Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Review Squared, April 23, 2013

How to Review Dance
by Valerie Cardinal

When I spend every weekend reading reviews, I can become jaded. However, there’s one type of review that I find endlessly fascinating. Those reviews of dance – and I’m fascinated because I don’t think I could ever write one. At least, not until I’ve seen a dozen more performances and internalized how to talk about it and interpret it. There’s a specific vocabulary and way of thinking that people seem to need to review dance. 
It can be a lot of fun to go to a dance show and then read a bunch of reviews of it after. Inevitably, someone will have a different interpretation of what you’ve seen, even more than in a straightforward theatrical performance. As a dance fan who doesn’t go to enough dance performances, I’d have a hard time knowing how to write about it. However, I like reading reviews written by other people. Often it seems like the writing is just as fluid as the dancing. 

There are also different focuses when it comes to theme.

This week, I found two reviews of Thirst/Clarity’s Collective Individual, which explores the individual impact of a collective revolution. Both talk about similar themes, but discuss it in different styles and focus on different aspects. 
Cerys Wilson’s review at The Rover discusses how the two dancers, Mary St-Amand Wiliamson and Zohar Melinek, have contrasting styles of movement that complement each other. This is a concept touched upon in the review on Sylvain Verstricht’s blog Local Gestures, where he discusses that Melinek actually isn’t a professional dancer. 
There are also different focuses when it comes to theme. Wilson touches on the theme of revolution, but also interprets a love history between the two characters portrayed by the dancers. What’s great is that a focus on movement allows viewers to speculate and infer much of the story. Verstricht focuses much more on the theme of the Arab Spring, which forms the basis of Collective Individual. Both use flowing language and imagery to describe the production, which make both reviews fun to read. 
Someday, I hope I’ll be able to learn enough dance vocabulary to review a production. For now, I’ll just kick back and enjoy seeing the dance come alive in other people’s writing. 
[PUB: CharPo is now examining whether or not we will be reviewing dance. Make your views known in our survey on the right hand side of this page.]

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