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Monday, November 12, 2018

In Context: Halfway to Dawn



David Roussève/REALITY (Love Songs, Next Wave 1999) returns to BAM for the first time in almost two decades with the NY Premiere of Halfway to Dawn, a jubilant dance-theater work celebrating the life of composer and arranger Billy Strayhorn, best known for his standard, “Take the ‘A’ Train,” and as Duke Ellington’s collaborator. In this recent work, the Guggenheim fellow and Bessie award-winning choreographer Roussève meditates on the life and legacy of Strayhorn, layering dance, text, abstract video imagery, and sound design to create a portrait of the jazz virtuoso. Context is everything, so get even closer to the production with this curated selection of related articles and videos. After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #BAMNextWave.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The Greek Legacy


By Andrew Clements

This article was originally published in the Edinburgh International Festival programme, where the Next Wave Festival presentation of Greek (Dec 5-9) premiered in 2017.

In March 2018 the Royal Opera gave the first performance of Mark-Anthony Turnage’s latest stage work, Coraline, an ‘opera for family audiences’ based on the 2002 fantasy novella by Neil Gaiman. It was Turnage’s second commission from the Royal Opera. The previous one, Anna Nicole, had its premiere at Covent Garden in 2011 to the accompaniment of more hype and razzamatazz than any other new work introduced there in the previous 30 years. Anna Nicole had its US premiere at the 2013 BAM Next Wave Festival to similar fanfare. Turnage has travelled a long way from the operatic debutant who composed Greek in the mid-1980s and who at the time wondered whether he had been wise to get involved in such an artistically treacherous art form. ‘I didn’t want to write an opera at all’, he has said of his feelings then. ‘I agreed with Boulez about burning down the opera houses... Opera was not a natural thing for me and I had no interest in it until I decided to do Greek.’

The White Album Comes Alive


By Nicole Serratore

Photo: Lars Jan





“We tell ourselves stories in order to live.”

With that succinct opening sentence in her essay, The White Album, Joan Didion probes the identity of the artist, the act of writing, and our compulsion towards narrative. But is her storytelling an artistic venture or a cry for help—or both?

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Interview with Satyagraha director Tilde Björfors


A conversation between dramatist Magnus Lindman and director Tilde Björfors

Lindman: So, how much is a circus director enjoying opera?

Björfors: I have come to appreciate that Glass’ music is perfect circus music. There’s something about this sense of the ecstatic, that the music is continuously reaching new heights with minor tweaks that suit the circus we are making here. There are plenty of similarities between circus and opera. They are two incredibly virtuosic art forms. Both try to make the impossible possible and cross the physical and perhaps mental borders of what we humans are capable of doing. We have a center for weightlessness in our brain that develops in the womb as we float around. And it is activated when we see people flying. A physical sensation that we otherwise have forgotten about.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

In Context: Interpassivities

Classical ballet dancers and migrant workers walk alongside the crowd in this shape-shifting ballet by Danish artist and filmmaker Jesper Just. A modern experience inspired by Jorge Luis Borges, this performance rethinks the meaning of maps, who makes them, and the artificial borders we create. Context is everything, so we’ve provided some articles to read and videos to watch. After you’ve attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #Interpassivities.

In Context: Falling Out


Falling Out is is both a conclusion and a beginning: the final work in Phantom Limb Company’s decade-long trilogy about climate change, the piece strives to spark conversation and action on environmental issues. Context is everything, so we’ve provided some links below for you to contribute, read, watch, and listen to content that will enhance your understanding of the show and the issues. Add your perspective to the conversation by leaving a message with the Memory Telephone, or posting in the comments below and on social media using #BAMNextWave.

Less-Than-Strange Window: A Hunt for the Supernatural at BAM

By Claire Greising

Strange Window: The Turn of the Screw, an inventive adaptation of Henry James’ gothic ghost story, is coming to BAM from Dec 12—15. It tells the story of a young governess who has become convinced that there are evil ghosts lurking in the remote estate where she cares for two children. In a spectacular marriage of past and present, The Builders Association’s new production combines the classic narrative with modern technology and experimental theater practices. Told from the perspective of the governess, the production points out the relativity of truth—leaving the audience to decide if the governess is insane or if the ghosts are real.

