Re/viewing dance with Sidsel Pape

From April 11th to April 13th young critics from the Baltic countries and Russia participated in the workshop „Re/Viewing Dance“, carriedthrough by Sidsel Pape, an acknowledged (dance) critic from Norway. The workshop was held during the Estonian contemporary dance platform UUS TANTS 2013.

Renewing perspectives
What do we see when we watch a dance performance? This is a crucial question to answer before anyone, especially a critic, dwells into writing a review. Surprisingly, more often than not viewers tend not to acknowledge that aspect. Thus before going into the techniques of how and what to write in a review, Sidsel Pape taught the participants to see what they’re about to write about.

Sidsel Pape and participant Liis Aibel reading Liis' review

Sidsel Pape and participant Liis Aibel reading Liis’ review

The participants listed and discussed the elements that a dance performance consists of. The elements were divided into two groups – objective and analy

tical.  The task here was to differentiate knowingly between what we actually see (costumes, light, sound, movement, etc) and what we see through associations (gender issues, ideology, framing, space, ethnicity, etc).

Sidsel Pape pointed out that although we see all the aforementioned aspects every single time, we don’t always look at them consciously. We may overlook some a

spects, we tend to see what we expect and want to see, thus unintentionally missing some of the performance. Being aware of and acknowledging all the different aspects really makes you see what you are looking at.

Cognisant writing
There are many ways to write a review and it is fairly easy to get lost in the sea of opportunities. Here again being aware and acknowledging what you do, is really helpful. Under the guidance of Pape, participants learned the difference between such practices as performative and classical writing, between collective and guerilla writing. Participants discussed the different types of reviews (from emotional to entertaining, from descriptive to evaluating). Also they listed the elements a review should entail.  The aforementioned aspects give a truly helping hand when writing a review.

The participants of workshop were challenged to use their acquired knowledge. Sidsel  asked them to look (and see!) the performances presented during UUS TANTS 2013 through perspectives that they usually paid least attention to and then write reviews. While writing reviews, the participants had to keep in mind all that was discussed in the workshop. The participants analyzed each other’s reviews – guessed the type of the reviews, pointed out “mandatory” parts of a review, and shed light on the objective and analytical aspects present and described in the reviews.


The participants discuss the reviews written about the performances presented the night before

Enriching experience
In the end of the workshop the participants said that they wished the workshop lasted a bit longer.  They were just getting the hang of it all, and were eager to go in more detail, experiment more. According to the participants, the workshop opened their eyes, and really made them see the performances. They focused on aspects they usually ignored and they were more aware of how and what to write about. Everyone was eager to keep challenging themselves by using different perspectives.

The workshop inspired the participants to keep watching dance performances, some of whom had no previous experience in this field of performing arts. What’s even more important – the workshop gave the participants courage and confidence to write and keep writing about dance performances. And that’s no easy goal to accomplish!





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