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  • Dance

    How Irish Step Dancing Left Irish Ethnicity Behind

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    “When it was whites who made up the majority of U.S. immigrants, it really mattered if you were Irish, Italian, or some other white ethnicity. … Once the distinctions no longer mattered and the stigma of being Irish had faded, then Irish dance could be something anyone did and others would want to do. And, […]

    The Hot New Dance In New York? A Dance From Jane Austen’s Time

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    “Derived from English country dancing—think of the long paired lines of couples crisscrossing and partner-swapping in all those Jane Austen country-manor balls, now press fast forward—contra offers young urbanites an inclusive atmosphere where they can work up a little sweat away from the gym and touch human beings instead of screens.”

    Whatever Happened To Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, It Doesn’t Mean Dance Is In Danger

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    “But even with no conclusive sign that Cedar Lake’s issue is one of funding, the dance community is positioned to jump on the ‘arts is dying’ bandwagon immediately. … Why do we chalk this up to just another financial failure? Perhaps because as a dance venture, we are used to being on a respirator, scraping […]

    Nederlands Dans Theater’s Do-It-Themselves Fundraiser For NGOs

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    “Switch is an evening conceived, choreographed and produced fully by the NDT performers … all profits from [which] go entirely to a community need the dancers hunt down themselves. … When they’ve targeted an organization, they look for ways to get involved beyond financial contribution. They volunteer their hours, they show up to teach free […]

    How A Bharatanatyam Choreographer Is Remaking French Ballet’s Great Chestnut About An Indian Temple Dancer

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    When Shobana Jeyasingh first heard of La Bayadère, she was excited at the idea of a classic ballet about someone like her. Of course La Bayadère bore no relationship to real Indian classical dance or dancers – until, that is, Jeyasingh got her hands on the piece. (includes video)

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  • Ideas

    When Memory Stops Functioning, Where Does A Person’s Identity Reside?

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    “Dementia undermines all of our philosophical assumptions about the coherence of the self. … Everyone touched by the disease goes through a crash-course in the philosophy of mind. … If someone cannot remember not just where the milk bottle goes, but what a milk bottle is for, then the shared pre-suppositions on which communication, meaning and identity depend become badly strained.”

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    A More Complicated View Of What Makes Us Intelligent

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    “Increasingly, it makes less sense to think of genes and environments as independent causes,” writes a research team led by Penn State sociologist David Baker. Its examination of likely reasons for the gradual rise in IQ scores over the 20th century suggest more challenging curriculums, to a significant degree, create smarter students.

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    People Are Fighting Over Sand (And There’s A Shortage)

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    “Though the supply might seem endless, sand is a finite resource like any other. The worldwide construction boom of recent years—all those mushrooming megacities, from Lagos to Beijing—is devouring unprecedented quantities; extracting it is a $70 billion industry. In Dubai enormous land-reclamation projects and breakneck skyscraper-building have exhausted all the nearby sources. Exporters in Australia are literally selling sand to Arabs.”

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    Living Life Without The Brain’s Memory Center

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    “Her life is an endless series of jump cuts. In our age of pinging distractions, people often express a desire to ‘be present,’ but Johnson belies such sentimentality. She is marooned in the present.” A profile of an artist whose hippocampus was completely destroyed in 2007 by a viral infection – and what neuroscientists are learning about the brain from the things she can and cannot now do.

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  • Issues

    ‘Man-Seders’ – Matzoh With Steak And Scotch

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    “Unlike staid practice sessions of old, these promise flowing alcohol, macho food and male bonding along with some religious instruction, although that last one can get a bit lost at some of the events. … The goal is simple: to teach men about the Passover Seder, including how to run one, and engage them more in the Jewish faith.”

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    Was Early Civilization Driven By Agriculture Or By Religion?

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    “Some secularists dislike the idea that spiritual needs drove the rise of civilisation. They fret that it will reinforce or restore religion’s central place in society. But just because spirituality may have led to civilisation, it doesn’t follow that it should lead it now. If religion did have an early founding role, we must acknowledge this, learn from it – and move on.”

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    Here’s How Much Cultural Tourists Impact London’s Economy

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    “The report comes after the latest figures from the Society of London Theatre reported an 11th consecutive year of growth among West End theatre box office takings, measuring gross sales of more than £623 million in 2014. Similarly, attendances for the 53 theatres in full SOLT membership grew to 14.7 million in 2014, a 1% increase on the previous year.”

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    Why Are So Many Arts Organizations’ Mission Statements So Bad?

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    “Yuck! Those are awful, and for different reasons. Some are dumb. Some are unclear. But all are more about the “what” of the organization more than the “why.” There is no expression or explanation of their purpose, no sense of what they are doing that is good for us.”

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  • Media

    Why New TV Comedies Are Choosing Plot Over Jokes

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    Basically, because they can. Jason Zinoman explains how the huge changes over the past decade in the way television series are distributed and consumed have allowed the creators of comedies to break with what was always a fairly strict template.

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    Now The Season Of Minority Casting On TV. Too Much?

