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  • Dance

    Ex Oregon Ballet Theatre Director Christopher Stowell Hooks Up With San Francisco Ballet

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    “As assistant to Tomasson, to whom he will report directly, Stowell will have his fingers in just about every aspect of the company pie on both the artistic and administrative (read financial) sides.”

    Is The Bolshoi Ballet A Soviet Throwback?

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    Alastair Macaulay: “It was hard not to think of politics when watching the Bolshoi’s repertory – which was entirely pre-glasnost. Seeing the tedious mix of Swan Lake (in Yuri Grigorovich’s dismal production), Don Quixote (in Alexei Fadeyechev’s version) and Spartacus (all Grigorovich and all hokum) was to feel the clock turned back 40 years.”

    Choreographing A Dance Piece For The Façade Of A Building (And Not A Flat Façade, Either)

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    For Cincinnati’s Lumenocity celebration, a choreographer and two dancers from Cincinnati Ballet create a work to be digitized and projected onto the (enormous and ornate) face of the city’s Music Hall.

    Ballet: Suddenly, It’s The Workout Of The Fashion World

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    “If yoga and pilates are now standard, with classes from gyms to chilly church halls, ballet – which has a level of technique so punishing that only a tiny chosen few will actually succeed – is perfect for fashion. It’s inherently elitist in its quest for physical perfection.”

    Angel Corella: “I Have A Lot Of Plans” For Pennsylvania Ballet

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    They include “closely coaching the dancers, touring more, giving outdoor public performances, organizing outreach programs with schools, and bringing in new choreographers. He listed Christopher Wheeldon, Wayne McGregor, Justin Peck, and Liam Scarlett as possibilities. He also wants to reassure his dancers and artistic staff.”

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  • Ideas

    Gee – We REALLY Don’t Like To Be Alone With Our Own Thoughts

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    “In 11 experiments involving more than 700 people, the majority of participants reported that they found it unpleasant to be alone in a room with their thoughts for just 6 to 15 minutes. Moreover, in one experiment, 64 percent of men and 15 percent of women began self-administering electric shocks when left alone to think.”

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    Why Do We Love Little Free Libraries So Much?

    little free library

    “Though they owe their spread largely to the Internet, Little Free Libraries often serve as an antidote to a world of Kindle downloads and data-driven algorithms. The little wooden boxes are refreshingly physical—and human.”

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    The Best Way To Support An Artist

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    “You may want your supportive activities to make her happy, but for some artists happiness doesn’t lead to creativity; they do their best work in times of turmoil or struggle – and they know it.”

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    How The First World War Destroyed Everything In Europe Faster Than Anyone Thought Possible

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    “We think of the First World War as a four-year affair. We forget, though, that Austria-Hungary lost half of its men within the first two weeks of the war — 400,000 men, including 100,000 who were taken prisoner by the Russians.”

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  • Issues

    130,000 Fans Flock To Comic Con. But Their Value To Marketers?

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    It’s a “persistent problem of those who would sell products to the 130,000 or so fans who gather here annually to celebrate movies, television, video games and, of course, comics: These costumed folk have far more enthusiasm than buying power.”

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    It’s The Year Of The Posthumous Performance – Is That Good For The Artists Or The Art?

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    Michael Jackson performed at this year’s Billboard Music Awards. Rick James has a new memoir. Tupac Shakur had a Broadway musical. James Gandolfini, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and River Phoenix (!) are in new movies. “It’s not weird that we miss those artists who’ve died. But it is weird that, increasingly, we expect them to keep producing art. The afterlife has become just another career stage – one that’s as lucrative and, in some cases, as productive as the pre-death career ever was.”

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    In Defense Of The Remaking Of Mecca

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    “At night, all lit up and crowded with apartments and hotels, Mecca now looks like a Saudi interpretation of Gotham or even Las Vegas … and shopping malls and high-rise blocks are being built in a circle around the pilgrimage zone.” The Saudis are catching a lot of flak for these changes, but Nesrine Malik argues that they are both necessary and (certain excesses notwithstanding) well-considered.

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    Making Genuinely Anti-War Art Is Surprisingly Hard

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    “Art makes its subject interesting and arresting and meaningful. To make art about war, even anti-war art about war, is to risk rendering war interesting and arresting and meaningful.”

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  • Media

    How China Is Increasingly Chaning The Kinds Of Movies That Are Made

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    “At their current rate – anywhere between 10 and 13 new cinemas a day – China will have 60,000 screens in 10 to 15 years. The centre of gravity is shifting so rapidly to China and Asia – not just the market but also the money and capital for American movies – that their opinions are going to matter much more. Ultimately, China is going to be not just the biggest market but also the arbiter of what can get made and will get made.”

