In Dallas Theater, Everyone Won't Like Everything All the Time. And They Shouldn't.

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Courtesy FIT
Whatever you do, don't stop writing ... plays or criticism.

Over the weekend, a post popped up in my newsfeed from the Festival of Independent Theatres. "...Elaine Liner suggests that we be put out of our misery. Do you agree? We welcome your thoughts on the matter!" It linked to her stage column this week, which bears the heady title, "Is it Time to Bring the Curtain Down on Festival of Indie Theatres?"

Obviously, the response was overwhelmingly in support of the festival given the conversation's venue. Everyone who replied to the thread was involved in the theater community, most of them working for or acting in a production at this year's festival. The thread appeared in my newsfeed several more times throughout the weekend, whether posted by critics or actors, in groups like "D-FW Theater" -- an open group dedicated to just such dialogue.

The discussion varied from the quality of shows to the responsibilities of the critic to personal attacks (most of which were quickly taken down). Commenters were furious, frustrated and personally injured. "How dare she!" seemed to be the shared sentiment of the conversation.


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Heroes, Villains, Revenge Plots: WWE Is Like Shakespeare, But With Smashed Chairs

Categories: Theater

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WWE Inc.
Roman Reigns over Randy Orton -- and the ladies' hearts.
WWE returned to American Airlines Center this Sunday, and this being a culture blog, we asked Jaime-Paul Falcone to go and send a sketch of what exactly goes at a WWE Live event. Drama, that's what. Lots of drama, plus merchandising.

ACT I
Scene 1: Thousands of neon-clad children run through the aisles of the American Airlines Center, their parents trying to control them as excitement builds. The reason for the neon, and the reason most of the children are here, is professional wrestler John Cena. Cena is a man who looks as if he was chiseled out of marble by a Renaissance artist who received prophetic dreams that gave him glimpses into the pages of Muscle & Fitness and Men's Health magazines. He's also the face of professional wrestling, a man who looks like a real life super hero, and the man every small boy wants to be. Calm, cool, collected and usuall dressed in eye-catching colors that accentuate his giant muscles, he's the reason World Wrestling Entertainment is able to pack an arena on a random Sunday afternoon.

He's also not here.

An announcer stands in the ring and says John Cena is not there (he's off filming a movie with Amy Poehler and Tina Fey at the moment). Any fans who want refunds have 20 minutes to get them. On cue, the theme music of wrestling and pop culture legend Ric "The Nature Boy" Flair hits, and out steps the legend himself. Thoughts of refunds quickly pass.

Scene 2: Professional wrestling's roots are steeped in the world of carnivals; it's stories - and there are always stories behind the wrestling - are simple, steeped in stereotypes and engaging. In the ring below, one of these stories is being told. Seth Rollins may be one of the most handsome men I've ever seen, but he's dressed like a deep sea diver and has a permanent sneer on his face. He's the black hat, the bad guy. His opponent Dean Ambrose is dressed like a low-rent stepfather in a bad play. His eyes look manic, and he's prone to throwing tantrums every few seconds. He's loudly cheered and is considered the good guy. The story they're telling is one of revenge: at some point in the recent past Rollins aggrieved Ambrose, and Ambrose is determined to settle the score. What's interesting about all this is watching how not only the two performers work together, but also how the referee works with them.

Yes, wrestling is scripted, and it might be the most interesting part of it. Watching the referee convey direction from the ring announcer who seems to be in charge of everything to the performers is a marvel to see. To add to the air of excitement, an obviously planted fan sits in the front row starting, and stopping cheers. We may be in a state-of-the-art arena, but we're never far from the carnival.


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Ten Stupid Things People Believe About Dallas

Categories: Dallas Stories

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Not everything is as upside down as it seems...

The myth of Dallas often eclipses the actual city. Thanks to Dallas the TV show, Dallas the city lives in the shadows of oil rigs, oversized cowboy hats and big money. Stereotypes aside, we're creating our own identity that is actually pretty awesome. It's time to put down the cowboy boots and Cadillacs caricatures and acknowledge what is actually true about this city we inhabit.

