Boston's lively arts
This city is a tapestry of artistic endeavor, with its warp and woof being the fine and performing arts. Among its music groups, its museums, and its theaters is the occasional thread of gold that makes the whole weave sparkle.Skip to next paragraph
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For Boston and its environs have a rich history of arts. Even Harvard's Hasty Pudding Theatricals, which were preceded by the Hasty Pudding Club, in effect go back to 1975. In the years since, the student theater group has proved the foundation for careers of many a star or character actor. Its commercial theaters bring in shows prior to Broadway, and sometimes on post-Broadway tours. The city sees most of the biggest attractions the theater world offers.
Boston's music scene attracts the world's greatest players, singers, and conductors; the city's museums and galleries pull in international art shows and the world's best-known artists; and its moviehouses offer the newest, the biggest, the best -- and sometimes the worst -- films put out by Hollywood or New York, as well as imports from abroad.
Movies: Boston's Sack chain of moviehouses is one of the country's best-known. Originated by Benjamin Sack (whence its name), it is now run by A. Alan Friedberg who continues the tradition of bringing to Boston the newest pictures available. There are 15 houses within the city bearing the Sack name, plus a number of the suburban perimeter.
And the Sack chain does not exhaust the possibilities. The Exeter, known for decades as an independent theater that often screens movies from abroad, continues its tradition in its castle-like building now under new management. Freshly air-conditioned and with new seating to bring it into line with today's more luxurious houses, it offers such pictures as the currently popular, gentle comedy, "Robert et Robert."
Then there is the Off the Wall cinema which shows in the "Where's Boston?" house at the city's famous Quincy Market at times when the slide show of Boston's ways and by-ways doesn't play. You find the unusual at Off the Wall. A series called "The Great Cartoons," for instance, ran recently featuring Disney, the first Mickey Mouse cartoon ever made, and Fleischer brothers cartoons of Betty Boop, Popeye, and Superman. That's not a program you will find in many moviehouses.
The Nickelodeon Cinemas (two of them) are also somewhat offbeat in programming. Located in the midst of the Boston University campus sprawl, they offer some classic films and retrospectives of films by great producers or directors ("A Salute to Sir Alfred [Hitchcock]" was a recent series).
Art: Think art. Immediately, in Boston at least, the echo comes back "Newbury Street." It is the center, though by no means the circumference, of the art world here. On the blocks of this street galleries abound, ranging from Art Asia, which shows paintings, graphics, sculpture all with a Far Eastern flavor, and the Harcus Krakow immediately across the street, which often shows the most avant garde art and "body sculpture" (translation: somewhat massive jewelry), to the traditional Copley Society, the Boston Guild of Artists, and the Vose Gallery all farther uptown on Newbury. The vose has a strong collection of the Hudson River School of painting. The other two can be counted on for those evocative landscapes and seascapes generations of art fanciers have known and loved.
The Institute of Contemporary Art is, as its name implies, home to modern art. It also puts on special exhibitions from time to time, and its show of an artist's work is sometimes accompanied by related slide shows. The institute also puts on occasional series of film shows geared to a subject. It is a place to watch because one can often cathc golden oldies not regularly available.
Dance: As might be expected, the Boston area is rife with dance companies, too -- ranging from ballet to modern to what sometimes looks like improvisational groups. The best-known is undoutedly the Boston Ballet. Its founder, E. Virginia Williams, often collaborates with New York's choreographer/artistic director George Balanchine in works to be presented on the stage of Boston's Music Hall. Miss Williams offers several series of programs each year.
On the modern side of terpsichore, the Boston area boasts the Joy of Movement Center in Cambridge, where anyone interested in participating in dance can find courses suited to his or her talents, from simple movement to advanced choreography. Then there is the Harvard Summer Dance Center, also in Cambridge, where dance courses are given regularly.
The Mandala Folk Dance Ensemble (also based in Cambridge), is, as its name implies, a folk dance group which gives public performances at irregular intervals in dress appropriate to whatever dance is being offered. Bright ribbons fly as multi-layered skirts twirl when this group shows off its choreography. The New England Dinosaur Company and the Concert Dance Company of Boston both offer modern athletic performances and are seen at intervals in various halls.