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Cave Painting of a Horse

Arts Days: September 12, 1940: The Writing on the Wall
Estimated to be about 16,000 years old, the paintings in a network of caves found by four teenage boys are rare examples of art from the Upper Paleolithic era. Here in a region called Lascaux, hundreds of painted animals are visible on the caves’ walls, ranging from bison to stags to horses.

There are also geometric figures and patterns of dots that some say correlate with constellations. Some of the paintings show a sophisticated grasp of concepts like perspective and depth, too. Art historians say that the paintings indicate some of our oldest ancestors’ ability to express themselves in art.
Folklore, Geography, History, Europe, Visual Arts, World Cultures

King David Kalakaua

Arts Days: February 12, 1874: The King of Aloha
Before Hawaii became America’s 50th state, it was a monarchy ruled by King David Kalakaua I. Kalakaua is credited with helping to revive and support Hawaiian art forms like hula dancing; instruments like the ukelele; and martial arts, like Lua.

You see, some religious missionaries on the Islands thought these activities were improper. They had spent years before Kalakaua was elected to the throne trying to suppress various elements of Hawaiian culture, including its languages and art customs—even surfing!

But Kalakaua believed that these traditions and activities were important for native Hawaiians to learn, enjoy, and share with others to help keep Hawaii’s unique cultural history alive.  For his efforts, he was nicknamed “the Merrie Monarch.”
Dance, America, Geography, History, Musical Instruments, Music, Folklore, World Cultures

Gladiators Fighting

Arts Days: January 01, 404 C.E.: The Day the Crowd Went Silent

Believe it or not, the ancient Roman practice of pitting professional fighters against one another, wild animals, or condemned criminals for the viewing pleasure of a live audience, is considered one of civilization's earliest forms of social entertainment.

The first known gladiatorial competitions were held in Italy in 310 C.E. to impress the public with reenactments of exciting military battles and demonstrations of individual soldiers' strengths.

Over time, the games evolved into a much more elaborate spectacle. The games were popular with members of all social classes, prompting the construction of a new, larger kind of venue--the amphitheatre, or open air arena--a design still used today.

But hold on, not everyone appreciated the gore-filled competitions. Christians objected to the immorality of the viewers who happily observed the violence. Nearing the fall of the Empire, when numerous wars led to an economic recession and Christianity continued to spread, gladiatorial games began to decline.

After the last known gladiatorial competition was held on this day in Rome, Italy, audiences turned their attention to theater performances.
Controversial, Sports, Theater, World Cultures

Rajaharischandra

Arts Days: May 03, 1913: Hooray for Bollywood
“Bollywood” is a catchy term for the Hindi-language film industry featuring big dance numbers, lots of emotion, and many attractive actors. The nickname is a play on the words “Hollywood” and “Bombay,” a city in India now known as Mumbai, where most filming takes place.

When Raja Harishchandra premiered on this day, crowds flocked to see the film about an Indian king who sacrifices his kingdom and family in honor of a wise man named Vishvamitra. The silent movie was such a smash that more copies had to be printed. Overnight, the Bollywood phenomenon was born.

Today’s Bollywood movies typically run for two or three hours; are filled with song and dance; tell interwoven stories about boys and girls falling in love; and almost always have a happy ending. Many have become hits around the world. Outside of India, the highest-grossing Bollywood film to date has been Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, filmed in New York City, of all places.


India, Musicals, Movies & Movie Stars, Popular Culture, World Cultures

Ragamala Dance Company

2700 F St.: Ragamala Dance Company
Drawing from the classical Indian dance form Bharatanatyam, the Ragamala Dance Company’s work provides a bridge between ancient and modern cultures. In Written in Water, one of the company’s newest productions, the childhood game Snakes & Ladders—a second-century Indian board game—sets the stage for the emotional journey that unfolds when people search for truth while desperately attempting to avoid human failing. With the Sufi poem “The Conference of Birds” as a framework, rich choreography is paired with original music by Iraqi American jazz artist Amir ElSaffar and Carnatic composer Prema Ramamurthy and performed live by ElSaffar and an ensemble. Projections by Chennai-based cartoonist Keshav and Minneapolis artist Nathan Christopher draw you even further into this mesmerizing world.
India, Dance, Choreographers, World Cultures

