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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 BAM Blog Awards

Best performance by a string of sausages in a supporting role: the red sausages in The Old Woman

2014 was a big year at BAM, not in the least in terms of numbers. The Next Wave Festival grew to 47 productions from 34, Matthew Barney's River of Fundament almost topped six hours, 11 pianists performed all 20 of Philip Glass' piano etudes, and Zvi Sahar's Salt of the Earth used 1,000 pounds of salt to conjure a stark Middle Eastern desert. But who are we kidding? It's the qualitative, not the quantitative, that truly floats the BAM boat. It's in that spirit, we present the BAM Blog Awards, our annual celebration of quizzical directorial choices, double-take-inducing performances, and scene-stealing quirks from a year's worth of BAM productions.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

2014 BAM Holiday Reading List

Here we are as in olden days: in a vortex of yule, clamoring for nog and listening to Bing and Mariah, with so many holiday-related things to read, do, see. On the reading front, we suggest consolidation. Get your literary fix during the downtime while covering subjects that will resonate with BAM productions coming up in the winter/spring. Below are a few recommendations, dealing with everything from director John Carpenter to venereal diseases to rodeos in prison.

A Very Sufjan Christmas

Sufjan Stevens and friends.
by Chris Tyler

“You know, to be honest, I hate Christmas,” a tinseled Sufjan Stevens would often remark during his Surfjohn Stevens Christmas Sing-A-Long: Seasonal Affective Disorder Yuletide Disaster Pageant On Ice tour back in 2012. Indeed, for Stevens, Christmas proves a contradictory tradition: it is, after all, the focal point of a season marked by equal parts spirituality and consumerism. But given the Round-Up artist’s affinity for the carol—he’s released exactly 100 Christmas tunes over the last 10 years—it’s a delightful tradition at that. As described by Mark Hinog for The Verge, “Stevens' yuletide catalog transcends the treacly holiday tunes favored by easy listening radio stations and musty shopping complexes. It borrows hyperbolic enthusiasm of obligatory pop star holiday albums, while highlighting the season’s social, economical, and existential pressures." In anticipation of Stevens’ upcoming run at the BAM Harvey Theater January 20–25, we've rounded-up (so to speak) some of our favorite video tidings of ambivalent (but whimsical) holiday cheer:

Friday, December 19, 2014

BAMcinématek's Best of 2014

Ellar Coltrane and Richard Linklater at the opening night of BAMcinemaFest 2014/New York premiere of Boyhood at the BAM Harvey Theater.

The best-of-the-year list is back at BAMcinématek, and we have a whole lot to celebrate about film in 2014. We’ve made our parameters looser than ever, so below you’ll find lists short and long, including favorite TV shows, music videos, and more alongside repertory and new film picks. Enjoy!

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Iceman Cometh in Production

Photo: Liz Lauren
by Steve Scott

The Iceman Cometh is often regarded as a modern masterpiece, but like many great works of art it was eschewed by audiences before eventually achieving popular and critical acclaim. Even its progression from page to stage got off to a slow start: although Eugene O’Neill had completed the initial draft of The Iceman Cometh by late 1939, the play wouldn’t make its official premiere for nearly seven years, due both to the author’s failing health and his reluctance to produce anything during the “damned world debacle” of World War II. But by the winter of 1946, O’Neill’s spirits had revived to the point that he once again looked forward to the rigors of rehearsal and production; by the spring, plans for the New York debut of Iceman were under way. The playwright had initially championed actor/director Eddie Dowling to both direct the production and play the central role of Theodore “Hickey” Hickman, after viewing Dowling’s triumphant work in staging and starring in William Saroyan’s The Time of Your Life. Soon after work on O’Neill’s play began, however, Dowling realized that he couldn’t do both, and he engaged former vaudevillian and film character actor James Barton (formerly hired for the role of Harry Hope) for the daunting role. By all reports, Barton was overwhelmed by the demands of the part, and had difficulties both learning and delivering Hickey’s mammoth confessional monologue in act four. On opening night, October 9, he also spent the dinner intermission entertaining friends in his dressing room, leaving him exhausted and nearly voiceless by the play’s climax. Perhaps as a result, opening night notices were mixed, and the production ran for a disappointingly short run of 136 performances.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

In Context: VIJAY IYER: Music of Transformation

VIJAY IYER: Music of Transformation runs at BAM from December 18—20. Context is everything, so get even closer to the show with this curated selection of articles, interviews, and videos related to the production. Once you've seen it, help us keep the conversation going by telling us what you thought below.

