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  • Dance

    The Great Dissident Soviet Choreographer You’ve Never Heard Of

    yakobson

    “How miraculous that amid all that suffocating tulle, a ballet flame-thrower named Leonid Yakobson emerged. … Dancers hungry for a challenge loved the odd body shapes, sexiness and wit of his choreography. Among his disciples were the young Natalia Makarova and Mikhail Baryshnikov” as well as Maya Plisetskaya. Even Richard Nixon was a fan.

    New Website Monitors Ballet Dancers’ Pay And Conditions Worldwide

    ballet pay

    “Former dancer and ballet teacher Ian Knowles created the site – balletposition.com – which he claims is the first of its type, to compare useful data for dancers looking to join ballet companies in the UK, Western and Eastern Europe and the US.”

    New York City Ballet Uses Art To Draw Younger Audience – And It’s Working

    nyc ballet art

    “There seemed to be an explosion of young men in knit caps and young women in leather pants watching as New York City Ballet recently performed a trio of Balanchine classics. In fact, the average age in the David H. Koch Theater seemed to have dropped by years, if not decades.”

    How Ballet Dancers Learn Their Steps: Music, Muscle Memory And Mystery

    how dancers learn

    Jenifer Ringer, late of New York City Ballet, explains the process and the factors that affect it.

    Heart Of A Ballet Superstar: Wendy Whelan At 47

    Wendy whelan

    “She was, and is, longer than most. More angular. Like calligraphy, critics said. And that’s just the start. They go crazy for her work ethic. Her astounding strength. Her rapturous, incandescent spirituality. So have choreographers. … Last fall, at 47, Whelan left the New York City Ballet. But she’s still dancing.” (audio; includes video clips)

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  • Ideas

    Artifical Intelligence Conquers The Video Game Arcade (This Is Actually A Big Deal)

    artificial intelligence video games

    “Whipping humanity’s ass at Fishing Derby may not seem like a particularly noteworthy achievement for artificial intelligence” – think of Deep Blue beating Garry Kasparov at chess and Watson walloping Ken Jennings on Jeopardy! – “but according to Zachary Mason, a novelist and computer scientist, it actually is.”

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    Hard Feelings: Science’s Struggle To Define Emotions

    hard feelings 90

    “The debate over the nature of emotion has been reinvigorated in recent years. While it would be easy to paint the argument as two-sided – pro-universality versus anti-universality, or Ekman’s cronies versus his critics – I found that everyone I spoke to for this article thinks about emotion a little differently.”

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    Early To Bed And Early To Rise Does Not Make You More Moral (Take That, Ben Franklin!)

    early to bed

    “Early birds aren’t ethically superior. And, to the extent that other research suggests that they are, it may just be that they are luckier: modern society, for the most part, is built around their preferences.”

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    Beyond The Turing Test: Artificial Intelligence Will Never Be Human Intelligence

    NYTimes The Stone

    “Some insist that ‘hard A.I.’ (with human-level intelligence) can never exist, while others conclude that it is inevitable. But in many cases these debates may be missing the real point of what it means to live and think with forms of synthetic intelligence very different from our own. … A mature A.I. is not necessarily a humanlike intelligence, or one that is at our disposal.”

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  • Issues

    Who Should Decide How Students Learn About America’s Past?

    Who Should Decide How Students Learn About Americas Past

    “This school year, the fury is over the new U.S. History Advanced Placement course – in particular, whether its perspective is overly cynical about the country’s past. The controversy raises significant questions about the role of revisionism in education: How should students learn about oppression and exploitation alongside the great achievements of their country? And who decides which events become part of the national narrative as more information comes to light?”

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    These Artists Promote Cultural Understanding (But Not If They Can’t Get Visas)

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    “In a time when cultural understanding is more critical than ever before, it’s become an uphill battle for artists from Islamic countries to obtain permission to travel to the United States.”

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    Non-Profits Versus For-Profits – The Lines Are Blurring

    Arm-wrestling-for-profit

    “All organizations – not just nonprofits – are now in the business of promoting “social good” in order to gain support… If your organization imagines one of its key differentiators to be its social responsibility, well, then your thinking may be at complete odds with the way the market perceives and evaluates all organizations (i.e. nonprofits and for-profits alike).”

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    Results: Arts Rank Low In Survey Of Essential Skills Students Need

    san diego county arts B

    “Despite decades of work citing and arguing the value and benefit of the Arts as a core subject important to the education of our children, despite substantial research on that importance, despite the flourishing of hundreds, if not thousands, of exemplary programs across the country, and despite all our efforts, the public seemingly STILL thinks of the arts (at least as important in education) as a frill, a luxury.”

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  • Media

    Stop The Licence Fee? Shut Down The BBC Trust? Drop A TV Channel? What-All Is In This Committee’s Report, Anyway?

    bbc licence fee guardian

    The Guardian read the 164-page House of Commons culture, media and sport select committee report on the future of the BBC so you don’t have to.”

