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  • Dance

    Bolshoi Ballet Won’t Renew Contract Of Director Who Suffered Acid Attack

    “Sergei Filin, the Bolshoi Ballet artistic director whose sight was maimed two years ago by an acid attack organized by a disgruntled dancer, will lose his job when his contract expires next spring. Bolshoi Theatre chief Vladimir Urin announced yesterday in Moscow that he is abolishing Filin’s position and replacing it with a more management-focused director, indicating that artistic decision-making is to be taken ‘jointly’ with the theatre directorate.”

    Bringing Ballet To Farms In (Where Else?) Vermont

    “[Charles] Pregger, a ballet teacher, said Farm to Ballet was born after he led outdoor classes at Oakledge Park in Burlington. He saw that alfresco ballet was possible and joked that he’d like to do something like a flash-mob-styled performance halfway up Mount Philo. That lighthearted thought became a more meaningful and concrete plan to bring dance to Vermont farms.”

    Violette Verdy On What Makes A Great Dancer

    A musical dancer helps you to see and feel the music in your own body; a dancer with a superior musicality goes even further, playing against the music, entering into a conversation with it, bending it to her own wishes. This is the kind of dancer Verdy was. Such musicality is innate.

    ‘I Would Have Jumped Off A Roof For Mao': Li Cunxin, ‘Mao’s Last Dancer’, From The Cultural Revolution To The 21st-Century West

    “Forced into ballet as a child in Mao’s China, Li Cunxin defected to the US and had to work as a stockbroker to support his family back home. But he never quit dancing. As he brings the Queensland Ballet to Britain, he talks about his traumas and triumphs – and shock at seeing people take their privileged lives for granted.”

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  • Ideas

    25 Years Ago Francis Fukuyama Declared The End Of History. A Lot Has Happened Since

    “After the initial celebration, he quickly lost favor, his argument often treated as little more than a rhetorical punching bag. Commentators of varying leanings could all agree that the end of history thesis was willfully naive, a relic of post-1989 triumphalism that had been rapidly overtaken by harsher political realities. Fukuyama, for his part, turned to somewhat more modest topics in the years after End of History, writing books on trust, biotechnology and U.S. foreign policy.”

    What Drives Trophy Hunters Like The Man Who Killed Cecil The Lion?

    “The question, then, is why? What motivates Palmer and other trophy hunters, as they’re called, to fly thousands of miles and spend tens of thousands of dollars, all for the sake of killing an animal like Cecil? The answer is complex, but, largely, it can be thought of as a demonstration of power and prestige, says Amy Fitzgerald, a sociologist at the University of Windsor.”

    Why Are So Many Companies Giving Away Their Intellectual Property? (Hint: It’s Not Charity)

    “It’s not happening for altruistic reasons. In his keynote at the O’Reilly Open Source Conference in Portland, Oregon last week, Cloud Foundry Foundation CEO Sam Ramji argued that the shift is being driven by economics.”

    Our Culture Is Dead. (No, Really)

    Thanks to the “massification” or “democratization” of culture, we can all claim to be cultured even if we have never read a book, listened to a symphony, or attended an art gallery. Eliot said that “higher culture” is the domain of an elite. Vargas Llosa is in favor of putting an end to “morally repugnant” elites which are at variance with our egalitarian ideals. In doing so, however, we achieve “a pyrrhic victory” whereby we dumb down and become too all-inclusive: “everything is culture and nothing is.”

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  • Issues

    Happy Days: Northern Ireland Town Loves Its Beckett Festival

    “The barber offers Beckett haircuts; a local coffee shop sells Krapp (banana and nutella) and Endgame (I didn’t investigate) sandwiches named after his plays. Events take place in theaters, churches, halls, at the Portora School, on the small islands that surround the town and in other improbable places, often kept a secret until a bus deposits audiences at the spot. All of this creates a festive and buoyant atmosphere that works strangely well with Beckett’s famously dark, difficult and often mordantly humorous oeuvre.”

    Archaeology Frauds – They’re A Lot Of Trouble, So Why Would Scientists, Even Crooked Ones, Go To The Bother Of Perpetrating Them?

    “There is a reason that we keep buying into hoaxes such as the ‘Shroud of Turin’ or the ‘Wife of Jesus’ fragment.” (Note: This article begins with an actual three-archaeologists-walk-into-a-bar joke – it’s a recently excavated prehistoric bar, of course.)

    Stage Fright – What Exactly Is It, And What’s Behind It?

    “Stage fright has been aptly described as ‘self-poisoning by adrenaline'” – the fight-or-flight response. “But what Cro-Magnon man needed upon finding a bear in his cave is not what a modern person needs in order to play King Lear. Without the release of abrupt action, the hyperactivation becomes, basically, a panic attack.”