Mariinsky at BAM

Danila Korsuntsev in Swan Lake. Photo courtesy Mariinsky Ballet
by Susan Yung

January can be a long, cold month, but here’s some heart-warming news: the Mariinsky Theater is in residence at BAM from January 14 to 25 with three ballet programs and an opera. We’ll get a quenching fix of both the seminal early work (Swan Lake) and its contemporary offerings. The company performs Alexei Ratmansky’s Cinderella, in addition to the three-part program Chopin: Dances for Piano, with choreography by Benjamin Millepied and Jerome Robbins, alongside Michel Fokine’s Chopiniana. In addition, the Mariinsky Opera will perform the rarely-seen The Enchanted Wanderer by Rodion Shchedrin. Maestro Gergiev will conduct select performances by this legendary St. Petersburg institution renowned for its emphasis on artistry and musicianship, and now in its 232nd season.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Design King—Richard Hudson Creates a New Beauty

The Nutcracker show curtain, designed by Richard Hudson.

by Mario R. Mercado

While it’s the final season to enjoy Alexei Ratmansky’s wondrous staging of The Nutcracker for American Ballet Theatre at the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House from December 12—21, happily, the production will live on in West Coast performances each December beginning in 2015. For audiences on both coasts, there is more happy news to celebrate as Ratmansky and the ballet’s designer Richard Hudson get set to collaborate again. This time it’s an all-new production of The Sleeping Beauty, premiering early March at the Segerstrom Center in Orange County, California and in New York City in May 2015.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Going Gaga with Batsheva

by Rhea Daniels

On November 14th, I participated in a master class led by Batsheva company dancers Bobbi Smith and Ian Robinson at the Mark Morris Dance Center. Batsheva company classes teach Gaga technique, the movement language developed by the company’s Artistic Director Ohad Naharin. The workshop was presented in conjunction with the company’s US premiere of Naharin’s Sadeh21 at BAM.

Batsheva's Zina Zinchenko and Bobbi Smith. Photo: Stephanie Berger

Monday, December 8, 2014

BAM blog Questionnaire:
Howie the Rookie's Mark O’Rowe

Mark O’Rowe is the writer and director of Howie the Rookie, a play chronicling the scabies-induced travails of two knuckleheads—the Howie Lee and the Rookie Lee—through a down-and-out Dublin. O’Rowe wrote the piece in 1999, inspired by Samuel Beckett’s novel Molloy. In this production, he teams up with acclaimed Irish actor Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, well-known to Irish audiences for starring in the crime drama Love/Hate. Vaughan-Lawlor plays both roles in a performance that called for the Irish Times to pronounce him “One of the most extraordinary actors of his generation.” O’Rowe also transitions fluently between stage and screen (one of his screenwriting credits is Intermission, starring Colin Farrell and Cillian Murphy). Here he responds to a few questions about bringing his unusual and refreshing production of Howie the Rookie to BAM.

Tom Vaughan-Lawlor and Mark O'Rowe. Photo: Ste Murray

Friday, December 5, 2014

Who Gets to Perform? The Ethics and Aesthetics of Social Practice

On October 25, Dance Umbrella and Dance UK hosted a discussion at King's College London called The Politics of Participation, part of Dance Umbrella's Body Politic series. A panel of guests in London and Brooklyn from across artistic disciplines discussed the use of non-professional performers in the arts. The event was livestreamed and can still be viewed here. Simon Dove, co-curator of Crossing the Line, and Julie Anne Stanzak of Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch participated from BAM. Below, Dove elaborates further on some of the important topics that arose in the conversation.

Pina Bausch's Kontakthof (1978) has been staged with "non-professional" casts comprised of both senior citizens and high-school students (pictured above).
by Simon Dove

After decades of “community arts” experiences, and years of what the visual arts world terms “social practice,” many artists are now working together with the public as collaborators and participants—all kinds of people, in all kinds of ways. I reject the binary distinction between “professional” and “non-professional” as a false premise. The notion of “professional” is not about whether artists earn a living wage from their work (in the US, this is very rare). It is actually based on a very narrow notion of what “performance skills” are, and the specific training or education that produces them rather than the actual people who use these “skills.”

