Posted 17 April 1999 - 10:52 PM
I'd also like to add something about objectivity. Because I've been thinking whether getting free tickets would alter a critics review of a ballet. Journalists have codes of ethics, just like other professions. It's up to each writer to govern themselves. If anything, I'm more careful when writing about people I admire or like.
Also, I don't like the idea of papers only covering events for which they pay. Let's say I'm Rich Critic and I can afford to go to everything. Then there is Poor Critic, who can only cover a few things. Or a large paper vs. a smaller paper. That would only allow for one econimic viewpoint on a certain event (in this case a ballet). I don't think we'd be better off.
Posted 17 April 1999 - 11:35 PM
Now here's one...actual case history: A newspaper from another town calls, requesting video tape of a company (a company soon to be performing in this other city), because they are not familiar with the organization, and want video and information about the work, prior to attending the performance. PR person duly returns call, and sends the requested information. Company arrives in this un-named city, and the morning OF the performance (this is a one night stand type deal) sees to their wondering eyes a REVIEW of the performance to occur that evening; and a bad review, I might add. Now anyone who read this review and still managed to attend the performance, would have seen immediately that the pieces reviewed didn't exactly match the program that evening.
A true story.
Posted 18 April 1999 - 01:16 AM
I hope in the case that you cited, the company involved raised Hell.
There have also been cases when a critic leaves a performance early and trusts that Boris Boriosov and our old friend Betsy Bloomer really did star in Finale. (I've done this; I've seen Finale 9 times. The big news that night was the premiere. There's a deadline. If I make it back to the paper by 10:00, I can get the copy in by 10:45 and it will actually get in the edition that everybody sees.) But what you can't do is write that "Boriosov and Bloomer, the two most boring dancers on the face of the planet, gave us, once again, their slack, insipid, and altogether stupifying "Finale."" Because what happens if Boris stubbed his toe, and two other dancers substituted? And danced magnificently? Someone may notice. (Actually, this happened in a West Coast city, big paper, a few years ago. The company complained; the critic was fired. And should have been.)
Now I've got an ethics question for all of you. What do you think of a ballet company -- an established, though not Huge and Great ballet company -- whose director complains to editors when they don't get a good review and suggests that this critic not be used, or that critic should be used? Fair play? Or over the line. Should the editor hang up the phone, or listen?
Posted 18 April 1999 - 11:34 AM
In the case of the editor who is called by an artistic director who's demanding that a certain critic not be used, that editor should hang up the phone. . .and *not* gently.
[This message has been edited by salzberg (edited April 18, 1999).]
Posted 18 April 1999 - 07:13 PM
Posted 18 April 1999 - 07:25 PM
Reading this makes me recall how different the situation is in smaller cities and towns, where maybe there is one (or no) actual dance reviewer. Were I writing in a smaller city, as opposed to New York, I admit that I would probably deliberately "lower my standards" in print so as not to torpedo struggling arts groups. I'm not saying I would that what was inept was brilliant, but I'd probably give an awful lot more points to an organization for merely existing and presenting performances than I would here.
Is there anyone on the board who is in the situation of writing about dance in a smaller city (Sorry, DC doesn't count!) How do you cope with the balance between reportage and trying to support and encourage the existence of art in your community?
Posted 18 April 1999 - 09:01 PM
Leigh, DC is actually a very small dance town with a strange situation as far as critics go. The Post considers itself a national paper, and therefore gives very little regional coverage -- regional, in the sense of Local Boy Makes Good. In a smaller city, a kid going off to a competition or a company making its first overseas tour is Big News. At the Post, it's no big deal (even when they had an arts editor who actually liked dance). The smaller companies here put enormous pressure on critics to cover them, letting them know that a grant application is in the works, etc. and obviously expect boosterism. What kills my humanitarian instincts is the use to which such reviews are put. What is a well-intentioned, "Not bad for a first show" review becomes WASHINGTON POST HAILS DANCER X AS THE MOST PROMISING YOUNG CHOREOGRAPHER IN THE WORLD. My rule is tell the truth, be kind, let the audience have some idea of whether they'd like the performance, and keep an eye out for the really truly most promising young choreographer (or dancer) in the world.
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