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 Post subject: How well do critics cope with change?
PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2001 9:05 pm 
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Joined: Sun Oct 24, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 19975
Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Critics have become expert at reviewing a particular form of dance or more specifically a style at a particular era within a dance form. Today, there is a lot of evidence that most people resist change and find it a threat and a area of study, 'Change Management' has been established to help people and organisations deal with their innate conservatism. My impression is that creative artists often tend to be change welcoming, but that doesn't mean that critics will be.<P>Thus, when innovation in a dance form comes along, perhaps it is not surprising that some critics will resist the changes and find it difficult to incorporate new strands into their thinking and would prefer to stay with the style and language with which they are familiar. Another aspect is that non-dancers like myself are perhaps also more vulnerable to a change-resistant mentality as we have not been involved in the art form in a creative way. <P>To look at some examples from the past, the Russian critic Levinson around 1916, said of a Fokine piece, 'There are no dances in this work.' Or (as used in my Christmas competition), Arnold Haskell's description of Balanchine's work in 1938, 'They were ingenious and intensely personal distortions of classicism that promptly dated as none of the earlier Diaghileff ballets had done.' Perhaps there is a similarity among some critics today who find it difficult to cope with the work of new ballet choreographers like Forsythe or Preljocaj. <P>This resistance to change may also operate when a critic looks at a new interpretation or production of a familiar dance. I sometimes get the impression that what a critic is saying is - It's not the way I remember it - rather than evaluating a new interpretation in its own right. <P>To some extent dance-goers rely on critics to illuminate and provide background for new work. We all find critics with whom we feel generally comfortable, but perhaps we should bear in mind their ability to cope with innovation as well as their expertise in a particular form. <P> <BR><p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited January 07, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: How well do critics cope with change?
PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2001 7:20 am 
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Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 13071
Location: San Diego, California, USA
A very interesting issue, Stuart. Human beings, for the most part, resist change. Critics are human beings. Change can be good, it can be bad - or at least frightening. There is a biological imperative inbedded within that resists change. It insures the species continuing those things that work, but at the same time it is innovation that moves us along.<P>We seek several things from the critic. Since it is assumed that the critic sees more performances than the average member of the audience, and has some knowledge of the art form being viewed, his/her reader expects to benefit from that insight. <P>The critic can tell us if the ballet, for instance, is being performed as the choreographer meant it to be performed. The the critic might have been there at its inception. Or the critic can tell us if the dancer is changing the tradition of the ballet, as in Giselle for instance - as in the batterie of the second act. If the dancer changes this enchainment is it innovation or simply a sloppiness of execution? <P>I guess this brings up the question of what constitutes innovation? Changing what is or what is yet to be? Sometimes, it is only in looking back that we can judge the value of any particular innovation. Some people are blessed with foresight rather than hindsight - I think that Diagelev was one of these people. <P>The critic hoes a row with a double facing plow, somtimes through a field already tilled, and sometimes through a field yet to be turned.


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 Post subject: Re: How well do critics cope with change?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 10, 2001 8:19 am 
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Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 13071
Location: San Diego, California, USA
From the Philadelphia Inquirer:<P><B>CRITIC TO COLLEAGUES; TRY MORE ANALYSIS</B><P><BR> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>The Himalaya Critic, Brustein explained to 75-odd critics assembled here last weekend, responds to theatrical productions in a similar fashion - with snap opinion, not careful analysis. The distinction reminded me of a line in Conor McPherson's St. Nicholas, the solo play about a dyspeptic critic recently mounted in Philadelphia. It's so easy to have opinions, says McPherson's critic, that he never troubles to form any.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><A HREF="http://inq.philly.com/content/inquirer/2001/03/04/arts_and_entertainment/THEA04.htm" TARGET=_blank><B>MORE...</B></A><BR>


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 Post subject: Re: How well do critics cope with change?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 10, 2001 8:47 am 
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Joined: Fri Oct 22, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 17498
Location: SF Bay Area
There's also the question of whether critics cope with changes in technology, which I hope to explore in this thread:

Will the Internet Keep Critics Honest?

[This message has been edited by Azlan (edited March 10, 2001).]

<font size = -2><center>(Edited by salzberg to fix link)</center></font>

<small>[ 08-11-2002, 10:08: Message edited by: salzberg ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: How well do critics cope with change?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 10, 2001 10:46 am 
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Joined: Tue Nov 02, 1999 12:01 am
Posts: 2708
Location: Seattle, WA USA
There are some critics who have historically had the insight or intuition to see "change" for what it is...(or maybe isn't). A few who come to mind, who have championed innovation or mavericks in the field of modern/contemporary have been: Jill Johnston, who wrote about Judson Church group during 60's and 70's . I believe she wrote for Soho News (long defunct); Sally Banes, wrote "Terpsichore in Sneakers" and other books about birth of postmodern; John Martin, early NY Times (30's and 40's, I think) critic who championed early Martha Graham and others; he is the one who coined the famous phrase "Modern dance is not a technique, it is a point of view". Marcia Siegel is my favorite dance critic (partially because I took am awesome 1 wk. writing wkshp with her in grad school!!!)but she seems more adept at a retrospective analysis or "deconstruction" of dance works, rather than championing new ideas or trends. Arlene Croce is debatable; I believe her name came up in another thread. Not sure where she fits in.<p>[This message has been edited by trina (edited March 10, 2001).]


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