Strange Window: The Turn of the Screw premiere at Krannert Center earlier this year. Photo courtesy of Krannert Center for the Performing Arts/University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

In Context: Savage Winter

Director Jonathan Moore’s Savage Winter paints a vivid portrait of a man at the end of his rope. Set to Douglas J. Cuomo’s electric score, which reinterprets Franz Schubert’s brooding Winterreise for our contemporary moment, the opera investigates human emotion in its most raw state. Savage Winter is a fiercely evocative opera, asking both its protagonist and its audience to confront the depths of despair and possibilities for redemption. Context is everything, so we’ve provided a curated selection of articles and videos for you to engage with before seeing the piece. After you’ve attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #BAMNextWave.

Monday, October 29, 2018

What Can Puppets Teach Us About Climate Change—And Ourselves?

By Robert Jackson Wood

Photo of Dai Matsuoka, courtesy of Phantom Limb Company



If you’ve seen the work of Jessica Grindstaff and Erik Sanko—who come to BAM November 7–10 with their latest work, Falling Out—you know the sense of leaving a theater perplexed. You feel enchanted but also unsettled, as though haunted by the work’s subconscious. You feel stuck—pleasantly, productively—in the inbetween.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

In Context: Satyagraha

Photo: Markus Gårder  

Cirkus Cirkör lends its signature acrobatic grace and wit to Philip Glass’ mesmerizing operatic account of Mahatma Gandhi’s experiments with civil disobedience in this new production from Sweden's Folkoperan. Context is everything, so get even closer to the production with this curated selection of related articles and videos. After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #BAMNextWave.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

In Context: Kreatur

©Sebastian Bolesch

Kreatur is famed choreographer Sasha Waltz’s newest exploration of the human body and how it grapples with domination, technology, and the darkness within. With costume design from Iris van Herpen and an original score by Soundwalk Collective, Kreatur investigates how we relate to each other and to structures of power. Context is everything, so we’ve provided a curated selection of articles and videos for you to engage with before seeing the piece. After you’ve attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #BAMNextWave.

Women at Work: The Domestic Is Not Free

By Natalie Erazo

The third iteration of Women at Work shifts to the subject of domestic labor. As homemakers, caretakers, and familial partners, women shape the well-being of our personal, professional, and cultural milieus, though these efforts often go unseen and are erased from history. Women at Work: The Domestic Is Not Free highlights the persistent efforts of women to create, challenge, and subvert domesticity around the world.

The Day I Became a Woman (2000), photo courtesy of Makhmalbaf Film House/Photofest

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Seeing every Next Wave Festival show

Tell us about yourself! What do you do for fun? Do you have any interesting facts about yourself?

I'm Liz! I moved to New York City 7 years ago and to Brooklyn 5 years ago, and I and have been going to BAM frequently since. I use some of my fun time to host a podcast about making good computer security for everyone called Loose Leaf Security (I promise this is fun for me!), but I spend most of it with the arts - either devouring performances at BAM and around NYC or dabbling in a variety of creative pursuits.

Monday, October 15, 2018

In Context: Everywhere All the Time

Photo: Travis Magee

Seán Curran Company comes alive to the beat of a drum in celebration of their 20th anniversary. With live accompaniment from Grammy Award-winning ensemble Third Coast Percussion, this landmark evening of Curran’s new and classic choreography highlights the primordial nature of percussion. Context is everything, so get even closer to the production with this curated selection of related articles, videos, podcasts, and more. After you’ve attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #BAMNextWave.

In Context: Watermill

This rarely performed piece by Jerome Robbins was premiered by New York City Ballet in 1972 at Lincoln Center. Different from any Jerome Robbins piece to date, it elicited reactions that ran the gamut. The New York Times critic in attendance at the premiere wrote: “This is the kind of innovative theater that needs a mixed blessing at its birth. And, in my opinion, the boos were from fools, the cheers were from heroes, and the coughs were from that strange and disinterested subscription audience that City Ballet wears round its elegant neck like an albatross.” Context is everything, so we’ve provided some articles to read and videos to watch and listen to, to help you prepare for the upcoming show. After you've attended the performance, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #Watermill.

In Context: I hunger for you

Kimberly Bartosik’s I hunger for you explores the human body using light and its stark absence. Restless, tender, and violent, this modern piece delves into the heart of losing yourself in ecstasy, ritual, and desire. Context is everything, so we’ve provided some articles for you to read and videos to watch. After you’ve attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #ihungerforyou.

