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Ballet Talk for Dancers

The Critics: firing Tobi Tobias


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If you'd like to make the contents of your email to New York Magazine about its decision to cut Tobi Tobias's dance reviews and to discontinue its dance reviews (pro or con) please post them here. If you're aren't a regular member of this message board and don't want to register just for this purpose but would like your letter added to this thread, please email me: at@balletalert.com Please be sure to include that you are giving me permission to post your comments.

 

(And if you'd like to keep your email private and not post it, that's fine too. Because people are checking our site to monitor developments in this story, it's helpful to have the letters, but I don't want anyone to feel coerced into posting them.)

 

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To email NY Magazine about this issue, write to

 

caroline_miller@newyorkmag.com

 

 

Thank you.

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I received the following email a few minutes ago from Tobi Tobias:

 

Dear Colleagues & Friends,

 

I am sorry to have to tell you that, for budgetary reasons, New York magazine has decided to discontinue its dance column.

 

tt

 

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Tobias's last column, on the Kirov, will run -- presumably next week. To be clear, she will not be replaced. They are cutting dance reviews.

 

This is MY request to all Ballet Alertniks, NOT Tobias's: If any of you are concerned about this -- whether you are, or are not, a fan of Tobi Tobias's criticism, but if you care that the New York dance scene has a diversity of voices writing about it -- please email your concerns to the editor

 

caroline_miller@newyorkmag.com

 

 

Thank you.

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Guest Leigh Witchel

Here's my letter - I urge other people to write. One less voice, one less venue for coverage is a damaging thing.

 

Dear Ms. Miller:

 

I'm very sad to hear of your magazine's decision to discontinue dance coverage by Tobi Tobias.  Her reviews were the reason I read the magazine and visited the website; I have much less reason to do either without them.  Not only was her writing incisive but the coverage of an important part of New York's cultural life stated an important truth: New Yorkers don't just watch TV, they go to the theater, the opera and dance performances.  It's sad to think that you've decided that not enough people are interested to justify coverage.  Count me as one reader for whom that was the main reason I read New York Magazine with pleasure.

 

I hope you will reconsider this sad, and I think misguided, decision.

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Guest Leigh Witchel

Here's my letter - I urge other people to write. One less voice, one less venue for coverage is a damaging thing.

 

Dear Ms. Miller:

 

I'm very sad to hear of your magazine's decision to discontinue dance coverage by Tobi Tobias.  Her reviews were the reason I read the magazine and visited the website; I have much less reason to do either without them.  Not only was her writing incisive but the coverage of an important part of New York's cultural life stated an important truth: New Yorkers don't just watch TV, they go to the theater, the opera and dance performances.  It's sad to think that you've decided that not enough people are interested to justify coverage.  Count me as one reader for whom that was the main reason I read New York Magazine with pleasure.

 

I hope you will reconsider this sad, and I think misguided, decision.

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Thanks for posting that, Leigh.

 

There's an archive of Tobias's New York magazine pieces at http://www.nymag.com/archives/archive.cfm?cat_id=11

 

A quick check of her pieces shows that she covered a broad variety of dance, including a lot of the smaller modern dance companies that don't get much coverage.

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Guest Calliope

I wrote too and asked how they can call themselves "New York" magazine without covering one of the cornerstones of NY culture. Many consider NY to be the dance capital of the world, yet they'll now never read about it in your magazine.

It is a disservice to the population of readers who have been influenced to go to a performance after reading one of Tobi Tobias' reviews.

 

 

and I can't remember what else I wrote b/c it was early this morning.

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Guest Calliope

I wrote too and asked how they can call themselves "New York" magazine without covering one of the cornerstones of NY culture. Many consider NY to be the dance capital of the world, yet they'll now never read about it in your magazine.

It is a disservice to the population of readers who have been influenced to go to a performance after reading one of Tobi Tobias' reviews.

 

 

and I can't remember what else I wrote b/c it was early this morning.

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Thanks, Calliope. I wrote along the same lines. I think this is important on two grounds, one, because Tobias's is such a distinctive voice, brilliant writing, rigorous standards. And two, because how in the **** can NYMag say it represents NY without talking about dance???

 

I'm still stunned by this -- and very alarmed. The Voice has been cutting back dance space. Clive Barnes in the NYPost is reduced to three and four-sentence reviews -- and kudos to Mr. Barnes for hanging in there, and squeezing something of value into those three or four sentences. Joan Acocella does not write very often about dance in the New Yorker -- they're always interesting pieces, but the magazine does not offer comprehensive coverage.

 

That reduces the New York dance scene to two papers -- the NYTimes, which is also cutting back coverage, not always covering cast changes -- appalling for "the paper of record" and Robert Greskovic in the Wall Street Journal. (Along with the short reviews in the Voice and Barnes' mini-reviews.)

 

I suppose I'm struck even more by this because of two factors: the Net has made me more aware of the richness of criticism in London. There are eight critics writing on a daily or weekly basis in newspapers, and they have Dance Now, Dancing Times, and Dance Europe -- and is Dance Express still running? Now, there's a city. Teeny little New York. There's Ballet Review. Even Dance Mag moved out of town. What's going on there?

 

Secondly, because I just spent ten years researching a dancer's career, I'm keenly aware of the need for a diversity of voices. In the 1950s and 1960s, there were 8 critics in CHICAGO, much less New York. When you have that many views, you can begin to get an accurate picture of a dancer, or a ballet. If all eight think one thing, that's a clue. If the eight split 3-3-2 (love, hate, dunno) that's another, and if that 3-3-2 split stays, you can see a pattern: this one really will never like modern dance, this one hates ballet, this one only likes blond(e)s, etc.

 

Who would want to write a history of the period from about 1980 to the present I can't imagine, but if they do, good luck. They'll need a medium to connect to the spirit world to get enough opinions upon which to make a judgment.

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Guest Calliope

Time Out New York does print weekly on the dance scene too. And that magazine is geared at a younger audience than NY, New Yorker.

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True, but I don't think they do reviews. Previews are a different animal.

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Guest Patricia

I e-mailed my letter to NEW YORK. I won't reprint it, but I questioned the validity of such a decision, being that NYC is a major center for ALL kinds of dance. Could it be the decision to cut the column was possibly due to pressure from NYCB? Martins remains popular with his monied, powerful patrons.

 

TIME OUT NEW YORK reviews everything from restaurants to television...but not dance.

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Patricia, since Tobais will not be replaced, I think we can take them at their word and believe that it was "due to budgetary considerations." I read that as "dance isn't important enough to warrant the measly page and a half we give it 15 times a year," but that's my interpretation :)

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Guest piccolo

Ok, this is really depressing me. NEW YORK is decreasing its dance coverage? Oh what has this world come to? Our dance coverage here in San Diego is so pitiful and I have been holding out hope that it will improve but if New York doesn't see the need for dance coverage, who will? :(

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Thanks for the news - albeit bad news. I've sent my email. Maybe if they see enough of an uprising, they'll realize they have a substantial chunk of readers that they'll lose. Here's hoping!

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I agree, piccolo -- that's why this is bad news, I think. You have two problems now. Editors, generally, are not tuned into dance so they have no personal interest. And, then, dance doesn't attract the same crowds as rock concerts. Ergo, it must be an inferior art form :) I hope you wrote this to them.

 

Thank you, BW. I think if a lot of subscribers wrote -- or people who buy the magazine weekly when there's a dance review in it, which is what I've done, or those of you outside of New York who access it by the net. That might mean something to them. At least they will know that DANCE MATTERS.

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