Thursday, May 6, 2010

An interseting twist to the dance criticism discussion

Here's a link I just got through a Dance Mag tweet: "We Stink! by KT Niehoff" from Seattle's The Stranger. (An aside, KT was almost the third of the choreographers commissioned for THREE that CORE premiered last season until scheduling changes made it impossible.) KT goes off on the reviewer from this Seattle weekly for a review her work received.  The comments are the most interesting part (aside from the stripper comment) from a lot of folks saying that the broader audience of the paper doesn't even want to read dance reviews, much less ones that are really in-depth or specific to the history of dance etc. The feedback reminds me of the comment from Tom Bell at our last event (which I mean to transcribe sometime, I promise!) about how he felt his job back when he wrote about dance for Creative Loafing was to "translate" what he saw on stage for the readers.

KT writes, "Help us to think more about our actions, ask more from our relationships, and get more from our interactions. Learn more about the art form of contemporary dance, which has the unique ability to free our minds to think nonlinearly and push into raw emotion, involuntary kinetic kickback and dream states. They "teach" this natural way of thinking out of us in school so completely we are actually afraid of it ("I don't know anything about dance"—i.e.—"I am scared if there isn't an actual plotline I could get it 'wrong' and look like an asshole")."

And as much as I obviously like freeing my mind by watching dance, I think for the uninclined to contemporary art and dance in particular, that just is asking for too much effort. I don't think it's necessarily that people are scared of looking dumb if there's no plot, I just think it's just easier to have things spoon fed to you where you don't have to think. I agree with KT we are "taught" to be passive and "dumb" as an audience in general--in most things we consume on TV etc. are pretty mindless. I think the biggest question is how can you convince people who aren't inclined at the start to put in the effort (but at least some of whom we have to believe would really get it once they did) that it really can be worth it?

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