Taking the “Real” out of “American Realness” – Andy Horwitz responds to Macaulay’s critics

Alastair Macaulay, the chief dance critic at the New York Times, is one of (if not the) most notorious dance writers working today. He’s a critic the “downtown dance” scene loves to hate, and indeed, he has said some dicey things about dancers in the past (like when he criticized NYCB dancer Jenifer Ringer’s weight in his 2010 review of “The Nutcracker”). This became apparent once again when he referred to the pieces on view at the American Realness Festival at Abrons Art Center earlier this month as “silly and inconsequential.” While many have lashed out against Macaulay, saying he’s closed his mind to their art, Andy Horwitz’s response to the calamity sees Macaulay’s criticism as coming from a place of tough love, not pure malice towards experimental dance and theater.

Horwitz brings in some thoughtful critiques of his own, especially in response to what “realness” means and how the American Realness Festival (among many other small-scale local festivals) is taking a hypocritical stance in regards to their role in the NYC performing art scene. As you might have guessed, this is a debate that’s been going on for a while, and as much as artists love to have all the positive support they can get, sometimes it takes a negative critique in order for those same artists to grow and improve. Read Horwitz’s essay “Considering Alastair, Questioning Realness” on Culturebot and decide for yourself whether or not Macaulay’s critiques are on par.

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