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National Dance Awards 2019 - nominations

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I agree with all comments above. 

 

Not every review has to be glowing and positive, and also I think it’s sometimes refreshing to hear from someone who doesn’t necessarily have a background/expertise in the area (though you do lose a lot of knowledge and nuance and cross-cultural links). 

 

But if you want to write a critical review I think it should always be professional and genuine. I.e. you may not like the sleeping beauty for very valid reasons, but her review seemed very forced and over the top. I am not convinced she even thinks it’s as bad as she says, which undermines any authority she had in writing the piece (if it was that horrendous why award 3 stars?). 

 

Bidisha’s review is mean spirited, she is being overtly outrageous just to play for cheap laughs. To compare Naghdi to a “music hall sailor” (although underneath a lot of the comments there does belie some grudging respect that Naghdi is very good), to reference a “tampon string” (when there is no way anyone would have thought this), and to compare the production/dancers to be an experience the same as a “cheap scented candle” is just rude - and doesn’t reflect the general audience pleasure and delight in the auditorium. 

 

People like Clement Crisp, and perhaps other non-dance critics like Jeremy Clarkson or other newspaper columnists usually manage to be clever in their satire/remarks. So even if you don’t agree at least you can respect them for using language or crafting an opinion in an amusing/idiosyncratic way that others wouldn’t have done, which gives you a different perspective at least. And they usually stop short of being outright offensive. This just felt try too hard and obvious what she was trying to do rather than an authentic representation of how she felt about the performance. 

 

This was a waste of my time to read and I didn’t learn anything new or find it amusing/interesting. I also resent this ‘dumbing down’ and blatant approach to appeal to ‘millennials’. Generally those that are interested in reading reviews want to see thoughtful, intelligent criticism, sometimes some satire and biting comments and wit. Not something that reads like it was written in 5 minutes (although in reality probably much longer to tick off the appropriate topics covered) with whatever bizarre reference to feel culturally current.

 

I don’t mind a critic who is younger or inexperienced, writing an honest (and different) review, and criticism can be refreshing but it needs to be done well. This is not. 

 

 

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In this day and age it is all about being disruptive (from politics to the arts) and her review taps into that trend, no?

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15 minutes ago, JNC said:

(although underneath a lot of the comments there does belie some grudging respect that Naghdi is very good), 

 

Bidisha's comment did not give me the impression it belied some grudging respect. The impression she gave me was that Naghdi - in Bidisha's eyes - seemed to be the only one who could provide her with "high entertainment" which completely blew her away. The ballet is not only about Aurora (yes she is most important) but SB is about the entire company and each artist (from soloist to corps) has vital contributions to make in order to ensure  the overall success of SB. This understanding she seemingly missed.

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She seemingly missed any understanding whatsoever. 

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24 minutes ago, Xandra Newman said:

In this day and age it is all about being disruptive (from politics to the arts) and her review taps into that trend, no?

Yes.  Let’s annoy all the elitists.  

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14 minutes ago, Xandra Newman said:

 

Bidisha's comment did not give me the impression it belied some grudging respect. The impression she gave me was that Naghdi - in Bidisha's eyes - seemed to be the only one who could provide her with "high entertainment" which completely blew her away. The ballet is not only about Aurora (yes she is most important) but SB is about the entire company and each artist (from soloist to corps) has vital contributions to make in order to ensure  the overall success of SB. This understanding she seemingly missed.

 

I think I used the word ‘grudging’ because to me it seemed like Bidisha couldn’t deny Naghdi was good/entertaining, but it almost seemed like she wanted to be disappointed so she could pan the piece even more. 

 

I agree she was lacking in respect of Naghdi (and the whole production including dancers and the orchestra)! 

 

 

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27 minutes ago, JNC said:

I agree she was lacking in respect of Naghdi (and the whole production including dancers and the orchestra)! 