We've rounded up (no, not with a lasso) 10 of the stupidest things out-of-towners believe about Dallas. Instead of explaining that you don't own a pair of cowboy boots for the 10th time, shatter Dallas' worst stereotypes with this truth-bomb.

We're all conservative Republicans.
Even if the (overwhelming) majority of the state likes to vote red, like the other major urban areas in Texas, Dallas is full of left-leaning Democrats, believers in climate change and progressives of all stripes. There is a thriving gayborhood and we're soon to be home to a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic, which is like flipping a massive bird at our bass ackwards state politicians. Elected officials in this city are responsible for proactive domestic violence prevention programs, a cutting-edge prostitution diversion plan, and most recently, housing unaccompanied immigrant minors while other cities and our own governor protested. It's also worth noting that in 2008, President Obama handily defeated Mitt Romney in Dallas County.

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Alice Laussade
There's no culture here.

Sure, we've got a reputation for being a soulless business hub, but even the snobbiest art, music and theater fans can find something to love in Dallas. If you're too indie for the fresh-from-NYC touring theatre companies and Dallas Symphony Orchestra, try experimental theater at Ochre House Theater or Dead White Zombies or a weird local noise band at Club Dada or the off-beat Two Bronze Doors. Do you really think that Erykah Badu would live in a place that was completely devoid of culture? Nope.

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We're all Cowboys fans.

Much to the chagrin of the fans who still cling to the good old days, not everybody here loves "the Boys." Dallas has a healthy number of transplants. The people who move from Pittsburgh and New York to take advantage of Dallas' comparatively low cost of living and lack of a state income tax certainly don't leave their sports allegiances at the door. Even if Jerry World bleeds blue and silver, sports bars host healthy rivalries. And you'd be hard pressed to find a Romo fan.

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100 Dallas Creatives: No. 77 Filmmaker & Environmentalist Michael Cain

Categories: 100 Creatives

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Photo courtesy Jason Cirone

Mixmaster presents "100 Creatives," in which we feature cultural entrepreneurs of Dallas in random order. Know an artistic mind who deserves a little bit of blog love? Email lauren.smart@dallasobserver.com with the whos and whys.

Save for his disarming charm, were you to meet Michael Cain in person you'd never guess he's one of Dallas' most inspired movers-and-shakers. Which is to say, his glowing humility renders his heavy artistic presence comforting rather than intimidating. But, no question, Michael Cain is a big deal. If it were possible to trace the webs that Cain has had a hand in drawing across the Dallas arts culture, I imagine we'd all owe this man a hearty thank you. Hell, if you've ever seen an independent film in Dallas or attended a local film festival then you've probably already been influenced by Cain.

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Rhythmic Souls Gives Dallas a Taste of the Tap Dance Legends this Weekend

Categories: Dance

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Rhythmic Souls

Shuffle, ball, change. Aaaaaand, dig! Those are the only tap dance words that stuck with me from the beginner adult class I took last fall. Turns out, you need rhythm to tap, and I've got zero. But it just looks so darn fun when dancers fly around the stage creating music with their toes. It's the stuff of old films, Broadway musicals, and street performance; tap dance is captivating and exhilarating. This is why we're anticipating a full house for this weekend's Rhythmic Souls show, Legends Never Die, a romp through some of tap dance's unforgettable moves and an homage to the greats.

"[Tap dance] was such an integral part of the entertainment industry that it was only natural for it to be featured with the appearance of the film and the movie musical," says Katelyn Harris, co-founder of Rhythmic Souls. "And I do think a renaissance of the 1920's-1940's Hollywood glamour is on its way."

The show runs for just two days at the Pocket Sandwich Theatre, with performances at 1:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. It features work that resembles the greats, like Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers and Bill Robinson.

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100 Dallas Creatives: No. 78 Kaleidoscopic Artist Taylor "Effin" Cleveland

Categories: 100 Creatives

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Courtesy the artist

Mixmaster presents "100 Creatives," in which we feature cultural entrepreneurs of Dallas in random order. Know an artistic mind who deserves a little bit of blog love? Email lauren.smart@dallasobserver.com with the whos and whys.

