Magazine article Pointe

A Mirror on Performance

Magazine article Pointe

A Mirror on Performance

Article excerpt

A Mirror On Performance

Most dance studios come equipped with mirrors. Their reflections offer corrections, telling dancers how to realign their bodies. Those same reflections can also supply a dose of reassurance: "My, aren't we looking good today!"

Dance criticism works the same way. A review reflects what happens during a performance. The critic points out faults that need correction and offers praise for achievement. Reviews don't just focus on the quality of the dancing, of course. In a field as vitally creative as dance, they most often address the work of the choreographer.

A critical piece usually has two parts: description and opinion. By describing what he or she has seen, the reviewer makes it possible for individuals who have not attended a performance to share the experience. Dance is a social art. Even for those who have attended a performance, reading what another observer has to say in a review extends the typically excited discussions that follow a show.

Dance is also an ephemeral art. Unlike a painting, it disappears as quickly as it takes shape. Description helps preserve some of a dance event for posterity. The responsibility of translating dance into words forces writers to observe more keenly and to ponder the spectacle onstage more deeply than they would otherwise. Such thinking forms the base for a critical opinion.

Everyone who attends a performance comes away with his or her own critical opinion. What a professional critic brings to an evaluation varies depending on the individual. …

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