The importance of dance/theater blogging
Now that I’ve been blogging for quite a few months now on this theater-related blog, I admit that I sometimes write with a nagging voice in the back of my head often brings to surface the question if dance-blogging ever accomplishes anything, and inevitably, it makes me wonder why I’m even devoting a big chunk of time doing this. However on the flip side, the exponential increase in the number of hits on my blog as well as the interesting discussions that have often taken place here, supports the opposing side that I’m writing things that are definitely interesting to at the very least, a small subset of people (thanks, readers!!). More recently, there have been a number of interesting online readings that have touched upon my thoughts in this area.
Recently, Target responded to an online blog criticism of its recent ads as being demeaning to women, by replying to the bloggers, “Unfortunately we are unable to respond to your inquiry because Target does not participate with nontraditional media outlets“. (emphasis mine) Big mistake (hell hath known no fury as the wrath of bloggers, since this article in the NY Times has been one of the most “blogged about” in the past few days), although there still exists the notion that the internet and bloggers remain a secondary source of media. I think it’s a fair statement; after all, anyone can hold a blog and is not restricted to people trained in the trade such as journalists. However, the fact that traditional media such as newspapers are slowly moving online, with people checking their news online more than in traditional media sources, signifies an important (alarming?) shift that more and more people are moving online. This does, however fairly or unfairly, make blogging a more important source of information for people, and it’s something that companies such as Target really shouldn’t discount so readily. If anything, blame the trends of people moving online and searching for information, and not the knowledge or intelligence of bloggers (or lack thereof) for this trend. Blogging has become important not solely due to bloggers’ training or knowledge or enthusiasm, but because its online readers have preferred it that way.
When Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet recently held their Bloggers Night in NY, Doug’s entry at Great Dance really brought up interesting points on the importance of dance blogging, by asking the question if Bloggers Nights at the ballet have any real significance. Check out his reasonings, it really brings to mind that blogs are increasingly becoming an important media outlet because it fosters discussion and thus, interest, which translates into buying tickets. Blogs also unwittingly have become an important source of information for the ballet company as well (which displays blogs as a major source of info in Google searches).
In addition, news of more online technological advancements scream that this trend is nowhere near stopping and will continue to become more pronounced in the near future. Merce Cunningham has recently announced the online posting of its company classes online, featuring the legendary Merce Cunningham leading the class himself. I was thrilled at this news, how fun is it to take a peek into the normal goings on in a legendary dance troupe? Using the internet to make things more transparent to audiences can only help generate interest in the company and to broaden dance audiences. Dance has traditionally been a more closed system, with audiences admiring the dancing from afar. This, however, doesn’t help to pique the curiosity of people who are initially not interested in dance. For instance, dance newbies will be able to easily access video footage of company classes and be able to appreciate the hard work that goes into training to be a dancer, as movements are repeated over and over tirelessly, and may propel someone to buy a ticket to appreciate the final result. And with online resources being an easy source of information, it allows such information to be more accessible to a broader set of people (Click here to watch a short video clip, although it’s not taught by Merce.)
On a side note, I’m very proud of the fact that the San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Ballet, and Berkeley Repertory Theatre have all hosted Bloggers Nights before any New York arts institution. (No offense to the east coasters, allow me to indulge in this one little proud boast.)
On the flip side, one thing that’s a bit disappointing is the level of discussion on this coast. NY dance blogs are always abuzz with discussion, and I love that people all over the U.S. regularly comment on this blog, but wish that more locals will jump into dance/theater/arts discussion as well. The local discussion with the addition of the equally important national/NY viewpoint are vitally important. Hopefully this will occur more and more as time goes by.
So in conclusion – do I even have a point? Sort of. I offer my viewpoints as an individual audience member, with minimal training in dance criticism and dance history, and I’m hoping to learn other people’s opinions as well. Through discussion, it’s my hope that this may influence to propel people to spend more time in theater and to keep these arts alive. I make no pretense in that I’m an expert in writing nor criticism nor extensive theater/dance other than an extreme theater goer. This blog is also for selfish reasons, in that I enjoy nothing more than to discuss my favorite obsessions – dance and theater. Blogging is becoming more common, which is exciting and still scary at the same time, and as long as people proceed with caution and care in taking the time to consider the arts in a positive way, there can only be an exciting future ahead. Even in the past few years, blogs have taken off, and it’ll be exciting to see what happens in the next few years.
In the spirit of promoting online media resources, I stumbled across this lovely video of Maria Kochetkova, SF Ballet’s newest principal dancer, in La Esmeralda. She is so birdlike, and very lovely. I’m looking forward to seeing her this year – perhaps she’d make a lovely Giselle?