The dance capital of the United States? How about San Francisco, which, Rachel Howard points out, has the highest concentration of dance activity in the countyr. Here it is, A to Z…
A teacher in Colorado shows part of a video of Gounod’s Faust from a 33-year-old series titled “Who’s Afraid of Opera?” to about 260 first-, second- and third-graders. That set off a firestorm of controversy that has led to an investigation of the incident by school officials and a demand by some parents that the teacher be fired.
“What Good Are the Arts?” is an intensely argued polemic against the intellectually supercilious, the snooty rich and the worship of high culture as a secular religion for the spiritually refined and socially heartless. Modern art,” writes James Carey, “has become synonymous with money, fashion, celebrity and sensationalism, at any rate in the mind of the man on the Clapham omnibus.” Contemporary painting, opera, ballet, most poetry and theater are all removed from the life of ordinary people, being part of a cult available largely to the wealthy and mandarin, where only the elect may worship. Meanwhile, “mass art” — daytime drama, pop music, Hollywood filmmaking — is commonly dismissed as mere entertainment for shallow and stupid proles.
Western music was once welcomed in the Arab world. No longer. “The fact that Beethoven’s Ninth is singled out for condemnation points to the reason why Western music is so mistrusted. It speaks of freedom, and the brotherhood of all men regardless of race or creed. This can’t be music to the ears of Iran’s President Ahmadinejad, who would like to see Israel wiped off the face of the map.”
Timothy Rub is taking over as director of the Cleveland Art Museum. “In person, Rub is an imposing figure. Tall and trim, with blue eyes and a full head of sandy hair, he looks like a museum director from central casting. But he’s not stiff or formal. Moments after greeting a visitor recently at the Cincinnati museum, he scooped a clump of dust off the museum floor and swept it into the pocket of his well-cut navy suit. Most striking, however, is Rub’s manner. His speaks in a calm, deliberate way and answers questions in full paragraphs, not sound bites.”
Jay Handelman notes the diminishing presence of arts coverage in American newspapers. Why isn’t it obvious the arts deserve coverage? “Maybe critics and reporters aren’t doing enough to make editors and readers realize the importance of such stories and the many areas they touch.”
Shakespeare fans’ favorite parlor game seems to be trying to prove (or disprove) who the Bard really was (or wasn’t). “Neurologists tell us that our brains are hard-wired to find patterns and causation – even when they’re not there. At different levels of scholarship and skill, these books reshape new research and old chestnuts to draw their cases. But they show us nothing definitive.” And is it really that important, anyway?
Okay, so everybody’s piling on James Frey for his sins. But “amid the quite legitimate furor over author James Frey’s fibs and flourishes, amid the high-decibel debates about the murky rules of memoir and the primacy of fact, one fact has been routinely overlooked: The guy can write.”
Britain is considering a bill that would make it illegal to insult religions. “I am deeply concerned for all performers and entertainers, because the climate in which we work will be very different if the government gets its way. If the wording of the revised bill is read carefully, it can be seen that the new freedoms the government provides with one hand it deftly removes with the other.”
We’ve done post-modernism. So does that mean modernism is dead? Well, critics have been trying to club modernism to death for decades. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t still wreak enormous influence…