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  • Dance

    Awkward Fit: The Choreographer Who Would Be Genius

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    “The ballet world, desperate for an heir to Balanchine and Robbins, tends to deify bright young men, and as it tries to puff Justin Peck up, he seems determined to stay firmly on the ground, so to speak.”

    How To Think About Dance And Movement? Start With An Idea

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    “I am convinced that choreography is not only the best [art] form to buy a ticket for, it is also an orchestration of encounters, the setting up of encounters between different minds,” she said. “I hope we give audiences the possibility to enter the choreography themselves, but also to intellectually stimulate the publics we encounter, […]

    Justin Peck Watches Himself Making A Ballet

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    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 […]

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

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    “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.”

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

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    “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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  • Ideas

    Why Debates About Today’s Big Issues Have So Little Historical Context

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    “In contrast to earlier centuries, when the historian’s craft had been the preserve of amateurs such as Gibbon and Macaulay, the 20th century was the era when history professionals emerged – men and women who earned their living from teaching and writing history as employees of universities. Like other professionals, they sought advancement by becoming unquestioned masters of a small terrain, fenced off by their command of specialist archives. The explosion since the 1970s of new subdisciplines – including social history, women’s history and cultural history – encouraged further balkanisation of the subject. Academic historians seemed to be saying more and more about less and less. In consequence, the big debates of our day lack the benefit of historical perspective.”

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    The Psychology Of Wearing Glasses

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    When constant-use glasses were first introduced at the start of the 18th century—before, eye assistance was relegated to occasional-use monocles and, presumably, power-squinting—spectacle wearers were mysterious folk. “What were these secret weapons they had on their face? What is this person doing with this device on? Are they trying to capture my soul or something?”

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    Humans’ Age-Old Fantasy Of Animals That Can Talk

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    We’ve had the fantasy for thousands of years – from Aesop and Plato, through the Roman de Fauvel and Montaigne and Lewis Carroll and Orwell and Disney, right through to Mr. Ed and Dogbert and LOLcats and Doge. “We polish an animal mirror to look for ourselves. But perhaps that mirror is more suited for a funhouse.”

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    It’s Okay To Be An Overbearing Pet Parent (Thank God)

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    “Neurotic people probably make pretty great pet owners, concludes the author of a new study … In an online survey of about 1,000 pet owners, people who scored higher in neuroticism and conscientiousness also reported higher levels of affection for their dog or cat, which most likely means a better life for the animals.”

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  • Issues

    How Japan Became A Pop Culture Superpower

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    “Almost every childhood craze of the past 30 years has come from Japan: Transformers, Power Rangers, Tamagotchi, Pokémon and on and on and on. And together these have blasted through boundaries between different media.”

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    Yes, Artists Need Funding – But We Shouldn’t Take It From Oil Companies

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    Playwright Mark Ravenhill: “For some 30 years now, many of us in the arts have prided ourselves on our skills as conmen. We can find the money, wherever it may be. And we can take it. And run. … But after all this time, aren’t we now starting to wonder who’s been fooling who?”

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    Want To Boost Your Creativity? Study Says Ponder Who You Are

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    “Spending a few minutes pondering the various identities you wear—spouse, parent, employee, sports fan, political partisan, what-have-you—can lead to more creative insights.”

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    Have We Become Too Sensitive In Public Debate To Have Real Conversations About Ideas?

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    “After political correctness burst onto the academic scene in the late ’80s and early ’90s, it went into a long remission. Now it has returned. Some of its expressions have a familiar tint, like the protesting of even mildly controversial speakers on college campuses.”

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  • Media

    Report: Watching TV With Subtitles Is A Bad Experience

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    User feedback said live subtitles made viewing “frustrating, and, on occasion, unwatchable.” The report highlighted “serious recognition errors” in subtitling software, which led to mistakes such as the phrase “be given to our toddlers” translated as “be given to ayatollahs”.

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    Where Critics Have Failed The Art Of Movies

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    “Independent filmmaking is wilder and freer than ever, owing in part to the readier availability of equipment and in part to the mere march of time and proliferation of ideas. But, at the same time, Hollywood filmmaking is even more brazenly commercial. The gap between the independents and the profit centers is increasing along with the quality of independent films.”

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    “American Sniper”, War, Fiction, And Real-World Politics

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    “These films strip away almost all of the moral and political ambiguities of international conflict, in its place giving us a singular tale of physical and mental heroics dripping in red, white, and blue. It’s hard as an American to not be affected at some level. Although an unintended consequence of such powerful patriotic storytelling could be its political ramifications.”

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    What Moviegoers In Baghdad Think Of “American Sniper”

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    “Mohammed says one of the film’s opening scenes, when Kyle spots a woman and child who appear to be preparing to attack US troops during the initial invasion of Iraq, had the entire audience on the edge of their seats. ‘When the sniper was hesitating to shoot [the child holding the RPG] everyone was yelling ‘Just shoot him!” he said.”

