Standing at the corner on which Jay-Z and Barbra Streisand helped anoint the new Barclays Center at the southern edge of Fort Greene, Brooklyn, it’s possible to feel an air of controversy around the 19,000-seat sports arena and concert venue that opened its doors for the very first time just weeks ago. Meanwhile, over at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), the 150-plus-year-old arts institution that has long helped to anchor the area, began inaugurating a new space of its own in September.
Last night and tonight, the Guggenheim is staging two special, performance-like readings of Pablo Picasso’s obscure play, “Desire Caught by the Tail,” as part of the museum’s Works & Process series.
As a high school kid, I thought Eugène Ionesco was pretty much one of the best writers I had encountered up to that point. He was an entrenched misanthrope with a brutal wit who wasn’t afraid to take on politics, philosophy, and the unfortunate realities of human interaction. And, most importantly to me at that time, one of his sharpest tools was his sense of the absurd. As a teenager who had moved a number of times and changed schools every couple of years, who spent most of her time in her own head or with her nose in books, and who was grappling with depression and a latent queerness, absurdity made perfect sense to me. The world outside of my head was excruciatingly absurd and twisted to me then, and most of the time I hated it and assumed it hated me right back. Ionesco was perfect.
When DD Dorvillier introduced an excerpt from her Danza Permanente at Judson Church last year, explaining that each of her four dancers would mirror one instrument in a Beethoven string quartet, a dance historian might have been puzzled. On the timeline of American concert dance, this sounded rather familiar: Didn’t the modern dance pioneers Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn do something similar about 100 years ago, when they developed a choreographic approach known as “music visualizations”? Hasn’t Mark Morris, famous for his musically complex choreography, been physicalizing classical scores since the 1980s? Oh, and then there’s Balanchine…
RoseAnne Spradlin’s beginning of something was evocative but didn’t offer enough to chew on; DD Dorvillier’s Danza Permanente is not one of her best works, but it gives gives viewers a glimpse of the choreographer’s process.
The British sculptor and installation artist Anthony McCall’s sculptural parallax of thirty-six, 300-watt incandescent bulbs is a site-specific installation for BAM’s new 250-seat Fisher building, made in conjunction with Jonah Bokaer, the thirty-something dance whiz kid. Bokaer was the youngest member of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, and founder of Chez Bushwick, and his relation to McCall tiptoes around the famed collaborations between Isamu Noguchi and the Martha Graham Company, or Cunningham and Andy Warhol’s helium filled silver pillows. Those collaborations pivoted sculptural sets as integral parts of the choreography.
It’s a hot Friday afternoon. Inside the LAVA Studio in Brooklyn, six bodies take turns tumbling on a large blue mat: forward rolls, cartwheels, back handsprings, backward rolls into handstands. They cheer each other on throughout the warm-up. Their bodies are strong, their energy joyfully palpable.
While skimming through my Facebook news feed last week, I noticed that Murray Hill had posted a picture of himself with Patti Lupone in her dressing room, following a performance of her show Far Away Places, which ran for a couple of nights at the new lounge/cabaret space 54 Below, near Times Square. Just below the picture Murray had a note about the resurgence of nightclub acts he’s noticed of late.
On my way to the Joyce SoHo last Wednesday, while thinking about David Gordon’s 50th anniversary — and realizing that, while he has been making work for five decades, I would be seeing it live for the first time that night — I got to wondering: What does Gordon, renowned for resisting any sort of tidy classification, think about these tidy little landmarks called anniversaries?
Jack Ferver and Marc Swanson met in 2008. Both grew up in rural America, both are queer, both have created imaginary worlds. Two Alike, which premiered at The Kitchen last weekend, is their first collaboration, in which Swanson provides the setting for Ferver’s dreams and nightmares.
Readings are a staple of every literary calendar. Author Paul Rome has taken this bit of weeknight ritual and rebuilt it as equal parts performance and literature. To do so, he’s performed a simple trick: Rome writes to read.
The program for Rashaun Mitchell’s Nox contains a lone explanatory note: “When my brother died I made an epitaph for him in the form of a book. This is a replica of it, as close as we could get.” The words belong to the poet Anne Carson, and they come from the back cover of her eponymous book, published in 2010. They make you wonder: Is what we’re about to see a replica of that book, in the form of a dance, as close as the artists could get? A replica of a replica?