Obviously this is a lot for one post
First, my HuffPost on this week’s SYTYCD episode is now up. I’m still so excited Richardson was on this week’s show (I hope that picture I posted wasn’t too corny! — it’s the only one I have of him and I just felt like it was ‘real’ you know…) Anyway, I love Nigel Lythgoe for doing this, for working so hard to expand that show, bringing on all these renowned performers and choreographers, showcasing world dance. The group Bollywood number was fabulous. It’s so cool that TV audiences are getting to see the things people who live in the large cities take for granted and huge kudos to Nigel for that.
Second, I’ve had a head pain episode (I refuse to call them ‘headaches’ because those are the things people get that are alleviated with one Advil and a glass of water) since last Saturday, which is the longest one of these has ever lasted. My biggest problem, besides the pain, is that I was diagnosed with both common migraines and Trigeminal Autonomic Cephalgia, which is a rare neurological condition (although, judging by my blog stats, is becoming less rare) which I don’t entirely understand, but which causes severe, knife-stabbing-like pains to one side of the head, combined with numbness and sinus-like symptoms (loss of hearing, swollen, watery eye which I enjoy calling ‘golf ball eye’ because that’s how wonderful it looks, clogged nostril, and sinus-like pressure) to the same side of the face with the stabs. With a migraine it’s more like there’s a pounding or a throbbing or a pulsing than a stabbing, they don’t last as long, and there’s some sinus-like pressure but without the intense symptoms (no golf-ball eye or excessive tearing, no real hearing loss). Sometimes the migraine ‘just’ remains a migraine — I say ‘just’ because it’s obviously still painful in itself but at least it usually responds, for the most part, to my migraine medication. But sometimes the pounding is not really a migraine but the beginning of the TAC stabbing. Maybe a migraine can even turn into a TAC… I never know what medication to take (since I have different meds for each type, it’s dangerous to take more than one within a certain period and taking the proper one can make all the difference). I have a neurologist but there is so little known about this condition, he doesn’t have a lot of answers. And there’s nothing on the internet written for a lay audience, which is beyond frustrating. I’d start an internet support group if I had the time… Anyway, all that is by way of explaining why I haven’t been writing much lately…
Third, I was very excited to receive a comment on an earlier post from none other than Claudia LaRocco, poet and dance critic for The New York Times! Apropos of her recent post about dance criticism on her newish blog, The Culturist, and a conversation she’d had with another writer, she had asked what I thought the role of judgment was in criticism, whether it was inherent to the form. I’m still thinking about it, but thought I’d put the question up in case others have thoughts too. I think there has to be some judgment in the analysis. I think criticism that is poetically written is a joy to read on its own (Laura Jacobs writes like that as well as Claudia), and I do think criticism is an art form in and of itself. But I’m finding by reading Edwin Denby and some earlier dance writers that I still think there has to be some judgment about the dance, that speaks in way to where the dance and dancers stand in the canon of Dance and of performers past and present. You feel a sense of history and continuity of an art form when you read about it that way. And the critic can’t do that unless s/he says this is not that good because of such and such, this was really worthwhile because of this and that, etc. I know a lot of dance enthusiasts think negative reviews are responsible for decreasing audiences (someone posed that question to chief NYTimes critic Alastair Macaulay when he spoke at Barnard a while ago) but I disagree with that unless the critic really sarcastically blasts all of dance or something. And I still think every critic everywhere would have to be doing that all the time in order for it to have an effect. Arlene Croce said it’s the critic’s job in a democracy to be critical. People get upset when their favorite dancer or choreographer is criticized, but hopefully then there are enough voices around for a real debate — although with arts criticism this is unfortunately not often the case. I’m probably getting way off the point (my headache is still lingering!), but just wondered if others had any thoughts. You should also definitely read her post on the Culturist here where she talks about a workshop she recently led where she asked for different kinds of responses to a dance performance, and received some very interesting ones, like a poem written by a Colombian critic in response to a Maguy Marin piece (the video of which she embedded). I definitely think there is a place for some criticism like this — I agree with the commenter that the poem did make me see things I hadn’t before, but I think there needs to be more of what I mentioned above as well — with some judgment and analysis. Any thoughts?