Merilyn Jackson, dance critic to present paper at Venice Biennale Arts in Society in July

Merilyn Jackson’s paper has  been accepted at The  4th International Conference on the Arts in  Society to be held during the Venice  Biennale in July. Her paper is entitled The Changing Roles of a Dance Critic: Chronicler, Channeler,  Champion, Curmudgeon, Co-Conspirator, Catalyst, Celebrant, Cicerone,  etc.

“Contemporary dance critics and dance writers play different roles  than other critics.  In addition to responsibilities to editors and  publications, they serve a committed  dance community and an  enthusiastic, but increasingly less informed dance-consuming  public.  Inevitably, they are implicated in the lives and work of local  dancers,  choreographers, dance companies and producers. Thus, to  write about dance today means  assuming a variety of roles, some of  which become challenging to explain, or maintain.  In essence, this  raises questions: what is or should be the role of the dance critic,   especially in a digital world? To whom or what does dance writing  respond? This paper  will reflect on my own experience (in  Philadelphia, Phoenix and on-line) as well as the roles of dance  critics in major American cities, including New York and Los Angles.  I  will discuss the sate of dance writing today, the multiple roles  of dance critics and  argue for an expansion of these roles and suggestions for yet more.”

Merilyn Jackson regularly writes on dance for The Philadelphia  Inquirer and national dance magazines, including Dance and Pointe.  Her articles on dance, theater, literature, food and travel have  appeared in publications as diverse as The New York Times, Arizona  Highways, The Philadelphia Daily News, The Warsaw Voice,  Philadelphia Magazine and MIT’s Technology Review. In 2005, The  National Endowment for the Arts  awarded her a Critic’s Fellowship to  Duke University’s Institute for Dance Criticism.  She writes for She served on the boards of the Arizona Dance   Alliance (four years) and the Dance Critics Association (six years)  and was co-chair of  the 1999 2000 Feet DCA Conference and the 2004  30th Anniversary DCA Conference, both  held in Philadelphia.  Currently, she is working on an anthology of food essays, Amuse  Bouchées; and a book that chronicles the evolution of Philadelphia’s  dance community  over two decades, “United We Dance.”

1 Comment

  1. Exploring The Critics Role
    InfiniteBody blog
    This announcement has already catalyzed a cheeky, caustic, critical response from trailerpilot, who’s basically tired of the topic.

    I’m a little tired of the topic, too, since I think that the significance of singular, imposing critical voices–across the board, not just in dance–is obviously a thing of the past. We’re buffeted by a sea of voices, freed by technology and more empowered than ever to inform ourselves, and the consuming public no longer shows much interest in navigating by the North Star of any particular authority. We have choices aplenty!

    Is this loosening up a good thing or a problem? – Read more

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