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Dance Writing Workshop at the New York City Center Led by Brian McCormick for New York City Public School Teachers in Conjunction with the Paul Taylor Dance Company Season

by Robert Abrams
February 10, 2007
New York City Center
130 West 56th Street
(Audience Entrance is on West 55th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues)
(Entrance for Studios and Offices is on West 56th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues)
New York, NY 10019
212.247.0430
ExploreDance.com organized its first ever dance writing workshop. We were given this opportunity by Arlene Jordan, the New York City Center's Director of Education, with invaluable assistance from Joan Finkelstein, Director of Dance Programs for the Office of the Arts and Special Projects of the New York City Department of Education. The writing workshop was held in conjunction with a workshop for New York City public school teachers presented earlier in the day. This earlier workshop was led by Susan Thomasson, a dancer, choreographer and teaching artist, and Tom Patrick, a former Paul Taylor Dance Company dancer and currently rehearsal director for Taylor 2. Both Ms. Thomasson and Mr. Patrick got the participants moving, in both body and mind. This was dance education of the first rate.

The writing workshop was led by Brian McCormick, who has taught writing workshops for Dance Theater Workshop among others, and is a professional dance critic in his own right. We had four teachers and several New York City Center staff members in attendance, for a total of eleven people. Lunch was provided.

Brian presented the elements of a dance review. His system consists of description, formal analysis, interpretation and judgment. This is one excellent way to go about building a review that is comprehensive, clear and useful to the dance community. Brian illustrated his approach to writing dance reviews by showing excerpts of various dance performances on DVD. He asked probing questions and stimulated a lively discussion. Working together, the participants of the workshop were able to draw inferences that would contribute to a good review, both from dances that people liked and dances that they didn't. The participating teachers were clearly passionate about dance and dedicated to their work. They expressed appreciation for the workshop. I am confident they will be able to help their students become quality writers, about dance and what ever else their students focus on.

The long term goal of the workshop is to have the participating teachers take what they learned back to their classrooms and have their students, who will be attending a special performance of Taylor 2, write reviews. Taylor 2, as readers of ExploreDance.com know, is worth seeing in its own right. ExploreDance.com intends to continue to provide support to the participating teachers to help make this goal a reality. A student who got his or her start with inspiration from a teacher who attended this or future dance writing workshops might just rise to become president of the Dance Critics Association. A lofty goal, perhaps, but attending the workshops at the New York City Center left me with the feeling that anything is possible.

In the meantime, don't miss the Paul Taylor Dance Company at the New York City Center.
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