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Friday, September 28, 2012

The BAM Fisher Files: Tamar-kali

Tamar-kali performs Saturday, September 29 at 7:30pm as part of Next Wave of Song, part of the 30th Next Wave Festival.

My Show:
My project, Pseudoacoustic, bridges the gap between my New York City rock-scene roots and my love of strings and torch songs. I think it’s probably my most palatable project where mainstream audiences are concerned as it pulls from a deeper well of influences. There’s a little something for everyone.

My art is inspired by:
People, places, things. Moments. My failures, joys, and aspirations.

Hardcore-soul/Afro-Punk is:
Hardcore Soul is a moniker I have used in the past to describe certain aspects of my musical expression. Afro-Punk is the title of a documentary I was featured in as an artist. It is also a play on words describing my personal style—a fusion of aesthetic influences.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Einstein on the Blog: Your Einstein

By Robert Wood

Photo: Lesley Leslie Spinks 2012
For the third time in almost 40 years, for possibly the last time ever, Einstein on the Beach has come, cast its enigmatic spell, and gone. The “knee plays” have played, the “trials” have adjourned, and the so called “spaceship” has taken off, we can only presume, in a sublime detonation of light.

But this spaceship has contrails, and Einstein has left behind what all great works leave behind: talking, writing, ruminating, puzzling, poeticizing, hand-wringing, and various other forms of fascinating post-show reckoning. Einstein on the Beach presents itself as an exhilarating, maddening, implausible four-and-a-half-hour question, after all, one that we don't feel compelled to answer at first either because the question itself is so compelling or because the work’s mythic authority convinces us that it secretly has all the answers that it needs. But as our audiences’ fantastic blog submissions testify, the itch to demystify inevitably comes— whether it be via sports metaphors, appeals to the subconscious, allusions to personal encounters with livestock, or otherwise. Here is a recap of some of your attempts, sent to us from around the interwebs, at getting just a little bit closer to that enigmatic question that is Einstein.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Cutting the Ribbon on the BAM Richard B. Fisher Building

Jeanne Donovan Fisher and Mayor Michael Bloomberg cut the ribbon of the BAM Richard B. Fisher Building
The brandspankin' new BAM Richard B. Fisher Building may be less than a month old but it has already opened three shows and Next Wave of Song will grace the Fishman stage before the month is out! This building is a big part of our 150th anniversary celebration, and we couldn't be prouder of the newest addition to the BAM campus. Here are some highlights, including photos of the Ribbon Cutting, Open House, and Audio Tour.

A full photo album from the event can be found here.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

TV Nostalgia

In the spirit of Derrick Adams’ The Channel, which plays off of educational TV shows from the 70s and 80s, we at the BAM blog took a moment to wax nostalgic about the television of our respective youths. From The Wonder Years to Whazzat Kangaroo, here are a few of our favorite earliest cultural influences.


Samantha Stephens: suburban housewife, witch, feminist?? Bewitched enthralled me as a child. Samantha lived in a town like my own, her ad-exec husband took the 8:09 to Grand Central every day, and she was involved in all the mundane activities you'd expect in 60s suburbia (nosy neighbors, bake sales, dinner parties). She was also a real witch with magical powers beyond my imagination. The sitcom twist, of course, was that she boldly abandoned that life for a mortal one (by marrying boring Darrin) and yet couldn't escape her own family of witches and warlocks (who created the mayhem in each episode). Who can escape their own family? And how many times did I wish I could wiggle my own nose and make something change in my life? I can't count. Just sold my Samantha doll on eBay. But I still love this show.  –Sandy Sawotka

Friday, September 21, 2012

Einstein on the Blog: The Boy of Einstein, Jasper Newell

Jasper's reaction to seeing his name in the paper!
If you saw Einstein on the Beach, chances are your eyes were drawn to the arresting and enigmatic figure of the boy. He stands—with enviable poise—on an elevated bridge in the Train Scene, stoically throwing paper airplanes down to the stage. He proclaims, as a diminutive judge in the trial scene: “This court of common pleeeeeeeas is nooooow in SESSION!” and then mugs for the audience. He gets to ride a skateboard. And in the spaceship scene, he travels up and down in an elevator, shrugging his shoulders and making shapes with his hands. Whatever he’s doing, you can’t help but marvel at his incredible presence onstage.

The boy is Jasper Newell, who you may also recognize from the recent film We Need to Talk About Kevin. We on the BAM staff were delighted to find out that Jasper also kept a blog of his Einstein adventures, and we quickly became addicted to reading it. We were so impressed that we asked him to answer a few questions for us. Ever the pro, he answered them during Thursday’s performance of Einstein (Field Dance 1, to be exact.).

Alison Saar Gets Into Your Head and Your Heart

Alison Saar, Rouse, 2012. Wood, bronze, fiberlass and antler sheds. 90x76x73. Photo: Chris Warner
Courtesy Ben Maltz Gallery at Otis College of Art and Design
The world premiere of Lighthouse / Lightning Rod on September 27 at the Howard Gilman Opera House (also the night of BAM's 30th Next Wave gala celebration) reunites the distinguished collaborative team of composer/musician Wynton Marsalis and choreographer Garth Fagan.

