Anyone who spends their life in the arts, whether they are a dancer, a musician or a painter, not only welcomes criticism, but thrives on it. For what is there to improve upon if you give only perfect performances?

So be as nitpicky as you like, but to discredit an entire performance based on one of the performer’s facial expressions, as Ross Brenneman did about Celtic in his article ‘Rochester Revue Lacks Excitement” two weeks ago, is not only nave, but completely unfounded.

Let it be known that that so-called ‘leg flailing” (Ross’s flatteringly coined term for Irish dancing) has garnered national and world titles and over a dozen first-place trophies between the six of us who performed that evening.

To criticize us over the absence of a smile for a dance form that many of us have been competing in for over 15 years is simply offensive in its triviality.

But please do not misconstrue what I am saying as sour grapes or that we take ourselves too seriously to enjoy some constructive criticism.

If you had said that our jumps weren’t high enough or that our feet weren’t crossed, we would have taken those comments in stride and used them to improve our next performance, because at least it shows some intelligence in the issue.

And, in turn, if you had spoken to the several Irish Dance Adjudicators that were sitting in the audience that night, you would have quickly found that the lack of a smile would probably have been at the very bottom of a list of technical analyses (even though they were still able to enjoy our performance). What kind of dancers would we be if we didn’t appreciate that kind of feedback?

What I am saying is that constructive criticism must be just that: constructive.
In fact, what does make the ‘Irish incredibly unhappy” is an incredibly disrespectful review that does not even critique our dancing.

So if you couldn’t enjoy our performance, Ross, I’m glad that you at least enjoyed the spare ribs.

Leah Rankin
Class of 2010

Comic: UR sus

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