A Critic’s Best Friend- and other sweet treats

My Grad School application has been sent- sweet success! Thank you coffee (These are just a few of the cups I’ve cleaned out of my car)

And speaking of sweet……


Paula Dean's refrigerator


I always decorate my Mom’s sugar cookies for xmas. This year I included a ‘Holiday Movies’ theme on a few. Please note the ‘Fra-gi-leee. That must be Italian!’ lamp (A Christmas Story) , Harry Potter, John Candy in a flaming car from ‘Planes, Trains, and Automobiles’, a 34th street sign (Miracle on 34th street) and Will Ferrell ( Elf). There is also a chubby sugar plum fairy on a santa shape. Those are my favorites.My cat seems to agree, she ate the head off of Harry Potter. 


Here are also a few more Pics from the Trip! My Mom and I had such a fabulous time in Louisville. We had dinner at North End Cafe on Frankfurt Street. I highly recommend it- and the brie appetizer plate (as pictured)

Moving on. So, which would you like first, the good news or the bad news?

Ok good news! I’ve had an offer for some sponsorship on this humble blog. Hooray! What an amazing writer/blogger I must be!

Bad news: apparently…. not so much.

I recently wrote a blog for the Alive Magazine site as a preview for three dance offerings in St. Louis from various companies. One was Alexandra Ballet’s classic version of ‘The Nutcracker’ that featured narration as well as an entirely student cast, another was my old company, MBT who did a special performance in partnership with the charity organization Wings of Hope, and the third is a new contemporary company, Common Thread Dance Company that did a spin-off called ‘The Endless Forest’. I promoted, and said nice things, about all three and their unique offerings.

They were not the only companies that Alive and I invited to be featured. I will not name names, but others remained silent. Their choice, that’s fine.

So when the I was tagged quite nicely on facebook with a  link to the article, one dancer from said silent company really rallied against me- she must be in league with the St. Louis Cardinals Rally Squirrel. They’re both nuts.

I changed names , the tagger/owner of this facebook-page-turned-battlefield is X, the company in question I have renamed FlapAroundFunTown (simply for the giggle I get writing the name, not as an affront to the company) the Jessica-hater I have renamed Jane Horror Medicine woman. I’m still me, as always-

 here’s what went down:

original tag from X: A great article mentioning AB as penned by the ever-eloquent Jessica Ruhlin

random person: Congrats and well deserved! 

  • X: Thanks Em!

    December 20 at 8:33pm ·
  • Jessica RuhlinThak you X! It was a delight and a trip down memory lane!

    December 20 at 10:08pm ·LikeUnlike · 1
  • Jane Horror Medicine WOman: I disagree with the ever-eloquent statement. Jessica, you need to put your bias aside if you ever want to be a good journalist. If you just want to plug your friends, well you’re on the right track.

    December 21 at 8:03am ·LikeUnlike
  • X: Jane, I can see why you’d deduce that by the way she worded parts of her blog, but here are the facts: FAFT was given the same invitation to be featured (she has reviewed FAFT in the past); we were copied on the same e-mail. And while Jessica did train some with AB and danced with MBT, she also danced with FAFT once upon a time, and has taught at COCA. She’s not biased, and I think it’s time we had some “dance writers” in stl that actually know about dance.

    December 21 at 10:48am ·LikeUnlike · 1
  • random person: Alexandra Ballet’s production of “The Nutcracker” is one of the most professional and polished children’s companies that I have ever seen. The technique held by the dancers at such a young age at the school is second to none. I am proud that my daughter was apart of such an amazing production. Looking at the training that she has recieved sets such high standards amoungst all. It is easy to see why Alexandra Ballet was rated amoung the top in the Nation.

    December 21 at 12:02pm ·LikeUnlike
  • Jane Horror Medicine Woman:  Yes, I read her “review” of X. It was extremely biased. If X was given the same opportunity to be written up by Jessica I know why it was turned down.I am not saying anything bad about Alexandria’s or MBT’s Nutcracker productions. I respect their productions as much as ours. This has to do with Jessica’s writing, not your productions.

