks in private about performances to close friends, but these are often unsuitable for publication on a website or elsewhere.

- humour is great, but a cheap laugh at the expense of an artist is not acceptable here.

Some examples from CriticalDance (subsequently removed) and elsewhere that breach our courtesy rule.

On artists:

"Y shouldn't have been given the role as he is moose ugly."

"X wasn't promoted on merit, but because of [this, that or whatever]."

"Some (and I emphasize some) ballet dancers ARE overbred show dogs."

On choreography:

"It was as if I invited some friends round and we drank red wine and then stood up and waved our arms around."

"XXX is the suicide capital of Y and when you see this work it's easy to see why."

On companies:

"Go and see them if you must, but only if there isn't a local amateur Company performing the same evening."

Schools performances - young performers deserve particularly sensitive attention. As a result, positive comments about individuals are fine, negative criticism is not. Overall comments about performance standards or style are acceptable, but in the context of the School ie what may be appropriate for Paris Opera Ballet School would not be suitable for a local school.

Rehearsals and classes - from time to time CriticalDance posters are allowed to go to classes or rehearsals, which is a great privilige. It is easy to look at these as a performance, but they are not. Thus we consider it a breach of our courtesy rule to discuss, either positively or negatively, the dancing of named people in such circumstances. Discussion of the procedures, atmosphere and arrangements are fine.

Gossip can be hurtful to artists and those associated with them or be an embarressment at a time of contract negotiation. To move beyond gossip, a story must be substantiated by official word from a Press Dept. or directly from the artist (not at secondhand) with their permission for release. The fact that a story may have appeared in the press does not take it beyond gossip. We do not wish to give further credibility to such stories even under the caveat, "...assuming it is true..". If you have heard or read a story that suggests that something posted here is incorrect or unsubstantiated, please e-mail and we will take the matter forward.

Examples of unsubstantiated stories which fall under the category of gossip:

- promotions, exits and recruitments

- relationships forming or breaking. I know of two dancers who regularly walk together holding hands. However, they are close friends and their relationships are with other people.

- pregnancies

Other posters - these are also covered by the courtesy rule. "Flaming" is an unfortunate characteristic of many websites and we have seen it on CriticalDance from time to time. It can sour the atmosphere of discussion boards and we have seen examples where this has lead to their closure. If you think something a poster has written breaches our "courtesy rule", then please contact the Moderators by e-mail on rather than raising it on the Board. If something you disagree with has made you angry and you want to respond, it may well be a good idea to draft something, but wait until you have calmed down before looking again and deciding whether to post it. Remember that ping-pong exchanges between posters can get very tedious for other readers and that people respect those who allow others to have the last word.

I repeat the action we will take in instances of discourteous posting:

Where the Moderator team believes the guidelines have been breached we will usually contact the poster first, but we will take direct action if necessary. The decision of the Moderators is final. Repeated breaking of the courtesy rule or single instances of libellous postings may lead to the suspension of posting rights.

<small>[ 02 July 2003, 07:05 PM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Mon May 05, 2003 11:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Extended statement of the CriticalDance courtesy rule

I'm shifting this up.

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