A public art project – Prismatic Park – makes Madison Square Park an interactive dance experience. One of the choreographers: “I tell the dancers, ‘You’re going to be confronted by people, a squirrel is going to run by, you’re going to stop to say hello to your boyfriend — all of that is what we’re doing.'”
Archives for June 2017
Kristen Arnett: “Florida is no place for those who want to view it from a safe distance. This state is invasive, creeping, needy. Hardy and scrabbling, our peninsula’s sour with poison and rot and choking vines. You fight for the right to live in its greenery, and once you’ve finally carved out a space, you stay tangled in the wreck. Once you’ve left, there’s no coming back. The best you can do is hack out a different life somewhere else. This place isn’t yours to write about. It’s barely mine.”
Yep. They’re more likely than Gen-X and Boomers – and way more likely than the Silent Generation – to visit the library. Maybe this is why? “Due in large part to libraries’ egalitarian nature, their events, teach-ins, and classes are free and open, making them natural hubs for underemployed millennials seeking skills to break out of their parents’ homes.” Also, of course, the books are free.
“British artists Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey … are elevating grass into something quite beautiful. They have been creating large-scale canvases of living grass, by tinkering with the natural growth process of this little plant in order to create impressive, photographic-like images.” (includes video)
After Williams’ star turn as Omar made him a celebrity in East Flatbush, “what followed was something of an existential crisis. Months removed from filming, Mr. Williams struggled to shake the grave psyche of his character. He was racked by doubts both personal and political: Had he lost hold of his identity? Was he glorifying the ills of his community, or exposing their roots? He couldn’t divine the answers.”
“Earlier folklorists had focused on black religious expression, the language of the church and pulpit. Mr. Abrahams described a new and vibrant verbal world, exuberant, profane and endlessly inventive. He explained the fine points of the dozens – a street-corner battle of wits in which participants traded insults … [as well as] jump-rope rhymes and counting rhymes.”
Used to be, you could go to a movie without having to rifle back through books, check out Wikipedia entries, and maybe do a rewatch of the whole canon so far. Not so now. “Sequels and remakes have been around for more than a century, but the past decade has seen their takeover of the multiplex (in most of America, the only kind of theater around) — and a corresponding rise in the exclusionary nature of mainstream film culture.”
Kat Eschner tells the story of cobalt and the many shades of blue pigment that the element made achievable and affordable (no more finding and grinding lapis lazuli!).
The theory (backed up with statistics): “British people are more liberal on such issues as same-sex relationships and abortion than they have ever been. At the last count, one in 10 people in couples in England and Wales were in what the official statistics call an ‘inter-ethnic relationship.’ Cannabis smoke regularly wafts around our town and city centres; Glastonbury is as much a part of the national calendar as Wimbledon or the Grand National. And throughout our waking hours, there is one constant above all others: what the dictionary still calls pop music, probably the most potent means of communication human beings have ever come up with.”
The literary culture of al-Andalus, Arab-ruled Spain in the Middle Ages, was as splendid as its architecture – and much of the era’s poetry was destroyed when the Inquisition burned the library at Granada in 1499. But there were Jewish Andalusian writers in the 10th and 11th centuries who adopted the poetic forms and subjects used by their Arab colleagues, and much of that work survives. Benjamin Ramm tells us about the most admired of these writers and offers samples of their verse.
So the world’s largest living history museum is not doing well: “The foundation’s operating losses last year totaled $54 million, or $148,000 per day. It also borrowed heavily to improve its hospitality facilities and visitors center and ended 2016 with more than $300 million in debt, Reiss said.”
“Alexander Calder is famous for having made sculptures that move, but conservators and collectors are cautious about showing them that way.” The current show at the Whitney is changing that, and the Times here offers a set of video animations that show the works in motion.
The data is public for the first time, and not surprisingly, directors and COOs make a lot, while security guards and entry-level curators make barely enough to live on, much less pay off student loans.
The matched set of four pieces has ivory handles with inlay; wide, sharp blades; and the music and text – in four-part harmony, one voice per knife – for blessings before and after the meal, one on each side. (includes sound clip of one of the blessings)
Two staffers at London dance hub The Place write about what they learned when they asked young (and older) men why they stopped dancing – and how to keep the guys coming to class.
Mike Hale writes about the Roman Porno Reboot Project, in which the Nikkatsu studio asked five directors to put a contemporary spin on roman porno (short for “romantic pornography”), the rigidly formulaic genre that saved the studio when it hit hard times 46 years ago. (Among the results: Aroused by Gymnopédies – yes, the Satie piano pieces.)
Arthur Kaptainis: “The [Orchestra symphonique de Montréal] wanted to extend his contract, and naturally enough. He still sells tickets. Why mess with success? Nagano noted in a statement that ‘following a decade and a half as music director, it seems like a natural transition point.’ Fair enough. … No conductor can lead an orchestra for more than a decade without incurring some sense of déjà vu. And no conductor in the world is less interested in repeating himself than Kent Nagano.”
