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  • Dance

    ‘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 […]

    More Football Players Are Trying Ballet – And Liking It

    ballet football

    Today’s exhibit: the Fighting Gamecocks of the University of South Carolina. (includes video)

    The “Ballet Body”? I’m Sooo Over It


    “I studied classical ballet for sixteen years. I was never a prodigy, but I was good enough to seriously consider it a career option. I genuinely love ballet in all its forms. And I despise the “ballet body” fitness trend.”

    New TV Channel Devoted To Dance To Launch This Fall


    The network will be a direct-to-consumers. subscription-based operation available on web browsers, iOS and Android devices and on Roku, with plans to expand later to set-top boxes, video game consoles and other platforms.

    How Poor Are Most Dancers? This Poor

    poor dancers

    “More than half of professional dancers [in Britain] earn less than £5,000 a year from their performance work, according to a new survey. The statistics also show that around 50% of dancers’ jobs pay less than the minimum wage, and that 70% of dancers have performed in ‘unsuitable work environments’ in the past 12 months.”

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  • Ideas

    Is Silicon Valley’s Creativity In Danger Of Stunting Itself?


    “The enormous, disruptive creativity of Silicon Valley is unlike anything since the genius of the great 19th-century inventors. Its triumph is to be celebrated. But the accumulation of so much wealth so fast comes with risks. The 1990s saw a financial bubble that ended in a spectacular bust. This time the danger is insularity. The geeks live in a bubble that seals off their empire from the world they are doing so much to change.”

    Study: Link Between Ideas and Creativity


    “How do you make the leap from a hazy notion to one that is spelled out in practical details? Newly published research points to one simple technique that may do the trick.”

    A New (Important) Role For Libraries?


    “Public libraries are becoming a one-stop shop for manufacturing in the digital age. Because libraries are investing in machines like 3-D printers, someday soon everyone with access to a public library could become an inventor or create something.”

    We All Understand Fear And Anxiety Wrong, Says Neuroscientist Who First Mapped The Brain’s ‘Fear Circuit’

    anxiety and fear

    “These days, most people think that the fear circuit gives rise directly to the emotions of fear and anxiety. [Joseph] LeDoux is convinced it doesn’t – and that this distinction matters a great deal.”

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  • Issues

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

    stage fright

    “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.”

    Oakland’s Cultural Renaissance Has Been Epic. But Development Threatens To Crush It


    “The cumulative impact of all these developments could strike a crushing blow to Oakland’s cultural arts community, confirming its worst fears about gentrification and displacement and creating a leadership void at the already short-staffed Cultural Arts Department.”

    Satire Used To Be Fun. So What Happened?


    “Face it, audiences today are easily offended by satire—and the younger members of the audience (coveted by the entertainment industry) have the thinnest skins of all. What a surprising turnaround. Just a few years ago, parents wanted to censor comedians, but young people had open minds. Nowadays the parents are tolerant but their children demand trigger warnings!”

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  • Media

    The 100 Best Movies Of All Time, As Chosen By Actors

    100 best

    The number-one film may come as something of a surprise …

    Netflix Will Soon Be The Largest “Network” Producer Of Original Programming


    “Netflix next year is poised to expand its lineup to more than two dozen series, blowing past both HBO and TV’s most prolific basic-cable programmer, FX/FXX. A service until recently known mostly for repurposing other people’s movies and TV shows will thus achieve a major milestone: It will boast the biggest collection of first-run scripted content of any other subscription-based network in America, cable or streaming.”

    ‘Brokeback Mountain’ Ten Years On: An Oral History


    Ang Lee, Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, Randy Quaid, Annie Proulx, Diana Ossana, and Larry McMurtry share their memories – and tributes to the late Heath Ledger.

    Report: Canadians Are Abandoning Traditional Cable TV


    “The IDC report projects that the number of Canadians opting for traditional television services like cable and satellite will drop by about half a million to 11.3 million subscribers by 2019. The marketing research company also estimates revenue from those same services will decline by 7.8 per cent over the next five years to $8.3 billion.”

    Changing Media, Changing Criticism (For Better And Worse)


    “The Internet has had an explosive and largely positive impact on film culture. The average film lover can read good critics from around the world for free, draw on more academic resources than ever and simply see more films than ever before. They can argue, engage, question and inform each other in film forums and keep up on the latest discoveries from festivals around the world.”

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  • Music

    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.”

    What Should Music “Look” Like? (Linking Music With Its Album Art)


    “I had been working on this graphic idea of a wind-flow diagram. I started to change the volume of the lines — in a kind of random but controlled way — and I thought that this would be a suitable minimalist motif to use on the CD.”

    Scientists Are Teaching A Computer How To Improvise Jazz

    louis armstrong

    “Jazz musician and computer scientist Kelland Thomas is building an AI program that can learn to play jazz and jam with the best of them, under a DARPA-funded project that aims to improve how we communicate with computers.”

    The Tragedy Of iTunes And Classical Music

    itunes classical

    “When the developer Erik Kemp designed the first metadata system for MP3s in 1996, he provided only three options for attaching text to the music. Every audio file could be labeled with only an artist, song name, and album title. Kemp’s system has since been augmented and improved upon, but never replaced.” Robinson Meyer explains why Apple’s music software is such a disaster at handling classical (and other kinds of) music.

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  • People

    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.

    Shigeko Kubota, Pioneering Video Artist And Fluxus Member, Dead At 77


    “Today, Kubota … [is] better remembered for her 1965 performance Vagina Painting, in which Kubota attached a paintbrush to her skirt, squatted, and moved around over a canvas.” More notable was her work, by herself and with husband Nam June Paik, developing the genre of video art in general and combining video and sculpture in particular.

