Response: Why Alexandra Villarreal Matters to the Dance World

Millions of Americans tuned in for the Grammys, and many were dazzled, amazed, and touched by the emotionally-charged, nude leotard clad performance of Sia's Chandelier by Kristen Wiig and Maddie Ziegler. A few days later, the Internet gave a delighted and turned on groan as tattooed "ballet bad boy" Sergei Polunin pique arabesque-d to Hozier's Take Me to Church.

All of the sudden, the previously defunct dance world is alive again, thanks to a 12-year-old girl and a shirtless hot guy with a really nice ballotté. So says Alexandra Villarreal, who recently claimed that Maddie Ziegler is personally responsible for turning the troubled dance world around. Writes Vilarreal:

"...Let's face it - other than a few revolutionary moments from the likes of Bill T. Jones, Jessica Lang, Mark Morris, Ms. Tharp, and Kyle Abraham, not much has happened in the dance world since way back in the 1960s with the Judson Church. Or perhaps it has, but it hasn't taken the shape of innovation."

Wait, huh? On behalf of the writers, scholars, critics, and artists who have dedicated their careers to the study of a world that rarely, if ever, includes an affiliation with Dance Moms:

How dare you.

Dancers descend from dancers, and I think we can all agree that Abby Lee Miller and Judson Church have little to do with one another. If, as you say, nothing has happened since then, by that logic your beloved Maddie and the whole of contemporary jazz pretty much cease to exist.

Your list of exactly five choreographers of importance in the last five decades, though robust, is wholly incomplete. Are we to deny the impact American choreographers such as Jerome Robbins and George Balanchine made in bridging concert dance and populist forms like Broadway and film? Have you even heard of Pina Bausch? Lin Hwai-Min? Ohad Naharin? Kylián? Forsythe? Anyone at all from outside the US?!?

Here's a small piece of advice: before you make sweeping claims about the dance world, do your homework. This isn't about Maddie Ziegler. This is about the power and influence writers have, and the great responsibility of representing a diverse, innovative, vibrant and awesome community that has and will continue to thrive in spite of itself. The first thing I learned as a new dance critic was to avoid making broad, unsubstantiated claims. Because our opinions don't matter, but what we say does.