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Friday, December 21, 2012

A Thank You and a 150th Anniversary Wrap-Up

Photo: Merce Cunningham Dance Company, by Stephanie Berger

By Robert Jackson Wood

Wardrobe choices aside, let's focus on the "thanks" part, the part where we express our utmost gratitude to
you for making our soon-to-end 150th anniversary celebrations such a resounding success. Enjoy this post-party recap of some of the more memorable things that transpired over the past 16 months. And know that none of them would have been possible without you.

1. Atys & Einstein on the Beach 
Nearly book-ending our festivities were two lavishly reprised operas that served as perfect ways to begin and end an anniversary party. Jean-Baptiste Lully’s Atys provided the classy beginning—elegant entrances, demure if suggestive dancing, and French baroque trappings fit for a king. Einstein on the Beach provided the fantastically disorienting ending, from which people emerged with a penchant for nonsensical speech, no idea what time it was, and no clue why someone had gone to jail. Quintessential BAM.

2. New and Improved Seats in the BAM Harvey Theater
Achy knees and a desire to kick your neighbor do not a happy audience member make. So we finally did something about it. We installed seats that complement the Harvey Theater’s deliciously melancholic interior without also recreating it in your lumbar region.

3. Richard III
You came out in droves to see Kevin Spacey traipse around the stage as Shakespeare’s “deformed, unfinish’d” villain, who helped bring BAM’s transatlantic Bridge Project to a fabulously snarling, vicious conclusion. As a general rule, we don’t recommend inviting bitter, power-hungry despots to anniversary celebrations, but we’re happy with the way this one worked out. Thank you for the love you gave to such an irascible party guest.

4. BAM Fisher & Expanded Programming
We simply couldn't contain ourselves this year. Or you, apparently. Our solution? The new BAM Fisher, which allowed us to double the size of our Next Wave Festival, add a wealth of new educational, family, and community offerings, and all while giving you a nice view of Brooklyn. And because no celebration is complete without a pseudo-mystical shaman, laser beams, rousing renditions of socialist anthems, song cycles inspired by Sinatra, and intimations of the apocalypse, we made sure to include a few of those as well.

5. Pina Bausch’s “...como el musguito...” + Pina in 3-D
Joy, eros, tactility, electricity—the late choreographer Pina Bausch always brought them to spare, and this year—in which BAM audiences saw both her final work and Wim Wenders’ love letter of a film—was no exception. Bausch’s last made deliciously palpable the charged fields of flirtation and desire that keep us inextricably bound to one another. Another charged field of flirtation and desire? The packed houses, which returned the love in buckets.

7. Roman Tragedies
Nothing says off-the-hook anniversary celebration like five hours of Shakespeare in Dutch. Did it faze you? Not a bit. It helped that this production was unfathomably captivating, but it took your participation to make it so. You didn’t have to brave a trip onstage to provide quiet counsel to Coriolanus, but you did. You didn’t have to get a drink at the on-stage bar in the thick of war between the Romans and the Volscians, but you did. So congrats, BAM audience, for being more than ready for your close-up.

7. “BAM and Then It Hits You” Ad Campaign
Here’s what hit us: we wanted to create an ad campaign that celebrated the way BAM moments live on long after shows, so naturally, it featured you. A few audience casting calls and photo shoots later and there you were, immersed in Sinbad flashbacks, Geoffrey Rush reveries, and daydreams about weird fish-men rowing gondolas in Central Park.

8. Brooklyn BAMboozle Ale
We didn't just provide booze for our anniversary party and for our Brooklyn Close-Up series at BAMcinématek; we made it ourselves via the malt-meisters at Brooklyn Brewery. Touches of raw wildflower honey from nearby Tremblay Farms made locavores giddy—as did the 8.6% alcohol content, which may have also helped make the standby line for tickets to Einstein on the Beach as much an altered-time experience as the performance.

9. BAM the Book & BAM the Movie 
With all of the BAMboozle around, you’d think that we would have spent more time spilling things on books than writing them. But between sips, we snuck off to write our first-ever BAM history, BAM: The Complete Works, worthy of discerning coffee tables everywhere. And because pictures these days can also be made to move, we partnered with talented director Michael Sládek to tell the BAM story in documentary form as well, BAM150. Whichever medium you prefer, both are joyous celebrations of how BAM became BAM—floods and fires, sanitary fairs and judo classes, underwear in the balconies, and all.

10. The BAM Blog
Last, but certainly not least. We created the blog because we realized that we had lots to say about our anniversary but nowhere to say it. A year and a half later, it’s been relieved of its anniversary duties but lives on as an ever-growing bounty of BAM trivia, editorial riff-raff, archival exposés, staff confessionals, cheeky illustrations, astrological conjecture, and, most importantly, the occasional humorous list. Philosophers, filmmakers, and dogs alike have all contributed. Visit the comments so that you can, too.

What a run it's been. Please take your bow, amazing audience (and Chase, our 150th anniversary sponsor), and thanks again for making this an anniversary party to remember.

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