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Under the Same Sun

Photo by Bonnie Kamin

Under the Same Sun: Margaret Jenkins Dance Company and Guandong Modern Dance Company

Review by Rachel Holdt

“Other Suns” by Margaret Jenkins Dance Company from San Francisco, California, performed at University of California, Riverside this past Wednesday, November 4th to a sold out house.  In collaboration with the Guandong Dance Modern  Company, the first modern dance company to come from China, Margaret Jenkins choreographed three original works for her company and the Guandong Modern Dance Company (GMDC).

In a personal interview with Sue Roginski, dance instructor at Mt. San Jacinto College, and former MJDC member of almost 10 years, I gained an insightful perspective about the history of Margaret Jenkins herself and the company she leads.  Roginski stated that the MJDC utilizes collaboration from the dancers and their individual choreography as a crucial part of the process in creating new pieces. She stated that the individual dancers are given a prompt or task and generate material that is used to compile a dance.  This was immediately confirmed as the program for Wednesday night’s performance listed each and every dancer on the program as not only a dancer, but also a collaborator.  This aspect of MJDC brings out a deeper appreciation for the individual within the company, and a respect for the talent that each dancer adds to the space.

This politically soothing collaboration between a mainland Chinese company and MJDC was not the first.  Collaboration is a theme that obviously resounds with Margaret Jenkins.   In a previous collaboration with the University of Berkeley Science Department, MJDC produced an inquisitive work called, “Fault”  which examined the political and sociological impact of ‘faults’ in the everyday fabric of our lives.  Paul Dresher, whose music principally composed the sound score for “Other Suns,” has worked in collaboration with this company for over twenty-five years.

Sue Roginski’s interest in the current work by MJDC extended to the process of communication between Margaret Jenkins and the Chinese dancers in preparing for this world premier.  Specifically, how Jenkins was able to overcome the language barrier and still produce the choreography for them.  Jenkins stated about this aspect directly, “ I am thrust into the stark contrasts that exist between what I have come to know about living a life as a Western artist and citizen and what it means to live, translate, and make dances in another culture.  Everything is challenged.  Working with dancers who have both come to dance and continue to dance for multiple and sometimes different reasons brings into full relief all the fundamental questions about what one wants to communicate, with whom , and why.”  The show on Wednesday left no doubt that the language barrier had been overcome.  Another aspect that Roginski was excited about surrounded the choreography itself.  She was interested to see how much of it would be a hybrid of movement or if Jenkin’s style would still be heavily present.  Although this question is left for personal interpretation, what could definitively be seen through all three performances was the fluidity of theme.

The first company to take the stage was MJDC.  This piece themed an obvious action and reaction sequence through much of the first few minutes.  In a Newton’s Cradle replication, the dancers’ symbolism carried significance about weight distribution, effort, and transference.  In keeping with the titled, “Other Suns,” the movement vocabulary in all three dances also centered on the lighting. A constellation of bulbs hovered over the entire stage just above the dancer’s reach.  Lifting their hands, feet, or each other’s bodies upward, they repeatedly reached out to these bulbs –‘suns’—throughout the night – never quite reaching them.

The second piece, performed by GMDC revolved around much more directed movement.  In the tradition of Eastern dance, intentional footwork lingered, but the cultural intertwining was apparent.  Involving considerable floor work, GMDC gymnastically performed this routine.  Rapt attention to detail engaged every moment.  The GMDC was impeccable and solidly sailed though beautiful partnering, and syncopated fall and recovery.

The final piece of the evening melded the two dance companies together.  Fifteen dancers on stage from two separate and very different countries made a powerful statement both artistically and socially.  The piece resounded historically as the art of dance flowed through their bodies, onto the stage and out to a receptive audience.  The collaboration with these companies was symbolic in so many ways, the most important being the exemplar usage of art as a bridge to shorten the gap between the two cultures.  “What connects us heart to heart? What world have we entered – of like limbs, but not; of like minds, but not; yet all under the same sun!” says Margaret Jenkins.  Several are the differences, but the seamless dance that was performed showcased the commonalities.  Dancers shared their mutual humanity, and citizens shared the space on our planet.   The lesson here was strong and beautiful -a lesson that should be shared.

Dance Like a Man

Dance Like a Man

by Jennifer Buscher 10/11/09

So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD)’s attitude towards masculinity and dance was clearly established in its premiere episode in the summer of 2005..  This episode was comprised of audition footage and included a heated confrontation between executive producer and director Nigel Lythgoe and dancer Anthony Bryant.

