Magazine article Dance Spirit

Get Critical

Magazine article Dance Spirit

Get Critical

Article excerpt

The word "criticism" doesn't have to make you squeamish. Having your choreography critiqued can be a frightening experience, especially for those who have only gotten negative feedback or are new to the process. But when comments are given constructively and clearly, this form of feedback can be an important step in your artistic growth. "Human beings want to get better," says Liz Lerman, a Washington, DC-based choreographer, educator and dancer who has her own approach to dance criticism. Try her four-step process to reap the rewards of technical, artistic and creative growth.

Stay open to new ideas and the possibility of your piece changing.

It's your job to guide the respondents through each step of the process.

Peers, colleagues and collaborators make great respondents. Remember to contribute your point of view in a positive manner.


Lerman developed what she calls the Critical Response Process in the early 1990s as a reaction to her own negative experiences with criticism. "Not just stuff in print, but criticism in composition class was frequently unclear to me," she says. Lerman decided to develop her own method in the hopes of helping her students succeed.

CRP begins with an artist, a teacher and a group of peers. Primarily used with a choreographic work in progress, CRP has four steps that take place after you show your work to this group for the first time.

In the first step, respondents discuss what they thought was meaningful, evocative, interesting or striking in your work. Respondents should express at least one thing that they feel worked well in your piece, no matter how minute the detail. An example of the type of response that could be given is, "I feel that your use of space was exciting and worked well." As Lerman explains, "Step one is a way to establish a connection out loud; it is very profound." This step is also designed to give you a sense of safety and comfort within the group. …

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