Dance critic, Apollinaire Scherr on her work with students at CTA
“Graduate programs do not usually have students write briefly and fast. So Robert Hullot-Kentor, wise chair of the School of Visual Arts’ Critical Theory and the Arts department, suggested I take those CTA members stuck in New York over winter break to a dance concert of my choosing and subject them to the strict limits imposed on my own reviewing for the Financial Times: a 350-word review, with no more than six hours to draft, write, rewrite, then revise to address “queries,” as editors call their comments and objections.
The group met three times—once to look at several newspaper writers’ short arts reviews as models (my charges shredded them); once to go to Vicky Shick’s enchanting “Another Spell”; and once to share what we’d written for a final round of tweaking. (I wrote on the show, too, but exempted myself from scrutiny, in my fragile old age.)
I was so impressed by the results that I asked Danspace whether they were interested in publishing the reviews here.
I think you can discern in these short essays the balancing act these writers practice at Critical Theory and the Arts: to see the work before you in all its particularity, which means also in its revelation of some part of “the antagonisms, conflicts and promises of human history and of the moment we inhabit,” to quote from the Critical Theory and the Arts statement of intent. Given the dance’s sensual vibrancy and delicacy—its natural resistance to “making points”—Another Spell turned out to be the perfect choice for this intense challenge.”