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 Post subject: Re: What does it take to be a "well-informed"critic?
PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2000 4:46 pm 
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Jennifer,<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Isn't it great, this is a discussion that: a) side-tracked me completely from my writing deadlines and b) reminds me of the years I spent in Germany where people generally enjoy round-table debates.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><BR>criticaldance.com is addictive, isn't it? Now, if you do miss your deadlines (all of which are important I understand), please put the blame squarely on cd.com. We'd love to have that kind of publicity. Image


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 Post subject: Re: What does it take to be a "well-informed"critic?
PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2000 4:57 pm 
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<BR>Jen, this discussion (which I think is excellent and has not sunken to malicious depths at all, Grace) is just like most dinner parties I experienced in Paris.<BR>Nice to know continental Europeans don't hold a monopoly - imagine what it would be like if we all did get together one night.<BR>Good luck with the deadline!<BR>


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 Post subject: Re: What does it take to be a "well-informed"critic?
PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2000 5:00 pm 
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I would also add that it likely makes a difference if you're in a place where there are "dueling banjos" or in a place where there is likely only one reviewer. As Cronos said earlier -- <P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>ideally, a city should have two papers. an established paper with an experienced critic. and a second paper with a young critic for young fans.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>Which I would just amend to there being more than one voice heard as providing The Word on dance. Or at least if a city has only one paper that they employ various writers rather than just one.<p>[This message has been edited by Priscilla (edited November 19, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: What does it take to be a "well-informed"critic?
PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2000 5:10 pm 
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Okay, Michael M, we're coming over to your house! Image<P>Hmm, Belinda has been awfully quiet. I wonder if we scared her off...


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 Post subject: Re: What does it take to be a "well-informed"critic?
PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2000 5:13 pm 
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in fairness to me, i wish to point out that i did not say, nor would i say, that 'this discussion' has 'sunken to malicious depths', michael. accuracy is very important if accusing people.<P>i think it's an excellent discussion on a subject which has no answer. i do regard the various accusations within it as malicious gossip, though - with the exception of any, such as the one case you speak of actually knowing about (albeit from a 'reliable source', rather than from your own experience).<P>priscilla, when i have attended critics conferences, it has always come up that the ideal would be a publication offering a range of views, rather than just one - and then reality steps in and reminds us there is not the demand in our society to financially support this approach. but criticaldance does EXACTLY THIS! Image this is one of the internet's areas of strength - admittedly, we do it for nothing, and it IS hard work - no two ways about that! but it might be as close as anyone will come, to that ideal scenario, of a multiplicity of opinions being brought together in one place....

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 Post subject: Re: What does it take to be a "well-informed"critic?
PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2000 5:15 pm 
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woops - forgot to say this topic wins the <B>"Year 2000 Growth-Hormone Award"</B> for criticaldance's fastest growing thread!

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 Post subject: Re: What does it take to be a "well-informed"critic?
PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2000 9:26 pm 
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Stuart said earlier:<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>For more specialised forms of dance like Flamenco, if general dance critics didn't write about them, then no one else will. Few papers will be interested in keeping a specialist on the books for each style.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>I believe this is why the sole critic for a paper must also muster the art of the interview. As a critic, you have to talk to the choreographer, the artistic director, the performers, the designers, etc. to get the proper perspective before you do a review. You also get your hands on videotapes.<P>A critic, himself/herself being human, also needs a good editor and/or a knowledgeable friend who is supportive and encouraging (you never want to lose a friend who can be a good source of information or a trustworthy sounding board).


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 Post subject: Re: What does it take to be a "well-informed"critic?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 20, 2000 7:07 am 
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I can say without hesitation - from personal knowledge of the situation of what happened here. There is one newspaper and at the time one dance critic. She wrote about and reviewed dance that was performed by a group where her husband taught classes and was the choreographer. She was critiquing her husband's choreography. In my humble opinion, that tainted - or gave the appearance of tainting - her judgement. In point of fact, I never read of her giving anything but a glowing assessment of the dance presented. I think she should have made this relationship clear to the reading public - or recused herself. I knew of this relationship because I was/am part of the dance community in this city.


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 Post subject: Re: What does it take to be a "well-informed"critic?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 20, 2000 7:26 am 
Basheva's example reminded me of the former Sunday Telegraph critic Nicholas Dromgoole always abstaining from mentioning about his ballerina wife Lesley Collier in his reviews of the Royal Ballet.<p>[This message has been edited by Kevin Ng (edited November 20, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: What does it take to be a "well-informed"critic?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 20, 2000 6:57 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 26, 1999 11:01 pm
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Location: New York NY USA
Oh dear, this thread IS addictive. <P>Question: Would you tell the world that you know, live with, sleep with, whatever the case may be, the choreographer or principal dancer of the show you're reviewing if you earn you daily bread from critiquing? I wonder. This is a hard call. I'm not sure what I think of this dilemma. IE: how does one side-step it.<P>I'd still like to see more ideas on what constitutes a well-informed critic though, so please keep 'em comin'!<P>Most newspapers, in my experience, are moving towards interviews, so Azlan has a good point. I think by bringing the personal factor in to the picture, ie: with quotes from the creaters, everyone can get a better picture of the work that is being reviewed. This is but one approach though and more often used BEFORE a premiere.<P><BR>------------------<BR>[This message has been edited by Jennifer]<P><BR>[This message has been edited by Jennifer (edited November 20, 2000).]<p>[This message has been edited by Jennifer (edited November 20, 2000).]

