public forum
home forum magazine gallery links about faq courtesy
It is currently Thu Jul 24, 2014 8:41 am

All times are UTC - 7 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 39 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3  Next
Author Message
 Post subject: Re: What makes a good critic???
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2002 8:57 am 
Offline

Joined: Sun Mar 24, 2002 12:01 am
Posts: 123
<BR>syr wrote, “A good critic possesses the following characteristics: breadth and depth of knowledge, passion, honesty, integrity, discretion, understanding, perspective, ability to report, lack of meanspiritedness. A good review a) informs the public b) provides the information that will allow the reader to answer the question: should I go? “<P>I don’t disagree but this definition implies a good reader, which is as rare as a good critic. Frequently a ‘good’ critic is one who appeals to the reader’s prejudices, to a dance, one who praises her/him. <P>As an objective act, dance criticism is impossible. What the critic is attempting to do is to translate an after-image of an effervescent movement in time into another medium, that of words, using analogies, ‘like as’, and other similarities that have different connotations for each of us. A rose is a rose, love is love and love is not like a rose. Therefore a dance is just a dance, untranslatable by ‘like as’ something else. In my view a dance critic’s efforts, are a work of art, with the full limitations of any artist. What is required from a dance critic is the love of dance, all else can be learned. The judgement of a ‘good’ critic is in his/hers output, a retrospective judgement.<P>To get away from generalities, some interesting concrete examples in criticism:<P>Denby in Obituary For ‘Ballet’, describes the magazine, Ballet, “a publication unique in the dance world. ‘ignorant’, ‘irresponsible’, ‘snobbish’, ‘effete’, ‘unpatriotic’ – a string of adjectives by which one comes to recognize the presence of a critic of value – were hurled at its editor Richard Buckle.” <P>J. Martin, New York Times, - “Apollo was decadent: chic, trivial and artificial – a contraption of empty formalism.” and “John Martin’s hatred of Balanchine owned something to Americanism: first and simplest, Balanchine just wasn’t American – what do we need these imports anyway?” (pg. 18,R. Garis, Following Ballanchine.) It took Martin about 20 years overcome his xenophobia, which clouded his aesthetic judgement. Garis describes Martin’s response to Balanchine as, he “attacked almost poisonously”.<P>Arlene Croce,<BR>In After Images, Dancers and Dance Critics, pg.337, ”One now saw, in almost every part, the same worked-up shape to every phrase, everything delivered with utmost impact, no subtlety, no coherence. One saw a formerly fluid line distorted for maximum dynamic thrust in every direction, continual flaunting and failing through the spine and neck, limp wrists, dismissive hands. ..... All this is not only vulgar, it is immodest. It exhales self-importance.” This was in 1968 a review of Bhrams-Schoenberg Quartet.<P>In 1985 Sight Lines, Getting It All Together, pg.247, she writes, “Farrell still dances Meditations. She gave a performance of it on closing night, Luders managing to partner her for the occasion .... and the experience was one to set beside the astonishing performances of Chaconne and Tzigane and Walpurgisnacht she had already given us this season. It’s hard to believe that this slim, young-looking Farrell will be forty this summer. By never trying to outpoint her former self, by concentrating on uncovering new riches in her roles, she has found the secret of perpetual youth. .... And she’s still very strong, although her presence has become sweet and light, almost mothlike. She has always been the wittiest dancer alive, but in this new condition of impalpable strength spirituality enters in; wit becomes beatitude.”. What has changed is not Farrell’s artistic expression but the growth of Croce as a critic.<P>In After Images, Farrell and Farrellism, pg. 120 “Farrell doesn’t look muscular or drained, as I feared she might, after five years in an alien and diseased repertory.” The phrase “alien and diseased repertory”, was in reference to Bejar, similar to the jingoism of J. Martin. <P>A.L. Haskell,<BR> A director of the Royal Ballet School in the pamphlet The Russian Genius in Ballet, makes an ideological judgement, a panegyric of the Socialist Realism in ballet and a possible connection to the stagnation in the RB school.<P>C.Temin, Boston Globe 6 March 2002, “Eifman’s work borders on the vulgar. His is a distinctly European sensibility, akin to that of Maurice Bejar.” A curious echo of A. Croce. The word ‘vulgar’ seems a giveaway of a wounded sensibility.<P>While many more poor examples could be cited, the good criticism is not so easy to extract. It has to be read whole, savored in it’s development. The good critics are very rare, E. Denby, Richard Buckley, Clement Crisp, Anna Kiselgoff, Marcia B. Siegel. It is not that they are always right but that when you disagree you learn something and in the rarest of critics what you read is timeless.<P>