In dance and performance, this idea of “skills” has historically been a huge controlling force to promote and legitimize a certain way of moving (with many teachers’ and institutions’ income dependent upon it), or narrowly defining only a certain body type that can execute these skills “properly.” This exclusivity works against the reality of human diversity. Some commentators talk about this kind of engagement with “non-professionals” as a “de-skilling” of performers, but I see it more as a politicization of practice: a move to work with the rich history and vivid imagination that make a performer unique rather than the specific and narrow skill set that the performer may possess. William Forsythe, the innovative classical dance maker, once famously pulled out of a Royal Ballet commission in London, as he was faced with dancers he felt had nothing to contribute to the creative process.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Irish Tumbleweed

by Jonathan Kalb

Mark O’Rowe—Irish playwright and screenwriter—has said that he was inspired to write his remarkable play Howie the Rookie by Samuel Beckett’s novel Molloy (1947). In a funk back in 1999 after a failed effort to write a conventional “Abbey Theatre play,” O’Rowe says he read Beckett’s book and immediately snapped out of his slump by borrowing its unusual two-part, two-protagonist structure for Howie. Both works consist of dual lengthy narratives by different men engaged in ambiguous quests who more and more come to resemble one another as their stories unfold.

Howie the Rookie's Tom Vaughan-Lawlor.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

In Context: Howie the Rookie

Howie the Rookie runs at BAM from December 10—14. Context is everything, so get even closer to the show with this curated selection of articles, interviews, and videos related to the production. Once you've seen it, help us keep the conversation going by telling us what you thought below.

In Context: The Ambassador

Gabriel Kahane's The Ambassador runs at BAM from December 10—13. Context is everything, so get even closer to the show with this curated selection of articles, interviews, and videos related to the production. Once you've seen it, help us keep the conversation going by telling us what you thought below.

BAM Illustrated: Freak Architects of Los Angeles

Each song in Gabriel Kahane's The Ambassador (December 10—13 at BAM Harvey Theater) was inspired by a different location in Los Angeles. More than a few of these buildings were designed by or feature contributions from the architects Rudolph Schindler and Richard Neutra (specifically the Schindler Chace House, Black Garden, Lovell Beach House, and Villains—reference The Ambassador Atlas for more details on the sites). The two architects were big personalities, unique characters, and close friends who eventually clashed. 

Recent Los Angeles transplant and former Brooklyn resident and BAM employee Nathan Gelgud was particularly interested in this strain of Los Angeles history, and looked into it to bring you a brief, illustrated version of the story of Schindler and Neutra, the "Twin Freaks of L.A." 

In Context: The Etudes

The Etudes, a performance of Philip Glass's complete piano etudes, comes to BAM on December 5 & 6. Context is everything, so get even closer to the show with this curated selection of articles, interviews, and videos related to the production. Once you've seen it, help us keep the conversation going by telling us what you thought below.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Gabriel Kahane on The Ambassador

Singer-songwriter Gabriel Kahane's work The Ambassador, an imaginatively staged song cycle exploring the mythos-and-melancholy-laden topographies of Kahane's personal Los Angeles, runs at BAM from December 10—13. Kahane, who was born in L.A. but now lives in Brooklyn, describes his first encounter with BAM and The Ambassador's coming-to-be.
The Ambassador's Gabriel Kahane. Photo: Josh Goleman

Friday, November 28, 2014

BAM Blog Questionnaire:
Kirk Henning of The Wanderer

In choreographer Jessica Lang’s The Wanderer, which will have its world premiere December 3—6 at BAM Fisher, Lang weaves a ballet that imaginatively interprets Franz Schubert’s song cycle Die schöne Müllerin. Scubert’s score is performed by live musicians who not only accompany, but also interact with the dance. Weaving a tale of love and jealousy, dancers, musicians and scenic design transform the intimate Fishman space into an otherworldly dreamscape. 

Kirk Henning, a founding member of Jessica Lang Dance, performs the title role in the work. The Wanderer is a man who unwittingly falls in love by a brook and subsequently falls into maddening disillusion and despair. In addition to working with JLD, Henning also dances for The Suzanne Farrell Ballet. As he was preparing for his first time performing in the BAM Fisher, Henning answered a few questions for our blog questionnaire.

Kirk Henning and Laura Mead rehearsing for The Wanderer. Photo: Milan Misko

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

In Context: On Behalf of Nature

Meredith Monk's On Behalf of Nature runs at BAM from December 3—7. Context is everything, so get even closer to the show with this curated selection of articles, interviews, and videos related to the production. Once you've seen it, help us keep the conversation going by telling us what you thought below.