Photo of Anthony Bryant

Photo of Anthony Bryant

During his solo audition in New York City, Bryant showcased his technical expertise, primarily his ballet training, while also drawing on his background in rhythmic gymnastics by incorporating a ribbon into his choreography.  Following his performance, Nigel complimented Bryant’s technique, but explained that he did not like the use of the ribbon in the routine.  Nigel insisted that the ribbon “softened” Bryant and expressed his concerns that male audience members would not want to vote for Bryant.  Bryant advanced to the next stage of the audition which included a male/female partnering section.  At the conclusion of the audition, when each dancer is brought in front of the judging panel to receive feedback, Nigel accused Bryant of not being masculine enough in his dancing.  According to Nigel, “I need boy dancers to be strong and masculine … You didn’t look like a masculine dancer with your partner.”  Nigel’s commentary on masculinity and dance from this very first episode has been reiterated throughout the following five seasons of the dance competition reality show.  From the judges’ critiques to the very structure of the show itself – the dancers compete in male/female couples – to the choreography presented on the show, SYTYCD consistently privileges and reinforces heteronormativity.

During the Denver, CO auditions for Season 5 of SYTYCD (aired 5/21/09), same-sex male ballroom dancers, Misha Belfer and Mitchell Kiber attempted to challenge this heteronormative standard.  From the editing of their audition segment to the judges’ commentary following their performance, however, it became clear that SYTYCD was still not ready to consider the expression of alternative sexualities or gender roles through dance performance.  The editing included a close-up shot of the men’s bathroom sign as one of the dancers exits the restroom to meet his male partner, puns about their sexual orientations (one of the dancers is straight and one is gay, so when they both advance to the next section of the audition, the hostess, Cat Deeley says, “So Mitch isn’t out yet, and Misha is sticking around too”), and ABBA’s “It’s Raining Men,” a song frequently associated with gay male identity.  Together, these visual and audio editing choices consistently emphasize the ‘queerness,’ in all of its negative connotations, of the male same-sex ballroom couple.

Or, as Michael Jensen argues in an article posted on afterelton.com, how “homophobia was packaged and delivered to American audiences under the guise of entertainment” in Fox’s portrayal of these dancers.  During their interview segments, which are interspersed with images of the two men performing intricate, and often erotic, partnering moves, Mitch and Misha address the issue of masculinity in their dance performance.  According to Mitch, “We do know that they are looking for masculine dancers and I think that’s actually something that is going to be a strong point for us.”  And Misha explains, “Two men dancing together is a very masculine thing to start with because it’s two male energies dancing together.  Double the masculine energy next to each other.”  During their audition performance, the camera repeatedly focuses on Nigel and the judges giggling at the judges’ table.  Following their audition, Nigel compared their performance to Will Ferrell in Blades of Glory before insisting that same-sex partnering would alienate the show’s audience.  Nigel’s derogatory comments continued on Twitter where he wrote, “I’m not a fan of ‘Brokeback’ Ballroom.”  These remarks caught the attention of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) who issued a call to action, demanding an apology for Nigel’s “snide, homophobic remarks” on May 22, 2009.  Nigel responded with an apology for “his poor word choices and comments” in an official statement.

While Season 5 of SYTYCD was airing on television during the summer of 2009, auditions for Season 6 were occurring simultaneously.  The Season 6 auditions also included a same-sex male ballroom couple, Willem De Vries and Jacob Jason, who auditioned in Phoenix, AZ (aired 9/16/09).  There is a drastic difference between the portrayal of Willem and Jacob in Season 6 and Misha and Mitch in Season 5.  While Misha and Mitch seemed to be included in the audition footage as freaks for the judges and audience to laugh at (homophobia cloaked in humor), Willem and Jacob were celebrated as champions for the world of same-sex dance.  According to Willem, “There are a lot of same-sex couples out there that are now afraid to come out and audition for shows like So You Think You Can Dance.  We just want to make sure that America knows that there is a whole world of same-sex dancers.”  Following their performance and before receiving the judges’ feedback, Jacob says, “You know it’s amazing for young gay people to be able to express themselves and that’s the dance that I think that represents that the most.”

