A new look for “BAM This Week”


We heard you loud and clear. Your lives are busy and it’s not that you don’t want more film, theater, music, dance, and opera in your lives—it’s just hard to schedule it all.

Enter the updated BAM This Week. Our weekly newsletter has a new clean look with day-by-day selected highlights of what’s going on here over the next seven days. We hope you like the new format, and welcome your feedback in the comment section below.

Now, for the changes:

Wednesday is the new Thursday

We’ve sent out our weekly newsletter on Thursdays for over a decade now. But if you’re anything like us, you start thinking about and planning your weekend around mid-week, so we’ve pushed the send date to Wednesdays. BAM This Week now covers events taking place Thursday through the following Wednesday and will arrive in your inbox every hump day.

One day at a time

BAM is open 365 days a year, and there is always something to do here. We send you emails focusing on specific events and performances, but recognize that sometimes you just want to figure out something to do in the days ahead. So we’ve organized the newsletter by day of the week, with a …read more

Source:: Bam News:

Connecting Through Dance

By Susan

Mark Morris leads a workshop in Cambodia. Photo: Johan Henckens

By R. Michael Blanco

One pilot year and four seasons later, DanceMotion USASM (DMUSA)—the US State Department’s cultural diplomacy program produced by BAM—continues to work its magic around the globe. By the end of 2016, the program will have sent 20 dance companies to 47 countries, reaching more than 100,000 people directly in workshops and performances and over 20 million people through digital platforms and social media.

Conceived in 2009 by BAM Executive Producer Joseph V. Melillo in response to a Department of State request for proposals, DMUSA brings its extensive network of national and international dance contacts to work with the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in choosing dance companies to send on missions of cultural exchange throughout the world.

Flooring, awaiting installation in Cambodia.
Photo: Johan Henckens

Late last year, Mark Morris Dance Group was sent on one such mission, to boldly go where they, in fact, had gone before. But this time, they not only immersed themselves in the fertile field of traditional Khmer dance in Cambodia, they also left behind some practical know-how.

In a four-day session of …read more

Source:: Bam News:

Richard Eyre’s Notes on Ghosts

By Chris

Lesley Manville in Ghosts. Original photo: Hugo Glendinning
Ibsen said of Ghosts (coming to the BAM Harvey Theater April 5—May 3) that “in none of my plays is the author so completely absent as in this last one.” Nine years later, when he was 61, Ibsen met an 18-year-old Viennese girl and fell in love. She asked him to live with her; he at first agreed but, crippled by guilt and fear of scandal (and perhaps impotence as well), he put an end to the relationship. Emilie became the “May sun of a September life” and the inspiration for the character of Hedda Gabler, even if Ibsen himself contributed many of her characteristics with his fear of ridicule, his apparent repulsion with the reality of sex, and his yearning for emotional freedom.

Perhaps his disavowal of authorial presence in Ghosts was a little disingenuous. When he was working on the play he wrote this to a friend:

“Everything that I have written is most minutely connected with what I have lived through, if not personally experienced…for every man shares the responsibility and the guilt of the society to which he belongs. To live is to war with trolls …read more

Source:: Bam News:

Space is the Place: Afofuturist Music Videos

By Chris

By Ashley Clark

The term “Afrofuturism” was coined by cultural theorist Mark Dery in his 1994 essay “Black to the Future.” While championing the work of pioneering African-American authors of speculative fiction including Octavia Butler and Samuel R. Delany, Dery expressed surprise at the relative lack of African-American sci-fi literature. This absence was curious, he said, because “African-Americans, in a very real sense, are the descendants of alien abductees; they inhabit a sci-fi nightmare in which unseen but no less impassable force fields of intolerance frustrate their movements; official histories undo what has been done; and technology is too often brought to bear on black bodies.”