In Context: The Wanderer

Jessica Lang's story ballet The Wanderer runs at BAM from December 3—6. Context is everything, so get even closer to the show with this curated selection of articles, interviews, and videos related to the production. Once you've seen it, help us keep the conversation going by telling us what you thought below.

Vijay Iyer—Transformer

Vijay Iyer is a prominent jazz pianist and bandleader who also composes classical music. He majored in mathematics and physics in undergrad and graduate schools. Iyer, a MacArthur fellow, brings his genre-spanning music to the BAM Harvey Theater in VIJAY IYER: Music of Transformation (Dec 18—20). We spoke to him about his creative world.

Radhe Radhe. Craig Marsden/Prashant Bhargava

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Songs Without Words

by Marina Harss

If one believes in the notion of destiny—or even in its more prosaic cousin, genetic predisposition—it’s clear that Meredith Monk was bound to become a singer. Her maternal great-grandfather was a cantor in Tsarist Russia; her grandfather, Joseph Zellman, an operatic baritone who emigrated to the US in the late 19th century. Here in New York, he and his pianist wife Rose Kornicker founded the Zellman Conservatory, on Lenox Ave. Monk’s mother, Audrey Marsh, sang popular songs and jingles on the radio. “My childhood was a lot like Radio Days,” Monk told the director Anne Bogart (in the book Conversations with Anne, 2005), “every single day at one o’clock she would sing the DUZ Soap commercial” during the radio drama Road of Life.

Photo: Julieta Cervantes

Monday, November 24, 2014

William Friedkin on Making To Live and Die in L.A.

Academy Award-winning director William Friedkin joined us last year for a special retrospective of his 1970's work, and he returns to BAMcinématek’s screens this Wednesday with the opening night of Sunshine Noir, a film series curated by BAMcinématek and Next Wave artist Gabriel Kahane that soaks in the sun-drenched seediness of Los Angeles.

In the following excerpts from his memoir The Friedkin Connection, Friedkin discusses the process of making To Live and Die in L.A., his pulse-pounding cult classic which features an iconic car chase down the LA freeway.

John Pankow in To Live and Die in L.A. Photo: MGM/Photofest

Friday, November 21, 2014

Wayfinders—an interview with creator Holcombe Waller

by Chris Tyler

Holcombe Waller's Wayfinders opened Wednesday at BAM Fisher. An abstract, poetic rumination on the question, "Where are we?," Wayfinders "embraces the influences of science fiction and psychedelia to examine the interconnection of navigation and consciousness, the illusory nature of location and direction, and technology’s growing mediation between ourselves and the everyday world we perceive," as Waller notes.

We sat down with the Portland-based artist to learn a bit more about the process, the Spectacle, and exactly where we're all going.

A scene from Wayfinders. Photo: Kyle Richardson

Birds With Skymirrors—Climate Change Hits Home

by David Hsieh

Birds With Skymirrors. Photo: Jack Vartoogian

For people concerned about climate change, good news doesn't come often. (Certainly not with the increasingly violent weather patterns and the dire predictions of species going extinct!) But last week’s agreement between the US and China to limit future greenhouse gas emissions—with quantifiable goals—is certifiably good news.

It is fortuitous that on the heels of this historical agreement, BAM is presenting a show that grows out of a very tangible worry about global warming from an artist who knows first-hand its devastating effect.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Anni Albers Is at BAM! Really!

Anni Albers, Wall Hanging, 1984, wool, 98"x89". Collection of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation.
When you next visit the BAM Peter Jay Sharp building, take a good look at the artwork hanging next to the escalator. It's a 1982 weaving by none other than Anni Albers, one of the leading lights of the Bauhaus (from which she received a degree in 1930) and its informal American outpost, Black Mountain College, where she taught from 1933 to 1939 along with her husband, Josef. The college is inspiration for Black Mountain Songs at the BAM Harvey this week, a collection of music put together by Bryce Dessner and Richard Reed Parry by some of our most creative songwriters, sung by the Brooklyn Youth Chorus under the baton of Dianne Berkun-Menaker.

Monday, November 17, 2014

10 Things You Might Not Know About Wayfinders' Holcombe Waller

by Chris Tyler

From tidal patterns and ancient ocean voyages to errand-running and GPS devices, navigation past and present propels Wayfinders, a new song cycle by Portland-based musician and composer Holcombe Waller opening at the BAM Fisher this Wednesday, November 19. We undertook our own voyage through cyberspace to bring you this series of interesting tidbits on the artist behind it all.

