In 2014, he was a genuine ballet celebrity, admired enough to become the first American ever invited to become a principal at the Bolshoi Ballet. Then he suffered a complex ankle injury, and a year later, he was ready to give up dancing entirely. (And he was already getting offers to direct companies.) But ABT artistic director Kevin McKenzie convinced him not to abandon the stage just yet. Candice Thompson has the story of how Hallberg struggled through a surprisingly difficult recovery, reworked his technique and returned to performing.
“First and foremost, if you ask little girls what a scientist looks like, it’s Einstein. If you ask adults what does a composer look like, they would think of men – like Mozart. And if you look in the seasons of the major orchestras and opera houses, it’s not some big secret. There is music by women composers, but you have to ask the programmers, the people hiring, the commissioners: Why aren’t they seeking out more women? I don’t know why.”
There’s a clear pattern in which metro areas are becoming more urban: Dense metros are getting denser. Meanwhile, sprawling metro areas are spreading out further. It’s another example of a polarized America, of places becoming more unlike each other: not only with respect to income inequality and politics, but also with growth patterns.
Beginning two years ago, not long after a new executive director arrived, staffers and some board members at the Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts began discovering serious financial shenanigans: multiple bank accounts, paid-for items that had never been ordered or delivered, paychecks bouncing. The executive director kept saying things were under control; city officials, repeatedly warned, insisted they could do nothing. Now the exec is gone, the Center is broke and may close, and the police are involved. How did it get to this point? Ryan Summerlin reports.
“Do you want to win that tennis match? It is outside of your control. But to play the best game you can is under your control. Do you want your partner to love you? It is outside of your control. But there are plenty of ways you can choose to show your love to your partner – and that is under your control. Do you want a particular political party to win the election? It is outside of your control (unless you’re Vladimir Putin!) But you can choose to engage in political activism, and you can vote.”
Philosopher Peter Boghossian and mathematician James Lindsay clearly hoped that their fake gender-studies paper, “The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct,” would go down in history as an Alan Sokal-style triumph. Phil Torres explains why their hoax proves a lot less than they’d like to think it does (and proves one thing they’d probably rather it didn’t).
“The essence, I think, is as little bullshit as possible – an emotional approach but with real seriousness. We agree that the audience comes first and that you carry them with you rather than forcing things down their throats.” Reporter George Hall talks to Michael Volpe and James Clutton about Opera Holland Park, which puts on up to half a dozen productions every summer.
“It has become glaringly obvious that mainstream TV is awash in reboots, remakes and revivals. The reasons for this trend are many and complex. It’s not that everybody in the TV racket has run out of ideas. There is a lot of new and original TV being made. One reason is simply business – in a time of so much TV, a familiar title and concept will get more attention than an entirely new story.”
“At this late stage — Murakami is 68 — critical reception has ceased to matter to Murakami’s international audience. In Japan his books are greeted with Harry Potter–like rabidity, and in the U.S. initial print runs are in the hundreds of thousands. Cribbing a remark John Irving once made to him in an interview, Murakami has compared his readers to heroin addicts, and that may be one reason why he’s consistently delivered an ever-purer-grade product. A Nobel Prize has long been thought to be looming, especially by British bookies. Few of his skeptics would deny that his early work, his self-declared project of importing Western tropes and styles to treat life in Japan and his reckoning with Japan’s history, put him in that hazily defined league. A cynic might say: After Dylan, all is permitted.”
Utopian visions are powerful precisely because, being nowhere, they aren’t constrained by present reality but rather point the way to a desirable future. “Utopia’s ‘nowhereness’ incites the search for it. Utopia describes a state of impossible perfection which nevertheless is in some genuine sense not beyond the reach of humanity. It is here if not now.”
Merce Cunningham might be gone, but his work lives through his dancers. “It’s hard to overstate the brilliance of the dancers — Dylan Crossman, Silas Riener, Jamie Scott, Melissa Toogood — who catapult Cunningham’s spirit into the present more than any tangible artifact possibly can. Their movement lives on a precipice, reads like a succession of narrow escapes: almost collapsing, almost colliding. Yet it springs from an unshakeable foundation, from knowing the rules deeply enough to transcend them.”
News broke last week that Edward Albee’s estate had denied permission for the casting of a black actor as Nick in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, reigniting yet again the debates on non-traditional casting. Alexis Soloski looks at the good-faith issues in the debate: “Part of the difficulty has to do with whether we perceive theater as a collaborative form in which a play is made new each time a director and actors put it on, or whether plays exist as blueprints for a single ideal staging that each production will realize to greater and lesser extent.”
“I think the philanthropy will go up in that more people will see artists as part of a fabric of solving problems, or of addressing a problem. Before this interview, you asked me about what I was doing selling a painting [Lichtenstein’s Masterpiece], and it was because I’m really interested in getting money through that method that can be used for solving problems through art. I think that now artists are really going to come to the fore when it comes to political and social causes. I think art can make a difference. I think art can help.”
“Protest art is not going to stop a bullet, but it does stir the mind and the heart. Artists want to create something pleasing but that also gets a rise out of people. A still life is not going to make you change your voting pattern.” And the artists who create this kind of art often find the ways and the means to keep working, despite the dire circumstances they may find themselves in.
“The neural net has no concept of color space, and no way to see human-color perception,” she says. Instead, it processed colors by their RGB values: the combination of red, green, and blue that come together in each hue. “It’s really seeing [colors] not as a number at a time, but as a digit at a time. I think that’s why the neural net had a lot of trouble getting the colors right, why it’s naming pinks when there aren’t any pinks, or gray when it’s not gray.”
“Even if a mediocre hall had resulted, the avoidance of the usual cultural-political imbroglio would have been newsworthy. But Boulez Saal is a masterpiece of its kind. It consists of two elliptical-shaped seating areas, one on the ground level and one suspended above, each tilted on a different axis. The floor of the upper ellipse also curves up and down, giving the hall an unfixed, fluctuating profile. As in Disney Hall, bright wood tones—Douglas fir, cedar, and red oak—predominate. The capacity is six hundred and eighty-two. Listeners are never more than fifty feet from the musicians, who are often placed at the center of the auditorium. Those in the front row could turn pages, if asked. In all, the atmosphere is convivial and unshowy, despite the flamboyance of Gehry’s swooping lines.”
Gerhard Steidl prides himself on being a canny businessman: he has always wanted to make money, and funnels it back into the business when he does. But his admirers say that he is engaged in a loftier project than merely selling books. “Gerhard has an intense quest for making an encyclopedic, wide survey of the world of photography,” Polidori says. “It is almost a race with him—to get as much done while the money lasts, and while his life lasts.”