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  • Dance

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

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    “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)

    What Brought Justin Peck, Shepard Fairey, And Miami City Ballet Together? Graffiti

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    More specifically, it was a visit Peck – who’s making a piece for MCB to premiere next March – made to Wynwood Walls, an outdoor gallery featuring spray-painted murals in an old Miami warehouse district.

    David Hallberg Cancels Performances Through End Of 2014

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    The ABT and Bolshoi Ballet principal has been advised to have ankle surgery.

    At The World Hip Hop Dance Championships

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    “Hip-hop dance is not going global – it’s been global for years … The global reach was evident not only in the winners of the major world dance crew competitions” – groups fro Japan, Canada and the Philippines – “but also by the fact that a dominant team, New Zealand’s the Royal Family, was so […]

    Some Of The Country’s Best Dance Takes Place On The Subway

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    “This choreography of grit and grace perseveres, despite an increase of arrests by the New York Police Department, as a delicate wonder, glued together by exacting precision and indelible stamina. Plus, there’s the joy of watching a dance where dancing is not allowed: It’s a subversive performance. It’s also a surprise.”

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  • Ideas

    Does Creative Ability Really Run In Families?

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    People have been arguing about this for a long time. Researchers have been studying it for almost as long. Maria Konnikova takes a brief look at the history.

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    Dystopian Young Adult Novels Have A Lot To Tell Us About The Philosophy Of Equality

    the giver

    “There is a real danger that inequality is not just related to literal capital accumulation, but to equality of opportunity and the accumulation of cultural capital. This might include things like what kind of education your family can afford to give you. … It isn’t hard to see how this ends up a popular theme in young adult dystopias.”

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    Schools Aren’t Companies, And Teaching Is Not A Business

    teachingisnotabusiness

    “Business does have something to teach educators, but it’s neither the saving power of competition nor flashy ideas like disruptive innovation. Instead, what works are time-tested strategies.”

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    Ten Writing Studios You Might Just Want For Yourself

    shed2

    “The water collection basin that doubles as the front step draws in birds and deer. At midday, the silhouettes of these animals project from the water onto the interior ceiling. Windows on the west and north sides frame different bird habitats.”

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  • Issues

    Another Russian Censorship Row, This Time Over Cultural Policy Paper

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    “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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    Australia Council For The Arts Transforms Funding Model

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    “Artists will no longer be forced into such square holes as music, theatre and literature under a radical overhaul of arts funding announced by the Australia Council for the Arts. More than 90 grants will be reduced to just five common categories next year,” and application procedures have been streamlined.

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    The Unusual (Quaint?) Way San Diego County Distributes Arts Funding

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    There’s no longer an arts council to assess grant requests; that was eliminated in 1993. Now cultural groups compete – often in person, during two-day-long pitch sessions – with libraries, health-care organizations, wildlife conservancies, and other non-profits for pieces of each county council member’s discretionary funds.

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    Could An Arts Council Work In San Diego County?

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    “[Advocates say] it’s time for the county to look for a new, more transparent, professional and equitable option for funding the arts.” And there’s no reason an arts council (like the one in, say, the city of San Diego) couldn’t work. But it probably won’t.

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  • Media

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

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    “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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    Radio Disney Gives Up On Over-The-Air Transmission

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    After finding out that only 18% of its listeners tune in via AM or FM radio, the network’s execs have decided to sell all but one of its 24 U.S. stations. (Radio Disney will keep its L.A.-based flagship station, which will produce and distribute the national digital and satellite feed.)

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    This Israeli Life, Or, If Ira Glass Spoke Hebrew And Lived In Tel Aviv

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    Mishy Harman got hooked on This American Life while on a 13,000-mile U.S. road trip. “And by the time [he] reached Mississippi, … he was determined to copy it.” Now Israel Story is a huge hit; “[it] begins its second season in Israel next Saturday; an English version … will have its premiere online on Monday.”

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    And The All-Time Leader For Pirated Downloads Is …

    dani and someone else

    “At their peak, episodes of the HBO series [Game of Thrones] accounted for more than half of all TV shows pirated on file-sharing networks, and more than all music downloads combined.”

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    Venue Backs Down On Kicking Out UK Jewish Film Fest

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    The Tricycle Theatre “which refused to host the UK Jewish Film Festival while it is sponsored by the Israeli embassy, amid the Gaza crisis, has now dropped its objection … but is too late for this year’s festival as alternative venues have been arranged.”

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  • Music

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

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    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

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    “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)

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    “[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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    So What’s In The New Met Opera Labor Agreement? A Few Surprises

    met opera agreement

    “The unions representing the orchestra and chorus recognized the financial fragility of the opera house and agreed to their first pay cut in decades, while management abandoned its toughest demands and agreed to make significant reductions of its own, with independent oversight.” (emphasis added)

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    Ailing Plácido Domingo Withdraws From Salzburg Festival

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    Suffering from bladder and respiratory infections, the tenor-turned-baritone has pulled out from the remaining three sold-out performances of Il trovatore with Anna Netrebko as well as a concert with Daniel Barenboim and the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra.

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  • People

    Margaret Atwood Would Totally Fit In At Comic-Con

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    “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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    The Day I Broke Into James Baldwin’s House On The French Riviera

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    “I had been told that it was derelict and vacant; that after Baldwin’s death in 1987 there had been legal disputes about who in fact owned the eighteenth-century Provençal building (Baldwin thought he did). The rusty padlock on the austere gates and the broken buzzer confirmed that the house was unoccupied. I glanced furtively around to check that no one was watching and prepared to scale the wall.”

