CriticalDance Forum

Limits to criticism?
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Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Wed Dec 08, 1999 5:42 am ]
Post subject:  Limits to criticism?

[<B>Note:</B><BR>In case you get a feeling of deja-vu, this topic has been moved from 'Fun' and the title has been changed to reflect the way the discussion has moved.] <P><BR>One almost feels sorry for Christopher Dunkley reviewing Rambert's 'Swansong' triple in London's Financial Times. Furthermore, there is always the question of 'There but for fortune'.<P>On the other hand, perhaps it's a comeuppance. After all, he dismissed Didi Veldman's 'Greymatter' so comprehensively that he knew there was no point staying after the opening scenes. So he left his, no doubt, comp. seat to go for a drink, doubtless disturbing the paying customers around him. In reality, the second half of this light-hearted satire perked up quite a bit in my view.<P>So, what is it that is no doubt the cause of much blushing by Mr Dunkeley? Well, although he finds 'Swansong' rather long, he is full of praise for Hope Muir as the prisoner. Indeed his handsome compliments for her performance are the centrepiece for the whole article. The only trouble is that the prisoner was played by Didi Veldman. Hope was one of the guards.<P>This man should be in the UK Olympic team for the 'Shooting yourself in the foot' event. <BR> <p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited August 10, 2000).]

Author:  Azlan [ Wed Dec 08, 1999 10:03 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Limits to criticism?

Stuart, that's funny. Was there any mention in the press of his error?

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Fri Dec 10, 1999 1:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Limits to criticism?

It get's worse! It turns out that the Internet edition boys got the attribution wrong - it was written by Clement Crisp not Dunkley. The Internet edition article has now been re-bylined, but the rest has not been corrected.<P>On a different note, some posters have leapt to the defence of Crisp. One expressed the view that it was perfectly in order for a critic to leave before the end and then say what he or she wanted? <P>I'm not suggesting it should be made a crime or anything, but it does seem to me to be bad manners and arrogant to think that you can comment on a work of art, where you have missed more than half.<P>What do others think?<P> <P><p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited August 10, 2000).]

Author:  joe [ Mon Dec 13, 1999 2:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Limits to criticism?

The "absentee reviewer" award of the century goes to former New Yorker critic Arlene Croce, who refused to see Bill T. Jones' "Still/Here," but wrote a lengthy article on it anyway, trashing it as "victim art," because it dealt with HIV issues. Croce was a great writer, but she cooked her goose on that one. She seldom wrote for the mag after that incident.

Author:  Azlan [ Wed Dec 15, 1999 8:47 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Limits to criticism?

Joe, that is incredible. How did Croce's article get past the Reviews Editor? Is it even possible for this to happen today?<p>[This message has been edited by Azlan (edited 12-15-1999).]

Author:  Azlan [ Wed Aug 09, 2000 7:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Limits to criticism?

I had almost forgotten about this thread. Can anyone else come up with any other embarrassing reviews?

Author:  grace [ Wed Aug 09, 2000 9:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Limits to criticism?

i think it probably WOULD be better to forget about this thread!<P>poor clement...not that i agree one can disturb other audience-members in a performance, miss 'more than half' as stuart suggests, and then review something. but this scenario sounds extremely UNlikely given crisp's experience, stature, and reputation.<P>also re the croce: as i understood, she wrote an ARTICLE, NOT a review. what's wrong with that? she's got a point....about victim art, whether or not it was a fair response to this situation/this piece, or not. she wrote about a phenomenon, not a performance, and she has every right to do that. it's not a review.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Thu Aug 10, 2000 12:01 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Limits to criticism?

Clement Crisp is a man of strong views and vibrant use of language. However, if he really doesn't like a piece he does sometimes leg it, usually in the interval. The difference on this occasion was leaving actually during the work and still feeling able to review it. <P>Most people have a 'tendency to the middle' where they will give middle scores on a wide range of factors. I sometimes think that Crisp doesn't have a middle range at all, which is perhaps why he is such a readable critic. <P>I should add that earlier this year, readers voted Crisp the most reliable UK dance critic, by a wide margin.<P><p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited August 10, 2000).]

