November 14, 2005
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It seems it was my turn to be Carabosse at Danceview Times this week.
The entire dance aims to walk a line between comic and poignant, but the emotional complexity of “Men’s Stories” is at the pedestrian level of television. Men are just like big kids. Who would have thought it?
Cedar Lake: The name conjures up images of an expensive suburb somewhere. Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet might as well come from an expensive suburb, one where people have more money than taste.
A negative review is often more memorably written than a postive review and people might think they're more fun to write. They aren't for me. They're written in anger, not glee, and they leave me feeling unpleasant, bitter and remembering the bad reviews I've gotten and how it felt to read them.
I've rarely written a negative review because of incompetence. There are too many good dancers in the city desperate for work. As I wrote in the Cedar Lake review,
. . . if you are paying a living wage in New York City and can’t hire excellent dancers you’re brain-dead.
If a piece gets a negative review, it's because I disagree with the aesthetics of the work, often because I think the work substitutes effect or shock value for craft. It's a battle nobody else may care about, but I do passionately.
My mood at the time of viewing affects the review and I try to compensate for that and discount criticisms I think arise from it. For the record, I was not in a bad mood when I saw Lubovitch, but was in a foul mood by the time I left. For Cedar Lake, I elected to take a bus instead of the subway to their theater, which is in an area underserved by mass transit (the far west side of Chelsea) and the traffic was horrendous - it took 20 minutes to go 9 blocks. I jumped out of the bus on 47th and 9th and walked the rest of the way, arriving at the last minute. It did not help, but I think this review arises less out of the situation than my dislike of that genre of dance.
Ironically, I had lunch with Tai on Saturday afternoon and we went to see Ballets Russes together. We've been friends for close to 20 years - how do you handle giving a negative review to a show in which your friend is dancing? "Tai, I saw the show on Thursday and I was reviewing. I complemented the dancers, but I wasn't happy with what [Lubovitch] was doing. Don't read my review." And we went on with lunch.
Posted by Leigh Witchel at November 14, 2005 12:59 AM
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