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 (
“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 (
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 (
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:

BAM Invites Daniel Handler and Neil Gaiman To The Stage


Neil Gaiman and Daniel Handler are old friends and highly successful authors. They are also both swordsman. So its fitting they headlined an event named, “En Garde” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM).

Daniel Handler might be better known by his pseudonym, Lemony Snicket, under which he wrote the popular, “Series of Unfortunate Events” which was eventually adapted into a film.

Both were there to promote their books and perform for the the packed theater. Handler’s most recent novel, “We Are Pirates”, is a modern day pirate novel set in San Francisco.

Neil Gaiman’s most recent novel, “Trigger Warning”, is a collection of poems and short stories. Not coincidentally, both books were released the same day, on February 3rd.

The night outside BAM looked like any of the alt-rock concerts that were surely playing across Brooklyn that same night. As we entered the excitement was palpable. Cards were passed around before the two got onstage for audience members to write questions.

The performance was well received with stories of people quoting their books in front of them, and humble wonderment of their successes. It was a healthy mix of funny, serious and thoughtful when they spoke about the state of literature. It was like an oscar-winning dramedy.

At one point Gaiman spoke about people approaching him to tell him how important his books were to them, crying while they spoke. Looking at the audience faces during the show, I imagine many people there were moved by the novels as well.

Handler is a force in the literary community and has, on occasion, made headlines for the wrong reasons. One particular mishap was not off the table at BAM that night. When presenting a literary award to a black friend in November he said she’s allergic to watermelon. He immediately apologized on Twitter.

But, there was no mishaps that night, it was perfect.



BAM Illustrated: The United States vs. Paul Robeson

By Nathan

Legendary performer and political activist

See more of Nathan Gelgud’s work on his website.
Further reading about Paul Robeson:

…read more

Source:: BAM News:

The Many Faces of Paul Robeson


Daniel Beaty as Paul Robeson in The Tallest Tree in the Forest. Photo: Don Ipock

Daniel Beaty’s The Tallest Tree in the Forest, playing the BAM Harvey March 22—29, celebrates the dynamic life of legendary performer and political activist Paul Robeson. He is best known for his iconic baritone and leading roles in The Emperor Jones, Show Boat, and Othello—a remarkable accomplishment despite the fact that his star rose at a time when segregation was legal. But his life trajectory took many turns and Robeson wore many hats as a public figure and outspoken champion of peace and justice:

As a scholarship student—and the third black student ever—at Rutgers University, Robeson played varsity football and was a two-time All-American. He received a Phi Beta Kappa key for his scholarship, and graduated as class valedictorian.

Robeson graduated from Columbia Law School in 1923, though worked only briefly as a lawyer, citing intolerable racism. His scholarship here brought him to Harlem during its monumental Renaissance.

Among the causes he most ardently supported were anti-lynching legislation in America, Indian independence from Britain, …read more

Source:: BAM News:

Eat, Drink & Be Literary: Michael Cunningham

By Chris

Eat, Drink & Be Literary, presented in partnership with the National Book Foundation, is back this week with Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Michael Cunningham. With a new season comes a new batch of food, beverage, and book-related questions for our featured authors. (Read responses from other EDBL writers here.)

When you write, do you write by hand or on the computer (…or typewriter)?
I write on my computer. I love my computer. I love the way the words on a computer screen occupy a halfway zone between consciousness and paper. They exist but don’t exist; they’re more than stray thoughts but at the same time they’re still just blips of light; you can push a button and POOF it’s as if they were never there at all.

What is your favorite Brooklyn-based novel?
Jonathan Lethem’s Motherless Brooklyn.

When you read, are you an e-book or a paper book person?
I’m fine with both. I love a bound book, but at the same time don’t really understand the objection to e-books. I mean, a little glowing box that holds thousands of stories? What’s not to like?

Two Shake Shack cheeseburgers (with fries). …read more

Source:: BAM News:

Backstage Confessions of a Temple Sweeper

By Chris

Semele’s Temple Sweeper, Eveline Chang.
Photo: Eveline Chang

By Eveline Chang

If you asked me a couple of weeks ago if I ever thought I’d have the chance to perform on the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House stage with world-renowned artists, I would have said you were cruel for teasing me. So when the call came up for an extra, or supernumerary, for the Canadian Opera Company’s production of Semele (closing tonight!), I did a double-take. As a program manager for BAM Education, I spend much of my time in the studio, backstage, or front of house. This new role—Temple Sweeper—needless to say, uncovered a completely different side of BAM for me.

During rehearsals with the COC, I learned the mysterious story of the woman I was portraying: the real-life keeper of the 17-ton, Ming Dynasty temple from rural China. Ruan Jinmei is featured in Director Zhang Huan‘s documentary film and ash painting that bookend the opera, bringing a contemporary Eastern dimension to the mythology of Handel’s Semele.

Being a first-time extra in an opera means two things: 1) you realize it takes a small army to realize productions of this scale and 2) …read more

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“I knew ‘em all”: Eugene O’Neill and the Iceman

By Chris

by Elliot B. Quick

Visual artist Charles Demuth and Eugene O’Neill in
Provincetown, MA, 1916.

Photo: Provincetown Playhouse.

A superficial glance at Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh, playing the BAM Harvey Theatre through March 15, can leave a modern reader with glazed eyes. I’ll cop to reeling back from terms like “French Syndicalism” and “The Boer War,” which have the vague ring of something I once learned for a high school history test. Hearing old white men talk of Wobblies in the thick accents and archaic speech patterns that O’Neill meticulously records in his dialogue, it’s tempting to class The Iceman Cometh as a historical case study in old men dreaming of old things. Who remembers what an iceman is, anyway?

But if we can penetrate the surfaces of O’Neill’s language and peer outside the grimy windows of Harry Hope’s stale-aired barroom, the summer of 1912 trembles with modern resonance: a turbulent American economy; a contentious presidential election bogged down by party rivalry; glad-handing politicians juggling allegiances between Wall Street and the worker; inflated grassroots leaders shouting inflammatory rhetoric; a rumbling working class striving to articulate the ways they are held off from the American Dream.

Iceman …read more

Source:: BAM News: