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Friday, June 14, 2019

Meet the Projection Team That Keeps BAMcinemaFest Rolling

Mike Katz, Head Projectionist

By Sam Polcer

The film festival The New Yorker called “The city’s best independent showcase” is in full swing, which makes Mike Katz, who has been the Head Projectionist here at BAM since the cinemas opened in 1998, along with Jesse Green, our Cinema Technical Manager, currently two of the busiest men in show business. We thought we’d make their day even more complicated by sneaking into their submarine-like lair to ask them a couple questions about the unique challenges posed by such a unique cinema experience. (You’re welcome, guys.)

Thursday, June 13, 2019

In Context: Espæce

Photo: Christophe Raynaud de Lage

An enormous moveable wall splits and folds like a book. Five performers—three dancers, a soprano, and an actor—navigate this stunning monolith to create a shape-shifting tableau. Aurélien Bory’s playful, poetic work of physical theater is inspired by the life and work of writer-trickster Georges Perec, best known for his wordplay and droll wit. Using Perec’s Species of Spaces as a jumping-off point and diving into a physical riddle of arrivals and departures, presence and absence, Espæce destabilizes our expectations to moody and mischievous effect.

After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #espaece.

Program Notes

Espæce (PDF)

When the Wall is On Stage

Photo: Michael Slobodian

By David Hsieh

In the conventional sense, the stage is defined by the space between the three visible walls and the fourth invisible wall. The three visible walls separate the theater from the real world, and the fourth wall separates the audience from the performers. A wall is a divider. It blocks the audience’s view; it reduces performing space. So setting up additional walls on stage is tricky. But when it’s done right, the effect can be quite, shall we say, theatrical.

Monday, June 10, 2019

In Context: Ballet BC

Photo: Michael Slobodian

Canada’s beloved contemporary ballet company celebrates 10 years of excellence under the leadership of artistic director Emily Molnar, a former soloist with Ballett Frankfurt. In a kind of career-spanning reunion, this evening-length trio sets a new piece (To This Day) by Molnar alongside Enemy in the Figure, a masterwork by her former mentor William Forsythe, as well as Solo Echo, choreographed by fellow Frankfurt alum Crystal Pite. Emotive, expansive, and supremely theatrical, these three daring works embody the innovative spirit and tenacious artistry for which Ballet British Columbia has become known.

After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #BalletBC.

Program Notes

Ballet BC (PDF)

Friday, June 7, 2019

Katy Clark & David Binder: A Conversation

Photo: Jesse Winter
In January 2019, David Binder assumed the role of BAM’s Artistic Director, succeeding Executive Producer Joseph V. Melillo. BAM President Katy Clark recently spoke to David on the brink of the announcement of his first Next Wave.

Katy Clark: You once told me that while you didn’t know it at the time, your career, as varied and winding as it has been, has been preparing you to come to BAM the whole time. What did you mean by that?

David Binder: When you’re moving through life, it’s impossible to see how the dots will connect, but looking back, you can see how perfectly they align. That’s the case for BAM and me.

See, I grew up in Los Angeles, where I was mostly exposed to musicals—you know, the barricade-busting, chandelier-dropping kind. Once in a while, a great play would come to town; I remember seeing the Royal Shakespeare Company’s epic Nicholas Nickleby in 1986, or the Broadway company version of Fences, but mostly it was about big touring shows. When I went to UC Berkeley, I spent a lot of time at Cal Performances. Everybody performed there. We had Bill T. Jones with Arnie! I feel so lucky to have seen that. I also remember seeing Mark Morris in a long wig, dancing with a remote-controlled Tonka truck! After college I moved to New York to work on Broadway, not knowing exactly what I wanted to do. I had so many jobs. I was in the costume shop running errands for the legendary designer William Ivey Long on Assassins—even though I couldn’t sew. I worked as a PA on a play called The Sum of Us at the Cherry Lane; it starred Tony Goldwyn, who is now starring in Ivo van Hove’s Network, which I’m producing. I was a PA on The Secret Garden. That’s where I met John Cameron Mitchell, who I ended up spending the next 20 years with, working on a show that became Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Twenty-Five Years of Legendary Performances at MetroTech

Danny Kapilian has brought some of the biggest and most exciting names in music to the BAM R&B Festival at MetroTech, our free Thursday-afternoon summer concert series, since 1995. Burning Spear, Percy Sledge, Sharon Jones, Ashford & Simpson … the list of all-stars who have transformed MetroTech Commons into a musical hotspot over the years is endless. We asked Danny about his original vision for the festival, some of the most memorable performances, and what he’s looking forward to this year.

Friday, May 31, 2019

In Context: Triptych (Eyes of One on Another)

Situated somewhere between erotic heat and cool classicism, the work of controversial photographer Robert Mapplethorpe obliterates the high-low divide, exploding classical conceptions of beauty. Fueled by a lifelong fascination with the artist’s transgressive, sacred-profane vision, composer Bryce Dessner (The National), in collaboration with Korde Arrington Tuttle, designer Carlos Soto, video designer Simon Harding, and director Kaneza Schaal (JACK &, 2018 Next Wave), invites us to experience these arresting images anew. Featuring photographic projections and a new score by Dessner—performed by the daring eight-person vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth and a chamber orchestra—Triptych (Eyes of One on Another) examines how we look and are looked at, bringing us face to face with our innermost desires, fears, and humanity.

After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #Triptych.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

BAM Artists and the Culture Wars of the 80s and 90s

Triptych (Eyes of One on Another), Photo: Maria Baranova

By Susan Yung

Triptych (Eyes of One on Another), coming to the Howard Gilman Opera House June 6—8, is a paean to photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, whose work was key in the culture wars of the 1980—90s. The Contemporary Art Center in Cincinnati, and its Director Dennis Barrie, were acquitted of obscenity charges stemming from an exhibition of Mapplethorpe photographs. Bryce Dessner, who composed the score for Triptych, grew up in Cincinnati and recalls, “I was told by the authorities that I was not allowed to look at Mapplethorpe’s photographs—that these tremendous works of art were not art at all, but pornography … Barrie was jailed and art was put on trial in municipal court. It was a huge moment for me.”

In Context: in the shelter of the fold / epilogue

Photo: Erin Baiano
In an intricately woven tapestry of sound, shape, momentum, and stillness, choreographer Doug Varone and his 13-member ensemble contemplate our private and public relationship to faith. in the shelter of the fold / epilogue comprises seven interconnected vignettes, featuring original music by Lesley Flanigan, Julia Wolfe, David Lang, Michael Gordon, Raz Mesinai, and Kevin Keller, masterfully performed by Flanigan, PUBLIQuartet, and the Bang on a Can All-Stars. Drawing upon Varone’s own personal questions about prayer as both a spiritual and secular dialogue, this episodic work digs deep to ask how and why we find shelter in the unknown.

After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #shelterofthefold.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

In Context: Youssou NDOUR

Youssou NDOUR graces the stage of the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House, joined by his band the Super Étoile de Dakar. With a soaring tenor that brims with passion and nuance, the Dakar-born singer-songwriter is a global music icon and tireless cultural ambassador. An early emissary of the mbalax style—a blend of bubbling Senegalese griot percussion, Wolof lyrics, and Afro-Cuban influences—he has gone on to become one of the most revered figures on the world stage.

After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #YoussouNDOUR.