Full-Length In The Muddle

American Ballet Theatre has a new full-length – a Raymonda. “ABT, however, partly through its mistaken desire to keep things zipping along, has not only left the story and its underlying theme unclear, it has also conceived and directed the heroine as a blank and Abderakhman as a ludicrously exotic idiot who represents neither serious sexual appeal nor serious threat.  You sit there muttering pitiably to yourself (or to the young woman sitting next to you, who has kindly plied you with much-needed cough drops), What is going on?”

Hapless Dance In Hartford

Another dance venture is about to fail in Hartford and Frank Rizzo enumerates reasons. “When Hartford gives up its magic-wand mentality – whereby simply by wishing for a company or building a theater (or a renovated downtown) – audiences will automatically come a’running, the healthier it will be. It has to understand audiences, nurture them, listen to them and adapt to them on their terms before there’s any long-term chance of succeeding.”

Book Club Bests

“Chat show hosts Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan have single-handedly catapaulted authors into the bestseller charts over the past year with their Best Read bookclub. Now they are moving into the holiday reading market with the announcement of the six new novels they will be championing over the coming months. Readers will also be invited to vote for their favourite summer read. The six novels on the list, for whom soaring sales are now guaranteed, fall firmly into light entertainment territory.”

Bodies Found At Stonehenge

Archaeologists have found the bodies of six people near Stonehenge, close to where another body was found last year. “The remains of four adults and two children were found about half a mile from that of the archer, dubbed The King of Stonehenge by Britain?s tabloid press. Archaeologists said he came from Switzerland and may have been involved in building the monument.

A Folk Dance Tradition Invented From Scratch

“Unlike other styles of folk dancing, where traditional dances are handed down from generation to generation, Israeli folk dancing was an exercise in cultural engineering. Early in Israel’s history, people on the kibbutzim would gather around an accordion player and dance the dances of their homelands: the Romanian hora, the Arabic debka, and dances from Russia and Yemen. In the late 1940s, however, there was a deliberate effort to create original dances. The early dances were based on these traditional styles, but opened the way for creativity and innovation. ‘The whole idea of creating folk dances, instead of having them just emerge naturally from the community, is quite amazing’.”

Accusations At Baghdad Museum

Americans checking out Baghdad’s Museum of Antiquities have suggested that museum staff might have participated in stealing from the museum. And that the museum leadership’s membership in the Baathist Party might disqualify them from helping to rebuild the museum. But “for the foreign archaeologists who now throng the museum, the idea that their colleagues could have colluded in its desecration is too appalling to contemplate. They tend to take a relaxed view of the Baathist credentials of [museum director Donny] George and the head of the antiquities board, Jabir Khalil Ibrahim; no one in a senior position, they say, was unqualified.”

New Eyewitness Update On Baghdad Museum Looting

“British Museum director Neil MacGregor returned this week from Baghdad, which he visited as part of a Unesco delegation. In an exclusive interview with The Art Newspaper, he reported that three separate storerooms at the National Museum had been looted, in addition to the galleries. Although the number of objects which were taken was very much smaller than had originally been feared, they include some which are ‘extraordinarily important’.”

The $58 Million Saltcellar

The Cellini saltcellar recently stolen from Austria’s Kunsthistorisches Museum is said to be worth $58 million. How come so much? “The figure they cited is stunning, and no wonder: It comes out of an empyrean that few objects ever visit. Art, like any other commodity, receives its worth partly from the quality of the artifact and partly from its scarcity. But the Cellini is unique—and not just in the sense in which all artworks are unique: Nothing even remotely like it exists. Lose a Warhol, and you can always get another one. Rembrandts are hard to find, but not impossible. But there’s only one Cellini table piece.”