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Thu Aug 10, 2000 12:35 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Limits to criticism?

grace I'm at a disadvantage not having read the Croce article. But, in general, articles where the writer has not seen the work tend to be neutral about the work for good reasons and discuss previous works, the choreographer's views etc. I get the impression that this was not the case with the Croce article. joe tells us that she '..trashed the work.' <P>I would have thought that the manner of treatment is a key factor. Some years ago a series in a tabloid paper about the fattest people in the UK could well have been described as exploitatative. On the other hand, I do not regard 'Giselle' or 'Marguerite and Armand' as victim art, because of the manner of treatment of the theme. I strongly suspect that the sensitive Mr Jones, who cherishes the memory of his partner, Aids victim Arnie Zane, will have been striving for a serious and thought provoking treatment, which may or may not have worked.<P>Without her having seen the work and its treatment of the theme I see Croce's article condemning the piece as an error of judgement. <P>I'm shifting this topic to 'Issues' and changing the title to reflect the way the discussion has moved. <P><p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited August 10, 2000).]

Author:  salzberg [ Thu Aug 10, 2000 2:24 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Limits to criticism?

A critic in Houston once reviewed a ballet that wasn't performed.<P>Really.<P><P>------------------<BR>=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=<BR>Jeffrey E. Salzberg,<BR>Lighting Designer<BR>Online portfolio, now including "This Day in Arts History":<BR><A HREF="" TARGET=_blank></A> <P>

Author:  grace [ Thu Aug 10, 2000 2:59 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Limits to criticism?

stuart - i didn't read croce's article Image - i only read ABOUT it, ad infinitum!<P>it stirred up a big controversy, not so much about the WORK, as about the trend towards those kinds of works.<P>because zane was well-known and had recently died, there was a raw edge to the whole scenario that caused people to be emotional in their reactions. this is part of what croce was objecting to - or at least drawing people's attention to...<P>i would stand by my view above - without having read her piece - that she has a right to write about a trend in performances, a style of works, without necessarily making any specific reference to any of the works themselves.<P>just like THIS post, really. i haven't read her piece, but i CAN fairly comment on a person's right to have certain opinions, and to write about them.....<P>and re clement crisp - i just find it hard to believe he would disturb other audience members in order to leave DURING a work - IF he did, that in itself says a lot....<P>the question then becomes whether or not one writes about it......certainly you can write about what you DID see, but not about what you didn't....<P>recently i was unavoidably late for a performance of swan lake, by a visiting russian company, due to a public transport problem. seeing the performance again was out of the question. i missed the whole of Act I! Image<P>i worried about what to do - but after stressing out, decided there was no problem. i saw 3/4 of the ballet - i found plenty to write about in those acts. <P>i didn't 'admit' (in my review) to missing the first act, but i didn't feel any need to refer to it either. <P>i don't believe that seeing Act I would have changed my perception of the acts i DID see, and the overall product, at all. i made sure i saw photographs of the prologue - set, costumes, and the cast list; i enquired of other people their opinions, especially of the pas de trois (the main choreographic item in the first act), and then i formed my own opinions about the rest - and 'the rest' is all i wrote about. <P>it's the only time i've ever written about a performance which i missed some of, and i have no hesitation in admitting HERE that i missed some of it, because i am quite sure my judgement was not compromised by that.<P>to have brought this up, in the review, would have made a fuss over something personal which was irrelevant to the subject matter. <P>if i could have seen it again, i would have. if it had been a triple bill by an unknown (to me) company, and i had missed one work, that would have been different altogether.<BR><p>[This message has been edited by grace (edited August 15, 2000).]

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Thu Aug 10, 2000 8:16 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Limits to criticism?

Has anyone got a reference for Croce's article?

Author:  trina [ Thu Aug 10, 2000 10:37 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Limits to criticism?

sorry I don't have a reference stuart...I wondered recently why she wasn't reviewing in The New Yorker anymore, then I remembered the "Bill T" incident<BR>Arlene Croce was a well-respected critic up until that incident...I believe it was billed as an article not a review....Bill T. has typically done very political, personal and sometimes "raw" pieces, tending to want to "push people's buttons"..but that's neither here nor there, and doesnt' have much to do with this particular case. Any other reactions out there...did anyone actually see the work in question called "Last Night on Earth" or something like that....?

Author:  Azlan [ Thu Aug 10, 2000 10:56 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Limits to criticism?

Salzberg, you can't just leave us hanging. Please tell us about that non-review in Houston!!!!

Author:  salzberg [ Thu Aug 10, 2000 11:06 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Limits to criticism?

It was a ballet in a mixed-rep program, every piece of which had been performed previously. It was cancelled due to a last-minute injury. There was a sign in the lobby and an announcement was made from the stage. No one remembered actually seeing the critic at the performance. . . .<BR><P>------------------<BR>=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=<BR>Jeffrey E. Salzberg, Lighting Designer<BR>Online portfolio, now including "This Day in Arts History":<BR><A HREF="" TARGET=_blank></A> <P><BR>

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