 

 

Indeed, if a Royal Ballet ballerina of the highest ranking, dancing Aurora, reminds Bidisha "...more of a music-hall sailor than a fragile "pwintheth" (ballerinas are NEVER (physically) fragile pwintheths!) it is an insult to the ballerina's art and it shows Bidisha seemingly is not used to watching Principal ballerinas perform (and for that matter Character Artists and all others), calling the wake-up kiss "a form of sexual assault" ?? (as others have said what would Bidisha make of it all seeing Manon, Mayerling, The Invitation, The Judas Tree,...?).

I guess her disruptive review achieved what she wanted to achieve (?).

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What a shame that someone writing in a supposedly erudite publication has to stoop to that level to get attention.  Juvenile jokes, making fun of speech impediments, equating a fairytale kiss to sexual assault, reducing an art form about which she clearly knows nothing to comparisons with music hall and Strictly...it’s pitiful but I blame the arts editor for trying to pass this off as serious arts criticism.  What an insult to their readers.  

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20 minutes ago, Sim said:

What a shame that someone writing in a supposedly erudite publication has to stoop to that level to get attention.  Juvenile jokes, making fun of speech impediments, equating a fairytale kiss to sexual assault, reducing an art form about which she clearly knows nothing to comparisons with music hall and Strictly...it’s pitiful but I blame the arts editor for trying to pass this off as serious arts criticism.  What an insult to their readers.  

 

Totally agree. Columnists obviously have a degree of leeway that regular news journalists don’t, but I still think columnists represent the ‘brand’ they are writing for (in this case ‘proper’ journalism) - this isn’t a personal blog! I’m surprised they just let it go to publish without really changing anything. 

 

You can write a critical column reflecting your personal opinions and thoughts without the low-blows - or if you really want to go that way, at least justify it and make it somewhat witty/funny, rather than outright personal and rude. 

 

(“Stale frosted fruitcake”...really?!! The only justification for this comment is seemingly that the ballet is running in December, and it’s somehow linked to Strictly? Just lazy writing.) 

Edited by JNC
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I see that the absurd article/review in The Observer. has attracted further critical comments, which in turn have been moderated (removed). The review on the website has now been closed for further comments. Only the two mildest critical comments have been left available to see. The other ten comments have disappeared. Criticism of their writers, it appears, is not welcome at The Observer/Guardian. Sad, really. None of the comments used extreme language - they were simply expressions of disagreement coupled with a suggestion that Bidisha didn't really know much about ballet.

I seem to recall, though I can't find it now on the website, about a week or two ago that Bidisha was to be the new Dance critic of The Observer (it was at the same time that Arifa Akbar. was announced as the new Theatre critic of The Guardian. If my memory is correct, this is a worrying sign for writing on dance in British newspapers that someone apparently without any knowledge of or experience in ballet should be appointed as a ballet critic. I know such appointments have happened in the past, but such appointments have not usually turned out well....

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28 minutes ago, Douglas Allen said:

I see that the absurd article/review in The Observer. has attracted further critical comments, which in turn have been moderated (removed). The review on the website has now been closed for further comments. Only the two mildest critical comments have been left available to see. The other ten comments have disappeared. Criticism of their writers, it appears, is not welcome at The Observer/Guardian. Sad, really. None of the comments used extreme language - they were simply expressions of disagreement coupled with a suggestion that Bidisha didn't really know much about ballet.

I seem to recall, though I can't find it now on the website, about a week or two ago that Bidisha was to be the new Dance critic of The Observer (it was at the same time that Arifa Akbar. was announced as the new Theatre critic of The Guardian. If my memory is correct, this is a worrying sign for writing on dance in British newspapers that someone apparently without any knowledge of or experience in ballet should be appointed as a ballet critic. I know such appointments have happened in the past, but such appointments have not usually turned out well....

 

I am shocked by this - both that the critical comments have been removed, and that/if Bidisha is to be their new dance critic. Appalling on both counts.