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    Why British Political Satire On TV Stops Being Satirical When It’s Adapted By Americans

    british tv satire

    “Failure is a wellspring of British comedy, but its American counterpart rewards ‘optimism [and] a refusal to see oneself in a bad light’.” Christopher Orr looks at how Game of Thrones changed from savage political parody to dramatic thriller as it crossed the Atlantic, and how The Thick of It morphed into the farce of Veep.

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    Richard Linklater Considering Sequel To “Boyhood”

    linklater

    “I wake up in the morning thinking, ‘The twenties are pretty formative, you know?’ That’s where you really become who you’re going to be. It’s one thing to grow up and go to college, but it’s another thing to … So, I will admit my mind has drifted towards [this sequel idea].”

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    Study: Violent Video Games Are Less Violent For Good Players

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    “The level of aggression and hostility such games produce varies considerably depending upon the skill of the individual player.”

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    The Murky Gay (And Not-Gay) Politics Around Graham Moore’s “Stay Weird” Oscars Speech

    graham moore

    “A lot of people assumed that by comparing himself to Turing, Moore was specifically addressing the plight of people who aren’t straight … But knowing that he’s straight, and knowing the primary controversy surrounding The Imitation Game has been about its minimization of the gay experience, makes Moore’s Oscars moment a somewhat strange one. In fact, it’s striking how much his speech is decidedly not aimed at gay people.”

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  • Music

    Toronto’s Massey Hall Begins $135M Renovation

    massey-hall

    “For all its past glories, the hall has a shopworn feel, with those odd reclining seats and scuffed brass railings. The goal of the expensive facelift, paid for largely by corporate and government cash, is to do some sprucing up without sanding away the antique beauty of the place.”

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    “Amadeus” The Movie At 30 – And Everything It Got Wrong About Mozart And Salieri

    VARIOUS

    BBC Radio 3 presenter Clemency Burton-Hill reviews the liberties writer Peter Shaffer and director Milos Forman took with the historical record (and the device they used to get away with it) – and nevertheless finds that Amadeus is “arguably the finest movie ever made about the process of artistic creation and the unbridgeable gap between human genius and mediocrity.” (text-only)

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    Where Beethoven Is A Star: Violent Video Games

    beethoven

    “The spirit of Beethoven has come back to life in first-person shooter games. Over-the-top Romanticism, in all its most extravagant manifestations, is now the preferred musical accompaniment to virtual killing.”

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    John Luther Adams: Making Music In A Time Of Crisis

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    “Today a growing number of geologists believe we have left the Holocene and entered a new period—the Anthropocene—in which the dominant geologic force is humanity itself. What does this mean for music? What does it mean for my work as a composer, or for any artist working in any medium today?”

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    So London Needs A New Concert Hall For Simon Rattle? Is This The Real Priority?

    The-plan-for-a-Rattle-Hal-008

    “Is this more than a vanity project? Is Simon Rattle’s musicianship really worth it? Would such a “world-class hall” be sustainable after his departure? At 63 he would be, even by the gerontocratic standards of classical music, not a young man when his Berlin contract runs out in 2018.”

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  • People

    The Designer Who Became Apple’s Biggest Asset

    apple

    Jonathan Ive “establish[ed] the build and the finish of the iMac, the MacBook, the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad. He is now one of the two most powerful people in the world’s most valuable company” – on whom 100,000 employees and a not-insignificant chunk of the stock market depend. Says Steve jobs’s widow, “Jony’s an artist with an artist’s temperament, and he’d be the first to tell you artists aren’t supposed to be responsible for this kind of thing.”

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    Louis Jourdan, 93, Suave French Film Star

    jourdan

    “Lithe, debonair and exceedingly handsome, with a tide of dark, wavy hair, Louis Jourdan became Hollywood’s ideal of Gallic charm and seduction in the late 1940s and 1950s. His peak came in the Oscar-winning musical Gigi (1958), which cemented him in the popular imagination as a debonair playboy.”

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    Henry VIII’s Arguments For Divorcing Catherine Of Aragon Found In Old Mansion

    henry catherine 90

    “A book which helped changed the course of English history, part of the evidence Henry VIII and his lawyers gathered in the 1530s to help win an annulment from Catherine of Aragon and ultimately to break with Rome, has turned up on the shelves of the magnificent library at Lanhydrock, a National Trust mansion in Cornwall.”

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    The Man Who Saved Impressionism

    Impression-Sunrise

    The story of Paul Durand-Ruel, who repeatedly risked bankruptcy to support Monet, Degas, Manet, Pissarro, and their fellows – and created a market for their work, especially in the United States.

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  • Theatre

    Unknown Harold Pinter Script To Premiere, 33 Years After It Was Written

    pinter premiere

    “The work, discarded by Pinter when plans to make it into a film fell through, has been adapted for radio by the film and stage director Sir Richard Eyre.”

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    Thai Actors Jailed For Insulting Monarchy With Student Play

    thais

    “Student Patiwat Saraiyaem, 23, and activist Porntip Mankong, 26, had pleaded guilty to defamation” under Thailand’s lèse-majesté law, the world’s strictest, “following their arrests last August, nearly a year after The Wolf Bride – a satire set in a fictional kingdom – was performed.”

