Dance is the Word

“What is dance criticism for?”

High up in the London Coliseum, twenty dance fans squeeze into a tiny boardroom. Tables are moved and chairs shifted, but eventually they all manage to fit in. This humanoid version of Tetris is in aid of the new, shortened Dance Is The Word course. Where dance enthusiasts have the chance to hear Donald Hutera’s thoughts on the subject of dance criticism, before using their new-found knowledge to write about an ENB performance. While the original version of the course is a three-day marathon, we are being treated to a zippy one-hour sprint.

“Criticism is detective work”

Despite its short length, it was no less crammed full of information and insight. Answers fly across the room to questions like: What is dance criticism for? And: What is beautiful in dance? Hutera even puts himself under scrutiny, when we are asked to describe his movement in one word.

Before the new writers are let loose on the evening’s performance of Ecstasy and Death we are left with the thought: criticism is detective work, and everything from the title of the performance to the poster imagery are the clues we have to work from. With Hutera’s advice in mind, the session ends with the group quickly flipping through their programmes in search of any piece of evidence that may form their review. As the results of our investigation are being published online, the opportunity for an aspiring dance writer to show off their work is great, and no-one wants to miss the smoking gun.

Maxine Smiles