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Very unsettling indeed.  I’d posted something yesterday lunchtime which has been removed and I see it’s also gone from my Guardian profile.  I haven’t had notification of any concerns.

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1 hour ago, JohnS said:

I’d posted something yesterday lunchtime which has been removed

 

I had a similar experience a while back following comments I had posted about a Daily Express ballet review. 

 

It seems the critics can't take criticism!

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1 hour ago, JohnS said:

Very unsettling indeed.  I’d posted something yesterday lunchtime which has been removed and I see it’s also gone from my Guardian profile.  I haven’t had notification of any concerns.

 

This is concerning. I agree with various hateful/trolling comments to be removed/moderated as appropriate, but if they are removing comments which are merely critical without overstepping this line then that is a level of censorship one does not expect from a  reputable news organisation. 

 

The guardian's community standards are here: https://www.theguardian.com/community-standards - I can no longer see the comments but it all seems very subjective. Is criticism of one of their authors really a personal attack? Or a 'smear tactic'? 

 

Especially concerning if comments get moderated without the commenter being told exactly what standard it infringed... 

 

 

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I’ve read the review several times now and I get the impression that the reviewer is not only hugely ignorant about ballet, but also doesn’t like it at all. That, coupled with with an egotistic arrogance, is shocking in a dance critic in a serious national paper. If she had started writing by explaining she was at the start of her dance appreciation journey, I would have more sympathy, but how she has been employed and paid to write this is mystifying.

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I don't really understand why Bidisha would want to take on the job of a Dance Critic specifically. 

Reading between the lines it seems that Dance .....and more particularly Ballet .....are just not her thing.

She is a very accomplished and obviously honourable lady in other areas judging by her achievements so why specialise in being a Critic of one of the Arts she appears to be least interested in.

I don't know whether anyone here went to see the Rambert programme at Sadlers Wells ....to be able to comment on whether her reporting of this performance is fair/ reasonable or not. 

Perhaps it's just the big pure dance classics she doesn't like .....not everybody does like Sleeping Beauty.....but still a bit odd she would be wanting to put herself in for more ballet watching by taking on this job.

 

 

 

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The thing that really annoyed me about Bidisha's review  (to the point of me stopping lurking and actually registering here to say so) is that she implied ballet dancers were fragile.  It just smacks of someone who has no understanding of ballet and the sheer physical challenges it presents and how hard it is.  I do an adult beginners ballet class (very badly) twice per week and at the end of the class I'm shattered.  To be able to sustain a high quality of dancing for a whole evening is the opposite of fragile.  The costumes are delicate and gossimer fine and sparkly, the occupants of the costumes are incredible athletes and it really irritates me that she doesn't get it. 

 

She also seems to have no understanding of the way the ballet is put together, the fact it is, as others identify, a ballet for the whole company .  Also how anyone can say Florimund hasn't much to do I have no idea. 

 

I don't know why they've made her the dance critic when she appears to have no understanding of the medium and doesn't seem to like ballet very much.

 

Also if she thinks there are metoo issues with this ballet, I don't know what she's going to make of it when she has to review German Cornejo's tango show next year at Sadlers Wells.  I love tango but subtle it usually isn't when on a stage. 

 

 

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So glad you decided to finally post Tango Dancer and hope you will comment more. 
I lurked for a while...a few years back now though....I wasn’t use to public forums or even social media back then ...but this is a very respectful forum with a generally friendly atmosphere 😊 

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By the way if you have a look at the Doing Dance Thread there are posts there about adults doing ballet including beginners ballet. You might find that useful. 

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1 hour ago, Tango Dancer said:

 The costumes are delicate and gossimer fine and sparkly, the occupants of the costumes are incredible athletes and it really irritates me that she doesn't get it. 

 

She doesn't 'get' that the dancers are artistes as well.

Her review was indicative either of real antagonism for ballet or of taking the p***.

I was minded to post a comment on the Guardian website but then wondered why I should dignify such a disgraceful piece of journalism with a response.

