Dec. 14, 2011–Jan. 10, 2012 • Vol. 3, Issue 20
Tom Evans Paints Brooklyn at Sideshow Page 4 New York’s Review of Culture • CityArtsNYC.com
On Gaming: Surviving High School Page 11
Pina Bausch Remembered
On Stage Page 13 In 3-D Page 14 Meryl Streep Sings Thatcher Page 14
The CityArts Interview: Alvin Ailey Company’s Robert Battle Page 15
Getting Medieval Panel and Painting at Feigen Gallery Page 6
T r i n i T y wa l l s T r e e T
INSIDE GALLERIES Tom Evans at Sideshow P. 4 100 years of Matta at Pace P. 4 Medieval Panels at Feigen & Co. P. 6 William Christine at Prince Street P. 7 Cézanne’s Wine Bottles: Part 3 P. 7
george frideric handel “A Messiah to Beat in a Season Bursting With Them”
CLASSICAL Faust at the Met P. 8 Don Giovanni Live from La Scala P. 9
—The New York Times
JAZZ Richard Bona’s Mandekan Cubano Project P. 10 ON GAMING EA’s Surviving High School P. 11
DANCE Pina Bausch and Gelsey Kirkland P. 13 FILM Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady P. 14 Wim Wenders’ 3-D tribute to Pina Bausch P. 14 INTERVIEW Robert Battle of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater P. 15
TriniTy Choir Trinity Baroque Orchestra Julian Wachner, Conductor Monday, December 19, 7:30pm Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center TiCkeTs $90, $70, $50 lincolncenter.org • 212.721.6500 or Alice Tully Hall box office 1941 Broadway (on 65th St. between Broadway & Amsterdam)
“Satisfying production...directed with precision” - Associate Press
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MANAGING EDITOR Mark Peikert email@example.com ASSISTANT EDITOR Deb Sperling SENIOR ART CRITIC Lance Esplund SENIOR MUSIC CRITIC Jay Nordlinger
SENIOR DANCE CRITIC Joel Lobenthal
CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Caroline Birenbaum, John Demetry, Valerie Gladstone, John Goodrich, Amanda Gordon, Steve Haske, Ben Kessler, Howard Mandel, Maureen Mullarkey, Mario Naves, Gregory Solman, Melissa Stern, Nicholas Wells
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RichaRD ii ∧ By William Shakespeare ∧ Directed by J.R. Sullivan
Limited Engagement Ends December 24, 2011 NYCityCenter.org
Honored with a 2011 Drama Desk Award www.pearltheatre.org Sean McNall as Richard II. Photo by Gregory Costanzo.
CityTix 212.581.1212 | STAGE II 131 West 55th Street (btwn 6th and 7th) The Pearl is supported in part by
2 CityArts | December 14, 2011–January 10, 2012
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LIGHT BULB ARMOND WHITE
his art season is marked by strong artistic statements—strong because they connect to the way we live and the things we believe in. That unusual sense of purpose underlies the various events in this CityArts issue, starting with the medieval panel paintings at Feigen that Maureen Mullarkey details on to major operatic revivals as Jay Nordlinger chronicles a new production of Faust and Judy Gelman Myers looks at La Scala’s recent live broadcast of Don Giovanni. These are all faith-based masterworks, appropriate for the season. Being New York’s review of culture, CityArts dances to the season—as Jules Feiffer once so On the cover: Master of the Rheinfelden Altarpiece, Northern graphically put it— Switzerland, Canton of Aargau, Zurich, or Basle, “The Nativity,” circa with both critiques 1480, oil on spruce panel, 47-1/4 by 31-9/16 in. and celebrations, a Image Courtesy of Sam Fogg & Richard L. Feigen & Co. balance that can be noted in the way late German choreographer Pina Bausch has been memorialized redemption. Luckily, The Iron Lady is in Wim Wenders’ 3-D documentary Pina. It convincing and entertaining enough to deserves two perspectives: Film critic Greg- defy the pop sentiments of Morrissey’s ory Solman puts the imaginative preserva- “Margaret on the Guillotine” and Elvis tion of Bausch’s stage pieces and dancers in Costello’s “Tramp the Dirt Down”—Lloyd the context of Wenders’ existential career, prefers classic British heroicism to outwhile dance critic Joel Lobenthal describes dated screeds. Honor another iron lady—Elizabeth Bausch’s position in the dance field, adding a helpful appreciation/contrast of Gelsey Taylor—by going to CityArtsNYC.com to see our exclusive about Christie’s auction Kirkland. Equally great art is provided by the of Taylor’s artifacts, reported by Caroline teamwork of Meryl Streep and Phyllida Birenbaum with my