nicolc

Incentives to Review Ballet

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I was having a conversation about reviews written in New York Times, Broadway Review, etc. with a friend, and she told me that "you know, all of those reviews are paid for by the ballet companies."  Is this true?  I am deeply disturbed and intrigued by the potential honesty of this statement.  Any feedback out there about the integrity of published ballet reviews?

 

 

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has your friend tried to run this 'fact' by the publications in question?

 

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4 hours ago, nicolc said:

I  I am deeply disturbed and intrigued by the potential honesty of this statement.  Any feedback out there about the integrity of published ballet reviews?

 

 

 

I am more disturbed and intrigued by what seems to me its vaguely libelous dishonesty. 

 

Reviewers for mainstream publications do get free tickets.

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I would ask your friend where she got her information.

 

 

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I am certainly going to follow up with her on this conversation on many levels.  It is amazing what people will say to you to make you question the validity of a complimentary review that was written about one's daughter's performance.  The green-eyed monster strikes again.  Thanks for your input.  

 

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Perhaps a less blunt and softer way of viewing the issue is that most reviewers don't pay for their tickets, so there is arguably an appearance of impropriety created by this situation.  As far as I know, the only paper that pays for its own tickets is the NY Times, in order to avoid this very problem.  As a practical matter, certain publications are so influential and widely read by the public that  I regard their reviews as completely independent and free of any possible bias or influence created by the fact that the reviewers are getting free tickets.   However, I also feel that some unpaid, nonprofessional "reviewers" (bloggers) who are getting free tickets from the press offices of ballet companies are potentially influenced as a result of this conflict of interest to write positive or softened reviews in order to remain in the good graces of the press office. 

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as far as it's known today, the NYTimes does NOT pay for the tickets allocated to its reviewers, such admittance is given to the paper by individual press offices connected to the companies wishing to be reviewed, or in some cases wishing the writers on staff to have access to their performances even if they're not assigned reviews to the particular event . apparently, there was a time when the TIMES paid for its press seats but this seems not to have been the case for some time; it was not so by the day of Clive Barnes's tenure at the paper, on either the dance or drama desks, and has not been so since. similar policies pertain in London, Paris and Copenhagen, to name but three other major culture centers.

there have been times, which stood out, when companies such as American Ballet Theatre and the Martha Graham Dance Company barred certain reviewers from being given tickets, but these instances, which went against established policy, were controversial and eventually rescinded.

 

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I review performances in the SF Bay Area for Bachtrack (an international online review site) and the rules state that I cannot have any personal connection with the dancers/company or professional bias, etc. They're very proud of their neutral factor, and I know the SFB appreciates their unbiased reportage. I will say, though, that as a dance blogger (at The Classical Girl), if it's for my site alone, I'm more inclined to be supportive toward the company I'm reviewing. I know other dance bloggers, too, who prefer to stay on that side of things so that they can support the company and its dancers. But the big, professional publication reviews? Good Lord. That woman sounds like she had a personal agenda/vendetta against professional reviewers or the whole system. Maybe it was that way, back in the day, but it seems to me all the professional reviews I read these days are just that - professional reviews. There's too much backlash on social media nowadays if a reviewer misses the mark in a big way.

Edited by Terez

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The Seattle Times used to pay for all tickets (and if you were writing for them, you couldn't accept any tickets for any other performances) -- not sure what their policy is now.  I've always thought that was a poorly considered policy -- in the same way that a book critic would want to read more work by an author even if they weren't reviewing each book, so that they would have a better context for the reviews they do write, dance writers I know want to see as many performances as they can manage, in order to have a deeper understanding of the choreographer or the ensemble. 

 

 

 

 

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As far as I am aware, press tickets can be allocated to accredited organisations (and hence their reviewers) in the UK.  Having spent a fair amount of time reading reviews I would have to say that most of the reviews seem remarkably unbiased.

 

Having said that, reviewers are also human beings and any review is the personal opinion of its writer.

 

I am a fan and I tend to buy tickets for things I think I will enjoy (who wants to pay for something that they know they will dislike?).  People could therefore infer that I am biased because of my positive reactions.  I don't write reviews, I may post my thoughts but I would not consider myself "a reviewer".  In my opinion there is definitely a need for professional critics (whether I agree with them or not).

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In DC, it's long been the general practice for companies/theaters to invite critics to see performances. A critic is expected to write a review if given press tickets.

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