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Here and there...

American Dance Festival - Durham

After Duke snatched a National Championship, sports on campus are at a peak. Swarms of the known species, sportae campa kidae--sports camp kids--have flooded West Campus this summer. While people recognize Duke as the "athletic super-manufacturer," have we lost our liberal arts focus? Hmmm, I don't think so.

Back on East Campus, one of the oldest art forms has returned--dance. The American Dance Festival brings performances by some of the most renowned names in dance to Duke. Famous choreographers and dance companies like Garth Fagan, the Merc Cunningham Company and the John Jasperse Company have been spicing up life in Tobacco Town all summer with their exciting performances, and they still have a few days left in the city. If you've missed ADF thus far, you shouldn't forego this rare opportunity to witness such accomplished artistry.

ADF also offers intensive dance classes to college-level participants who enroll in four classes to earn transferable credits--a commitment twice as engaging as the two courses other summer students take. "It's a place where you can come and be surrounded by dance every minute of the day and night," said Detroit native Amanda Drozer. Indeed, this summer, everyone's a dancing devil.

--By Michael Oles

Shakespeare in the Park - New York City

How many famous people have you seen this summer?

Shakespeare in the Park, an arm of the Public Theater's New York Shakespeare Festival, has been producing free outdoor theater in Central Park for 46 years and is notorious for attracting celebrity casts. How? Let's start with the venue, the Delacorte Theater. The stage's natural backdrop takes advantage of trees, starlight, a lagoon and the silhouette of Belvedere Castle. The Festival also attracts top-notch stage directors and lends credibility to stars looking to be known as serious actors.

Although these productions are free, getting in is an all-day affair. Despite lukewarm reviews, tickets to weekday performances of Measure for Measure were usually gone within an hour of distribution, which begins at 1 pm. For tickets to a weekend show, expect to arrive even earlier. And the shows themselves? Measure for Measure left a mixed impression, although most of the production's problems stemmed from the lack of continuity in Shakespeare's notorious "problem play." Working around its textual inconsistencies, Sanaa Lathan and Billy Crudup thankfully acted beyond their movie-star looks, and the set, featuring caged trees, made a thought-provoking contrast to the park setting.

The Seagull, opening later this month, features a cast with more stage experience and even more celebrity--Natalie Portman will star, with supporting roles filled by the likes of Meryl Streep, John Goodman, Christopher Walken and Kevin Kline. Get there early!

--By Meghan Valerio

Jacob Lawrence Exhibit - Washington, D.C.

Jacob Lawrence in 1998 stated that he "never saw an art gallery until... [he] was 18 years old." What he did see every day from the age of 13, when he moved to New York City from Philadelphia, was the economically desperate but culturally abundant end of the Harlem Renaissance. It was in his Harlem neighborhood that Lawrence attended a community arts school where he adopted his tempera paint medium and painting style and where he discovered what would become a pervasive focus on the struggles of the African-American community.

Over a year after his death in June 2000, a collection of over 200 of Jacob Lawrence's works, spanning his entire career, are being displayed from May 27 through August 19 at the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. Part of a national tour that will later make a stop at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City, "Over the Line: The Art and Life of Jacob Lawrence" is the first exhibition to present Lawrence's painstaking methodology to a wide audience as well as the most exhaustive and complete showing of Lawrence's work.

Lawrence's paintings are startlingly revealing. His simplicity of color and angularity of line imbue his figures, usually captured in bustling cityscapes or in the midst of work, with a simultaneous sense of movement and purpose. His bold arrangement of shapes and richness of pattern lend a quiet dignity to works like the famous 1943 "Ironers." His documentary style was not limited to his contemporaries, however.

Some of Jacob Lawrence's most powerful pieces are his narrative cycles of historical figures, like the 31-paneled portrayal of "The Life of Harriet Tubman," shown in this exhibition. Lawrence unifies the small hardwood panels of this work not only by their sequential subject matter, but also by his careful use of repetitious color.

Also shown in this exhibition is his perhaps best-known and most extensive series, "The Migration of the Negro." Created in 1940-41, the sixty panels of this sequence depict the mass migration of southern blacks to the North after the Civil War.

For any artist with a career that spans over sixty years, no exhibition can be completely comprehensive. However, both the arrangement and array of works of "Over the Line," come as close as any display possibly can to capturing both the evolution of style and continuity of theme in an artist as important to our nation's cultural history as Jacob Lawrence. Although Lawrence claimed that he did not want to be called an "agent of social protest," it is clear that his body of art is a social commentary in and of itself.

--By Alison Haddock


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