own appreciation of Lloyd in their fearless biopic of Margaret Liz’s most sensual portrayal in The Last Thatcher, The Iron Lady. The strength Time I Saw Paris, featuring the first-ever of this artistic statement challenges the big-screen Liz icon. About the cover: An altarpiece from the angry liberal view of Thatcher that prevails in most media. By enlisting the American Feigen medieval exhibition seems perfect Streep, Lloyd shrewdly addresses the proof that art is not simply commerce or slant that global media has taken since vanity projects commissioned by the rich; 9/11. Lloyd captures—and challenges— the best art is created to express our beliefs the subsequent Obama-era slant that has and daily needs. This CityArts Christmas rehabilitated attitudes toward President card cover should help us remember that Ronald Reagan yet has denied Thatcher art makes us think in all seasons.
The Strauss Symphony of America Alexander Steinitz, conductor (Vienna) Rebecca Nelsen, soprano (Vienna) Thomas Sigwald, tenor (Vienna) Dancers from
Vienna Imperial Ballet
Sunday, Jan. 1–2:30 pm
TICKETS: (212) 721 6500 Info: 1 800 545 7807
lincolncenter.org Produced by Attila Glatz Concerts
December 14, 2011–January 10, 2012 | CityArts 3
Exhibition Openings Blue Mountain Gallery: Anne Diggory: “Turbulence.” Opens Jan. 3, 530 W. 25th St., 646-486-4730, bluemountaingallery.org. chashama 217: Kenneth E. Parris III: “104 Work Weeks: On Tour With the Merce Cunningham Dance Company.” Opens Dec. 29, 217 E. 42nd St., 212-391-8151, chashama.org. Lesley Heller Workspace: Dana Melamed: “Transforming Voids.” Opens Dec. 14. “Limited Engagement.” Opens Dec. 14, 54 Orchard St., 212-410-6120, lesleyheller.com. Lori Bookstein Fine Art: Janet Malcolm: “Free Associations.” Dec. 8–Jan. 14, 138 10th Ave., 212750-0949, loribooksteinfineart.com. Spanierman Modern: Frank Wimberley. Dec. 15–Jan. 14, 53 E. 58th St., 212-832-1400, spaniermanmodern.com. Tibor de Nagy: Elizabeth Bishop: “Objects & Apparitions.” Dec. 8–Jan. 21, 724 5th Ave., 212262-5050, tibordenagy.com. Last Chance Exhibitions ClampArt: Marc Yankus: “Call It Sleep.” Ends Dec. 17, 521-531 W. 25th St., Grnd. Fl., 646-2300020, clampart.com.
Matta, “L’homme descend du signe,” 1975, oil on canvas, 13 feet, 5.75 in. x 27’ 4 in. Photo by Christian Baraja / Courtesy The Pace Gallery
Ripeness and Vision Evans in check, Matta forever By Mario Naves
aybe it’s the season and the dropping temperatures. Maybe it’s Sideshow Gallery and the haimish atmosphere it cultivates. But mostly it’s the paintings of Tom Evans. How else to explain the wave of heat radiating from far-off Williamsburg? Far-off? Williamsburg is a quick jaunt on the L train. No, we’re talking aesthetic distance, not mileage. While Evans’ robust brand of gestural abstractions would look fine in this or that Manhattan venue, their plainspoken sincerity stand in stark contrast to the sleek, chilly ambiance of the Chelsea Standard. A longtime inhabitant of the New York scene, Evans is heir to the New York School and an unswerving advocate for the art of painting. The untrendy niche he’s carved for himself can be traced, at least in part, to a perpetual embrace of risk and the vulnerability it signals. Evans is a romantic who isn’t afraid to fall on his ass. The paintings are muscular conflagrations of brusque brushwork and overripe color. Fields of dotted pigment and unexpected bursts of light move fast and
burn slowly. Effulgent blues, acidic purples, operatic reds and shocks of green—Evans hasn’t met a saturated color he doesn’t like. Chromatic indulgence is offset by compositional poise. Each time a painting threatens to disentangle (or explode) into its constituent parts, it’s held in sharp, if sometimes tenuous, check. The majority of pictures are scaled to the human body—around 6 feet by 5 feet. Their roiling trajectories are determined by the arm’s reach; enlivened by it, too. The few occasions when Evans works on a smaller scale, the results are less allusive, more reigned-in. An artist who thrives on letting it all out should give himself ample space to do just that. When that artist hits the mark—as Evans does in the magisterial “St. Adrian’s” (2008)—the results generate not only heat and light, but also something distinctly humane. Evans’ paintings are a welcome respite from the professionalism that surrounds us.
