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Emails to NYMagazine re its decision to cut Tobi Tobias's dance review


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If you'd like to make the contents of your email to New York Magazine about its decision to cut Tobi Tobias's dance reviews and to discontinue its dance reviews (pro or con) please post them here. If you're aren't a regular member of this message board and don't want to register just for this purpose but would like your letter added to this thread, please email me: at@balletalert.com Please be sure to include that you are giving me permission to post your comments.

(And if you'd like to keep your email private and not post it, that's fine too. Because people are checking our site to monitor developments in this story, it's helpful to have the letters, but I don't want anyone to feel coerced into posting them.)


To email NY Magazine about this issue, write to


Thank you.

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Here's my letter - I urge other people to write. One less voice, one less venue for coverage is a damaging thing.

Dear Ms. Miller:

I'm very sad to hear of your magazine's decision to discontinue dance coverage by Tobi Tobias.  Her reviews were the reason I read the magazine and visited the website; I have much less reason to do either without them.  Not only was her writing incisive but the coverage of an important part of New York's cultural life stated an important truth: New Yorkers don't just watch TV, they go to the theater, the opera and dance performances.  It's sad to think that you've decided that not enough people are interested to justify coverage.  Count me as one reader for whom that was the main reason I read New York Magazine with pleasure.

I hope you will reconsider this sad, and I think misguided, decision.

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I wrote too and asked how they can call themselves "New York" magazine without covering one of the cornerstones of NY culture. Many consider NY to be the dance capital of the world, yet they'll now never read about it in your magazine.

It is a disservice to the population of readers who have been influenced to go to a performance after reading one of Tobi Tobias' reviews.

and I can't remember what else I wrote b/c it was early this morning.

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Here's my two-cents worth:

I have read with tremendous sadness and astonishment of New York Magazine's apparent decision to drop dance coverage. For years, in giving Tobi Tobias a voice, New York Magazine has not just chronicled the development of an art form which has, more than any other, built its greatest achievements here in New York City, but has also been a discerning and important arbiter of those achievements.

It has never been more important than now to celebrate, cherish and, yes, husband our city's great cultural bounty, as Tobias has done so well, for so long. Shall the works of George Balanchine, Martha Graham, Alvin Ailey, Paul Taylor and Mark Morris (or the hundreds of less well-known dance artists whom Tobias and your magazine gave acknowledgment and legitimacy) exist no more for the readers of New York Magazine?

In relieving yourself of Tobias, and dance as a whole, you are doubtless saving yourself a few dollars, but it's not without a cost, both to your readers and to the cultural life of the city whose name you have so proudly (but with a waning legitimacy) claimed for your own. You've also relieved yourself of at least one reader.

I devoutly hope that New York Magazine will reconsider this unfortunate decision.


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This was emailed me today, with permission to post:

Dear New York Magazine,

Please reconsider your ill advised decision to drop Tobi Tobias and dance criticism. Tobi Tobias writes with enormous verve and clarity, and the entire cultural community will be diminished if her voice can no longer be heard via your widely read magazine.


Emily Wortis Leider

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And here, belatedly, is mine:

Dear Ms. Miller,

I learned with alarm tonight that New York magazine will discontinue its dance coverage. As a dance critic for more than 20 years (Washington Post, Dance Magazine, etc.) and editor of two dance publications, I'm concerned because I believe that Tobi Tobias's voice is needed. She is a brilliant critic. She is one of the few people writing about dance today who can do so within a historical context; i.e., she's seen a lot and she knows what she's seeing. She is a fine writer with rigorous standards, which are particularly invaluable in the current dance climate.

I am also stunned that a magazine in the dance capital of the world does not consider dance worthy of coverage. Tobias's column is read. There are dance fans who buy the magazine and who subscribe to it solely to read her column.

I believe that a magazine which purports to cover the city's arts and

entertainment scene has an obligation to include dance in that coverage. I hope that you will reconsider this decision and, when next season begins, reinstate the dance coverage that those who care about dance in New York have depended on for so many years.