Artist Alison Saar is designing the set elements for Lighthouse/Lightning Rod. Saar works in a primarily figurative vein, featuring the human body (often female) in various states of emotional or physical expressiveness that can border on the surreal, as when tears weep from a person's back, or tendrils descend from a figure's feet to root into the earth. She favors elemental mediums such as wood or metal and has experimented recently with other materials including glass, which has allowed her to conduct fluids between different vessels representing body parts, opening up even more metaphorical possibilities. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Bike Locking to the Letter

BAM has frequently referred to itself as Brooklyn’s home for adventurous artists, audiences, and ideas. But that hasn’t stopped foreign dignitaries and local hipsters alike from asking the question, “how adventurous could BAM really be if it doesn’t have two big blue bike racks that can spell things?”

For years, we simply avoided the issue, quietly embarrassed that we could easily land artists like Merce Cunningham and underwater productions of Büchner's Woyzeck yet only provide cyclists with boring grey bike racks that aspired to spell nothing (a "U" at most?). But as we reported earlier, those days are done now, thanks to David Byrne. “PinK cRown” and “micRo liP” are here. They are blue, they know all the words to "Crosseyed and Painless," and they are awesome.

Below, we offer a few ways to—and not to—lock your bike to "PinK cRown" and "micRo liP."

The Classic (Good)

Practical, functional, and unassuming, just like a plain slice to go. Use it in all the obvious places, excepting the "i" and "l" (see below).

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Putting the Homo in Homicide: Swoon at 20

On Thursday, September 13, BAMcinématek celebrates the 20th anniversary of one of the seminal films of the New Queer Cinema movement, Tom Kalin's debut feature Swoon. The program includes a screening of a pair of Kalin's short films at 6pm and a special screening of Swoon at 8pm, followed by a Q&A with Kalin, groundbreaking producer Christine Vachon (Boys Don't Cry, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Far From Heaven), and actors Daniel Schlachet and Craig Chester.

Kalin spoke with us about the film, which retells the story of legendary Chicago killers Leopold and Loeb, and looked back on his role in New Queer Cinema.

Einstein on the Blog: A Short Glossary

By Robert Jackson Wood

©Lesley Leslie-Spinks

Whenever a paradigm-shifting work of art like Einstein on the Beach appears, a deluge of new language attempting to make sense of it is often not far behind. This can be unfortunate, particularly when the new words seem better suited as names of rare insect-borne tropical diseases than as helpful descriptors of music or theater.

But the new vocabulary is also often necessary. New works are like riddles that demand solutions from us. And even if those solutions are always inadequate, nothing disarms the sphinx of the new better than finding lucid ways of talking about it. In that spirit, enjoy this glossary of terms, arbitrarily selected and including a few familiar ones redefined, that might be helpful in parsing the glorious enigma that is Einstein on the Beach. 

Minimalism: Intro
It’s been said that there’s nothing “minimal” about an opera that is four and a half hours long. But even the biggest building can be made with just a few big squares and a welcome mat. Minimalism is about just that: the reduction of an artistic vocabulary to its most basic elements, which is an economy that can be experienced in Einstein from one end to the other. Small musical modules repeat with abandon, stage design is reduced to all but the purest geometries and archetypal images, and movement is stripped to its essence.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The BAM Fisher Files: Nora Chipaumire

Nora Chipaumire's Miriam is at the BAM Fisher from September 12—15. 

My Show:
A character-driven danced funeral. A rite, a ritual, a crime scene. A sacred and profane theater of crime.

Sights and sounds:
A world unlike any other, inhabited by two women, existing neither here nor there. Natural matter, stones, water, fire. Sand with rubber. Light bulbs, mirrors, fans, plastic. The sound of these things, Omar Sosa playing live, and human voices.

My art is inspired by:
People, lived experience, philosophy, the good books (The Bible, The Torah, The Koran).

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Grand Opening: The BAM Fisher

It's forgivable if you didn't notice. Save for a visit to Cesar's Empanadas truck, there aren't too many reasons to hang out on this particular stretch of Ashland Place. St. Felix is the more scenic route for getting from the subway to the BAM Peter Jay Sharp Building. And the construction itself, which took place between buildings and atop an existing structure (the old Salvation Army building), remained fairly hidden from view.

Yet if you walk south down Flatbush Avenue at night, and you look to your left between Lafayette Avenue and Atlantic Terminal, you catch a glimpse of something that wasn't there before: a set of big windows, glowing through the trees. Not much has happened in the windows yet, but beginning tonight, they'll be filled with things like audience members raising a glass to BAM commissions and world premieres, the silhouettes of dancers stretching on the barre, philosophers and artists talking about art and capitalism, community members hosting events, kids getting in touch with their inner choreographer, and any number of other celebrations. In short, BAM has a new building, and it opens today.

Parallaxis, on ECLIPSE

Photo: Benjamin Nicholas
by Thomas Bartscherer

ECLIPSE begins with a new space and unfolds as a conversation. The first proposition: the Brooklyn Academy of Music invites Jonah Bokaer to create the inaugural performance at BAM Fisher, a small-scale theater set to open in 2012. Bokaer responds by proposing a collaboration with Anthony McCall, who in turn proposes an installation consisting of 36 lights arranged in a grid. Bokaer choreographs movement in response to McCall’s design, the latter adds sound—a projector, a train, a helicopter—and eventually the dancers’ work begins, their movements cued by the intricate pattern of timed illumination.