Chicago Tribune Sid Smith
August 26, 2013 was an amazing day, It was Sid Smith’s retirement party. Events have rushed me to NY, and unfortunately I was not in town for Sid’s farewell. Sid has been writing dance, theater, and film reviews/features for the Chicago Tribune for the past 28 years. A native of Mobile, AL, he studied dance, theatre and criticism at Florida State University and the University of North Carolina. He then moved to Chicago in 1978 to work for the City News Bureau. He joined the Chicago Tribune in 1980. He has been an incredible asset for the city of Chicago by writing about all forms of art and culture around town.
Here are my words to Sid:
I remember the first time I performed with the Joffrey and the first time I was reviewed in Chicago - way back in 2003. I was very excited, as it was the first time I was a solo dancer named in The Chicago Tribune. For a young French man making it to his dream city here in Chicago (a city I had only viewed pictures of in books and movies), the excitement I felt was overwhelming and almost unexplainable. Reviews are something to be so proud of, and it is one phenomenal way to show my family back in France what I’m doing. They rarely get to see my work ‘live’. Reviews come and go. They are sometimes great, sometimes terrible, sometimes unfair, and sometimes just right. “The Dream A Ballet in One Act” is a ballet adapted from A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare, and which was choreographed by Sir Frederick Ashton in 1973.
In the middle of the ballet, Oberon ( the character I was dancing) tackles a series of complicated pirouettes ending on a single foot; which because of my 6’6’’body frame requires a great deal of control. For a man my size, role is honestly a living nightmare! Not to mention that each time I would be on stage dancing the coda and sharing the stage with Calvin Kitten (who was performing the role of Puck, and wanted the tempo of the music to be as fast as his feet could go) made it that much more intense! I was swearing voraciously under my breath every time I would rush off stage after segment. The truth is, it was F….. Hard (excuse my language). The role of a ballet dancer is to make everything look as easy as possible. With this in mind, I kept going and did the best I could until the performance was over. The following day I was anxiously anticipating and awaiting the reviews. I knew that so many things did not go my way in the performance and I was simply waiting for the verdict. To my surprise, reviews around Chicago were ravishingly positive! I was so happy that I did not get eaten up by the Chicago press! However, one review did come out in a very interesting way. Sid Smith’s review said he was happy with the performance, and that it was also so elaborate. He talked about the turns (my nightmare), and how difficult it is to dance Ashton in general. He gave me the ‘thumbs up’ for handling them the way I did despite my size. The performance was not bad. I was amazed how his eyes captured everything; he knew what was technically difficult for dancers, and could point it all out. Sid, from this point on, won my full attention because I knew that “the man” knew what he was talking about. Good or bad reviews, all of them meant so much to me because I knew that what came out of the Chicago Tribune from Sid Smith would be true - and most importantly, fair.
Sid you will be missed.
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