Monday, April 28, 2008

Times at midnight

Lately in my late night ways, particularly since I started the Writing on Dance course at DTW with a New York Times critic, I've taken to refreshing the NY Times' Dance page repeatedly until tomorrow's reviews are put online. I'm rarely in bed before at least 1am nowadays, so as I'm doing my work I keep checking to see what new 300 word critiques I can read and critique myself.

I go through time spurts where I never make it to a theater to see dance and don't really mind because I'm distracted by so many other things. And then I go through periods, like now, where I can't get my hands on enough tickets (press, comps, or paid) to performances because there's so much I want to see that I HAVE to make time for it. I've been very fortunate to get into some great shows the last few weeks, and this week I spent literally every night from Wednesday to Sunday in some theater or another - not dancing, but watching and writing.

It's made me more inspired to write quickly, too. I used to see something, wait a day or two until I had a free moment, and then writing a blurb about what I saw. Lately I've been dashing to my laptop as soon as I get home from the performance...or sometimes even on the way home if Starbucks is still open, haha.

Anyway. This Writing course has also gotten me more into reading criticism. Before I would skim the Times dance page to see who had been reviewed and what the pictures looked like, only reading in detail if it was something I had seen or was going to see (but not review). Now I'm obsessed with reading everything that comes off the Gray Lady's dance page (or...its internet page, admittedly), and as soon as it comes out. No time in the morning, I need me news at midnight, haha.

I was rooting for Rebecca Kelly to get a review over the weekend but if it wasn't published by now it probably won't be. Too bad...they deserve the publicity, good or bad! That's one of the issues I find really interesting in dance criticism: who is worthy enough to be reviewed at all. With so much dancing happening in New York City it seems like there should be some way to document it all...I suppose the internet is helping with that, but not entirely...


Philip said...

I've been finding that since I started blogging I read fewer and fewer other reviews. Partially I just don't have time, and also I find too much negativity and meanness in some of the mainstream publications.

Since I started blogging and getting invited to performances and rehearsals I'm feeling increasingly in awe of the art form and even more specifically of all the aspects of being involved in dance whether as dancer, choreographer, teacher, coach, musician, designer, lighting or tech.

After experiencing things like GLASSY ESSENCE or the TAKE rehearsal and being so connected to what's going on I'm feeling ever more 'expansive' about dance. I hope I never get jaded or dismissive about it.

I always check my fellow bloggers sites to read how their views mesh with my own and to catch up on things I missed. If I have time to scan the mainstream press I like to see if they noticed things I did in a performance, but so often I feel they are actually discouraging people from wanting to attend dance events.

It's a big topic for discussion and we should get into it sometime at one of our blogger meet-ups.

Taylor said...

I think some mainstream critics do become jaded, as you say, because they've been watching dance for so long and their eyes get tired. Even as a dancer sometimes we think of dance as a duty and not an art. In both cases I think its important to find renewed ways to appreciate it.

I think the negativity in lots of dance criticism stems from the lack of print space allotted. I know for myself at least, as I'm writing I want to address what I've seen in its entirety, the good and the bad. When given 300 words in the Times they have to focus on one main point and if they didn't like something overall that's what comes out.

The other things you bring up that's interesting is that they are "discouraging people from wanting to attend dance events." I think its too bad that, besides NYCB and major companies, most dance performances only run for a weekend or a few nights, and the reviews aren't published in time to discourage OR ENCOURAGE people to go because it's over before they're even aware of it.

Definitely a good topic for blogger conversation! Let's keep it going.

Philip said...

It's true that a 3 or 4 performance run of something over a weekend means the print media's views of it will be basically irrelevant in terms of luring people to the box office. But that's one of the advantages of blogging: if we see something we like on Thursday night and write about it immediately people who might be interested can catch it on Saturday or Sunday...before it disappears.

It's a brilliant idea of companies like Cedar Lake or TAKE to invite bloggers to rehearsals; it gets people buzzing about things in advance and allows time for potential audience members to plan ahead and attend.

So far about 500 people have read my item about the TAKE rehearsal; that doesn't mean they will buy tickets but it does mean that they know it's coming up. And I have had e-mails from people in the past who have read my blog and bought (or NOT bought, in the case of certain opera productions) tickets to things after reading what I wrote.

It's not our job to sell tickets but I think we can help keep dance from becoming 'irrelevant' by sharing our enthusiasm and helping people feel connected to dance on various levels.

PS: I love your piece about GLASSY ESSENCE!