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  • Dance

    Louisville Ballet Names New Artistic Director

    The choice is 38-year-old former Australian Ballet principal Robert Curran. “‘Robert always talked about meeting patrons where they are,’ said the company’s board president, Joel Stone.”

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    St. Paul Ballet Makes A Go Of It As A Dancer-Run Company

    “A little more than a year ago, the company and school faced debt and considered cutting back on performances and even closing its doors. It reorganized as an artist-led organization, with dancers taking on administrative roles. Heading into the 2014-15 season, it looks like the dancers’ dedication has paid off.”

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    Joffrey To Live-Stream Rehearsal Of New Wheeldon “Swan Lake” Thursday

    The YouTube stream – 11:30 am to 3:00 pm U.S. Central Time – will feature artistic director Ashley Wheater as moderator and will include interviews with Christopher Wheeldon and (after they’ve caught their breath) company members.

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    One Thousand Choreographed Robots (Or, Flo Ziegfeld Meets The Roombas)

    “There’s something unsettling about watching 1,000 robots execute a perfectly choreographed routine. … And yet, these machines – tiny $20 robots that take five minutes each to assemble, for a total of 83 hours – are actually completely banal. In fact, according to the researchers, their capabilities are pretty abysmal.” (video)

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  • Ideas

    Just Watching “Jersey Shore” Could Turn You Into A Jerk (Annals Of Suggestibility Research)

    “[The study] finds watching ‘reality shows’ of that variety, in which cast members habitually attack or undermine their rivals, appears to raise the aggression level of viewers. What’s more, this effect is more pronounced than it is for watching violent fictional crime dramas.”

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    What Do We Really Learn From Teaching Apes Language? Inside The Strange World Of Koko The Gorilla And Kanzi The Bonobo

    “Koko is perhaps the most famous product of an ambitious field of research, one that sought from the outset to examine whether apes and humans could communicate. … But no new studies have been launched in years, and the old ones are fizzling out. A behind-the-scenes look at what remains of this research today reveals a surprisingly dramatic world of lawsuits, mass resignations, and dysfunctional relationships between humans and apes.”

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    Why Some People Really Grieve Over Celebrity Deaths

    “They’ve been a part of our lives. We see them on TV, they’re in our living rooms, we feel we know them, and we incorporate them almost as though they’re part of our families, though most of us recognize that they’re not. [But] there are some people whose reactions to celebrity deaths are so obsessional and extreme that it can literally make them sick.”

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    Why People Fall For Fake News Stories (It’s Not Just Irony Impairment)

    “‘This isn’t about shortened attention spans. This is about an overabundance of decontextualized snippets of info.’ Facebook headlines and Tweets simply don’t consistently provide the cues one would need to distinguish weird news from fake news, ‘unless the http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2014/08/why-facebooks-satire-tag-is-necessary.html is consistently ironic’.”

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  • Issues

    Art Isn’t *Only* For Art’s Sake; Politics Is There, But It Isn’t *Everything*

    Alex Ross, responding to Jed Perl: “To debate whether politics is always present or always absent is to play a parlor game irrelevant to the complex, ever-shifting reality in which both artists and their audiences reside. … Ultimately, I cannot forget the historical context. But forgetting is not essential to a full and passionate engagement with the music.” Ross takes as examples the much argued-over Richards, Wagner and Strauss.

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    L.A. County November Election Will Include Arts Funding Measure

    The ballot measure concerns “whether to absorb $23 in annual per-parcel property taxes over the next 30 years for improvements to parks and cultural facilities within them as well as recreational facilities, beaches and wildlife areas. If the required two-thirds supermajority says yes, the county would have $53 million each year to spend for all those purposes combined.” Most major arts venues in L.A. County are technically within parks.

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    “Excellent Sheep”: What’s Become Of Students at Elite Colleges Today

    William Deresiewicz: “They’re ‘excellent’ because they have fulfilled all the requirements for getting into an elite college, but it’s very narrow excellence. These are kids who will perform to the specifications you define, and they will do that without particularly thinking about why they’re doing it. They just know that they will jump the next hoop.”

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    Another Russian Censorship Row, This Time Over Cultural Policy Paper

    “A controversial document on Russian cultural policy, commissioned by President Vladimir Putin and backed by the culture minister Vladimir Medinsky, has drawn criticism – even within the Kremlin.” Its objective is to set cultural “norms” for all media; a leaked early draft included such phrases as “cultural projects that impose values that are alien to society” and “Russia is not Europe”.

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  • Media

    “The Wizard Of Oz” – Feminist Manifesto Or Parable Of Theosophy?

