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 Post subject: Re: BAM declines Reviews by Dance Insider!
PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2005 10:56 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jun 20, 2004 11:01 pm
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Location: Brooklyn, NY
I realize that I come late to this party, but BAM is just down the street and has done so much for the dance world that I feel obliged to reply.

First off, the matter of distributing comps has always been at the discretion of the producer. The house, not the press, gets to decide who is "key media" and who is not. Even on Broadway, producers have refused to offer comps to avoid reviews of marginal productions. And there is a long history of denying comps to reviewers who offer only negative views of a company.

Just today, for instance, the Music Director of a local public radio station (where I do volunteer work in the music library) was refused comps to a forthcoming concert because a "music talk" program on his station failed to schedule a promotional interview.

Next comes the matter of ethics: how objective can a reviewer be when he or she is beholden to producers for perks that, over the course of a year, can add up to thousands of dollars.

To be sure, critics from nationally distributed media insist that they "must" be included on comp lists. But when Arlene Croce of The New Yorker published a scathing attack on Peter Martins' custody of New York City Ballet, her editor, Robert Gottlieb, was forced to resign from the company's board. And this is a man who once handled the company's programming. (Balanchine and Robbins decided what works they wanted to stage; Gottlieb arranged them in artistically provocative juxtapositions and pragmatically sensible schedules.)

There is, of course, a simple reply: buy a ticket at the box office. Even a "black-listed" critic will not be denied a cash purchase. And there's much to be said for this approach. After all, Consumer Reports insists on buying every product it evaluates on the open market.

A critic unwilling to put his money where his text is betrays the trust of readers who must reach for their wallets to enjoy the performance the writer had enjoyed for free.

Yo Michael, is it the work or is it the perk?


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 Post subject: Re: BAM declines Reviews by Dance Insider!
PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2005 2:45 am 
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Location: The Bronx is up; the Battery's down
Quote:
The house, not the press, gets to decide who is "key media" and who is not.
Your points are well-taken, Morris, but I'd think that by any criteria, Dance Insider would have to be considered a key publication.

<small>[ 05 January 2005, 02:36 PM: Message edited by: salzberg ]</small>

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 Post subject: Re: BAM declines Reviews by Dance Insider!
PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2005 11:18 am 
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Joined: Sat May 27, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 1863
Location: Stouffville, Ontario, Canada
Quote:
First off, the matter of distributing comps has always been at the discretion of the producer. The house, not the press, gets to decide who is "key media" and who is not….

There is, of course, a simple reply: buy a ticket at the box office. Even a "black-listed" critic will not be denied a cash purchase. And there's much to be said for this approach. After all, Consumer Reports insists on buying every product it evaluates on the open market.

A critic unwilling to put his money where his text is betrays the trust of readers who must reach for their wallets to enjoy the performance the writer had enjoyed for free.

Yo Michael, is it the work or is it the perk?
Thanks for the above Morris. It clears up all of my questions. Unfortunately for me, I review for FREE! So, just work, no PERK! If companies expect good reviews all because they perk free tickets, well they are living on a different planet than the rest of us. Any publication that needs free passes obviously does not have a readership large enough to publish the review. In that case, the publication should not bother to review the performance if they are not willing to give an honest review.

I am fascinated by the sensitivity by dance companies over reviews. I don’t see what the big deal is over a poor review when in most instances, ticket sales are mostly done before the premiere. Even if a review is rushed out for the next day’s publication, in many cases it will only effect tickets purchased for 2 to maybe 7 performances. As Bogie said: “Take it and like it!” I was very surprised about the comments I received from my review of ‘the contract.’ Not everybody is going to like everything you do.

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 Post subject: Re: BAM declines Reviews by Dance Insider!
PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2005 1:47 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 22, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 17498
Location: SF Bay Area
A couple of quick comments:

- Press coverage for the arts is typically more important in terms of public relations instead of get audiences to the theater. Most runs are pretty short and by the time a review appears, the run is nearly over. So, press coverage is instead more important in keeping the presenters (meaning the venue or the company) in the eyes of the public and is vital in promoting the company to donors, granters and other companies;

- Some media outlets refuse comps. Instead they buy tickets for their critics to ensure impartiality;

- Non-paying reviewing bodies, such as blogs of which DanceInsider, that don't pay their writers depend on the free tickets as a perk for these writers who otherwise are not compensated in any other way.


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 Post subject: Re: BAM declines Reviews by Dance Insider!
PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2005 5:08 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 21, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 717
Location: California
Quote:
Your points are well-taken, Morris, but I'd think that by any criteria, Dance Insider would have to be considered a key publication.
Interesting, I wasn't aware of Dance Insider until this incident came up. Just shows to go ya, that after 30+ years in there is always something new to learn. :)


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 Post subject: Re: BAM declines Reviews by Dance Insider!
PostPosted: Thu Jan 06, 2005 1:19 am 
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Joined: Sun Oct 24, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 19975
Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
I never assume that CriticalDance has an automatic right to press tickets - it is a privilige to be justified and then maintained. The only key publications for most UK press agents are the major daily and weekly newspapers. I imagine that a similar situation applies in the US, especially for the larger New York venues.

