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  • Dance

    Becoming The World’s Tallest Ballet Dancer Wasn’t Easy

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    Fabrice Calmels (6’6″): “I knew I had the technique and could do a lot of things principal dancers could do and I wanted my chance. But everyone was like, ‘You know, I think you’re really tall. I don’t think you’ll ever have a career. I think you should be doing something else from ballet.’ And […]

    Baghdad Ballet School Carries On While All Around It Changes

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    “The Iraqi capital’s past as a Middle East center of culture is a distant memory, but the school has carved out a tiny island of creativity amid the violence that is an inescapable part of daily life and the religious conservatism that now defines public life.”

    How Dance Came To Be Used To Treat Parkinson’s Disease

    English National Ballet: Dance for Parkinson's

    “Westheimer knew how valuable the dancers’ expertise in balance, rhythm, control and sequencing might be to sufferers of Parkinson’s. … Two members of the Mark Morris Dance Group, with a composer and pianist, began giving free monthly classes for the [Brooklyn Parkinson Group]. The sessions have since developed into an extensive programme.”

    ABT To Open A Second Ballet School In Southern California

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    “Classes at the ABT William J. Gillespie School” – headquartered at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa – “will begin in September for students ages 3 to 14 years old and will follow the same curriculum as the children’s division of the nationally known dance company’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School [in Manhattan].”

    What Misty Copeland Thinks About “Black Swan”

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    “I really enjoyed it, but I understood what it was. It was a horror film. I mean I’m a dancer and I knew that it wasn’t supposed to be portraying what we are. The great thing about the movie was that it provoked people to think about ballet, which is always a great thing. But […]

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  • Ideas

    Why Hasn’t The Internet Made More Of An Impact On Our Lives?

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    “The Internet age just isn’t that impressive. Technological advancements of the last century had a truly transformative effect over the previous industrial age. Ice farming was replaced by refrigeration, the horse and buggy by the automobile, burning of fossil fuels for energy by centralized electrical power production. These advancements were notable not just in what they achieved in themselves but how they affected society.”

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    Artificial Intelligence – Be Careful What You Wish For

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    “The distinction between a corporation and an algorithm is fading. Does that make an algorithm a person? Here we have this interesting confluence between two totally different worlds. We have the world of money and politics and the so-called conservative Supreme Court, with this other world of what we can call artificial intelligence, which is a movement within the technical culture to find an equivalence between computers and people.”

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    Why Is Reason Frightening?

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    The ideal of “clear and intelligent thought,” stripped of its condescension and its indifference to the non-rational dimensions of human life, deserves to be defended. We need not be a nation of intellectuals, but we must not be a nation of idiots.

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    Wait, So Now Physical And Emotional Pain Aren’t The Same Thing Neurologically?

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    “In recent years, researchers and the public have, to a certain extent, latched onto the idea that there are important similarities between physical and emotional pain … At the very least,” according to new research, “pain and rejection appear to show up as distinct ‘representations’ in fMRI (brain scan) readings of study participants.”

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  • Issues

    As Art Schools Have Become More Elitist Are They Losing Out On The Most Creative Students?

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    “Art schools used to be havens for students who, for whatever reason, had not found their niche in the traditional academic system. Now prospective art students very often have to prove their academic credentials to compete for a place at the most prestigious colleges.”

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    A Better Case For Corporate Support For The Arts

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    “More than half of all Canadians listen to music daily, read fiction several times a month or more and have visited a museum or art gallery in the last year. The numbers who go to concerts and plays are smaller, but when asked what kind of event they like to attend outside the home, 34 per cent of Canadians chose the arts while 29 per cent chose sports. That last stat contains a big message for business sponsors who sometimes prefer to lend their names to sporting events because they judge them to be more popular – and more populist.”

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    Hiding Behind Falsifiability

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    “Basically, it refers to whether or not a belief can be proven wrong. If I tell you that I weigh 70 pounds, this is a claim that can be easily tested and promptly thrown out by bringing me to a scale — that is, it’s falsifiable. If, on the other hand, I tell you that everything in the universe is controlled by an invisible astral monkey with a million arms, then there’s little you can do to prove, empirically, that this is a zany notion.”

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    Drones In Popular Culture

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    “In recent years, not just in novels but in movies, television, poetry, video games and the visual arts, drones have taken on a life of their own. As a character, they are menacing, melancholy or gallant; beastly, blind, snub-nosed, noisy and fast … They show off the military talent of their users, or they are an expression of unbridled hubris. They represent protection or extermination – and they carry out both things at once.”

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  • Media

    Increasingly Problematic: TV Ratings Are Failing To Count More Of The Audience

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    “Nielsen’s metric doesn’t include those who watched the episode on streaming sites like Hulu or Fox’s own website, nor does it count those who watch via video-on-demand more than four days after the original airing. That’s an issue for networks that want to use those viewership totals with advertisers.”