In the time since Dery’s initial usage of the term, however, Afrofuturism has come to represent both an amorphous multimedia aesthetic, and a useful framework for critical theory applicable to creative work concerned with imagined and alternate black experiences. Encapsulating the concept’s scope, author Ytasha Womack writes: “Afrofuturism combines elements of science fiction, historical fiction, speculative fiction, fantasy, Afrocentricity, and magic realism with non-Western beliefs.”

One of the key figures in heralding the resurgence of Afrofuturist aesthetics is the “Archandroid” Janelle Monae, though there is a strong lineage of musical Afrofuturism, including—but not limited …read more

Source:: Bam News:

Rethinking Robeson

By Susan

Daniel Beaty. Photo: Don Ipock

By Brian Scott Lipton

Tackling Paul Robeson’s tumultuous life story in one theatrical show is a monumental endeavor. Nonetheless, this Herculean undertaking has been taken on by two of America’s most gifted theater artists, writer-performer Daniel Beaty and director and Tectonic Theater Project co-founder Moisés Kaufman, in The Tallest Tree in the Forest, which receives its long-awaited New York premiere at the BAM Harvey Theater, March 22 to 28. (The show has played previous theatrical engagements in Washington, DC; Kansas City; La Jolla; and Los Angeles.)

Indeed, Robeson, who died in 1976 at age 77, can hardly be defined by any one description or any one accomplishment. This extraordinary African-American, born at the end of the 19th century, was a true groundbreaker—a son of a former slave who went from being valedictorian of his class at Rutgers University to a member of the National Football League, a Shakespearean actor on Broadway, a movie star, an internationally acclaimed singer, and a revered political figure.

Yet Robeson was as much sinner as saint. Although married, Robeson was also a bit of a womanizer, whose lovers included his Othello co-star Uta Hagen. His politics were …read more

Source:: Bam News:

Mark Morris’ Jazzy Spring

By Susan

Spring, Spring, Spring. Photo: Peg Skorpinski

By Susan Yung

Mark Morris Dance Group returns in April with two rich programs of repertory, including his vivacious interpretation of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring; Words, a lauded recent work seen briefly in New York before an international tour; and a world premiere entitled Whelm, to Debussy. Not only that, the troupe performs one of MMDG’s all-time favorites, Grand Duo; its soft-slipper rendition of Pacific, most often performed by ballet companies on pointe; and more.

Spring, Spring, Spring‘s 2013 premiere at the Ojai Music Festival (Morris served as that festival’s music director) coincided with the centennial of Stravinsky’s riot-inducing Rite of Spring, but Morris took inspiration from the jazzy arrangement by the Bad Plus. (Per usual, music is played live.) In a recent exchange, Morris described his approach, which doesn’t hew to the “chosen one” narrative. “I disagree with the premise. It is the music that gives so many people the urge to make up a dance. Perhaps because they anticipate a press-grabbing succès de scandale like the original. I was not at all lured by the centenary observations. I was thrilled by the marvelous Bad Plus arrangement.”

“The Rite is notorious …read more

Source:: Bam News:

In Context: The Tallest Tree in the Forest


Daniel Beaty celebrates legendary performer and political activist Paul Robeson in The Tallest Tree in the Forest at the BAM Harvey Theater March 22—29. 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.

Program Notes

The Tallest Tree in the Forest (PDF)


BAM Illustrated: The United States vs. Paul Robeson (BAM blog)
Illustrator Nathan Gelgud looks at Robeson’s radical politics and turbulent relationship with the US government.

The Many Faces of Paul Robeson (BAM blog)
An overview of the many hats Robeson wore as a public figure and outspoken champion of peace and justice.

Daniel Beaty on Acting vs. Writing Paul Robeson (Backstage.com)
“We don’t even have an African-American superstar to the magnitude he was. Honestly, the closest in terms of awareness in culture across the globe would be, like, Barack Obama or Michael Jackson.”

Robeson in All God’s Chillun’s Got Wings (PBS.org)
Robeson played the male lead in Eugene O’Neill’s controversial play about an interracial marriage.

