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Friday, August 29, 2008

We’ve Been Served

posted by on August 29 at 18:03 PM

This just in from “a concerned fan of the Seattle art scene”:

To the Stranger, the biggest bullies in town,

Hello all you leaders of the hipster nation! How is it in the capitol of cool? It must get exhausting deciding how to insult things relentlessly.

I think you do a great job! However, as cultural attaches I believe you end up letting certain art forms fall by the way side. You and the rest of Seattle, is about to bully contemporary dance out of town.

As you know, Velocity dance center is losing it’s home in the Odd Fellows hall. Your recent comparison of the improv vs. the children in the fountain is exactly the type of mockery that does not help us, as a community feel welcome at what is advertised as Seattle’s biggest arts festival.

Other newspapers elsewhere, less concerned with being hip, write about dance describing the artist, their lives, hopes, visions, background (things you write about musicians). Instead you focus on witty digs (how children are less self involved/ cuter, or how it would be better to watch if you were drunk). How does this help the general pubic understand what we do? Your goal may not be to be an accurate resource but your approach is discouraging. When you write about hot poop/ hip bands you talk about what they drink, if they have a cute dog, random banter they carry on about. They are featured with high esteem, for having very little to say. The dance community is represented as naïve, self indulgent and foolish (which is accurate for some but there are many incredible artist in our community). I think you owe us!

So either I call you out, for a Stranger vs. Dancers: Modern Dance off (the terms and conditions of which have yet to be thought through). Or you do a feature on the kick ass members of our community: Amy Oneil, Wade Madsen, Left Field Revival, Zoe Schofield, Ricki Mason, Maki Mori… just to name a few. These are intelligent, multi-tasking, fascinating artist you could write small features about.

As our community heads towards an uncertain future of displacement it would be awesome if you Hipster Dictators of Cool could, for once, be on our side and wake Seattle up to it’s contemporary dance scene.

She (how do I know it’s a she? I just do) makes some good points, and I’d love to see profiles (mini or not) about all those name-checked dancers. But the prospect of a modern dance-off is too enticing. Please continue thinking through the details.

RSS icon Comments

1

I VOTE FOR A DANCE-OFF!! (with video since I'm on the East Coast)...

Posted by cunei4m | August 29, 2008 6:10 PM
2

When modern dance = breakdancing, = yes
When modern dance equals deluded 20somethings weaving back and forth in hippie dresses, = no no no

Posted by The CHZA | August 29, 2008 6:19 PM
3

It's funny how it comes up again and again that the Stranger writers are ultra-hipsters. I've met at one time or another many or the Stranger's writers, and most of them just don't seem all the cool to me, and I mean that in a good way. More down to earth.

And Seattle has a tradition of taking independent music seriously. This is a good thing and something to be proud of. Also, I'm for driving modern dance out of Seattle. I hear they love that stuff in New York.

Posted by PJ | August 29, 2008 6:25 PM
4

The Stranger writers should be able to win this easily, assuming they have the physical coordination to do more than flail around like a spastic rag-doll to some dancer's boyfriend's gawd-awful techno-crap recordings.

Posted by Isadora Duncan's Diaphanous Corpse | August 29, 2008 6:34 PM
5

Dance off, pretty please.

Posted by PopTart | August 29, 2008 6:36 PM
6

I suppose I have no right to take offense at sarcastic implications that thinking up new ways to insult things isn't honest work. Oh yeah, I see how it is around here.

Posted by elenchos | August 29, 2008 6:39 PM
7

It doesn't matter how sensitive the Stranger is to the background and history of the dancers - modern dance is still boring exhibitionism. My partner of ten years majored in dance, and drags me to shows several times a year. Even the stuff that he claims is marvelous is stupefying.

Posted by b | August 29, 2008 6:43 PM
8

#2 wow... you must have seen modern dance a long time ago. Hippy dresses? come on. Modern dance has been using breakdance since the 80's hits breakin' and breakin' 2. I suspect this is the last time you checked out professional modern dance if at all. I say professional because we all can agree that student work is shite.
If you want to diss something, please familiarize yourself with it first.
#3 I think we should first drive out everyone so self-important they think it is cool to watch other's dreams die, bank accounts dry up, and self-confidence wither.
Congratulations on being able to wear your as*hole badge with pride. Hope it makes you love yourself more.

Posted by arts reader | August 29, 2008 6:44 PM
9

Haha, how square do you have to be to think the Stranger is ultra-cool? OMG

Posted by twee | August 29, 2008 6:44 PM
10

How about a lap dance off? It could be a modern lap dance off I guess.