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    Theatre Cancels All-Asian “Showboat” After Concluding It Couldn’t Be Done

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    “We spoke with, and listened purposefully to members of racially diverse communities and particularly with our most direct constituents, Asian-Americans, regarding how tackling this work might be perceived when the Asian presence is thrust into the center of a conversation that has historically excluded it. After carefully absorbing arguments of both support and opposition, we have chosen to cancel the production, concluding that the goal that propelled us — to lift up the Asian-American theater artist — could not be sufficiently achieved.”

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    Yes, Sometimes You Do Have To Censor Shakespeare, Says Mark Rylance

    rylance

    “I don’t think there’s pressure [to remove] the bawdy jokes. He’s bawdier a lot more times than people realise. The pressures I feel are more for times where he will say something very antisemitic.”

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    Robert De Niro To Direct Stage Musical

    deniro

    Along with theater veteran Jerry Zaks, the Oscar-winning actor will direct a musical adaptation of Chazz Palmintieri’s play A Bronx Tale, a film version of which De Niro directed in 1993.

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  • Visual

    Westminster Abbey To Add First New Tower In 270 Years

    westminster abbey

    The addition “will create public access to a museum of treasures and curiosities housed in the triforium, the church’s attic gallery. At present, the public can get only a distant glimpse of the spectacular and shadowy space through the stone arches 70ft up at the top of the walls above the high altar.”

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    Is This The Banksy Of Iran? Or The Shepard Fairey?

    mehdi

    “[Mehdi] Ghadyanloo has more in common with the metaphysical painter Giorgio de Chirico than he does with Banksy. Yet in terms of success as a street artist, he is undoubtedly the Banksy of Tehran. Astonishingly, there are over 100 walls in Iran’s capital decorated by Ghadyanloo. … His paintings are not illegal. On the contrary, he was commissioned by the city government to paint them.” (So he’s definitely not like Banksy.)

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    A 21st-Century “Pictures At An Exhibition” (But This Exhibition Is One Of The World’s Greatest)

    21st century pictures

    “Four contemporary classical composers walk into an art museum. No punch line. But after walking in, this quartet of composers eventually walked away having penned four new compositions, which Network for New Music will premiere Friday at the Barnes Foundation – amid the art and spaces that inspired them.”

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    Dutch Restorers Offer To Repair Roman Fountain Damaged By Soccer Hooligans

    bernini fountain

    “A Dutch restoration firm has offered to repair a 400-year-old fountain that was damaged last week when supporters of Rotterdam soccer team Feyenoord went on a drunken rampage in Rome’s historic center.” The Dutch government has rejected any responsibility to pay for restoration, though it says it supports private efforts.

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    Ancient Frescoes In Roman Catacombs May Undermine Church Teaching About Women Priests – Or May Not

    A fresco is pictured inside the catacomb of Priscilla in Rome

    The wall paintings in the Catacombs of Santa Priscilla “have sparked controversy over the role of women in the Church, and helped scholars re-evaluate the importance of the Virgin Mary in early Christian history.” Some claim that one fresco even provides evidence that female priests served the Eucharist, though others are skeptical.

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  • Words

    Here’s Why Classifying Writers Is A Bad Idea

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    “Given the chance, we would resist classification. I have never met a writer who wishes to be described as a female writer, gay writer, black writer, Asian writer or African writer. We hyphenated writers complain about the privilege accorded to the white male writer, he who dominates the western canon and is the only one called simply ‘writer’.”

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    ISIS Burns 8,000 Rare Books and Manuscripts in Mosul’s Library

    isis

    “Among its lost collections were manuscripts from the eighteenth century, Syriac books printed in Iraq’s first printing house in the nineteenth century, books from the Ottoman era, Iraqi newspapers from the early twentieth century and some old antiques like an astrolabe and sand glass used by ancient Arabs. The library had hosted the personal libraries of more than 100 notable families from Mosul over the last century.”

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    The Genius And Excess Of John Berryman

    berryman

    “Centennial celebrations, meant to re¬suscitate a reputation, run the risk of burying it instead. Consider the case of John Berryman … Not so long ago he was a commanding figure in what had come to be known as confessional poetry, for its seemingly raw autobiographical excavation of alcohol and drugs, adultery and divorce, madness and hospitalization.”

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    Writing As A Lonely Tortured Struggle? Not So Much

    authors Lydia Syson and Helen Grant

    “Take those demons, for example. For some of us, writing is not a matter of being driven by them, but casting them out. Difficult family relationships? Sort them out on the page. Horrible love life? Write it again with a better ending. Feeling your age? Slip into the skin of a 20 year old and go off and have some fictional adventures. It’s not a horrible, exhausting struggle; it’s therapeutic.”

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    Poetess, Actress, Aviatrix, Rockette, And Other Gendered Occupations

    gendered professions

    “Listen to Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo discuss the history and etymology of feminine suffixes – including -ess, -ette, and -trix – with University of Michigan professor Anne Curzan.” (podcast)

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