"We had to be critics and reviewers,
for sure. We also had to be the news reporters of that field and we had to be the bulletin board information providers."
Critics were a part of the Arts Community in Chicago
Originally from Mobile, Alabama, Sid Smith is a former writer for the Chicago Tribune. He came to Chicago after graduating from Florida State University and the University of North Carolina and wrote for the City News Bureau. He joined the Tribune staff in 1980, writing features and reviews for dance, film, and theatre performances throughout the city. Smith retired from the Tribune in 2013 but continues to write as a freelancer.
August 05, 2015: Sid Smith charts his path to becoming a dance critic, from his first job at Chicago City News to the Chicago Tribune. He describes the evolution of the Chicago dance scene from the 1970s through the 1990s, specifically in regards to the influence of funding. He speaks about his philosophy in reviewing and the unique position of being both a part of the dance community and maintaining some distance. Smith gives extensive examples of some standout performances he reviewed, as well as notable Chicago companies, dancers, and choreographers.
"I took an introductory ballet course, which I'm glad I did because it taught me how impossibly difficult the most rudimentary moves and positions of ballet are to look remotely attractive."
Journey to Chicago
"[Chicago] had this small, grassroots dance scene.. It formed the crux of what would later become a real dance explosion."
Chicago's Grassroots Dance Scene
"I saw it as my mission to try to get... them in the dance hall – whether they liked what I liked or not – they would learn how to love dance because I believe that dance sells itself."
Arts Critics' responsibility to educate audiences
"Dance in America, in my lifetime,
is inextricably tied to the
National Endowment for the Arts."
National Endowment for the Arts