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Thursday, November 14, 2019

Future Unknown: A Conversation with Brett Story

Photo courtesy of Grasshopper Film 
By Lindsay Brayton

Brett Story is an award-winning filmmaker and writer based in Toronto. The Hottest August is her third documentary feature and screens exclusively at BAM Nov 15—27.

Beyond the Canon: In the Cut + Klute


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 Jane Campion’s In the Cut (2003) with Alan J. Pakula’s Klute (1971).

By Caden Mark Gardner

At the 70th Cannes Film Festival in 2017, directors of past Palme d’Or winners were invited back to celebrate the Festival’s history. At the center of one photo for this occasion was Jane Campion surrounded by an overwhelmingly male swath of contemporaries—a damning visual of the festival’s historic gender inequality. Sharing the top prize for The Piano in 1993 with Chen Kaige (Farewell My Concubine), Campion remains the only female director to win the award. The Piano went on to achieve world cinema renown, winning three Oscars, and reaping $140 million in global box office. That type of success is seldom replicated. Since The Piano, Campion’s works have been predominantly female-focused and specifically concerned with portraying femininity in relation to toxic masculinity and patriarchy, an impulse most recently realized in her limited run series Top of the Lake (2013—17).

Monday, November 11, 2019

“Poke fun in a way that makes you feel optimistic”: A Conversation with Maira Kalman

Maira Kalman, Marie-Laure de Noailles in Her Paris Salon, 2019, courtesy of the artist and Julie Saul Projects 
By Loney Abrams

Illustrator, author, and beloved BAM artist Maira Kalman generously partnered with Julie Saul Projects and BAM to release a new edition to benefit BAM’s artistic and educational programs; it’s available online through Artspace. Signed and numbered by the artist, the print was produced in an edition size of 75. Artspace’s Loney Abrams sat down with Maira Kalman to discuss Kalman’s most fascinating multi-disciplinary projects, where she finds inspiration, and her newest BAM benefit edition. Condensed highlights from their conversation are shared below.

Monday, November 4, 2019

What’s in a Name: When Eddy Became Édouard Louis

Photo: Sarah Walker


By Violaine Huisman

Édouard Louis was sitting very straight, looking deliberately into the interviewer’s eyes. I was sitting next to him, on the other side of a two-tone couch—part grey, part red. We were on the set of La Grande Librairie, a talk show about books, broadcast live in hundreds of thousands of French homes weekly.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Nudity and the Work of Dimitris Papaioannou


By Jess Barbagallo

Dimitris Papaioannou—creator of The Great Tamer and other works of virtuosic dance-theater spectacle since 1986— employs nudity in his live performances. Among other things. His stagecraft, in the lineage of Pina Bausch and Robert Wilson, could be described as anthropomorphic; he treats his sets like bodies too. Ideal in their beauty and mutant in their potential, his floors are always gamely ready to be stripped. They keep coming undone, erupting in raised anomalies designed to unmoor his dancers. I don’t normally conceive of stages as flesh, yet all metaphors point in this direction.

Friday, October 25, 2019

RIOPOP: An Inoah-Inspired Playlist



Inoah, a gravity-defying work from the mind of Brazilian choreographer Bruno Beltrão, comes to the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House Oct 31—Nov 2. His company, Grupo de Rua, was founded in Niteroi, a municipality of the bustling state of Rio de Janeiro. With a mix of street style, athletic hip-hop, and weightless physicality, they express the energy of this region in a 50-minute, heart-stopping experiment. Before immersing yourself in this intoxicating, urban work, prep your mind and soul with the sounds of Rio de Janeiro!

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Fantástico! Your Guide to Eating, Drinking, and Playing Like a Brazilian in NYC Before and After Inoah

Beginning October 31, the dancers of Grupo de Rua make their BAM debut at the Howard Gilman Opera House with their gravity-defying work Inoah. The group hails from Rio de Janeiro and was co-founded by Bessie Award-winner Bruno Beltrão, who the The Guardian (UK) calls “one of the most intelligently creative choreographers.” He, along with the 10 male dancers of his company, spent six months together in the countryside outside Rio de Janeiro developing the stunning choreography of Inoah. The result is a visceral display of tension and release that expresses a unique, contemporary Brazilian perspective. The experience doesn’t have to begin and end with the performance, however. Here’s how to celebrate Brazilian culture all week long right here in NYC.

