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Friday, December 8, 2017

In Context: Tesseract



Choreographic duo Rashaun Mitchell and Silas Riener present Tesseract, the fruit of their years-long collaboration with pioneering video artist (and fellow Merce Cunningham Dance Company alumnus) Charles Atlas, at BAM Dec 13—16.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: Farmhouse/Whorehouse: An Artist Lecture by Suzanne Bocanegra Starring Lili Taylor

Suzanne Bocanegra returns to BAM Dec 12—16 with Farmhouse/Whorehouse, a performance piece inspired by her grandparents who lived on a farm across the road from the Chicken Ranch (better known as the “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas”). Starring Lili Taylor, the piece uses text, costumes, video projections, and more to consider the American myth of rural utopia.

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.

Monday, December 4, 2017

In Context: HOME







Physical theater artist Geoff Sobelle returns to BAM Dec 6—10 with HOME, in which he leads an ensemble of dancers and designers in a feat of impossible carpentry: raising a house onstage and making a home within it.

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.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

In Context: Suddenly



Israeli director Zvi Sahar and PuppetCinema present a dystopian puppet epic, adapted from Tel Aviv-based writer Etgar Keret’s darkly funny short story collection. 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, November 28, 2017

In Context: 8980: Book of Travelers



Singer-songwriter Gabriel Kahane's hymn to the analog intimacy of American rail culture has its world premiere at the BAM Harvey Theater Nov 30—Dec 2. 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.

Monday, November 27, 2017

In Context: Haruki Murakami’s Sleep



Based on the 1994 short story by the beloved Japanese author Haruki Murakami (The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle), this hypnotic physical theater piece by Brooklyn-based, Obie Award-winning company Ripe Time follows one woman beyond the bounds of society. 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.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

In Context: The Fountainhead





Belgian director Ivo van Hove offers a brutal reexamination of Ayn Rand’s notorious paean to radical individualism, a saga of sex, architecture, and skybound ambition. 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, November 17, 2017

What's Home?

Geoff Sobelle’s HOME, in which a house is constructed, is at the BAM Harvey from Dec 6—10. Sobelle answered some questions from Christian Barclay.

Photo: Maria Baranova


What drew you to the idea of exploring the relationship between “house” and “home”? 

When I first starting thinking about HOME, I was on the heels of my last independent work, The Object Lesson (2014 Next Wave). I was looking for a subject that everyone could relate to. No matter where you’re from or your current situation, I would imagine that just about everyone is concerned with their housing and their sense of “home.”

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Tesseract—Q&A with Rashaun Mitchell & Silas Riener

Tesseract, a work by Charles Atlas, Rashaun Mitchell, and Silas Riener at the BAM Harvey Theater from Dec 13—16, is in two parts: a 3D dance film, and a live performance with video. The three artists all worked with Merce Cunningham. Rashaun Mitchell and Silas Riener answered some questions from Susan Yung.

Charles Atlas. Photo: Mick Bello

Can you talk about the visual concepts and costumes in the film? Were there any specific sources or influences?

The visual design is based on a spectrum of ideas ranging from exposed and conspicuous imagery to notions of concealment and camouflage. There’s a foundation question about how bodies might exist in different environments, how we might assimilate or rebel in a given setting. We explore the disembodiment of shape in abstract geometry and how it might refer back to something on a body, a landscape. We found anchors in Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions, a satirical 1880s novel and animated film of politics set in a geometrical universe, the low-budget film Cube 2: Hypercube, a futuristic experiment where the participants are in a disorienting cube that keeps changing.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Bangsokol—Never Forget

Him Sophy composed music for Bangsokol—directed/designed by director Rithy Panh, with libretto by Trent Walker—at the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House on Dec 15 & 16. Sophy answered some questions from Sarah Garvey.

Photo: Tey Tat Keng
How did the idea for doing a requiem like this come about? Was it a recent idea or is it something that you have wanted to do for a while?

