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In the world of dance, we are all digital now

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I missed out on review tickets for a show that I had really wanted to see last week. I was disappointed, but then the reviews came in. And I felt better. And then I searched Twitter, and I didn’t care any more that I didn’t get to see it.

Isn’t it interesting that I automatically hit up Twitter for the punters’ views, alongside the tried and trusted opinions of my fellow cretics to finalise my thoughts on whether or not to bother seeing a dance piece?

As much as I enjoy reading some reviewers’ work on a regular basis (a few are like little works of literature in themselves, with gems of prose, astute insight and delicious wordage) but be honest: would you rather trust the opinion of a professional opinionator in a paper that comes out a week after the show, or your mates who are buzzing about stuff on social media immediately as it happens?

Word of mouth spreads a lot faster when you can text friends, tell everyone what you’re watching on Facebook and then hashtag your topic. And what with the advent of live streaming, you can do it while the dancers are still going.

Whether you read/trust reviews or not, bad dance doesn’t have a whole lot to hide behind any more. People don’t hold back on Twitter – the vast, faceless void of the internet allows you to say a whole bunch of stuff you wouldn’t dream of uttering to that person’s face, and without critical context.

The advent of blogging means that there is more accessible opinion than ever, and more communities and discussion boards are springing up, opinions at the fore. Plus, words can be illustrated by videos of the work, which demonstrates the quality of the piece and whether or not it’s to your taste.

[pullquote]Dance criticism needs to morph onto a more modern platform. I just hope that the stuff that can’t, won’t get lost to the history books.[/pullquote]

Dance has undoubtedly gone digital – I’m in the process of considering which dance app is best and why; I’m off to watch a performance in Paris next week, where the set is a 3D projection and am researching an organisation who specialise in filming live work for download and multiplatform viewing. But can it really be that with our <4 second attention span in the online world, dance criticism is fast becoming redundant?

IMHO there will always be room for insightful, intelligent, provocative and informed critical opinion, and I will love to read it for as long as I would rather hold a book made of paper than a kindle. But I also enjoy the interaction with people who love dance, reading about what the regular folk really think and easily accessing what’s trending in people’s opinions.

I don’t actually think that the old-school literaturians of the arts world need to learn how to wrap up their carefully crafted 600 word scribing into 142 characters, I believe there will always be a place for poetic arts news in the form of reviews, written by the experts. But, in this constantly shifting multi-media landscape I think some dance criticism needs to morph onto a more modern platform. I just hope that the stuff that can’t, won’t get lost to the history books.


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