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    “Serial” Addresses The Backlash Directly (More Or Less)

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    “Up until now, it has seemed a little bit like Serial was occurring in a vacuum, removed from the fandom and hubbub surrounding it. But on this week’s episode – which came after a week of mounting backlash online and a public statement on Reddit from a man claiming to be Hae Min Lee’s brother – the show seemed to reach a brand new level of self-awareness.”

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    The Only Three Kinds Of Scenes, According To Mike Nichols

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    The great director liked to say that “there are only three kinds of scenes: a fight, a seduction or a negotiation.” Dana Stevens explains – and argues that his best scenes were all three at once.

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    China Delays Release Of Latest “Hunger Games” Film – To Protect Domestic Industry

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    “The China release date for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 has been pushed back until January 2015, sources in Beijing said, as film authorities try to balance domestic and foreign box office totals before the year end.”

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    The “Serial” Backlash Has Arrived

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    Almost any media phenomenon that becomes as popular as fast as this podcast has gets some sort of backlash on the Web. Anna Silman offers us – without judgment (we can provide that) – a guide to the main complaints.

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  • Music

    Metropolitan Opera’s Deficit Swells To $22 Million

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    “Weaker-than-expected contributions and ticket sales [last season] combined with expenses related to the company’s labor talks to create its most serious shortfall in decades. … The deficit for the 2013-14 season was roughly eight times that of the previous season.”

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    Use Your iPhone At The Orchestra Or Opera? In Philly, Sure!

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    “The technological barbarians are at the gate – and are being welcomed graciously. Only three years after an errant ringtone during the New York Philharmonic’s performance of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony sparked an international uproar, two august Philadelphia institutions are telling audiences to keep their phones on – within particular limits.”

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    What It Takes To Be A Great Jazz Musician

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    “Whether it’s Charlie Parker or Coltrane or Buddy Rich, or any of the greats, the majority of their time on any given day was spent practicing. It’s not just about coming up with brilliant new ideas and musical languages.”

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    Controversial Director Axed From Bayreuth Production

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    “A storm in a Wagnerian tea-cup (or more properly, a Sturm in a Gral)? Maybe it really is the case that Jonathan Meese – an installationist and performance artist who became notorious in Germany last year for his prosecution and subsequent acquittal for an act of public provocation by making the Nazi salute on stage – was just too ambitious in his set design, and that the costs would have taxed even Bayreuth’s largesse.”

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    Billboard Music Charts Will Now Count Streams

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    “Billboard and Nielsen SoundScan, the agency that supplies its data, will start adding streams and downloads of tracks to the formula behind the Billboard 200, which, since 1956 has functioned as the music world’s weekly scorecard. It is the biggest change since 1991, when the magazine began using hard sales data from SoundScan, a revolutionary change in a music industry that had long based its charts on highly fudgeable surveys of record stores.”

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  • People

    Secrets And Suicide At The 92nd Street Y

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    “Sol Adler devoted his life to the 92nd Street Y, courting its billionaires and burnishing its cultural power. But when he brought scandal to its doorstep, the institution kicked him to the curb. And that, his family says, is what killed him.”

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    Mike Nichols, 83

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    Over a six-decade career as a performer, director and producer, he racked up a Grammy, at least two Emmys, nine Tonys (!), only one Oscar (surprisingly), a National Medal of Arts and the Kennedy Center Honors – and had a profound effect on American theater and film.

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    John Cleese Says Comedy Ain’t What It Used To Be Because Audiences Today Don’t Know Anything

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    “In my day, anyone who is vaguely educated – in other words, they know where Pakistan was … or that they had a vague idea which century Henry VIII [lived in] – would give you the opportunity for all sorts of humor. … The general feeling is that anything that doesn’t affect you personally is not worth knowing about. … It’s kind of like, ‘Geography? Well, I don’t need to know about that.'”

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    Here’s Why Chopin’s Heart Has Just Been Exhumed

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    “Chopin’s heart inspires a deep fascination in Poland normally reserved for the relics of saints. For Poles, Chopin’s nostalgic compositions capture the national spirit — and the heart’s fate is seen as intertwined with Poland’s greatest agonies and triumphs over nearly two centuries of foreign occupation, warfare and liberation.”

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  • Theatre

    Return Of The Repressed? John Cameron Mitchell Will Be Playing Hedwig On Broadway

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    The writer and original star of Hedwig and the Angry Inch “said he was initially reluctant to play Hedwig again after his yearlong run downtown and then in a 2001 film adaptation. But as he watched [Neil Patrick] Harris, Andrew Rannells and Michael C. Hall in the role over the last seven months, … ‘I was kind of itching to do it, and if I don’t do it now, I’ll never do it, because I’ll be too old.'”

