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How to Write Like A N.Y. Times Critic, or Notes on a Workshop with Claudia La Rocco

How to Write Like A N.Y. Times Critic, or Notes on a Workshop with Claudia La Rocco

by Kristen Gillette

Sunday, February 24th at the LAB, Painted Bride Arts Center
You have the freedom to determine the audience for your critique
               Audience determines what your piece contains
                                Do you make it a historical record?
                                Mention every dancer?
                                Include the context of the event?
                                …Or not?
Criticism is an art form too
                Our critique pieces serve two art forms: dance and writing
                 Ultimately, it’s important to serve the art form of criticism; it becomes impossible if
                 you try to serve every person in the piece
 If you use “I” voice well, people don’t argue with it
                 Trust that readers will know your piece is one person’s point of view
                 Don’t issue a disclaimer
Use what you know
                Don’t be afraid to use your specialized knowledge
                Use your experiences and knowledge you’ve gained as an artist
Don’t be afraid to write about what you don’t know well or are confused about
                So many of the things we think of as problems and limitations are the best things
                we have
                The problems and limitations we bring often create the richest writing
Avoid too much frosting
                Be aware of modifier pile-up
Don’t be too cute
                Avoid relying on cute clichés to get into a work “I was transported into the work by…”
                Be cautious of the line between being deliberate and a bit precious; sometimes kids’
                questions can be evocative—sometimes not
Build an architecture in your piece
               You want to vary structure: Humor is a good way. Or facts: from dry facts, to a comment
               that is sarcastic, so there are different rhythms and textures
               Think about how a dance phrase or a lawyer’s opening arguments are structured
               Hash it out with yourself if you have varying opinions, double back, be vibrant and
               strong in the moment
Deploy ONE Sarcasm Dart
                “The problem with sarcasm is that it can be easy for us to dismiss what you’re saying”
                  Instead of using a bunch of little darts, deploy one. It’s more powerful. Creates space
                  for you as a writer
Be cautious of loaded metaphors
                Loaded metaphors stop a piece dead in its tracks
                Be aware of the implications of summing up a work in one sentence or metaphor
…but make sure you HAVE a clear opinion
               “I’m not particularly into reading something that doesn't have a strong opinion “   

For Claudia's take on her work with us and selections from our writing with her visit  http://theperformanceclub.org/2013/02/philly-edition/

By Kristen Gillette
April 1, 2013

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