A choreographer responds: No, writers aren't the enemy
[ed. note: Choreographer Luciana Achugar, based in New York, sent this comment this morning. I thought it was worth featuring.]
I am a choreographer, and I find dance critics extremely important for dance and its survival. I have been reading this blog, and it makes me so much more satisfied than reading reviews in newspapers. The problem of having no space for writing about dance has always made me angry and sad for the writers themselves (I can only imagine how frustrating that must be) and for the form.
It comes as no surprise, however, that there would be no money for those who choose to write about a form whose medium is the body. There still exists in our society an underlying hierarchy where experience and the body are considered lesser and irrational. So, perhaps for most readers or editors dance doesn't seem sufficiently interesting intellectually.
I can also understand your frustration with choreographers ourselves not seeming to have any solidarity for dance writers or to value them. I believe that until there is more importance given to dance writing, dance as an art form will not gain a greater place in our culture. I respect you dance writers very, very much. I also believe, however, that the frustration of choreographers regarding dance reviews in certain publications comes from getting reviews that are short and lack any depth or context.
Who is to blame? Certainly neither dancemakers nor writers, since we are both making similar sacrifices for the form itself.
I'd love to have more dialogue between us and more solidarity as well.
Apollinaire responds: The tiny amount of space a writer gets in, say, the Times (about 300 words) does turn most ideas into cartoons. But beyond that, there are flaws in our approach. I'll write more on this in a couple of days. Thank you so much for writing.
Eva responds: I am grateful to Apollinaire Scherr for making space for this frank discussion and to Luciana Achugar for her kind response to my essay. There's so much that I agree with in Achugar's comments, but for now I want to underscore the American ambivalence about the body as a possible source--at least one source--of our difficulties with fully embracing dance as an art.
The dancer's body is, as I see it, a source of intelligence, consciousness, wisdom, inquiry, challenge, nurturance, complexity, healing, inspiration, transformation--an infinitude. But I wonder if most Americans bother to see it as anything more than a commodity to be consumed for entertainment or titillation. More on this another time. Thanks again, Luciana!
[ed. note: Achugar did not mention that she will be premiering "Exhausting Love," at Danspace Project at St. Mark's Church next week.]
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