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    Television Station Challenges Ban On Airing Ads On Public TV

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    The government’s argument is that selling ad spots would change the nature of public TV. An executive from another public TV station, WGBH-TV in Boston, testified that were they allowed to start selling ad time like commercial stations do, funding from federal and state government sources, as well as foundations and not profits, would be “jeopardized.”

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    Why Is Hollywood’s Stereotype Of Kick-Ass A Blond White Woman?

    Film Review Lucy

    “How is it that in a film whose premise rests on the idea of reimagining the past, present and future, we still end up with a blonde white woman with flashing blue eyes as the stand-in for what personifies evolution and supremely fulfilled human potential?”

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    College Radio Fans Fight To Keep Their Stations For Students (And Their Quirky Programs)

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    “Cash-strapped universities are discovering that their student stations are lucrative assets. They are finding eager partners in public-radio stations and religious broadcasters. The public and religious radio channels are looking to own the equivalent of beach-front property on the FM dial,.”

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    Quentin Tarantino Is Filming “The Hateful Eight” After All

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    The director – who called the project off in a fit of anger after the script was leaked – confirmed the news at, of all places, San Diego Comic-Con.

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  • Music

    On The Sad Sad Mess That The Metropolitan Opera Has Gotten Itself In To

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    “Of course the lockout will be toxic, as we learned from the Minnesota Orchestra and from the last Met lockout, in 1980. Subscribers flee, musicians flee, and the art suffers too. Whatever happens, a lockout will mean bitterness between the workers and Gelb. It will mean a division among the subscribers and donors, and worse, it will mean that other institutions may follow the Met’s hardline example. In other words, something rotten will spread beyond Denmark.”

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    Are Major Recording Companies About To Sell Out Their Artists?

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    “Sony, Universal and Warner — the “big three” record labels, which control 89% of global music sales — are nearing a deal with SoundCloud, the popular Berlin-based music site that since 2007 has allowed its 250 million monthly users to upload and stream music. The deal would grant SoundCloud licenses to play big three-copyrighted music (and “avoid legal trouble”) in exchange for a 3-5% stake for each company in SoundCloud’s estimated $500-600 million net worth (plus a chunk of future revenues). That’s $15-30 million per record label to not sue SoundCloud. The kicker? The musicians might not see a dime of it.”

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    One Big Problem With Met Opera Contract Talks: All The Different Unions

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    Management is negotiating with 15 unions, “representing the orchestra, chorus, stage crews, hair and makeup stylists, costumers, scenic artists, cleaners, ticket takers, ushers, security guards and others. Some unions are beginning to eye one another warily, because any agreement made with one of the bigger groups is likely to set a pattern for the others.”

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    Enough Is Enough: US Senator Pushes For Law Allowing Musicians To Bring Instruments On Airplanes

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    “In a letter sent Friday, the Rhode Island Democrat urged U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to speed implementation of a 2012 law that requires commercial air carriers to allow musical instruments as carry-on items as long as they can be safely stowed in the aircraft cabin. But Reed said the law has not taken effect because the Department of Transportation has yet to adopt the specific rules needed for the provision.”

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    Time For A New Leader At The Metropolitan Opera?

    Peter Gelb directeur du MET Crédit : B. Lacombe/Metropolitan Opera

    “What’s clear is that something needs to give and, after nearly thirty-five years of labor-management harmony, it’s apparent that the Met’s problems start at the top. The cleanest solution would be to appoint a new GM, preferably someone, unlike Gelb, with an actual background in opera, who unequivocally believes in the vibrant future of the art form, and who can work creatively within a budget.”

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  • People

    Ira Glass Explains How He Works

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    Q: “What’s your best time-saving shortcut/life hack?” A: “I’ve got nothing. Reading other people’s answers to this question on your website today made me realize I live my life like an ape.” However, Ira does offer (after the product plugs this site seems to require) an excellent description of how he organizes a bunch of interview material into a structure.

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    Margot Adler, One Of NPR’s Signature Voices For Three Decades, Dies At 68

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    “‘Her reporting was singular and her voice distinct,’ Margaret Low Smith, NPR’s vice president for news, said in an announcement to staff. ‘There was almost no story that Margot couldn’t tell.’”

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    This Woman Completely Reinvented The Way Broadway Gets Funded

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    Karen Walter Goodwin’s “idea was essentially to provide an investment bank for nascent stage productions, putting together producers — who were enthralled by the idea of financial backers who did not crave or require creative input — and investors with proven track records who were willing to try their hand in a new arena.”