Alexandra Tomalonis, Editor

DanceView and Ballet Alert!

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Posted with permission of the writer:

TO: Caroline Miller, Editor

New York Magazine

I write to urge you to reconsider your decision to eliminate Tobi Tobias's dance criticism and the dance column from New York Magazine.

Eliminating dance criticism in the pages of New York Magazine--and I don't mean occasional articles or previews or listings but informed criticism by an internationally renowned and respected critic--will have serious consequences.

Historically, dance and its sister arts have flourished in New York in an environment of articulate criticism, discussion, argument. We need more not less of this today when there are fewer and fewer print outlets for arts criticism.

New York Magazine has had a stake in the cultural life and vitality of the world's dance capital which it is about to give up--and for what reason? Are we next to learn that you are dropping music, theater, film criticism? And, if not, why is dance singled out? How does this best serve your readers--and the city?

There are some things that should not be measured in dollars, subscriptions or advertisers. Your decision sends a dreadful message to others in the print media as well as to the artists, companies, presenters and businesses in the city who are the engines of the creativity and innovation that have made New York--and New York Magazine--great.

I sincerely hope you may be persuaded to reconsider your decision.


Sali Ann Kriegsman

Former President, Dance Heritage Coalition

Former Executive Director, Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival

Former Director, Dance Program, National Endowment for the Arts

Former Dance Consultant, Smithsonian Institution

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Another letter sent to us for posting:

A letter to Caroline Miller at New York Magazine:

I've just heard that New York Magazine will be cancelling its dance coverage. This is extremely disturbing and disappointing news. I have for years been accustomed to checking your table of contents at the newsstand, and if there is no dance review, I seldom, if ever, buy the magazine. Not because I'm such a fan of dance reviews, but because I always look forward to Tobi Tobias's writing. Whether or not I've seen the performance she describes, I'm always interested, even thrilled, to read one of her witty and thoughtful columns. There is little enough great dance writing in the world, so your unfortunate decision greatly diminishes a long-standing and much-needed artistic discourse.

Is it too late to reconsider? I'm heartbroken to think of doing without a writer who, for me, is sort of a conscience for the dance world. And then, whether you care or not, New York Magazine will be doing without a reader: me.

Sincerely yours,

June Omura, NYC

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My letter:

Ms. Miller:

I know all too well that times are tough -- particularly in the publishing world. But count me as one subscriber very disturbed by your decision to cut your dance column. Let me note that I have no axe to grind. I am not involved in the dance world in any professional capacity. I am just a fan.

The key reason to subscribe to New York magazine is to be informed about life in our cultural capital. New York is considered by many to be the dance capital of the world, certainly the country. It's quite sad that when faced with budget cuts, you decided against continuing to provide an informed voice in this vital art form. To my mind, it is an indication that the magazine is a bit small-minded and has only commercial (advertising) issues at heart. Certainly, the world wouldn't miss New York's film criticism.

Unfortunately, it seems that New York is bent on becoming merely a lifestyle magazine. What a waste!

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Another letter sent to me for posting. This is a reply to Miller's form response:


I am stunned not by the loss of dance coverage in your magazine, but rather that you would fire the finest voice in dance criticism today.

It seems to me that you have done the wrong thing, and I encourage you

to rehire Tobi Tobias.


Andrea Siegel

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Here's my email:

To Ms. Caroline Miller, Editor, New York Magazine:

If the report I've read that New York Magazine will soon discontinue Tobi Tobias's dance criticism proves to be true, I'll be disappointed, because her writing on the subject is of such directness and uncommon rigor (compared to most daily newspaper "critics", for example, except for the Wall Street Journal's) that regular reading of it helps prepare me to get more out of seeing not only something she's written about but even something she hasn't, as though regularly exercising that part of my mind prevents atrophy and helps keep it toned up. The appearance of one of her contributions is usually the main reason I buy an issue of the magazine, so please continue to publish them!

