Cliches in reviewing
Posted 08 July 2011 - 06:40 AM
"Plangent" is high on his list of overused words in opera reviewing; I don't believe I've ever heard a dance critic use it, though!
Posted 08 July 2011 - 06:47 AM
I'll fix the title.
Posted 08 July 2011 - 06:52 AM
As in "Giselle and Albrecht are overparted"?
Posted 08 July 2011 - 07:17 AM
Posted 08 July 2011 - 07:33 AM
Generally speaking, arts criticism itself lacking in style in favor of dependence on hackneyed phrases must call into question the writer's perception of style in their subject.
Posted 08 July 2011 - 08:18 AM
When a cliche ends up in my reviews, it's usually because of one or more of the following:
- I have to explain something I've explained before.
- I don't have the space to go into detail.
- I have to qualify or explain a distinction or shading to the general reader.
- I don't have the time to think of something that's better.
Posted 08 July 2011 - 08:25 AM
That's why I like Siff's article--I think he is too. He exerts a very light touch and is not writing a "cliches = moral failure" or "the downfall of Western Civilization" screed.
Posted 08 July 2011 - 08:35 AM
I think we've discussed a few words in dance that have become cliched: "iconic" and "amplitude" spring right to mind.
Posted 08 July 2011 - 08:44 AM
I do use 'plangent' sometimes, usually in talking about a dancer who takes big risks in adagio work. I think of the emotional resonance of the sound, from the straight-on dictionary definition of the word, and its equivalent in movement.
Posted 08 July 2011 - 08:56 AM
Posted 08 July 2011 - 09:09 AM
I'm really struck by the generic nature of these last few. While "silvery soprano" in opera reviewing is, as Siff points out, an overused and problematic phrase, at least it connotes something. "Expressive" doesn't really give us much, does it? And I'd love to see "charming" reserved for something really charming--a rare quality these days. Sounds like it's a euphemism for "pleasant," which I guess readers would see through as damning with faint praise (to use a cliche).
Posted 08 July 2011 - 10:02 AM
Posted 08 July 2011 - 10:11 AM
The reviews I dread writing more than any other, is when something was "fine."
There was nothing really wrong. It didn't suck. But it didn't have any hook or distinction.
It's not fair to bury it, and there isn't much praise to offer.
It was fine.
It usually takes until 5:30 am to wring out 350 miserable words, and I need every hackneyed adjective I can get.
Posted 08 July 2011 - 10:50 AM
-- "Good feet" and "bad feet." These really do seem to mean something to those with a knowledge of ballet technique, so I take as a personal challenge. When I hear either term from someone I respect, it makes me look closer, hoping to learn something. These are terms that should not be used by amateurs.
-- "Expressive" can mean anything from an almost imperceptible turn of the chin to all-out St. Vitus' Dance performed with tambourines. If a term covers everything, it covers nothing, at least in my book.
-- "Elegant line" is perfectly clear, but I wish it would take a vacation, except when applied to someone whose every movement is elegant, like David Hallberg.
-- As a non-writer, the term I find myself using -- and regretting -- all too often is "really" as a qualifier. Too many years of listening to Ed Sullivan's "a REEEELY good Show." This is bad writing and may not qualify as a cliche..
-- A cliche I find myself using quite a bit responding to posts on Ballet Alert is "intriguing." Sometimes I use it because I really am intrigued. Other times, it's because I'm puzzled ... or when I can't think of anything else to say.
Posted 08 July 2011 - 11:03 AM
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