Friday, October 18, 2019

A Preview of the 2019 BAMkids Movie Matinee and Music Series


By Sam Polcer

Our BAMkids programming, which inspires young audiences with a delightful and diverse lineup of concerts, workshops, movie matinees, and live performances for kids ages 2—11, begins October 20 and runs through December 7. We spoke with Steven McIntosh, the lead curator and BAM’s Director of Family Programs, about what he’s looking forward to this season.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Plotting a Journey Through Race and Time: Programming Garrett Bradley’s America



By Ashley Clark

At some point, most film programmers working in theatrical exhibition will be confronted with a
question: what, exactly, to do with a film of unconventional length? It’s hard to give a concrete answer. At BAM, we’re proud to showcase short films at our annual BAMcinemaFest. We’ll sometimes slot a short or mid-length film alongside a feature, or include multi-artist shorts programs in our curated series. We might also dedicate an evening to celebrate the short- and mid-length work of a single filmmaker, as we’ve done recently with brilliant artists like Sky Hopinka, Ephraim Asili, and Kevin Jerome Everson⁠.

Larry Ossei-Mensah & Glenn Kaino: A Conversation

https://www.bam.org/nextwaveart
Larry Ossei-Mensah (Left) and Glenn Kaino (Right) in front of Blue
Larry Ossei-Mensah, Ghanaian-American curator and cultural critic, is guest curator of The Rudin Family Gallery at BAM Strong, BAM’s first dedicated visual art space. Larry sat down with the inaugural gallery artist, Los Angeles-born conceptual artist Glenn Kaino, to talk about the exhibition.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Darkness and Delight: The Choreography of Michael Keegan-Dolan

Photo: Marie-Laure Briane


By Susan Yung

The highest compliment to Michael Keegan-Dolan’s choreography? It makes you want to get up on stage and dance alongside his company, Teaċ Daṁsa. Its kinetic simplicity and emotional lucidity are irresistible and highly relatable. Swan Lake/Loch na hEala (Harvey Theater at BAM Strong, Oct 15—20) presents a rare chance to catch this internationally praised director/choreographer’s work stateside.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Beyond the Canon: Girlfriends + Husbands


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 Claudia Weill’s Girlfriends (1978) with John Cassavetes’ Husbands (1970).

By Chloe Lizotte

At the beginning of Claudia Weill’s Girlfriends (1978), Susan (Melanie Mayron) bursts into a laundromat to tell her best friend Anne (Anita Skinner) that her photographs were selected for a gallery show. Riding on Susan’s high, Anne shares her own personal news: she’s engaged to her bland suburbanite boyfriend (Bob Balaban). “How can you be sure when you’re so unsure?” Susan asks Anne, as their mundane surroundings clash with the fragility of imminent change.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Beyond the Canon: Invisible Adversaries + Invasion of the Body Snatchers


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 Valie Export’s Invisible Adversaries (1977) with Philip Kaufman’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978).

By Courtney Duckworth

Women are always doppelgängers. Critic John Berger wrote that a woman is “almost continually accompanied by her own image of herself” through a prickly self-surveillance. Such double vision imbues the oeuvre of Austrian artist-agitator Valie Export—an alias she adopted to shed the encumbering surnames of father and ex-husband—who gummed up masculine voyeurism with her puckish, impertinent performances of the 1960s and ’70s. Export’s energetic experiments infuse Invisible Adversaries (1977), her debut feature, a brisk bricolage of improvised dialogue, sight gags, (re)staged performances, grainy documentary footage, and reenactments of her studio practice that together, she said, “put alternative artistic media into a discourse with conventional film.”

Monday, August 26, 2019

Beyond the Canon: Wadjda + Alice in the Cities


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 Haifaa al-Mansour’s Wadjda (2012) with Wim Wenders’ Alice in the Cities (1974).

By Simran Hans

The bicycle is Christmas tree–green and shiny, its ribbon-festooned handlebars wrapped in new-toy plastic. It is the bike of 10-year-old Wadjda’s (Waad Mohammed) daydreams, so perfect it’s as though she wished it into existence. It appears like a dream, too, seeming to cycle itself along a brick wall. The bike, it turns out, is being carried by a truck; it’s not a magic trick after all. She follows the bike to find it for sale, priced at a very real 800 riyal.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Beyond the Canon: 3 by Maya Deren + Mulholland Drive


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 three films by Maya Deren with David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive (2001).