After the 2008 world premiere of my opera Where Elephants Weep, I started to think of what would be my next composition. At that time, one of my dear American friends, Mr. Charley Todd, who is the co-founder of Cambodian Living Arts, came to me with an idea for a new musical work: how can we commemorate the two million Cambodian people who were killed during the civil war and during the genocidal regime of Pol Pot? Indeed, in Cambodia there hasn’t been a symphonic piece of music honoring these souls in Bangsokol.

Monday, November 13, 2017

In Context: John Cale: The Velvet Underground & Nico



The inveterate experimentalist celebrates 75 years, performing selections from his legendary career, including his landmark work with the Velvet Underground, the baroque pop perfection of Paris 1919, and beyond. 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, November 10, 2017

In Context: 17c


Big Dance Theater returns to BAM Nov 14—18 with 17c, a dizzy intertextual romp through the diaries of famed 17th-century philanderer Samuel Pepys and his tragic wife Bess

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.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

What is Love?

David Dorfman Dance. Photo by Aundre Larrow.
What does it mean to love—in spite, or perhaps because of, the violence and strife in the world?
How can the body be used as a political force? How can dance artists shake things up and enable people to see other possibilities for themselves?

We asked choreographer David Dorfman and his company these very questions on the occasion of their latest work, Aroundtown, part of the 2017 Next Wave Festival. Read on for their responses, paired with portraits by photographer Aundre Larrow, before seeing the piece at the BAM Harvey Theater through Nov 11.

Monday, November 6, 2017

In Context: Aroundtown



David Dorfman Dance returns to BAM Nov 8—11 with Aroundtown, a new work that explores the question: What if real love means really being around?

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.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

In Context: A Billion Nights on Earth


When a treasured object goes missing, real-life father and son actors (Michael and Winslow Fegley) must rely on their own creativity, and each other, to survive a world of wild landscapes—and still make it back home. Context is everything, so get even closer to A Billion Nights on Earth 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, November 3, 2017

In Context: Man to Man



Become what you can’t afford to lose: that’s the solution of the troubled protagonist in Wales Millennium Centre’s riveting production of playwright Manfred Karge’s 1982 masterpiece based on true events, in a new translation by Alexandra Wood. 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.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

In Context: Grand Finale



Israeli choreographer Hofesh Shechter’s latest work conjures the bleak and beautiful contradictions of our ever-collapsing universe, featuring his own pulsating original score performed live onstage. 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.

Monday, October 30, 2017

In Context: State of Siege





French director Emmanuel Demarcy-Mota sets his sights on Albert Camus’ 1948 play, an alternative-fact-filled allegory about fear, contagion, and betrayal in the wake of a government takeover. 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 27, 2017

In Context: Buffer



Xavier Cha, 2017 Harkness Foundation Artist in Residence at the BAM Fisher, brings her perception-altering new work, Buffer, to the 2017 Next Wave Festival. Part of Performa 17, Buffer lays bare the intimate yet alienated relationships we have with the bodies on our screens.

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.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Jojo & The Pinecones—Soundtrack for Kids!






The new season of BAMkids Music Series starts on November 4 with Jojo & The Pinecones, jazz concerts for kids with swing. (And what kid doesn’t?) The concert has a theme of “Day and Night”—it wraps a kid’s daily routine around a dozen jazz standards and original songs. Call it a “soundtrack for kids” as they go through their everyday activities. Below, Joelle Lurie, the “Jojo” of the band, explains the conception and the execution of the concept.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

In Context: Road Trip


Composers Michael Gordon, David Lang, and Julia Wolfe celebrate 30 years of downtown music collective Bang on a Can with this euphoric musical road trip. 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.

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.

Friday, September 29, 2017

In Context: Crossing


Composer Matthew Aucoin makes his BAM debut with Crossing—a chamber opera taking inspiration from Walt Whitman’s Civil War diary, directed by American Repertory Theater artistic director Diane Paulus. 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: A Letter to My Nephew



Choreographer Bill T. Jones sets a portrait of his beloved nephew Lance T. Briggs against the political landscape of the present in A Letter to My Nephew, an intimate, impressionistic collage for nine dancers.

