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  • Dance

    Dance And Technology Meld To Explore Movement

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    Digital environments can come alive in ways physical sets cannot.

    Keeping Alvin Ailey’s Company Vital, 25 Years After His Death

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    Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Artistic Director Robert Battle, only the third person to head the company in its history (and the first not to be an original member of the company) talks about keeping Mr. Ailey’s technique and works alive as well as adding other choreographers’ work to the repertoire. (audio)

    Casting, And Wrangling, The Kids In NY City Ballet’s “Nutcracker”

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    It’s a tricky process, says the company’s children’s ballet master: “You want the best kids for the part, but they have to be the right size. So much is based on the look of it, and they have to fit together.

    A Dance Critic Looks At The Physicality Of Wrestling

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    “The intensity of wrestling is so airless and complete—body on body, the skeleton being pulled and twisted more than it seems possible to withstand, every muscle driving for that inch, or a fraction of an inch, that allows one set of shoulders to be pinned or another to resist. Wrestlers are so crushingly close they […]

    Dancer With Severe Autism Says Ballet Saved His Life

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    “The stage is the one place Philip Martin-Nelson feels right at home. But it wasn’t always that way. Diagnosed with the most severe form of autism, Philip was unable to speak, make eye contact, or even allow someone to touch him for the first three years of his life.” (includes video)

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  • Ideas

    Why Guilt-Prone People Aren’t “Team Players”

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    “A lot of us know someone who is a bit more guilt-prone than they should be, liable to nose-dive into a shame spiral over seemingly minor incidents. A new study hints at some of the effects this trait could have in the workplace or the classroom: Guilt-prone people may be less likely to want to team up on projects out of fear they will disappoint their colleagues.”

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    On Fame: Why Would Anyone Care If They’re Remembered After They’re Dead?

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    “The idea that fame is a kind of immortality is an ancient one that shows no sign of losing its attraction. But why? What good does it do the dead to be famous?”

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    Yes, Virginia, We Can Resist Utilitarian Rationality: The Philosophical Case For Believing In Santa Claus

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    Why did Francis P. Church, in his famous editorial responding to young Virginia O’Hanlon, “argue for making the leap to Santa belief, rather than standing pat with Santa agnosticism?” Eric Kaplan writes that “it’s worth restating his point about the benefits of a belief in Santa in more modern, prosaic terms.”

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    The Hipster Rebranding Of Libraries Has Begun

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    Libraries should “become more like coffee shops with free Wi-Fi and comfy sofas, according to a report into the future of the service. The era of libraries as hushed reading rooms with books as their sole product is over.”

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  • Issues

    The Iconic Italy Is Being Sold Off Piece By Piece

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    “Globalization is hardly unique to Italy. And yet the gobbling up of so many of our beloved and time-tested consumer brands is noteworthy, and a bit unsettling.”

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    Why American Jews Eat Chinese Food on Christmas

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    “For many Jewish Americans, the night before Christmas conjures up visions, not of sugar plums, but plum sauce slathered over roast duck … The story begins during the halcyon days of the Lower East Side where … Jews and Chinese were the two largest non-Christian immigrant groups at the turn of the [20th] century.”

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    Forget Standing In Line At The Mall: Today’s Kids Talk To Santa By Video Chat

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    “With children glued to screens at ever-earlier ages – the average age of initial interaction is 11 months, according to one study – a raft of digital services have emerged to put Santa in the palm of their little hands.”

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    China Struggles To Grow Arts Audiences

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    “A lack of suitable venues, with the West Kowloon Cultural District still being developed, left the cultural sector struggling to expand, despite government funding of HK$3.5 billion per year.”

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  • Media

    Yikes! America’s Radio Dial Has Gone All-Christmas

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    “No less than 529 stations have gone all-holiday this year, an increase of 8.4 percent from last year and the largest number of such stations ever recorded, according to Inside Radio, a trade publication that tracks the holiday format.”