This moment is the first time in six seasons that issues surrounding homosexuality have been directly expressed on SYTYCD.  While reality shows, including SYTYCD, often use background stories to emotionally manipulate audience members to connect with, support, and vote for certain contestants, the sexual orientation of the numerous gay male dancers competing in the show has never been acknowledged or discussed.  So, not only were Willem and Jacob presented as representatives for same-sex dancers, but also as advocates for young gay people.  The judges’ reactions and responses confirm this position.  Instead of giggles from the judges’ table, Willem’s and Jacob’s performance elicits tears from both female judges – Mia Michels and Mary Murphy.  Instead of derision, ridicule and homophobic remarks, the judges express pride and admiration for the dancers’ emotion and passion while also praising their lines, technique, and strength.  Mia Michels, through her tears, says, “I celebrate the courage that you guys have to just expose yourselves and your hearts and your passion and who you are.”  And Nigel thanks the dancers for showing him “that same-sex ballroom dancing can be very strong and very good.”  Of course, he still needs to see them dance with girls before they can advance to Vegas where the competition continues.  But unlike Season 5, he doesn’t smirk or make an obnoxious comment about how they might actually enjoy dancing with a girl.  The shift in tone towards same-sex ballroom in Season 6, of course, could be directly related to the controversy that arose following Nigels’ homophobic commentary during the Season 5 auditions.  But I am very interested to see if this shift in attitude continues through the rest of the season.

An underlying current to the homophobia demonstrated on SYTYCD is the rigidity of gender roles that the show insists upon.  Nigel’s mantra, even in his official apology, is that men need to dance like men and women need to dance like women.  But what exactly does that mean?  Following Nigel’s deplorable remarks to Mitch and Misha in Season 5 is a really interesting exchange about gender roles.  Mary Murphy expresses her extreme confusion during her first experience of same-sex ballroom dancing because she doesn’t understand who is playing the female role and who is playing the male role when both dancers are men who are continually switching roles.  The dancers try to explain to her that the constant switching between leading and following increases the difficulty of the dance and highlights “the strength of following and leading.”  They are actually demonstrating a very specific skill in their ability to effortlessly and smoothly switch between the lead and follow positions.  But Mary insists that, for her, “It would have been easier if one person was playing the female role and one was playing the male role.”

As our understanding of gender and sexuality continues to evolve, these questions about gender roles in dance and how we define feminine and masculine movement need to be continually reconsidered.  It is a shame that SYTYCD does not have the capacity or ability to really explore these issues when opportunities, such as men dancing with ribbons or dancing with each other, arise within the framework of the show.  Or that when the judges are confronted with situations like these, that challenge their limited and narrow perspective on gender roles in dance, that they are unable to see possibilities beyond the heteronormative standard.

Don’t Worry, Just Look Around

Photo Credits: Left, Merce Cunningham's eyeSpace, photo by Anna Finke, Right, casebolt and smith’s Having Words, photo by Shelby Duncan

Photo Credits: Left, Merce Cunningham's eyeSpace, photo by Anna Finke. Right, casebolt and smith’s Having Words, photo by Shelby Duncan

This post is in response to Michael Kaiser’s

“Why I Worry About Modern Dance” Huffington Post 8/17/2009

by Alexis Weisbrod

In a recent Huffington Post article Michael Kaiser, president of the JFK Center for Performing Arts, expressed his concerns for the future of modern dance.  Among many questions he asked, “Where are the young companies that are gathering strength and are prepared to accept the mantle from the Twylas, Pauls, Merces and Marthas?” (He had already situated these four choreographers as “the great modern dancers and choreographers [that] pay tribute to American creativity.”)  I’d like to take a brief look back into modern before returning to the present to consider what is out there.

First, I’d like to remind everyone that modern dance is now a full century old.  Since Duncan first began developing her dance form the world has seen two World Wars, the Korean & Vietnam Wars, two Gulf Wars, the War on Drugs, the War on terror, the assassination an American president, the impeachment of another, the invention of television, computers, MTV, reality shows… the list goes on.  Though Graham and Ailey lived well past Duncan, cell phones, iPods, and even the internet were beyond the scope of their lives.  As a dancer born in the ‘80s (yes I just did the unspeakable and dated myself…) Cunningham is the only one that I think begins to represent me, and only because of his use of the iPod Shuffle in his 2006 piece eyeSpace.  As an intelligent and well-read dancer I appreciate these four choreographers for their historical purpose in the field in which I am pursuing my career.  I recognize all the innovations they established and the work they did to create such a rich field of dance.  I would never consider teaching a dance history, modern technique, or even jazz for that matter, without discussing these choreographers.  But in terms of constructing new dance work, these choreographers are out of date.

