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 Post subject: Re: What exactly constitutes "dance criticism"? (W
PostPosted: Sun Oct 26, 2003 4:43 pm 
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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?
...To put money in the checking accounts of dance critics.

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 Post subject: Re: What exactly constitutes "dance criticism"? (W
PostPosted: Mon Oct 27, 2003 10:30 am 
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That's funny, since I'd wager the majority of today's American dance critics often write for free or virtually nothing.

Do you mean to impugn the supposed mercenary motivations of critics, or do you mean to shore up the old adage, to paraphrase Samuel Johnson, that only a fool writes for anything but money?


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 Post subject: Re: What exactly constitutes "dance criticism"? (W
PostPosted: Mon Oct 27, 2003 11:01 am 
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I agree in that money isn't the issue. However, there is something more insidious that is uniting a handful of dance critics who seem determined to retain their power over it. That thing is the ability to exert influence over the dance community and to raise their own profile within the community. In otherwords, they have become SIHOs (Self Important Hangers On).


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 Post subject: Re: What exactly constitutes "dance criticism"? (W
PostPosted: Mon Oct 27, 2003 11:41 am 
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If you mean ego gratification, it may be true that it is a more common form of remuneration than money.


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 Post subject: Re: What exactly constitutes "dance criticism"? (W
PostPosted: Mon Oct 27, 2003 11:53 am 
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Ah, yes, thanks for making the point so succinctly, Belinda. :)

Unfortunately, there are these handful who seem to dominate certain influential organizations, committees and conferences, to the point that others not "with the agenda" are discouraged from steering policy.

<small>[ 27 October 2003, 12:53 PM: Message edited by: Azlan ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: What exactly constitutes "dance criticism"? (W
PostPosted: Mon Oct 27, 2003 3:45 pm 
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That's an interesting statement Azlan. I'm not sure to whom, or what sort of groups you refer, but it sounds well beyond the realm of actual dance writers or critics at least in my meager experience. As a fledgling critic myself, I know how hard it is to "break in" to an area of journalism (dance criticism) even when I've danced for 20 years myself (thereby hopefully giving me some more insight into ballet than someone who may never have tried to dance). So to be up in the realm where one's writing or standing or social position would actually influence companies or directors and whatnot...is pretty much unfathomable from a budding writer's standpoint.

Politics, it seems, is everywhere.

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 Post subject: Re: What exactly constitutes "dance criticism"? (W
PostPosted: Mon Oct 27, 2003 4:08 pm 
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Quote:
So to be up in the realm where one's writing or standing or social position would actually influence companies or directors and whatnot...is pretty much unfathomable from a budding writer's standpoint.
That's the funny part. The writing itself actually doesn't but privileged information, access to key individuals and positions on awards committees, among others, can give someone quite an enlarged ego... Even as a budding critic, Catherine, the recent access to the Kirov Ballet must have been intoxicating? More calculating individuals might have been moved to use the opportunity for further relationships with the company?


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 Post subject: Re: What exactly constitutes "dance criticism"? (W
PostPosted: Mon Oct 27, 2003 6:39 pm 
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Quote:
Do you mean to impugn the supposed mercenary motivations of critics, or do you mean to shore up the old adage, to paraphrase Samuel Johnson, that only a fool writes for anything but money?
The latter.

Few, if any, critics are as mercenary as I, so I'd hardly hold that quality against them.

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 Post subject: Re: What exactly constitutes "dance criticism"? (W
PostPosted: Thu Oct 30, 2003 9:18 am 
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There are some good points being made here regarding critics and ulterior motives. On Tuesday night in Paris, four of us ballet-goers (from Paris, London and Moscow) were debating just these issues long into the night. All could give examples of critics gaining certain privileges as reward for sycophantic devotion to the wealthier companies in circumstances where impartiality flies out the window. A major concern was the actual weakness of criticism when for many critics there seems to be a marked reluctance to handle contentious issues for fear of rocking the boat.

There are some other concerns, as in my years with a small contemporary company many tales were told regarding critics, some of who were quite prominent. None of those stories can be related here of course, but they were frequently about the fact that interest in certain young dancers was rarely to do with their artistic abilities. I personally remember sitting in a dressing room with a dancer when an eminent critic (now deceased) arrived prior to the performance: she was petrified and hissed at me under her breath "don't leave me alone with him". I'm sure that kind of thing still goes on.

