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Archive for September, 2012

Defining Art, A Dialogue in Letters

Johannes Vermeer, A Lady Writing a Letter (Photo: National Gallery of Art)

We launch the second year of The Muse Dialogue with a dialogue, appropriately enough. A dialogue in letters specifically. We have been musing (yes, the other half of our name) on the subject of defining art. As we talked through how to approach it, we felt that the issue needed multiple points of view in conversation, working toward some resolution. So Andrew Swensen and Alexandra Holness have taken up the task, and the questions are many but may boil down to two: How do we define art? Do we need to define it at all? Perhaps we are taking our cue from some of the other letter-writers out there — Rilke writing his letters to a young poet or Schiller writing his letters on aesthetic education — and the notion of using letter-writing seemed somehow appropriate to the task. We look forward to taking this journey, and we hope that you will join us for Vol. 2, No. 1: Defining Art, A Dialogue in Letters.

Letter I: The Journey Begins (click here to view the first installment)

Boys, Dance and Gender Stereotypes in the Arts

Billy Elliott, as performed by David Alvarez (Photo:

For reasons surely rooted in rather silly gender expectations and stereotyping, boys typically do not dance. Call it the Billy Elliott Dilemma: If you actually want to dance, make sure that you hide it.

Andrew Swensen discusses the world of dance, the nature of artistic voice, and half of the population that has been kept out of a world of artistic expression because of gender stereotypes, in his article “Boys, Dance and Gender Stereotypes” (click link to read the full article)


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