Using Textbooks to Learn Performing Arts

If a person wants to learn performing arts, then he can choose from a variety of forms, such as dancing, music, theater, and many others. There are several text books available in the market that can help you learn a few tricks of the trade, but choosing the best book for your genre of art is difficult. Many people also argue that learning a performing art using a text book is not the right way to go. While this argument may hold true for almost all forms of art, it is necessary to refer to books to learn a few subtle things about the art that you cannot learn from your mentor or instructor.

Books are available for almost all types of performing arts and also cover all possible genres of arts. For instance, you can easily find books that will help you learn various drama forms, including theater, acting, mimicry, stand-up comedy, and many others. However, you must take the fact into consideration that books can only act as a supplement for learning any form of art. You can best learn a performance art with constant, uninterrupted practice and by seeking advice from a good mentor or instructor. You can further learn by observing how the masters of the art perform their act and can take tips from them to further enhance your talent.

This, however, does not mean that you should stop looking at books completely. Many performing arts books are expensive and are sometimes not easily available in the open market. Luckily, in the age of the Internet, you can find such books online easily. A search on online bookstores, such as Amazon, can provide you with a good listing of books pertaining to your preferred form of performing art. You will notice that, in such bookstores, books are available at cheaper prices than the markup prices of their retailers. This is because many people who are owners of these books sell them online at cheaper prices or sometimes even auction them. You can buy them online and keep for your reference or even as a collector’s item if you happen to lay your hands on a classic item.

If you look back into history, you will find that performing arts were given a boost by renaissance. This period was regarded as the golden age of art, and many artists, such as Shakespeare, wrote plays and dramas in the form of books that are in demand even today. These books can be found in libraries and are stocked by a large number of booksellers.

In the modern world, there is no dearth of books related to any form of performance art. In fact, today, we can find not only books, but also other materials, such as magazines, articles, and guides, to help us learn a particular form of performing art. This has helped popularize various dance forms that were previously known in only small parts of the world.

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Online Performing Arts Career Preparation Options

When looking to obtain an accredited education in performing arts students have the option of looking into online career training. Not all required courses can be completed through online schools and colleges but students can learn the basics. Online performing arts career preparation options allow students to prepare for the career they wish to enter by providing various levels of education in a number of specialized areas. Accredited training is available through certificate and degree programs ranging from an associate to a doctoral degree level.


When looking to pursue a career in performing arts students can choose from a number of paths. Finding the program that best fits the individual student’s needs and goals can be done by researching available programs. Accredited career studies can be completed in areas such as:

Public Speaking
Arts Administration
Stage Management

…and much more depending on their desired career. Preparation will require students to study various subjects in order to obtain the skills and knowledge they need for a successful career.


There are numerous career options for students who wish to enter into the performing arts field. When looking to enter into a career in performing arts, students have a variety of options to choose from for their desired profession. Possible career paths can include working as:

Public Speakers
Stage Managers

…and much more. With the options of gaining an accredited career in this exciting field, students can prepare to enter into the workforce. By enrolling in an accredited online career training program for performing arts, students will need to complete coursework based on their desired career.


The level of education and specialized area of study will help decide on the coursework that must be completed in order to enter the workforce. Studies will vary but may consist of subjects such as production training, guitar scales, recording, songwriting, and story telling. Students will study sound technology, comedy, management, administration, and many other courses related to this field. Students who choose to complete online career training will gain the knowledge and skills they need to seek employment and pursue the career they long for.

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Online Performing Arts Training Schools

Listening to music, watching someone act on screen, and hearing a speech all stem from the world of performing arts. This broad area can require an education to successfully fulfill the needs of a performance. Online performing arts training schools offer performing arts training through courses and introductory lessons.

The field of performing arts is known for dance, theater, and music. These three factors make up a large part of the professional study but education broadens to include many areas. Students can choose to enter arts administration, stage management, and more. Skills will be acquired that transfer over to areas like:

Motion Picture

With training online students can choose how they want to apply their skills depending on their talents and interests. Online education provides a wide range of study options through the use of the Internet and computer based technology. Courses encourage interaction between students by creating chat rooms and e-mail communication for specific courses. Students can choose to learn about the history and business aspects of numerous fields. Examination of topics that include musical performances, theater experiences, and technical components provide a solid base for students to build on.

