The Playgoer: Dance Criticism: On Last Legs?

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

Dance Criticism: On Last Legs?

From ARTicles--a worthy blog I've just discovered from the National Arts Journalism Program--comes news that the LA Times has just downsized its full time dance critic of over ten years, Lewis Segal, out of a job.

Laments Sasha Anawalt:

In a city where dance riddles the inner sanctums of churches, temples, community centers, clubs, gymnasiums and zocalos, to say nothing of the nearly 280 legit performance spaces in mainstream theaters, large, mid-sized and small -- this signals a gigantic disconnect between the people and press.
And here I was thinking dance events were actually more popular and more attended than theatre.

News like this makes it seem a miracle there are as many working theatre critics as there are in our country, especially in cities outside of NYC and Chicago.

I often suspect that whatever job security there is comes from the need for someone to review the next time some unqualified celebrity takes on a wildly inappropriate stage role. Dance my be pretty, but in current media terms--it has no stars.

And so not only theatre, but theatre criticism has become star dependent?

On that note, also on ARTicles a nice little argument by Bay Area critic
One actor then exclaimed "And if I see another Yelp review, I'm going to vomit." While he admitted that nearly every theatre production could count on user reviews on websites like Yelp and Goldstar Events, he found the writing mostly inane. He wanted to see reviews produced by experienced writers with theatrical knowledge.

Thus, the Catch-22. Newspapers don't have enough resources to review most productions. And if a production doesn't get reviewed, it and its potential audience must rely on mass consensus reviews by amateur theatergoers.
I guess we bloggers can count ourselves at least a step up from Yelp.

I hope?

1 comment:

Playgoer said...

Sadly, add my own beloved Village Voice to the list. Or at least for the moment. Deborah Jowitt, their dance critic of 4 decades has just been let go:

No word yet on if there will be a replacement and who. Or why.