By Shelley Farmer

Without Maya Deren, the filmmaker widely recognized as the mother of American avant-garde cinema, there is no David Lynch. Their works overlap both thematically—in their interest in doubles, dance, and the darkness underlying the mundane—as well as in visual and formal aspects: their use of mirror imagery, negative photography, and superimposition, to their dreamlike narrative logic and pacing.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The Problem-Solving Production Managers Working Behind the Scenes at the BAM Fisher

Everybooty, 2018. Photo: Santiago Felipe


By David Hsieh

The black box Fishman Space in the BAM Fisher was built to be flexible, and since it opened in 2012, artists have come up with unexpected ways to test that flexibility. There have been shows in the round, on three sides, with the audience sitting on stage, with rocking chairs as seats, and with no seats at all. In the most recent Next Wave, for instance, there were productions that made audiences see the theater in completely new ways: Michelle Dorrance’s Elemental went above audience’s heads to dance on the lighting grids; Andrew Schneider’s NERVOUS/SYSTEM turned the theater into a magic lantern with each blackout revealing a new tableau; Jesper Just’s Interpassivities made audience walk on “terra infirma” the whole time. And this Pride Weekend, it will become a nightclub with Everybooty.

So how do we bring these artists’ ceaseless creative ideas to the stage? The secret lies with our ingenious production managers/supervisors, Collins Costa and Courtney Wrenn. Here, they reveal their magic.

Beyond the Canon: Touki Bouki + Breathless

Touki Bouki (1973) + Breathless (1960)

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 Djibril Diop Mambéty’s Touki Bouki (1973) with Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless (1960).

By Devika Girish

Senegalese filmmaker Djibril Diop Mambéty is often described as an “African Godard.” His debut feature, Touki Bouki (1973), bears striking similarities to Jean-Luc Godard’s own firecracker first feature Breathless (1960). Both films center on a young couple as they swindle their way through the city with impossible, punk-ish cool; both are shot in a handheld, improvisatory style replete with jump-cuts.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Go Behind the Scenes with Two of BAM’s Most Dynamic Staff Members

Daisy Desnuda (photo by Doug Ross) and Flower Tortilla (photo by Michael Avance)

By David Hsieh

They have double identities. To BAM staff and patrons, they are Leo Paredes and Hector Rios, with the totally normal job titles of, respectively, Operations Coordinator for Education and Community Engagement and Special Events Coordinator. But to New York’s night crawlers, they are known as Daisy Desnuda, burlesque thespian, and Flower Tortilla, drag queen. But once in a while, the two lives converge. Such is the case when Flower Tortilla performs at Everybooty, BAM’s annual Pride party, joining many other New York night life glitterati in celebration of diversity and creativity. We talked to them about what it’s like pursuing two parallel career paths.

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.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Bryce Dessner on Triptych (Eyes of One on Another)



By Susan Yung

Triptych (Eyes of One on Another), at the Howard Gilman Opera House (Jun 6—8), features large-scale projections of the photography of Robert Mapplethorpe and combines music by Bryce Dessner with a libretto by Korde Arrington Tuttle, performed by Roomful of Teeth with Alicia Hall Moran and Isaiah Robinson, directed by Kaneza Schaal. We spoke to Dessner (whose band The National released its eighth album last week) about his connection to Mapplethorpe’s photography, how he structured his composition, and how Tuttle’s libretto influenced the music.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

The Three Choreographers Bringing Contemporary Ballet to BAM in June

To This Day, photo: Michael Slobodian

By Susan Yung

Vancouver-based Ballet BC bears its geographical stamp in its name, but the “C” might just as well stand for “contemporary.” The company makes its BAM debut at the Howard Gilman Opera House from June 13 to 15. The three repertory dances to be performed are by choreographers whose paths have crossed previously—William Forsythe, Crystal Pite, and Emily Molnar, the artistic director of Ballet BC.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Next Wave 2019 Reading List

The Great Tamer, photo: Julian Mommert

Want to go deeper into Next Wave? We asked this year’s presenting artists for some suggested reading to give greater context for their productions or practice. Reference copies of these books and others can be found in venue lobbies, and this list will be updated throughout the summer.