A mentor of mine, Ananya Chatterjea, in a dance history class, after a discussion of post-modern dance no longer being the current wave of work, suggested that it was my generation’s responsibility to name the current era of modern dance.  I often think this was a driving force in my desire to pursue a PhD in Dance.  However, I’ll admit, I have yet to name this era, but I do know why current work will never look like the old stuff.

The four “greats” all established their companies well before the NEA 4.  That fact alone illuminates the difficulties for choreographers to take the reigns and shape dance in the US. The dance, at least what I think is the good––read: innovative––dance, that is being made these days shifts the high art stage that the “greats” worked on.  The American dance audience, now receiving a notable education through vehicles such as music videos, commercials and reality dance shows, are also different.  Maybe, Mr. Kaiser, you’re worried because you’re still looking for “modern” dance.  Choreographers trying to execute that work will always fall short because in their attempt to replicate they are neglectful of the changes in the world around them.

I had the pleasure of seeing the Paul Taylor Company perform not too long ago.  I was impressed and appreciated the pleasure of viewing such historically significant repertoire.  However, I was much more moved by Melissa Hudson Bell’s Cake In My Face: New Dances with Betty Crocker and Misbehavior, which used traditional “modern dance” movement, text and humor to look at Betty Crocker in the American woman’s kitchen over the years.  Then, of course, there is the witty and political work of casebolt & smith, whose virtuosic movement never overshadows the content of the work, whether it is autobiographical tales or social commentaries or something else entirely, their insightful choreographic structures and methods always have me both entertained and thoughtfully engaged.

These are just a few of the choreographers who have recently engaged me as an audience member and left me feeling excited about dance, eager to dance and, most importantly, thinking about dance and topics beyond.  These are artists whose innovative work should be the next face of concert dance in America as they all successfully bridge from post/modern dance into something more complex and more relevant.  These artists are out there and ready to take the reigns.  But these artists are not “large role model organizations” and, even if they wished to be, may never achieve such status in a post NEA 4 America.  Choreographers such as these take risks that could be read in a highly political manner.  This is not what gets funded because its not safe or established.

In order for the next “golden age” to take place we have to broaden what we are willing to see (and fund).  It will be different from the Pioneers, something more representative of our current environment (from politics, to popular culture, to a globalized world).  And, most importantly, we must be ready to accept that change.  After all, isn’t innovation what the “Twylas, Pauls, Merces and Marthas” were all about, isn’t change what modern dance was founded on?

Russian Roulette with SYTYCD

Russian Roulette with SYTYCD Aug. 26, 2009

By Alexis Weisbrod

I’ll admit, I’m not surprised about this season’s winner of So You Think You Can Dance, Jeanine Mason.  I wasn’t surprised when I found out, before the airing of the final episode in Pacific Time– thanks to friends’ facebook status updates who live in a reality three hours ahead of my own.  Unable to experience the anticipation of the announcement of the winner, I watched the episode with a very different lens.  Seeing details and reflecting on what led up to Mason’s win, I found myself intrigued by a brief portion of her interview with host Cat Deeley during which she implied that the biggest “mistake” that she encounter throughout the competition was drawing Russian folk dance “out of the hat”.  Rather than thinking about what she may have dropped the ball on, she pointed to a choice of the producers, one that had been referenced only a handful of times by show participants, but always in a way that deemed it a failure, on the part of the producers as well as the form of Russian folk dance.

I wouldn’t call myself a fan of SYTYCD, as that implies that I fully support the show and its process.  I do, however, think of myself as an aficionado.  I follow the language, structure and design of the show with extreme curiosity and passion, always fascinated by its methods for displaying and promoting dance.  Over its history the show, which began with a focus on Western dance forms, has introduced several “cultural” forms.  Some of these forms, such as Bollywood, were well received.  However, when Mason and her partner, Phillip Chbeeb, picked Russian folk dance “out of the hat” in Week 5 of the competition a new stone was turned by the producers.  Though I’m unsure why it was decided to include Russian folk dance in the dance styles, one thing is clear, producer and judge Nigel Lythgoe didn’t research the form.  Moreover, after the performance he definitely thought it was a bad idea to ask any dancers to perform it.

