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Village Voice dismisses dance editor


sandik

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It's like some pogrom. Since 2004, they've fired at least SEVEN major people, many of whom had been there for decades. The Village Voice never has a worthwhile article any more. This is truly, unbelievably disgusting. We used to be able to count on it for alternative everythings, without having to go to the thoroughly paranoid freaks with the 9/11 conspiracy theories, etc. Appalling.

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Paul Parish has written a letter to the editor of the Voice on this subject, which has been printed in full on the DanceView Times web site:

http://www.danceviewtimes.com/2006/Summer/08/parish.html

So the most important effect the Voice has had on my life, one I owe incalculably for, was not the direct influence of the paper's great dance critics but rather the virtues of the paper overall, the kind of citizenship-of-the-world it embodied. The Voice's values were the virtues my editors valued. In particular, they liked voice, they liked the sound of someone thinking, someone in particular. My piece could be at first glance improbable, so long as it made sense in the end. It could be thoroughly personal, as long as it was not about me but rather demonstrated my mind at work, thinking about something, or about the relations of two things. It was best if the piece were an essay masquerading as a review. And it was perfectly OK for me to reserve judgment; it was not necessary to rank things to establish my authority, I did not have to sound know-it-all, and it was best for me to use similes to give the feel of a movement to the viewer ("she moved like smoke").
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Ray,, this seems a great place to post Zimmer's article. And thanks for doing so!

Zimmer offers a wonderful insight into the kind of pressures that dance writers have to work under -- and how difficult it is to get space to make the art more visible and more understood.

Did you know, for instance, that at last one editor considered the word "choreographer" too esosteric for his readers to grasp?

“How many people in the city do you think are really interested in dance, Elizabeth?” my former boss frequently asked me. Every time I answered him I inflated the number by another 10,000, but you could tell this sports nut was skeptical. He once told me to avoid using the word “choreographer” in dance stories, as he didn’t think people understood it. He has, mercifully, left his position, but the new owners of the paper have not as yet come through with more space or resources for dance. I got half a page a week for listings, and the designers just enlarged the type face, which means I could run about 10 percent fewer listings than before; when the season’s busy the space does not increase, and if people actually buy advertising they sometimes slap the ads into the dance listings columns, necessitating further cuts. I spent my time at the paper recycling my listings onto the website, editing sex writers and our astrologer, going to see concerts that for the most part bewildered me, and working with Deborah on a kind of triage: figuring out what single item, out of the diverse bouquet of 30 or so events available to us every week, we wanted to feature in the paper.
It may be a chicken-and-egg kind of of problem: but do these people ever consider that the level of public interest in dance is very much tied to the amount of easily accessible, high-level information that are permitted (or not permitted) to receive? Reduce dance reportage/criticism -- or make it difficult to access; or dumb it down; or treat it like its just one more competitor for your "entertainment dollars" -- and you inevitably reduce dance audiences and "interest".
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