Kreatur’s Creators


By Susan Yung

Kreatur. Photo: Ute Zscharnt
Berlin-based choreographer Sasha Waltz has shown her daring breadth in dance-theater at BAM—from the formal eloquence of Continu (2015) to the operatic madness of Gezeiten (2010), which literally set the house on fire. The members of her company alternately thrive, band together, or challenge the parameters given by each distinctive production.

In Context: Measure for Measure


London’s Cheek by Jowl and Moscow’s Pushkin Theatre propels Shakespeare’s “problem play” into a timely juggernaut of political critique. Context is everything so get even closer to the production with this curated selection of related articles and videos. After you’ve attended the show, let us know your thoughts by posting in the comments below and on social media using #BAMNextWaveFestival.

In Context: JACK &


Theater artist Kaneza Schaal joins forces with actor Cornell Alston and artist Christopher Myers to consider reentry into society after prison in the NY Premiere of JACK &. Context is everything, so get even closer to the production with this curated selection of related articles, videos, podcasts, and more. After you’ve attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #BAMNextWave.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Share your thoughts on love, water, nature, and loss

Phantom Limb Company


This November, BAM presents Phantom Limb’s new production Falling Out, a theatrical exploration of love, loss, and healing in response to the 2011 tsunami and Fukushima nuclear disaster. The company is inviting you to participate in the creation of this work, by recording a message in response to the prompts below. Read on for more details, then call (646) 535-7528 to participate.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Insider Perspectives on Watermill

Photo by Jerome Robbins
By Susan Yung

Jerome Robbins’ Watermill, at the BAM Fisher from Oct 24 to 27, is reimagined in a new, site-specific production by choreographer Luca Veggetti. When the hour-long, Noh-inspired dance premiered at New York City Ballet in 1972, it elicited wide-ranging audience reactions. Here, three people provide fascinating insights on varying aspects of Watermill: Veggetti, about the 2018 iteration and how it differs from the original; Hiie Saumaa, a scholar, on insights from the rich trove of Jerome Robbins’ meticulous journals, specifically sections on Watermill; and lead role originator Edward Villella, on working with Robbins on the creation of the piece. —Susan Yung

Monday, October 8, 2018

In Context: Place

In Place, composer Ted Hearne, poet Saul Williams, and director Patricia McGregor consider the difference between space and place, from manifest destiny to modern appropriation, in this rich mix of music, memoir, and mapmaking. Context is everything, so get even closer to the production with this curated selection of related articles and videos. After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #BAMNextWave and @BAM_Brooklyn.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Beyond the Canon: Body and Soul + The Night of the Hunter

Paul Robeson in Body and Soul (1925) and Robert Mitchum in The Night of the Hunter (1955), photos courtesy of Kino Lorber/Park Circus
It is no secret that the cinema canon has historically skewed toward lionizing the white, male auteur. Beyond the Canon is a monthly series that seeks to question that history and broaden horizons by pairing one much-loved, highly regarded, canonized classic with a thematically or stylistically-related—and equally brilliant—work by a filmmaker traditionally excluded from that discussion. This month’s double feature pairs Oscar Micheaux’s Body and Soul (1925) with Charles Laughton’s The Night of the Hunter (1955) on Sat, Oct 13 at 4:30pm.

By Ashley Clark

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

In Context: Alice Coltrane


Celebrate the sublime musical and spiritual legacy of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda in this special one-night engagement led by Surya Botofasina and the Sai Anantam Ashram Singers. Context is everything, so get even closer to the production with this curated selection of related articles, videos, podcasts, and more. After you’ve attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #BAMNextWave.

Performing Place

By David Hsieh



I am lying in bed with him / He is asleep / I am lying in bed with him, my son / He is breathing regularly

I am staring at his birthday balloons / They have lost their lift / He is five years old / They lightly graze the ceiling

Stuck and strung up / Not knowing where I will live

My son / Does he know where I end and he begins?


