A critique is a statement of your point of view. You should develop your ideas so that the reader can visualize and understand the dance as you observed the performance.
Your paper should be a five paragraph essay, typed in MLA format, size 12 Times New Roman font, double-spaced, with one-inch margins. Make sure to proofread and make necessary revisions. You will be graded on format, spelling, and grammar. Remember that there are resources available to you on campus to assist in writing.
Paragraph One: Introduction
State the “who, what, where, when” of the performance. Briefly describe the company and the choreographer.
Paragraph Two: Description
This paragraph should communicate how the dance looked and sounded. Describe the dance in detail focusing on the elements of time, space, and energy. Include costuming, lighting, music, text, sounds, props, and anything else on the stage (sculptures, sets, etc.). Look for interrelationships among the movement, such as repetition and variation of the movement theme, organization into clear sections, and the relationships of the dancers. How does the dance relate to the audience? Is the energy projected out or does it draw the spectator in?
Paragraph Three: Analysis
This is your interpretation of the dance. State the dance genre and style (remember
that many contemporary choreographers combine different styles). Determine the
choreographer’s intent. Is the dance narrative, non-narrative, improvisation, or abstract? Do you believe that the choreographer chose to allow the medium of movement to be the message or does the movement tell a story or convey a specific message or statement?
Paragraph Four: Evaluation
This paragraph conveys how well the choreographer fulfilled his/her intent. Your personal opinion and judgment is the basis for this paragraph. Was the dance successful? Why or why not? Was the choreographer successful in communicating an overall idea? Were the dancers technically proficient at performing the work? How did the lighting, set design, costumes, and music enhance or diminish the dance? Although your opinions are important here, be aware of your own biases. Be specific in supporting your likes and dislikes.
Paragraph Five: Context/ Conclusion
How does this dance connect to other dance performances that you have experienced or learned? How does it connect to dance history and current trends of dance making? Would you recommend this performance to others? Would you attend more performances by this company or by other dance companies in the future? How did this experience affect your ideas about dance as an art form?
A Few Tips:Be on the lookout for unsupported general statements like “This dance was very pleasing and beautiful to me. I liked it very much.” When you see such an unsupported statement, ask yourself “why” and then fill in the rest of the paragraph to explain your point.
What are first reactions and what do you remember most? Do not be afraid to be honest with your opinion. Avoid being vague– “The dancers were good.” Remember you are reviewing not reporting. There are no “wrong” responses. Narrow your thesis. Do not write a summary of every dance in the concert. Limit your writing to only the most important material. After seeing the concert, you may find that one or two works, or something about the style of the choreographer in general is most interesting, evocative, provocative, intriguing, etc.—this is where you should center your writing. What interested you most? What made you feel the most? What made you most want to get up and move? These ideas will make the assignment more interesting for you to write, and more interesting for me to read.
While you watch the concert, it may be helpful to be aware of several possible issues on which you might focus your paper.
• Does this dance make me feel anything? —Good, bad, uncomfortable? Even if you don’t know why, don’t discard the emotions or physical sensations your mind or body is feeling while you watch a dance. Do your best to describe them anyway. Sometimes, dance can evoke feelings directly, as if bypassing the brain. You may not ever truly understand where they come from, but they are still worth addressing, even if only in the form of a question.
• Does the piece communicate to you? Look at the title, any program notes, the costumes, the lighting—does it seem as though it is meant to tell a specific story or theme? Maybe not—consider that some dance work is not meant to be narrative and is for pure design, architecture, sculpture—something more abstract than a story. However, even in this case, it still may say something to YOU.
• Avoid looking for what you think the dance is “supposed” to mean, rather concentrate more on what it is to you. As for looking for “meaning,” I find it helpful to think that watching dance is more like reading a poem than like reading a play. Often choreographers use movement as a metaphor since it cannot easily “say” things in the same kind of intellectual detail as words.
Stay focused on YOUR OWN EXPERIENCE. Be Subjective; write in the first person “I felt,” “I saw,” “this meant to me…” Avoid pretending that you are writing an objective observation of a factual event. Everything you see goes through your own private filter. Yes, there may be similarities in how people respond to common events, but I am most interested in what your personal experience is, not what you think is the norm or the common view. Just do your best to honestly offer your own perspective, both with the humility to recognize that others will have equally valid differing opinions, but also with the confidence that your take on it is just as good or “right” as a New York Times critic.