Professional Dance Critique

Dance Journal

Professional Dance Critique


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  • Only typed papers are acceptable.

Minimum 500 words, double-spaced, use Times New Roman ,12 font,

One inch margins on all sides, Check your computer for margin settings.

  • Watch at least a minimum 5 minutes dance piece (Complete piece or section)
  • Write on the top- Title, Chorographer/Company, Length of the video
  • Your critique should be as thorough as possible, paying attention to grammar, neatness and spelling.
  • Link your video.

Guidelines for viewing/writing a Dance Performance:

  • When writing a dance critique, there are many things to consider prior to the performance. Who is performing? Are they professionals or amateurs? Is it a new work or classic choreography reset? Who are the choreographers? Are they known for other works? It is important to meditate carefully on the performance prior to seeing it so you can take as much from it as you can.
  • During the performance, there are also many things to consider that should be incorporated into your writing process. What style of dance is it? Is the performance experimental or conventional? How do elements of the performance enhance the choreography, such as lighting, scenery, and costume?
  • If a performance is very abstract, take as much from it as you can and strive to deliver your opinion of it as clearly as possible in your writing. Remember that there is no right answer since art is abstract and everyone responds to art differently.
  • There is a lot to take in when viewing dance and it can be easy to forget aspects of the performance. It is helpful to bring a notebook and pen to jot down notes and initial reactions to the performance that you may forget later on. Also, write the paper as soon as possible after the performance to prevent a foggy recollection.
  • Discuss the choreography.  Did the choreography flow, what were the dynamics, how did it move in space and what were the motivations for the movements?  Make general comments but also include detailed descriptions.  Try to give at least one specific movement image.  Example: “In another vignette, a woman seated properly, perpendicularly, on a bench, begins to tilt at an angle.  As her legs leave the floor and her torso leans to the side, both she and the bench seem to levitate a little above the floor.”
  • Comment on the music and identify the composer(s) and musician(s) when possible.  What was the relationship of the dance to the music?  Did the music play an important role in the performance?  Was the music live, pre-recorded or some combination of both? Did the form of the music influence the form of the dance or vice versa?
  • Were the dances well rehearsed and/or well performed? Support your comments with specific examples. Did the dancers work together well in the ensemble pieces?
  • Was the makeup, props if used and costumes appropriate?  Discuss the scenic design, lighting design and overall use of the theatre space.

1) Write about the lighting that was used throughout the dance. What were the colors?

Were they cool (usually blues, greens and violets), or warm (usually pinks, reds and yellows). Lighting designers use different colors to evoke different moods. Why do you think the specific lighting was used?

2) Were there set pieces used on stage? If so, how were they used? Did the choreographer employ a use of technology? If so, what was the extent of the technology and what did it represent?

  • Describe, describe and describe! Be careful of overusing benign words such as “neat” or “interesting” or “beautiful” Once again, do not simply comment (The costumes in the last dance were really fun) you must paint a visual picture for the reader (I really enjoyed the costumes in the last dance. The ten dancers, wearing shocking pink unitards with aqua polka dots, supported the whimsical feel of the dance.)
  • Whenever you write a paper you must take into account the audience for whom you are writing. Concert critiques are written for a reader who has not seen the concert. Do not assume they share common points of reference. This is what I refer to as “commenting” If I am sitting next to you at the concert and you say. “The lift at the end of the first dance was really cool,” I know what you are talking about, and I may or may not agree. If I did not see the concert and I read this in your paper, I have no idea what you are talking about. What lift? Tell me what it was like and why you thought it was “cool”.
  • Comment on the overall production; give the reader a sense of what it looked like.  What was your reaction to the concert as a whole?  How did the piece or pieces connect?

Dance Critique Pet Peeves:

When writing about the subjects below:

Refer to male dancers, men or danseurs (if classical ballet) 
NOT men dancers, boys, guys or males

Refer to female dancers, women or ballerinas (if classical ballet)
NOT women dancers, girls, gals, chicks or females

Refer to a piece, work or dance
NOT routine or act

Refer to movements
NOT moves

Refer to danced together or in unison
NOT in sync or synchronized

Refer to the performance or the concert
NOT the show, play or recital

DO NOT include title page information on first page of critique (name, date, professor’s name, class, performance)

Name of choreographers/company (Try to find a dance from these dancers)

• Martha Graham

• Twlyla Tharp

• Alvin Ailey

• Merce Cunningham

• Anna Sokolow

• Pilobolus

• Mark Morris

• Paul Taylor

• Bill T. Jones

• Pina Bausch

• Garth Fagan

• Bebe Miller

• Jennifer Muller

• Lar Lubovitch

• Doug Varone

• David Parson

• Trisha Brown

• George Balanchine

• Grupo Corpo- Company

• Netherlands Dance Theater – Company

• William Forsythe

• Nacho Duato

• Mikhail Baryshnikov

• Trisha Brown

• Alwin Nicolais

• New York City Ballet

• Philadanco

• Cloud Gate Dance Theater

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