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.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

I Am With You: Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, Illustrated

When Matthew Aucoin's new opera Crossing comes to BAM next Tue, Oct 3, audiences will be treated to a new side of 19th century poet Walt Whitman: alive—on stage—with a booming baritone. Drawing inspiration from the diary Whitman kept while volunteering as a Civil War nurse, Aucoin places America's seminal poet (sung by Rod Gilfry) at the narrative heart of his opera—and draws titular inspiration from one of Whitman's most treasured texts. “The one poem that I couldn’t avoid is Crossing Brooklyn Ferry," notes Aucoin. "[Whitman] is obsessed with this question of what it is that links him to his fellow human beings...He has this insane instinct to speak to the future and say 'I've been there.'"

To celebrate Whitman's Brooklyn homecoming, we partnered with illustrator Nathan Gelgud to visually depict the first three sections of the prescient poem. Peruse the illustrations below before seeing the poet face-to-face when Crossing comes to the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House Oct 3—8.


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Uniforms Transform into Paper

This week, My Lai—Jonathan Berger and Kronos Quartet's fevered character study featuring tenor Rinde Eckert and Vân Ánh Võ—comes to the BAM Harvey Theater from Wed, Sep 27—Sun, Sep 30. Reflecting on a decisive moment when breaking rank in the name of human decency forever changed the public perception of a war, the piece interrogates the ethics of disobedience in the face of atrocity. During the development of My Lai, the show's creators worked with artist, veteran, and creator of Combat Paper Drew Cameron to generate new visual work inspired by the performance. Below, Cameron describes his process—and what first inspired this transformative creative practice.

Drew Cameron in Iraq, 2003


By Drew Cameron

I am a veteran of the war in Iraq. I entered the military not because of effective advertisements or hero films, not even college money or idealized patriotism. No, I feel that I entered the military because our society needs soldiers and has always found ways to force or entice us into service. I ran guns in the war, I occupied and criminalized strangers and wondered in the summer of 2003 if the people in Iraq would be better off after all of our invasions. Returning from the war I found other veterans and artists and began to make paper from our old uniforms.

Monday, September 25, 2017

In Context: Principles of Uncertainty



In this dance-theater collaboration, choreographer John Heginbotham brings author and illustrator Maira Kalman’s candy-colored musings on travel, beauty, and mortality to life. Inspired by the various walks the two acclaimed artists took together over many months, The Principles of Uncertainty is a meditation on the objects, memories, friends, and strangers that fill our days.

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.

Wendy’s Subway returns



Wendy’s Subway returns to BAM for the second year with a newly envisioned Reading Room.

The space, as part of Next Wave Art, is located in the BAM Fisher Sharp Lobby and houses a collection of over 300 books, including titles selected by Next Wave Festival artists for their relevance to their shows on the BAM Fisher stage and their artworks on view throughout BAM’s campus this fall. Readers will also find a small collection of titles suggested for further reading on other Next Wave Festival performances happening this season.

This year, Wendy’s Subway has also invited 25 international, independent, and artist-run libraries and organizations to recommend titles from their own collections, broadly related to the field of performance. These titles expansively reflect the specific collections of each participating library or organization, and it is our hope that their involvement fosters a platform for sharing resources, references, and forms of knowledge across many publics, within a convivial and intimate reading context.

Below, peruse annotated reading lists from Next Wave Festival artists Maira Kalman and John Heginbotham, whose The Principles of Uncertainty comes to the BAM Fisher this Wednesday, September 25.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Performing Gender

by Nora Tjossem

A gentle voice fills the courtroom: “If you stop thinking of yourself as a stable identity, it changes the whole game.” Two figures in suits face the cavernous space of the Borough Hall courtroom, transformed into a destination for Brooklyn’s book lovers on September 17th for the annual Brooklyn Book Festival. Olivier Py and Peggy Shaw, artists whose work centers their own ever-dynamic identities, take the mics for “Performing Gender,” a talk highlighting themes of Olivier Py Sings Les Premiers Adieux de Miss Knife, part of the 2017 Next Wave Festival.