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    Author Of ‘Up The Down Staircase’ Dies At 103

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    Bel Kaufman was “a former New York City schoolteacher whose classic first novel, ‘Up the Down Staircase’ — shot through with despair and hopefulness, violence and levity, bureaucratic inanity and a blizzard of official memorandums so mind-bendingly illogical as to seem almost Kafkaesque — was hailed as a stunningly accurate portrait of life in an urban school when it was published in 1965.”

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  • Theatre

    What’s The Best Theatre Town In America Outside New York And Chicago? (And How Would You Measure?)

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    “The states with the highest per capita concentration of theaters,” concludes the NEA, “now include: Vermont, Alaska, Maine, Montana, Rhode Island, Oregon, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Minnesota.”

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    Nicholas Hytner’s National Theatre: Be Proactive, Think Big

    Nicholas Hytner

    “Hytner’s National has been characterised by several things: cheap tickets, NT Live, hospitality to experiment and, above all, a readiness to embrace the big issues of the moment.”

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    Theatre That Smells (And The Designers Who Make It So)

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    “It always locks in with the design. If you’re doing an ambient scent, really what you’re making is a part of the set that’s invisible. For that, you really want to work with the set and lighting designer to talk about what is the space — what kind of place do we want to evoke? As a scent designer I am supporting them in that — adding an extra dimension to what they’re trying to do.”

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    How Do You Build A New Professional Theatre In Madison?

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    “What could set Cap City apart in Madison is something most audiences never consider, but which means a great deal to artists trying to make a living in the business: a Small Professional Theatre Contract through Actors’ Equity, the theater union.”

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    Was The Tupac Shakur Musical A Flop? Or Just Ahead Of Its Time?

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    “Saul Williams, the poet and performer who played the lead role in Holler If Ya Hear Me, tells Kurt Andersen it’s inevitable that hip-hop will carve out a place for itself on Broadway. What killed Holler, Williams says, were people who wrote it off before they saw it.” (audio)

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  • Visual

    DC Suburb Works To Be More Urban (Invisibility Is The Key?)

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    “To the extent that anyone can articulate a sense of aesthetics for this new landscape, it’s all very superficial: It should twinkle at night, bustle by day, have some nice green things here and there, and mainly not impose very much on our eyes or mind. The new Silver Line stations do all of that, and they do it well.”

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    How Are Europe’s Great Museums Supposed To Handle All Those People?

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    “Seeing masterpieces may be a soul-nourishing cultural rite of passage, but soaring attendance has turned many museums into crowded, sauna-like spaces, forcing institutions to debate how to balance accessibility with art preservation.”

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    Yet Another Appraisal Of Detroit Institute Of Arts’ Collection (And It’s Big)

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    “The new appraisal, conducted by Victor Wiener Associates, a New York firm, was commissioned by the Financial Guaranty Insurance Company, a bond insurer that stands to lose hundred of millions of dollars in the bankruptcy. The insurer has called for the masterpieces from the museum to be sold or monetized in some other way, such as being used as collateral for a loan.”

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    LA MoCA: What’s Next (Who Knows, And That’s A Problem)

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    “According to a museum spokesman, MOCA hopes to make some relevant announcements by the end of summer. But plainly, there’s a problem. The empty exhibition schedule, which is going to be very difficult to fill, threatens to interrupt the museum’s momentum.”

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    Finally, Starchitect Norman Foster Gets His N.Y. Moment

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    These four buildings “come after a few notable setbacks for Mr. Foster, including the New York Public Library’s recent decision to rethink its planned conversion of part of its research flagship into a circulating library using a Foster design.”

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  • Words

    Just What Do Poet Laureates Do? And Why Do States Have Them?

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    For the broader world of people who read poetry — and many who don’t — the brouhaha was a chance to ask a more basic question: Just who are America’s state poets laureate, and what do they do anyway?

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    Look, HarperCollins, No Single Publisher Can Take On Amazon And Win

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    “Unlike in France, Italy or Germany, where publishers banded together to create options to Amazon, British and American publishers still seem bent on competing with one another, even as Amazon eats into their finances.”

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    What Happens When You’re A Memoirist With No Parents?

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    “I don’t know that I would be this free. I don’t know that I would be who I am. I don’t know that I would be writing, and I certainly don’t know that I’d be writing about the stuff that I’m writing about.”

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    Poetry Is Made For Twitter – Yes, Really

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    “What’s on Twitter are not diseased firings of glitchy minds. They’re epigrams, aphorisms, maxims, dictums, taglines, headlines, captions, slogans and adages. Some are art, some are commercial; these are forms with integrity.”

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    The British Author Who Has Sold 10 Million Books Under Other People’s Names

    Andrew Crofts

    “The ghost, who starts out as a hybrid of therapist, muse and friend, enters a psychological minefield. Accordingly, the ghost is advised never to forget that, at the end of the day, he or she ranks somewhere between a valet and a cleaner.”

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