    Empire

    “As is the case with any sea change, the pendulum might have swung a bit too far in the opposite direction. Instead of opening the field for actors of any race to compete for any role in a color-blind manner, there has been a significant number of parts designated as ethnic this year, making them off-limits for Caucasian actors, some agents signal.”

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    Seriously? Too Much “Ethnic” Casting On TV This Year?

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    The story prompted lots of reaction, foremost among the tweets was one from Shonda Rhimes: “1st Reaction: HELL NO. Lemme take off my earrings, somebody hold my purse! 2nd Reaction: Article is so ignorant I can’t even be bothered.”

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    As The Internet And TV Converge, A New Free-For-All Competition For Eyeballs

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    “To prosper, analysts say, Netflix, Amazon and Hulu will have to spend even more on the production and marketing of exclusive comedies, dramas, films, documentaries and other shows. The greater the acclaim and the more exclusive the offerings, the easier it will be to distinguish the services and persuade people to pay up every month.”

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    America’s Public Radio Challenge: Good Local Reporting To Match The Quality National Stuff

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    “NPR’s own staff sets a national standard for serious, if often entertaining, national coverage; local coverage can be as good, but often flags in reporting smarts, voice and quality. Anyone who has ever listened to local public radio traveling across the country can recognize the great disparities in reporting. Closing that gap is central to the next generation of NPR News – and public radio itself.”

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  • Music

    In Contract Battle, Orchestra Moves To Replace Up To Two-Thirds Of Its Players

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    “The KBS Symphony Orchestra moved to potentially replace 67 positions in its 100-strong orchestra on Monday, upping the ante against players in an intensifying labor dispute.” KBS, the state broadcaster of South Korea, spun off its orchestra in September 2012; many musicians, fearing for their job security, want to remain KBS employees and have been unwilling to sign contracts with the new management.

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    Apple Moves To Compete Directly With Spotify

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    “Almost a year after agreeing to pay $3 billion for Beats, the maker of hip headphones and a streaming music service, Apple is working with Beats engineers and executives to introduce its own subscription streaming service. The company is also planning an enhanced iTunes Radio that may be tailored to listeners in regional markets.”

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    Last Week One Of Paris’s Top Orchestras Played To An Empty Hall

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    When Radio France – in the middle of strikes, layoffs, financial troubles and general chaos – abruptly cancelled the Friday evening concert of the Orchestre philharmonique de Radio-France, they didn’t consult the musicians or conductor Myung-Whun Chung first. In protest, the furious orchestra went right over to the new Philharmonie de Paris (conveniently available that evening) and played its program to banks of empty seats – making headlines in the process. (in French)

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    Video From Last Production Of Two Opera Singers On Downed Germanwings Flight

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    “Two opera singers were among the victims of the Germanwings crash on Tuesday: the contralto Maria Radner and the baritone Oleg Bryjak. Both had been performing in Siegfried, the third opera in Wagner’s Ring cycle, at the Liceu opera house in Barcelona, Ms. Radner as the earth goddess Erda and Mr. Bryjak as the scheming dwarf Alberich.”

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    Where Is The Dialogue Between Music Of North And South Americas?

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    “we can no longer talk about Latin America as a single unit, given the lack of information that exists between its different countries. For example, in Chile, we are not informed about what is happening in Ecuador or in Colombia with respect to their musical life. Only occasionally do we pay attention to our neighbors in Argentina, and only because of their proximity. The important role Buenos Aires plays in the development of new music does not encourage us to seek them out. What happened?”

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  • People

    Richard III Finally Gets His State Funeral

    “For an English monarchy that has lasted more than 1,000 years, there can have been few more improbable occasions than the ceremony of remembrance here on Thursday for the reburial of one of the most bloodstained medieval sovereigns.”

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    S**t Pierre Boulez Said

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    “I don’t want my statements to be frozen in time. A date should always be attached to them. Certainly if you take a picture of yourself 30 years ago, that same picture cannot be used as a picture of yourself today.” His incendiary comments, whether directed at his contemporaries (he has described Duchamp as ‘a pompous bore’, Cage as ‘a performing monkey’, and Stockhausen, ‘a hippie’), or more general topics such as culture and history, however, suggest that he enjoys the controversy.

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    JK Rowling’s Great Answer To A Question About Dumbledore’s Sexuality

    Author JK Rowling

    “When Rowling first told fans about Dumbledore’s sexuality, she shed light on the wizard’s confirmed single status by indicating that he was once in love with his childhood friend Gellert Grindelwald – who later went on to become an extremely dangerous dark wizard, and was defeated by Dumbledore prior to the events of the first Harry Potter book.”

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    Pierre Boulez Turns 90: His Influence Is Undeniable

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    “Boulez’s style is explosive. He detonates a germ of an idea and, like a seed, it grows a sonic forest. The common fallacy is that pieces as highly and intricately structured as these require technical understanding. But you don’t need to be a botanist to be stirred by a field of wild flowers.”

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  • Theatre

    The Best Night To See A Play Is The First Night Of Previews, Says NY Times Critic

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    Laura Collins-Hughes: “The energy in the room is high, and whatever surprises the performance holds won’t yet have been spoiled by reviews written by people like me. … [And] whatever ails a show, there is still – theoretically, anyway – time to fix it. To me, that feels hopeful. And dynamic.”

