Crunching through crispy thick snow in Sofia, Bulgaria, this spring, I participated in the Aerowaves Springback Academy for a second time. It's an excellent development programme for dance writers, that runs alongside Spring Forward, an annual pan-European festival of contemporary dance. Before the packed schedule fully kicked-off, leading dance critics shared their top tips on how to review dance.
Here are a few select nuggets to help sharpen your dance writing:
Sanjoy Roy – The Guardian
- Verb play. Dance is movement. Choose your verbs well to encapsulate movement. Try to avoid obvious ones like 'move' and 'walk', and be more specific. How about 'saunter' or 'prowl'?
- Wield poetic licence. Summon up imagery, use effects from literature such as a strong beginning and ending. You could try to mirror the style of the performance: long and beautiful, or youthful pop phrases.
- Sensational embodiment. Receive the performance with your whole body, and turn on the switch to language. Capture the sensations and embodied impressions with words!
Kelly Donaldson – The Scotsman
- Trust and value your instincts and opinion.
- Keep emotional distance from the makers.
- Be a language lover and word player.
Donald Hutera – The Times
- Try taking a synesthetic approach: what does the performance smell like?
- Always ask: where's the beauty?
- Use juicy language!
Oonagh Duckworth – Various
- Use the constraints of the format (word length etc) as your friend.
- Once written, print out the review (or view it in a different digital way) and re-read. Seeing it in a different format helps stimulate thinking and polish refinement.
For more review tips check out this guide on how to review film from STORGY Magazine.
Image: Brother - Marco da Silva Ferreira, Spring Forward 2018
Photographer: Yana Lozeva