Look & Listen

The Life of a Kodo Apprentice


Ajara, Kodo. Photo: Takashi Okamoto
There’s much to love about Kodo: the ritualistic precision, the subterranean sounds, the tensed, muscular bodies poised with impossible control. But beneath the surface of those displays lies an entire lifestyle devoted to a holistic folk ethos of which drumming is an integral part. Before a performer can officially join the group (which comes to the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House tonight, March 19—Saturday, March 21), they must be vetted through an intensive, two-year-long apprenticeship on Sado Island. As touched on in our interview with former Kodo member Kaoru Watanabe, the daily routine of an apprentice involves drumming, dancing, singing, tea ceremony, woodworking, growing rice, and more…

Communal Living

Apprentices live together in a village on Sado Island, a secluded time capsule of preindustrial times located in the Japan Sea.

Temple buildings on Sado island. Photo: Tony McNicol

They begin their day at 5am with a brisk 10-kilometer jog to develop leg strength and endurance for

Growing Food
During the apprenticeship, much of the vegetables, rice, and other food are grown communally on the
premises, asserting a connection to place. The physical labor of the harvest is said to resonate …read more

Source:: Bam News:

In Context: Kodo One Earth Tour: Mystery


Japanese taiko drum ensemble Kodo comes to BAM with Kodo One Earth Tour: Mystery March 19—21. 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.

Program Notes

Kodo One Earth Tour: Mystery (PDF)


Rigorous Rhythm: Kaoru Watanabe on Taiko (BAM blog)
We talk taiko with Brooklyn-based Kaoru Watanabe, a former member of (and only American) in Kodo.

Inside the kingdom of Kodo (Japan Times)
“Tamasaburo brought a new way of thinking to us.” A look at Kodo’s work with artistic director and kabuki theater giant Tamasaburo Bando.

Taiko Glossary (Taiko.com)
Brush up on your taiko terminology before seeing Mystery.

Look & Listen


The Amazing Sounds of Taiko Drums
Taiko expert Hitoshi Mogi explains the history of the tradition and shows how the drums are made.

Live at the Acropolis
Kodo performs at the Acropolis in Greece in 1995.

Now your turn…

So how did you enjoy the show? Likes? Dislikes? Surprises? Tell us what’s on your mind in the comments below.

…read more

Source:: Bam News:

Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon At BAM


Kim Gordon is a dynamo. A visual artist, a guitarist, a bassist and lead singer that brought her unique style to the Brooklyn Academy of Music in February. She is a founding member of the trail-blazing Sonic Youth. Her most recent artistic foray was into writing. Her memoir, Girl In A Band, was well-received by critics and even better received by the audience at BAM.

Her current book tour is like a rock and roll Q and A with snippets of rock documentary videos and interesting tidbits about rock and roll in the 80’s and 90’s throughout.

Gordon went on to talk about her book and the unique challenge of doing something so “conventional” after such an unconventional rise to fame. This played well with the Brooklyn crowd.

Gordon definitely has a lot of interesting things to share from the interesting perspective of a female rocker in what many see as the last great generation of musicians.

On a tour with Neil Young, Gordon found that hippy Neil Young fans weren’t the friendly, accepting people she thought they were. In fact, audiences were regularly hostile to her and Sonic Youth’s unique brand of music, booing throughout their set. Oh, and Neil Young was a big fan of strippers.

Gordon has also worked with Iggy Pop, whom she idolizes as a rocker. But singing his songs alongside the man himself was nerve-racking.

A sort of rock superfan herself, Gordon spoke highly of Kurt Cobain and Nirvana. She was impressed with Cobain’s ability to make each show unique and full of different moods. She also has a deep respect for what she sees as the punk rockers that came before her. Jeff Beck’s guitar smashing performance for The Yardbirds in the 60’s was particularly inspirational and poignant for her.

Gordon no longer enjoys touring but will continue to make music, perform and work on her visual art.