Posted by kinaidos | August 29, 2008 6:46 PM
11

How does this help the general pubic understand what we do?

She's got you there, hipsters.

Posted by --MC | August 29, 2008 6:48 PM
12

Pants off, dance off!!!

Posted by get down | August 29, 2008 6:53 PM
13

I have a tutu you can use...

Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball | August 29, 2008 6:55 PM
14

The writer would help her case if she knew the names she was checking. Amy O'Neal. Maki Morinoue.

I'm all for the dance off. Will it be as fun as the Steetbeat vs Fankick! dance-off a few years ago? The one that featured members of Seattle's modern dance scene and was a fucking blast? cool.

Posted by genevieve | August 29, 2008 7:02 PM
15

And since you wanted profiles on the choreographers listed in the letter, here's a start http://slog.thestranger.com/2007/09/zoe_scofield_all_over_the_goddamned_plac

A post on Slog last year about Zoe Scofield.

Posted by genevieve | August 29, 2008 7:26 PM
16

I think that column was a joke. Maybe it wasn't like totally *!OmG*fUnNy!*, but the serious stuff doesn't appear in the little side boxes.

It's got be hard to do improvisational dance with a great big stick up your butt.

Posted by blank12357 | August 29, 2008 7:29 PM
17

"the general pubic," she says.

Posted by Katelyn | August 29, 2008 7:36 PM
18

"Hipster" has become, in a few short months, a meaningless pejorative. It's time to seek out more descriptive language.

Posted by elenchos | August 29, 2008 8:25 PM
19

I'd be surprised if anyone, even a desperately confused hipster, actually modifies their art seeking behavior based on a Stranger review. I mean, let's be real here.

Posted by Bob | August 29, 2008 8:44 PM
20

"When you write about hot poop"

I think he said the bath water was luke warm.

Posted by Giffy | August 29, 2008 10:22 PM
21

@18 Dipster? Hiptard?

Posted by PopTart | August 29, 2008 11:03 PM
22

Slogster!

Posted by Bob | August 29, 2008 11:22 PM
23

If Modern Dance is so vital, important and appreciated in Seattle, surely the Weekly, the P-I and the Times (none of which have ever been mistaken for hipster enclaves) can provide all the fawning regurgitation of dance company press releases to both let the general public where to go to see this stuff and to impress upon the dancers parents that the monthly "help out" checks are worth it all?

The dance off sounds like a great idea--the Modern Dance dancers be all earnest and artsy and the Stranger hacks can flail about like they're having a seizure or bad drug reaction and the "general public" will be hard-pressed to tell the difference.

Posted by Tiktok | August 29, 2008 11:53 PM
24

The Pat Graney Company rules.

Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball | August 30, 2008 12:42 AM
25

What do I do with modern dance once I've seen it? Do I xfer it to my ipod to listen to while biking? Do I invite my friends over to watch it on my big screen? Can I hang it on my wall so I have something modern to look at?

Who am I kidding, like I'm ever going to watch modern dance in the first place.

Posted by PdxRitchie | August 30, 2008 12:44 AM
26

tik tok: No one wants "fawning regurgitation of dance company press releases" an actual review would suffice.

pdxrichie: You are so right! OMG! I only care about consumer value too! Consume or die!

At first I was only a bit irritated by this mini-pseudo review thing, but the more comments I read, the more I think about it and now that I am one milwaukee's beast and a scotch in (thanks for driving me to drink you haters) it is bothering me more and more.
This is perhaps the most read section of the stranger all year: the bumbershoot pullout and these little fluffy boxed columns are far more likely to be read than an entire review. At a time when dancers have been dealt the massive blow of losing their home (oddfellows bldg) why kick them when their down. Stranger arts ctritcs need the performing arts, not everyone can write the coveted band interview piece every week. When you are granted a position where you have the power to influence people you should not arrogantly and recklessly toss that chance away to be merely snarky and somewhat clever.
And this comment directed more to other commenters (pj, consider this a shoutout) than to stranger critics: When anyone else is evicted due to condo development and gentrification (anyone lose a favorite bar lately?) they are met with empathy and joined in outrage. Not the performing arts who needs 'em. Anyone else is laid off or can't find work, more evidence that the Bush system isn't working. But when a dancer faces these realities they become fodder for scathing jokes and ignorant insults. Now that's clever.