he Chilean painter Roberto Sebastián Antonio Matta Echaurren, subject of a dizzying exhibition at Pace Gallery, has a distinct hold on the history of 20thcentury art. Invited to join the surrealists by ringlead-
4 CityArts | December 14, 2011–January 10, 2012
er André Breton, at the behest of Salvador Dalí and Federíco Garcia Lorca, Matta (as he is commonly known) became a direct link between European modernism and the American art scene. Matta was among the European artists who came to the United States at the onset of the Second World War. The surrealist principles he espoused during a 10-year stay in New York, from 1938–1948, proved decisive for the developing oeuvres of Arshile Gorky, Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock. The New York School is inconceivable without Matta. What is almost as inconceivable (at least, for some of us) is that Matta’s life and career extended beyond the heyday of abstract expressionism. Not a few veteran art world observers did double takes upon learning that Matta died only a few years back—in 2001 at the age of 91. The 21st century! Matta’s hold on history is less fixed than we thought. The uncanny thing about his expansive brand of surrealism has always been how it presaged virtual space before the notion became a commonplace. Matta: A Centennial Exhibition is a rare opportunity to acquaint yourself with this discursive, eccentric and unclassifiable artist. The paintings are big—a couple are huge. Each is a slurry of pictorial tics
David Findlay Jr Gallery: “The Second Wave: American Abstraction from the 1930s & 1940s.” Ends Dec. 24, 724 5th Ave., 212-486-7660, davidfindlayjr.com. Elizabeth Harris Gallery: Pat Passlof: “Recent Paintings 2005–2011.” Ends Dec. 23, 529 W. 20th St., 212-463-9666, eharrisgallery.com. Phoenix Gallery: Elise Ansel, Martin Banks, Joseph Brown, Leslie Carabas & Allan Gorman. Ends Dec. 22, 210 11th Ave., Ste. 902, 212-2268711, phoenix-gallery.com. Rooster Gallery: Teresa Henriques: “Problem.” Ends Jan. 22, 190 Orchard St., roostergallery.com.
gleaned from automatism, futurism, graffiti, pictographs, high modernist dogma, post-modernist caprice and the loopier precincts of science fiction. Imagine Star Wars meeting Miró and Kandinsky in a back alley of the Aztec empire under the influence of hallucinogenics; then immerse it within a floating, fractured and bodiless space not unlike that which we encounter on our computer screen. A more quixotic painter you couldn’t come up with; Matta is a visionary of singular and contrary gifts. This is an exhibition that shouldn’t be missed.
Tom Evans Through Dec. 18, Sideshow Gallery, 319 Bedford Ave. (Brooklyn), 718-486-8180, www.sideshowgallery.com.
Matta: A Centennial Celebration Through Jan. 28, 2012, Pace Gallery, 534 W. 25th St., 212-929-7000, www.thepacegallery.com.
