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In The Limelight For March 3, 2011: National Arts News

Here's a look at what's in the limelight for the week of February 28 in national arts news.

2011 Oscars: Predictable And Tame

The 83rd annual Academy Awards were a relatively short and quiet show this weekend, with many Oscars following in the footsteps of the Golden Globes. Natalie Portman won best actress in a leading role for her portrayal of a damaged ballerina in "Black Swan;" Colin Firth best actor for his embodiment of King George VI of Britain in "The King's Speech," which also won awards for best picture, best director, and best screenplay. Oscars for best supporting actor and best supporting actress both went to members of the cast of "The Fighter:" Christian Bale, who played a meth-addicted boxer, and Melissa Leo, his strung-out Massachusetts mother. Anne Hathaway and James Franco hosted the night; their youth and sometimes attitudes were in sharp contrast with the more traditional, almost Vaudevillian attitude of Billy Crystal, the veteran host who made a surprise appearance halfway through the ceremony.

Motown Legends At The White House

As Black History Month came to an end this week, and in the latest of a series of performances at the White House, Grammy winner John Legend performed. Before the show, First Lady Michelle Obama gave an hour-long history lesson to the group of more than 100 children who were invited to the event, explaining how contemporary R&B evolved from the music made by African-Americans during the Civil Rights era. Berry Gordy, founder of the Motown record label, spoke too.

  • Listen to the story on NPR.

Talks Come To A Close For Detroit Symphony

The Detroit Symphony, which had been on strike since October, rejected a final offer Saturday that would have cut wages, fired one player, slashed pension and health benefits, and required the musicians to pay for their own travel costs. Maintaining the its September claim, that if cuts were not made the DSO could go broke by 2013, management responded by canceling the remainder of the performance season, which would have lasted through June, but the musicians will continue to play what they're calling "strike concerts" throughout the Detroit area to raise funds while they continue negotiations.

Headlines In Dance

In dance news, two new and unusual ballets have been announced this week. On Sunday, Chicago's Orion Ensemble premiered a new work by composer and conductor Victoria Bond, Instruments of Revelation, with dance by Ballet Chicago and choreography by that group's founder, Daniel Duell. Based on fortune-telling Tarot cards, the piece features solo performances by characters borrowed from the deck: the Magician, the High Priestess, and the Fool. Meanwhile, The Guardian reported Thursday that Paul McCartney will debut his first ballet at New York's Lincoln Center in September of this year. Ocean's Kingdom is a collaboration between the former Beatle and choreographer Peter Martins, artistic director of the New York City Ballet.

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