In Context: DanceAfrica 2019


This year’s DanceAfrica performances (May 24—27) offer a taste of the rich culture and traditions of Rwanda, under the leadership of artistic director Abdel R. Salaam. In acknowledgement of the 25th anniversary of the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda and the undaunted national movement toward reconciliation and renewal, DanceAfrica offers a moment to celebrate a path forward.

This year’s visiting company is the globally recognized Rwandan dance troupe Inganzo Ngari. Founded in 2006, the ensemble is utterly beloved by Rwandans for its dedication to traditional forms and movement idioms, from warrior dances to a variety of crop rituals. They are joined onstage by Rwandan-born spoken word artist Malaika Uwamahoro, composer Michael Wimberly, percussionist Kofi Osei Williams, percussionist Frank Molloy IV, the DanceAfrica Spirit Walkers, and the beloved RestorationArt Dance Youth Ensemble. Together, with the DanceAfrica and BAM community, they rejoice in the transcendent power of movement and music.

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

Thursday, May 16, 2019

A Guide to DanceAfrica 2019

Photo: Adreinne Waheed




By Akornefa Akyea

DanceAfrica is the longest-running program at BAM. The festival founded in 1977 by traditional African dance choreographer Dr. Charles "Chuck" Davis (1937—2017) began as a three-day event in the Lepercq Space; a note in the program read:

“In essence, you are visitors to our village which is wherever we are. We welcome you with Dyembes (Drums) and Eparoro (Chant). Through the chant we ask that you not only enjoy your stay with us but form with us a comradeship that will remain a lasting association.”

In its 42nd year and now under the artistic direction of Abdel R. Salaam, DanceAfrica is almost two weeks long, taking place in several venues, with a community that is very much alive and well. This year we celebrate the rich movement and dance traditions of Rwanda in acknowledgement of the 25th anniversary of the government-sponsored genocide against the Tutsi.

Here’s your guide to this expansive event, which has everything from performances, classes, and screenings to the sprawling DanceAfrica Bazaar, a late-night dance party, and a chance to talk and interact with Rwandans in real time.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Beyond the Canon: Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life is Calling + All That Jazz

Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life is Calling (1986) + All That Jazz (1979)

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 Richard Pryor’s Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life is Calling (1986) with Bob Fosse’s All That Jazz (1979).

By Christina Newland

“He tore his ass on the freeway of life,” says Richard Pryor, to peals of laughter from an audience. This is his eulogy to himself, delivered onstage in Pryor’s own inimitable fashion, and the last scene of the only film he ever directed: Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life is Calling.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Rwanda Gets the Spotlight at DanceAfrica 2019

By David Hsieh

When this year’s DanceAfrica opens at the Howard Gilman Opera House stage on May 24, audiences will see a dance tradition that has never been presented in the 41 years of this treasured festival—the dance of Rwanda. It will be the fulfillment of Artistic Director Abdel R. Salaam’s longtime dream—using the festival to expand our understanding of African dance and demonstrate the healing power of dance.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

In Context: Pepperland

Photo: Mat Hayward

Mark Morris continues to redefine the relationship between music and movement in his homage to a monument of 20th-century art: The Beatles’ 1967 revolution in sound, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Commissioned by the City of Liverpool in celebration of the album’s 50th anniversary, Pepperland teases out the album’s colorfully avant-garde heart and omnivorous influences—from Bach to Stockhausen, music hall to raga—straining it through a theremin- and harpsichord-laced score by jazz composer Ethan Iverson, performed live by a remarkable seven-piece music ensemble. Morris’ company transforms the stage into a candy-colored kaleidoscope of modish 60s dance crazes and balletic intricacy that hovers, like its inspiration, between pop pleasure and exhilarating abstraction.

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

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Mark Morris: Mastery at BAM

Mark Morris (kneeling) joined an all-star lineup celebrating the 15th Next Wave in 1997. First row, L-R: Jene Highstein (artist), Kristin Jones (artist), Merce Cunningham (choreographer), Mark Morris (choreographer), Harvey Lichtenstein (BAM President/Executive Producer). Back row: Andrew Ginzel (artist), Susan Marshall (choreographer), Joanne Akalaitis (director), Bill T. Jones (choreographer), Lou Reed (musician), Bob Telson (composer), Ping Chong (artist), Howard Gilman (benefactor), Pina Bausch (choreographer), John Kelly (artist), Joseph V. Melillo (BAM Producing Director). Photo: Joanne Savio.