Listen to this excerpt

Ted Hearne’s new vocal work Place starts with these intimate, gentle, almost painful words. It is a father owning up to his responsibility to his son. For this 36-year-old composer, one of the best-regarded of his generation and a Pulitzer Prize finalist, Place is a questioning, a reckoning, and an inward look at his proper “place” as a father, as an evolving artist whose past interests often centered on national issues (Katrina Ballad, The Source, Sound from the Bench), as a highly educated middle class moving into a gentrified neighborhood, and as a white man living in a country that is finally coming to terms with that privilege. It is certainly his most personal work to date, of which BAM is honored to give the world premiere on Oct 11 (it continues until Oct 13 in the Harvey Theater). The work is scored for six singers and 18 musicians; many of them come from non-classical backgrounds, as the diverse music requires. Two of them, Josephine Lee and Steven Bradshaw, share their experience of working on this brand-new work.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

In Context: Trisha Brown Dance Company

Trisha Brown Dance Company performs rarely seen early works of Trisha Brown, one of the most prolific and inventive post-modern choreographers, at the Fishman Space. The theater will be transformed as dancers navigate the space with ropes and harness, as they originally did in Brown’s SoHo loft in the 1970s. To provide further insight into the production, we’ve compiled resources below, and after you’ve attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #TBDC.

Monday, October 1, 2018

There's 30something about Mary Reilly

By David Hsieh

(From left) Joseph V. Melillo, Mary Reilly, and Pina Bausch in 2001 for Masurca Fogo 

“For three decades, Mary Reilly has been BAM’s secret weapon. Working shoulder to shoulder with her is a pleasure as she creatively, imaginatively, and perceptively structures support mechanisms for the artists that I have curated for our main stages and ancillary programs. A vast range of sensitivities balanced by the most joyous humanity guarantees that each individual artist feels tremendous support before and during their work here and as they depart for home or other professional obligations. We are a respected cultural institution because of Mary’s professional contribution.” —Joseph V. Melillo, Executive Producer of BAM

Friday, September 28, 2018

In Context: The Bacchae

The Bacchae, Euripides’ cautionary parable of hubris and fear of the unknown thrashes to new life in the hands of Anne Bogart, the renowned SITI Company, and translator Aaron Poochigian. Context is everything, so get even closer to the production with this curated selection of related articles and videos. After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #TheBacchae.

In Context: Humans


Australian troupe Circa returns to BAM (Opus, BAM Next Wave 2015) with an awe-inspiring acrobatic journey and love letter to our species. Context is everything, so get even closer to the production with this curated selection of related articles, videos, podcasts, and more. After you’ve attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using#BAMNextWave.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Your Guide to The Fisher this Next Wave Season

By Vilina Phan

So you’ve purchased tickets to Jack &, or maybe tickets to I hunger for you or Trisha Brown Dance Company? That’s it, right? It can be, or it can be much more—based on the experience you want. We have a cornucopia of free events and activities happening in the Fisher Lower Lobby this season, many in conjunction with the shows at the Fishman Space. It can be a little difficult to navigate with so much going on, so we’ve laid out a few suggestions, but this is a self-guided adventure, so take these recommendations as jumping off points and happy Next Wave!

BAM + Onassis Foundation: Speaking Truth to Power

By Young Richard Kim

Greek. Photo: Jane Hobson
This fall, BAM partners with the Onassis Cultural Center New York to present Speaking Truth to Power, a multi-disciplinary set of performances, talks, films, and exhibitions. At a time when the nature of truth itself is often called into question, we celebrate the courage it takes to speak boldly to those in or with power—a concept expressed in the Greek notion of parrhesia. In an increasingly fractured moment, artistic spaces provide an opportunity to gather, hear and see one another, to engage with truths that can be agreeable, perhaps uncomfortable or controversial, but often inarguably valuable to explore. Come back throughout the season to watch, discuss, challenge, speak and engage with your own truth and the truth of others. Find more information about the programs on BAM’s website
—Molly Silberberg, Associate Director, Humanities, BAM

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Making the World a Better Place: Surya Botofasina on Alice Coltrane's Ashram

By Andy Beta

Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda—a chosen name meaning "the transcendental lord's highest song of bliss”—was a jazz innovator who made a life of self-reinvention. After the death of John Coltrane, her partner in music and life, Alice found Indian spirituality, started an ashram in California, and became a practitioner of Vedanta. Surya Botofasina grew up on the ashram, and will lead the celebration of Alice’s life and music at the 2018 BAM Next Wave Festival Oct 10. What follows is a truncated Q&A with Surya Botofasina, now a New York City resident, as told to Andy Beta of Pitchfork.

Photo: Krisanne Johnson

Friday, September 21, 2018

How is whiteness a learned performance?

By Susan Yung

Director Patricia McGregor asks you (yes, you): Has gentrification been a protagonist or antagonist in your life? Why and how?
Place began with Ted Hearne addressing the intersections of privilege and appropriation in his own life and work, weighing a personal sense of place and space in the most immediate family relationships against the inherited and generational.