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December 14, 2011–January 10, 2012 | CityArts 5 A0446-1_10x11.25.indd 1
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Getting Medieval Panel paintings at Feigen By Maureen Mullarkey
ate medieval imagination was joined to sacred purpose in every aspect of daily life. At the close of the Middle Ages, devotion itself was an art, one that lent gravity to all the other arts and shaped the tenor of living. Art was intended to ornament fleeting existence with symbols and admissions of life’s transcendent significance. Modern audiences, particularly those with an antiquarian bent, make brief excursions to the Gothic world. But they do it largely as strangers, lugging along the dry bones of a secular age. Impatience with religious sensibility, however, does not keep even the most hardened aesthetes from succumbing to the lapidary charm of Sienese, Florentine and early Netherlandish panel painting. Noted European and American collections are filled with religious iconography produced in the great workshops of Italy and the Southern Netherlands during the late 14th and 15th centuries. Nonetheless, German panel painting of the identical period has received less sympathy. Some of the world’s most esteemed collections have been nonchalant toward German work prior to 1500, or roughly the generation of Dürer and Grünewald. Late Medieval Panel Paintings: Materials, Methods, Meanings at Richard L. Feigen has been assembled with an eye toward increasing the audience for these underappreciated works by less common names. A collaboration with Sam Fogg, London-based dealer in medieval art and manuscripts, this is a thoroughly satisfying joint venture. Of the 22 panels on show, the majority are German, with a complement of French and Spanish pieces. On purely visual grounds, the ensemble is its own argument for recovering these works out of critical and curatorial neglect. There are many wonderful paintings here. Offered necessarily as objets d’art, they are more than mute collectibles. They are relics of our inheritance from what was once Christendom and testify to the devotional fabric of medieval life. “Christ Mocked” (1429), a portion of an altarpiece made for
the Franciscan church in Bamberg, is a particular favorite. A stricken Christ occupies central position within a simplified architectural setting. That near-static compositional core is countered by the energetic gang of tormentors, their jeering faces and the angles of the poles they hold to prod their quarry, pushing a briar crown into his scalp. Medievals would have had no difficulty recognizing themselves in the narrative’s double tale of an historical event and its meaning to witnesses down the centuries. To ordinary worshippers of the day, the scene’s fearful truth was that, in some way, they, too, wielded the clubs and drove the thorns. It is a call to contrition, something quite beyond the arcana of stylistic and technical features on which collectors brood.
he 15th-century soul, finely attuned to pathos, pulsed with recollection of the Passion and what were considered Old Testament heralds of it. The martyrdom of the seven Maccabee brothers and their mother, told in the Hebrew apocrypha, lent itself to the prevailing sensibilities. “The Torture of the Maccabean Brothers” (before 1517), created for a Benedictine convent in Cologne, is a stunning panel. The Maccabee family and its executioners wear contemporary Rhenish costumes. The styling is splendid. Medieval ingenuity in devising instruments of torture is on detailed, enthusiastic display in a dense composition of great pictorial beauty. Linear distortion—especially of the central bloodied figure, bent in half and suspended from a pulley—jars the modern eye. In art historical terms, it points ahead to the deliberate distortions of Max Beckmann and the German expressionists. But in religious terms, it serves as a precursor and companion to iconography of the Crucifixion. Solomona, cradling the head of her youngest son on the rack, provides a prototype of endurance equal to that of a later sorrowing mother, Miriam of Nazareth. One heroic Jewish family was seen to stand as harbinger to the other. Some might think a gruesome tableau of Jewish martyrs an odd choice for a convent
6 CityArts | December 14, 2011–January 10, 2012
Master of the Burg Weiler Altarpiece, Württemberg, “Martyrs of the Theban Legion,” circa 1480, oil on spruce panel, 20 by 14-3/16 inches. Image courtesy of Sam Fogg & Richard L. Feigen & Co.
wall. Not at all—certainly not for one that claimed to hold relics of the Maccabees. As a prompt to prayer, contemplation of the Maccabean deaths leads to contemplation of the Holy Family and the martyrdom at the heart of it. Discussion of this panel in the accompanying catalog is particularly fine. It extends commentary to Erasmus, who enjoyed friendship with the nuns of the convent, and it recounts the history of the Maccabean revolt and the Seleucid king who suppressed it. The essay helps a modern audience grasp these panels as a sign system created to enhance the theology it professes. Beautiful and substantive, the catalog bends, at times, under the weight of its own tutorial on late medieval materials, supports, grounds, pigments and brushwork. The ingredients and cookery of it all has been widely available at least since Cennini’s The Craftsman’s Handbook was trans-
lated from the Italian two centuries ago. All the attending emphasis on X-radiographs, infrared and macro photography are aimed at market considerations. True, these have their place in the salesroom. But they also empty the work of meaning. The culture that fathered the work remains a foreign country. Sacrifice is frequently inherent in Christian art, if not an explicit subject. Understanding that is crucial to seeing the connection between these historic panels and the universal, timeless concerns of how we choose to live and die. Collector bidding might rest on the chimera of “objective judgments” made by the light of forensics. But art is really possessed only by those who find nourishment in it.