Yours truly,

Jack Reed

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Another email to be posted:

Dear Caroline Miller,

I am the artistic director and choreographer for New York City-based dance company SENSEDANCE. My press agent just informed me that the dance column in New York Magazine will be cut. I kindly ask you to refrain from taking such a misstep.

The multicolored dance scene of our city is an important component of what makes New York unique. New York without dance is unthinkable. New York Magazine without a dance column not worth picking up.


Henning Rubsam


1425 Third Avenue, #3c

NYC 10028

Tel/Fax 212.717.6869

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Dear Miss Miller,


> Please excuse the typos as I m writing on an Italian keyboard.


> I am a dance columnist in Europe, and have just learnt that the New York


> Magazine is to eliminate Miss Tobias column. I first met Miss Tobias at

> the

> Royal Theatre in Copenhagen many years ago, where she is a well-known

> figure

> respected for her competence and seriousness. If I m not mistaken, the

> Danish

> people have even decorated her with an Order for her Oral Record of the

> Royal

> Ballet there.


> It is a mistake to eliminate your dance column. First, many people have

> told

> me that they first became interested in dance by reading an unusual

> article

> about it. Audiences for classical ballet are dwindling just as newspapers

> and

> òmagazines "save" money by slashing coverage. I have noticed

that Clive

> Barnes

> seems to get about three lines for his reviews. In three lines, you

> cannot do

> anything worthwhile, except perhaps write an epitaph for a tombstone.


> Second, it is essential for the profession to have knowledgeable OUTSIDERS

> who

> have nothing to gain by propitiating the dancers or artistic directors,

> examining their work from another, more objective standpoint. If you get

> rid

> of people like Tobi Tobias, standards will slip. The art form will become

> a

> cocktail party peopled by luvvies.


> Lastly, classical dance is objectively important. It must be covered. It


> cannot be ignored unless one s objective is to promote ignorance.


> Yours truly,


> K.L. Kanter

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I sent this last week:

Dear Ms. Miller,

I am mystified by New York Magazine's decision to cut dance criticism. Tobi Tobias' fine reviews draw new readers from coast to coast, many of whom would remain unaware of the magazine otherwise. I have been one of those many silent, uncounted readers, who look forward to accessing Tobias' latest review from your website. Since editorial decisions today are so driven by the bottom line, I'm prepared to vote with my dollar. Keep your dance coverage and count me among your new subscribers.


Rachel Howard

Dance Critic

The San Francisco Examiner

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Yes, of course!!!

I didn't suggest discontinuing my subscription when I wrote but I made it abundantly clear what I thought....

but what a clever notion!

I happen to think that the form letters we are receiving in response to our individual letters are insulting.

Budget cuts, baloney. Cut television coverage. Less about the Hilton sisters and Lizzie Grubman.....


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Hey, inquiring minds want to know. I followed the Lizzie coverage quite closely, I fear. :P

Actually, the form letter is a form of compliment, if you look at it another way. If Miller's office responded to them all individually, it'd be a clear signal that she wasn't getting many.

John Leonard, who covers television for NY, is a critic of distinction. The point is not that dance is more worthy of coverage than television, or vice versa; it's finding room for both, and not eliminating such coverage in favor of more features on The Best Focaccia in New York, or whatever.

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I did say in my letter that since they discontinued Tobias's column I would discontinue my subscription. And I did.

Of course, I didn't even get a form letter in reply. Oh, well.

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This is a response to one of the form responses, posted with permission of the writer:

Dear Ms. Miller,

I can't help but feel that if you truly realized just how "painful" this choice is, you wouldn't be making it. Which readers are you hoping to serve by removing one of the great and moral voices in the arts?

To pretend that previews (those little boxes?) and listings (come on!) constitute dance coverage seems disingenuous. I love that you're doing a feature on Mark Morris, but how often are those going to come along? And without the context provided by regular, thoughtful reviews of his work, what will such a staff-written feature contribute? Tobi Tobias is the reason I

read your dance coverage: every review is an epiphany. She's entertaining, too, in the satisfying way that only a brilliant writer can be. How can you bear to lose her?

