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 Post subject: The power of critics
PostPosted: Tue Oct 26, 1999 8:30 pm 
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Location: SF Bay Area
How much power does a critic have? Too often I've seen a negative review affect the attendance for a performance. And what galls me each time is that the performance is never as bad as the critic made it out to be. Who gave this power to the critic? Does one person have so much say in what gets seen?


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 Post subject: Re: The power of critics
PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 1999 5:20 am 
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Location: Miami, FL USA
Azlan<P>I completely agree, but theirs is a double edged sword.<P>As mentioned in another thread, it is the vast differences in qualifications and knowledge of critics that are so bothersome. This is not a criticism of Alexandra, but she is a prime example of someone who has set criteria for reviewing. As mentioned on BA, she would not give as much space to a Diablo Ballet, regardless of the performance, b/c in her opinion, they haven't earned it over time. I have no problem with the thinking, but the general public has no clue about these critieria and might be mislead that a bad ABT touring group (and I'm sure we have all seen a show or two that looked like nothing more than a money making venture or an inconvenient prior obligation) is more valuable to the public than a killer performance by a smaller, younger company.<P>This is my frustration with "good" critics. They often times write for a select, high brow audience and dance should not be limited to an "inside joke."<P>On the other end of the spectrum are the idiots. Good or bad reviews are equally annoying. " liked it! They jumped high!" Somewhere in the middle (elevated Image) is necessary for serious dance enthusiasts and regular joes.<P>Regarding reviews helping audience attendence, we feel here that even a luke warm review will help as it gets you into the minds and on the radar screen of potential ticket buyers. No empirical data, though.


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 Post subject: Re: The power of critics
PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 1999 7:38 am 
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It would be amazing if there were a place where different reviews can be compared. For example, how about comparing NY Times' review of Miami City Ballet to that of the Washington Post? It gives readers a better perspective and insight into the biases of the critics.


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 Post subject: Re: The power of critics
PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 1999 7:59 am 
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Location: SF CA
Welcome Ballet Fan. Great idea!!!!!! Azlan can we do this on this board?


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 Post subject: Re: The power of critics
PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 1999 2:49 pm 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Lucy, it can be done!<P>Look on the wondrous and massive <A HREF="http://www.ballet.co.uk," TARGET=_blank>www.ballet.co.uk,</A> in their Postings section, 'What's Happening' and there is a daily 'trawl' through the UK press for articles about dance. It is a great benefit to mankind and is very quick to do, when you know where to look.


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 Post subject: Re: The power of critics
PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 1999 3:18 pm 
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Lucy, Stuart suggested the "trawl" before but I haven't had a chance to look at it. Perhaps Michael, Cygnet or myself can look into it this weekend.<P>...Azlan


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 Post subject: Re: The power of critics
PostPosted: Sat Nov 06, 1999 7:19 pm 
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There is also a list of reviews on Voice of Dance, organized by performing companies and works.


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 Post subject: Re: The power of critics
PostPosted: Sat Nov 06, 1999 7:25 pm 
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Both the Voice of Dance and ballet.co.uk databases of reviews can be accessed directly via criticaldance.com's reviews page at: <A HREF="http://www.criticaldance.com/reviews/reviews.html" TARGET=_blank>http://www.criticaldance.com/reviews/reviews.html</A>


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 Post subject: Re: The power of critics
PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2000 6:06 am 
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Location: New York NY USA
Returning to the topic of “the critic.” The question Azlan asked originally often comes up for performers, critics and readers alike. Being a dance writer myself (I write more articles and interviews than reviews) I find writing reviews a difficult task. If I really dislike something and I want to -- or have to -- write about it, I try and detach myself from subjective opinion, and instead, attempt to describe what I saw and suggest what might have helped the performance be a more successful one -- in my opinion. And there we have it, writing a review remains exactly that; giving ones “opinion.” <P>So why is it that readers and artists get so uptight about reviews, when they are simply one individuals opinion? <P>Having the chance to compare the reviews of critics around the globe might help our readers and respective artists understand how diverse the opinions of dance works can be, and just how subjective they are. I believe that a good critic should back up his/her perception of a performance by telling the reader why he/she didn’t like something. For instance, was the performance a disappointment due to poor dancing, lack of musicality, bad lighting, poor sound etc.? Or did the costumes distract from the dancing? Did the choreographer fail to produce a “professional and convincing event” or is the choreographer simply in need of more development time? Maybe there was a lack of preparation leading up to the work (no money for lengthy rehearsals etc.). It could also be that a choreographer is weak in a particular area (the concept is good, but the movement lacks conviction etc.), yet in other areas the choreographer shows real potential.<P>There really are so many things to consider when reviewing a dance event that the writer must know enough about dance and the art of dance-making to be able to back up his/her arguments. If this is the case, the reader and the artists being reviewed can gain some insight into the whys and wherefores of any writer’s opinion and people might be less perturbed by the individual taste of a critic.<P>That’s just my opinion Image<BR>