By Susan Yung

BAM has presented work by Mark Morris since 1984, when his debut program took place in the Lepercq Space and included one of his early milestone works, Gloria. Since then, more than 60 of his dances have graced BAM’s stages, with live music on every program. Pepperland—a tribute to The Beatles’ landmark album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, with a new jazz score by Ethan Iverson—will be at the Howard Gilman Opera House May 8—11. Here’s a look back at some of Morris’ previous choreographic mastery at BAM.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Beyond the Canon: Sidewalk Stories + The Kid


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 Charles Lane’s Sidewalk Stories (1989) with Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid (1921).

By Jourdain Searles

Cinema informs our hearts, guiding our sympathies towards those who reflect ourselves and the people we want to be. This is largely why American cinema skews so often towards whiteness—showcasing white faces, bolstering the concept of white identity as the everyman, the default, and ultimately the most sympathetic. It remains a medium dominated by white creatives who instinctively create narratives that reflect their understanding of the world.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Seven Eras of Merce Cunningham at BAM

Photo: James Klosty


By Susan Yung

On April 16, in performances staged concurrently at BAM, the Barbican in London, and UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance, we will celebrate what would’ve been Merce Cunningham’s 100th birthday. Night of 100 Solos: A Centennial Event will feature 100 solos—performed by 25 dancers on each stage—drawn from more than seven decades of Cunningham’s work. Cunningham has performed at BAM since 1952 and before that, he danced here with Martha Graham Dance Company. He forged his inventive modern style alongside his creative/life partner, composer John Cage, another radical innovator; they spent time at Black Mountain College, which fomented experimentation. The company struggled early on, yet one constant was performing at BAM with some regularity while gaining acknowledgment. With help from the Merce Cunningham Trust and our archivists, we remember the legendary choreographer by looking back at seven eras of Merce’s brilliant work at BAM.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

A Veloso Family Playlist

Photo: Rafael Berezinski
In Ofertório, coming to BAM April 12 & 13, Brazilian music legend Caetano Veloso is joined by his three sons, Moreno, Zeca, and Tom. “I have wanted to make music with my sons for a long time. When they were children, I always sang them to sleep,” says Caetano. “Moreno and Zeca liked it, while Tom used to ask me to stop. Although they took different paths, they each moved towards music at some point in their lives.”

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

How a Jazz Composer Reinvented a Revolution in Sound

Photo: Beowulf Sheehan

By Susan Yung

Mark Morris Dance Group’s Pepperland, which has its evening-length New York premiere at the Howard Gilman Opera House May 8—11, takes as inspiration The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which debuted 51 years ago. An original score by jazz composer Ethan Iverson, performed live, riffs on the original album, with new sections written by Iverson and performed by the MMDG Music Ensemble. We spoke to Iverson about instrumentation, the singer’s presentation, and how he incorporated different classical forms into the score.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

In Context: Ofertório

Photo: Ney Coelho

Brazilian cultural revolutionary Caetano Veloso has been a transformative international force since the 1960s, when he swirled bossa nova, art rock, and psychedelia into the world-shaking phenomenon known as Tropicália—a musical manifesto that wrapped anti-authoritarian political dissidence in a kaleidoscope of sound. In this special two-night engagement, the ever-evolving singer, composer, and activist is joined by his three sons—Moreno, Zeca, and Tom—for a family affair that zigzags across Veloso's restlessly innovative body of work: from swaying samba rhythms to pop experimentation and lyrics that swerve from the hallucinogenic to the subversive to the sublime.

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

Monday, April 8, 2019

In Context: Night of 100 Solos


Over the span of his 70-year career, choreographer Merce Cunningham developed a repertoire of nuanced movement and effortless precision. Known for his experimentalism and dexterous use of both chance and control, he left behind a substantial oeuvre when he died in 2009. The Merce Cunningham Centennial commemorates what would be the 100th birthday of the esteemed choreographer in this one-night Event, staged concurrently at BAM, the Barbican in London, and UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance. With live music and special set design, 25 dancers on each stage perform 100 solos drawn from more than seven decades of Cunningham’s work. The selections range in length from 30 seconds to four minutes, and include more than a dozen of his own solos.

