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Friday, June 23, 2017

Edgar Wright Presents Heist Society

Reservoir Dogs.

By Edgar Wright

Newsflash, BAM: Crime does not pay! Don’t let this criminally entertaining series of heist films influence you to go a-robbing and a-looting when you leave the theater. Avoid the sticky ends and time in the slammer by simply living vicariously from the cinematic thrills of these robbing hoods. Getaway this summer with 22 solid gold heist movies curated by the team at BAMcinématek and myself:

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Eat, Drink & Be Literary: Jacqueline Woodson

On April 5, acclaimed author Jacqueline Woodson came to BAMcafé for the third installment of this season’s Eat, Drink & Be Literary series. She read from both her novel Another Brooklyn and her New York Times bestselling memoir Brown Girl Dreaming, which also received the 2014 National Book Award, a Newbery Honor Award, and the NAACP Image Award. After the reading, she chatted with The New Yorker's Deborah Treisman. Listen to the full reading and conversation after the jump:

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Reflecting on the Refugee Crisis

This past February, BAM and PEN America brought together writers from around the world to address the many refugee crises facing the world today. South African author Jonny Steinberg (whose book was adapted for Isango Ensemble’s A Man of Good Hope) joined Ethiopian-American novelist and writer Dinaw Mengestu for a conversation moderated by Iranian-American writer Roya Hakakian.

Mengustu spoke about his new acceptance of the term "immigrant writer:"

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Portraits and Process: BAMcinemaFest 2017

The 9th annual BAMcinemaFest kicks off tonight with the New York premiere of Aaron Katz's Gemini in the BAM Harvey Theater at 7:30pm. Earlier this season, BAM had the pleasure of partnering with photographer Robin Holland to create a series of portraits depicting this year's filmmakers. During the shoot, we asked each director a series of short questions about process, inspiration and this year's festival. Their answers follow:

Photo © Robin Holland
Lauren Wolkstein & Christopher Radcliff

1. Describe your film in three words:
Lauren: Atmospheric road mystery.
Chris: Sad-boy-secrets.

2. What movie(s) made you want to become a filmmaker?
L: Blue Velvet is one of many for me.
C: I honestly don't remember.

3. What film(s) are you looking forward to seeing at this year's festival?
L: A Ghost Story.
C: Golden Exits. Also we both really want to see I Am Another You for a second time.

Friday, June 9, 2017

BAM 1968: Merce Cunningham’s First Major New York Season

This summer, in the Natman Room off of BAM's main lobby, a moment in BAM's history is celebrated—the first major New York run of Merce Cunningham Dance Company in May 1968. Stop by and check out the photos and artifacts that document the first run of many to follow by this renowned company.

In May 1968, as the Vietnam War raged on and the civil rights movement gained momentum, the cultural scene was undergoing a revolution of its own in Brooklyn. That month, choreographer Merce Cunningham and his company performed 12 dances in eight performances at BAM in his troupe’s first major New York season. It was part of the first full season of programming curated by Harvey Lichtenstein, the impresario who would go on to lead BAM for 32 years. That inaugural season emphasized dance and included runs by the companies of Alvin Ailey, Paul Taylor, and José Limón, as well as poetry and symphonic and jazz music programs. (The following year, BAM presented the Festival of Dance, comprising Martha Graham, Anna Sokolow, Erick Hawkins, Twyla Tharp, Meredith Monk, and Yvonne Rainer, as well as the above.)

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

BAM R&B Festival

The Suffers. Photo courtesy of the artists
On June 8, the BAM R&B Festival at MetroTech Commons in Downtown Brooklyn begins its 23rd season with a dynamic slate of live R&B, soul, and jazz. It includes familiar names—Ramsey Lewis, or the legendary Preservation Hall Jazz Band—plus new finds, chosen by longtime producer Danny Kapilian. Here’s a brief overview of the series lineup, which takes place on Thursdays from noon to 2pm, free of charge.

Jun 8—Ramsey Lewis was named a Jazz Master by the NEA. He has 80 albums, seven gold, and three Grammys. He became a fixture on the 1950s Chicago jazz scene, and worked with Earth, Wind & Fire, who appeared on his 1974 album Sun Goddess.

Jun 15—Raul Midón sang backup for Shakira and worked with Stevie Wonder. This emotionally powerful singer is known for his improvisational mouth-horn technique, performing a “trumpet” solo with his mouth.

Jun 22—The Suffers of Houston, TX comprises 10 members. Its “Gulf Coast Soul” braids in threads of rock, Latin, country, and southern hip-hop. Its big horn section and vocals by Kam Franklin have earned accolades and TV appearances.

Jun 29—John Hammond, acoustic guitar legend, had Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix in his band—at once. This Blues Hall of Famer and Grammy winner has 33 albums to his name.

July 6—Sinkane, a four-piece led by Ahmed Gallab, offers Afrobeat cadences, funky guitar, and slinky grooves, celebrating life with a generosity of spirit.

