I’ve been reading from the Washington Post an article titled, “Through our critics eyes: music, movies, dance and theatre: comments from Washington Post critics”. I’m fascinated by the question, “How can I pay attention”, as I seek a deeper experience. That is one function of this blog. By writing, I am paying attention.
In order, the critics suggest:
For musicals, Nielseen Presley tells us he pays attention to the music. He suggests asking yourself, “What is the function of the music and are you likely to remember the music later?”
The dance Critic, Sarah Kaufman takes a more analytical and organized approach. She suggests that we would do well to prepare ourselves. Do your homework; make sure you’re awake; then at the performance switch between enjoying the dance and assessing it. They are two different activities. Try, if you can, to “Feel the dancing in your bones.” And listen to your instinct, “What is your gut telling you?”
The classical music critic, Anne Midgette suggests learning the pieces’ history. Find out as much as you can. Then attend the performance looking for the detail that brings that particular performance to life for you. Each performance is different; maybe the artist has an exceptional evening… there will be one thing for you. And, “What is the story and how well was that story expressed?” There is no right answer just, what do you feel?
For museums, the Critic Philip Kenacort suggests, going with the task to “Learn one new thing”. The challenge is to find something new rather than following what we know and love. That is an exciting idea, useful everywhere. “What is the one new thing?”
It surprises me that there is no comment on writing. After all writing is the most important art for news papers like The Washington Post. All of these critics write. Writing is the fundamental skill here. I don’t know why a book reviewer was not included. Maybe writing is not a performance like dance but neither is a museum exhibition. Or maybe the editor made an honest natural omission; forced by the length of the piece.
My personal thoughts here are toward my writing practice. If I could go back to high school I would study English in the final year instead of the Additional Mathematics I did take. I was such a nerd. The thing is, as I write these blogs and study storytelling, I miss what I would have learned back then. That’s why I was so pleased to see this article because the critics comments help me approach their arts thoughtfully.
“Our critics offer tips on how to get the most out of art and entertainment.”