Reflecting Cunningham’s embrace of technology and the Merce Cunningham Trust’s commitment to accessibility, Night of 100 Solos will be streamed live online and available for the next few months at mercecunningham.org.

Dressing the 81 Dancers in Night Of 100 Solos: A Centennial Event


By Susan Yung

On April 16, Night of 100 Solos: A Centennial Event marks what would have been Merce Cunningham’s 100th birthday. Concurrently at BAM, the Barbican in London, and UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance, 81 dancers (25 per city, plus understudies) will perform 100 solos drawn from the choreographer’s body of work; the Event will be livestreamed. Reid Bartelme and Harriet Jung (Reid & Harriet Design) designed the costumes. On top of that monumental task, Bartelme—who has danced professionally with numerous companies—will perform at BAM. Here’s what he had to say about this experience.

Friday, April 5, 2019

The Vibrant Colors and Surprisingly Conservative Cuts of the Costumes in Pepperland


By Susan Yung

Pepperland (coming to BAM May 8—11) found its musical inspiration in The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, but rather than taking her cues from the iconic album’s cover, Elizabeth Kurtzman, the show’s costume designer, looked to an earlier era for its fashion. We asked her why you won’t find any feathers, satin, bellbottoms, or Nehru collars on the performers.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

In Context: Diary of One Who Disappeared

Photo: Jan Versweyveld

In 1917, Czech composer Leoš Janáček became obsessed with a married woman 40 years his junior. In the throes of despair, he penned more than 700 love letters and a haunting 22-part song cycle called Diary of One Who Disappeared, about a village boy who falls in love with a Romany girl.

Director Ivo van Hove, in collaboration with Flemish opera company Muziektheater Transparant, brings his trademark physicality and stripped-down aesthetic to bear on Janáček’s masterpiece. Featuring bravura performances by tenor Andrew Dickinson and mezzo-soprano Marie Hamard and additional music by composer Annelies Van Parys, van Hove’s contemporary reimagining of Janáček’s singular work paints a deeply affecting portrait of identity, infatuation, and ultimately, alienation.

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

Friday, March 29, 2019

#5WomenArtists: Women's History Month at BAM

By Sue Yung






To raise awareness of Women’s History Month (March), in 2016 the National Museum of Women in the Arts started a social media campaign—#5WomenArtists—asking people to share examples of female artists by posting on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. This month, BAM is participating by highlighting some of the many early, pioneering women who have appeared on its stages since it opened in 1861. While the national campaign focuses on artists, many civic and business leaders have also been presented at BAM—not only an arts center, but frequently a gathering place for public events over the years.

10 Years of Ivo van Hove at BAM

Photo: Richard Termine


Ivo van Hove is once again breaking new ground—this time with his first foray into musical theater in the US, Leoš Janáček’s opera Diary of One Who Disappeared, which has its US premiere at the Howard Gilman Opera House Apr 4—6. We asked Joe Melillo, BAM’s Executive Producer, Emeritus, who first brought van Hove to the Harvey Theater in 2008, to talk us through 10-plus years of boundary-pushing theater.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

A Batsheva Dance Company Playlist

Photo: Courtesy of Ascaf


Music plays an integral role in the work of Ohad Naharin, house choreographer for Batsheva Dance Company—but perhaps never more so surprisingly than in Venezuela, which comes to BAM Mar 27–30. We asked Kyle Scheurich, a dancer with Batsheva, to curate a playlist of music featured in past (and current) Batsheva BAM performances.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Beyond the Canon: The Fits + Picnic at Hanging Rock


By Lindsay Brayton

Dreamy, mysterious, mood-driven: words that accurately describe both Anna Rose Holmer’s debut feature The Fits (2015) and Peter Weir’s much imitated classic Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975). Both films engage with themes of girlhood, femininity, and female adolescence in enigmatic and unsettling ways. The Fits is tightly, almost claustrophobically, focused on Toni (Royalty Hightower), a prepubescent tomboy who becomes fascinated with the older girls on the drill team at her local gym. Much of The Fits involves spending time with Toni as she wanders the gym, practices boxing with her older brother, and takes tentative steps towards joining the drill team. The Fits never ventures outside of Toni’s life at the gym—her school life, home life, and parents all remain off screen—and the film’s carefully calibrated camerawork and editing create the film’s dreamy atmosphere as one by one the girls on the drill team succumb to sudden full body “fits.”