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    Roman Polanski’s Vampire Musical Is Still Undead

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    “For those who savor a good Broadway catastrophe, Dance of the Vampires is near the top of the shortlist of infamy. But for the Oscar-winning film director Roman Polanski, that flop 2002 musical, based on his 1967 film The Fearless Vampire Killers, deserves – no, demands – another chance.” And it’s getting one, in Paris.

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    “A Capacious Sensibility” – Mike Nichols As Theater Director

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    “It made perfect sense that the man who was one of the original producers of the musical Annie was also the Broadway director of Hurlyburly, David Rabe’s cocaine-strewn drama about Hollywood hedonists. Or that after hitting box office gold with the musical spoof Spamalot, he switched gears and concentrated on dramas by Clifford Odets, Arthur Miller and Harold Pinter … He had tremendous instinct not only for what was funny but what could grab an audience, surprise them, wake their minds, move them to indignation or, better yet, tears.”

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    Can Theatre Make Audiences Better Citizens?

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    A report from early this year argues that performing arts “are inherently social arts and provide a necessary opportunity to develop the skills of socialisation and communication required by a healthy democracy.” Maddy Costa writes about how she’s exploring that idea in her London theatre festival, Dialogue.

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    Times Square Livecast Of “Side Show” Was Not, In Fact, Live

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    “A bid to make Broadway history by broadcasting a scene from the opening night performance of the musical “Side Show” live in Times Square didn’t come off as planned, though the crowd that gathered to watch in the rain may not have known what they were missing at all.”

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  • Visual

    Art And The Tyranny Of Forcing You To Watch

    Mike Nelson The Coral Reef

    “More and more artworks define and dictate the time their audience must give them. Too many videos are made like feature films, with a start and finish, and the clear message that you need to watch the whole thing to understand it. Performances too can be like plays, with a defined start and end. This is so wrong – like those weird old photos of 1960s audiences primly watching happenings.”

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    $600 Million Expansion Of Colonial Williamsburg

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    “The campaign, which officially starts Saturday, includes a $40-million upgrade to the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg, adding 8,000 square feet of new gallery space to the building that houses the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum and the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum.”

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    ArtPrize Is Expanding To Dallas

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    The world’s richest art competition, with $200,000 prizes awarded by jury and public vote, is stretching beyond its Grand Rapids home for the first time. ArtPrize Dallas, which will be administered independently, will open its first edition in April 2016.

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    A Big White Flower By Georgia O’Keeffe Sells For $44.4 Million

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    Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1 “smashed records Thursday morning [at Sotheby’s] when it sold for $44.4 million – a price three times larger than the previous auction record for a female artist.”

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    Sotheby’s CEO Steps Down – And Its Stock Price Goes Up

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    “The chairman and chief executive of Sotheby’s is stepping down, the auction house said on Thursday, a little more than a year after the billionaire hedge fund manager Daniel S. Loeb derided the company as ‘an old master painting in desperate need of restoration’ and demanded sweeping changes.”

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  • Words

    Should We Care About The Disappearance Of Marginalia With Digital Books?

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    “Kindle did launch a public notes feature in 2011, which allows people to make their notes and highlights available to others, but some still worry digital marginalia won’t be preserved as technology advances, leaving future historians without the kind of marginalia penned by people like Mark Twain, Abraham Lincoln, Jane Austen, and other historical figures. Others wonder whether there’s a point in trying to preserve marginalia at all.”

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    How Paperback Books Helped Win World War II And Create New Demand For Books

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    “By the end of the war, the Armed Services Editions had ushered in a new era for the publishing industry, which had previously balked at printing paperbacks. The experiment showed that if books could be printed in an affordable way, publishers could reach a new audience.”

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    Writers’ Group Robbed At Gunpoint In Brooklyn

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    “An armed robber held up a popular Church Avenue cafe while a writers’ group was meeting there [last] Thursday night … He grabbed three Apple laptops and one iPad before fleeing on foot, police said.”

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    Police Raid Paris Manuscript Museum Over Alleged Ponzi Scheme

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    “Paris’s Musée des Lettres et Manuscrits, an institution devoted to ancient manuscripts and historic letters, was raided by French authorities on Tuesday for its apparent role in a fraudulent investment scheme masterminded by the museum’s founder, financier Gérard Lhéritier.”

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    The New Republic Celebrates Its 100th Birthday

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    The magazine has substantially reinvented itself in recent years. “These days, The New Republic’s goal of parting its hair down the middle, starting with its decision to stop running editorials, strikes some as a diminishment.”

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