Clement Crisp Reviews: Six Decades of Dance by Gerald Dowler (ed) - review by Rupert Christiansen

Rupert Christiansen

Taking a Bow

Clement Crisp Reviews: Six Decades of Dance


International Dance Writing Foundation 320pp £30

Remember Addison DeWitt, the drama critic so vividly incarnated by George Sanders in All About Eve? DeWitt is a person of formidable hauteur and waspish wit who writes without fear or favour, devoted above all to the integrity of the art form over which he sits in judgement. In his lineage stands Clement Crisp, revered dance critic for the Financial Times from 1970 to 2020.

This year he turns ninety and he has recently retired from reviewing. To mark the end of his distinguished career, friends and colleagues have helped him assemble a handsome collection of his writings that invaluably chronicles more than sixty years of change, from the heyday of neoclassicists such as Frederick Ashton and George Balanchine to the postmodernism of Pina Bausch and Michael Clark.

As an artistic medium that rejects or transcends words (and even resists notation), dance doesn’t easily translate to the page. Only a very few writers – André Levinson, Edwin Denby and Richard Buckle spring immediately to mind – have managed to find a poetic style that can evoke

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