    “The classic film was first shown 75 years ago. Since then, there have been many interpretations, from religious allegory to an acid trip. BBC Culture picks out five of the most interesting readings of L Frank Baum’s modern fairy tale.” (includes video clips)

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    Monty Python Reunion Live Broadcast Investigated For Using Naughty Words

    “The live screening of Monty Python’s farewell show has prompted an Ofcom investigation over bad language. The broadcasting regulator said the O2 concert had generated complaints ‘about the broadcast of the most offensive language’ before the 21.00 watershed.’

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    India’s Top Film Censor Arrested For Soliciting Bribes

    “The head of India’s Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has been arrested on suspicion of soliciting a bribe from a film producer. Rakesh Kumar was arrested on Monday in Mumbai for allegedly seeking 70,000 rupees (£692) to approve a film from the central state of Chhattisgarh.”

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    North Carolina Ends Tax Breaks For Movie Production

    “North Carolina has been offering producers a 25% refundable tax credit, which meant, state legislators note, that taxpayers offset about 25 cents of each dollar spent. Refundable credits reimburse a company for its investments, even if it doesn’t owe state taxes.”

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    TV Networks, Having Defeated Aereo, Seek Injunction To Squash It Forever

    “If Aereo’s legal battle were a round of Mortal Kombat, someone would be shouting ‘finish him!’ right now.” The June Supreme Court decision forced it to suspend operations, but it still hopes to obtain a legal ruling that would classify it with cable companies. “But the broadcasters are determined to shut that effort down before it even gets started.”

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  • Music

    14 Artists Who Are Transforming The Future Of Opera

    “The artists below are some of our favorite opera innovators, toying with non-linear narratives, unusual instruments and new media, to name a few. Some take inspiration from subject matter we’d never expect to see on an opera stage, from gentrification to bad shroom trips to Milli Vanilli.” Some you may know of – composer David T. Little (Dog Days, the upcoming JFK), “electrodiva” Pamela Z – others, you will. (includes video clips)

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    This Soprano Is Morphing Into A Maestro (And She’s Serious About It)

    At age 43, Barbara Hannigan “is developing a second career, as a conductor, and she seems to be stealing shows around Europe with some regularity.” Simon Rattle is such a fan that he sent her to legendary teacher Jorma Panula, who came out of retirement to coach her.

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    Met Opera: The Labor Crisis Is Over, The Spiritual Crisis Goes On

    Justin Davidson: “Can an opera company indefinitely support thousands of practitioners of arcane crafts? Must a costly large-scale art form inevitably be a luxury product, or can technology help it reach a wider public than ever? Do the new rich even have any interest? More immediately, can the company put on good-enough shows to fill its yawning house?”

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    Met Opera Reaches Agreement With Stagehands’ Union, Drops Lockout Threat

    “Once the deal was reached at 3:15 a.m. after a marathon bargaining session, the Met dropped its threat of a lockout and announced that its season would open on schedule on Sept. 22… But while there was a palpable sense of relief that the Met had pulled back from the brink of a serious crisis, challenges remained.”

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    Does The World Need Another Classical Music Nonprofit? (Well, It Needs This One)

    “[The American Music Project's] goal is simple: to broaden the exposure of American classical composers to the public at large. But does the world really need another classical music nonprofit? AMP’s founder Johnson clearly thinks so, and his reasons for feeling this way are compelling.”

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  • People

    Poet Simin Behbahani, 87, The “Lioness Of Iran”

    A two-time Nobel Prize nominee and one of the country’s most revered writers, “she was a fierce feminist who subverted the form of Iran’s traditional ghazals, love poems traditionally written by male admirers to women. Behbahani flipped the ghazals and wrote hers to men. She used them to write about a mother’s anguish over the loss of her son in the Iran-Iraq war and the horrors of stoning women to death.”

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    The Other Wagner Great-Granddaughter

    Nike Wagner, Wieland’s daughter, pretty much knew that she’d never lead the Bayreuth Festival once her uncle Wolfgang took over. (The job went to his daughters, Eva and Katharina; Eva is now retiring.) So she’s made her own way as a writer (including a predictably dirt-filled family tell-all) and dramaturg, and now she’s directing the world’s top Beethoven festival.

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    Fluttering Passion: Vladimir Nabokov, Lifelong Lepidopterist

    “The pleasures and rewards of literary inspiration are nothing beside the rapture of discovering a new organ under the microscope or an undescribed species on a mountainside in Iran or Peru. It is not improbable that had there been no revolution in Russia, I would have devoted myself entirely to lepidopterology and never written any novels at all.”

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    Margaret Atwood Would Totally Fit In At Comic-Con

    “I designed some costume events for these doctors … The male doctor was a kidney surgeon, and he wanted the magic power to immediately implant kidneys in people, so his alter ego was named Kidney Boy, and the female doctor was Dr. Snit, and she had pain issues. And I gave them some little flying kidney helpers, because you have to have helpers. And Dr. Snit got a magic wand with a little halo of Tylenols.”