Posted by arts reader | August 30, 2008 1:36 AM
27

So You think You Can Dance is Awesome except when they have the dancers do "modern dance" it's just kinda boring. I want to see Savage do a "modern dance" and maybe some of the tech doods.

Posted by Miss Piggy | August 30, 2008 8:39 AM
28

Arts Reader, I certainly didn't mean to drive you to drink with my little comment. But let's go back to the (your?) original letter, which accused Stranger writers of being "Hipster Dictators of Cool" writing about "hot poop/ hip bands" amongst dozens of other sarcastic insults I think would easily qualify as oh-so-terrible "scathing jokes and ignorant insults."

And I actually don't think "it is cool to watch others dreams die, bank accounts dry up, and self-confidence wither." I know nothing about the situation you're describing. I simply dislike modern dance, and I think a lot of people share my opinion. Sorry we're not nicer about it.

Also, doesn't it seem a little self-important - much like what you're accusing the Stranger of - to blame your problems on the "Bush system," which is frankly insulting to people who are actually suffering because of decisions made by our current president.

Posted by PJ | August 30, 2008 9:18 AM
29

#26: No one wants "fawning regurgitation of dance company press releases" an actual review would suffice.

You couldn't handle it. At least with the snark, there's the benefit of doubt that the snarkster is just poking fun. Which would you rather have, a guy laughing at you or a serious reviewer who says "Well, they aren't very good at all"? I expect you'll get the chance to test this.

Posted by --MC | August 30, 2008 10:31 AM
30

Just skipping the comments posted thus far to say this:

Support local dance.

Posted by Nick | August 30, 2008 10:45 AM
31

pig: if so you think you can dance is your only exposure to modern dance. you have missed out. SYTYCD is to modern dance what precious moments figurines are to modern sculpture. Seriously. You should go check out some real dance (try On The Boards) I bet you'd like it.
pj: I am not the writer of the letter and I would have had a scotch and a beast last night anyway ;)
I think the sarcastic insults you are referring to are first off not sarcastic and secondly directed not at the writers, but at commentors who say things that really are ignorant and mean.
I was not blaming anyone's problems on the Bush system. I did however point out a discrepancy in public opinion towards one sector's financial trouble and job security issues compared to others parts of the populace. Artists have to function in the same economy as everyone else. They should receive equal concern when they are evicted or lose their paychecks.
MC. I'll take real criticism any day. I myself think this will probably not be a very good dance piece. Art that is funded to be in very visible public spaces is usually not very good. We americans don't like our tax dollars to go to anything that may make us think or feel. Which means that most people only get exposed to the lowest common denominator art. sad. An arts critic could try to change this by letting people know that the lame art they saw in the park is nothing compared to that same company or others when they do something real on stage, with enough funding that they can hire top dancers and pay them for enough rehearsals that they can do something good (which for your information is commonly far below minimum wage, no onwe gets rich here). Instead the mini-review said very little about this dance (they may be in water and it may splash or they might have just assumed this) what the article does do is make hateful generalized comments about dancers altogether. It calls into question that they deserve to earn a living, makes light of their financial worries and curses them for hoping that someone will enjoy what they do. I would far prefer a review that says a dance work is bad than one that calls in to question the valid existence of dancers and dance.
Yay! Nick! Yay!

Posted by arts reader | August 30, 2008 11:37 AM
32

pig: if so you think you can dance is your only exposure to modern dance. you have missed out. SYTYCD is to modern dance what precious moments figurines are to modern sculpture. Seriously. You should go check out some real dance (try On The Boards) I bet you'd like it.
pj: I am not the writer of the letter and I would have had a scotch and a beast last night anyway ;)
I think the sarcastic insults you are referring to are first off not sarcastic and secondly directed not at the writers, but at commentors who say things that really are ignorant and mean.
I was not blaming anyone's problems on the Bush system. I did however point out a discrepancy in public opinion towards one sector's financial trouble and job security issues compared to others parts of the populace. Artists have to function in the same economy as everyone else. They should receive equal concern when they are evicted or lose their paychecks.
MC. I'll take real criticism any day. I myself think this will probably not be a very good dance piece. Art that is funded to be in very visible public spaces is usually not very good. We americans don't like our tax dollars to go to anything that may make us think or feel. Which means that most people only get exposed to the lowest common denominator art. sad. An arts critic could try to change this by letting people know that the lame art they saw in the park is nothing compared to that same company or others when they do something real on stage, with enough funding that they can hire top dancers and pay them for enough rehearsals that they can do something good (which for your information is commonly far below minimum wage, no onwe gets rich here). Instead the mini-review said very little about this dance (they may be in water and it may splash or they might have just assumed this) what the article does do is make hateful generalized comments about dancers altogether. It calls into question that they deserve to earn a living, makes light of their financial worries and curses them for hoping that someone will enjoy what they do. I would far prefer a review that says a dance work is bad than one that calls in to question the valid existence of dancers and dance.
Yay! Nick! Yay!

