Why Foot in Mouth?

(PLEASE NOTE: Entries for each week run from oldest to newest. Comments by readers on the week’s piece follow below.)
If nearly everybody likes to move and watch others move, why are dance audiences so small?
When critics consider dance’s tiny place in the culture, we tend to blame the dances, the dancing, the funding, the producers, the curators, the artistic directors, the marketing, and the newspapers that have shrunk us to near nonexistence, but not ourselves. So I thought I would try it.
This blog’s concern is the tricky business of recognizing dance’s peculiar language and history without needlessly isolating it from the rest of the culture. Dance critics have often opted for one or the other, disappearing into the arcane or bobbling along on a sociological surface.
Topics I hope to get to:
–Do I have to leave my brain at the door? Some definitions of “stupid” in dance, and why people don’t need to tolerate it
–Blackface in ballet: some definitions of “offensive” in ballet, and why people don’t need to make excuses for it
–Civility in criticism: what would that be and what’s it worth?
–The complaints about New York City Ballet’s Peter Martins, and why he’s not listening
–The trend in modern dance of using untrained dancers, and the trial it puts us through
–The contempt some modern-dance choreographers have for critics: do we deserve it?
How the blog will work: I’ll post an opening gambit every Monday or so and pray it prompt response.
I very much hope that not only other critics and dance writers, but also choreographers and dancers, arts producers, curators, editors, and especially the uninvested viewer, with no more ambition than to sit in her seat and have a dance wash over her, join in. (Please pass the word–and the html.)
When you post a comment, please identify yourself, where you’re from, what you do. Wouldn’t it be neat if we became that elusive thing, a community?
Up next Monday, October 2: When American Ballet Theatre premiered James Kudelka’s “Cinderella” this summer, a few critics were withering about his feminist update of the char girl. The question: in an art with a long, revered, and sometimes ridiculous history, when is it okay–good, even–to revamp the stories?

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