to everyone from Gibney Dance, especially Craig Peterson, Margaret Tudor, Julia Vickers, Paul Galando and the entire team to my esteemed panelists--Rose Anne Thom, A Nia Austin-Edwards, Jaime Shearn Coan, Siobhan Burke, Charmaine Warren and Marissa Perel and to all who attended or participated online
Dance Criticism in New York was an unqualified success with our six panelists sharing diverse experience and perspectives, each speaker demonstrating professional commitment to honest, responsible work on behalf of this art that we all love. We can all agree that our writing thrives on the dynamic energy of multiple worlds--our immediate, one-to-one encounter with artists and their work; our own histories and inner landscapes; and our life OUT THERE in our communities with readers who value dance now or might recognize its worth through our special insight and passionate example.
Moving on, we need to look at the power we invest in dance criticism, who claims access to that power and to what ends, who is denied access and the consequences of that exclusion. We need to create alternative, but adequately supported, venues for dance writing, and we need to value and compensate the dedicated time, skill and labor of that writing.
I hope our conversation will continue in many forms, generating new ideas and collaborations. Please reach out to me with your thoughts and suggestions. I am ready to partner with you.
If you missed this event or its livestream, you can access the recording here.
In the meantime, here is the text of my introductory remarks.
In his 2002 essay, “The Perfect Dance Critic,” Miguel Gutierrez wrote, “The perfect dance critic does not exist.” [http://www.miguelgutierrez.org/words/the-perfect-dance-critic/] And then Miguel went on to tell us the many, many qualities, abilities, tendencies and working conditions that would make it possible for that mythical unicorn, The Perfect Dance Critic, to exist.
But, perhaps, what we should be looking for in dance criticism is progress, not perfection.
Convening tonight’s panel is my way of asking, Can we get a little progress here in New York, a city that remains of great importance in dance’s history, its growth and innovation and, I trust, its future? A little progress, if not perfection?
Can we, as critics, be a meaningful part of this community? Or do we stay at the sidelines? Do we, as dance critics, have a meaningful place out in the world beyond dance? A world of beauty and also a world of inequities and injustice? Can we bridge the gap, bringing that world in, bringing dance out to that world?
Rather than perfection, can we seek humanity? Rather than cool and lofty distance from the artist, can we respond to art and to artists with empathy? Can we meet the poetry of dance with the poetry of words? Rather than complacency, can we have insurgency? Provocation? Transformation? Shamanism? Can we value the diversity and complexity of a changing world in which we do not fear those changes nor fear how they require us to rigorously examine ourselves, to question our assumptions and to evolve? Can we foster communion, perception, intuition? Can we honor deep and broad experience and knowledge without resisting new questions, new tools, new pathways?
Do we truly love dance enough to give it the respectful attention and witness that it deserves?
I’m wondering. I’m hoping. And that is why we are here tonight.
Eva Yaa Asantewaa (c)2015, InfiniteBody