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  • Writer's pictureJulia Sumzina

Editorial Opinion: Why don't I call myself a critic?

I think everyone in the theater and film environment who has ever talked with me a little more traditional "Hello" and "Have a nice evening" knows that I call my work reviews, and myself - "an observer" or generally "a journalist".

So why not a "critic"?

The word "critic" comes from Greek κριτικός (kritikós) 'able to discern', which is a Greek derivation of the word κριτής (krités), meaning a person who offers reasoned judgment or analysis, value judgment, interpretation or observation.

The key concept of this term is "judgment". Unfortunately, very often "judgment" turns into "condemnation", especially in ballet criticism.

I do not consider myself completely impartial, I often have an "unpopular opinion", which, however, I very rarely reflect in my articles.

What is the reason? If we are talking about ballet, criticism unfortunately is condemnation. And condemnation for every wrong (and often right) step, or even outright, undisguised persecution, is a part of ballet life. When we talk about cinema, criticism is not always associated with condemnation and from time to time is very interesting, well-grounded and striving for analysis, but very often an opinion is also mixed with the reflection of reviewer’s own complexes and triggers, and the observer does not try to consider advantages and disadvantages, but begins to offend the person.

I try to be objectively optimistic, trying to analyze what emotions the work evokes in the viewer (for example, for me personally), finding advantages and avoiding small flaws that creators and performers themselves perfectly see and decide how and whether they need to fix it at all. It happens that I deliberately bypass the moments that I did not like, from an objective or subjective point of view, solely because the objective moments are visible to the content creators, and subjectivity is not good to reviews. I believe that my opinion should not prevent the reader from wanting to join the work and I consider it illogical to have the position "I haven’t not look / did not read / did not listen, but I condemn". My motto is - look / read / listen by yourself, and then judge whether you like it or not.

With my texts, I am not trying to "expose" something wrong or "exalt" what I personally like. I want to help my readers become interested in art: ballet, theater, cinema, painting, photography, etc.

How can I explain the fact that sometimes, very rarely, and from this, little negative things appear even more brightly in my idyllic reviews? At the moment, I can remember two cases: one in Instagram post more than a year and a half ago, just about one ballerina was unsure in her performance, and the second one quite recently - in my text for Dance Europe. I do not hold back in those cases when it is impossible to get around certain professional flaws that influenced the perception of the whole performance, never, in any case, without becoming personal. And objectively, it happens that I do not like the artist, which is very natural, it is a matter of taste, but I do not care about the personality of this artist and it does not even occur to me to write something about this person. Let me remind you that "in this role N did not show ease" - this is about a professional, but "as everyone knows, nature did not award N with talent" - this is about personality. In my opinion, journalism should be ethical, and the transition to personalities is unethical in any case, both in the text and in communication.

In a word, I am very happy when someone does not "criticize" or "judge" but glorifies art, which is what I wish for myself, regardless of personal taste preferences.

Enjoy art, bring it to the people , share your opinions, but without judgment. Love to you all.

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