I would suspect that dancers' reaction to and views on critics are shaped by the critics that they are exposed to... there are unfortunately more than a few who critics who have a rather warped view of reality. Which is why so many of us are enjoying Alistair Macaulay in NY because he has none of the biases, ignorance or hang ups of his predecessors.
And I would agree that program notes are a vital and often overlooked component of dance related writing. Not only do they give you the basic facts you need to write a review (most critics I know don't have perfect memories, so it's a great help to have the facts in front of us when writing the review), but can give clues about the performance and how clear the choreographer's conception is or isn't. Overly long scenarios can suggest either a good, but detailed story or a ballet that doesn't tell enough of the story.
Here in Europe, program notes present a great challenge because in most cases they are only included in the program, which you must buy (free to critics). Cast lists are generally handed out for free or posted, but as a critic I find it inexplicable that the companies cannot at least print the name of the choreographer, composer, conductor and set/lighting designer on these cast lists. Not only does it save endless flipping through the full season's program, but it is essential information that someone shouldn't have to pay £5 to find out. Nor should you have to drag a big program back to the theatre if you are attending more than one performance.
Worse, the trend in season programs seems to be for 'artistic look', rather than for ease of finding and reading the information. As much as I have been impressed of late by Scottish Ballet, their latest program I find to be a low point for them. The structure isn't clear and the layout of and use of images in the pages makes it very hard to find vital information. Plus, the informative essays of previous years seem to have with essays that seem to have a vague point or don't really provide a lot of information.
Given that US companies, with much less government support, are generally able to give out free programs, why is it so different in Europe? Tradition? Lack of a company like Playbill? Lack of companies interested in advertising in programs?