Late Medieval Panel Paintings: Materials, Methods, Meanings Through Jan. 17, 2012, Richard L. Feigen & Co., 34 E. 69th St., 212-628-0700, www.rlfeigen.com.
Enraptured by Nature William Christine: New Paintings By John Goodrich
illiam Christine’s paintings may not flirt with the cutting edge, but his landscapes at Prince Street Gallery impress for their sturdy pursuit of nature’s exuberance. Despite their brisk, brushy attack, simplified forms and vivid hues, his two dozen oil paintings and watercolors suggest an expressionism freed from any sort of indulgence, as if the artist were confident in his means and comfortable with following nature’s lead. He should be. Christine is a fine colorist, with a particular gift for recreating the weight of descending sunlight: the flash of light across a field, the luminous fringe about a tree’s canopy. No less crucially, his drawing locates these episodes of color with aplomb. In a painting titled “Path” (2011), a single bush plants itself, small and dense beneath our point of view, as if condensed out of the surrounding shimmer of field. Above, framed by the verticals of two tree trunks, the sky becomes thick and charged. In “Blue, Green, Gold” (2011), a shadow across a field winds wildly into the distance, splitting it into receding glows of yellow and deep,
absorbent green; above them, a ranging line of warmer greens—treetops—ambles to the same distant point. The character of every object unfolds, as with Bonnard, in its own distinct place and time. At least some of the nine watercolors seem to be sketches for the paintings, but in their bold, high-contrast compositions they feel completely self-sufficient. Interestingly, most of the paintings lose not a whit of energy in the transposition from the airy medium of watercolor to the opacity of oil paint. A couple of the larger canvases seem slightly less fleet-footed—not quite so deft in the movements from place to place and in shifts of scale—but this is mainly in comparison to the more dynamic paintings alongside. Indeed, the large “Green Stripe” (2011) is one of the most vigorous works in the exhibition. Like the handful of foreground flowers and the distant clouds that bracket the scene, we’re rapt observers of the erupting foliage and streaming lawn in between. Seldom does nature’s revelry seem so self-possessed.
William Christine Through Dec. 31, Prince Street Gallery, 530 W. 25th St., 646-230-0246, www.princestreetgallery.org.
Elements of Art Cézanne’s Wine Bottles Part 3 By Phyllis Workman
Seasonal Impressions Recent Paintings
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In the third version of Cézanne’s “The Card Players” series, the one now on view at the Musée d’Orsay, human figures enter the world that formerly belonged solely to the inanimate objects of drinking and eating. But in this version of genre painting, Cézanne once again gives primacy to the wine bottle. Sitting there on the same table where the cards are dealt and the two players contemplate their hands (their fates) is the volume of grape. It is modest but also grand in its potential to transform the spirit of the human play. Note the activity of the card players; they are solemn in their concentration, intense in their dryness. The bottle awaits their consumption. Cézanne shows us even more than a merely impressionist moment would capture. Right there, in between the card players, the wine bottle balances their countenances. The
man on the left wears a hat with the brim bent down, the man on the left wears a fisherman’s hat with the brim bent up. Cézanne’s viewing a café or bar near a wharf, it seems, and the bottle seems to take on new significance. In this version of “The Card Players,” Cézanne gives the wine bottle the anchored dependability of a buoy. This very great painting has a supremely balanced composition, but its elements suggest an inebriated wobble. It tilts and yet the wine bottle stands steady. If one player seems to slide off the canvas on a tide, the other’s distance from the bottle stresses equilibrium. Cézanne demonstrates his sense of humor with the painting’s exacting and minute detail—it’s not the faces of the players or the faces on their cards: it’s the cork in the wine bottle. This small but very significant figure makes the painting’s familiar objects funny. The cork is at the center, doing as it would do in the sea or in a wine drinker’s imagination: It floats.
