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Monday, October 23, 2017

In Context: boulders and bones


Bay Area-based choreographers Brenda Way and KT Nelson make their BAM debut this season with boulders and bones, a meditation on permanence and decay inspired by British land artist Andy Goldsworthy’s hillside sculpture Culvert Cairn. Driven by cellist Zoë Keating’s propulsive live score, the dancers of ODC/Dance leap and glide through the geologic evocations of RJ Muna’s cinematic mise-en-scène, revealing the high drama simmering beneath Goldsworthy’s quiet earthen articulations.

Context is everything, so get even closer to the production with this curated selection of related articles and videos. After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #BAMNextWave.

Friday, October 20, 2017

In Context: Virago Man-Dem







Choreographer Cynthia Oliver and four performers excavate layers of racial and gender performance through the shared lens of their Afro-Caribbean and African-American ancestries. Context is everything, so get even closer to the production with this curated selection of related articles and videos. After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #BAMNextWave.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

On a Road Trip with Bang on A Can All-Stars

Photo by Timothy Norris, courtesy of Ford Theatres
Artistic collectives don’t often last 30 years. Artistic goals formulated and shared when artists are just starting to figure out who they are often change as they mature and find their individual voices. Egos sometimes get in the way. Outside circumstances can lead the best intentions astray. And friendships can simply fizzle out. That is what makes the journey of the three Bang on a Can composers—Michael Gordon, David Lang, and Julia Wolfe—so special. Starting from a marathon concert in a Soho gallery, they have since created hundreds of new pieces, records, productions, marathons, and summer festivals all over the world. They've won awards and mentored young musicians, sometimes together, sometimes separately. But they are still the best of friends and collaborators—on the road together, sharing the journey.

But they did not travel alone. Along the ride are some of their staunchest supporters and loyal friends—the musicians who have played their music over the years. The compositions of the Bang on A Can All-Stars—as the musicians are collectively called—have changed over the years, but the core still remains. And newcomers have become regulars. Six will perform in Road Trip, the 30th year commemorative piece: Ashley Bathgate (cello), Robert Black (bass), Vicky Chow (piano), David Cossin (percussion), Mark Stewart (electric guitar), Ken Thomson (clarinets). Here, four of them share their fondest memories and what has changed or not over the years.

Monday, October 16, 2017

In Context: /peh-LO-tah/


/peh-LO-tah/
, an electric meditation on the racial politics of soccer from multi-talented theater artist, spoken-word poet, and performer Marc Bamuthi Joseph, comes to the BAM Harvey Theater Oct 18—21.

Context is everything, so get even closer to the production with this curated selection of related articles and videos. After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #BAMNextWave.

Friday, October 13, 2017

In Context: Mementos Mori


Combining analog craftsmanship and digital dexterity, the Chicago-based performance collective Manual Cinema engineers a live movie before the audience’s eyes in Mementos Mori, a meditation on death and ephemerality. Context is everything, so get even closer to the production with this curated selection of related articles and videos. After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #BAMNextWave.

17c — Writing the Self

Big Dance Theater returns to BAM Nov 14—18 with 17c, a dizzy intertextual romp through the diaries of Samuel Pepys, weaving music, dance, video and text into a spectacularly outré portrait of the famed 17th-century philanderer and his tragic wife Bess. Annie-B Parson, Co-Artistic Director of Big Dance Theater, spoke with Adriana Leshko about the piece, her technique, Pepys' diaries, and more.

Photo: Bylan Douglas


How would you describe Big Dance Theater’s body of work to someone who has never seen it?

Big Dance Theater, as its simple name suggests, has been in a protracted, aesthetic, alchemical conversation with dance and theater simultaneously. All elements from both camps are in play: costumes, props, language, structuralism, the use of space, time, line, causation, relationship, shape, literature, sound design, singing, dancing…

Big Dance’s body of work is a sprawling compendium of material wherein abstraction and narrative work hand-in-hand to express the world, dance and language cohabitate, design matters, sound matters, the body in space matters, literature matters. In a Big Dance piece, Form and Content intersect and have equal sway in expressing the world—meaning: what we say and how we chose to say it, are equally important.

The sources for each piece are unique, yet I’ve noticed themes over time that consistently make their way into each work—these human contradictions: our desire to live against the immutability of our mortality; our desire to be autonomous in the face of our interconnectedness; and the playful nature of theater against the innate tragedy of reality.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

In Context: La grenouille avait raison (The Toad Knew)



James Thierée and Compagnie du Hanneton return to BAM Oct 12—14 with La grenouille avait raison (The Toad Knew), a physical theater work in which two restless siblings are trapped in a dank subterranean world under the watchful gaze of an amphibian captor.

Context is everything, so get even closer to the production with this curated selection of related articles and videos. After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #BAMNextWave.

Me First

Photo: Jan Verweysveld
By David Cote

By his own admission, Ivo van Hove had never heard of Ayn Rand or The Fountainhead. But on opening night of Roman Tragedies at the 2008 Avignon Festival, an assistant heaved the 700-page tome onto his lap, with the inscription “This is for you and you have to read this now,” he recalls via Skype from Amsterdam. “So on a holiday, I opened the book and thought, Well, I’ll read 20 pages and then say, ‘Thank you. It’s not my thing,’ and get on with my life. But I started to read it and I didn’t stop. It was really like the classic page-turner for me.” Like countless readers since The Fountainhead published in 1943, van Hove was irresistably drawn into Rand’s Manichean struggle between rugged invividualists and craven compromisers against a bustling backdrop of American industry and capitalism.