Olivier Py as Miss Knife at BAM Photo: Rebecca Greenfield

This glamorous, dark performance in the Next Wave features Py—in a way. It features, rather, Miss Knife, an old-style cabaret singer modeled after Py’s grandmother. “It was very difficult to sing without drag,” Olivier Py explains. As himself, he was unable “to do the thing I loved.” When he began performing as Miss Knife, Py was young, self-professedly “very sexy,” and excluded from a community of political leftists in France. To them, he explains, gender was not a political matter. But for Py, who observed a growing momentum around the gay rights movement that often excluded gender-nonconforming and gender-fluid individuals, it was both political and necessary to his art. To sing, he needed to become Miss Knife. “I had no idea 30 years later, Miss Knife would still be singing,” Py chuckles.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Notes on Crossing

Composer Matthew Aucoin's Crossing, a new American opera directed by American Repertory Theater's Diane Paulus, comes to BAM on October 3. A note from Aucoin follows.



by Matthew Aucoin

“But for the opera…I could never have written Leaves of Grass,” Walt Whitman reminisced late in life. It’s perhaps surprising that the quintessential American poet, the writer whose signature bard-call is a “barbaric yawp” rather than a refined warble, spent his formative years—before setting off to cross a wild, apparently “formless” poetic frontier—absorbing the bel canto operas of Donizetti, Bellini, Rossini, and the young Verdi. I share Whitman’s opinion that the essence of opera has nothing to do with the stuffy salons and social one-upmanship of the Americans who imported it to New York in the 19th century: opera is a primal union of animal longing, as expressed in sound, and human meaning, as expressed in language. Indeed, Whitman considered opera the pinnacle of human expression, something beyond the powers of language alone. And in his best poems, Whitman operates like an opera composer: he carries the English language into a new musical landscape. Whitman’s “melodies” surge boundlessly, spilling over the side of the page; his exclamations are wild and craggy. His poetry is both the waterfall and the rocks on which the water crashes.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

For Ahkeem

For Ahkeem is an affecting coming-of-age documentary that shines a light on what it means to grow up poor and black in 21st Century America. Below, former White House Social Secretary Deesha Dyer shares her thoughts on this powerful film.



By Deesha Dyer

I knew something good would come out of my insomniac Twitter scrolling. A few months ago I came across the trailer for the documentary For Ahkeem. I had never heard of the film but watched the trailer and was completely taken back. I saw myself in Daje, the teenage girl whose story it follows. While circumstances are quite different between us, the parallels were strong. The most striking was the balancing act she struggled to master—being labeled a "bad kid," an unstable family structure, and poverty.

Not long ago, this was my reality. It’s how I felt growing up in Philadelphia and later at a boarding school in Hershey, PA. I was a loud kid, and I mean loud! While my parents always encouraged me to stand up for myself, this attitude and communication method was not highly accepted in an academic or residential environment. Every time I got in trouble, I would get more defensive because while I took responsibilities for my actions, I didn’t understand why the world was afraid of me. I watched Daje go through these same emotions.

When I finally watched the complete film, I wanted nothing more than to hug Daje and let her know that it is okay and she is okay. I say this from experience because I ended up okay—actually more than okay, working for President and Mrs. Obama at the White House for almost eight years. Looking at headlines, it is easy to see how the stigma attached to young black girls still exists. I don’t know why I was naive to think it didn’t. For Ahkeem moved me to start focusing more on the narrative labeled around young black girls who are perhaps deemed too loud, too sassy, or too grown. I started to have open conversations with young girls—even taking some to see For Ahkeem—about how they are beautiful, assertive, bold, and courageous. How they can use their voices for good, as I had.

I encourage everyone to go see For Ahkeem. It gives a human glimpse into a perspective that may have you questioning if Daje needs to change, or the system needs to change. Daje is hopeful and that shines through the whole movie. It’s hard not to catch that same feeling when watching this brilliant film.

For Ahkeem screens Oct 13—19, and tickets are on sale now.

Starting with a White House internship at age 31, Deesha Dyer rose to become White House Social Secretary to President and Mrs. Barack Obama from 2015—17.