Holcombe Waller. Photo: Alicia J. Rose

Saturday, November 15, 2014

BAM Illustrated: Black Mountain College Yearbook

Black Mountain College was founded in North Carolina in 1933 as a new kind of college with art as its central focus. Students and teachers shared roles and work, boundaries between disciplines dissolved, and art bled into life, nurturing an atmosphere of unfettered creative collaboration. Only open for 24 years, the school was home to an impressive list of former students and teachers, many of whom were, and continue to be, hugely influential in the arts and beyond.

From November 20—23, the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Bryce Dessner, Richard Reed Parry, and others celebrate the college with Black Mountain Songs. Below illustrator Nathan Gelgud revisits some of Black Mountain's famous alumni in our own Black Mountain College Yearbook. (Scroll down for additional information on each person.)

Friday, November 14, 2014

BAM President Karen Brooks Hopkins inducted into Crain’s New York Business Hall of Fame

Karen Brooks Hopkins accepting the honor. Photo: Buck Ennis
BAM President Karen Brooks Hopkins was inducted into the inaugural Crain’s New York Business Hall of Fame on November 10th at a ceremony at Cipriani, alongside Michael Bloomberg, Diane von Furstenberg, and others. She was introduced by Ford Foundation President Darren Walker, who said through Karen’s leadership BAM “joined the pantheon of the world’s great cultural centers in London, Paris, Berlin, and beyond.” In accepting the honor Karen celebrated the fact that Brooklyn’s Cultural District embraces the cultural diversity of New York City and that arts organizations feed the souls and minds of residents and tourists alike. And as these institutions endure for generations, Karen called support for the arts "the best deal in town.”

Thursday, November 13, 2014

In Context: Black Mountain Songs

Black Mountain Songs runs at BAM from November 20—23. Context is everything, so get even closer to the show with this curated selection of articles, interviews, and videos related to the production. Once you've seen it, help us keep the conversation going by telling us what you thought below.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

In Context: Birds With Skymirrors

Birds With Skymirrors. Photo: Sebastian Bolesch

Lemi Ponifasio's Birds with Skymirrors runs at BAM from November 19—22. Context is everything, so get even closer to the show with this curated selection of articles, interviews, and videos related to the production. Once you've seen it, help us keep the conversation going by telling us what you thought below.

In Context: Wayfinders

Wayfinders runs at BAM from November 19—22. Context is everything, so get even closer to the show with this curated selection of articles, interviews, and videos related to the production. Once you've seen it, help us keep the conversation going by telling us what you thought below.

BAM Blog Questionnaire: Wade Kavanaugh and Stephen B. Nguyen of Oxbow

Wade Kavanaugh and Stephen B. Nguyen are Brooklyn-based installation artists who have been working together since 2005. They maintain separate studio practices that they allow to inform their collaborative work. Their common medium is often paper that suggests landscapes in motion and other elements of the natural environment. They collaborated with Ivy Baldwin on Oxbow, a piece inspired by Oxbow lakes, which will have its New York premiere in the BAM Fisher Nov 13—16. Wade and Stephen continue their collaboration by answering a few questions together for a BAM blog questionnaire.

Oxbow. Photo: Andy Romer.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Voices from the Front Lines:
BAM Staff Brente Kelly and Daniel Curato

In conjunction with the multimedia theater production BASETRACK Live, BAM has developed a program called Voices From the Front Lines to facilitate conversations between civilians and service members about life on, and beyond, the military’s front lines. In addition to BASETRACK Live, which was inspired by the online Facebook community Basetrack, we are hosting a variety of talks, post-show receptions in conjunction with StoryCorps Military Voices Initiative, live music, and more.

On Veterans Day, we spoke with two of our colleagues who are service members to find out more about their experiences and what today means to them.

Brente Kelly
Brente Kelly
Supervisor at BAM Rose Cinemas
Lives in Brooklyn, NY

What branch of the military did you serve in and why did you enlist?
I am currently serving in the United States Navy and I can say, it has been a great learning experience. I joined the military back in 2011 because I wanted a change in my lifestyle. I also wanted to travel and meet new people from around the world, as well as gain valuable skills and advance my education.

When you served, how did you keep in touch with family and friends?
I was always able to keep in contact with my friends and family when I was away, either by mail or Facebook.

