Endangered dance species...another critic bites the dust
Lewis Segal, chief dance critic for the Los Angeles Times, learned Friday that the paper will no longer support a full-time dance critic. His position is being eliminated. This after a week in which he wrote three feature-length reviews, a Sunday piece and a long obit.
In a city where dance riddles the inner sanctums of churches, temples, community centers, clubs, gymnasiums and zocalos, to say nothing of the nearly 280 legit performance spaces in mainstream theaters, large, mid-sized and small -- this signals a gigantic disconnect between the people and press.
Writes Segal, who has been in the post since 1996 and written about dance for the LAT for 12 years before that:
"...my position is being eliminated in the latest round of of staff layoffs and cutbacks...I have followed my supervisors' advice and applied for the Times buyout, which means I'll be off the staff as of the end of this month. However, there is some talk about my freelancing for the paper in the future."
Segal's intrepid and passionate coverage extends to nearly every part of the globe; he is by common consensus one of the most widely travelled arts writers of his generation. It's safe to say that the open, porous and welcoming embrace Angelenos now have particularly for non-Western forms is due to him.
This news comes right as Los Angeles Ballet is making a dent, right as it looks like there might be a relevant and exciting classical company finally anchored in this city. It comes when TV dance shows electrify viewerships and for good reason. Right when there are more languages spoken here than ever before and we must depend on dance watchers to decipher and translate culture from Other to Other. Segal is the right man, the best man, for this job -- and his loss is worth protesting on many fronts.
You can contact Segal at LewisSegal@aol.com