    How The Smithsonian Used Kickstarter To Save Neil Armstrong’s Spacesuit

    “The platform allows government institutions,museums and other philanthropic projects to reach a global audience of donors who can give a small amount to support big, historic projects that otherwise might not get the money needed to go forward.”

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  • Media

    The Difference Between Movies And Video Games

    “It surely must be tempting to think that this compulsion for games and movies to feed into and off each other is a sign that they are artistically tied together, that they are both destined to lift one another to higher and better things and that they have something important in common that means they can both learn from each other. But no; games are games and movies are movies.”

    How Netflix Is Disrupting TV

    “It’s less than three years since Netflix debuted its first original series — Lilyhammer, recently cancelled after three seasons — and Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos said the service expects to roll out 16 scripted dramas, nine original documentaries, three documentary series, 12 comedy specials and 17 children’s series in 2015 for a total of 475 hours of original programming in the United States.”

    Will Star Rolling Stone Movie Critic Leave The Magazine?

    “Two people who work at Rolling Stone parent company Wenner Media said that Peter Travers had been asked to move from a staff position to a contractor by company founder and chief Jann Wenner. Travers, a 26-year-veteran of the magazine, bristled at the suggestion and threatened to leave the publication entirely.”

    How The Ways We Watch TV Are Changing

    “We’re at a media moment where media consumers expect media to find them. They are not going to go to media. They’re not going to go out and find shows in general. Now, it’s to the point where appointment viewing for most people can be narrowed down to a select two or three or four shows that people make sure they always catch.”

    Hollywood Blockbusters Need To Lose The Plot

    “What was once a series content to celebrate simple boy-racer pleasures, the seventh Fast & Furious fell prey to a recent tentpole-film affliction: ridiculously over-complicated plotting.”

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  • Music

    The Tchaikovsky Competition Pianist Everyone Is Talking About

    “Lucas Debargue, a 24-year-old French pianist, came fourth in the finale of the Tchaikovsky competition in Moscow on 30 June, yet he’s the only competitor anyone is talking about. Why?”

    David Byrne: Technology Isn’t The Only Reason Musicians Are Having A Hard Time Earning A Living

    “It’s easy to blame new technologies like streaming services for the drastic reduction in musicians’ income. But on closer inspection we see that it is a bit more complicated. Even as the musical audience has grown, ways have been found to siphon off a greater percentage than ever of the money that customers and music fans pay for recorded music.”

    Music So Intense You Get “Skin Orgasms”?

    “We normally only respond like this to experiences that might ensure or endanger our survival – food, reproduction, or the terrifying plummet of a rollercoaster. How can music – hardly a life-or-death pursuit – move the mind and the body as powerfully as sex?”

    Philadelphia’s Other Opera Company Reinvents Itself (Again)

    After a two-year hiatus, the erstwhile Center City Opera has re-emerged with a new name (that doesn’t include the word opera) and mission, a four-shows-in-18-days summer festival format, a new home (the Prince Music Theater, itself recently brought back from the dead), a world premiere, two local premieres, and the musical version of Heathers.

    Stunning Reversal: Cincinnati Piano Competition Reinstates Its Fired Artistic Director

    “Awadagin Pratt, who was dismissed by executive director and CEO Mark Ernster on July 8, will continue in the role of artistic director. The competition also announced on Wednesday that Ernster resigned from his position on July 20. Board chair Jack Rouse, who had resigned on July 8, returned as chairman on July 26.”

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  • People

    UK Apologizes To Ai Weiwei, Grants Him Six-Month Visa

    “On Thursday Ai disclosed that the British embassy in Beijing had turned down his request for a business visa, saying he had failed to disclose a criminal conviction. Instead it gave him a visa covering 20 days in September, when a major exhibition of Ai’s work is opening at London’s Royal Academy.”

    UK Denies Ai Weiwei Business Visa, Citing His ‘Criminal’ Past

    “The dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has accused British authorities of turning their backs on human rights defenders after UK immigration officials rejected his application for a six-month business visa, claiming he had not declared a criminal conviction in his home country.”

    Motels, Marrakech, And Mouths: From The Travel Journals Of Lawrence Ferlinghetti

    “I find a variety store-bar called the Sans-Souci. Inside is a drunk loudmouth of about 50 and a platinum blonde who looks like she’s been thru all the mills and talks tough. The drunk is saying: Well, if you waz ever in a war, you’d see something. She says: I ain’t gettin near no war! I’m not thinkin of wars, I’m thinkin of prisons!”

    Harper Lee’s Attorney Takes Over Another Piece Of The ‘Mockingbird’ Brand: The Annual Play In Monroeville

    Tonja Carter, who rediscovered the manuscript of Go Set a Watchman and sued the local museum over its gift shop’s Mockingbird-themed merchandise, has formed a company to produce the stage adaptation of the novel in the town’s historic courthouse – taking the rights away from the museum, which had presented the play for years.