In Context: My Lai


Jonathan Berger and Kronos Quartet's fevered character study featuring tenor Rinde Eckert and Vân Ánh Võ considers the line between duty and conscience. Context is everything, so get closer to the production through our series of curated links, videos, and articles. After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #BAMNextWave.

Monday, September 18, 2017

In Context: Olivier Py Sings Les Premiers Adieux de Miss Knife


A beguiling chanteuse with a voice of honey and barbed wire, Miss Knife oozes grit, glitz, and old-world glamour. Context is everything, so get closer to the production through our series of curated links, videos, and articles. After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #BAMNextWave.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Performing My Lai

Below, My Lai's Rinde Eckert reflects on the creation of a work wrestling with the repercussions of atrocity, duty, and conscience nearly five decades after an international tragedy.

Photo: Zoran Orlic


By Rinde Eckert

On March 16, 1968, C Company of the United States Armed Forces marched on My Lai, a hamlet within the Son My village complex near the border of what was then North Vietnam and South Vietnam. They killed more than 500 civilians: women, old people, children, and infants. It was to be the first of a series of search and destroy missions called Task Force Barker. Hugh Thompson, a helicopter pilot, realizing what was going on, landed his helicopter, imposed himself between the berserk soldiers and the remaining villagers, and stopped the massacre. Shortly after Thompson’s irate report to his superiors immediately upon his return to base, Task Force Barker was suspended. It is safe to say that Thompson saved many more than the dozen lives he and his crew (gunners Larry Colburn and Glenn Andreotta) are credited with saving that day.

Tragedies of such magnitude cannot be approached with the brash velocity of the photographic. An almost pornographic nakedness in the document of the atrocity impresses us with its horror at the same time it distances us from that horror—makes it impossible to engage with, to stay with long enough to understand something of redemptive value, something to improve our understanding of ourselves and the world. The broad brush of revulsion paints us into a familiar (and therefore comforting) corner from which we look with a kind of hauteur. We are sympathetic while remaining essentially aloof. “We cannot possibly be that!,” we tell ourselves. The interviews with survivors of My Lai are heart-rending; there are no words… But they are not art. And art is often what we need most when the world has turned ugly and crazy. Documentary history tells us what happened, but art allows us to enter the past fully, to be made wiser by it.

Monday, September 11, 2017

In Context: Café Müller/The Rite of Spring



In 1984, Tanztheater Wuppertal made its New York debut at BAM, performing what would become the two most iconic works of Pina Bausch’s extraordinary repertoire. More than three decades later, the company returns with a landmark restaging of that historic double bill. Context is everything, so get closer to the production through our series of curated links, videos, and articles. After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #PinaBausch.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Jamaa Fanaka: L.A. Rebel



By Jesse Trussell

Born in Jackson, Mississippi but raised in LA’s Compton, Jamaa Fanaka is a key figure in the group of filmmakers that emerged from UCLA in the 1970s, known as the L.A. Rebellion. Recent rediscovery efforts have elevated Julie Dash and Charles Burnett (who shot Fanaka’s first feature) into the pantheon of American filmmakers, but Fanaka’s films—an elemental mixture of an entertainer’s drive for narrative with a neo-realist focus on place and social relations—are still wildly under-seen. Financially successful yet forgotten, labeled Blaxploitation while recalling Cinema Novo as much as Super Fly, the work of Jamaa Fanaka is still hard to pin down today, five years after his passing.

For the first time in New York, BAMcinématek’s retrospective tribute Jamaa Fanaka: L.A. Rebel (Sep 22—27) brings together all of Fanaka’s work—from his first short film A Day in the Life of Willie Faust, or Death on the Installment Plan (starring Fanaka himself) to his final feature, 1992’s Street Wars. Though stark in his depiction of the struggle and violence his characters must endure in their daily lives, his sense of the African-American community as a family is key to the overarching humanism of his work. It’s not for nothing that the filmmaker, who was born Walter Gordon, chose the Swahili words meaning "togetherness" and "success” for his nom de cinema.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Fall Dance Insider

This fall, BAM Education partners with Mark Morris Dance Group to present a free workshop series designed especially for teenage dancers and choreographers. Three companies featured in BAM’s Next Wave Festival—Marc Bamuthi Joseph/The Living Word Project, ODC/Dance, and David Dorfman Dance—will lead immersive sessions in technique, composition, and improvisation, igniting students’ imaginations through movement. Meanwhile, participants will engage in direct discussion with the artists and attend performances, gaining unique insight into the creative process. The 2017 Fall Dance Insider application deadline is Sept 18—apply now!