Online education for the performing arts is predominantly made up of individual courses. Students are able to begin their education online but most likely will have to attend a campus-based college to further their education and obtain degrees. Education paths change according to the concentration students choose. A dance concentration may have students focusing on the history and components from a dance perspective. Music majors will take courses focusing on different aspects of music from history to playing a guitar. Students can also choose to begin their education with general courses online and enter a campus degree program and focus on the technical aspect or the management side of a particular subject.

A basic performing arts course is available to students through online training schools. Courses like this explore the traditional aspects and new developments of the performing arts industry. The historical features and today’s live performance practices are examined by looking at the performance experience and the audience’s point of view. Main subjects may introduce theater, music, dance, and performance. The processes, products, and experiences are discussed in terms of performing live. Within the theater aspect of the course students are able to understand the impact of plot, script, character, performance, exposition, and more. Different musical and dance styles are looked at and online courses break down the different elements like music rhythm and dance style. Further education can be sought out through other online courses or transitioning into a traditional college degree.

Before entering an online degree program students need to pick a concentration in the performing arts that can include dance, theater, music, and film. All programs give students a multi-disciplinary study that allows students to enter careers with their learned skills in performance. Popular coursework involved can be production design, media criticism, acting, and more. Study options are broad, which makes working through training online beneficial. Students can work through some courses online and find their niche or passion.

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National Center for the Performance Arts

The newly opened National Center for the Performance Arts, formerly named the Chinese National Grand Theatre, is the largest performing art center in the world. It is shaped like a massive, silvery dome in the heart of China’s capital that offers Chinese and international art performances of the highest standards. It hosts opera, ballet, musicals, dance, dramas and traditional Chinese performances.

Situated west of Tiananmen Square in Beijing, the National Center for Performance Art occupies an area of over 149,500 square meters. There are three gigantic halls located inside: a 2,416-seat opera house, a 2,017-seat concert hall and a 1,040-seat theater. Its goal is to become the center of Chinese performance art culture. The National Center for the Performing Arts took nearly five years to build at a cost of over 2.69million RMB.

Designed by the famous French architect Paul Andreu, this imposing building is a fine example of modern architecture. It has been thought of as resembling an eggshell, a baozi (Chinese steamed bread), or even a giant bubble. The National Center for Performance Arts has been listed among the top ten architectural miracles by the USA, for its energy-saving and environmentally-sound design. The center has three firsts: it is the largest sky dome in the world, the deepest building in Beijing, and is home to the largest pine organ in Asia. As its prompters have said, the National Center for Performance Arts has a lush dazzling interior, sophisticated acoustics and a design that that is superior to most of Europe’s or America’s performing arts centers. This building is so unique that it stands out amongst the nearby government buildings in central Beijing and the imperial grandeur of the centuries-old Forbidden City.

The interior design of National Center for Performance Arts, it is quite spectacular. The dome’s interior is paneled with long Brazilian mahogany spans, giving the expanse an amazingly warm feeling. While the walls of the theater, the smallest of the performance spaces, are covered in thick padded silk which is divided into red, purple and tangerine strips. The ceiling of the grey-white color-schemed concert hall consists of undulating waves of acoustical panels that resemble abstract art. On the exterior shell of the center, there are over 500 lights that shine like the stars in the sky, making the National Center for Performance Arts looks like a visitor from the outer space.

Even though the exterior appearance of National Centre for Performance Arts is futuristic in design, it does not clash with nearby buildings. Surrounded on one side by a large pool of water, the reflections in the water form an impressive sight day or night. For this reason, National Centre for Performance Arts is said to appear like a “bright pearl resting in a lake.

Most visitors to the National Center for Performance Arts, come for the performances, but there is much more to this beautiful building than just the three gigantic halls. There are also many smaller places located inside the National Center for Performance Arts such as: an underwater hallway, an exhibition hall, olive hall, library center, Press-release hall, souvenir shop, and a coffee house. In these locations, visitors or audience members can enjoy other aspects of this amazing building other than just performances.

The Center’s management has hired the best performers from throughout China to perform. Musicians such as pianist Yundi Li, and Lang Lang are regulars to the National Center for Performance Arts’stage. Many foreign troupes are vying for a chance to perform during the center’s opening season. The first foreign troupe to perform on the stage of the National Center for Performance Art was the Mariinsky Ballet Troup of St. Petersburg(still marketed in the U.S. under its Soviet-era name, the Kirov Opera and Ballet). Although the center’s musical groups,ballets, symphony orchestras, and Chinese opera have received far less attention, they are also performed by some of the best artists in China.