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2 minutes ago, capybara said:

 

She doesn't 'get' that the dancers are artistes as well.

Her review was indicative either of real antagonism for ballet or of taking the p***.

I was minded to post a comment on the Guardian website but then wondered why I should dignify such a disgraceful piece of journalism with a response.

 

Well it seems your response would only have been removed anyway, capybara, so just as well you didn't waste your time.

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I did waste my time and mine was removed too. Pathetic.  

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1 hour ago, annamk said:

Me too. 

 

 

Oh annamk - this is too much first thing in the morning! Hahahaha!

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I read this review with mounting irritation.  A newspaper has paid someone to write this?  It is the sort of thing I would expect to be written by a teenage school girl for the school magazine, wanting to impress her classmates with her trendy interpretation of an old fairy tale and a critique of a poncy art form about which she knows very little. It  is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a review.  I got no sense of whether or not she actually enjoyed any of the  performance, and technical analysis, such as it was, is given with derogatory vocabulary - Nahgdi "cavorts....."grinning from ear to ear."  Ball executes "headachey hops" while the rest of the men "splay and display."  I am surprised she didn't get in some puerile joke about men in tights, such was the standard of writing. What, she couldn't get out the Beginner's Guide to Ballet and look up a few words such as pirouette?

Clement Crisp could write some scathing reviews at times, but they came from a real understanding of the art form, and a genuine love of ballet.  He often had me laughing out loud with some of his comments, but he possessed a natural wit.  He didn't write simply to shock or amuse, although he often did both!

  

 

 

Edited by Fonty
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The problems with the review are several:

 

Firstly, it is written from a position of serious ignorance about the art form the writer purports to know about by virtue of the post she holds; more than ignorance, even, hostility, perhaps.

Secondly, it displays the worst 'look at me' aspects of an immature writer (which she most certainly is not).  Therefore the intention must be to offend and be gratuitous.

Thirdly, it is a sad indictment of a national newspaper that dreadful writing of this sort can make it across the editor's desk.

Fourthly, apart from the current flash in the pan it has caused, it is utterly useless as a record for future readers.

 

All concerned should be ashamed of this review, which does nothing for dance criticism in this country, the standing of those who write or the paying readers of the publication which chose to run it..

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Welcome to the forum, Sitter In, and thanks for your very well considered post, with which I wholeheartedly agree.

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19 hours ago, Tango Dancer said:

The thing that really annoyed me about Bidisha's review  (to the point of me stopping lurking and actually registering here to say so) is that she implied ballet dancers were fragile.  It just smacks of someone who has no understanding of ballet and the sheer physical challenges it presents and how hard it is.  I do an adult beginners ballet class (very badly) twice per week and at the end of the class I'm shattered.  To be able to sustain a high quality of dancing for a whole evening is the opposite of fragile.  The costumes are delicate and gossimer fine and sparkly, the occupants of the costumes are incredible athletes and it really irritates me that she doesn't get it. 

 

She also seems to have no understanding of the way the ballet is put together, the fact it is, as others identify, a ballet for the whole company .  Also how anyone can say Florimund hasn't much to do I have no idea. 

 

I don't know why they've made her the dance critic when she appears to have no understanding of the medium and doesn't seem to like ballet very much.

 

Also if she thinks there are metoo issues with this ballet, I don't know what she's going to make of it when she has to review German Cornejo's tango show next year at Sadlers Wells.  I love tango but subtle it usually isn't when on a stage. 

 

 

Welcome to the forum, Tango Dancer.  Again, you have written a really good post and I agree 100% with what you say.

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6 hours ago, The Sitter In said:

...All concerned should be ashamed of this review, which does nothing for dance criticism in this country, the standing of those who write or the paying readers of the publication which chose to run it..

As should those involved in the gratuitous removal of comments that were contentious for no reason other than the fact that they took issue with the infantile comments expressed by the so-called reviewer. 

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