December 14, 2011–January 10, 2012 | CityArts 7
claSSical Marina Poplavskaya in Faust. Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera.
doctor atomic ii DEs Mcanuff’s faust at thE MEt
to any age, than plain old Faust? Does man change? Do lust, fear, cruelty, madness and BY JaY nORdlinGER all the rest ever go away? Also, there is often something absurd in an updating. In McAnuff’s Faust, the swordt was with Gounod’s Faust that the Metropolitan Opera opened its doors in fight of Act II is retained. So there they are, 1883, and the company has done many a in the 20th century (right?), having it out staging since. The latest production is in the with swords. The problem for McAnuff is hands of Des McAnuff. A veteran director, that the libretto mentions swords, specifihe has had hits on Broadway—e.g., Jersey cally. I don’t see why the mod director can’t Boys—and leads the Shakespeare festival in just go ahead and rewrite that. Rewriting the music will come next. Stratford, Ontario. mcanuFF iS imPOSinG Speaking of music, His Faust does not look the Met delivered an like the score or libretto SOmETHinG diFFEREnT, admirable performance of the opera. That should iT SEEmS TO mE. SOmE the night I attended. The not be a trivial concern. An Will SaY THaT HiS FauST performance made me audience member has a iS mORE “RElEvanT” feel much better about hard time knowing where THan GOunOd’S the future of the Philadelhe is in the opera: the inn, (OR GOETHE’S). YET phia Orchestra. Yannick the house, the church? All Nézet-Séguin is set to take of these places look more iS anYTHinG mORE or less the same. McAnuff RElEvanT, TO anY aGE, over as music director turns the title character THan Plain Old FauST? next season. In the recent past, he has been heavy into a nuclear scientist, dOES man cHanGE? dO on energy, or frenetic, making the atomic bombs luST, FEaR, cRuElTY, and light on maturity. But at Los Alamos, apparently. madnESS and all THE he conducted Faust with John Adams wrote an opera sensitivity, understandcalled Doctor Atomic. Do we REST EvER GO aWaY? ing and plenty of matureally need a second one? I must not damn this production whole- rity. His conducting was moving, actually. Jonas Kaufmann sang title role well. His sale. It has some good ideas and neat effects. But Gounod’s Faust, like it or not, sound is sometimes constricted, and it is a grand-opera treatment of a Christian would be nice if he freed it up. But he has allegory. McAnuff is imposing something an array of gifts. At the end of his big aria, different, it seems to me. Some will say that he tried a diminuendo on the high C, and his Faust is more “relevant” than Gounod’s (or Goethe’s). Yet is anything more relevant, Continued on page 9
8 CityArts | December 14, 2011–January 10, 2012
Don Giovanni Lives
Ryan Brown, Conductor and Artistic Director
Mozart live from La Scala
nature with a wry and comic intelligence that played beautifully off Mattei’s multiBy Judy Gelman Myers faceted characterization. And Netrebko, who opened the Met as Anna Bolena, plainStaged performance or $25, low-heeled New Yorkers got to ly deserves her reputation as the season’s Didier Rousselet, director by Pierre-Alexandre Monsigny attend the opening night of La Scala’s hottest soprano. Her “Or sai chi l’onore” Thursday, January 26, 2012 2011–12 season, with its new pro- brought tears to the eyes. 7:30 p.m. Robert Carsen’s highly controversial conduction of Don Giovanni (Anna Netrebko Tickets $65/$45/$25 as Donna Anna, Peter Mattei as the Don, tributions as director should not be overRose Theater, Frederick P. Rose Hall Bryn Terfel as Leporello, Daniel Barenboim looked. Of the three operas that Mozart and Home of Jazz at Lincoln Center Lorenzo da Ponte wrote conducting). Emerging New York City together—The Marriage Pictures, distributor of Aside from a rich, of Figaro, Don Giovanni, “alternative” (read “nonOpera Lafayette Box Office Jazz at Lincoln Center Box Office Broadway at 60th street, ground floor; Mon- Sat 10-6, Sun 12-6 (202) 546-9332 Hollywood”) content like naturally beautiful and Cosi Fan Tutte—the CenterCharge (212) 721-6500 operalafayette.org (on sale now) last two are ambiguous opera, classic films and voice, Peter Mattei jalc.org (on sale December 26) enough to have been indie premiers, broadwas able to convey staged with alternative cast Don Giovanni live the same innate endings. Carsen goes via satellite to Big Apple one step further: He’s theaters, including Symsweetness that an alternate endphony Space and BAM. Detail, Modified made him a brilliant staged French-fold card, ing and a different beginThe satellite transmisca. 