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HOME > Biographical > 100 New Yorkers of the 1970s > WESTSIDER ANNA KISSELGOFF
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Dance critic for the New York Times


It was 3 p.m., and as usual, Anna Kisselgoff was sitting before the computer-typewriter at the New York Times' newsroom, putting the finishing touches on her latest dance review. She had spent the morning doing research, and had arrived at the Times building around noon to begin writing the article directly on the computer terminal, using her notes taken the night before at a dance performance. At 8 o'clock that evening, she would be attending yet another performance, but for the moment at least, Miss Kisselgoff had a little time to herself, and when we sat down to talk in her three-walled cubicle office facing the relatively quiet newsroom, she seemed noticeably relaxed and cheerful, notwithstanding the pile of opened and unopened mail piled high on her desk.

"We get no help: that's the problem," she said, in a clear, even voice with a tone that recalled Mary Tyler Moore. "We have one secretary for nine people in the arts and architecture department. She's terribly overworked," Anne went on, sweeping her hands like an orchestra conductor toward the stack of mail. "You're looking at what's left after I've thrown away half of it. I make up the review schedule for the week based on these releases."

Petite, attractive, and looking somewhat younger than her 41 years, the effervescent Miss Kisselgoff soon got to the root of her problem.

"This time of year, everybody wants to be reviewed. The tragedy is that dancers do wait until the spring, and then they give their one-shot concert that they have been preparing all year, and it's on the same night that 17 other dancers are giving theirs. I think it's suicidal. … We have three dance critics at the Times — Jack Anderson and Jennifer Dunning besides myself — and in the spring, all three of us are working every day, and we still can't keep up."

Anna herself attends up to nine performances a week during the busy season. Besides her regular pieces in the daily Times, she is responsible for a long, comprehensive article in the Sunday edition. "There has been a tremendous increase in dance activity in the past 10 years," she explained. "In 1969, the year after I joined the paper, I was asked to do a rundown of dance events, and I found there was not a single week in the year that was free from dance. That was the first time it happened.

"I think the decade of the 1960s had something to do with it. That was when choreographers like Balanchine and Merce Cunningham, who used pure movement, became most popular. The audience th............
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