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For black dancers, it's unequal footing

As long as there have been ballet companies in the United States, African-American boys and girls have been discouraged from having Sugar Plum Fairy fantasies and "Nutcracker" dreams.

They were told they weren't born with the right bodies to form the elegant lines required by classical dance.

They were told that their race was too muscular, too athletic, and too curvy — code words for "too sexual" — for the sylphlike innocents celebrated in such ballets as "Giselle" and "Swan Lake."

They were told that America wasn't ready to see a dark brown woman cast as a white snowflake or swan. When black ballerinas executed routine steps correctly in class, they were over-praised to the point of insult. And they were expected to dust their face and limbs with a milk-colored powder when they performed certain roles.

Those stereotypes are being exploded in a big way in Baltimore, thanks to an exhibit opening this weekend and two coming visits by world-class troupes composed primarily of African-American...

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Pane e Vino adds refreshing element to Little Italy

When I need a reminder of my love for Baltimore — and we all do sometimes, for reasons complex and simple — I look to the neighborhoods, not only for their residents and histories but because they often find new ways to surprise.

A prime example is Little Italy, a neighborhood with no shortage of character. The cuisine it's known for is a given, but the area's charms are far from confined to a plate of Bolognese. I play in a weekly bocce league at the outdoor courts at D'Alessandro Park on Stiles Street, and rarely miss the sights, sounds and bingo of the annual Feast of St. Anthony Festival.

So, let me add a recent surprise to the list: Pane e Vino, the companion bar to corner restaurant Cafe Gia that opened last month. Sure, Little Italy has plenty of bars inside its restaurants, but Pane e Vino — which is run by Cafe Gia owner Gia Blattermann, her brother Steven Blattermann and Cafe Gia chef Gianfranco Fracassetti — feels like the rare location that could succeed as a stand-alone bar.


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Nearly three decades in, Widespread Panic has new album on the way

On the phone last week from a tour stop in Florida, Widespread Panic's John Bell sounded like a musician no longer surprised by the road.

Asked if his veteran jam-rock band's current three-month outing feels any different from recent tours, the singer and guitarist better known to fans as “JB” felt no need to lie for the sake of a good story.

“No, not really,” Bell said with a chuckle. “You just wake up, get together and then go play. It's been that way for about 30 years.”

Technically, next year is the three-decade anniversary of Widespread Panic, but Bell does not seem to be counting. Instead, the 53-year-old is looking to a near future that includes the release of his group's 12th studio album. (Before then, though, the band will kick off the Pier Six Pavilion season on Sunday and return May 14 for the sold-out “Dear Jerry: Celebrating the Music of Jerry Garcia” concert at Merriweather Post Pavilion.)

It has been nearly five years since the release of the last LP, “Dirty Side Down.”...

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Relationships column: Keeping up with the Johnsons

In the summer of 1998, my family took a road trip.

Washington, D.C., was our destination and at one point during our excursion, my sister and two brothers were in comatose-like slumbers. I was the only kid up and alert, counting the number of trees we zoomed by.

I enjoyed gazing at the sky, the road and even the license plates of other drivers. It beat looking at rowhouses or vacant lots back in Camden, N.J..

My dad blasted his compilation CD with songs from '70s R&B groups like the O'Jays, the Isley Brothers, the Ebonys and Heatwave.

I giggled at his limited singing ability as he forced his baritone voice to tackle the soprano notes. I don't know if I laughed more at his screaming or at my mom's facial expressions while her eardrums were violated the entire drive.

This was years ago, and those trips don't happen anymore. Boy, do I miss them.

Even when trying to plan something as simple as brunch, everyone has to check their work and social schedules just to set a date and time.

When I...

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Talara space in Harbor East to become a huge Starbucks

Starbucks will relocate its Harbor East store this summer from its current location at 635 S. President St. to a larger location down the block.

The new store, at 615 S. President St., is the Harbor East gateway location on Fleet and President streets where Talara closed in February. The new location will feature a 3,400 square-foot cafe with seating for 60 and an outdoor patio with additional seating for 18, according to a Starbucks spokeswoman.

All Starbucks employees currently working at the existing store will make the move to the new location, the spokeswoman said.

A spokeswoman for Harbor East Management group, which leases both the existing and forthcoming Starbucks stores, said that the company will announce its plans for the current location later. 

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It's real: 'Full House' will be reincarnated as 'Fuller House' on Netflix

It's official: "Full House" is coming back to TV. Or more accurately, to Netflix.

The streaming giant confirmed Monday that it has ordered 13 episodes of "Fuller House," a reboot of the 1987-1995 ABC family sitcom about a widower (Bob Saget) trying to raise three daughters with the help of two male friends.

John Stamos, who played Uncle Jesse in the original "Full House," will reprise his role, as will Candace Cameron-Bure, who played eldest daughter D.J., Jodie Sweetin is also coming back as middle daughter Stephanie Tanner.

Jeff Franklin, who created the original series, is likewise returning.

Stamos also confirmed the news on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" Monday night, saying he had just "sealed the deal" minutes before he went on the show.

We were trying to do some sort of spinoff, we wanted to give credit to the legacy, we didn’t want to just sort of throw it away," he said. "It starts off as a reunion that then spins off."

He told Kimmel the idea has been in the works for years: "We've been...

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