What does Veterans Day represent for you?
Veterans Day for me represents all the other soldiers and sailors before me who supported and defended this country with their life to keep others safe and out of harm’s way. It is a day to honor our fallen comrades who made a change whether or not their cause was the most or least important. I am happy to serve these people knowing that one day I will be recognized as a veteran for my honor, courage and commitment.  

Daniel Curato
Daniel Curato

HVAC Maintainer
Lives in Manalapan, NJ

What branch of the military did you serve in and why did you enlist?
I served and am still active in the United States Army. I joined to serve my country and to be a better person.

When you served, how did you keep in touch with family and friends?
When I went to training and overseas I always had internet access, and usually used Skype. I used it or some [other] type of communication—phone, email—mostly on a daily basis.

I have to say, social media has really enabled veterans to connect or re-connect after years of wondering, “What ever happened to _______?” One of my old units has a cool Facebook page and new images of old memories show up on a regular basis. Keeping up with the people you served with brings back great memories—those you served with often help fill in the gaps of your fading memory. The best memories for me stem from the fact that all these tough soldiers made me a better person. They pushed me farther than I could ever [have] by myself. They set high standards and raised the bar. They helped, encouraged, and looked out for me. I hope I did the same for each and every one I served with.

BASETRACK Live is at the BAM Harvey Theater Nov 11—15. For our full Voices from the Front Lines programming, click here.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Bryce Dessner and Dianne Berkun-Menaker Discuss Black Mountain Songs

by Susan Yung

Between 1933 and 1957, Black Mountain College in North Carolina was a model of progressive interdisciplinary learning that posited the importance of the arts. Brilliant thinkers from many genres spent time there: Buckminster Fuller, Anni and Josef Albers, John Cage, Merce Cunningham. The rich collaborative spirit of the college suffuses Black Mountain Songs, a suite of commissioned songs by eight composers curated by Bryce Dessner and Richard Reed Parry, sung by the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, directed by Maureen Towey, with a film by Matt Wolf and sets by Mimi Lien. The composers are Dessner, Parry, Caroline Shaw, Nico Muhly, Aleksandra Vrebalov, John King, Jherek Bischoff, and Tim Hecker. Dianne Berkun-Menaker directs the chorus and conducts.

We asked Dessner (curator, musician, songwriter, composer, and member of The National) and Berkun-Menaker (chorus director and conductor) about the project.

Black Mountain College. Photo: Hazel Larsen Archer

Where did the inspiration come from to honor Black Mountain College?

Bryce Dessner: I have been interested in Black Mountain College for many years. I went to summer camp in North Carolina as a kid just a few miles from the site of the college and actually learned to play music in those same mountains that spawned some of the greatest artists and art movements of the 20th century. I first learned about Black Mountain College through the well-known and incredibly long-running John Cage and Merce Cunningham collaboration, which was in its early years at Black Mountain (both were teachers at the college). I learned more about the college later in reading about the many profoundly important visual artists who came through there either as teachers, visiting lecturers or students (Robert Rauschenberg, Cy Twombly, Robert Motherwell, Willem de Kooning, Philip Guston, Franz Kline, etc.).

Ivy Baldwin Dance's Oxbow—A Visual Thriller

by Susan Yung

Oxbow. Photo: Andy Romer

Ivy Baldwin Dance, which celebrates its 15th anniversary this year, has history of seeking out intriguing artistic collaborators. For its two most recent works, artist Anna Schuleit created very different sets. In Ambient Cowboy (2012, New York Live Arts), she used high-intensity projections to delineate chambers on the floor, or interact with the dancers; in one case, a green squiggle of light seemed to entrap a prone dancer like a spiderweb. For Here Rests Peggy (2010, Chocolate Factory), Schuleit painted an expressionistic backdrop, which the dancers slammed against or leaned upon. Chloe Z Brown designed the sensitive and strategic lighting for both shows.

In Context: Oxbow

Ivy Baldwin's Oxbow runs at BAM from November 13—16. Context is everything, so get even closer to the show with this curated selection of articles, interviews, and videos related to the production. Once you've seen it, help us keep the conversation going by telling us what you thought below.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

War in the Theater—From Ajax to A.J.

