Five Major Dance Critics Stepped Down Last Season. What Does That Mean for the Future of the Field?
When I started writing about dance professionally a decade ago, the experience was akin to taking baby steps among giants. There was something profoundly humbling—not to mention terrifying—about reviewing a new Odette/Odile in the same pages as Clement Crisp, who saw his first performance in 1942 and famously quipped: "I want to hear from someone who has been to 500 Swan Lakes before they lift the pen."
In early 2018, however, Crisp filed his last article for the Financial Times, and many of dance criticism's most respected voices have since followed him. Last May, The Guardian reported that Judith Mackrell would step down from her post after a 23-year run, and Alastair Macaulay announced he was giving up his position as The New York Times' chief dance critic, effective this past January. Luke Jennings left The Observer in the UK in December, and this winter, the New Yorker quietly replaced Joan Acocella with the historian Jennifer Homans.
It's by no means the last we'll hear from many of them. Jennings is the author of Codename Villanelle, the thriller on which the hit TV series "Killing Eve" is based, and its sequel, Killing Eve: No Tomorrow. Mackrell is working on a group biography of female war correspondents, and Macaulay is finishing a book about Merce Cunningham while continuing to contribute to the Times, albeit far less frequently.
The dance world shouldn't underestimate the impact of this sea change, however. In one fell swoop, criticism has lost decades of experience and memories, and these writers won't be easily replaced. All of them honed their craft before changing habits and diminishing budgets led publications to drastically cut down on arts coverage. (Even Dance Magazine no longer runs reviews.) Together they made up a rich fabric of perspectives: There was always something to learn from Mackrell's clear-eyed elegance, Jennings' tough-love straightforwardness or Macaulay's unraveling of historical and choreographic structures.
Some newspapers have been in no hurry to announce successors. Mackrell's position was immediately taken over by Lyndsey Winship, but The New York Times waited seven months after Macaulay officially stepped down to appoint its new dance critic, Gia Kourlas. The Observer, meanwhile, has yet to determine who, if anyone, will follow Jennings. The balance is shifting further towards freelancers who juggle writing with other occupations—what the emerging dance writers taking part in this year's Springback Academy, a European mentorship program, called their "adult jobs."
While the era of full-time critics might be over, we have yet to understand how this will affect dance's ecosystem. As the material conditions of the job become tougher, individual knowledge and independence will be harder to build up and retain. Increased diversity is hardly a guarantee either: It's easier than ever to share a review online but much harder to get paid for it. Few young writers have the means to see hundreds of performances, much less hundreds of Swan Lakes.
Some are already making plans. The newly created International Dance Writing Foundation plans to provide scholarships, to be funded by the proceeds from a forthcoming anthology of Crisp's reviews. It's a start, but where support will come from for the next generation remains a pressing question.
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What do Percy Jackson, Princess Diana and Tina Turner have in common? They're all characters on Broadway this season. Throw in Michelle Dorrance's choreographic debut, Henry VIII's six diva-licious wives and the 1990s angst of Alanis Morissette, and the 2019–20 season is shaping up to be an exciting mix of past-meets-pop-culture-present.
Here's a look at the musicals hitting Broadway in the coming months. We're biding our time until opening night!
If you think becoming a trainee or apprentice is the only path to gaining experience in a dance company environment, think again.
The University of Arizona, located in the heart of Tucson, acclimates dancers to the pace and rigor of company life while offering all the academic opportunities of a globally-ranked university. If you're looking to get a head-start on your professional dance career—or to just have a college experience that balances company-level training and repertory with rigorous academics—the University of Arizona's undergraduate and graduate programs have myriad opportunites to offer:
Yes, we realize it's only August. But we can't help but to already be musing about all the incredible dance happenings of 2019.
We're getting ready for our annual Readers' Choice feature, and we want to hear from you about the shows you can't stop thinking about, the dance videos that blew your mind and the artists you discovered this year who everyone should know about.
Ah, stretching. It seems so simple, and is yet so complicated.
For example: You don't want to overstretch, but you're not going to see results if you don't stretch enough. You want to focus on areas where you're tight, but you also can't neglect other areas or else you'll be imbalanced. You were taught to hold static stretches growing up, but now everyone is telling you never to hold a stretch longer than a few seconds?
Considering how important stretching correctly is for dancers, it's easy to get confused or overwhelmed. So we came up with 10 common stretching scenarios, and gave you the expert low-down.