Personally I would welcome far more vigorous writing and would like to see critics with a bolder approach to the problems facing dance today. I know from some recent research I have been doing that fifty or more years ago opinions were more forcibly aired, with substantial books published full of views and criticism of the art of dance. Nothing like that exists today.


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 Post subject: Re: What exactly constitutes "dance criticism"? (W
PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 2004 2:05 pm 
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I was told recently by a well known dancer that he gets upset at negative reviews because he believes the purpose of newspaper reviews is to get audiences to the ballet...

Don't laugh. I know editors who won't publish a review for a run of performances that end before the publication date of the review (what's the point, they ask) and those who won't publish a review of a performance for which they have already printed a preview. Think about it: isn't this the same as saying, "We publish articles to get audiences to a show."

I corrected the dancer by also reminding him that reviewers have an obligation to create a record of events -- it is this body of work that survives well past the performances (and the lives of the dancers), that tell us what transpired and to what acclaim. This same dancer would certainly scoff if reviews of a company known to be mediocre read like press releases.

And all those editors who are myopic enough to think that a preview is adequate coverage of a performance are relegating the role of their paper to nothing more than cheerleading.

So, what exactly is the purpose of the review in today's terms?

<small>[ 26 April 2004, 02:03 PM: Message edited by: Azlan ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: What exactly constitutes "dance criticism"? (W
PostPosted: Mon Apr 26, 2004 8:06 am 
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Thank you Azlan!!!! Many persons do not understand that those of us involved in Research and Archival preservation seek many sources for historical records regarding the arts. "Reviews" however poorly constructed, and or "unfair" in the eyes of performers, do more than "get people to a show".
They, for better or worse, are a verbal preservative for an essential ephemeral art form. As such, I would hope that critics of all kinds are professionally responsible for the legacy they are creating.


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 Post subject: Re: What exactly constitutes "dance criticism"? (W
PostPosted: Mon Apr 26, 2004 11:05 am 
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A review published after the end of the run may well serve to get patrons to the next show.

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 Post subject: Re: What exactly constitutes "dance criticism"? (W
PostPosted: Mon Apr 26, 2004 12:09 pm 
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Shallot,

Quote:
As such, I would hope that critics of all kinds are professionally responsible for the legacy they are creating.
You're right! And that's a huge responsibility, especially considering the power of the Internet. Someone in Paris two decades from now may reference last weekend's review in a local rag in Livermore, California. ;)


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 Post subject: Re: What exactly constitutes "dance criticism"? (W
PostPosted: Tue Apr 27, 2004 4:33 pm 
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Out of left field, I found this comment by Dan Neil, automotive critic for the LA Times (who also happened to win the Pulitzer Prize for criticism this past year):

Quote:
Criticism is about expectation and the fulfillment of expectation. I write about what kind of expectations are created and whether something meets those expectations. That's the job of a critic.
The complete, but no longer freely available New York Times article is available at:

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/04/08/arts/08PULI.html

There's a copy of the article here:

http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/ch-scene/2004-April/000810.html

And in case anyone wonders how one can write about cars and win a Pulitzer, check out the articles the LA Times submitted for consideration:

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-neil-pulitzer,1,5773472.htmlstory?coll=la-home-headlines

--Andre


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 Post subject: Re: What exactly constitutes "dance criticism"? (W
PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2004 9:49 am 
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"Criticism is about expectation and the fulfillment of expectation. I write about what kind of
expectations are created and whether something meets those expectations. That's the job of a
critic."

I have to disagree with this as prescriptive of "criticism" as it pertains to the arts. Perhaps the general public has an "expectation" regarding automobiles. I do not know. However an audience member should come to a performance free of "expectation" and open to whatever blossoms in the performance. To suggest that a theatre critic somehow "knows" the expecations of an audience is absurd. Furthermore, bad blood is often created when a critic "assumes" he or she knows the "purpose" of the art as well as the "expectations" of the audience. Should the artist's "purpose", as presumed by the critic, not jive with the audience' "expectation", again as presumed by the critic, bad reviews result: all from presumptive variables that often have no basis in reality. :mad:


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