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  • Dance

    Justin Peck Watches Himself Making A Ballet

    Says the choreographer about Ballet 422, Jody Lee Lipes’s new documentary about the creation of Peck’s first dance for his colleagues at New York City Ballet, “I was actually a little bit surprised by how young I look in it. I felt like I was watching this kid stand in front of the room and make a ballet.”

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    Using Indian Classical Dance To Tell The Stories Of Bangladeshi Garment Workers

    “When she came across Kathak, the staccato rhythms of the dance form reminded [choreographer Helena] Waldmann of the rapid needle of a sewing machine. She saw the stomping footwork of Kathak as the perfect symbol of the pressures faced by garment workers.”

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    Osipova And Goddard Make History At Britain’s National Dance Awards

    “The Royal Ballet principal Natalia Osipova and contemporary dancer Jonathan Goddard become the first to win in both major dancer categories, while Carlos Acosta takes home the lifetime achievement honours.”

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    Scientists Have Discovered What Makes Someone A Good Dancer

    “Northumbria University conducted a study about the male dance moves that are attractive to women. Now you won’t have to think twice the next time you go to a wedding. Just take a look at the science.” (video)

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  • Ideas

    One Of The Most Infamous Behavioral Experiments, Rethought 50 Years Later

    Under the watch of the experimenter, the volunteer—dubbed “the teacher”—would read out strings of words to his partner, “the learner,” who was hooked up to an electric-shock machine in the other room. Each time the learner made a mistake in repeating the words, the teacher was to deliver a shock of increasing intensity, starting at 15 volts (labeled “slight shock” on the machine) and going all the way up to 450 volts (“Danger: severe shock”).

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    A Struggle Over The Very Nature Of Science (Seriously)

    “There’s a battle going on at the edge of the universe, but it’s getting fought right here on Earth. With roots stretching back as far as the ancient Greeks, in the eyes of champions on either side, this fight is a contest over nothing less than the future of science. It’s a conflict over the biggest cosmic questions humans can ask and the methods we use – or can use – to get answers for those questions.” It’s a conflict over … string theory.

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    Kinda Creepy? New Machines That Control Your Hand As It Draws

    “Teacher, for example, is a machine that coaches you to draw by forcing your hand to perform certain motions. The thinking goes, repeat the task enough times and eventually your hand will remember how to do it on its own.”

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    Why The Idea Of Machines That Can Think Creeps Some Of Us Out

    Tania Lombrozo: “My sense is that the valley of ‘uncanny thinking’ is real, but elicits a more existential than visceral response. And if that’s so, perhaps it’s because we’re threatened by the idea that human thinking isn’t unique, and that maybe human thinking isn’t so special.”

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  • Issues

    The Problems With Obsessing About Measuring Impact Of Art

    “If we are constantly debating what “good” or “quality” looks like, we’re wasting time we could be using honing our work to better deliver on the social impact we’ve all agreed is important. I’d love to work for an organization that clearly knows that the impact it wants to have is X–so we can focus on doing X.”

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    The New Lands Of Opportunity: Buffalo, Detroit

    If moving to New York City is like dating the most popular kid in your high school only to discover “all the blemishes that aren’t visible when gazed upon from a distance,” then Buffalonians will tell you that moving to their city is like dating the girl next door who’s undergoing a She’s All That-style transformation.

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    French Comedian Stands Trial Over Comment Against Jewish Journalist (Est-Il Charlie?)

    “The provocative French comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala stood trial in criminal court on Wednesday over a comment he made lamenting that a prominent Jewish journalist did not die in ‘the gas chambers,’ prosecutors said. Mr. M’bala M’bala has become an emblem in France of the struggle between upholding the secular republic’s commitment to free speech while maintaining public safety and preventing hate crimes.”

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    Surely Self-Censoring Art Is Not An Acceptable Answer

    “While we desperately need an open debate about free speech and the freedom to offend in our society, the obsessive focus on Muslims, religion, and blasphemy has diverted attention away from the bigger question of how we handle offending and being offended as part of a big, broad society where not everyone is going to agree.”

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  • Media

    Snowpocalypse, The American Media, And Lewis Carroll’s White Queen

    Adam Gopnik: “The ruling deity of this form of panic and pensive regret is Lewis Carroll’s White Queen, from Through the Looking-Glass. The White Queen, in some Joseph Campbell realm of archetypes, is indeed surely a variant of Hans Christian Andersen’s Snow Queen, and so perhaps it’s no wonder that in Carroll’s rendering she governs the Kingdom of the Snow That Fell Before It Started Falling.”

