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 Post subject: Re: What exactly constitutes "dance criticism"? (W
PostPosted: Wed Jul 03, 2002 8:17 am 
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Basheva, I thought you said it well!<P><BR>Jeff I think the gangster analogy is perfectly plausible. However, I couldn't help finding Banes' take on Robbins' Amazons a little funny. ("Well, she may be crushing his skull between her thighs, but at least she's asserting herself.") It may also be that I just plain disagree with her -- I think the ladies of "The Cage" are beyond that kind of reclamation, and it takes something away from the ballet to try it.) And I've never thought that Sugar Plum needs any feminist recuperation -- especially in Balanchine's version, where the poor Cavalier is hardly there! Banes' point about interpretation in performance is indisputable -- almost a truism, I'd say, and it applies pretty much to any art that is fully realized only in live performance. <P> I know exactly what you mean about your women's studies class, which is why I was a little leery of them in college. I have nothing against women's studies, it's a fine thing, and the classes are great when you have the right group and setting, but when you don't -- I was almost tarred and feathered once, for suggesting that maybe T.S. Eliot wasn't the moral equivalent of Bluebeard. (I should probably note for the record that I'm a girl, since my moniker doesn't make it obvious.) But I wander afield.<BR>


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 Post subject: Re: What exactly constitutes "dance criticism"? (W
PostPosted: Wed Jul 03, 2002 8:53 pm 
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Basheva, I agree with Dirac. I understood you perfectly … trees and all.<P>First, let’s be fair to Sally Banes. <I>The Cage</I> is mentioned only twice in the book – once on page 9 (the bit I quoted) and again on page 219. I imagine that if she thought it was the paradigmatic example of a successful critical reappraisal, there would have been more.<P>What I like about Banes’ media “spin” for our friendly neighborhood Amazons, is that Banes gave it a shot even if it was only for one sentence. Not that I have – to paraphrase the immortal Buffy tVS – “fluffy bunny feelings for them” … I like the idea that such an idea is <I>available</I> for us as dance watchers.<P>But, even if giving the Amazons “respect” is going too far, I imagine most viewers would acknowledge a certain powerful feminist agency at work. Perhaps not “respect” as in “admiration,” but more like “respect” as in the way you “respect” a sharp knife, or fire, or an angry dog. To use the gangland example, even if I don’t think gangsters with Uzi’s in a kitted up, chrome-ified Honda Civic are at all glamorous in a movie, I recognize that the image has access to contemporary modes of illicit power.<P>When I compare those Amazons to the ballerina’s turn of the century images of dying swans, bees, and whatever, I think, “you go, girl.”<P>What I learn about dance criticism from this latest version of this thread, perhaps, is the extent to which its dependence upon performance – yet in the absence of a really effective critical language – distinguishes it from the literary, visual, and non-dance performing arts.<P>And, since we’ve started coding recent posts as part A—main theme “dance criticism” and part B—irrelevant but oddly interesting personal comments:<P>Dirac, my comment on your “coming out” on this thread as a woman is what you were getting at, which is that in class discussion just being a female doesn’t excuse you of anything. Several times yesterday during a class exercise where we had to rank a series of vignettes in order of degree of sexual violence, the professor had do the referee “time out” thing. (The most heated argument was about whether being groped in a high school hallway was more violent than being flashed at in the library stacks.)<P>We had such a tough time agreeing on basic definitions of consent, violence, etc … and we are a fairly homogenous group by age, education, socio-economic status, and gender. Yes, I said gender because there are only 2 guys in the class and the girls kept calling the class “we” figuratively collapsing us in with them.<BR><p>[This message has been edited by Jeff (edited July 03, 2002).]


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 Post subject: Re: What exactly constitutes "dance criticism"? (W
PostPosted: Wed Jul 03, 2002 9:41 pm 
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O and Basheva, I forgot to say that I think clearly Robbins’ did want to portray the Amazons in <I>The Cage</I> a negative way—in essence to “critique” Woman by showing voracious sexual predators. But, in a way this wasn’t really possible without appealing to deeply rooted cultural images of female power.<P>In order to convey misogynist messages about women, he might have shown the Novice killing her lover by accident like what some men say about women behind the driver’s wheel of a car. Or, by stupidity such as food poisoning. Or, nagging at him. Or … worst yet, making him stop at a gas station and ask for directions …<P>I think that it seems to be important that the killing is both sexual and a rite of initiation into a community albeit a wicked coven. <I>The Cage</I> only works as art because the Novice gains access to power. No matter what Robbins’ may have felt about sexual power and the female, the ballet only makes sense in a cultural poetics that transforms anxieties about female sexual potency into images of danger and death.<BR><p>[This message has been edited by Jeff (edited July 03, 2002).]


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 Post subject: Re: What exactly constitutes "dance criticism"? (W
PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2002 5:02 am 
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It seems to me, again trying to stay on the track Malcolm started (as I understand it), that it is possible to read altogether too much into any situation/ballet. I see that as a trap for the critic, too.<P>For sure, there are overt (intended) and covert (unintended) messages by the choreographer, butressed by the music and interpreted by the dancer. And then seen through the individual prism of the critic's eyes. Which then has to be transmitted through the fallibility of words to the individual senses of the reader. And as all of the above change from performance to performance, it presents an infinite number of variables.<P> All of these filters, for better or worse, are filters. And trying to determine the intentions, especially what one deems to be the covert intentions/messages, of the creator of the ballet, is a guess at best. Fun to do, but suseptible to a great deal of embroidery. And beware of the embroidery that has an underlying agenda. A critic must beware of the possibility of a personal agenda (for good or ill) creeping quietly in. <P>I have, in fact, asked myself several times as I sit down to view and then write of a performance - do I have an agenda? That agenda could include political as well as artistic goals. Being human ( Image ) I have had to, on rare occasion, acknowledge that I might have an agenda (I like a certain dancer/company and wish it to do well, for instance) - but in the very act of facing that agenda it fades away and I am left to view and then write with a clean slate. <P>And, to me, that is the most important thing. Write with a clean hat on a clean slate. <p>[This message has been edited by Basheva (edited July 04, 2002).]


