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Let the good times roll

For a regular dancegoer in New York City, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater seasons arrive with the comforting predictability of a Christmas Nutcracker. Superb dancers, Ailey’s sublime Revelations, jubilant audiences, stirring evocations of African-American identity: it’s easy to begin to take these things for granted. When you haven’t seen the Ailey company for a

Estate agent

A big misunderstanding about art is that it excites serene meditation and transcendent bliss. But anyone who has worked in a public museum or a commercial gallery knows that this is untrue. The moral climate of the contemporary art world would embarrass the Borgias. Art excites peculation, speculation, back-stabbing, front-stabbing and avarice while fuelling nasty


Sense of humour failure

Coleridge deemed the narrative structure of The Alchemist perfect. But, I wonder. A landowner quits plague-ridden London and his cunning servants pose as learned sages in order to defraud affluent locals. Ben Jonson’s plotting is certainly adroit. The action takes place in a single location within the span of an afternoon, and this concentration of


Super Norma

The Royal Opera has opened the season with a triumph, and in one of the most difficult of operas, Bellini’s Norma. Not only is the work itself extraordinarily demanding on its three leading singers, but it is the one opera which is now so indelibly linked to one singer that all later performances are defined


Victoria’s secret: none of it’s true

Did you know that Queen Victoria might never have married Prince Albert had it not been for an amazing stroke of luck on a woodland walk in Windsor Great Park, involving the queen’s beloved spaniel Dash. Dash, as good fortune would have it, managed to break his leg on a handy knife that someone had


In the shadow of Picasso

‘My painting is an act of decolonisation,’ declared Wifredo Lam. These are the first words you read on entering the retrospective of his work at Tate Modern. But I must say that both Lam and Tate got this statement 100 per cent back to front. On the contrary, Lam’s work strikes me as entirely a


A Bridge too far?

Bridget Jones’s Baby is the third outing for our heroine as played by Renée Zellweger, whose cosmetic work to face has received more media attention than the film itself, but we will try to counteract that here. So, on this occasion, Bridget finds herself pregnant but does not know if the father is our old


Cooking the books | 15 September 2016

Cooking really shouldn’t make good radio. On television, it’s already frustrating that you can’t taste what you’re seeing, but on radio you can’t even see it. ‘I’m just cracking an egg,’ they tell you. ‘And now I’ll crack another egg.’ The sounds — violent thuds, hissing gas, moist chewing — are more ominous than appetising