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What are your least favorite critical cliches?

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I once, in a horrific state of failed inspiration, tried to claim a performance "ranked at the apex of ballet-going experiences." Fortunately I was saved by a judicious (and tactful!) editor. :P

I think "sublime" is always hyperbolic. And to refer to a choreographer as a "master" or that choreographer's work as a "treasure" is not very descriptive.

Edited by Rachel Howard
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-Words that refer to states of matter- "solid" technique, "fluid" dancing, "light as air" or "weightless"...

- "buoyant" jumps is deffinately overused

- "sumptuous" used to describe scenery, or "a feast for the eyes". Actually, I try to avoid anything that sounds like it belongs in a food column, like "deliciously [insert adjective]"

- "promising" dancers/choreographers

- I've been reading "matinee idol looks" frequently lately... Just as an experiment I searched google for Rex Harrington + matinee idol and got 35 hits...

I'm sure I've used them all in my posts...

It seems most of these cliches come from positive reviews. I think it's easier to come up with original, scathing criticisms than it is to describe the kind of viewing experiences that leave one utterly speechless.

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Hello, Rachel!!! Good to read you again :P

I love "ranked at the apex of ballet-going experiences." Funny, but "ranked as the nadir of my ballet-going experience" would have sounded just fine!!! Paquita has it right -- it's easier to write nasty things than nice ones. (The last piece I did for DCA was called "More Better Good Words," asking for people to make up some words we could use in reviews, because there aren't enough of them!!!

Galas are especially hard. People want to know who did what, and have some idea of how they did, and it's almost impossible to do a 15-number program in 350 words. So you end up with "La Sublimova was charming in the Coppelia pas de deux," "Drekov was off his considerably bad form," etc. (Often the cliches are code. You might gag when you write them, but you know they'll be understood. "pleasure to watch" somehow sounds better than "did a really good job!")

But I digress.

At the ABT dancers' Locked Out Gala at Goucher College some years ago, I had my list of adjectives and my list of dancers (it was very early in my career and I had a half-hour to write and phone in the review)

And one of my adjectives was "melting" and the performance that matched that the best was Gelsey Kirkland and Anthony Dowell in a pas de deux. Unfortunately, it was in the Snow Scene from Nutcracker. I actually wrote it and didn't catch how stupid it was until I was calling it in, and then had to reshuffle my adjectives.

(People who righteously tell you good writers don't depend on adjectives and adverbs may be write, but they don't write for a newspaper on a deadline!)

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[emerging is] not a cliche (yet) but you've inspired me.  Perhaps we could have "subsiding" choreographers?

"This is the 19th ballet Mr. Drekov, one of our pre-eminent subsiding choreographers, has created ...

True, but it's sad as well -- we've all seen people whose tenure in the dance community has lasted longer than their skills...

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