1935. Private CityArts NY. collection. Papageno at the ning. This Don Giovanni sion was not without its glitches, mostly minor Met, a quality that commences with Donna www.cityartsnyc.com Anna and an unmasked interruptions at the softened the All images and artwork must be CMYK. Don Giovanni rolling beginning, with a major 79 Madison Ave., 16th repulsive side of around a big bed, mak- Do not use compression on images. breakdown only minutes NY, NY 20016 before the end. The sound Don Giovanni’s manic ing it clear that Donna Make Acrobat 4.0 compatible. 212-268-8600 Anna consents to the Please do not insert pictures into Word was much smaller than need to conquer. Don’s advances while documents if they can be sent sepathe production deserved, 1/6 Page 4.917” x 3. knowing exactly whom and viewers familiar with rately. the Metropolitan Opera’s HD broadcasts she’s consenting to (both ambiguous in Acceptable ﬁle formats under 4 MB: were disappointed with the camerawork da Ponte’s libretto). This lays the ground Please make sure to e for Carsen’s ultimate deviation from the TIFF or EPS. coming out of La Scala. sales representative in Still, it was a fabulous night at the opera. original: While everyone else is moralizing Do not use LZW compression. production@manhatta Aside from a rich, naturally beautiful about Giovanni’s bad behavior, the Don DON’T voice, Mattei was able to convey the same returns from hell to drag them down after Minimum picture resolution: 170 dpi MISSinclude Please the ad ! innate sweetness that made him a brilliant him, as if saying that while he might have Minimum text resolution: 300 dpi On view in the Focus Gallery through December 31, 2011:run date in the subjec Papageno at the Met, a quality that soft- been a libertine, they’re just plain hypothe body of the email ened the repulsive side of Don Giovanni’s crites, equally damned. (Many thanks to Dr. Lloyd Gelman for his manic need to conquer. Terfel, the Met’s information, should th Wotan this season, limned Leporello’s buffo insightful observations.) the ad materials.
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American Christmas Cards, 1900–1960
Faust Continued from page 8 cracked horrifically. There is almost nothing more discomforting than to hear a tenor, or a French horn, crack. But Kaufmann’s error was brave: If you’re going to crack, do it in a good cause, such as that difficult diminuendo. Marguerite was Marina Poplavskaya, the Russian siren. I mean no disrespect to Ms. Poplavskaya when I suggest that she does racy and sultry better than chaste and pure. Moreover, her Slavic sound, with its duskiness, does not quite suit Marguerite. But she is a wonderful singing actress, not
without vocal chops: She brought off the Jewel Song with panache. “I’ll do my best not to bore anyone,” says Mephistopheles. René Pape never could. The voice may show a little wear, but the charisma is immense, and he pretty much stole the show. Just before the curtain rose following an intermission, a man in the audience started shouting, “Occupy Wall Street! Occupy Wall Street!” Some of the patrons cheered him on, saying, “Yeah, yeah!” Others booed. After a while, the man was shushed or evicted. He was more polite than the antiIsrael shouters in London: They shout at the Jerusalem Quartet or the Israel Philharmonic as the music is playing. This fellow did his shouting before the music began.
Also on view:
Hats: An Anthology by Stephen Jones in the Main Gallery through April 15, 2012
Hours Tues–Sun, 11 am to 5 pm Thursday, 11 am to 8 pm The Gallery will be closed on December 24th, 25th, and January 1st and will close at 5 pm on Thursday, December 29th. The Bard Graduate Center Gallery is located at 18 West 86th Street For more information visit bgc.bard.edu
Y H O L I DA BOOK SA
December 15–18 Featuring a 70% discount on many of our titles, including Knoll Textiles, Shaker Design, and Marimekko: Fabrics, Fashion, Architecture. LE December 14, 2011–January 10, 2012 | CityArts 9
The Turks and Caicos Islands.