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 Post subject: Re: What exactly constitutes "dance criticism"? (W
PostPosted: Tue Oct 01, 2002 10:03 pm 
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The following question seems like a significant departure from the thread's topic, but never mind :)

I would like to ask all of you for your opinion on this: do you think it's possible for dance critics, as well as readers and intended audience of dance criticism, to agree on a single, overarching, obligatory purpose that dance criticism serves? If yes, what could it be?


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 Post subject: Re: What exactly constitutes "dance criticism"? (W
PostPosted: Tue Oct 01, 2002 10:10 pm 
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My contribution as an answer to your question, Malcolm, is that the purpose of dance criticism (not a review) is:

To make people think.


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 Post subject: Re: What exactly constitutes "dance criticism"? (W
PostPosted: Wed Oct 02, 2002 3:19 am 
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Thanks, Basheva. But it looks like I have to rephrase my question, sorry about that. So here is the question again, now revised:

Do you think it's possible for dance critics to agree on a single, overarching, obligatory purpose that dance reviews serve? If yes, what could it be?

<small>[ 10-03-2002, 08:31: Message edited by: Malcolm Tay ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: What exactly constitutes "dance criticism"? (W
PostPosted: Wed Oct 02, 2002 8:13 am 
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Well, now Malcolm, you have made me think....

LOL

A review, in my opinion, is simply a report of what the reviewer saw, a snapshot in time, and what the reviewer thought about it.


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 Post subject: Re: What exactly constitutes "dance criticism"? (W
PostPosted: Wed Oct 02, 2002 11:04 am 
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Malcolm, in answer to your question, no. (I'm not going to defend this position, but I thought you might like an answer to your question.)


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 Post subject: Re: What exactly constitutes "dance criticism"? (W
PostPosted: Wed Oct 02, 2002 2:12 pm 
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Malcolm, I think the answer would be "no". What the critics think is their "job" or "mission", would be different from what a dancer, or audience member thinks. This divergence is not a bad thing. Probably, individual crtics wouldn't even agree, as well! :D


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 Post subject: Re: What exactly constitutes "dance criticism"? (W
PostPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2002 6:30 am 
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Ok this is how i see it - that is criticism versus review versus writing. Review is much smaller 500 words or so propbably to be oublished the day after the dance premiered. It tries to communicate details of the piece by creating images in the audiences mind as well as giving factual details e.g. date who, it has a hint of interpretation and of course there will be judgement because we are all human in may be in the tone of the piece (as one would expect) but hopefully isn't in the actual writing this was dull etc. Dance criticism is arguign a point of view probabaly for a journal 1000-2000 words involving research and analysing dance writing is writing about dance textbooks for example. For me this is how i determine them i know there is cross over but hey


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 Post subject: Re: What exactly constitutes "dance criticism"? (W
PostPosted: Wed Oct 16, 2002 12:13 pm 
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The Fall 2002 issue of the Movement Research Performance Journal is themed around this topic ("Dance Writing") and contains thought-provoking articles/interviews and impassioned manifestoes by experienced/prominent critics, choreographers and dancers, covering all sides of the argument. I'm not sure they send this journal to their mailing list any longer due to the cost of production. The journal is available in select dance studios in NYC, or you can subscribe. One year (Sept-Aug) in the US is $5, overseas $15.

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 Post subject: Re: What exactly constitutes "dance criticism"? (W
PostPosted: Thu Oct 17, 2002 12:10 pm 
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Thanks for this, cdtooth. I picked up a copy of the Spring 2002 issue of Movement Research when I was in NYC earlier this year, and I found it quite an intriguing read.


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 Post subject: Re: What exactly constitutes "dance criticism"? (W
PostPosted: Thu Oct 17, 2002 11:12 pm 
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Does anyone have time to link to all the past critics and criticsm threads...


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 Post subject: Re: What exactly constitutes "dance criticism"? (W
PostPosted: Sat Oct 25, 2003 3:45 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
<img src="http://pointemagazine.com/images/covers/nov03jpg.jpg" alt="" />

A Mirror On Performance
By Robert Johnson for Pointe Magazine

Most dance studios come equipped with mirrors. Their reflections offer corrections, telling dancers how to realign their bodies. Those same reflections can also supply a dose of reassurance:

“My, aren’t we looking good today!”
Dance criticism works the same way. A review reflects what happens during a performance. The critic points out faults that need correction and offers praise for achievement. Reviews don’t just focus on the quality of the dancing, of course. In a field as vitally creative as dance, they most often address the work of the choreographer.

A critical piece usually has two parts: description and opinion. By describing what he or she has seen, the reviewer makes it possible for individuals who have not attended a performance to share the experience. Dance is a social art. Even for those who [ital: have] attended a performance, reading what another observer has to say in a review extends the typically excited discussions that follow a show.

click for more


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