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    Battle For The Soul Of Children’s Cartoons (It Ain’t Pretty)

    “Branded toys routinely make more money than the films and cartoons on which they are based—sometimes a lot more—so it’s logical in a way that yes, children’s television shows and movies are basically long, elaborate toy commercials.”

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    How The Meaning Of Movies Changes Depending On When You See Them

    “Whatever impact a film might have on those who see it, the reality is that events, attitudes and present-day understandings affect and shape how we view movies as much, if not more. This cultural exchange doesn’t apply only to new films.”

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    Take That Marriott – FCC Bans Blocking Of Wifi Signals

    “Willful or malicious interference with Wi-Fi hot spots is illegal…The Enforcement Bureau has seen a disturbing trend in which hotels and other commercial establishments block wireless consumers from using their own personal Wi-Fi hot spots on the commercial establishment’s premise.”

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    Italy’s Most Popular, And Maybe Best, TV Series Ever – Will It Be Bad For Italy?

    “In short, Italy has created a popular, realistic, beautifully rendered TV series – which is what has so many people worried. The international success of Gomorrah could turn into bad publicity for Naples and Italy, just as the young government of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is trying so hard to restore confidence among foreigners.”

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  • Music

    That Sounds So Familiar (But Does That Mean I’ve Just Plagiarized Tom Petty?)

    “Come to think of it, Petty is more like a musical Mark Rothko, in that he usually paints with only a few big splotches of solid color. Just because he’s famous for doing it, does that really mean nobody else is allowed to?”

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    Is The English National Opera Losing Audiences And Money? ENO Responds

    “The unequivocal fact is that in the last eight financial years the ENO has run an unrestricted surplus of £2.4 million. Our total audience for 2013/14 was up by 11% and audience numbers for the 2014/15 season to date remain stable.”

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    India’s Only Opera Tenor Wants To Bring The Art Form Home

    Anando Mukerjee: “If it is done, if it is packaged right, if it is not diluted, if the artistic integrity of the music is not diluted, and it is given an Indian narrative and an Indian context, then there is no reason to suppose why it can’t work. … You can certainly have something like Carmen which is a great opera set in Spain, being set in India, Rajasthan. So you’re not masalafying it, you’re not chutnifying it, you’re not making it into a kind of fusion experiment. You’re simply contextualizing it to the Indian setting.”

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    Carnegie Hall Will Commission 125 New Works

    “Carnegie Hall will celebrate its 125th anniversary next season not only with its customary assortment of the world’s leading orchestras and performers playing long-cherished masterpieces but also by starting a new project to commission some 125 new works over the next five years.”

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    Greece And Spain’s Economies Are Basket Cases, Yet Their Opera Companies Are Flourishing. Here’s Why

    “Those countries have been stuck in a six-year depression, with unemployment rates of around 25 per cent. Yet their principal opera companies have somehow come through the valley of austerity with no debt, full and lively artistic programs, and higher standing in their communities. They have done far better, in fact, than some companies in wealthier European states.”

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  • People

    Woman Steals Artist’s Identity. Artist Makes Art Out Of Woman’s Life

    “Sanctioned stalking” … interesting. I could see how someone would see it that way. And I think anyone outside — anyone who is not me or my PI — I could see that perspective. But I do not consider it to be that at all.”

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    Such A Stoic: How Seneca Became Ancient Rome’s Philosopher-Fixer

    “Even in imperial Rome, matricide was, apparently, bad P.R. … And so Nero turned to the man he had always relied on … The letter ‘explaining’ Agrippina’s murder is just one of the ways Seneca propped up Nero’s regime – a regime that the average Julius, let alone the author of De Ira, surely realized was thoroughly corrupt. How to explain the philosopher-tutor’s sticking by his monstrous pupil?”

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    King Tut’s Beard Disaster: Conservation Chief Demoted To The Royal Stables

    “Last week, her duties included the conservation of one of the world’s most important collection of artefacts, including Tutankhamun’s fabled death mask and jewellery, as well as hundreds of ancient mummies, tombs and statues. From now on her role will be limited to overseeing the contents of Egypt’s royal stables.”

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    Who Was Chaucer, Really? We Know More Than We Think

    “In Chaucer’s case, the division between life and art is especially glaring: 494 different ‘records’ of his life survive, including matters such as courtly and civic posts he held, awards he received, and at least one place he lived … but not one of them mentions that he was a poet. Why, then, bother to look at these records? What had Chaucer’s busy London life and world of work to do with his poems, other than preventing their completion?”