Posted by arts reader | August 30, 2008 11:38 AM
33

pig: if so you think you can dance is your only exposure to modern dance. you have missed out. SYTYCD is to modern dance what precious moments figurines are to modern sculpture. Seriously. You should go check out some real dance (try On The Boards) I bet you'd like it.
pj: I am not the writer of the letter and I would have had a scotch and a beast last night anyway ;)
I think the sarcastic insults you are referring to are first off not sarcastic and secondly directed not at the writers, but at commentors who say things that really are ignorant and mean.
I was not blaming anyone's problems on the Bush system. I did however point out a discrepancy in public opinion towards one sector's financial trouble and job security issues compared to others parts of the populace. Artists have to function in the same economy as everyone else. They should receive equal concern when they are evicted or lose their paychecks.
MC. I'll take real criticism any day. I myself think this will probably not be a very good dance piece. Art that is funded to be in very visible public spaces is usually not very good. We americans don't like our tax dollars to go to anything that may make us think or feel. Which means that most people only get exposed to the lowest common denominator art. sad. An arts critic could try to change this by letting people know that the lame art they saw in the park is nothing compared to that same company or others when they do something real on stage, with enough funding that they can hire top dancers and pay them for enough rehearsals that they can do something good (which for your information is commonly far below minimum wage, no onwe gets rich here). Instead the mini-review said very little about this dance (they may be in water and it may splash or they might have just assumed this) what the article does do is make hateful generalized comments about dancers altogether. It calls into question that they deserve to earn a living, makes light of their financial worries and curses them for hoping that someone will enjoy what they do. I would far prefer a review that says a dance work is bad than one that calls in to question the valid existence of dancers and dance.
Yay! Nick! Yay!

Posted by arts reader | August 30, 2008 11:38 AM
34

pig: if so you think you can dance is your only exposure to modern dance. you have missed out. SYTYCD is to modern dance what precious moments figurines are to modern sculpture. Seriously. You should go check out some real dance (try On The Boards) I bet you'd like it.
pj: I am not the writer of the letter and I would have had a scotch and a beast last night anyway ;)
I think the sarcastic insults you are referring to are first off not sarcastic and secondly directed not at the writers, but at commentors who say things that really are ignorant and mean.
I was not blaming anyone's problems on the Bush system. I did however point out a discrepancy in public opinion towards one sector's financial trouble and job security issues compared to others parts of the populace. Artists have to function in the same economy as everyone else. They should receive equal concern when they are evicted or lose their paychecks.
MC. I'll take real criticism any day. I myself think this will probably not be a very good dance piece. Art that is funded to be in very visible public spaces is usually not very good. We americans don't like our tax dollars to go to anything that may make us think or feel. Which means that most people only get exposed to the lowest common denominator art. sad. An arts critic could try to change this by letting people know that the lame art they saw in the park is nothing compared to that same company or others when they do something real on stage, with enough funding that they can hire top dancers and pay them for enough rehearsals that they can do something good (which for your information is commonly far below minimum wage, no onwe gets rich here). Instead the mini-review said very little about this dance (they may be in water and it may splash or they might have just assumed this) what the article does do is make hateful generalized comments about dancers altogether. It calls into question that they deserve to earn a living, makes light of their financial worries and curses them for hoping that someone will enjoy what they do. I would far prefer a review that says a dance work is bad than one that calls in to question the valid existence of dancers and dance.
Yay! Nick! Yay!

Posted by arts reader | August 30, 2008 11:38 AM
35

oh crap sorry double post

Posted by arts reader | August 30, 2008 11:40 AM
36

I'm torn here, because while I agree that the Stranger could do a better job of encouraging the disparate arts in general, the bald fact is that the music writing the dancers seem to wish the other arts writers to emulate is INCREDIBLY BAD writing. Incredibly bad writing that may be more palatable to the artists involved, but incredibly bad writing nonetheless.

Posted by Matthew | August 30, 2008 11:57 AM
37

The last thing we need is to continue the wanking the mainstream media proliferates concerning the massively inflated egos of performing artists.

Dance off, plz.

Posted by Gomez | September 2, 2008 10:23 AM

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