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    Cirque du Soleil To Be Sold?

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    Renée-Claude Ménard, senior director of public relations for the circus, told CBC News the company is searching for a “strategic partner. This is a very long process and [founder and majority shareholder] Guy Laliberté will take the time necessary to evaluate all available options,” Ménard said.

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    What Shakespeare Knew About Robert Durst’s Confession-Or-Non-Confession

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    Adam Gopnik: “Many people have pointed out the eerie resemblance of Durst’s words to a Shakespearean soliloquy. Actually, only one kind of soliloquy – the villain’s kind – takes this form. Durst’s words are not at all Hamlet-like, as some have said. They recall, instead, the soliloquies of Iago, in Othello, and of Edmund, in King Lear – the moments when an evil man speaks out loud of his own capacity for evil, and then assures us that there’s nothing really shocking there.”

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    At Stanford, Musical Theater About The Birth Of Modern Computing

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    “In December 1968, the computer scientist Douglas Engelbart … brought together for the first time a mouse, word processing, multimedia communication and networking to demonstrate interactive computing before an audience of a thousand leading computer scientists. His presentation would become known as the Demo.” Ben Neill and Mikel Rouse have now made the Demo into a stage work .

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    A Solo Theater Piece About The Israel-Palestine Conflict – By Arafat’s Own Foster Daughter

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    After Raeda Taha’s father was killed while hijacking a passenger plane in 1972, she was, in effect, adopted by Yasir Arafat and later worked as his press secretary. In Where Can I Find Someone Like You, Ali, Taha looks at the human costs of the conflict, especially those that Palestinians like her father exact on their families.

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  • Visual

    LA County Museum Of Art Makes An Unprecedented Sponsorship Deal With Car-Maker

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    “In a deal that will be the longest corporate sponsorship in its history, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is expected to announce Thursday a partnership with Korean automaker Hyundai, a ten-year agreement that will put a spotlight on Korean art through exhibitions and provide support for the museum’s art and technology program.”

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    Now That The Met Has Sold This Painting, Turns Out It’s Really A Rubens

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    “A portrait of Rubens’ young daughter Clara Serena, recently deaccessioned by New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, is going on display at the Rubenshuis in Antwerp. In 2013, it was auctioned as by a ‘follower of Rubens’, with an estimate of $20,000-$30,000. … Ben van Beneden, the director of the Rubenshuis, has accepted the former Met painting – now cleaned – as authentic.”

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    Why Frank Gehry’s Fondation Louis Vuitton Building Is a Masterpiece (And Why Photographs Can’t Communicate Its Genius)

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    Justin Davidson: “With its white body encased in a cloud of pearl-grey glass, it borrows the muted palette of the 16th Arrondissement, but its cornucopia of forms expresses an alien exuberance. … If you’re going to make an architectural argument for excess, this is the way to do it.”

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    What Should Italy Do With Recovered Stolen Antiquities? Sell Them?

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    “The recent photographs of the stalwart carabinieri in front of the 5,000 stolen antiquities do, however, invite a fundamental question. Where should they go now?”

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    Couple Who Hid 271 Picassos In Garage For Four Decades Convicted

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    The court in a Côte d’Azur town gave Pierre and Danielle Le Guennec “a two-year suspended sentence, ending years of intrigue surrounding a mysterious suitcase full of drawings that the couple took to Paris in 2010 to show Claude Picasso, the late painter’s son who represents the artist’s heirs and estate.”

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  • Words

    The Royal Poet Laureate’s Eulogy For Richard III

    Here’s the text of Carol Ann Duffy’s encomium, which was recited at the funeral by Benedict Cumberbatch.

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    Princeton Review Gives Taylor Swift An “F” For Bad Grammar (But…)

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    In a Princeton test paper, a section headed “Grammar in Real Life” told students: “Pop lyrics are a great source of bad grammar. See if you can find the error in each of the following.” Taylor Swift’s song Fifteen was then cited as containing the line “Somebody tells you they love you, you got to believe ’em.” A fan posted her sad reaction online: “I was just having an amazing time studying for the SAT and now I feel attacked.” Then Swift herself responded on Tumblr: “Not the right lyrics at all pssshhhh. You had one job, test people. One job.”

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    A Loss For Words: Can The Native Languages Of The Americas Be Saved – Or Even Resurrected?

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    Judith Thurman looks at the people – in Chile, Manhattan, the New York-Ontario borderlands, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Ohio – who are trying.

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    Elena Ferrante And Karl Ove Knausgaard (And What Preferring One Or The Other Says About You)

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    “The meta-question, of course, is what these affinities mean. What’s at stake when we opt for snow over sun, anger over awkwardness, herring over prosciutto, women over men, the north over the south, 1955 over 1985? What does our preference for Knausgaard or Ferrante suggest about us?”

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    Akhil Sharma’s “Family Life” Wins £40,000 Folio Prize For Fiction

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    The Indian-American banker-turned-author won the second-ever award “for a novel which took him 13 long and painful years to complete, charting one emigrant family’s heartwrenching search for the American dream.”

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