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Critical Endeavour 2012
Ori Lenkinski – Feedback report

The Critical Endeavor Programme is one with endless potential. Criticism is an essential and necessary element in the art field and as such, the presence of critics at Impulstanz has the possibility to open many paths of thought for all involved. As mixed media becomes more and more embedded in every day life, the place of the critic has come to inhabit many different spheres. There could be no more perfect location for a meeting of dance writers than Impulstanz. 

The programming of this year's festival was excellent, in my eyes. I was exposed to countless moving, thoughtful and thought-provoking performances that I will consider for many months to come. 

Our group, while incredibly diverse, was also very challenging (in a good way). Each person came to CritEnd with an established point of view and a particular point of departure from which they viewed dance. I felt honored to be part of such an intelligent and ambitious group of people. A great success of this program was that we were brought together, exposed to one another's ideas and given time inside and outside of our work hours to get to know one another. 

Our particular CritEnd experience was colored by, and eventually derailed by several unfortunate misunderstandings. 

For one, our mentor, Franz Anton Cramer, is an incredible writer and member of the community. He has endless knowledge about dance and dance-makers that I, for one, would have been happy to be privy to. However, it seemed that he was unclear about was his responsibilities were as the leader of our gang. As someone who grew up in a youth movement that was leadership skill based, I feel that the experience of a group starts and ends at the head. Though FAC is undoubtedly an excellent choice as an expert in this program, he was uninvolved and somewhat uninterested when it came to taking the reins as the leader. 

Sadly, within the first days of our time together, it became clear that our schedule had little flexibility and was arranged more like a classroom than a professional symposium. We met at the same office every day, for the same hours. We did not interact in the public space of the festival very much, leaving us invisible to all attendees other than ourselves. For journalists, visibility is key. In this way, the program did not maximize its potential both to offer valuable input to the festival from the writers and visa versa. As a former DanceWebber I know that Impulstanz is fertile ground to meet artists, programmers and other important members of the community. Though we spoke several times about arranging meetings with people present at the festival, these ideas were presented and forgotten. 

I would have liked to see more creativity in terms of the hours we worked. It would have been great to meet one night after the show and all write for one hour then publish. Or to embark on independent projects for half of the day and return in the afternoon. When things like this were suggested, they were answered with "the schedule is already full". 

The next problem was our lack of a common goal. In previous years, the CritEnders functioned as a jury. For many reasons, it was decided that this was not a positive use of the time. However, there was no goal set to replace the former. Instead, we arrived with little information about how we would spend our time to discover that there was no general aim for us as a group. While we had the blog, which could have been a great group project, Franz Anton did not seem interested in giving us time to work on it. Even when we asked for time to write, we were met with either negative responses or were ignored. 

We were not scheduled to see the same shows, thus discussions about performances were quickly ruled out as a possible activity during out group time. This is a major point that I believe should be addressed. If the critics are not seeing the same shows, there is little point in meeting as a group. If so, every person would then function as an independent journalist, more like a writer in residence at the festival. 

In regards to the experts brought in it appeared that several factors made the time less affective. First of all, the order of these experts was disharmonious. We began with Claudia La Rocco and Peter T'Jonck, two experts who in my opinion would have been better placed in the middle to end of the program. We finished with Marlon Barrios, whose entire practice is based on web presence. While Marlon's contribution was worth while, it would have been wonderful to begin with sessions and have the chance to employ his tactics immediately after on our blog. As it was, we received four days of lectures on blogging with no time to blog in our last moments at the festival, rendering his lessons somewhat useless to the group. 

To finish we were meant to have a final salon. When it became clear to Franz Anton that we had nothing to present, he canceled this event. Thus, our program ended unceremoniously and abruptly. We did not say goodbye to the experts or to Franz Anton. We never had a chance to discuss continuing to work on our blog as a satellite group or any further collaboration, which to me is one of the most unfortunate missed opportunities here. 

 

I have endless ideas about how I think this program can be improved, which I will be happy to share at any time. 

Please let me know if you would like an additional document of these thoughts. 

 

Kisses, 

Ori

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