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  • Theatre

    One Guy And A Bunch Of Cardboard Boxes Win Edinburgh Fringe Best Play Prize

    “A one-man play performed by an illusionist amid a sea of cardboard boxes has won the most coveted theatre prize at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Performance artist Geoff Sobelle’s show [The Object Lesson] will be heading from a tiny room at Summerhall arts centre to the Brooklyn Academy of Music after scooping the prestigious Carol Tambor Award.”

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    Even After A Decade On Broadway, “Wicked” Is Casting (Exactly) The Same Spells

    “The producers have been careful, not to say monomaniacal, about replicating the experience they gave audiences in the opening months. … My return visit also confirmed how significant … young fans remain to the show’s success. The audience at the evening performance I attended teemed with bopping tweens and their families.”

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    Why Isn’t The Edinburgh Int’l Festival Pulling In Any Of The Huge Fringe Audience? Asks Incoming Head

    Fergus Linehan “pointed out that the EIF has the biggest theatre audience in the world on its doorstep, but struggles to exploit it. … ‘Why do we struggle to deliver an audience that looks like even a cross section of the people in this room, or even more, a cross section of people walking down the street?’”

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    Clobberation: How Four Unwary Grad Students Created A Touring Show For Teens Without (Quite) Ripping Each Other’s Throats Out

    “We set out to create and establish roles to try and mitigate power conflicts. This worked for a short while, but we found that although we had divided ourselves into the traditional roles of Playwright, Set Designer, Sound Designer, Teaching Artist, Director, Stage Manager, and Education Director, those titles meant different things to each of us. Our roles became accusations.”

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  • Visual

    Vandal Disrupts Jeff Koons Retrospective

    A male artist (it’s always a male artist, isn’t it?) named Istvan Kantor, who has a history of this sort of thing, splashed red paint on a gallery wall in an X shape and scrawled “Monty Cantsin was here” before being led away – to a mental ward, from which, he has tweeted, he has now been released.

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    Deaccessioning: The Ethics For Art Dealers

    “If someone helps another person commit a crime, he’s an accessory to the illegal act and probably guilty of an infraction.” But if an art museum commits the ethics violation of selling off art for operating money, is the dealer who handles the sale doing anything wrong?

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    New Route Chosen To Keep Cruise Ships Out Of Historic Venice (This Isn’t As Good News As You Think)

    The decision is “to use a channel in the lagoon called the Canale Contorta Sant’Angelo to bring the vast cruise ships into the port of Venice instead of sending them through the city. … It is like stopping juggernauts from travelling along the London Embankment by rerouting the same traffic and more down a new highway across Hyde Park.”

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    And The Smithsonian’s Most Iconic Item Is … (It’s Not The Original “Star-Spangled Banner” Flag!)

    The flag that flew at Fort McHenry only came in a distant second, with Woody Guthrie’s original recording of “This Land is Your Land” placing third and the “Lansdowne” portrait of George Washington in fourth.” And the winner isn’t even the Smithsonian’s property, technically.

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    Emperor Augustus’s Stables To Be Reburied Because There’s No Money To Restore Them

    “The reinterring of the stables, which once hosted horses raced at the Circus Maximus, is another blow to anniversary plans after Rome failed to find funds in time to restore Augustus’ mausoleum, a city block-sized monument which has been used as a toilet by tramps since falling into disrepair, and now stands mouldering behind fences in the centre of Rome.”

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  • Words

    A Place Beyond Words: The Literature Of Alzheimer’s

    “As baby boomers approach their seventies and Alzheimer’s disease becomes increasingly commonplace, more and more fiction writers are attempting to reach into that obscure space. … Because the full, internal experience of Alzheimer’s is an account that fiction alone can deliver, … [this is a good time] to reassess the burgeoning genre and determine what its writers can and can’t tell us.”

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    Jane Austen Used Pins To Edit Her Manuscripts

    “Before the word processor, before Whiteout, before Post-It Notes, there were straight pins. Or, at least that’s what Jane Austen used to make edits in one of her rare manuscripts.” Have a look.

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    German Authors Join In Publishers’ Battle With Amazon

    “Taking a page from their colleagues across the Atlantic, more than 1,000 writers from Germany, Austria and Switzerland have united to vent their frustration over the tactics Amazon is using against the Bonnier Group and the authors who are published under its name.”

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    Is This The Most Powerful Man In Publishing? (Some Would Say He’s Satan’s Top Lieutenant)

    The Observer meets Amazon’s Russell Grandinetti.

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    The Library Is Ferguson, Missouri’s One Oasis Of Calm

    “[The staff] has used Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to offer residents a place of respite for them to get bottled water, check their emails, and avoid the unrest developing on Ferguson’s streets.” (includes video)

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