To allow each audience to fully and comfortably appreciate each performance, the National Center for Performance Arts has makes great effort in its design of the opera house, concert hall and theater. The materials used in the construction of the opera house were chosen for their ability to control sound. The ceiling of the concert hall is designed so that each audience member will enjoy an unforgettable experience. The theatre, the place with the most distinctive Chinese characteristic, has the most advanced stage facilities and the largest auditorium. Each seat in the National Center for Performance Arts is placed over an air vent which will allow each audience member to enjoy perfectly controlled temperatures, and each seat is designed with a muffling devise so that no sound will be made when audience members stand up,or sit down. These many different features of the center has been put in place to insure each audience member will receive the most from each performance they see.

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Six Favorite Design Books

When I was growing up in Los Angeles I was a bookworm because I was kind of a lonely little girl, and I was able to lose myself in the fantasy world of books. My parents encouraged me to read, and I read everything I could get my hands on. As an adult, I’m still a voracious reader – and a speed reader, to boot. There’s nothing like the tactile sensation of a book’s weight in your hand and the action of turning the pages. To me, it’s a loving tribute to the written words and beautiful images that are contained within the pages of a book.

That’s why I have a hefty book collection at home – most of them design books, of course. Not only are they treasured sources of knowledge and inspiration that I turn to repeatedly, they provide an ease of use that simply is not available on the Internet or an e-reader. Unlike a novel, which you read from the first page to the last, design books are made to be flipped through. And you simply cannot flip through a hand-held device the way you can a book.

So, with that, here are my six favorite design books:

1. Judith Miller, “Furniture: World Styles from Classical to Contemporary.” Hands down, the best book on identifying styles. Filled with details, details, details. Information on materials, why something looks the way it does, juicy tidbits, the people and events influencing furniture design. This is the book I wish I had written! It’s my bible.

2. Christopher Payne (general editor), “Sotheby’s Concise Encyclopedia of Furniture.” Christopher Payne is a Brit and has the crisp and charming manner of writing that the Brits are known for. This is one of my go-to-books for quick and concise information on a particular style.

3. Metropolitan Museum of Art, “Period Rooms in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.” Luscious images of the fabulous period rooms at the Met from Jacobean to Frank Lloyd Wright.

4. Frederick Litchfield, “Illustrated History of Furniture: From the Earliest to the Present Time.” I have the 1893 edition that I printed out from Project Gutenberg, and it is fabulous! Incredibly detailed illustrations of furniture and period rooms. There are no photos, only detailed illustrations. Lots of juicy details about various designers and historical figures.

5. Mario Praz, “An Illustrated History of Interior Decoration: from Pompeii to Art Nouveau.” Mostly illustrated through paintings of the period, but a great resource of entire room schemes seen through artists’ eyes.

6. Virginia McAlester and Lee McAlester, “Great American Houses and Their Architectural Styles.” Beautiful photos and floor plans of some of the top examples of American architectural styles.

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What The Visitor Center Never Told Me About In Paris

I jammed a lot of tourist sites into the four days I spent a Paris but there was one extravagant site I missed that the travel bureaus never told me about – probably because they knew nothing about this unique option.

And that is to take a boat tour of Paris at night and view the stunning beauty of the 35 bridges that cross the Seine. I did get a wonderful glimpse of the bridges of Paris at night back home, though, when I acquired and flipped through the pages of “The Glow of Paris: The Bridges of Paris at Night” by Gary Zuercher.

After over-exposing a shot by accident, Zuercher discovered the beauty of the flow of lights on the bridges against the dark background of Paris at night. After this discovery he spent the next five years shooting all 35 bridges of Paris, from midnight to 2-3 a.m. when there was little traffic and few pedestrians to interfere with his work. The results are absolutely amazing.

But Zuercher went even further by researching the history of the bridges and offering a fascinating narrative of each bridge, some of which were crossed by Julius Caesar. I learned that they used to construct houses and shops on the bridges in the middle ages. Another bridge used to host a festival with acrobats, fire-eaters and musicians, even “tooth pullers.” Another bridge had a money-changing booth on one end. And another was hit by a jet fighter plane, killing four French Air Force pilots. Absolutely fascinating stuff.

Over a period of five years, Zuercher took his cameras out into the Parisian night to capture stunningly evocative images of the bridges that span the Seine. Using his artistic eye and sophisticated photographic technique, he created these glorious black-and- white photographs, rich with detail and possessing a clear, luminous quality.

