Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Critical Fallout

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Critical Fallout

Article excerpt

COMMENTARY

My recent review of the initial program of the Sarasota Ballet's 25th anniversary season ("A Lackluster Season Opener," online at ticketsarasota.com) provoked some strong reactions, the tenor of which concerned me. I am not referring to those who simply disagreed with my viewpoint; needless to say, no one is ever compelled to agree with my opinion. You are free to write me off as ignorant, or batty as hell. But I was disturbed to see that some interpreted my expression of disappointment over a program I felt was a letdown, as a mean-spirited, personal attack on the company and its artistic director.

Those who have followed my coverage of the Sarasota Ballet since I joined the Herald-Tribune staff five years should know nothing could be further from the truth. Since I arrived, my avidity for the organization and the art form and my consistent efforts to provide extensive and informed coverage have been evident. I have followed the ballet's escalating artistic and financial rise rigorously, sharing and commending its progress on all fronts with our readers. In addition, the paper has invested as never before in providing complete coverage of its activities, not only here in Sarasota, but by funding trips to report on the company's performances in Washington, D.C. (twice), New York City and at the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival in Massachusetts.

Moreover, I have frequently acknowledged my admiration for what artistic director Iain Webb and his wife, assistant director Margaret Barbieri, have accomplished during the past eight years to raise the level of artistry, stability and professionalism of the organization. As are its many fans, I too am proud that our town can claim such a well-respected and high quality ballet company.

But my job title is dance critic, not community cheerleader. As a reviewer, I am tasked with trying to give an objective, honest and informed assessment of a particular performance, drawing on my expertise and experience in dance, my knowledge of the organization, and the company's own stated aspirations. …

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