_________________
Only my opinion. Will gladly correct any inaccuracies


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: What makes a good critic???
PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2002 7:35 am 
Offline

Joined: Wed Jun 06, 2001 11:01 pm
Posts: 1639
Location: London UK
I agree with djb that it is important to mention the audience reaction when that reaction is totally at variance to the critic's view. Polite applause can be ignored, as that is the audience doing what is expected of them, but an overwhelming volume of enthusiasm should not be ignored.<P>In a way we are all critics as we all have a point of view about what we see and are all pretty free with our opinions, but the language we might use discussing a dancer or ballet with an acquaintance should never be used in reviews. I will never forget a comment on a dancer that "She is to ballet what Kevin Keegan is to Shakespeare" which appeared in a trendy publication in the '80's. It was not just untrue of a dancer admired by audience and fellow dancers alike - it was libellous! A great pity that dancers rarely have the financial ability to sue.<P>Speaking for myself, I will very rarely read dance reviews now as I find myself forced to read between the lines and having to recall each critic’s personal prejudices, though I very much enjoy reading the views of the enthusiasts that post on these pages. In the past there have been critics that I have enjoyed reading, even when not agreeing with their views, they were the ones whose genuine regard for dance was apparent in every word they wrote. The present crop is dire, with a worrying number having little knowledge of dance technique. Now I know that the greater part of the ballet audience would be unable to tell an attitude from an arabesque, but I'm afraid a critic should, otherwise why must dancers spend all those hours striving for perfection in a classroom if the critics are unable to recognize whether a step is danced well or badly? And what about style? A second Dickie Buckle just won't happen, but is it too much to hope that some day some one might be able to write something with humour, knowledge, love and a touch of panache?<P>


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject: Re: What makes a good critic???
PostPosted: Tue Apr 30, 2002 3:19 pm 
Offline

Joined: Fri Oct 22, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 17498
Location: SF Bay Area
There is almost always an arc to critic's career. A critic needs to grow within a community and the community along with him or her. You can't get a critic that can immediately convey a performance to a readership in the way that the community expects. It's a learning process for both sides.


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject: Re: What makes a good critic???
PostPosted: Sat May 04, 2002 9:00 am 
Offline

Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2001 11:01 pm
Posts: 8612
Location: El Granada, CA, USA
Cassandra, I totally agree with you on every point.<P>I was taught in college that a critic's job is to describe what is seen, not make value judgements. I try to do that, but sometimes I see things that are SO BAD, that I have to say that in order to be honest. I at least will explain why I thought it was so bad. I hate it when a critic trashes soemthing and doesn't give any constructive feedback. Then it's just gossip, not criticism.


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject: Re: What makes a good critic???
PostPosted: Sat May 04, 2002 9:47 am 
Offline

Joined: Sun Dec 12, 1999 12:01 am
Posts: 3663
Location: The Bronx is up; the Battery's down
A lighting designer I know (who prefers to remain nameless) recently got this mention isn a review: "The two large TV set screens which frame the stage and glow blank throughout, detract from ______________'s creative lighting illusions."<P>Why is this a problem? For one thing, any time a review praises one technical element at the expense of another, it is bound to cause resentment. For another, the two screens, in this case, were the idea of the director, who was also the playwright and the artistic director of the theatre, so any resentment caused by the review might very well affect my friend's future employment at that company.<BR>

_________________
Jeffrey E. Salzberg,
Dance Lighting Design
http://www.jeffsalzberg.com


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject: Re: What makes a good critic???
PostPosted: Tue May 07, 2002 9:50 am 
Offline

Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2001 11:01 pm
Posts: 8612
Location: El Granada, CA, USA
Ooh, politics. Something most reviewers don't think about, but I do. Maybe because I work in the community I am reviewing.


