Studies Project, Tuesday September 29. Towards an Adjudication Model for Dance Criticism

Towards an Adjudication Model for Dance CriticismStudies Project: Towards an Adjudication Model for Dance Criticism
Tuesday September 29, 2009 at 7pm. Abrons Arts Center at 466 Grand Street.
Conceived of and moderated by Brian McCormick
New ways of engaging with art and artists have gone mainstream, and the artists and their audiences are active in online communities that are democratic, participatory, and user-directed. Is the age of a singular opinion holding substantial sway over? How does one person’s experience of a work, no matter how informed that person is, compare to the rich discussion (in words, movement, video, images, music, links, rehearsal, residencies, showings, and live presentations) that takes place over the life of a dance? What purpose does dance criticism, in its current form, retain? And how do we bring about the change that the institutions resist? Panelists will include Laura Colby, Maura Donohue, Doug Fox, Marc Kirschner, Jaki Levi, Eric Ost, David Parker, Sarah A.O. Rosner, Paz Tanjuaquio, Eva Yaa Asantewaa and others.



  • The central question of the night was “What is the purpose of Dance Criticism?”

    Other questions posed to panelists included:


    The relationship with press in NYC, although unwritten, dictates that a free ticket will be provided in return for nothing; reviews are not guaranteed. Bloggers & Aggregators, who are far more likely and able to comment on the work AT ANY GIVEN STAGE OF A WORK, are less afforded the same professional courtesies. In any event, no one knows if there are rules or standards or criteria for reviewing work, or for comping. [A] Can they be known? [B] Should artists craft their own compacts, petition, or artist bill or rights?


    The level of discourse in dance criticism, like so much else in our culture, has been reduced to an exercise in judgment only, with minimal description and almost no analysis nor interpretation; slam instead of adjudicate. Many artists, institutions, and other members of the professional dance community are fully aware of the biases and ignorance of major dance critics in terms of knowledge about the business, a particular artist’s aesthetic, body of work, or way of working, even genre, music, and other artistic elements. (1) What actions can we take individually and collectively to improve the tone and the level of the discourse—and (2) what are the consequences of disengaging?


    In any event, the age of the dance critic is coming to an end. The print media brands that supply a critic with credentials continue to see their circulations shrink. A simultaneous convergence of artistic focus on PROCESS versus PRODUCT and social media capacities for sharing artistic process and practice are also at odds with a dialectic that focuses solely on one experience of a performative end to the process, which in some cases isn’t even happening anymore. In such an environment, (3) What purpose does dance criticism serve, and (4) can those purposes be achieved through other means? What possible/practical strategies can artists engage in restore some balance to the control of information about their work? [How does career level influence responses?]


    On October 2, the NAJP will be holding a summit on the future of Arts Journalism, and will feature demonstrations of new models, modes, and tools for engaging a broad base of art consumers in new journalistic practices (including Sophie 2.0, InstantEncore, and Artbabble.) What potentials do these new platforms offer for DANCE and what actions can we take to move away fragmentation into categories like BESSIES, BALLET, BLACK, and FOLK dance?

    So – any ideas?

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