    I agree we need writers in St. Louis who understand ballet. But we also need writers without ties to this organization or that organization. While she is dancing in one ballet company she needs to work extremely hard not to show her disdain for other companies. Maybe she will get better at this with time. But she still needs to be aware of her bias.

    December 21 at 12:46pm ·LikeUnlike
  • Jessica RuhlinJane Horror Medicine Woman- I actually heard from several dancers in FAFT that they agreed with my statements of my latest FAFT review. And I included a lot of praise for many deserving dancers in the FAFT company. I also gave very high praise to FAFT in my (previous) review, if you’d care to remember that.

    December 21 at 1:00pm ·LikeUnlike
  • Jessica RuhlinBy the time I reviewed FAFT I was no longer under contract with MBT and I am not dancing with any company now, so your idea that I am biased is ridiculous. A harsh critic, perhaps. I hold the art of ballet to a very high standard and give credit where it’s due.

    December 21 at 1:01pm ·LikeUnlike
  • X: Whew! Lively debate…love it. Jane Horror Medicine Woman, you present a nice thought. I’d love a writer in town that knows dance, but has absolutely has no ties or past with any stl co’s. In nyc, yes. In stl? I’m not holding my breath. I think to have someone who adversly has a past with almost all of them is the next best option, certainly over an ignorant critic. It’s not as though Jess always promotes us (she didn’t mention us in her blog about 60×60, which I didn’t post b/c, well, I am trying to promote X, of course). A writer has to start somewhere. I hope the FAFT Nutcracker run is going well; I’m sure it’s been exhausting, but exciting for the audiences.

    December 21 at 2:07pm ·LikeUnlike
  • Thanks X! You’re right about stl. Maybe someday, right?@Jessica: That’s great that some of the FAFT dancers liked your review. They are maybe not also writers? I write as well so I have a different perspective. I’m sorry that you think my opinion is harsh. It isn’t only my opinion. Other FAFT members share it with me. And, as a writer, you will be critiqued. This is good practice. 😉

  • December 22 at 8:07am ·LikeUnlike
  • random person: I, too, remember the review of FAFTs “PigglyWiggly” and I specifically recall the vigorous way that Jessica praised the dancer who portrayed Miss Piggy, describing her exquisite quality. It made me wish I could have seen the show! I also remember that Jessica offered criticism for other aspects of the show, and that balance made her more credible as a critic. I trust her opinion because she addresses both that which is wonderful and that which could be improved. No art is all good or all bad; it takes an honest voice to address the negative aspects, especially due to the risk of offending the artists involved and having to hear about it months later via someone else’s Facebook wall.

    December 22 at 7:24pm ·LikeUnlike · 1
    Jane Horror, Medicine woman:  If she didn’t only praise her friends in the review it would have been a lot more credible. Obviously any review shows the negative and positive side of a production, that isn’t the point I am trying to make here. I think we won’t agree on this issue. It’s great that she has so much support. But writers need to be able to take criticism and learn from their mistakes just as much as dancers need to.This is not an opinion of an “artist involved” in the review. I wasn’t a big part of PigglyWiggly so I wasn’t a part of the review either, logically. This is an opinion of a dancer and writer who knows the background and connections of another dancer and writer and can see the bias. That is the bottom line. No matter how many adoring friends Jessica has, she still wrote a biased and sloppy review about the FlapAroundFunTown.

    I understand you don’t want your friends criticized on Facebook. I will stop commenting. But if Jessica wants to make it in the world of dancing or writing she will need to be able to hear critiques and apply what she hears. The fact that I am so easily being dismissed as a resentful dancer shows how little she can absorb from a non-positive-friendship based opinion. And that will only hurt her abilities.

Aaaaand that was the end of it. I chose not to respond after my first rebuttal since it seemed that anything I, or anyone else, had to say in my defense was going to fall on deaf ears. May I point out several thing that, now that my blood has stopped boiling, I find quite enjoyable about this whole shin-dig?