BAM: The Next Wave Festival, the focus of Unbound book release event

By Susan Yung

The Next Wave was a bold experiment in drawing people to Brooklyn to see performances, and it worked. A new book, BAM: The Next Wave Festival (release: Sep 26, 2018), examines the 36-year course of the fall festival that has become an international paradigm. In 1981, Harvey Lichtenstein gathered a handful of primarily dance events as a series; it grew into a festival two years later, after a successful start. The early Next Wave presented mostly downtown New York artists who mingled and collaborated, until then performing in ad hoc spaces, such as lofts and galleries. Visual art was an integral component—it had been helping to provide vast rooms largely bereft but for art on the walls, and a conceptual underpinning both broad and unfettered. The genre stood its own alongside dance, music, and theater, and art became an integral part of the Next Wave, from program covers and posters to exhibitions in odd spaces.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Beyond the Canon: Ravenous + The Texas Chain Saw Massacre


Ravenous (1999) courtesy of 20th Century Fox, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) courtesy of MPI Media Group

It is no secret that the cinema canon has historically skewed toward lionizing the white, male auteur. This monthly series seeks to question that history and broaden horizons by pairing one much-loved, highly regarded, canonized classic with a thematically or stylistically-related—and equally brilliant—work by a filmmaker traditionally excluded from that discussion.


By Lindsay Brayton

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

In Context: Almadraba




Spanish guitarist and composer Oscar Peñas blends together jazz and classical music in the world premiere of Almadraba, an ode to the sustainable Andalusian fishing tradition of the bluefin tuna. Like Andalusia itself, a melange of Moorish and Romanesque influences, Peñas melds together these two genres along with the influence of Cuban, South American, and Spanish music to tell the grand tale of this age-old ecological technique. To give you further insight into the production, we’ve compiled resources below and after you’ve attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #almadraba.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Never Stop Dreaming: Q&A with JACK &'s Cornell Alston

By Charity Coleman

How can internal life be rebuilt after trauma? This Next Wave Festival, theater artist Kaneza Schaal joins forces with actor Cornell Alston and artist Christopher Myers to consider reentry into society after prison in JACK &. Learn more about Alston's journey to the stage below and be sure to catch him in the BAM Fisher October 17—20.

Photo: Christopher Myers

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

José Andrés’ recipe for comfort in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria

By Vilina Phan

José Andrés knows food. Just look at the multi-hyphenate's accolades from Michelin stars to James Beard awards. But his latest efforts haven’t been in a traditional kitchen—instead, they have been focused on Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Just a few days after the devastation in 2017 he traveled to the island and started cooking—but not just any dish, he wanted the food to remain familiar and local, and so he prepared traditional foods like sancocho, arroz de tripleta, and paella as a way to provide comfort.

Courtesy of World Central Kitchen

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Say It Loud: Cinema in the Age of Black Power, 1966—1981

By Ashley Clark

Wattstax (1973) courtesy of Columbia Pictures/Photofest
Rebellion, radical politics, boundary-pushing art, controversy, and boundless creativity: the age of Black Power had it all, and more. This expansive film series, presented in conjunction with Brooklyn Museum’s exhibition Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power (opening Sep 14), features a kaleidoscopic international banquet of features and shorts produced in this revolutionary climate by some of the era’s most incendiary talents. Confrontational, experimental, and ripe for (re)discovery, these films powerfully evoke their own time and unarguably speak to today’s climate, where black activists challenging widespread racial injustice find themselves targeted by a right-wing authoritarian administration.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Behind the scenes—Howard Tynes, Security of a different stripe

By David Hsieh

Security guards often wear dark suits, conservative ties, and dark sunglasses. But that’s not Howard Tynes’ style. A BAM security guard for the past 10 years, he is known—especially to Fisher building audiences—for his distinctive and nifty garb: freshly pressed suits in all colors and materials, and always with bowties and pocket squares. Anyone who has seen him would not be surprised to learn that he had a career in fashion. More unexpected is his career on the baseball field. Howard Tynes tells us how his three passions intersect.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Women at Work: Radical Creativity

From August 10—16, BAMcinématek invites audiences to celebrate creative expression with “Women at Work: Radical Creativity”—the second installment of an ongoing film series dedicated to highlighting the complex subject of women’s work from a variety of perspectives. Following “Women at Work: Labor Activism” (March 2018), “Radical Creativity”—organized by guest curator Dessane Lopez Cassell—foregrounds the intellectual labor of women artists, activists, and thinkers.

