Friday, April 14, 2006

I was looking for something else

Deborah Jowitt and Tere O-Connor discussed the choreographer-critic relationship in an article Jowitt wrote for the Village Voice a couple months ago (see also this post by Downtown Dancer for background and commentary). The choreographer-critic relationship debate generated some heat last fall, but it is not a new issue. At one point in the article, Jowitt revisits a past element of the discussion:

As O'Connor mentioned in an essay he wrote for Movement Research Journal's fall 2002 issue on criticism, he dislikes it when critics pull what he terms a "stop-action" moment from his work.

This Austin Chronicle article from 2003 may explain why.

Kathy Dunn Hamrick was reading a dance review when a phrase caught her eye: "multiple cuppings of dipped heads." Huh? She had seen the show, too, but the reviewer's description left her baffled. What was a cupping? How many cuppings were there? And did she somehow miss them all? She stood up in her office and began dancing out whatever came to mind -- "funny, bizarre images" -- trying to re-enact the vivid and peculiar phrase. She dipped her head. She cupped her hands. She cupped and dipped again and again.

And then, she got an idea.

This idea was to make an entire program out of phrases from dance reviews. The show would pay tribute to the creativity of dance reviews at the same time that it poked fun at the difficulty of describing modern dance. Its title: "Say What?"

If questions on reading a review include "Did the reviewer see the same dance I did?" or, from the choreographer's POV, "...the dance I choreographed?" Hamrick apparently set out to choreograph the dance the reviewers saw. I can't find video of the piece (nor did I stumble across any reviews) and so have no idea how successful it was.


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