The Buzz, 4-13: Mixed
Gia Chic; Good Rockwell, Bad Rockwell; Protas Enablers; Zimmer on
"Cutting Edge" Brown
Ben-Itzak & Dancer X
Copyright 2005 The Dance Insider
Regarding our most recent colloquy on the critical hemorrhaging of
the New York Times's dance criticism department, a reader we'll
call Dancer X writes:
Thank you for so articulately
stating the obvious problems with the current Times "journalists."
I'm not even sure I can use the word since it clearly has lost all
meaning for John (Rockwell) and Gia (Kourlas). It's offensive in
every possible way! If we as members of the dance community weren't
so lacking in self-esteem we wouldn't stand for such an assault
on our intelligence and our art. We deserve better. The Times should
have the best critic possible -- someone with at least a degree,
preferable a Master's degree in aesthetics or journalism, something!
A critic who makes the effort to understand the point of view of
the artist and enters the world of the piece on its own terms, not
the critic's personal agenda should be a given.
By the way, some of
us don't want to hang out with Gia and try to convince her and the
rest of the dance community how cool we think we are. Unfortunately,
it is now clear that if we want a good review and preview we need
to adhere ourselves to her affected clique. It's obnoxious and lacks
any small amount of journalistic integrity. You would think with
the ethical problems the Times has had recently they would know
Thank you again for
doing what you are doing so that there is one place for intelligent,
thoughtful criticism. There is a hopeful group of artists that look
forward to the day when we aren't judged by how hip a group of very
unhip individuals think we are.
PS. It's ironic that
you bring up Rockwell's mistakes with his Matthew Bourne-related
commentary when it was in TimeOut a few years ago that Kourlas referred
to him as "Michael" Bourne for her full article. Stupid and completely
unforgivable. And she still has a job. Unbelievable.
Extra! Times Disses Protas!
In our reverie of Rockwell-Kourlas
inspired Anna Kisselgoff nostalgia, we shouldn't forget that (like
many of us, myself included) Anna had her blind spots, none so glaring
as her deference to former Martha Graham company artistic director
Ron Protas, which distorted the Times's coverage of Protas's efforts
to take the Graham oeuvre from the Graham company. The Times in
effect enabled Protas, obscuring the reality of Protas's non-artistic
rule of the Graham company and school and thus -- in my opinion
-- delaying his ouster and the company's regeneration. If Rockwell
has one thing going for him -- and for which the Times deserves
credit in appointing him to succeed Kisselgoff as its chief dance
critic -- it's that he arrives at the position with an already established
prestige for his real accomplishments in critiquing other arts.
Notwithstanding his deficiencies in dance history and qualified
dance observation and commentary, when he speaks, readers in the
general audience listen.
In his review of the Graham company's
current City Center season last Friday, Rockwell wrote: "No matter
the outcome of Mr. Protas's endless appeals as he struggles to regain
control of the Graham repertory, the company's current direction
seems healthy. Terese Capucilli and Christine Dakin, longtime Graham
dancers, give every sign of knowing what they're doing."
Not exactly damning,
that, but coming from Rockwell, it goes along way to right the Times's
shameful record under Kisselgoff of misreporting Protas's legal
issues with the Martha Graham Center, and earns a tip of the Buzz
At the head of the Protas
non-enablers during the years of darkness were journalists like
Elizabeth Zimmer, dance editor of the Village Voice, whose preview
of Trisha Brown's "How long does the subject linger at the edge
of the volume?," opening tomorrow at Lincoln Center, you won't see
in the Voice's print edition but can find on the Voice's Web site
by clicking here. A choice sample:
"Brown has defined the
cutting edge of American dance since her first experiments at the
Judson Dance Theater in the '60s, and has trained generations of
the most limpid and intelligent dancers we have. For years she worked
without music; now she directs operas and blends her very contemporary,
gesture-driven choreography with live jazz and the baroque. The
artists she's collaborating with in Tempe, mostly about half her
age, announce that she has 'a digital sensibility.'"