<small>[ 06 January 2005, 02:46 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: BAM declines Reviews by Dance Insider!
PostPosted: Thu Jan 06, 2005 11:03 am 
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Joined: Mon Sep 17, 2001 11:01 pm
Posts: 259
Location: Key Biscayne, Florida, USA
So, BAM has stated it does not want anymore reviews from DI. DRAMA, DRAMA, I wonder what REALLY happened to prompt this? Could it be that one of the fine journalists that contribute to DI used some overly descriptive vocabulary? Or is it a clash between higher ups at BAM and DI? One thing is for sure, DI critics are the only critics that BAM has recently made this statement about, makes ya wonder :roll: .
I personally love the DI, they remind me of the New York Post with the headlines and writings. However, being an active reader of the DI I can easily see where some of their critics and writers could annoy individuals to want to take such action and beyond :eek: .
Just my 2 cents.

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 Post subject: Re: BAM declines Reviews by Dance Insider!
PostPosted: Fri Jan 07, 2005 6:06 am 
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Joined: Tue Dec 04, 2001 12:01 am
Posts: 1876
Location: New England
Having seen how the company-critic relationship works, I must say I'm somewhat skeptical of the whole thing. Dance is best EXPERIENCED, either by doing it or watching it. Talking/writing about it comes in a distant second. And it is really hard to be objective because dance is not objective.

Thus, critics really do become an unofficial marketing arm of the companies they review. I never assume an "unbiased" dance review, there is just way too much symbiosis going on.

I can imagine why BAM might not want to be reviewed by DI. I don't know DI, but the experience of its critics may vary. Reviews from professional critics can be useful to the average reader because the critic has seen more dance than anyone else (including dancers, choreographers, etc).

But reviewes from amateur dance lovers can get tedious and worse. I have seen many ballet watchers who simply follow power --- they will evaluate a show based on the price of the ticket, the size of the theater, the number of dancers on stage, etc. Professional critics are usually beyond this type of shallowness (although I've seen it there too). But it is rampant among balletomanes, maybe they want to feel aristocratic by going to the ballet.

In any case, if DI ended up sending reviewers of this type to the BAM shows, I can certainly see why BAM would not wish to give them comp tickets in the future. BAM is not a high-budget kind of venue, it would certainly get reamed unfairly by someone who likes to feel status by attending ABT and NYCB (two fine companies).

In any case, dance (even the top comapanies) is always a local endeavor. Even if 50,000 people worldwid read DI, only the 1,000 (or fewer) of those people who live near NYC will really matter to BAM in the end, in terms of buying tickets or donating to the company. For the other 49,000 the review is an exercise in broadened perspective.

The New York Times is VASTLY more important to BAM.

I don't know how BAM "announced" they didn't want DI reviews. But the right way to do it is as quitely as possible --- i.e. to simply stop giving DI people tickets. And if they persist, then tell them politely (over the phone).

<small>[ 07 January 2005, 12:17 PM: Message edited by: citibob ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: BAM declines Reviews by Dance Insider!
PostPosted: Fri Jan 07, 2005 3:05 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 22, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 17498
Location: SF Bay Area
Not to defend DI per se but I believe reviewers for DI tend to be dancers themselves, some with quite a bit of experience, no?


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 Post subject: Re: BAM declines Reviews by Dance Insider!
PostPosted: Fri Jan 07, 2005 5:03 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 20, 2002 12:01 am
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Location: San Francisco
I'm not familiar with all the names of the DI critics, but of those I do know, yes, they are dancers of some considerable experience.


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 Post subject: Re: BAM declines Reviews by Dance Insider!
PostPosted: Sun Jan 09, 2005 11:22 am 
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Joined: Tue Dec 04, 2001 12:01 am
Posts: 1876
Location: New England
I don't know anything about DI.

BUT: as a dancer myself, I do feel that professional critics make better critics than dancers. They simply get to see more that we do. The good ones have a breadth of viewing experience that is simply not possible for a dancer (who must work so hard in the studio rather than go out watching other peoples' shows).


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 Post subject: Re: BAM declines Reviews by Dance Insider!
PostPosted: Sun Jan 09, 2005 3:52 pm 
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Location: San Francisco
I should have referred to them as "former dancers," and I know that they see a great variety and number of performances.


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 Post subject: Re: BAM declines Reviews by Dance Insider!
PostPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2005 6:08 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 20, 2002 12:01 am
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Location: San Francisco
Here's a link to DanceInsider.com's "flash" reviewers' dance/journalism bio page.
http://danceinsider.com/contact.html#paul


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 Post subject: Re: BAM declines Reviews by Dance Insider!
PostPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2005 8:22 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jun 20, 2004 11:01 pm
Posts: 45
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Quote:
Originally posted by citibob:
[QB]Having seen how the company-critic relationship works, I must say I'm somewhat skeptical of the whole thing. Dance is best EXPERIENCED, either by doing it or watching it. Talking/writing about it comes in a distant second.
Thanks for a wonderful corrective: it is indeed the EXPERIENCE that counts, and we all know how much this can vary, even with the greatest artists on stage. Even The New York Times' Jack Anderson seems more interested in describing the experience than in delivering judgement.

We should all keep looking for ourselves, with little regard for critics. But I have yet to meet a dance fan who can resist expressing a strongly felt opinion. You go folks!


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