Artists need to have their work written about intelligently, and readers need a guide they can trust. For the twenty years I've been reading it, New York Magazine has fostered this artistic dialogue. I'm sorry to think that you haven't realized or appreciated the pearls on your own pages, but maybe it's not too late. Don't cancel this rreplaceable column--it's a giant step in the wrong direction.


June Omura

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Another email to NYMag, posted by permission of the writer:

Dear Ms Miller:

To be blunt: How can you possibly sack Tobi Tobias? She is a writer of uncomprimising integrity, acute judgement, wit, intelligence. Her all-too-infrequent columns have been my main reason for reading New York Magazine for years. She is a damn fine writer, a class act. For shame!

And moreover, how can a magazine called "New York" possilbly consider having no in-house dance critic? This city is where modern dance was largely invented, and where it is continuously reinvented. This is the city that is home to ABT, and Balanchine. So what if times are bad? Dancing still matters, and writing about dancing matters as part of the civilized cultural discourse of this town. Tobi Tobias's dance writing in your magazine has been one of the most consistently provocative voices in that discourse. Tobi Tobias, with no place to write? This is impossible; this cannot be.

I urge you to reconsider your decision. Something made wrong can still be made right.

Christopher Caines

Artistic Director

Christopher Caines Dance Company

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A letter, jointly signed by dance critic Minday Aloff and ballerina Allegra Kent, posted with permission of the senders:

2 August 2002

Ms. Caroline Miller

Editor, New York Magazine

444 Madison Avenue

New York, NY 10022

Dear Ms. Miller:

The news that New York has dismissed its dance critic, Tobi Tobias, and dropped the dance column altogether for budgetary reasons is an alarming surprise. It is difficult to believe that a magazine devoted to the city of New York, which both produces and hosts more dance--and a wider variety of dance styles and traditions--than any other metropolis in the world, will no longer have a dance critic. Many magazines are suffering in today's economic climate and finding that they must reduce space for arts coverage. However, New York is a special type of magazine. It purports to key in its readers on how to survive, and sometimes how to thrive, in the city. Dance is, as you know, one of the strongest cultural offerings here. Admittedly, dance companies are not in a position to take out a lot of advertising. However, the practice, now common, for magazines and newspapers to use ads as an index to how much editorial space should be accorded a given subject is one of the reasons that readers have come to distrust the cultural coverage of the media in general. In pleading economic woes as a reason for canceling the dance column, New York exemplifies this short-sighted and questionable approach.

Furthermore, its dance columnist is one of the most well-respected dance critics in the country. Although Ms.Tobias's views can be tough and sometimes controversial--like those of the well-respected dance critic Marcia B. Siegel, who preceded her in her post at New York--she has covered her beat with honor, demonstrating a concern for high standards, passion for both the art of dancing and for the people who practice it, and consistent honesty. Readers know that what she publishes directly reflects what she thinks; and her colleagues can attest to the fact that what she writes is congruent with what she says in conversation. This kind of integrity is rare in criticism overall today, and it would seem from New York's move to dismiss her that she is being punished for practicing, as an adult of considerable learning and experience in her field, exactly those values one tries to instill in one's children.

It is our hope that New York will reconsider its decision and return its dance column and its dance critic to its pages.


Mindy Aloff

Barnard College

Allegra Kent

Former Principal Dancer, NYCB

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An email to NY Magazine sent to me for posting:

As Tobi Tobias's onetime editor at New York Magazine, I mourn the absence of

her voice in dance criticism and devoutly hope it will soon be heard, in another venue if not at New York. "Editing" Tobi was a delightful if unchallenging task. Aside from her meeting every deadline with a full, trenchant, witty, and gracefully written column, she was and continues to be a particularly gracious writer to work with. New York's "culture" section is sadly diminished by the loss of a dance column in general, and by Tobi Tobias's truthful, insightful criticism in particular.

One can only hope NY has the vision to reinstate her column--or that the magazine's loss will promptly become another's gain. Claire Perrault

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