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 Post subject: How useful are reviews
PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2011 2:35 am 
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How useful are newspaper reviews - do you decide to buy or not to buy a ticket on the basis of what you read?


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 Post subject: Re: How useful are reviews
PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2012 12:37 pm 
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I guess no one feels strongly they are important.


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 Post subject: Re: How useful are reviews
PostPosted: Thu Jan 26, 2012 8:55 am 
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Joined: Wed Jun 06, 2001 11:01 pm
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Location: London UK
I took a lengthy holiday last month and must have missed your post first time around.

I can only speak for myself but the answer to your question is generally no, however that hasn’t always been the case. The problem for me is the sharp drop in plausibility amongst the current crop of critics in the UK (the standard may be higher elsewhere but that is for others to comment on) certainly in Britain the quality of writing is very poor and often extremely biased: you have to learn to read between the lines when reading a lot of critiques. This hasn’t always been the case as in the past there were excellent critics writing regularly such as Richard Buckle, A.V. Coton, John Percival and Peter Williams, to name a few, but the present bunch are frankly a waste of time. To be fair a newspaper review can be mangled by an editor and few critics are given the luxury of writing more than a couple of paragraphs, all the same the partiality and lack of basic knowledge is very disquieting.

These days the internet reviewers are often a better bet for fairness and accuracy, and many have links to the dance world that the newspaper critics don’t have. In Britain the qualifications for writing for a newspaper are a dodgy degree from a second rate university and a solidly middle class background and if you already have friends/relatives in the profession then your future in print is secure.

My advice is to save your time and if you want a review to read then look to the internet.


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 Post subject: Re: How useful are reviews
PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2012 3:31 am 
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I see I thought most of the print critics have little knowledge and most don't seem to write well so I guess they are not influential in ticket sales. Of course there is no check on who writes on websites and I don't suppose the general public look at specialist sites anyway.


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 Post subject: Re: How useful are reviews
PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 6:40 am 
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Location: London UK
I didn't have to wait very long to prove my point. The following review from the Daily Telegraph is by a critic called Laura Thompson and it illustrates the lack of accuracy I was complaining about

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/thea ... eview.html

Miss Thompson is under the impression that Narcissus was chorographed by Vladimir Vasiliev, except it wasn't. The choreographer was in fact Kasyan Goliezovsky. As someone purporting to be a ballet critic, Ms Thompson should know that and if unsure, should do a little research before writing an inaccurate review. Sloppy journalism all round.


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 Post subject: Re: How useful are reviews
PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2012 4:44 pm 
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Gosh getting the name right is basic journalism. I guess it comes down to the numbers of those reading the reviews. The critics never seem to do previews though and that would be more helpful for their readers after all a critic is just one persons opinion and in the end if you enjoy a show or not it is personal taste.


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 Post subject: Re: How useful are reviews
PostPosted: Mon Mar 05, 2012 2:20 am 
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I think each person need the newspaper every day.You have to learn to read between the lines when reading a lot of critiques. This hasn’t always been the case as in the past there were excellent critics writing regularly such as Richard Buckle, A.V. Coton, John Percival and Peter Williams, to name a few, but the present bunch are frankly a waste of time.

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 Post subject: Re: How useful are reviews
PostPosted: Wed Mar 07, 2012 3:19 pm 
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Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2001 11:01 pm
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Location: El Granada, CA, USA
I agree that the consumer must read between the lines. But that can be difficult if we, the consumers, don't have all the information. For instance here in the San Francisco area, we have critics that never give good reviews to particular choreographers for political reasons. I know not to trust those reviews, but most people will not.

I think reviews have become less and less useful as dance critics have become less and less skilled.


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 Post subject: Re: How useful are reviews
PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2012 8:32 am 
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Location: London UK
The freebies that can be handed out by the wealthier companies to selected pet critics may also play a part in what type of reviews those companies receive.

Sharp eyed readers may have noticed a recent incidence of positive reviews for a dancer one regrets is actually allowed on stage at all and who dances for a company where paying for roles is the norm: perhaps once someone has secured their place on stage through payment it is only one step further to pay for reviews by the same means.


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 Post subject: Re: How useful are reviews
PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2012 6:50 am 
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I guess reviews don't affect ticket sales.


