[Online Course] ArtsEquator Introduction to Reviewing Dance

INTRODUCTION TO REVIEWING DANCE by Chan Sze-Wei, Jocelyn Chng and Bernice Lee

Course Synopsis:

This introductory course offers tools and practical exercises for writing for dance and about dance. We will expand our vocabularies for describing and analysing movement, communicating the inspiration behind dance works, and capturing a sense of audience experience. The course will focus on two areas: (1) writing an engaging synopsis for your dance performances and (2) writing dance reviews and articles. These writing skills will be applicable for creating marketing materials and programme information for dance productions, or as a foundation for becoming a dance writer for newspapers, magazines, blogs and venues. Dancers and choreographers may also find these language skills useful for their biographies, websites and blogs.


27 Aug – 17 Sep 2020. Every Thursday from 7.30pm – 9.30pm (Total: 8 hours)

How to Apply:

Fill in the application form here. Successful applicants will be notified of the results of their application by 3rd August 2020. Applications close 27 July 2020.

*Participation is FREE. This programme is open to Singaporean citizens and PR only. Eligible participants can apply for the CDSA training allowance from NAC. Spaces are limited.

Trainer Bios:

Chan Sze-Wei is a movement-based artist who creates for the stage and screen. Her practice is grounded in a somatic approach focused on perception, sensation and the organic knowledge of the human body – coupled with an interest in the politics of the body. She has been a dance writer since 2008 for publications including ArtsEquator, the Straits Times, Fivelines, Artzine, and the Esplanade Offstage. She has facilitated movement-based workshops for the LASALLE School of Dance (2013-2017), the Substation’s Discipline the City programme (2017) and local and international Contact Improvisation events (2013-ongoing). She is also an advocate for the rights and sustainable careers of dancers in Singapore, as well as the development of artistic networks and exchange in Southeast Asia. She holds a Diploma in Dance from the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts and an M.A. in Contemporary Dance from London Contemporary Dance School. She is a member of the Cinemovement collective and an Associate of the Dance Nucleus Singapore. www.oddpuppies.com 

Jocelyn Chng is a freelance practitioner, writer and educator in dance and theatre. She has a keen interest in issues of culture and history, both personal and in wider societal/national contexts. She holds a double Masters in Theatre Studies/Research from the Universities of Amsterdam and Tampere, and obtained a BA(Hons) in Theatre Studies from the National University of Singapore. In 2018, she also completed a PG Dip in Education (Dance Teaching), which sparked her interest in issues of safety in dance practice and education. Her works, Becoming Mother? (2017), Mulled Wine (2019) and Dancing Alone (in progress, working title) deal with the intersections between personal histories, culture and form. As a writer/reviewer, Jocelyn has written for several platforms, including Centre 42, Arts Equator, The Straits Times and The Flying Inkpot (closed in 2015). She is an Associate Member of Dance Nucleus and a part-time lecturer at Lasalle College Of The Arts.          

Bernice Lee is a contemporary dance artist from and in Singapore. Her labours are rooted in improvisation, and the connection between thought, feeling, and movement. Her love of language has led her to writing about dance, and working with poets and spoken word artists. She has been a dance writer since 2017, for FiveLines, ArtsEquator and the Straits Times. She created “Letters Come Alive”, a Rolypoly Family performance for preschoolers, as a response to the needs for both playing and literacy in the ReadAble community. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Hons) in Dance from The Ohio State University. She is co-director of Rolypoly Family, an Associate Member of Dance Nucleus and a part-time lecturer at Lasalle College Of The Arts. For more information, visit bernicelee.xyz

Guest Speaker:

Nabilah Said is a playwright, poet, theatre critic and editor of ArtsEquator. She has presented plays in Singapore and London and her play ANGKAT: A Definitive, Alternative, Reclaimed Narrative of a Native (2019, M1 Singapore Fringe Festival) won Best Original Script at the 2020 Life Theatre Awards. She is the founder of playwright collective Main Tulis Group. As a former arts correspondent with The Straits Times, she covered the theatre and dance scene and reviewed performances. She has an MA in Writing for Performance from Goldsmiths, University of London.

Materials: Participants will receive a reading list, soft copy articles and links to online productions to watch


Course Outline:
Session 1

– What are the difficulties that people face in talking about their own work?

– What makes you want to watch a particular performance?

– What information do you want to communicate in a synopsis/other publicity material? 

– Look at samples of dance writing from programmes

– Look at how dance writing sits next to visuals; discuss the choice to write longer or shorter synopses

– Describing dance – watch clips together and practise describing what you see

Session 2

– Sell your synopsis

– Each participant brings a 1 page pitch of a performance they have produced or are planning to produce. The group submits their decision to “buy” a ticket to the show or not, with comments on what influenced their decision.

– The audience’s perspective and experience

– Why do you watch dance?

– What influences your expectations of a dance performance? 

– What are some difficulties that you face talking about dance work (or performance work in general)?

Session 3

– Introduction to dance reviewing/criticism:

– The purpose of a review

– Factors influencing how one might approach reviewing a particular performance

– Looking at examples of dance reviews

– All participants are assigned to write a 500-1000 word review of one of two online dance performances.

Session 4

– Group reviewing

– All participants to bring their review from previous session’s assignment

– In the class they read each others’ reviews, and partner up as “editor” of each other’s work.

– Group discussion of approaches to reviewing

– Introduction to work opportunities for dance writers

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