    Vic Firth, 85, The ‘Stradivari Of Drumsticks’

    vic firth

    Besides spending four decades as the Boston Symphony’s principal tympanist (Seiji Ozawa called him “the single greatest percussionist anywhere in the world”), he decided in the 1960s to design and build his own sticks, feeling that what was on the market was inadequate for the subtleties of serious symphonic and ensemble music. Little did he know then that he was setting the gold standard for percussionists in all genres all over the world.

    Actress Natasha Parry, 84, Wife And Collaborator Of Peter Brook


    “Her career was inescapably defined by her marriage, at the age of 20, to the director Peter Brook, with whom she worked many times in productions of Shakespeare, Chekhov, Anouilh and Beckett. She was also a vital part of Brook’s experimental, theatrical work in Paris, Persia (as Iran then was) and the villages of Africa. But Parry also had an independent career in films that marked her out as a fine screen actor.”

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  • Theatre

    Dramatizing Egypt’s Political And Social Issues With A Bedroom Farce


    Threesome, by Yussef El Guindi, “begins as a bawdy bedroom comedy whose main characters, a heterosexual Egyptian-American couple, invite a white American man into their bed. Over two acts it transforms into something darker, as all three grapple with the fallout of sexual assault, infidelity, war and the pain of lost hope, both political and personal.”

    ‘The Book Of Mormon’ Is Finally Playing Utah – Where They Seem To Love It

    People wait in line for a lottery drawing for tickets to the "The Book of Mormon" at the Capitol Theatre, Tuesday, July 28, 2015, in Salt Lake City. The satirical musical that mocks Mormons has finally come to Salt Lake City, starting a sold-out, two-week run Tuesday at a theater two blocks from the church's flagship temple and headquarters. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

    “The biting satirical musical that mocks Mormons has finally come to the heart of Mormonlandia, starting a sold-out, two-week run Tuesday at a Salt Lake City theater two blocks from the church’s flagship temple and headquarters.”

    The Profound Effect Funding Cuts Will Have On Regional UK Theatre


    “The subsidised sector is without doubt the research and development arm of the commercial sector, where new productions, new work and new talent are developed. Ultimately, cuts of this magnitude would see the demise of the West End and regional touring as we know it, with far-reaching social, reputational, tourism and economic consequences.”

    Peter Brook Returns To Mahabharata For New Theatre Piece

    battlefield brook

    The director and his colleagues who wrote and staged the nine-hour production that toured the world in the 1980s have returned to the ancient Indian epic for a work titled Battlefield. The four-actor staging opens in September at Brook’s longtime venue, the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord in Paris, and will tour to London, three cities in Italy, Amiens in France, Singapore, Tokyo, and Hong Kong.

    Reviving The Play That Reclaimed The Pink Triangle For The LGBT Movement

    bent martin sherman

    Yes, all you millennials – back before you were born, the few people who remembered that the Nazis had used pink triangles to mark out homosexuals in the prison camps tended to view the symbol as a badge of shame. Then Martin Sherman’s Bent opened on Broadway …

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  • Visual

    How A Stolen Rodin Was Tracked Down And Recovered After 24 Years

    stolen rodin

    The bronze cast of Young Girl with Serpent was taken from a Beverly Hills home in 1991. The story of its discovery and restitution features an ace investigator, a sharp-eyed Rodin scholar, a recalcitrant dealer, and a filing mistake.

    Art In America Magazine Sold To ARTnews


    Peter Brant has sold his 100% ownership interest in Art in America magazine, founded in 1913, to the company that publishes rival Artnews, and he will in turn become the majority shareholder in that company.

    Tate Britain Names New Director


    Alex Farquharson is the choice. “The 45-year-old founded the £20m Nottingham Contemporary in 2009 with an exhibition of David Hockney’s work from the 1960s. That same year he was on the selection committee for the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, where the UK was represented by 12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen. In its first five years, Nottingham Contemporary has attracted more than a million visitors.”

    National Gallery In London Faces All-Out Strike

    national gallery strike

    “[The museum] has already been disrupted by more than 50 days of walkouts by staff since plans to [privatise] visitor services and security were first revealed. The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union said it had served notice of four more separate days of industrial action, with a continuous, all-out strike starting on Aug. 17.”

    How Al Hirschfeld Captured That Certain Something About His Subjects


    Hirschfeld archivist David Leopold: “He always felt that we all have this ability to recognize a friend from the back, a block away, wearing an overcoat. He didn’t know how we do that. But he was always going for that telling gesture, that arch of the eyebrow.”

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  • Words

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

    booker 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?

    arab novel

    “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.”

    Dr. Seuss’s New Book As Important Cultural Criticism


    “Even the most skeptical reader will surely admire What Pet Should I Get?, in its initial printing of one million copies, as a text on the front lines of the revolution – and as a satire of old forms, perhaps, and at the very least an attempt at parody.”

    Now Watson Will Do More Than Humiliate You At ‘Jeopardy!’ – It Will Analyze Your Writing Style


    IBM is now licensing a tool of its supercomputer “cognitive system” called Tone Analyzer, which “us[es] linguistic analysis to detect emotional tones, social propensities, and writing styles” and then provides “suggestions to help the writer improve their intended language tones.”

    Russia’s Bookstores Cordially Invited To Join Vladimir Putin’s Book Club


    “The government plans to begin offering rent and tax breaks to booksellers in exchange for an ‘opportunity’ to provide a selection of titles chosen by the government. Dmitry Livanov, Russia’s Minister of Science and Education said this this new program [will] ‘help promote sales of those books which have historical value’ and ‘can contribute to patriotic education of local population’.”

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