Photo: Courtesy of Reelside Productions 

by Dessane Lopez Cassell

Often undervalued, or altogether overlooked, the contributions of women have had a profound and continuous effect on our cultural and political landscape, drastically shaping not only the way we visualize our world, but also the ways in which we experience it as citizens. “Radical Creativity” highlights the persistent efforts and agency of women in shaping culture, critical thought, and the governing of their own communities.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Beyond the Canon—Set It Off + Dog Day Afternoon

It is no secret that the cinema canon has historically skewed toward lionizing the white male auteur. Beyond the Canon is a monthly series that seeks to question that history and broaden horizons by pairing one much-loved, highly regarded, canonized classic with a thematically or stylistically related—and equally brilliant—work by a filmmaker traditionally excluded from that discussion. This month’s double feature pairs F. Gary Gray’s Set It Off (1996) with Sidney Lumet’s Dog Day Afternoon (1975) on Sat, Aug 4.




By Fanta Sylla

Has there ever been a right reason to rob a bank? Ever since its genesis, the heist genre—dated almost universally by film theorists and academics to 1950 with the release of John Huston’s The Asphalt Jungle—has attempted to answer that morally thorny question. One could also advance that the genre’s persistence and enduring relevance has provided another answer: there has never been a right reason to rob a bank, but the act of theft can make for films of great beauty. Ultimately, the whys have never really mattered, it’s always been about the hows.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

2018 Next Wave Preview—Stories = Life

The Good Swimmer. Photo: James Matthew Daniel
“We tell ourselves stories in order to live.” —Joan Didion, The White Album

One of the hallmarks of the Next Wave Festival, now in its 35th year, is blurring lines between traditional arts. And the shows comprising the 2018 Next Wave (Oct 3—Dec 23) test the elasticity of genre definitions more than ever, in the final Next Wave Festival curated by outgoing executive producer Joseph V. Melillo. The 27 events, while each unique, all tell a story or reflect some aspect of being human in the world today, sometimes through an ancient filter, and other times using modern technology (or both).

Monday, July 9, 2018

Beyond the Canon—Girlfight + Raging Bull


Girlfight courtesy of Screen Gems/Photofest; Raging Bull courtesy of United Artists/Photofest

It is no secret that the cinema canon has historically skewed toward lionizing the white, male auteur. Beyond the Canon is a monthly series that seeks to question that history and broaden horizons by pairing one much-loved, highly regarded, canonized classic with a thematically or stylistically-related—and equally brilliant—work by a filmmaker traditionally excluded from that discussion. This month’s double feature on July 21 pairs Karyn Kusama’s Girlfight (2000, 110min) with Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull (1980, 129min).

By Monica Castillo

If weighing in for a cinematic showdown, Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull (1980) and Karyn Kusama’s Girlfight (2000) would be seen as radically different contenders. Visually, the films are like oil and water. Scorsese mythologized his star boxer’s legacy on black-and-white film—even the blood and sweat pouring down his character’s face look painterly. His is an epic story of a man’s fall from grace. In contrast, Girlfight doubles down on the grimy sheen of a boxing gym. No corner looks like it’s ever been mopped. The walls are punched in or collapsing. The place surely has a caked-in stench of sweat and moldy gym equipment. The film’s color scheme looks as worn and neglected as the gym. Girlfight is the story of a fighter’s journey up the ranks to an uncertain future.

Kusama’s electric debut stars Michelle Rodriguez as Diana Guzman, a scrappy high school girl in Brooklyn whose fists are ready to punch out the anger she doesn’t speak aloud. Her father pays for her brother to box but forbids Diana from pursuing the masculine sport. Hard-headed and determined to put her temper to good use, she pursues boxing despite the sexist assumptions from the men around her.

Monday, July 2, 2018

BAMcinématek and The Racial Imaginary Institute: On Whiteness

Steve Martin and Richard Ward in The Jerk (1979), courtesy of Universal Pictures/Photofest
by Ashley Clark

“If whiteness gains currency by being unnoticed,” writes academic Sara Ahmed, “then what does it mean to notice whiteness?” The series On Whiteness (July 11—19)—a collaboration between BAMcinématek and Claudia Rankine’s The Racial Imaginary Institute—attempts to wrestle with this knotty question. Comprising works that address issues of ethnic identity, assimilation, racial grievance, passing, and privilege, this collection of films—augmented by talks and guest introductions—invites audiences to consider how whiteness has been deliberately and subconsciously constructed, ignored, and challenged in the history of American film.