“If readers are no longer paying for criticism by buying newspapers or paywall subscriptions, the Bitter Lemons and Edinburgh initiatives were an attempt to find someone else to pay for the review, namely the recipient of the opinion.” So the alternative, writes Mark Shenton, is (for now) to mostly have critics who can afford to work for free, with all that implies.
Howard Sherman on the (latest) Hedy Weiss controversy: “Many theatres are trying to address systemic racism in their practices, just as progressive activists are working vigorously to address that deep racial and ethnic inequality in society at large. So for artists committed to those goals who find their creative work viewed through a frequently dismissive perspective when it comes to social justice, who see a lack of empathy when it comes to racial topics, which I believe Weiss has displayed, it is unquestionably not just troubling, but painful.”
Arena Stage artistic director Molly Smith, choreographer Kyle Abraham, Washington National Opera artistic director Francesca Zambello, playwright James Ijames, and others from classical music, dance, and theater talk to Nelson Pressley about how they do and don’t work politics into their art.
Maria Marshall, whose work incorporated her children and treated many of parents’ deepest fears, was somehow discovered by the guy who runs the #Pizzagate YouTube channel – so now she has a pack of conspiracy theorists convinced she’s involved with pedophilia. Philip Kennicott talks to Marshall about the real intentions behind her videos and looks at how they get misinterpreted: “Marshall’s art may have succeeded all too well, agitating an anonymous art-phobic audience in almost the same way they are meant to agitate their intended audience in the cosmopolitan art world.”
Lyn Gardner: “It’s not surprising that there is a great deal of nostalgia from actors such as Judi Dench, Ian McKellen and Simon Callow who were the beneficiaries of the old rep system. But the purpose of contemporary theatre is not just to train the stars and Dames and Knights of the future. It is there to serve a much wider community … and most of all it is there to serve the particular and unique needs of the locale where a theatre is situated.” (What’s more, “from where I sit in aisle seats across the country the standard of British acting gets better year by year.”)
“[He] came to the Montreal orchestra when it was emerging from shambles. The OSM had gone through four years of labour strife, money troubles and uncertainty after the sudden departure of legendary director Charles Dutoit in 2002 after nearly 25 years in the post [of music director]. Mr. Nagano leaves the orchestra in much better position with a new concert hall, a solid balance sheet and years of critical acclaim.”
“When Xander Parish was offered a job at the Mariinsky Ballet he thought it was a joke. And wouldn’t you? Audiences had barely registered the existence of this young English dancer, languishing in the Royal Ballet’s lower ranks, when Yuri Fateyev, the Mariinsky’s artistic director, suggested that he join the elite St Petersburg company, once home to Nijinsky, Nureyev and Baryshnikov. That was seven years ago, and even now Parish can’t quite believe his luck.”
Marina Harss talks to Betsy McBride, who left her longtime berth at Texas Ballet Theater for a contract with ABT, about why she made the change and what it’s been like.
Interview with Ceri Dingle, director of Every Cook Can Govern: The Life, Impact and Works of C.L.R. James
My column for June 28, 2017 at Inside Higher Ed The word went around a few years ago that someone in England was working on a documentary about the West Indian historian, revolutionary political theorist and pan-African eminence C. L. R. James (1901-1989). … read more
AJBlog: Quick Study Published 2017-06-29
French Band Air at the Greek Theatre
For reasons I can’t entirely figure out or explain, continental Europeans have not had much luck with rock music, not matter how you define the term. (And no, the Scorpions are not excepted.) … read more
AJBlog: CultureCrash Published 2017-06-29
Great new jazz photography: Geri Allen by Sánta István Csaba
Pianist-composer Geri Allen, at age 60 a cancer victim, was photographed several times recently by Sánta István Csaba. He caught glimpses of her spirit and mourns her deeply. … read more
AJBlog: Jazz Beyond Jazz Published 2017-06-29
The chords that bind
There will be times when you feel an overpowering, almost physical urge to listen to a specific piece of it. Such a feeling came over me last night: I felt that if I couldn’t listen to the first movement of Charles Ives’ Third Symphony right away, I would be reduced to abject despair. … read more
AJBlog: About Last Night Published 2017-06-29
Some answers arose in New York, where Explode! Queer Dance hosted a four-day academic and artistic festival. The goals were ambitious: “Explode! set out to tackle inextricable challenges of strengthening ties among queer dance artists and dismantling racism, sexism, classism, transphobia and white supremacy. A tall order, but why aim for less?”
What happens when the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit asks artists to make work from items found where most of America shops, with a total budget of $99? “Just like stock in a dollar shop, there’s an astonishing range of quality: Some offerings appear perfunctory and flimsy, while other works — the true bargains — thoughtfully engage the assignment.”
Book clubs are turning their focus to nonfiction and political fiction. “Reading groups have long served as spaces for kindred spirits to gather and talk their way through weighty issues; they also skew female, older, and educated — a prime ‘resistance’ cohort. It is hard to overstate how thoroughly the anti-Trump movement is driven by the energy of women in general.”
Maybe it’s easier to say what it isn’t than what it is. “There has been a strong tradition among the genre’s commentators to reject imposters and poor substitutes: genuine essays must not be confused with stories, and formulaic school writing … and worst of all, scholarly articles.”