Fact 1; I am critiqued for a sloppy review, but JHMW doesn’t even make a clear criticism. First I am biased against the entire company because I dance with another- oh wait, proven WRONG so I am biased against…CERTAIN MEMBERS  of aforementioned company..since I am friends with some of them. (How this lady is aware of my entire social network and history is beyond me. Stalker much?)

fact 2: Speaking of stalker, anyone who claims to be a writer in this city is bound to come up with a little googling/ digging. She doesn’t. Whereas my opinion was called for by professional publications, she is ranting on a facebook wall during the holidays. Wow. What I did indeed find was a very boring blog that hasn’t been updated since the summer detailing her freshmen comp class at a community college. Ooooo I ‘m threatened.

Fact3: More-so than anything else, her accusations are wrong. Even by the time that I’m called only selectively biased that is not correct. I praised people I have never met and criticized the work of people that I have worked with before and remember fondly.

Oh the trouble of being slightly in the public eye. I think the phrase ‘you can dish it out but you can’t take it’ is applicable here. it seems pretty silly to me that I’m the one being harassed on not taking criticism. I could have pointed these major hypocrisies things out to Jane, but it just seemed combative and childish to me. Also, why do I need to justify my opinion which was requested as a critic? or do I? Should I have stood up more for myself? Also, how unprofessional is it that I’ve posted the entire conversation?

I stand by the fact that she wrote these comments on facebook for all of the internet to see so she clearly wanted them out in the blogosphere as well. My fear in all honesty, is that anyone would read these remarks and find them believable.

I was listening to some of the Ricky Gervias stand-up comedy in which he describeds the dangers of ‘the rumor mill’. (He does not use that awful phrasing, that’s all me!) Remember when everyone thought that actor Richard Gere stuck Gerbils up his you-know-what? That’s pretty insane. I’m also pretty sure that he’s rich enough that if a fuzzy critter got stuck up the poop-shoot he’d be able to hire a private doctor to come to his house and offer an ample bribe to keep quiet on the whole thing. Or to be safe, he could just kill the doc. We all saw ‘Unfaithful’.

Basically, if it’s in print or being spoken, someone will believe it, or change it, or expand it, or get it flat-out wrong. I mean, that’s what Journalists do best right? Just ask Jane Horror, because she is apparently a better writer and critic than me, at the very least. I’ll just keep trying to change, expand, and stretch the St. Louis dance and publishing community, and of course, my own imagination, skill-set, and hamstrings. Constructive criticism welcome.

8 thoughts on “A Critic’s Best Friend- and other sweet treats

  1. Hmmm… you cat has already decapitated Harry… perhaps Jane too?

    On a more serious note, I’ve found that no matter what you publish on the internet someone will be angry about it. I write something about the 25 Worst Cars ever made and the only comment is “you forgot the XXX, stupid.” Did I forget it or did I just think it was #26? You, however, have ventured into criticism of a very tightly knit community. Someone is bound to be pissed off for personal reasons (I had a 1982 XXX and it sucked/I tried really hard the day of the show but half-assed months of rehearsal) and try to come up with what sounds like a convincing argument. Luckily, these trolls actually don’t mean anything. I’ve found that the more successful I am as a journalist the more these asshats come out of the woodwork. I guess what I’m getting at, in a most roundabout way, is that you can take it as a compliment.

    Also, as a critic, if you never piss anybody off you’re doing it wrong. Of course you already knew that, but it bears repeating.


    • Thanks Stirling. I agree, there are ‘personal reasons’ masquerading under ‘a writer who sees bias and or poor writing’ at work. it stinks to be criticized professionally for something that is personal. I can still, months later, remember exact steps (a failed assemble without even a beat from Mercutio, etc) that made me say the things I did. Owell. It’s funny how the dance community of St. Louis, while indeed small, is not tight-knit. It would be great if companies got to know each other, collaborated, supported each other. Sadly, this is not the case. I do like your use of the word asshat though 🙂 Cheers to you

  2. Pingback: Between the Bookends « BODIES NEVER LIE

  3. I own a calculator, therefore I am a mathematician.

    I am obviously not a writer though; because I had to check Google to verify the spelling of mathematician. Google suggested “mathmagician.” Google knows.

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