Banda Magda

Cuesheet: Banda Magda
This award-winning band combines South American rhythms with jazz improvisation, sung in six languages for a globetrotting adventure. Banda Magda returns with a lively performance showcasing its new album Tigre, featuring Uruguayan candombe to Greek folklore to Brazilian samba beats. With plenty of audience participation and irresistible rhythms led by accordionist and composer Magda Giannikou, Banda Magda will get everyone moving.
Latin America, Music, World Cultures

The Human Journey

Collection: The Human Journey
Beginning in October 2018 through July 2019, The Kennedy Center, National Geographic Society, and the National Gallery of Art will present a range of multidisciplinary performances, exhibits, and immersive discussions that tell this larger story through a personal lens.
Africa, America, Asia, Europe, Family, Geography, History, World Cultures, The Human Journey

African Dance

Video Series: African Dance
These five-minute video lessons will help you learn the posture and isolations common in African dance, and about two African drums, the cajon and the djembe
Africa, Dance, World Cultures

Andes Manta

Video Series: Andes Manta
Andes Manta performs the vibrant music of the Andes on more than 35 traditional instruments. From the lyrical sound of the quena, or Andean Flute, to the haunting tones of the six-foot long pan-pipes, the music of Andes Manta is an experience that never fails to bring audiences to their feet.
Musical Instruments, Folklore, Latin America, Music, World Cultures, Nature

Modern Dancers

Video: Hip-Hop Meets Modern: Dance is not Dance
What happens when Turkish hip-hop dancers travel to the United States on a modern dance exchange program? Hip-hop dancers discover the transition to modern dance is not an easy one, since the two forms are based on very different styles.
Dance, Hip-Hop, World Cultures, Europe, Young Artists, Physical Activity

Indonesian Dance

Video: Indonesian Dance
In appreciation for their three days of intense study and practice at the Hubbard Street Dance Center, the Indonesian visitors are happy to share their country’s traditional Javanese dancing with members of the Chicago dance company.
World Cultures, Asia, Dance, Young Artists

Joseph Bruchac

Video Series: Joseph Bruchac: The Flute and the Drum
Author and storyteller Joseph Bruchac explains the origin and significance of the flute and the drum to Native American culture.
Folklore, Music, World Cultures, Native America, Musical Instruments

Keith Bear

Video Series: Keith Bear, Flute-Maker
Musician, storyteller and flutemaker Keith Bear sheds light on the art and tradition of making flutes in the Native American tradition in this series of video clips.
Folklore, Music, World Cultures, Native America, Musical Instruments

Koji

Video: Koji Kakinuma: Otsukimi
JAPAN! culture + hyperculture was marked by a festive Otsukimi (Japanese moon-viewing) evening featuring a special Millennium Stage performance of Trancework and Eternal Now by shodo performing artist Koji Kakinuma, accompanied by the taiko group AUN.
Asia, Visual Arts, World Cultures, Japan, Innovators & Pioneers, Popular Culture, Music

Koji

Video: Koji Kakinuma: Trancework
Calligraphy artist Koji Kakinuma presents one of his trademark innovations, Trancework, in which he paints countless repetitions of a simple, powerful phrase, producing a giant calligraphic work.
Asia, Visual Arts, World Cultures, Japan, Innovators & Pioneers, Popular Culture

Video Series: Native Pride Dancers
Watch Native American dancers from the group Native Pride Dancers demonstrate the traditional eagle, fancy, grass and hoop dances
Folklore, Music, World Cultures, Native America, Dance

Oki Dub

Video: Oki Dub
Oki is the world's most prominent performer of the tonkori, a long, flat instrument that produces its own distinct sound and is the only stringed instrument in the Karafuto Ainu musical tradition. Oki’s contemporary approach has won him praise in Japan and around the world.
Asia, Music, Musical Instruments, World Cultures, Japan

Palestinian musician

Video: Palestinian Jazz
Palestinian and Moroccan musicians perform on the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, which offers free shows 365 days a year as part of the Performing Arts for Everyone initiative. See how the musicians go from a sound check to actual performance.
World Cultures, Jazz, Musical Instruments, Music, Young Artists

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