David Strathairn, Jake Gyllenhaal, Reg E. Cathey. Photo: Beowulf Sheehan
By David Hsieh

  • A panelist in active combat said she was reluctant to offer help to her brothers when they came back from the battlefield; she worried that their wives would see it as interfering. 
  • Another panelist said that a former combat-mate’s suicide a couple of days earlier prompted him to speak out. 
  • An audience member who was a veteran said he didn't realize that he was hurting his wife until she forced him to see a therapist. 
  • Another said she works with LGBT community and saw a lot of similarities between ancient warriors and those she's trying to help. 
  • Still another said Sophocles was trying to sound an urgent call to action—that in real distress, words are inadequate and won’t get things done. 

These are some of the responses from a unique presentation on September 28 at the BAM Fisher. Theater of War is a table reading of two Sophocles’ tragedies—Ajax and Philoctetes—with the purpose of prompting the audience to understand the psychological impact wars impose on combat warriors and people close to them. Four actors participated in the BAM event. Frances McDormand, with short platinum hair, holding the script in front of her as if proclaiming an oracle, was a majestic Athena—until she put down her glasses and script and turned into an anguished Tecmessa, Ajax’s suffering wife who was powerless in preventing her husband’s suicide. Sitting next to her was Jake Gyllenhaal, arms crossed on his chest, shoulders slouched on the tabletop, ranting over the injustice imposed on him by his fellow councilors. Reg E. Cathey made the opportunist Odysseus almost noble. And with his unruly white hair and beard, David Strathairn looked exactly like Philoctetes who was abandoned on an island for 10 years.

In Context: Sadeh21

Batsheva Dance Company's Sadeh 21 runs at BAM from November 12—15. Context is everything, so get even closer to the show with this curated selection of articles, interviews, and videos related to the production. Once you've seen it, help us keep the conversation going by telling us what you thought below.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Who's Who of Warhol’s Unseen Films?

Warhol may be the 20th century’s greatest schmoozer. He actively befriended and connected with the NYC and international art world elite. Many of his mainstay muses are now household names, but Andy’s social net was so wide cast, you may need a brief refresher on the “It” men and women who appear in the films of Exposed: Songs for Unseen Warhol Films.

Mario Montez and Boy, 1965. Photo: Andy Warhol ©2014 The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA, a museum of Carnegie Institute. All rights reserved. Film still courtesy of The Andy Warhol Museum.

In Context: BASETRACK Live

BASETRACK Live runs at BAM from November 11—15. Context is everything, so get even closer to the show with this curated selection of original blog pieces, articles, interviews, and videos related to the production. Once you've seen it, help us keep the conversation going by telling us what you thought below.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Proceed At Your Own Risk—The Ecstatic Rage of Derek Jarman

BAMcinématek just kicked off the most comprehensive New York City retrospective of pioneering British queer filmmaker Derek Jarman in nearly two decades. From his collaborations with a young Tilda Swinton and rock legends like the Smiths to his audaciously experimental takes on classic literature, his was a career marked by fervent political commitment and a deeply personal aesthetic.

In addition to laying the foundation for the New Queer Cinema movement, Jarman was a gifted painter and writer. In conjunction with the retrospective, we’ll be giving away a copy of his book, At Your Own Risk: A Saint's Testament. Send an email to with the subject line “Jarman,” and read critic Thomas Beard on the important place Jarman’s books hold in the legacy of his art.

The Last of England. Photo: Channel Four Films/Photofest

BAM Illustrated: The Making of Dean Wareham

This week, Dean Wareham and The Andy Warhol Museum's Exposed: Songs for Unseen Warhol Films comes to BAM. Wareham curated the musical lineup, and he and Eleanor Friedberger (The Fiery Furnaces), Martin Rev (Suicide), Bradford Cox (Deerhunter, Atlas Sound), and Tom Verlaine (Television) will perform original music alongside 15 never-before-seen Warhol films. 

Wareham and Warhol are a natural fit. Wareham's former band Galaxie 500 toured with the Velvet Underground, and he released 13 Most Beautiful: Songs for Andy Warhol's Screen Tests with his wife, Britta Phillips, in 2010. But who was Wareham before his Galaxie 500 days? Who was he as a kid? What made Dean Wareham? Illustrator Nathan Gelgud took a look at his memoir Black Postcards to find out.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Andy Warhol’s Brooklyn: A Tour

Andy Warhol is synonymous with the downtown scene of 1960s and '70s New York, but his escapades in Brooklyn are somewhat less chronicled. In anticipation of the upcoming Exposed: Songs for Unseen Warhol Films (Nov 6—8), we reached out to The Andy Warhol Sites Tour guide and author of Andy Warhol’s New York City, Thomas Kiedrowski, for some insight into the Pop Art icon’s Brooklyn haunts, from grand theaters to department store lunch counters, many within walking distance from BAM.

