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Seriously, I like Punxatawny Phil, and am admiring of his cousin on Staten Island (who let Mayor Bloomberg know, with his sharp pointy teeth, what he thought of ending term limits), but why did the groundhogs have to see their shadows? Why must we suffer below-zero wind chills? As Marx (Groucho) once said, “the gods looked down and laughed.” So why not think about warmer days to come? Hancock Shaker Village, the 750 acre rural museum, just announced that their popular Baby Animals on the Shaker Farm event has extended its run by an entire week this year. From April 11 through May 3, the Village will welcome “scores of newly arrived lambs, piglets, calves, goats, ducklings and chicks.” (Cute overload, indeed.) Events will include farm chores, craft activities, guided tours of the village. This year there will also be an exhibit of paintings by Susan Merrill, based on the heritage animal breeds raised at Hancock Shaker Village. For more info, call (800) 817-1137 or visit


Let’s get really crazy. Let us daydream of summer. The Saratoga Performing Arts Center announced that they are diversifying their dance offerings this coming season by bringing a pair of renowned modern companies. On June 11, the Paul Taylor Dance Company will present Taylor’s newest work, Beloved Renegade. (It’s inspired by Walt Whitman and set to the music of Francis Poulenc.) On July 20-21, Mark Morris Dance Group will present a program of repertory works. Mark your calendars: Tickets will be available for purchase online, via phone (584-9330) and in person at the SPAC box office on May. 10. Mail ticket order forms can be obtained at


One of the more popular series offered by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s EMPAC (both pre- and post- construction) is the DANCE MOViES program. These are movies that involve dance, yes, but it’s a wide-open program: “The works may be narrative in nature or abstract, they may range in length (up to 20 minutes); they . . . vary in style, technique and expressive intent.” The reason I went straight to the official definition is that EMPAC is now accepting proposals for its 2009-2010 commissions. So, local filmmakers, this is your chance to compete against the world: Last year, EMPAC received more that 150 applications from filmmakers all over North and South America. The deadline for proposals is May 1, 2009. For details on what constitutes a “proposal,” visit


Upstate Independents will be having their monthly meeting this Tuesday (March 3) at 6:30 PM at the Linda, WAMC’s Performing Arts Studio. This month’s featured guest is makeup artist Arielle Toelke, who was the key makeup artist on Orion in Midsummer, the Japanese-produced film that was shot (partially) in Albany last summer on the USS Slater. (Toelke has many TV credits, too.) The meeting is free and open to the public. For more info, visit

—Shawn Stone

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