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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.

Can you give us an overview of BAMkids and tell us what makes it so special and relevant?

Well, there’s no question there is a lot of art that’s accessible individually or through media at home, but BAM is a communal home for art. I think that for some of our audiences, both old and new, it's the added enjoyment of encountering a story, music, laughter, movement, or beauty with other people—or even appreciating the creativity of their fellow audience members, who engage with the art as well.

Do you think that engagement is a way in which our kids programming is in line with BAM’s mission, which is to be a home for adventurous art, audiences, and ideas?
Definitely. A BAMkids experience is not a passive experience. BAM's mission is to be an adventurous home for audiences and it's really important for families to know that their experience at BAM is as much about what they do in the space as it is what the artists are doing. Like a great adventure it's meant to capture all of their senses so they can let go of the busyness and the to-do lists of their lives, and really just focus on who they are and how the art makes them feel.

Can you walk us through this season, starting with Brooklyn’s own web-slinging superhero, in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse?
Sure. So, it’s the story of this young boy, Miles Morales, who—I’m sure many are familiar with his tale—gets bitten by a radioactive spider and is set on this journey of what it means to be a hero. What I love about this film is that it introduces audiences to the multiverse. Miles is one Spider-Man of many in different universes, and he gets to come in contact with and work with these various versions to take on a common enemy. You’ll find this with all of the films we’re showing: Heroism, or being courageous, isn’t something you can do on your own. You need a community around us to do it. I also love it because it has a fresh storyline, phenomenal animation, and a playlist-worthy soundtrack.

Can you tell me about Okko’s Inn?
This came from Jesse Trussell, one of our film programmers. It’s directed by Kitarō Kōsaka, who’s a protege of arguably one of the greatest animators of all time, Hayao Miyazaki. I feel this story in particular is really special because it deals with a sort of unimaginable loss. This young person loses their parents and out of this unimaginable grief, conjures a certain magic that only comes from the human spirit. It’s a highly creative journey, a really magical story originally from a Japanese children’s book. There may be things that our audiences might find surprising, just culturally—there are a lot of different stories out there, in this case, non-Western ones. I think it’s going to be a treat.

Let’s switch over to music. What can you tell me about Lucy Kalantari & the Jazz Cats
We’re really excited to have Lucy. She’s been on the wish list for a while—even before she won a Grammy! This is going to be a dance- and sing-along concert. She incorporates playful scatting, and it’s all Jazz Age–inspired music. She already sounds great on recordings, but she is someone you definitely want to see live. She’s authentic, she’s got a great voice, she really cares and engages the audience. It’s a show for our youngest audience members, so in a way it’s kind of for the parents. You want to create moments that you will remember through the haze of child-rearing—and I think this will be one of them.

Let’s talk about Get Up, Stand Up! We’ve done this before, and it’s always wonderful. 
I’d have to say Get Up, Stand Up! concerts have provided some of my most memorable experiences here, not just as a programmer, but as an audience member. This program is curated by Mikal Lee, our Education Manager, and what he’s done is he took the hip-hop and social justice elements that are so central to our popular Word. Sound. Power. event and he created a program that’s age appropriate for younger audiences, allowing them to engage with that art form and the revolutionary aspects of hip-hop. It’ll be a blow-the-roof-off performance. You are going to be on your feet. It’ll be great for the kids, and possibly even better for the adults.

Next in the lineup is the film Queen of Katwe.
This is a great Disney film. It’s this uplifting true story of a young girl from Uganda whose world changes when she discovers chess; I find this film special because it’s not your typical female empowerment story. You have this phenomenal woman whose world has been marginalized in so many ways, and her life and relationships with her family, friends, and community are complex. Her life is this game of chess that she’s been playing from the very beginning, challenging the colonized world that she lives in, in a world that’s typecast her.

And here’s one many of us may already be familiar with: Muppet Christmas Carol.
I think what’s timeless about the Muppets is that whoever you are, wherever you’re coming from, you see yourself in these misfits and odd creatures. There’s something for everyone in this story. I also think that whatever your traditions are that time of the year—some may be really familiar with this story or not at all—that at its heart it's a story about reflecting on your life, about valuing the gift of life and the people you share life with. It's also the Muppets so it's zany, fun, all while tugging on your heartstrings.

Last but not least: Raga Kids.
This concert is going to give you the opportunity to experience the awesomeness of raga music. You get to see and hear Indian classical instruments accompanied by multilingual tunes and singalongs. I was first introduced to Brooklyn Raga Massive by way of a puppet show, actually. I was so entranced by the musicians I forgot about the puppets. They’re a collective, configuring themselves based on the performance or the community they’re engaging. They educate, but in a very performative and artistic way—you’re walking out not only with a really full, unique music experience, but with a deeper appreciation for raga music and Indian music.

Thanks Steven. We’re looking forward to it.
I am, too!

© 2019 Brooklyn Academy of Music, Inc. All rights reserved.


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