Below, BAM Education & Community Program's own Eveline Chang reflects on the program in this piece originally published back in 2014.

Fall Dance Insider with Ivy Baldwin Dance. Photo: Piotr Redlinski


by Eveline Chang

This Fall, BAM Education partnered with Mark Morris Dance Center to present Fall Dance Insider, a free workshop series for 40 dance students grades 9—12. In conjunction with the 2014 BAM Next Wave Festival, participants learned from and engaged with some of the festival’s most renowned dance artists. Bénédicte Billet—who worked for years as a dancer with Iconic BAM Artist Pina Bausch and Tanztheater Wuppertal—and the 2014 Artist in Residence Ivy Baldwin led immersive workshops for these aspiring dancers and choreographers.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Whitman, Across the Divide

Photo: Gretjen Helene
By Robert Jackson Wood

“Since I have sat where you sit and breathed the air you breathe, I know you will hear me,” sings the poet Walt Whitman at the beginning of Matthew Aucoin’s opera Crossing, at BAM from October 3 to 8. It is, in our time, an almost perversely optimistic sentiment. Yet in the context of Whitman’s exuberant oeuvre, it’s maybe fitting. Whitman was an idealist, whose ebullient verse betrayed a sprawling fantasy of human communion—of bodies and souls merged, of distances overcome—sanctioned by an erotic metaphysics of shared experience. “For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you,” he wrote in “Song of Myself.”

Thursday, August 31, 2017

The People Spoke



By Nora Tjossem

Sitting in the red plushness of the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House, facing the proscenium arch, the weight of tradition climbs into your lap and takes its seat. But on Tuesday night, March 24, it was not the legacy of Pina Bausch or Robert Wilson that sat with us. It was the history—fraught, inflammable, and frighteningly present—of the United States of America.

The People Speak uses the work of historian Howard Zinn to bring life to the revolutionaries that have ignited social justice movements in the United States. “I start from the supposition that the world is topsy-turvy,” Zinn once proclaimed. Directed by longtime Zinn collaborator Anthony Arnove and performed by a lineup of actors, musicians, poets, and writers, the words of some of the most radical and transformative voices in this country’s history are unearthed from the oppressive, topsy-turvy status quo and given a stage worthy of their present import.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Pina, Dark and Light



Pina Bausch in Café Müller. Photo: J. Paulo Pimenta
By Susan Yung

"It is not that I wanted to confront people. The misunderstanding is not that I love violence, it was quite the opposite. I was terrified of violence, but I wanted to understand the person doing the violence. That was the exploration." —Pina Bausch

This fall, when Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch returns to BAM for its 15th engagement from September 14 to 24, it comes full circle with the works Café Müller (1978) and The Rite of Spring (1975), both performed in the company’s inaugural run at BAM in 1984. The look and feel of Bausch’s repertory over the decades has, for the large part, shifted from dark and literally earthbound to light and air- and water-suffused. Ask longtime viewers which they prefer and you’ll get resounding votes for each. Taken together, they form a body of work which, while cut short by Bausch’s sudden death in 2009, is one of our era’s most influential and uncompromising artistic outputs.

While contemporary theater artists may not consciously or overtly quote Pina, she has emerged as one of the most influential theater artists working over the past half-century. Is a dance performance interrupted by a random bit of spoken text or a quotidian gesture? Are seemingly unrelated vignettes mixed together in a performance? Do costumes reinforce or subvert gender stereotypes? Does a jukebox soundtrack shift moods and accumulate to provide a changing and varied emotional landscape? These are all threads that Pina repeatedly wove into her astonishing repertory, and which have become common practices.