Culture Corner: Indian dance, the Taj Mahal and National Museum

Each week, we're sharing a few links to cultural experiences you can access from home during the pandemic, such as online concerts, theater and art.

This week we suggest you explore the rich history of Indian dance with a short introductory video mostly focused on the Bharatanatyam tradition, one of eight dance styles recognized by India's National Academy of Music, Dance and Drama. Sometimes written as one word, sometimes two, Bharata natyam is a modern descriptor consisting of the first letters of bhava (emotions), raga (melody) and tala (rhythm), coupled with natya, the Sanskrit word for dance. With its roots in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, it is generally considered the oldest classical dance style in India, dating back to at least the 2nd century AD. There are many amazing performances available on YouTube including this.

Conventionally, Bharata natyam was a solo dance performed by women used to illustrate stories from the Hindu religious texts. Then, in 1910, the colonial British government banned temple dancing and the Indian community pushed back, embracing the form and expanding it outside the temples and across the country. Today, Bharatanatyam is a staple of popular dance and Bollywood movies, for example the 2016 time-traveling romance Baar Baar Dekho (Look Again and Again) which earned over 55 crore (US$650) at the box office. If you're in the mood to give Bollywood dance a go yourself, try this Bollywood dance workout!

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Bel Canto Favorites, Cirque du Soleil's Kurios and a Dramatization of Half of a Yellow Sun

Each week, we're sharing a few links to cultural experiences you can access from home during the pandemic, such as online concerts, theater and art. This week we suggest:

  • A two part radio play based on Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's novel Half of a Yellow Sun set during the Nigeria-Biafra War of the late 1960s. This two-hour BBC production is dramatized by Janice Okoh. Episode 1 is available now until about Oct 2. Episode 2 is available until about Oct 9.
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An Apocalyptic Comedy, Kew Gardens and The Orion Nebula

Each week, we're sharing a few links to cultural experiences you can access from home during the pandemic, such as online concerts, theater and art. This week we suggest:

  • Top Story, an apocalyptic comedy by Sebastian Michael. A meteor the size of LA is about to hit the earth. In London two friends, Gus and Talfryn, spend their last seven days avoiding the outside world, reinventing the rules of chess and fantasizing about saving the world... all without leaving their sofa. This production was performed in January 2013 at The Old Vic Tunnels, which was an arts venue set in 30,000 square foot of abandoned railway tunnels under London's Waterloo railway station. It is currently available for free with donations welcome and encouraged.
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What To Do When Members Come to Book Club Without Reading the Book?

Has your book group ever become frustrated by members who join in book discussions without having finished the book -- or, in some cases, without even starting it?

If so, you're not alone. According to our research, 15% of reading group members say their book club has experienced problems around this issue; and a quarter of those who left a previous book club due to dissatisfaction cited frustration over members attending without having read the book, or not attending meetings at all, as a factor in their decision to leave.

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The Met, the Natural History Museum and the Power of Video Games

Each week, we're sharing a few links to cultural experiences you can access from home during the pandemic, such as online concerts, theater and art. This week we suggest:

  • Every day since the start of the pandemic the Metropolitan Opera has been making available a different presentation from its Live in HD series. Each performance is available for just 23 hours. The theme of Week 25 (starting Aug 31st) is "20th Century and Beyond." Performances include works by Strauss, Britten and the Gershwins. The week starting Sept 7th focuses on French opera. If you want to watch any of the more than 700 other productions, they can be rented for $4.99.
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Chanel and Feragamo, the Shedinburgh Fringe Festival and Much Ado About Nothing

Each week, we're sharing a few links to cultural experiences you can access from home during the pandemic, such as online concerts, theater and art. This week we suggest:

  • The five August Edinburgh Festivals, that normally transform Scotland's capital into the world's largest arts venue have been canceled this year (last year, over 5,000 events took place with 25,000 performers from 70 countries.) Happily, some devoted fans and theater makers are keeping the spirit of one of these five events alive: the influential Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Francesca Moody (the London-based theater producer who took the original stage version of "Fleabag" to the Fringe in 2013) is the driving force behind the Shedinburgh Fringe Festival, an online festival of comedy and drama that will stream live from two garden sheds for three weeks from Aug 14 - Sept 5. You can watch performances on Zoom after making a donation of at least £4 (approx. $5). The organizers encourage signing up early as tickets are limited. Performances are streamed once and will not be repeated. Profits will go toward a fund for artists aiming to stage a show at the Fringe next year.
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