Each student is required to write a critique of a dance performance that they have seen. It is preferable that this be a live stage performance but an approved film or video is acceptable (see teacher for list of alternatives).

Since many of you have probably not written a dance review before, below I have set out the format in which this paper should be approached. Note: Even though a dance review reflects your point of view, the writer should never use the word “I” or any phrase that is self-reflective (e.g. “in my opinion” or “to me”). The reader assumes that any opinion given is that of the writer.

Please keep in mind that the reader of your review may not have seen the particular concert that you are reviewing so when voicing an opinion on certain elements in the show, you must describe the scene in the dance that helps support your viewpoint (e.g. “the dance seemed to be about the joy of Spring evidenced by exuberant leaps and costumes flowing with pastel colors”). While watching the production, choose three particular dances to focus in on. However an overall evaluation of the performance should also be included.

Review Format

Paragraph #1

Your opening paragraph should state the name of the dance company as well as where and when the performance took place. If you can, add some historical or informational tidbits about the company (these can be gathered from the teacher, the performance program, the internet or library books on dance). You may proffer an overall assessment of the show in this paragraph but the following paragraphs should bolster that opinion.

Paragraph #2

Choose one dance to look at more closely. State the name of the piece, who choreographed it and perhaps what music was used. Describe very literally what happened onstage from the beginning of the dance to the end. Your comments about the dance can be interspersed within this description and any personal opinion that you share should include visual evidence from the choreography or you may include your comments at the end of the paragraph. Ideas you should discuss include:

a)               What  the piece was about. What is the choreographer trying to do? Change your point of view? Tell a story? Create a feeling? Experiment in public with one or several elements of dance (i.e. spatial arrangements, timing, groupings, partnering, new movement styles)?

b)               The movement vocabulary or style used and how it related to the theme of the dance. Were the elements used suitable to the theme? Why? Did the artist push the subject matter or rely on available stereotypes and obvious dance steps or clichés?

c)               The technical ability of the performers in carrying out the vision of the choreographer. Were the dancers technically up to the task? Did the group look well-rehearsed?

d)               Whether the music was suitable for the dance. Costumes and how they related to the theme or story.

e)               Were the sets and props necessary and effective for the dance why?

f)                Whether the idea of the piece was clear and affective. If so why, if not why not?

You may also add some comments on areas not mentioned above that interested you about the dance.


Paragraph #3 & #4

These two paragraphs should follow that same format as paragraph #2, choosing two other dances in the program to review.


Paragraph #5

Here you should sum up your appraisal of the concert as a whole. You may wish to discuss whether the program was varied enough, whether the dances were too long or too short, how the company looked or any changes you would suggest to improve on the show.