Taylor "Effin" Cleveland (not his real middle name, obviously, but he's badass enough to call himself whatever he wants) is a New Media artist based in Dallas. His body of work is so expansive that he has worked with almost everyone in town, from doing video projections with local performers, including Edward Ruiz, to dj-ing and vj-ing for fashion shows at WAAS Gallery, to having his portraits of local artists commissioned by THRWD magazine, to interning with Central Track, and to having one of his murals commissioned by Urban Outfitters at Northpark Mall in 2013.

Cleveland's aesthetic is on point with the trends occurring commercially in the art world. His work with body mapping and large-scale projection pieces that integrate sound compositions and performance utilize new media technologies in an inventive way that elevates any event he is involved in.


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National Dance Day Is Saturday, So Dust Off Your Dancing Shoes

Categories: Dance

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Don't they look happy?
Saturday is National Dance Day, another day that you can celebrate through clever Facebook status updates, Instagram hashtags, and throwback photos to your drill team days and those terrible costumes your dance teachers used to make you wear. Or, you could actually get off your butt and dance. Novel idea, I know. But seriously, if it's National Dance Day, I'm pretty sure you should actually be moving.

That's the premise behind this official holiday first recognized in 2010 when Eleanor Holmes Norton, Washington, D.C.'s, congressional delegate, introduced a National Dance Day resolution to promote dance education and physical fitness. Launched by So You Think You Can Dance co-creator Nigel Lythgoe and supported by the Dizzy Feet Foundation, NDD encourages Americans to embrace dance as a fun and positive way to maintain good health. We all need a little bit of movement in our life, and studies have shown (and I'm not going to bore you with nerdy, scientific details here) that the more you move, the more your brain becomes active, sending sweet, positive endorphins through your body, making you feel better and happier. Happy feet are a scientific fact, and in the hot summer days, who doesn't want to do something that makes her feel good?

The people at the Dizzy Feet Foundation just want you to have a good time, so
they have created routines for you to learn and perform at various events in your hometowns, and the Dallas-Fort Worth area is playing host to a few of them (check out the list below for details). The biggest one is happening in downtown Dallas at Klyde Warren Park. All afternoon long Saturday, you can enjoy free dance classes in a variety of styles at the Muse Family Performance Pavilion. Everything from African to Zumba to bachata to salsa will be available for you to learn, plus you'll have the chance to perform the dances prepared by the Dizzy Feet Foundation.

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15 Awesome Things to Do in Dallas this Weekend, July 24-27

Categories: Dallas Stories

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Courtesy Elissa Stafford
Fashion Art Network's party Thursday night includes a visit from these characters.

Summer is the perfect time for road trips and staycations, which might be how you're choosing to spend this weekend. And if you're looking to do that, we've got a few recommendations for both (see Road Tripping, Staycations). But if you're planning to spend the weekend in Dallas and want to add an event or two to your agenda, we've got you covered.

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Follow Dallas Designer Emmanuel Tobias' Journey On Project Runway

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Courtesy of the designer
Project Runway struts its way back onto the television Thursday night for season 13. It's your classic reality competition show that narrows contestants down with each episode until there is a grand prize winner.

It's a favorite among fashion lovers or aspiring designers, and anyone else who just loves watching Heidi Klum. Every once in a while, a local designer lands a spot on the show and this season we've got three Texans. Dallas-based Emmanuel Tobias will be taking on the competition, which includes Samantha Palencia from San Antonio and Emily Payne who's from Temple, Texas.

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Dallas Has a Convention Dedicated to Supernatural. We Hope Some Fans Miss It.

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You don't even want to know what some people think of these guys.
Fandom is a weird beast. It can make otherwise sane individuals do things that not even a lifetime of drinking will erase from memory.

Some extreme fans of Supernatural seem to fit into that category. For those of you who aren't in the know, it's a show on The CW about two hunky paranormal explorers named Dean and Sam Winchester played by Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki. They roam the landscape, solving mysteries, confronting various otherworldly nasties.

If you're one of those people who feel all tingly just watching a rerun of Supernatural, you'll probably explode when you learn that a special Supernatural fan convention is coming to town in September featuring special appearances from the stars and all sorts of other events to help get the geek out of your system.

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