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  • Theatre

    The Problem With Cutting Theatre In Schools Is That It Cuts Audiences In Theatres

    “My own fear about drama getting smaller in regular public schools like Lakeshore is that it limits the ability of kids to stumble upon it – and that affects not just future theatre professionals, but future theatre audiences.”

    New Musical Loses Half Its Cast Amid Delays And Dissension

    Five actors and four dancers will be leaving the 19-person cast of Dusty, a new show about the singer Dusty Springfield, by the end of August. The producers of the show, which began performances in an Off-West End theatre in late May, keep postponing the press night.

    Disabled Characters And The Theatre – Some Considerations

    “Why is one considered a beacon of acting talent for playing a disabled character convincingly? Why is it a common expectation that these actors will transform into characters whose experiences they can never truly understand? And, perhaps the most important question: if able-bodied actors continue to be cast in these roles, what opportunities are left for disabled actors?”

    Why Do People Dress Like Slobs To Go To The Theatre?

    “When people were invited onstage at a recent performance of “Penn & Teller on Broadway,” many women looked as if they had stepped out of a jazzercise class, while men ambled around in hideous cargo shorts.”

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  • Visual

    Public Projects To Transform Neighborhoods (But Who Asked The Neighborhoods?)

    “As Thomas Heatherwick’s projects have grown larger, and entangle private wealth with government financing, they present the public with a quandary: Should communities accept the unasked-for gift of a design perhaps more ambitious than what might result from limited public funds, developed in a public process?”

    If You Were Going To Do Something New With The Barnes Art What Could You Do?

    “The question naturally arises, then, of what to do in terms of contemporary programming — because the irony, at least in terms of the permanent collection, is that the institution can’t actually do anything. Unlike other large museums, the Barnes cannot rotate objects in and out of active display or organize special shows using these works to bring particular artists or styles to light. Each piece must remain exactly where it is, forever.”

    Behind The Merger Of ArtNews and Art In America

    “Whatever happens with the merged magazines, it looks bad. You can read it as another chapter in the sad decline of print. But scrutinizing the tea leaves, you can also see it as another augury that the discourse of art is more and more subordinate to fashion-obsessed celebrity and short-term finance.”

    Atlanta’s High Museum Gets A New Director

    At the Philbrook, Randall Suffolk boosted attendance by 63 percent and almost tripled participation in educational programs. “We’ve tried to reinvent our relationship with our community,” he said. Suffolk spearheaded the planning for Philbrook Downtown, a 30,000-square-foot satellite facility that opened in 2013.

    Why Charging Admission Might Be A Good Idea For UK Museums

    “Sometimes you have to think the unthinkable. If we want museums to prosper and thrive in a harsh economic climate with central government talking about 40% cuts, an entrance fee may be the best way forward. And it may have a good side.”

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  • Words

    Is The Next Bolaño A Middle-Class Brazilian Housewife Who Died Almost 40 Years Ago?

    “No one converts the uninitiated into devout believers as suddenly and as vertiginously as Clarice Lispector, the Latin American visionary, Ukrainian-Jewish mystic, and middle-class housewife and mother so revered by her Brazilian fans … She writes like a medieval saint who time-traveled to a high-rise apartment building in Rio and took up chain-smoking and visiting fortune-tellers.”

    Ernest Hemingway, Godfather Of Long-Form Journalism

    “Unlike Joyce’s innovations, Hemingway’s experimental fusion of fiction and nonfiction [in Green Hills of Africa] remained largely at the level of theory – but it has proven to be even more enduringly influential. Hemingway’s stream has become hard to recognize and to distinguish, because it has become the mainstream.”

    Republics Of Letters: How Medieval Scribes Fashioned Modern Writing

    A millennium after the Greeks created European civilization’s first written culture, the scholar Alcuin and his monks at Charlemagne’s court fused Roman and Celtic scripts to create the alphabet we use today – and established standards and rules such as leaving a space between words and beginning sentences with a capital letter.

    Now That Americans Are Eligible For The Booker Prize, There Are Five Of Them On This Year’s Longlist

    That’s five out of 13 in total. (The Brits only got three.) One of those five is a literary agent, and another – possibly the least famous of the group – is the bookmakers’ early favorite to win.

    Can Arabic Literature Ever Be Fully Understood In English?

    “In some ways, reading all this Arabic literature in English has been like listening in on a foreign-language recording when one understands the words’ meanings, but not the allusions, nor the jokes, nor the underlying rhythms. Some of this woodenness can be blamed on inadequate translations. But some of it falls to our historical blind spots.”

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