No one else has ever photographed all the bridges that cross the Seine in Paris in this way. We don’t see crowds of people or heavy traffic. Nothing obscures the beauty and strength of the structures, the romance and symbolism of the bridges. Shooting in black and white allows the details to shine: the architectural elements, artwork, nearby buildings, trees on the riverbanks, and starry lamps casting paths of light across the water.

He divides his time between homes in Paris and Washington, DC with his wife Dominique who is French.

I got the book just to display on my coffee table but I started reading it and couldn’t put it down. So much goo information on the bridges and Paris’s history that it is much, much more than a cocktail table book. I highly recommend this book, but don’t just put it in the living room for display but read and enjoy every page!

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Great Masters In Painting And Sculpture: Frans Hals by Gerald S. Davies

Artistic taste is forever changing and there is obviously no such thing as a balanced opinion in the arts, where personal judgment and preference are the only currencies. And so styles come and go, bodies of work pass in and out of favour. The works of JS Bach were forgotten until revived a century on by Mendelssohn. Shakespeare was once derided as dense and difficult. And a Dutch painter called Frans Hals thankfully did not witness, a century after his death, his works changing hands for next to nothing. And, since taste continues to change, it is always informative to read the critical opinions of former eras, because it might be possible that critics really did see things differently.

Published in 1904, Frans Hals by Gerald S. Davies was written more than a century on from the low point of the artist’s stature, and the better part of two and a half centuries after the painter’s death in 1666. Copiously illustrated with glossy black and white plates, the book formed part of a series called Great Masters in Painting and Sculpture. We must thus anticipate the text to be of the skimping quality we usually expect when we perhaps reluctantly open up a populist publisher’s ‘Great Artists’ series.

But this 1904 volume is beautifully written. And what really does surprise is the uncluttered, modern style of the prose. There are no great condescending or judgmental passages about the artist or his character. There is considerable fact about his life, about which in reality we know remarkably little. But above all the book contains some inspired writing on and analytical observation of the paintings, some of which, incidentally, have since been reattributed. This adds another aspect to the experience, since it illustrates how our appreciation of the arts is very much conditioned by what we think we might know about the context or source of the object.

Frans Hals, it appears, was something of a rake. He was never rich, was in fact often in debt and, more often than not, close to penniless. He spent much of his time in the pub, where he drank to excess. He married early, and the union endured, but we now next to nothing about his domestic life. And yet, the respectable gentlemen of the St. Joris Shooting Guild regularly employed him to depict the club members in all their proud finery, full face or three-quarter front, depending on how much each sitter had contributed to the funding of the project.

Gerald Davies’s text is especially successful in its identification and description of the detail in the pictures. He identifies and locates elements of the artist’s style that the casual observer would simply not see, and throughout he approaches his subject with an enthusiasm that draws the reader into the discussion and is never didactic. In several sections of the book, the author draws parallels and cites contrasts with Rubens, Van Dyck and Rembrandt, all of whom, of course, achieved significantly more fame in their lifetimes than Hals did in his. Their work, perhaps, never did go out of favour, but that of Frans Hals certainly did. Painted largely in greys and black, the paintings of Frans Hals often appear to be more puritan in spirit even than their strait-laced sitters.

But then, as Davies point out, there is a young man bearing a standard, a coloured sash, an item of still life that adds dramatic statement by introducing contrast. And, of course, there are the chuckling wenches, the singing drunks and the other low life subjects that Hals chose to paint where, with arguably unique skill and talent, he captured an instantaneous expression as if it had been photographed.

Davies also insists that the paintings of Hals need a large viewing space. For the author, close-up viewing is too revealing of a technique that often approaches complete abstraction. And here we do find a difference from today’s critical taste, where such free brushwork would be cited as evidence of an artistic strength. Davies does not criticise it, but his era preferred not to scrutinise it in search of the psychological dimension that is now so completely essential to any critical analysis of an artist’s work.

Tastes may change and artists may come in and out of favour. Frans Hals continues to be seen as one of the greatest of painters and in the intervening years much has been written about him. But great art endures because it summarises the sensibilities of its era, at least those we insist on imposing upon it. Great writing works the same way and let us continue to include in that category critical works such as this Davies book on Hals, purely on its contemporary relevance and not merely because it offers an historical perspective on the work.

Philip Spires is author of A Search for Donald Cottee is a comic tragedy about individualism.

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