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    Hollywood’s Woman Problem

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    “In indie arenas like the Sundance Film Festival, female directors have inched closer to gender parity, and in 2013, half the movies in the American dramatic competition were directed by women. But even in the hothouse world of Sundance equality isn’t a sure thing, and when the next festival starts in January, women will have about a third of the titles in the American dramatic competition. That’s not great, but by the end of this year, the six major studios (not including their art-house divisions) will have released three movies directed by women. It’s a number that should be a call to action.”

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    “Mozart In The Jungle” And The Backstage Drama

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    The new show, based on Blair Tindall’s book, “Mozart in the Jungle: Sex, Drugs and Classical Music,” is a lighter and more diffuse production. At times, it feels like a smarter, less melodramatic version of a backstage series like “Smash” (or a less over-the-top version of a superior backstage story like “Slings and Arrows”).

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    The Best Movie Trailers Of 2014

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    “In the past 12 months, the number of movie trailers you’ve seen is probably greater than the number of actual movies you’ve seen. Now that the Internet means you don’t have to show up to a theater to watch them, previews are more widely available – and widely discussed – than ever. Which means the good ones really deserve to be appreciated.” (includes video)

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    John Waters Has Remade “Pink Flamingos” With, And For, Kids

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    Says the auteur of the G-rated 74-minute video Kiddie Flamingos, “It’s a conceptual art piece. It’s really only your perverted mind that makes it not innocent.”

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  • Music

    Google Starts To Publish Song Lyrics Online

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    “According to reports, Google has begun including lyrics in the results pages for certain search terms . When US-based users search for phrases like “stairway to heaven lyrics” or “comfortably numb lyrics”, the words to these songs appear at the top of the page, above the corresponding listings for third-party sources.”

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    Daniel Barenboim Latest To Interrupt Performance To Scold Audience

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    “Madam, I am trying to give you my best, but you have no respect for it! Those who take photographs during concerts are badly educated. I have asked at every concert. The first time nicely, but now it’s serious.”

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    “Almost Gleefully Flaunting Its Utter Ignorance Of The Field”: Anne Midgette On Netflix’s “Mozart In The Jungle”

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    “The factual errors are so great that it would be as though someone set out to dramatize the reality show Deadliest Catch by showing a group of fishermen sitting on a dock in Alaska trying to catch crabs with fishing rods.”

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    One Man’s Journey To Reinvent The Piano For A Digital Age

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    “I started thinking about taking the next step of actually converting a player piano into a full MIDI instrument, with the ability to read key presses and accept MIDI input.”

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    The Challenge Of A Classical Music Christmas Album

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    “The classical-music holiday album is, on a scale of Santa to Scrooge, everything from a sincere embrace of the season to an evergreen marketing opportunity. It also brings different challenges and conventions than recording Bach or Beethoven.”

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  • People

    Conductor Jerzy Semkow, 86

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    “Semkow’s idiosyncratic and somewhat imperial personality didn’t always mesh well with American orchestras; this was a man sometimes seen strutting around backstage at Orchestra Hall wearing a cape. Semkow favored broad tempos, fleshy textures and flowing phrases that sighed with lyricism. He knew what he wanted, and it was usually a kind of clarified spiritualism, beauty and understanding.”

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    Documents Shed New Light On Louis Armstrong’s Childhood

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    “There have been countless Armstrong biographies based on exhaustive research. More than 40 years after his death, you might think there would be nothing left to learn about the man. And yet there is.”

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    Jeremy Lloyd, 84, Writer Of Cult BBC Comedies

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    He and colleague David Croft co-created the series ‘Allo ‘Allo! and Are You Being Served?.

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    Did Tuberculosis Really Kill Chopin?

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    In 19th-century Europe, the heyday of Romanticism, consumption was the glamorous, poetic way for the beautiful and gifted to die, and Chopin fit the bill perfectly. But there have been questions ever since the composer’s death about whether TB really was what killed him. The exhumation and (visual-only) examination of his heart this fall didn’t necessarily settle the question – and actually testing the heart would be even more contentious than you’d think.

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  • Theatre

    The Recently-Fired Ari Roth Talks About The Role Of Theatre And Politics

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    “Civil society has a role to play in bringing political actors together. It is all intertwined. The work that theater people do and the work that journalists do and people to people initiatives outside of the political sphere have in moving society forward toward reconciliation, or any type of coexistence is critical.”