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 Post subject: Re: What does it take to be a "well-informed"critic?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 20, 2000 11:31 pm 
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Jennifer, tough question. What a dilemma that would be. I'm now going to be up all night pondering this... Thanks a lot!


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 Post subject: Re: What does it take to be a "well-informed"critic?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 21, 2000 4:25 pm 
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i am surprised that anyone would see that as a tough call. there is no question whatsoever that ANY responsible person would HAVE to excuse themselves from that task/responsibility SOMEHOW.....you may feel the need to get creative about HOW, especially if you are a very private person, or if there is some other complicating factor - but you HAVE to do it, and immediately such a situation arises.<P>people get sick, they have 'other commitments', they will be 'out of town that week', whatever.....i'm not actually suggesting one lies - but i can undersand that someone might PREFER to do that, rather than share something very personal. but they have to do one or the other. no excuses acceptable for THIS conflict of interest which is far too deep.

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 Post subject: Re: What does it take to be a "well-informed"critic?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 21, 2000 4:29 pm 
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Well, after what turned out to be a fairly good night's sleep after all, I can say that my solution to the dilemma posed by Jennifer is to recuse myself from reviewing the performance. And that is exactly what I have been doing. However, this is easy for me to say, as not needing the income from being a paid critic, I can do whatever I want.<P>So, what if I were a paid critic? Well I'd still recuse myself by offering to swap assignments with another writer. I have seen this done before where a music critic covers for a theater critic on vacation, for example, without an explanation given.<P>And, no, I don't think a public statement needs to be made that the critic is involved with the performer. That's a private matter and should be left as such. The critic just needs to recuse him/herself.<p>[This message has been edited by Azlan (edited November 21, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: What does it take to be a "well-informed"critic?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 20, 2000 8:57 am 
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Location: New York, NY USA
After reading this long, month-old thread the past few days, I’d like to renew it as my first contribution to this forum, because this issue touches me where I live. After 16 years of being a dancer and 9 years of being a choreographer, in 1994 I published my first dance criticism and have since turned more and more of my energy to that end. Like Brenda Dixon Gottschild, I see dance through several lenses simultaneously -- dancer, dance-maker, historian. Like Gottschild, I watch dance from the inside out and from the outside in. Gottschild calls dance writing choreography for the page, a response to its primary source. So I believe that like my choreography, my criticism should have a style that marks it as mine. Yes, my ego wants people to read my writing because I wrote it. She says that a critic’s role is to understand, not to judge, to listen to the work, not just talk about it. In the words of James R. Kincaid, "The point … is to attend to the practices of knowing, rather than simply the object that is known."<P>So here are some meandering thoughts on what I think it takes to be a "well-informed" critic, in no apparent order – the beginnings of a manifesto.<P>I think it’s important to distinguish between critic and publicist/cheerleader/trendspotter. Here in NYC, from a money-driven need to sell tickets, the emphasis for dance writing in regularly published outlets has been increasingly on pre-show fluff features and personality profiles, not post-show analysis. For this sort of article, a dance-informed journalist is qualified, who might or might not have any critical abilities. <P>I admit to being multiply biased and I keep a list of likes and dislikes in my mental archive. For instance, I’m fond of fertile movement invention – a stage filled with activity -- and fall easily under its sway. I disapprove of a hairdo used as a choreographic element. That doesn’t mean I can’t evaluate dancers who have beautiful hair. I wouldn’t presume to speak authoritatively about ballet in general or "uptown" dance styles. After I do see a ballet, I ransack my library to research its origins and history. I see as much "downtown" work as I can and still feel I’m only getting the tip of the iceberg. I study program notes and artists’ biographies to see what teachers are popular, where influences come from.<P>Here’s a paragraph from my journal:<P>What does a critic do? He should identify the most individual qualities of each body of work. Place the work in its time. What were its influences, references, lineages? Scholarship must be airtight. Draw cross-disciplinary parallels. Compare and contrast. What did the piece communicate? Indeed, disregarding Sontag, INTERPRET. Performance ultimately happens between your own ears, acknowledge that subjectivity. Criticism must be filtered through what makes you you; otherwise it’s not writing, but typing.<P>I think it’s important to study the work of acknowledged masters and I have volumes of collected reviews by Croce, Denby, Jowitt and Siegel on my shelf to goad me when I feel blocked. My constant inspiration is Marmalade Me by Jill Johnston. I also read and re-read "On Your Fingertips" by Sally Banes and "Three Micro-lectures on Criticism" by Matthew Goulish.<P>I once heard a prominent dance journalist lament that we’re currently between major developments, that since the death of Balanchine and Tharp’s "Deuce Coupe" there has been little to interest her. This snobbery shocks me.<P>For me it is vital to stay connected to other areas of the dance community, not to remove myself to some critical distance. I still perform in my own work and others, and moderate an intimate performance showcase. Dotcom criticism has opened new avenues of communication. I haven’t yet received any death threats or marriage proposals, but since they can reach me through a simple hypertext link, choreographers do sometimes let me know what they think about what I’ve written or query me. I welcome this exchange.<BR>


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 Post subject: Re: What does it take to be a "well-informed"critic?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 20, 2000 9:05 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
That's quite a first post cdtooth! Many thanks for your personal and coherent thoughts on writing about dance. <P>To say I'm pleased you found us would be an understatement.


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