Below is a detailed collection of anecdotes and addresses (plus a map!)—everything you need to set out on a Brooklyn Warhol tour of your own!

by Thomas Kiedrowski

Crowds of teenagers line up for Murray The K's Big Holiday Show at the Brooklyn Fox Theater on December 29, 1964. Photo: Donaldson Collection/Getty Images
The Brooklyn Fox Theater
20 Flatbush Ave

Beginning in the ‘60s, Warhol attended live performances at the Brooklyn Fox, a palatial auditorium built in 1928 (his birth year). 

The rock ‘n’ roll, doo wop, and rhythm ‘n’ blues acts emceed by DJ Murray the K must have left an indelible mark on Warhol. Friends recall his excitement upon seeing Dion live on stage in 1963 alongside Dee Dee Sharp, The Coasters, Lou Christie, and Little Peggy, among others. He went back to see the September show with his close companion Isabel Eberstadt, writer and daughter of poet Ogden Nash, and also met Dionne Warwick that night.

The shows at the Brooklyn Fox, always accompanied by a B movie screening, may have informed Warhol’s 1966 multimedia act The Exploding Plastic Inevitable, which incorporated film, strobes, gels, The Velvet Underground, dancers, and more. As with Murray the K’s logo, Warhol also plastered his name in large letters on signs and posters ahead of the main act. Incidentally, the $2.50 cost of the evening show at the Fox was the same price Warhol charged for his EPI shows.

Things To Do With 1,000 Pounds of Salt

Zvi Sahar and PuppetCinema’s show Salt of the Earth uses 1,000 pounds of salt to create a mini dystopian desert for its puppet protagonist to traverse. To better wrap our heads around that improbable number, we came up with this list of other things that could be done in the case of a similar sodium surplus.

With 1,000 pounds of salt, you could:
  • make 26,580 16oz jars of Brooklyn Brine Pickled Rosemary Lemon Beets with Gin
  • de-ice approximately 40% of the Brooklyn Bridge roadway
  • provide 828 people (roughly the audience at a sold-out show at the BAM Harvey Theater) with their annual recommended sodium intake (1500mg a day), delivered via 5lbs-per-person of Martha Stewart's Hot-Smoked Cured Bacon
  • fill 615 boxes of Morton Salt
  • make 20 salt licks for livestock
  • create 3,518 gallons of sea water (roughly 1/300 the amount of water in the old McCarren Park Pool)
  • make 3,402,666 bite-sized salted chocolate caramels, a la Nunu Chocolates in Fort Greene
  • soothe every sore throat in Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights, and Park Slope combined (around 159,500 throats) 

See the salt for yourself through Saturday at the BAM Fisher.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

In Context: Exposed: Songs for Unseen Warhol Films

Exposed: Songs for Unseen Warhol Films runs at BAM from November 6—8. Context is everything, so get even closer to the show with this curated selection of articles, interviews, and videos related to the production. Once you've seen it, help us keep the conversation going by telling us what you thought below.

Last-minute BAM-inspired Halloween Costume Ideas

by Chris Tyler

We’re throwing a FREE Halloween party this Friday and costumes are highly encouraged (there will be prizes!). Still haven’t planned yours? Take your inspiration from recent BAM programming with some of these easy-to-assemble costumes:

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

In Context: The Object Lesson

The Object Lesson runs at BAM from October 5—8. Context is everything, so get even closer to the show with this curated selection of articles, interviews, and videos related to the production. Once you've seen it, help us keep the conversation going by telling us what you thought below.

The Object Lesson—an interview with director David Neumann

by Morgan Green

Where making art is concerned, David Neumann believes that “the free flow of ideas should always be encouraged rather than obeying some hierarchical relationship that supersedes creative freedom.” His track record indicates a healthy disrespect for said hierarchical structure: David Neumann, a choreographer, trained as an actor and is now directing The Object Lesson in the Next Wave Festival.

I caught David on the phone as he dashed between rehearsals to ask about his work with Geoff Sobelle on The Object Lesson. In addition to being a highly sought-after multidisciplinary collaborator, he is also a terrifically nice guy.

David Neumann’s BAM debut was in 1991 when he danced in the Warrior Ant directed by Lee Breuer.