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    Don Pardo, Iconic Television Announcer, Dead At 96

    don pardo

    His four-decade stint introducing NBC’s Saturday Night Live was just the highest-profile gig in a 70-year career that included (before most of you reading this were born) the original versions of The Price Is Right and Jeopardy!. (includes Weird Al video)

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    “I Hate Violence,” Says World’s Most Famous Living Martial Arts Star

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    Jackie Chan: “I have a dilemma. I love action, but I hate violence. There is so much violence in the world, from video games and from other movies. I want my movies to have a message of peace, and helping each other. … There has to be plenty of action, but not violence.”

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  • Theatre

    Was I That Bad? How Actors Cope With Really Bad Reviews

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    John Hurt, Una Stubbs, Meera Syal, Douglas Hodge, and Peter Egan recount tales of critical maulings and how they dealt with them.

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    “Carrie”-the-Musical Will Not Die

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    “The much-maligned musical will now drag its blood-soaked self to Los Angeles in a new production that promoters are billing as an ‘immersive’ experience” – ew! – “featuring a theater transformed into Ewen High School, the setting for much of the story.”

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    What’s The Benefit Of Long – REALLY Long – Plays?

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    “You could read on the actors’ faces real gratitude that people had come and stayed for that long, despite plenty of chances to flee. In this instance, mere presence was quite a statement of support.”

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    How Do Theatres In Scotland Feel About Independence? We Don’t Really Know

    SpoilingScotland

    “I would say 90% of the creative community in Scotland is pro-independence. … “I’m not claiming there’s outright censorship but I think funding bodies and local councils have cold feet about political theatre.”

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    You, Too, Can Be (One Of Hundreds As) A Broadway Producer!

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    “Broadway has become a very expensive game, with producers taking our money in exchange for profits and all our names being billed above the title. … It’s getting out of control. But Broadway nowadays can’t survive without us.”

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  • Visual

    Head Of Korea’s Gwangju Biennale Resigns After Censoring Mural

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    “Earlier this month, a painting by the artist Hong Seong-dam was removed from an exhibition … following pressure by the Gwangju city government … The picture depicts the South Korean president Park Geun-hye being assailed by the families of children who died in the country’s MV Sewol ferry disaster last April.”

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    Major Art Basel Sponsorship Deal Could Go Up In Smoke Under Proposed Law

    VIP Opening Of Art Basel 2013

    “A powerful lobby has supported [Swiss] legislation that would prevent tobacco companies” – such as Oettinger Davidoff – “from sponsoring major events, such as Art Basel. A similar law is already in effect across the European Union, and Swiss interior minister Alain Berset is a a powerful backer of this new one.”

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    “Artless In Every Sense” – Philly Museum Of Art’s Next Expansion Plan (Per Critic)

    philly museum

    The “Core Project” is the first of three stages of the museum’s Frank Gehry-designed expansion. “[It] involves tearing out the existing auditorium, which sits directly beneath the Great Stair Hall, and replacing it with a space labeled the Forum.” Thomas Hine argues that the Forum, as planned, misses every opportunity it has – and it forgets “the whisper”.

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    Madrid’s Reina Sofía Museum To Expand (Again)

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    “[The capital's] main Modern and contemporary art museum will expand its permanent exhibition space by a total of 3,000 sq. m by the end of 2015. … The project will ‘finally’ join the Francisco Sabatini-designed building, which fully opened as an art museum in 1992, with the extension by Jean Nouvel, completed in 2005.”

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    In Praise Of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Midwestern Immoderation

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    Justin Davidson, who recently completed a Wright tour through Pennsylvania and Wisconsin: “This processional of midwestern masterpieces reminds us that great architecture is not always the most sensible solution, or the most frugal, or the sturdiest. Sometimes it’s brilliantly insane.”

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  • Words

    Why Did Samuel Beckett Abandon His Mother Tongue (Only To Translate His Work Back Into It)?

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    Because he needed to. “It is becoming more and more difficult, even senseless, for me to write an official English. And more and more my own language appears to me like a veil that must be torn apart in order to get at the things (or the Nothing-ness) behind it.”

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    Do The Particulars Of A Language Shape The Way Its Speakers Think? Try Translating Poetry To Find Out

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    Drew Calvert recounts the year he spent in an informal English-Chinese poetry study and translation group in Beijing – and what it taught him about the natures, strengths and deficits of the two tongues.

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    If We Can’t Censor Our Summer Reading List, We’ll Have No List At All, Says School Board

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    “The Cape Henlopen [Delaware] School Board nuked its entire summer reading list to keep kids from reading The Miseducation of Cameron Post, Emily M Danforth’s acclaimed YA novel about a gay teenager coming of age in Montana.”

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    The Power Of A Book To Counter And Reshape Narratives – Even Under The Nuns’ Keen Eyes

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    “To whom the book belonged remains a mystery, but in a sense it belonged to all of us convent girls in that sleepy town in southern Zimbabwe. We were having our eyes opened in more ways than one.”

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    The Year Science Fiction Turned Away From Older White Guys

    Hugo

    “This was really a year that underscored that a younger generation of diverse writers are becoming central to the genre and helping to redefine and expand it.”

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