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Ask the Critic: Lewis Segal

April 20, 2006

Question: When doing a dance review, do you separate the quality of the performers from the accompanying music? Can you love the dance and hate the music?

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Segal: Actually, we're far more likely to love the music and hate the dance than the other way around.

So many choreographers choose existing music that critics and audiences often measure the dance against the score -- and feel cheated if it simply uses the composer's structures, rhythms and moods without adding anything exceptional of its own.

Our lives are filled with music (whether we like it or not), so it's easy to believe that the musicians are delivering the essential experience in a performance and the dancing is merely embellishment.

It takes choreography of great originality to make us see how dance can be both dependent on what we're hearing yet profoundly involving on its own, kinetic level.

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