Immediately following the performance Lythgoe made a comment that suggested that vodka was necessary in order to view the form.  Normally complimenting the choreographers, Lythgoe did not acknowledge Youri Nelzine, whose Trepak choreography for Joshua Allen and Stephen “Twitch” Boss in the Season 4 finale was met with high praise.  Nelzine’s Trepak was an atheletic, exciting and energetic choreographic representation of the traditional Nutcracker piece (it should be noted that The Nutcracker is known for inaccurate representations of non-European dance forms and is Orientalism at its finest).  That coupled with the performances of Allen and Boss, two well-liked contestants, created a memorable piece.  However, Lythgoe seemed surprised by what he was given when he saw the Russian folk dance choreography.  He did not blame the dancers for what he saw as the failure of the piece but, rather, the dance itself.

Poignantly, Lythgoe never fully clarified what he saw as a “mistake”, only implying that the dance form itself was a mistake.  Certainly there are a variety of reason why Russian folk dance would not mesh well with a show focused on providing the American public dancing images of popular culture.  However, Lythgoe was unable to articulate any of these.  Instead, he verbally dismissed the entire dance practice.  Many viewers probably don’t recall a statement made in the first episode of the show by a dancer who did not survive the first round of auditions but I’d like to bring it up here.  After having auditioned with a Middle Eastern dance, this particular dancer, I believe her name was Sarah, left the audition saying the show would be “a bunch of white people who have lots of money and have taken lots of dance classes”.  Probably unaware of how prolific this statement was Lythoge confirmed this theory in his dismissal of Russian folk dance.

In this moment—the labeling Russian folk dance a “mistake”—Lythgoe and Mason unknowingly identify a key aspect in the show’s make-up, a Eurocentric approach to dance.  There have been many recent discussions on-air that claim excitement for the show’s ability to encourage well-rounded dancers that can perform varying cultural forms.  However, a central, unspoken qualification to that idea is that the diversity only be comprised of those styles that are either well regarded by the American public—ballet, jazz, hip hop, etc.—or those that are appealing in their exoticism—Bollywood, tango, etc.  This results in a limited version of cultural diversity wherein those that are “boring” or unappealing to the American public are disregarded and deemed less important.

The title, “America’s favorite dancer” is not only bestowed because the American viewing public votes the winner to success but also because this dancer can dance in the country’s image.  The winning dancer must be able to successfully perform only those dance forms that already fit into a viewing household.  Relying on avenues of popular culture that have supported the entrance of forms such as hip hop and Bollywood into mainstream culture, SYTYCD brings a Eurocentric perspective of dance while suggesting that it is multi-cultural.  Had Lythgoe been able to spin his comments on the Russian folk dance performance in a way that did not so clearly state his own boredom and disappointment, he may have been able to maintain his façade.  However, instead, he merely proved Middle Eastern dancer Sarah right.  I personally look forward to seeing what others holes Lythgoe and his team reveal in Season 6 as they continue to “bring [their version of] dance to the American people”.

Pina and the King of Pop

Pina and the King of Pop: A Review of a Review Aug 5, 2009

by Jennifer Buscher

In the span of one week, the dance community lost two legendary dance artists who have greatly influenced dance in the 20th and 21st centuries – Michael Jackson (June 25, 2009) and Pina Bausch (June 30, 2009).

photo credit: associated press

photo credit: associated press

To commemorate these losses, the New York Times featured a “tribute” article devoted to each artist written by their chief dance critic, Alastair Macaulay.  But these articles do not pay tribute to the artists or their immense contributions to dance.  Instead, Macaulay insulted the memory of both Jackson and Bausch and discredited their choreographic integrity.

There are many disturbing moments throughout “His Moves Expressed as Much as His Music,” Macaulay’s article on Michael Jackson.  Macaulay never acknowledges the impact Jackson has had on dance across multiple genres.  Nor does he recognize how Jackson revolutionized the music video and created memorable dance films through that medium.  But what I find to be the most offensive element of this piece is the recurring racist overtones of the article.  Macaulay insinuates that Jackson’s dancing and choreography were merely derivative of white artists such as John Travolta, Bob Fosse, Judy Garland, and Audrey Hepburn.  He considers the “pelvic pulsations” of Travolta, the jazz choreography of Fosse, and the “urban tensions” of West Side Story (choreographed by Jerome Robbins) as the primary sources for Jackson’s choreography and dance performances.  Macaulay also includes Fred Astaire’s praise of Jackson’s skills as a dancer and suggests that this praise was undeserved.  Rather than referencing African American dancers and choreographers, Macaulay situates Jackson in a long line of white men who are credited with making black dance forms (tap, jazz, disco) popular and acceptable in mainstream American culture.  By crediting only white artists as the influences for Jackson, Macaulay reaffirms a racist construction of dance history that ignores the significant contributions of the African diaspora that ultimately provide the foundation for American cultural and dance practices.  While the media coverage of Jackson’s death has been extensive to the point of overwhelming and excessive, as the chief dance critic for the New York Times, Macaulay’s article represents the primary response from the dance community.  The inherent racism of his “tribute” is insulting, not only to the memory of Jackson, but also to American dance history.