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 Post subject: Re: The power of critics
PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2000 6:31 am 
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Jennifer, you are right but I feel sometimes that the published critic I am reading does not know enough about the technical aspects of dance to effectively communicate the various technical issues you mention.<P>Also, readers tend to cut to the chase when they read a review. Sometimes a bad headline is all it takes to turn them off a show. It costs more $$ to go to a dance performance than a movie. A dance review has to be that much more persuasive to attract more fans to dance. I'm not saying a dance critic should always give positive reviews, rather that they exercise caution and understand that the published media is where many readers get their first impressions of a dance performance.


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 Post subject: Re: The power of critics
PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2000 7:26 pm 
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Azlan, I agree. Yes, a critic is just giving their opinion, but it's an opinion being read by thousands, sometimes millions of readers, some of whom presumeaby might be making a decision whether or not to go that particular show. Another thing is that critical "blurbs" are used widely by companies to publicize their events, ie. blurbs are often put on fliers, posters and p.r. brochures. For grant writing, critical reviews are usually a part of the packet that you submit with the rest of the grant application. So, critics do have power. The other side of the coin is that critics only have a couple of hours to write their reviews, which is difficult; as is choreographing and presenting a show on a strict deadline! As dearly departed mentor and friend Robert Ellis Dunn said "Choreography is the art of the dealine."


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 Post subject: Re: The power of critics
PostPosted: Sat Mar 11, 2000 1:54 am 
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It's good to see interesting old threads comealive again, so thank you Jennifer. I look forward to reading more of you thoughtful remarks. Picking up on some of your points:<P>- I agree about the difficulty of reviewing. Writing articles or interviews is much easier in my view. I guess it comes down to the problem of finding words that convey motion and emotion etc. without endlessly repeating oneself.<P>- I agree that a critic should back up what they say. Mark Morris has said that he prefers a well-reasoned critical review of his work to superficial praise. He may gain some insights from the former, but nothing from the latter. <P>- you are right that a review is an opinion and my experience is that the range of views on a particular piece can be greater in dance than in any other art form, except perhaps Fine Art. Bearing this in mind, it follows that the statements made are as much about the reviewer as the artists involved. for this reason I think it behoves us all to use measured language. Some dismissive and rude reviews make me angry. Especially when one remembers the dangers and poor reward inherent in most dance performances. <P>


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 Post subject: Re: The power of critics
PostPosted: Sat Mar 11, 2000 6:46 am 
Stuart, strangely I find that writing up an interview is far more demanding than writing up a review or a preview. Certainly it is far more time-consuming listening again to the taped conversation after the one-hour actual interview.


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 Post subject: Re: The power of critics
PostPosted: Sat Mar 11, 2000 3:26 pm 
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Location: Australia
kevin: i too find writing up an interview to be very taxing. <P>but i believe i have yet to cultivate the art of asking really good questions, which might make this easier! Image<P>i have already learned to listen better, which is the other necessary key artform for an interview. <P>this happened quite by chance because i went to interview the (previous) head of the hong kong performing arts academy dance department, together with the editor of the mag i write for - this would not normally happen because we live on opposite sides of australia. we were both asking questions, but she (the editor) told me later that i sometimes cut off the interview subject's sentence or train of thought, in my enthusiasm to discuss. in other words, i had to learn to shut up more! Image<P>in response to jennifer's comments, i would RATHER write an article than a review, but reviews are more in demand, so one has to oblige if one desires to get paid!.

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 Post subject: Re: The power of critics
PostPosted: Sat Mar 11, 2000 3:40 pm 
Grace, very interesting. I don't normally interrupt my interviewee and change question until I feel that they have finished answering the previous question of mine.<P>Next time you come to Hong Kong, please contact me.


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