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    “Legit” Theatre Versus Religion (The Great Divide)

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    “Art and religion share the psychological state of transportation—being transported. We all love being taken out of ourselves, temporarily. So why in fields that are both devoted to awe and transport, does the norm seem to be an unspoken separation between church and stage?”

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    60 American Theatre Directors Protest Firing Of Theater J Artistic Director For “Political Reasons”

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    Saying in an open letter that they were “outraged” by the dismissal, the directors called on the JCC’s governing board to renounce the decision and the nationwide theater community to protest “in all possible ways.”

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    British Theatre Unions Working On New Agreements For Non-West End Houses

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    “Industry body UK Theatre is working with unions Equity, BECTU and the Musicians’ Union on a joint initiative to overhaul its existing collective agreements for performers, backstage staff and musicians working outside the West End.”

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    Some Questions To Ask – And Answer – For Theatres Doing ‘Color-Conscious’ Casting

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    “As a South Asian American, I’ve often felt frustrated by the lack of my community’s stories on stage; what’s even more frustrating is feeling that, when that story is being told, it relies on stereotypes or caricatures as opposed to challenging those mainstream perceptions.”

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  • Visual

    The 20 Most Powerless People In The Art World In 2014

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    “While other art publications sing the praises of the rich and powerful, we like to look at those who are largely overlooked (or worse, exploited) in order to understand the real state of the art world and its discontents. So, here you have our annual assessment of those below the most powerful.”

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    Earthquake-Proofing Michelangelo’s “David”

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    “The Italian government is to spend €200,000 (£160,000) on a new plinth to support Michelangelo’s statue of David after hundreds of earth tremors shook Florence and the surrounding region in recent days.”

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    Window Pains: The Stained-Glass Industry Is Showing Cracks

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    “Declining church attendance is playing a role, as is the growth of nondenominational congregations … that pine for a more modern aesthetic. … To attract business, some artisans are even steering clear of using the term ‘stained glass’ because it carries connotations of fusty old churches … [and are] targeting projects without religious overtones.”

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    How To Thwart Art Thieves? A Security Expert’s How-To

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    “The key is to make objects slow or complicated to physically remove, while at the same time making it difficult to ascertain the way objects on display are secured, for those engaged in hostile surveillance.”

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    The Ten Most Expensive Artworks Sold At Auction This Year

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    The trends to spot are trends that have been going on for a few years now.

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  • Words

    Why A 1930s Detective Story Has Become A Surprise Christmas Hit

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    “Mystery in White: A Christmas Crime Story by J Jefferson Farjeon is selling in “astonishing numbers”, according to the Waterstones book chain. It has outsold rival paperbacks Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn, and Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch on the high street, while Amazon temporarily ran out of stock last week due to surging demand.”

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    The (Useful) Role Of Cliches In Our Lives

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    “Consider, for example, the common phrases that are typically exchanged in friendly greetings. How are you? How’s it going? How are you keeping? What’s up? In most cases we do not regard these questions, or the typical answers to them, as clichés; instead they are formulas, a stock of frozen expressions whose purpose probably has less to do with encoding information than with the maintenance of smooth relations. They are unoriginal, surely, perhaps overused, but certainly not ineffective.”

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    How To Write: A Year In Advice From People Who Really Know

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    Favorite suggestions from David Mitchell, Jane Smiley, Claire Messud, William Gibson, Billy Collins, and other contributors to The Atlantic‘s “By Heart” series.

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    Is There Really Such A Thing As The “Craft” Of Writing?

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    “For those able to plot their fictions at the start, craft is a kind of carpentry skill at erecting a literary structure. For those who feel out the story as they go, it’s more a handyman’s way with words.”

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    Board Fires CEO Of Queens Library System In NYC

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    “The library’s Board of Trustees axed Galante on Wednesday after reviewing his expense accounts, which included charging more than $40,000 to his library credit card for food, alcohol and entertainment. Galante is still facing federal and city probes into how he managed library funds.”

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