Does Dance Criticism Matter?

Why professional dance criticism plays a significant role in strengthening the social significance of dance art

Suvi Helena


Ahmad Odeh on

How do you put into words something that cannot be explained in words? How to describe emotions and stories told with bodies? Is it possible to document something so ethereal and unique as music and movement on paper?

Expressing through dance is very different from expressing in words. Writing has been close to what the ecstasy of dance was for me, but the limitations of words sometimes drive me mad. Writing about dance analytically and critically but in a vivid, moving way is indeed a challenge.

I recently read an old review of Pina Bausch’s Rite of Spring by Vanessa Manko and was captivated by her writing. I realized only afterward that I had been holding my breath while reading it. She writes:

“The same furtive, frantic, pulsating bodies; fists clasped in unison, clutched and drawn between legs; the crashing, shuttering falls to the ground; the stops and starts; the paralyzed fear.”

In my mind, I saw images of dancers twisting and turning in panic on the muddy ground, their white dresses stained with dirt. It left me thinking, how would I dance if I knew I was going to die soon? It is a question I don’t…