The Buzz, 2-23: The Rockwell
Give me Nudity, or Give me Death!
By Dance Insider Readers
with Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2005 The Dance Insider
To monitor the errors
being disseminated by the new New York Times chief dance critic,
John Rockwell, the Buzz has opened the floor to your contributions
to The Rockwell Files. Got a Rockwellism? E-mail the Buzz at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please include your first and last name. Dance artists wishing to
contribute can request that their names be withheld, as long as
we know who you are and your comments aren't libelous. Herewith
some recent reader comments, occasionally followed by amplification
from Paul Ben-Itzak.
A reader writes:
(Rockwell) says in his
review of Toronto Dance Theatre: "Much publicity has
accrued about the work's nudity, how the dancers had to learn to
feel comfortable in the altogether, and such like. 'Tease' comes
to mind because there is precious little nudity ..."
Well, I think he outs
himself here as a leering hetero whose primary enjoyment of dance
comes from gawking at T & A. And it must fit within his parameters
of beauty. For there was actually quite a lot of nudity in the piece,
but male. All poor John got to drool over was one bush and maybe
two sets of titties. The one extended topless female solo was done
by a flatsy.
The male homoerotic
content of this piece was high. My companion was particularly enraptured
by one clothed male duet. There were three geriatric poofs in the
row in front of me, one with a freshly hennaed comb-over, whose
eager sad heads pecked back and forth at the firm young male butts
like hungry pigeons.
Oh I say it was very
Perhaps John would be
better suited as the chief dance critic of the Las Vegas Sun?
PBI amplifies: Really, it wasn't my plan to amplify; I'd prefer
to totally turn the floor over to others. But then I made the mistake
of looking at the review in question, which contains at least one
more doozy: "Mr. House," Rockwell writes, referring to the choreographer,
Christopher House, "who became artistic director of the Toronto
company in 1994 and whose previous work has often been praised,
is given to intellectual explications of his inspirations, in the
European manner." Huh. Well John, from my European manner here in
Paris, allow me provide a little more explication: I found these
verbal reflections by choreographers on their corporeal art a little
off-putting too, at first, especially when my French was elementary.
Yes, it's annoying when what the choreographer writes cannot be
detected in what he or she creates onstage. But there is an, er,
explication: Europeans see dance as part of the greater literature.
And maybe the choreographers don't want to leave the explications
entirely to the critics.
Another reader writes:
I'm so glad you started
this topic. (Rockwell's) "dance reviews" have really been strange.
Of the Flamenco Festival gala, (this is really my memory of the
review, since I didn't save it) he reported mostly on
the structure of the concert, not on the dance, then proceeded to
call the wonderful Rocio Molina "roly poly." I really consider that
offensive. The girl is an amazing talent and this is another example
on his tendency to fixate on the superficial.
PBI adds: Equally heinous in this review was Rockwell's statement,
"But whether the four-element idea focused what the dancers do normally
into something higher and better seems doubtful," the implication
being that flamenco stands in need of being elevated to "something
Come Back, Anna
And another reader comments:
I must say, after reading
(former Times chief dance critic Anna) Kisselgoff's recent piece
on the "gorgeous" new French import to New York City Ballet, Sofiane
Sylve, I nearly wept with nostalgia for Anna's historical grasp
of ballet in the daily pages of the Times. That sort of erudition
informs the art, and helps keep us all in mind of the great legacy
of ballet. It also honors the creativity and contribution of the
dancers themselves. Rockwell, I'm afraid, didn't go to the same
school. More of his superficial, and obviously sexist, commentary
Got a Rockwellism? E-mail the Buzz at email@example.com.