Friday, October 6, 2017

In Context: Richard III


Dragging his clubfoot and hunchback across a clay- and glitter-caked stage, Shakespeare’s most wretched villain weaponizes his ugliness against a kingdom ravaged by its own elite infighting. In this prescient production, German director Thomas Ostermeier (An Enemy of the People, 2013 Next Wave) laces iambic pentameter with relentless drumming, bringing his trademark pop-cultural canniness to bear. Context is everything, so get even closer to the production with this curated selection of related articles and videos. After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #BAMNextWave.

In Context: Saudade


Vancouver-bred, New York-based choreographer Joshua Beamish pays tribute to saudade—a nostalgic yearning for an elusive past—which is said to be the essence of the Portuguese soul. Context is everything, so get even closer to the production with this curated selection of related articles and videos. After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #BAMNextWave.

Reconsidering Richard's Rep

Portrait of King Richard III. Collection of National Portrait Gallery.
By Christian Barclay

In late August 2012, a collection of bones were uncovered and retrieved from beneath a parking lot in Leicester, England. There was no sign of a coffin or burial shroud, and it appeared as if the body had been dumped into a grave unceremoniously. Early findings concluded that the remains were those of an adult male with severe scoliosis of the spine––a condition that might've made one shoulder higher than the other. On February 4, 2013, the University of Leicester confirmed, through DNA testing, that the skeleton was that of Richard III. Less than a month later, following a public viewing period, a nationally televised funeral procession and service led by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Richard was reburied in a public tomb in the Leicester Cathedral.

Looking for Richard: In Search of a King, the years-long project to locate and properly bury Richard’s remains, was led by the Richard III Society, a group dedicated to the reappraisal of England’s most maligned monarch. While many scholars acknowledge that Shakespeare’s infamous portrait of the king hovers between fact and fiction, the damage remains. The group was founded in 1924 by a group of amateur English historians who believed that history had not been fair to Richard. Through dedicated study of his life and times, they were determined to promote a more balanced view.

Much of the society’s scholarship aims to contextualize Richard’s reign. The morals and behaviors of 15th century England were radically different from our own, therefore Richard’s deeds (and alleged misdeeds) cannot be judged within a vacuum. Over the years, the society has published and funded dozens of papers and books on 15th century life, and in 1980, it received the honor of royal patronage when HRH The Duke of Gloucester agreed to become its patron.

Today the Society includes branches around the world. There are over 30 local groups within the United Kingdom, as well as branches in America, Australia, Canada, Ireland and New Zealand. Through lectures, activities, and visits to Ricardian sites, Society members are slowly, but surely, rewriting history, in the meantime shedding new light on the reputation of a legendarily notorious figure.

Schaubühne Berlin's production of Richard III by William Shakespeare, directed by Thomas Ostermeier, with translation and adaptation by Marius von Mayenburg, will be performed from Oct 11—14 at the BAM Harvey Theater.

Christian Barclay is a publicist at BAM.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Ongoing State of Siege


Photo: Jean Louis Fernandez
By Brian Scott Lipton

R-E-S-I-S-T. While a commonplace word, it has come back strongly into the American linguistic vogue this year—seen every day on badges, Twitter walls, and protest signs—as many believe that our recently-elected federal government is impinging on, or taking away, our long-held freedoms.

But, truth be told, this word has been uttered countless times throughout history, most notably during the 1930s and 1940s during the reigns of such dictators like Franco, Mussolini, and Hitler. Equally true, the question has remained on the minds of many in the four corners of the world if resistance can be anything more than a mere word in the wake of a truly fascistic regime.

Unsurprisingly, this conundrum fascinated the French writer and philosopher Albert Camus, who put the query front and center in his highly allegorical 1948 play State of Siege. BAM is co-producing acclaimed French director Emmanuel Demarcy-Mota’s visually stunning and emotionally complex production of this little-seen work at the Howard Gilman Opera House, November 2—4. (Camus, for reasons of his own, set the scene in Cadiz, Spain, although the work is written in and performed in French.)

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Richard III—Prototypical Villain


By Christian Barclay

Richard III was King of England from 1483 until his death in 1485, at the age of 32, in the Battle of Bosworth Field. He was the last king of the House of York and the last of the Plantagenet dynasty. And, if centuries-old stories are to be believed, he was one of the great villains of English history. Shakespeare’s Richard III depicts his Machiavellian rise and reign. The play, written during the early 1590s, shaped and cemented Richard’s reputation as a “rudely stamp’d” hunchback, “subtle, false and treacherous,” guilty of “stern murder in the dir’st degree.”

Monday, October 2, 2017

What is it then between us?

Photo: Stefan Killen



In the fifth stanza of Crossing Brooklyn Ferryfrom which Matthew Aucoin’s new American opera takes its name—Walt Whitman asks, “What is it then between us?” First published in 1855, the poem speaks powerfully to the importance of solidarity in a national moment plagued by rivalry and violence.

Last week, we partnered with pinhole photographer Stefan Killen to capture unique, dreamlike portraits of Crossing’s cast and creative team. The deliberately lo-fi process engages the camera obscura phenomenon to create images with a nearly infinite depth of field—all without the use of a proper lens on the camera box. After the photoshoot, we asked each of them to answer Whitman’s prompt—to define, in their own words, what it is then between us, and what that phrase might mean presently in 2017. Their thoughts and portraits are shared below:

In Context: Mon élue noire (My Black Chosen One): Sacre #2



Senegalese dancer Germaine Acogny's scenically minimalist, emotionally maximalist solo, comes to BAM Fisher Oct 4—7. Context is everything, so get even closer to the production with this curated selection of related articles and videos. After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #BAMNextWave.