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 Post subject: Re: How useful are reviews
PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 8:23 am 
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Location: London UK
Here is yet another review with a stonking great error:

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-enter ... 66002.html

Ms Anderson claims she saw Tim Matiakis of the Royal Danish Ballet dance in Russell Maliphant's Two x Two earlier this week when in fact she saw Jesse Kovarsky. The mistake is all the more remarkable because Anderson as the Royal Ballet's pet critic should have recognized Matiakis who danced for several seasons with the RB not that long ago.

Perhaps we should instigate a 'critics watch' thread and catalogue all their errors.


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 Post subject: Re: How useful are reviews
PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 8:27 pm 
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Location: Canada
I too find mistakes like this annoying, but I can totally understand how they occur and thus am loathe to be critical. Critics are human after all, and to err is human. If it's a glaring error, I will often just contact the paper and let them know - if it's online, they will often correct it quite quickly.

For one, sometimes the error comes from the editor, NOT the critic. When there's time pressure and an editor is trying to condense and/or publish a review they didn't write, words and phrases can get mighty twisted. I've made my share of screw-ups when publishing reviews. Sometimes you just miss things - case in point was an interview with a dancer a number of years ago where we both read the interview over and both missed a pretty glaring name mix-up. The dancer caught it only after publication and we were able to make the correction. And sometimes glitches creep in when you're writing on a deadline, late at night and often after a long drive or train ride back from the theatre.

In addition, it's not always easy to figure out who is who on stage. Even good seats can often be eye-squintingly far from the action, and dancers can change appearance, especially if you haven't seen them for a few years. And good luck if they are wearing a mask, or extensive costume.

Plus, these days one can sometimes be lucky even to get semi-recognizable pictures of the principal dancers in a company. My pet peeve is pictures with tilted heads or hair covering half the face! The trend is towards 'artistic' dancer headshots which are often completely useless in identifying a dancer on the stage. It's also increasingly common not to get an exact cast list. I have had all sort of issues with companies regarding lack of casting. For instance
1) programs that list roles as Dancer X or Dancer Y without any indication of who is dancing at the specific performance.
2) updates to online casting without a date stamp, so you don't know whether it is the most recent version (do you trust the program or the website?).
3) Only making verbal announcements of casting corrections even when they are days old. At least post the corrections somewhere in the lobby so critics can take notes
4) Not providing a cast list at all. At least one time this was due to a snafu, but with modern technology, there's no excuse not to have a few print outs on hand for the press. I HATE not being able to give credit to the appropriate dancers!!

Honestly, given the current financial crunch, I think a lot of companies would be best to go to the European model of having a nice program for each production for a small cost, and free or low cost cast sheet printed for each day/performance which is also posted in the theatre.


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 Post subject: Re: How useful are reviews
PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2012 7:19 pm 
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I think it depends on who wrote the review and, what my interest is in the show to begin with. I feel to make a decision on a show it is always a good idea to read as much about it before i go and see the show. I don't always let the review sway me one way or the other but I still like to read them.


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 Post subject: Re: How useful are reviews
PostPosted: Tue Mar 20, 2012 12:41 pm 
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Previews are really more use than reviews especially if it is a short run and the show may be over by the time the review is published.

Re the comments above: fancy a critic not knowing who they were looking at! :oops:

However - some programmes don't have a good photo of the dancer in for identification and the press photo supplied may not be of the cast the reviewer has seen.


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 Post subject: Re: How useful are reviews
PostPosted: Tue Mar 20, 2012 6:31 pm 
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Joined: Mon Nov 27, 2000 12:01 am
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Location: Canada
etendre wrote:
Re the comments above: fancy a critic not knowing who they were looking at! :oops:


Guess what - we're human too! And we don't always review familiar companies or get that many chances to see a company. Where I am, the ballet company only performs about 4-5 productions a year, so even if I can go to every opening night, I don't see the dancers that often. Plus, not every dancer will perform at every opening.

Certainly, I've had companies where I could recognize almost all the dancers by face, and even by mannerism, body type, facial feature or costume (for instance the type and configuration of elastics a male dancer uses on his shoes - some are very unique and so easily recognizable in a press shot where faces are obstructed). However, that kind of familiarity comes with time, and in my experience, from seeing dancers offstage as well as onstage. These days, one is lucky to live in a city where a company performs enough to get that kind of familiarity, especially when most of us have other full time jobs.

But I just as often may be going to see a company I've never seen before, or haven't seen in many years. I do generally try and look at the dancers' bios online before a performance (and study the program during intermissions), but if it's a new dancer, a poorly updated website, a professional level student being used or a temp dancer, good luck. Never mind the increasing trend towards very dim lighting schemes.


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