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject: Re: What makes a good critic???
PostPosted: Tue May 07, 2002 10:09 am 
Offline

Joined: Sun Jun 11, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 4753
Location: Montreal, QC, Canada
I think they do actually but the reprecutions are different. But that aside, is this a suggestion that reviewers should just softball their writing to avoid creating politial pitfalls???


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject: Re: What makes a good critic???
PostPosted: Tue May 07, 2002 10:41 am 
Offline

Joined: Sun Dec 12, 1999 12:01 am
Posts: 3663
Location: The Bronx is up; the Battery's down
No, they should be honest...but they should always understand the possible results of their honesty.<P>In the above case, the negative comment about the video screens might have been severed from the positive one about the lighting without compromising either honesty or objectivity.

_________________
Jeffrey E. Salzberg,
Dance Lighting Design
http://www.jeffsalzberg.com


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject: Re: What makes a good critic???
PostPosted: Tue May 07, 2002 10:43 am 
Offline

Joined: Sun Jun 11, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 4753
Location: Montreal, QC, Canada
Good point.


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject: Re: What makes a good critic???
PostPosted: Wed May 29, 2002 6:35 am 
Offline

Joined: Mon May 20, 2002 11:01 pm
Posts: 9
Location: Washington, DC
Has anyone read Arlene Croce's new book? And if you have, (or if you've read her columns over the years) what do you think of her style of criticism? In the intro to her book she mentions that she had no formal dance training when she started writing critiques which seems odd.


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject: Re: What makes a good critic???
PostPosted: Wed May 29, 2002 6:52 am 
Offline

Joined: Wed Jun 06, 2001 11:01 pm
Posts: 1639
Location: London UK
I think you will find that very few ballet critics have had any formal dance training.


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject: Re: What makes a good critic???
PostPosted: Fri May 31, 2002 3:54 am 
Offline

Joined: Mon May 20, 2002 11:01 pm
Posts: 9
Location: Washington, DC
ok, this is probably a really nieve question, but then how do critics know what to say if they don't have formal dance training?


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject: Re: What makes a good critic???
PostPosted: Fri May 31, 2002 6:16 am 
Offline

Joined: Tue Dec 04, 2001 12:01 am
Posts: 1876
Location: New England
Ideally, the critics have a lot of experience watching dance.<P>This happens all the time in other fields. People reviewing wines don't necessarily have any wine-growing experience. People reviewing cars aren't engineers. People reviewing software aren't programmers.<BR>


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject: Re: What makes a good critic???
PostPosted: Fri May 31, 2002 10:31 am 
Offline

Joined: Fri Oct 22, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 17498
Location: SF Bay Area
I like to use the travel essay as an example. Would you prefer an essay about a region by a geologist/historian/politician/economist or a good writer with a sharp eye?


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject: Re: What makes a good critic???
PostPosted: Fri May 31, 2002 10:57 am 
Offline

Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 13071
Location: San Diego, California, USA
I would like a good writer with a sharp eye with some knowledge of the geology/economy/history/ politics of the region. That way the good writer with a sharp eye can give me an in depth perspective as well as a topical description.<P>But the point is well taken, that all the knowledge in the world is of little use if it cannot be communicated to other people - if that is the initial intent.


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 39 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3  Next

All times are UTC - 7 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
cron
The messages in this forum are posted by members of the general public and do not reflect the opinions or beliefs of CriticalDance or its staff.
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group