Macaulay’s article on Pina Bausch, “A Stage for Social Ego to Battle Anguished Id”, is not a tribute, but an “appraisal.”  It does not honor the choreographer, but is a harsh critique of her work.  And ultimately, he is not just critiquing Bausch, the dancer or choreographer, but an entire style of dance.  While his article on Jackson reveals Macaulay’s racist views of dance, his article on Bausch reveals the incredibly limited and narrow scope through which he judges all concert dance.  He opens the article by invoking the Holy Trinity of New York City dance – Martha Graham, George Balanchine, and Merce Cunningham, whom he considers to be the “greatest choreographers of recent decades.”  It is obvious that these three choreographers represent the framework or criteria through which Macaulay assesses all dance.  His bias towards classical ballet, and more specifically the Balanchine aesthetic, is evident.  He reduces the work of Bausch to “bad ballet.”  According to Macaulay, “There were good dance moments in her work, but they were usually of secondary interest and choreographically of no lasting import.”  This insulting and belittling comment negates Bausch’s significant contribution to modern and postmodern dance throughout her long and distinguished career as a choreographer and artistic director of Wuppertal Tanztheater.  It ignores her position within the history of German expressionism and tanztheatre.  He completely misses the value of Bausch’s work and its profound and lasting influence.  Despite Macaulay’s condescending and disrespectful appraisal of Bausch in this article, her choreography will have a lasting import and impact on dance history.

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Photo Credit: Ursula Kaufmann/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Just prior to the deaths of these two artists, I attended the Society for Dance History Scholars (SDHS) annual conference which was held in conjunction with the Dance Critics Association at Stanford University.  At this conference, Macaulay spoke during a panel discussion following a choreography showcase in San Francisco, Ca (June 21, 2009) and his prejudices as a critic were clearly displayed.  Discussing his attendance at the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival being held the same weekend, Macaulay evaluated the various dance forms he had seen at the Ethnic Dance festival in relation to ballet.  He said that he just could not understand the hip movements and pelvic thrusting of African and classical Indian dance because it is too different from the verticality and hip stability of ballet.  I am obviously no expert in Indian dance, but I do know, from a brief 10-week course in Bharata Natyam, that my pelvis and hips remained as stationary and vertical in that classical Indian dance technique as they were in my 20-some years of ballet training.  Obviously, my experience of Bharata Natyam was informed by my previous dance training and muscle memories.  And I acknowledge that our personal experiences always already inform our understanding of the world around us and of course, dance is no exception.

Regardless of the accuracy or lack thereof for the nuances of these dance techniques and practices, however, neither Indian nor African dance should be evaluated in terms of ballet. And if that is the only dance genre that the critic understands or more importantly, values, then perhaps he should not be considered the authority or the expert for all dance forms or allowed to critique and review all dance forms.  Of course, I am not suggesting that any one person can hold the corporeal and/or intellectual knowledge for all dance forms within one body or one head and I understand that no critic can speak authoritatively on each and every dance genre, but I take issue with someone as racist, prejudiced, and biased as Macaulay pronouncing judgement as the official authority on dance as the chief dance critic for the New York Times.  From listening to Macaulay at the SDHS conference to reading his articles on Jackson and Bausch, I have been thinking a lot about the relationship between dance criticism and dance scholarship as well as the role of the dance critic.  What should be the balance between the critic’s personal experiences and relationship to the work and a responsible and informed review?  How can dance scholarship inform dance criticism?

*Thank you to Ariel Osterweis Scott for posting the Michael Jackson article to facebook and the fabulous conversation it generated. I would like to acknowledge how the dialogue that occurred on facebook about both of these articles influenced my thinking and writing.