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  • Theatre

    Are We Exiting The Era Of Big Stage Musicals?

    “I think we are in a slight time of shift, in that the sung through musical perhaps is now receding, and the book musical is starting to come back. It’s delicate…you have to have a theme which engages as much as you need glorious music.”

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    We’re Losing Our Working Class Actors. And Here’s What We’re Really Losing

    “The important thing is: what do we do about that? Because otherwise we lose all these interesting characters like Richard Burton and Richard Harris, and playwrights like John Osborne who were writing working-class stories. What happens to that? Does that just go? Or do we go back to the 30s when you had incredibly posh people trying to do cockney accents?”

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    D.C. Theaters Expand Helen Hayes Awards Into “Helens” And “Hayeses”

    “The split generally falls along professional lines. If most of a show’s performers are Equity (union) actors, that’s a Hayes show. If they aren’t, it’s a Helen, regardless of theater. Got it? … Illustrating how the ‘Helen’ and ‘Hayes’ distinctions really go show by show, not theater by theater, is the case of Arena Stage.”

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    Is Washington, D.C. Oversupplied With Serious Theater? Arena Stage And The Shakespeare Worry

    “The town is so crowded … that even voices from the small independent sector have begun to wonder aloud whether the city is oversaturated. Washington also teems with competition for audiences increasingly lured by a burgeoning restaurant scene and the cyber circus of online diversions. All this adds to the special pressure faced by big troupes: They have the most seats to sell, night after night.”

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  • Visual

    Van Gogh And The Decision That Changed Art History

    The decision, believe it or not, was the young Vincent’s insistence on trying to become a preacher, even after flunking out of divinity school.

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    Artist Shows Us All How Not To Respond To A Negative Review

    Loris Gréaud decided to tell everyone who’d listen that Lauren Smart, arts editor at the Dallas Observer, needs to get laid.

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    Zaha Hadid Settles Defamation Lawsuit Against NY Review Of Books

    “After a five-month legal battle, [the] London-based architect … has withdrawn a lawsuit regarding defamatory comments made about her attitude to migrant workers and her Qatar World Cup stadium project … and has donated the settlement money to an undisclosed charity that ‘protects and champions labour rights’.”

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    London’s National Gallery Workers Plan Strike To Protest Privatization

    According to the union, the National Gallery plans “to privatise almost all staff, including those who look after the paintings and help the gallery’s six million annual visitors”.

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    Looks Like The Tate Gave Itself To BP For Cheap

    The (40% state-funded) group of museums, having lost its years-long battle against environmental activists demanding disclosure, revealed how much it has been receiving in sponsorship money from the petroleum giant over the past 17 years. The amount has been described in press headlines as “surprisingly low”, “embarrassingly small”, and “laughably small”.

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  • Words

    Why Novelists Turn To The Vividness Of Music

    “Perhaps, fearful of losing the attention of their readers, novelists are borrowing the captivating force of music, feeding off its sensuousness in an effort to regain a lost immediacy. The lengthy musical passages in recent novels, including a few loving and climactic concert scenes, seem to strive for music’s Orphic power.”

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    At The (Very Crowded) Jaipur Literary Festival

    “The heaving, barging, chattering throng of a thousand or so people, packing the aisles and testing the walls of the auditorium … was remarkable and exhilarating. It was a much younger, livelier and more euphoric crowd than literary festivals usually attract. It wanted to be provoked, was eager to laugh and fought to be heard: as the microphones went around for questions, eager hands snatched at them.”

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    Jaipur Isn’t Even India’s Biggest Book Bash – Or Most Bookish City

    That would be Calcutta Kolkata, where “roadside tea shack owners will talk at length on important writers of the day and rickshaw pullers adorn the backs of their vehicles with the names of writers” – and where the world’s largest non-trade (i.e., for the public) book fair, the Boi Mela, attracts 1½ million people.

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    The Meaning Of Art – Is Writing A Job Or…

    “There is something dreary about wanting writing to be a real job. The sense of inner purpose, so often unmentionable in a society enamored of professionalization, distinguishes a writer from a hack.”

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    We May Be Closer To Recovering The Only Surviving Library Collection From Ancient Rome

    “Researchers have found a key that may unlock the only library of classical antiquity to survive along with its documents” – from a villa in Herculaneum, destroyed along with Pompeii by the Vesuvius eruption – “raising at least a possibility of recovering vanished works of ancient Greek and Roman authors such as the lost books of Livy’s history of Rome.”

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