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    These Filmmakers Staged A Canine Rebellion With 200 Real Dogs

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    “In the upcoming movie White God, … the canine actor Bodie plays Hagen, a mutt that – after he is separated from his owner – leads an uprising of hundreds of dogs against the men who mistreat and abuse them.” The director, the animal trainer, and Bodie tell us how they pulled it off. (video)

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  • Music

    Pop Music As Serious Art (So Tell Me Something Else I Don’t Know?)

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    “Pop has long been resident in the hallowed halls of academe. Pop music studies have a place in university music faculties on almost equal terms with classical and world music. It has its own journals, distinguished elder statesmen and iconoclastic upstarts. Pop’s arrival at the top table is part of the revolution that swept through universities in the Seventies with the arrival of cultural studies.”

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    Anti-Putin Protester Gets Onto Met Stage, Interrupts Anna Netrebko’s Bows

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    “A protester carrying a sign criticizing the policies of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia climbed over the orchestra pit and onto the stage at the Metropolitan Opera on Thursday night as the diva Anna Netrebko took her curtain call after performing the title role in Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta.” (includes video)

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    PhilOrch Keeps Yannick For Five More Years

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    “[Music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s] current contract runs through 2017, which means the new five-year deal extends his tenure to 2022.” With the president/CEO and board chairman having extended their terms as well, the Philadelphia Orchestra has the stability it will need to do the major fundraising it also needs.

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    Bring back The 8-Track! Why Physicality Matters In Music

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    “It’s not about toggling between tabs, one for streaming music, one for chatting with coworkers, and another for checking bank statements. It’s about experiencing music as an artifact, and really listening.”

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

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    “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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  • People

    Geraldine McEwan Was Miss Marple (And Miss Jean Brodie As Well)

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    The actress – whose death at age 82 trended on Twitter – had a career that “spanned decades on the small screen and in theatre and films, including box office hits such as Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves starring as the witch Mortiana. She won a Bafta for best actress in 1991 for her role in the TV serial of Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit.”

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    Conductor Dies After Heart Attack Onstage

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    “The 59-year-old was conducting at a concert given by a Swiss youth orchestra in Lucerne, when he fell dramatically to the ground. An audience member rushed to his aid, but the musician died in an ambulance on the way to hospital.”

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    Rod McKuen, 81, Poet And Songwriter

    Rod McKuen

    “[He was] the husky-voiced ‘King of Kitsch’ whose avalanche of music, verse and spoken-word recordings in the 1960s and ’70s overwhelmed critical mockery and made him an Oscar-nominated songwriter and one of the best-selling poets in history.”

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    Fighting Back Against “Wolf Hall”‘s Slander Of Thomas More (With Help From Holbein)

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    Jonathan Jones: “Why does Wolf Hall demonise one of the most brilliant and forward-looking of all Renaissance people? Its caricature of Thomas More as a charmless prig, a humourless alienating nasty piece of work, is incredibly unfair. You only have to consider one of Hans Holbein’s greatest works to see this.”

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  • Theatre

    Think Theatre Isn’t Evolving Fast Enough? Nicholas Hytner Begs To Disagree

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    “I think this new crowd have found ways of producing, ways of finding spaces and turning them into theatres that is unprecedented. They’ve got lots of things to say, they say it in all sorts of different ways, and they find all sorts of ways of saying it.”

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    Mental Health Issues Affect 20% Of Theatre Professionals, Survey Finds

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    “The survey, which was open to everyone in the sector and completed by more than 5,000 people, found that 46% of those who answered a question about the state of their mental health described it as either poor or average, and that 20% had actively sought help about their mental well-being.”

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    Are We Exiting The Era Of Big Stage Musicals?

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    “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

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    “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”

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    “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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  • Visual

    Can An Australian Director Take Washington, D.C.’s Hirshhorn Global?

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    Melissa Chiu: “Building on the Hirshhorn’s international presence doesn’t preclude us from having a vital engagement with our more immediate community. I’m very aware that we can create energy around our programming only from building a loyalty and interest in the museum.”

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    Constable Painting Bought For $5,300 Sells For $5.2 Million

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    “The award for the most compelling market tale undoubtedly goes to the third highest-selling painting, a rediscovered John Constable landscape, Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows (1831), that sold for $5.2 million, far exceeding its $3 million high estimate. The consignor had acquired the work at Christie’s London in July 2013, and paid a mere $5,300 for it.”

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    The Most Powerful Artwork I Have Ever Seen (By Jerry Saltz)

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    “I don’t want to sound like an insane art-critic version of Werner Herzog rhapsodizing about ‘albino alligators.’ All I know is that something seismic hit me …, some capacious cognizance, cryptic, wakeful.”

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    At Long Last, Peru Is Getting A National Museum

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    “Strangely enough, despite its rich cultural and artistic history, the country hasn’t had a large-scale national museum until now. … The new museum will make its home at the storied Pachacamac, an archaeological site southeast of Lima that’s passed through many hands since the Early Intermediate period.”

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    Van Gogh And The Decision That Changed Art History

    Self-Portrait by Vincent van Gogh

    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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  • Words

    Why Novelists Turn To The Vividness Of Music

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    “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

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    “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

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    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…

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    “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

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    “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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