The series begins in the heart of Hollywood’s dream factory with Julie Dash’s beguiling, World War II-era Illusions (1982), about an African-American movie studio executive passing as white, and the black singer she hires to dub the voice of a white actress. A profound deconstruction of Hollywood’s power to shape racial mythologies, Illusions screens with the acerbically funny short Free, White and 21 (1980), in which artist Howardena Pindell assumes the identity of a blonde white woman to discuss the racism she experiences as a black woman. Elia Kazan’s Pinky (1949), meanwhile, is one of Hollywood’s earliest attempts to grapple openly with racism. It’s a fascinating melodrama in which a light-skinned black woman (Jeanne Crain, complicatedly, a white actress) passing as white tempts crisis by falling in love with a white doctor.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

“We have to keep on fighting”—Music and Activism at the R&B Festival at MetroTech

The lineup for this year’s outdoor R&B Festival at MetroTech includes new voices and established masters alike, from the worlds of R&B, funk, gospel, soul, jazz, and world music. Performances take place every Thursday at noon through Aug 9, and each concert is FREE and open to the public. Here, Marketing Intern Nadege Nau explores sociopolitical commentary in the work of a few of this summer's featured artists.

Delgres.
By Nadege Nau

If the work of J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, and Childish Gambino is any indication, recording artists are seizing the moment to grapple with injustice and musically highlight the downtrodden realities of America. It follows that multiple artists at this year’s R&B Festival at MetroTech are channeling social dissonance in their music, too. Marcus Miller composed the score for the film Marshall (featuring this track performed by Andra Day and Common), while others are leveraging soothing harmonies and live instrumentation to express their grievances.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

BAMcinemaFest 2018

Madeline’s Madeline. Photo courtesy of Visit Films.
June 2018 sees the 10th edition of BAMcinemaFest, an essential selection of new American independent cinema from emerging and established filmmakers. The annual festival, which originally began as a partnership with the prestigious Sundance Film Festival, has blossomed into a force of its own, with critics describing it as “the best barometer of the climate of independent filmmaking in America” (The Village Voice).

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

2018 BAM R&B Festival at MetroTech

Ranky Tank. Photo courtesy the artists.
By Danny Kapilian

Way back on June 15, 1995, the BAM R&B Festival at MetroTech opened with the great Percy Sledge:

“When a man loves a woman
Can’t keep his mind on nothing else
He’ll trade the world
For the good thing he’s found”

Those universal words of love are where our journey began—and now, 240 live performances later, the BAM R&B Festival has sustained that musical message of love with the same deep soul throughout.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Beyond the Canon—Maliglutit + The Searchers

It is no secret that the cinema canon has historically skewed toward lionizing the white, male auteur. Beyond the Canon is a monthly BAMcinématek series that seeks to question that history and broaden horizons by pairing one much-loved, highly regarded, canonized classic with a thematically or stylistically-related—and equally brilliant—work by a filmmaker traditionally excluded from that discussion. This month’s double feature pairs Zacharias Kunuk and Natar Ungalaaq’s Maliglutit (2016) with John Ford’s The Searchers (1956).

Maliglutit (courtesy of Isuma) + The Searchers (courtesy of Warner Bros.)
By Jesse Wente

"I wanted it to be a western genre movie made entirely the Inuit way.” —Zacharius Kunuk

Despite rather obvious similarities, namely the title and central kidnapping plot, it is overly simplistic to describe Inuit directors Zacharius Kunuk’s and Nataar Ungaalaq’s Maliglutit (Searchers) as a remake of John Ford’s iconic western The Searchers. Even calling it a reimagining falls short of capturing how Kunuk’s film upends the very tradition that birthed a film such as Ford’s. To understand the key difference between the two is to confront the disparity in world view that exists between Indigenous peoples and the colonial nation states that now occupy their lands.

Friday, June 1, 2018

In Context: Love and Intrigue



Russia’s Maly Drama Theatre, led by the incomparable Lev Dodin, stages German playwright Friedrich Schiller’s 1787 tragedy of class warfare and courtly intrigue. Context is everything, so get even closer to the production with this curated selection of related articles and videos. After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #LoveandIntrigue.