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Critiquing Dance

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by

Jennifer Huffman

on 1 December 2014

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Transcript of Critiquing Dance

Critiquing Dance
"coming to understand"
This is what the audience and critic of a performance are trying to do.
Questions to consider:
What made me say what I said about that dance performance?
What specific qualities about the dance contributed to my understanding of it?
How might I support, defend or argue the position I am taking?
What might allow me to change my opinion over time?
Categories of criticism to help you respond intelligently to a performance:
Evaluation
Description
Interpretation
Contextualization
Evaluation
Starting with a positive or negative assessment of a performance is natural...we all have opinions
dig into why we are reacting a certain way and into what reasons we have for saying something was good or bad
Description
providing a detailed and accurate account of an action or object with which most if not all viewers can agree
the descriptive process is often called analysis/ the dissection of a whole subject into its constituent parts to study
thoughtful, well-chosen adjectives describing what you saw in a dance is an essential starting point for all later commentary
using dance terminology to describe what you saw (ch 14 & 15)
descriptions facilitate understanding
descriptions provide a way for a viewer to observe, account for and discuss a dance or any art form with some degree of accuracy
Interpretation
process of explaining the meaning or significance of something
go beyond just an opinion
enrich your commentary with plenty of accurate descriptive references so that your interpretations will be plausible
description and interpretation cannot be presented one without the other/ they are often interwoven
whether easy or difficult to figure out a meaning of a dance, make up an interpretation
Can you interpret a dance described to you on paper through a review or in a book?
Contextualization
means placing an event within a specific context or in specific circumstances
the context of a dance can include a wide variety of settings and situations- spatial, temporal, philosophical, historical, sexual, social and thematic
where the performance takes place- it's venue can significantly color the descriptions, significance and value of other events
choreographers and dancers' biographies- their upbringing can determine why they are there doing what they are doing, and also be a background story for the creations they bring to stage
the time period when the original choreography was created also provides context for any production
knowledge of a particular trend, time period and background helps contextualize the dance work for an audience
Most critics do not consciously separate the four tools of criticism into their writing. A critique is a confluence of theses elements and the writer's style, it's goal is to evoke in the reader a particular awareness and understanding of the dance in question.
Alastair Macaulay- Dance critic for NY Times
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