Jul 13—Tank and The Bangas blend rhythmic soul and spoken word. This New Orleans outfit, with intriguing lyrics, funky synth, sax, and flute won the 2017 NPR Tiny Desk Contest.

Jul 20—Preservation Hall Jazz Band is the house band of New Orleans’ Preservation Hall. Now in its 50th year, the group combines a reverence for deep tradition with fresh explorations.

Jul 27—El Septeto Santiaguero of Cuba explores and updates traditional son music. Its seven players won the 2015 Latin Grammy (Best Traditional Tropical Album), honing their chops at the famed Casa de la Trova nightclub.

Aug 3—Cory Henry & The Funk Apostles are a six-piece led by Henry, who debuted at the Apollo. Henry has won two Grammys with Snarky Puppy and has a huge fanbase.

Aug 10—Liv Warfield, Judith Hill, and Shelby J: Love 4 One Another are proteges of Prince, and continue his incomparable legacy under his charity’s namesake.

Need more? Check out a playlist of this year's artists over on Spotify.

Forest City Ratner Companies is Presenting Sponsor of BAM R&B Festival at MetroTech.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

A World of Emotions

A World of Emotions. Photo courtesy Onassis Cultural Center New York
By William Lynch

The humanities are the exploration of aspects of human culture—that which makes us human—often expressed in the arts, literature, and philosophy. BAM’s formal programmatic focus on the humanities goes back decades. Given its 156-year history and place in Brooklyn and American culture, BAM has roots in the pursuit of those genres going back to its founding. From its earliest days, the Academy offered lectures for local seamen’s and tradesmen’s associations, while well into the 20th century many great thinkers, explorers, and leaders held sway before a populace eager for civic engagement. Indeed, the Academy’s founders directly alluded to the concept and place of the academy in ancient Greece when selecting a name that would imply the notion of “ideas.”

Monday, June 5, 2017

Next Wave of Stagecraft

Joshua Leon, Michelle Aguda, and Victoria Inguanta.
Photo: Adriana Leshko
By David Hsieh & Adriana Leshko

One came from Washington State after deciding a career in social sciences was not for her. Another got a wake-up call when she entered the carpentry shop of MoMA PS1 to encounter machines she didn’t know how to operate. Yet another was told by a mentor that it might be a good way to channel his penchant for public speaking. What they now have in common is their participation in the inaugural BAM Apprentice in Stagecraft (BAS) program. Thanks to a grant from the New York City Theater Subdistrict Council, BAS allows BAM to train young people from under-represented communities as stagehands and production managers in four-month periods. As Victoria Inguanta, one of this highly selective and enthusiastic group of trailblazers, put it: “I get paid to get an education and then hands-on experience? Are you kidding me?” Here, she and fellow apprentices Michelle Aguda and Joshua Leon talk about their experiences at BAM after a month in the program.

What is your earliest and/or most powerful memory of the performing arts?

Michelle Aguda: My earliest memory of performing arts is when I chose to learn to play the trumpet at 11 years old. 

Joshua Leon: My first experience with theater was in the second grade. I played John Henry.

Victoria Inguanta: When I was a kid, I was lucky enough to see The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center several times. It definitely was a formative part of my childhood. When I grew older, my family would get tickets to Broadway shows for special occasions, so I was privileged enough to see a lot of theater growing up.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Jimmy D’Adamo Lights Up BAM

Jimmy D'Adamo in his natural habitat, stage left. Photo: David Hsieh
By David Hsieh

Jimmy D’Adamo, the head electrician at BAM, once ran the spotlight for his high school plays. “I was hooked,” he said. A short post-college stint at American Express confirmed that “I was not a suit-and-tie person.” So when one of his classmates from Brooklyn College (major: technical theater) asked him to make a change, he immediately went down to the union office (Local 4, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees [I.A.T.S.E.], AFL-CIO), filled out a card, and started working at BAM in 1977. And now, after 40 years, he is saying goodbye.

In Context: Limits

Sweden’s Cirkus Cirkör offers an acrobatic exploration of an EU in flux, equal parts high-flying spectacle and trenchant critique. Context is everything, so get closer to the production through our series of curated links, videos, and articles. After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #CirkusCirkör.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

2017 BAMcinemaFest

Marjorie Prime. Photo: FilmRise
By Maureen Masters

In just nine years, BAMcinemaFest has established itself as a leading American independent film festival. With an annual slate of around 30 New York premieres of features, documentaries, and shorts, plus special events like the 25th anniversary of Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing in 2014, and 2015’s 20th anniversary cast reunion of Larry Clark’s Kids, the festival provides an invaluable platform for emerging artists and holds an important place in the Brooklyn film community, making it an ideal hometown premiere spot for New York and Brooklyn-based filmmakers. Plus, films don’t get lost in the shuffle at BAMcinemaFest with the tightly curated selection screening only at two venues on the BAM campus (the BAM Rose Cinemas and the Harvey Theater) during the 12-day festival, from June 14 to 25.