tell me like it is
Let’s talk critiques for a hot minute. Because it can be a really difficult thing to give someone, to hear as a performer and to watch if you’re in a class together. But they are also necessary if you want to improve.
As a former art student and graphic designer I am no stranger to constructive criticism. Critiques are a huge part of the learning process, especially when it comes to different art forms. Whether it’s performance art, literature, painting, music or film, one thing is certain. At some point during your schooling and career, you are going to have to hear to what someone else thinks of your work. Teachers, clients, producers — all of them are going to have opinions. And they aren’t always going to be what you want to hear.
I wish there was a universal way to give and receive criticism that made everyone involved feel all warm and fuzzy inside. But that’s not real. When it comes to giving critique there’s a general rule to sandwich the bad in between the good. But because we’re human, it’s not really that simple. I have found that there are at least two different types of deliveries when giving feedback to someone: 1. Cute and fluffy; 2. Direct and to the point. And I’ll take number two every single time.
Don’t get me wrong, cute and fluffy is great. But hearing that I did amazing without any actual substance feels like a waste of time. Give it to me straight and just tell me like it is. Please! Am I going to like everything that I hear? Probably not. But I will most likely learn more from hearing it. Will I instinctually become defensive about my work? Sure, that’s a pretty natural response. BUT, hopefully I can reel it in and communicate with a professional attitude. Because if something's being brought up during a critique, there’s usually a disconnect. Maybe together we can figure out a better way to convey my intention more clearly. And sometimes it’s not even that deep. It could just be a matter of cleaning up a specific move. The point of getting feedback is to hear if something isn’t stage ready. It’s not to hurt my feelings or make me feel incapable. And if something’s not ready, I want to know. I want to know all of it, because that’s how I improve.
When it comes to how I deliver my critiques : I’m sure you can guess at this point. I do not like to sugar coat it. You will have my full attention and I will look at what you give me with a critical eye. And yes, I’m going to pick away at the details. But it’s not to beat you down, or make you feel like shit. It’s actually quite the opposite. I do this because I respect the work you’ve done. And I want you to succeed. My job as the individual providing feedback is to be honest with you and to help you grow. Integrity is super important to me and I’m not going to blow smoke up your ass just to keep you coming back. If a number isn’t ready for the stage, a festival, whatever it may be — I’m going to give you my honest opinion. And then it’s up to you. But I hope you know, that no matter how someone delivers a critique, no matter how many things get brought up; that person wants you to do well. If they didn’t they wouldn’t be there in first place.
With all that being said, I preface all of my critiques by saying, “This is your art. I’m going to give you my opinion and it’s up to you what you want to take from it. There is more than one right way to do this and at the end of the day your performance has to feel true to you and your body.”
And I whole-heartedly believe that.
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