The Truth About Reviews


By Mezdulene

Recently, more than one person has commented that Jareeda is “too nice” when it comes to reviews. It isn’t that they want to read something negative that tears someone or something down, it is that they feel an all positive review isn’t realistic. No one can like ‘every’ cut on a recording or every performance in a video, etc.

Well, I encourage feedback from readers, but sometimes it takes me a while to figure things out and sort them through. For many weeks I have been asking myself, “Why is Jareeda “too nice?” As I was putting this issue together, I realized some things that I want to share with you.

First of all, I rarely do reviews because of the demands on my time. When I do choose to do a review personally, it is because I absolutely love something. So, my reviews are always glowing. I rely mostly on submissions from other writers and staff members for the bulk of my reviews, and the same is probably true for them. If they are inspired to write something, it is because they enjoyed what they are writing about.

Another thing to mention is that all reviews are totally subjective to the person doing the review. I learned this many years ago. I had a friend that was raving about a new movie she had just gone to the theater to see. She went on and on about how it was the “best movie” she had ever seen. At that time, going to the movies was an expense I rarely allowed myself, but I was so inspired by her wonderful review, I treated myself to a night out. It was the worst movie I have ever seen! What a disappointment. What I learned is that she obviously had very different tastes then me and that if she loved a movie, I would hate it and vice versa. So, I could still use her as a resource, just in a different way.

A few years after that, my student Deena and I had a dance engagement for a group who was paying us pretty well. When we arrived at the place, it was enormous filled with hundreds of people, and there was no stage. We quickly accessed the situation and decided to both dance at the same time in different parts of the room so that more people could see the dancing. She told me she had brought her favorite piece of sword music and wondered if we could use it while we both danced with swords. It seemed fine to me, so I agreed. While that piece of music inspired her to dance, for me, the only thing it inspired me to do was plug my ears. It was the most whiny, grating piece of music I had ever tried to listen to, and there I was in front of hundreds of people trying to dance to it and keep a smile on my face.

One of my favorite pieces, to me is mystical and moving, but to others sounds depressing. So, like I said, reviews are subjective depending on the person’s taste who is doing the review. So, while I may not like every cut on a new release, someone else might like the one I don’t and dislike one that I love. In a review I try to highlight my favorite aspects of something.

Now there are some things that are not subjective and should be commented on. For instance, I once drove many miles to attend a show. The dancing was creative and inspiring, the music wonderful, the stage decor magnificent. But, between each dance, the house lights were turned off and the audience sat in complete darkness for 1-5 minutes while preparations were made for the next dance. It seemed like we sat in the dark for hours, and it was awful! I felt that while the dancing, music and stage were great, the organizational aspect left a lot to be desired.

My suggestion is to find someone who has similar tastes to you, whether it be a friend or a writer of reviews and go by their assessment of something you are interested in. Don’t believe everything you hear whether someone is telling you they loved or disliked something. You might miss out on something that really, truly lifts you up and excites you.

About Mezdulene

I am passionate about belly dance, and I love to share my passion by publishing Jareeda Journal, the leading resource for Middle Eastern dance! My intent is to inform and celebrate, by creating a positive and supportive community for all belly dancers. I also sponsor Belly Dancer USA Competition and Mezdulene’s Annual Retreat.

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