February 2013 | EditorSpeak

Meet The ‘Beattles’

Call me odd, but I love going to recitals. Doesn’t matter if I know a single dancer—I just enjoy seeing the show. That’s how I found myself strolling on a Saturday night through the gilt-and-red-velvet decor of yet another theater lobby, on my way to yet another recital.

Based on this studio’s powerhouse pieces I had caught at competitions, I anticipated an impressive show. I snuggled down in my seat, glancing around at the moms and dads with arms full of flowers, and opened my program.

Let me skip ahead three hours and tell you that the dancing was clean, the staging crisp, and the choreography well thought out. In fact, the show was everything that the program was not.

Ugh! Inside its glossy cover was a mess of mistakes and embarrassments. A typo or two is forgivable, but this—unforgettable! Here’s the cast for a lovely number from Yentil—or as it was spelled three pages over for the Sunday show, Yental. A zippy jazz by The Chipmonks was followed by a lovely lyrical to The Beattles. And no, the typist’s finger didn’t just get stuck on the t, because the program stated that the Sunday audience would also enjoy that same Beattles piece.

I began an earnest hunt. Other bands’ names were misspelled, song titles were just plain wrong, and it would have taken the entire intermission to fix the incorrect apostrophes on the plurals and possessives.

“Yes, yes,” you might be saying, “we get it—you’re an editor. It’s your thing.” True. But I would wager that while most of the adults in that audience probably knew next to nothing about the dance technique they saw on that stage, they could spell The Beatles.

There’s little that will drag down your customers’ opinion of your professionalism (and intelligence!) more quickly than sloppy copy. And this applies to newsletters, websites, and handouts as well. Most of your clients’ writing may have been reduced to sentence fragments ending in LOL, but we’re in the business of education. Correct matters.

I’m betting whoever prepared the program got all the Kaitlins and Katelyns correct. Certainly John, Paul, George, and Ringo deserve the same. —Karen White, Associate Editor


Lessons From Lemons

We’ve all experienced it, the feeling that occasionally overcomes us when we’re watching a dance performance and we suddenly just can’t stand it anymore: the lazy choreography, overheated but undercooked conceptualizing, poor technique, ghastly costumes. My son, when he was 3, expressed the sentiment perfectly, grabbing my arm during a performance and saying, with an anguished look, “Mommy, those people need to stop doing that!” He was immediately shushed, although believe me, I shared his pain.

But we’re not 3 anymore, and no matter how much we want the spectacle before us to end, we can be expected to grit our teeth and sit politely in our seats until the show is over.

It’s not just good manners though. Having sat through more variations of bad dance over the years than I can count, I’ve begun to realize that there are good reasons not only to sit tight but to pay attention.

Sometimes, in fact, there is quite a bit to be gained from an unenjoyable performance. If you’re stuck there—and you are—you can learn a lot. Ask yourself what it is that’s so exasperating. Exactly what was the choreographer trying to accomplish? Did she go too far, or not far enough? Where did the dance’s structure start to crumble? Would changing the order of the piece help it make actual sense?

If it’s the performance that’s making you sweat with mortification, it’s worth noticing the performance qualities that aren’t working. Overdramatization? Where would you advise the dancer to pull back? Lack of stage presence? How and what do you train your own dancers to project onstage? Sloppy unison or lack of musicality? What should the rehearsal director focus on first?

If you can’t enjoy a piece—and if you’re feeling sufficiently mature that night—try to make what could be a miserable experience into a positive one. Deconstructing a dance and looking at its elements can be very instructive. You might come away with information and insights that can help you and your students.

Besides, gritting your teeth is terrible for your gums. —Lisa Okuhn, Associate Editor