Island Hopping on the Turks and Caicos By Penny Gray When planning a trip to the Caribbean, it can often be difficult to sift through the multitude of sandy island options to discover “the one”— that ideal vacation destination where the sun shines more brightly and the waters flow more perfectly. Thankfully, the Turks and Caicos Islands are waiting for you, so you won’t have to struggle through unnecessary deliberations if you’re looking for an encounter with nature in the Caribbean. The Turks and Caicos Islands are a British Overseas territory consisting of two groups of tropical islands: the larger Caicos Islands and the smaller Turks Islands. American Airlines offers daily, nonstop flights there, from John F. Kennedy International to Providenciales Airport. Flight 1015 departs from JFK at 7:40 a.m., arriving at Providenciales at 11:20 a.m. Return Flight 1080 departs from Providenciales at 12:35 pm, arriving at JFK at 4:15 p.m. Both flights use a Boeing 757 aircraft, with 22 seats in business class and 166 seats in economy. While on the island of Providenciales (nicknamed “Provo”), eat breakfast downtown and pick up any last-minute supplies you might need at one of the upscale shopping malls. Then make your way to Chalk Sound National Park (only 3 miles out of downtown) for a stunning view of what awaits you on your holiday—uniformly turquoise waters speckled with tiny islands. If you can resist jumping into the sea right at that moment, enjoy the few sites of historical interest (which are all on this island, as the other islands have only recently become accessible). Check out the ruins of Cheshire Hall, an 18thcentury plantation built by British loyalists with a rich history involving slave escapes, droughts and hurricanes, all carefully preserved by the National Trust. Also visit Osprey Rock and Sapodilla Hill to see the remnants of Caribbean pirates. This is all best done with a hired car, of which there are plenty available at the airport. Island-hop to Middle Caicos, where you can experience the Middle Caicos Caves, the largest chain of limestone caves in the Caribbean. Eerily cool, dark and quiet in the midst of a balmy, breezy world, the caves stand in striking contrast to the dramatic limestone cliffs of
neighboring Mudjidin Beach. After exploring the caves and the cliffs, enjoy lunch on the beach and prepare to finally enter the perfect turquoise waters. Without a doubt, the greatest attraction of the Turks and Caicos is not on land but in the sea. Whether you snorkel or scuba dive, the reefs off the Turks and Caicos are not to be missed. Featuring some of the most astonishing walls of coral in the Caribbean, these reefs prove that the life aquatic may just be the solution to life’s problems after all. The Turks and Caicos Islands themselves shoot up around the edges of two large underwater plateaus, the Turks Bank, and are home to deepwater transit routes for some of the planet’s most breathtaking marine wildlife. After your snorkel or scuba dive, rent a boat or join a tour and dry off in the sun as you watch diverse creatures in migration: humpback whales (December through April), manta rays, dolphins, turtles and spotted eagle rays all use these waters as a major highway. After your encounter with the underwater world, hop to Grand Turk Island (via airplane or, more conveniently, by boat), where you can rent a dune buggy for the afternoon. These oversized, open-air go-carts are too much fun to be missed. They are the ideal vehicle for cruising around the circumference of the island and stopping at all the scenic spots along the way for either a snapshot or a quick dip. Be sure to put on the brakes at North Wells for a peek at the pink flamingos, and swing by the Splashdown Grand Turk exhibit for a surreal glimpse into American space history; in 1962, the Friendship 7 capsule plunged into the waters just a few miles off of Grand Turk, and the exhibit includes a scale replica of the spacecraft. The end of your dune buggy adventure will bring you back to Cockburn Town, the capital of the Turks Islands, which offers some savory dining opportunities for local cuisine. Enjoy dinner in this charming town as the sun finally sets on your first day in this superlative set of islands. Then take a stroll around the city’s 18th- and 19th-century architecture as you dream up your second day on the Turks and Caicos, knowing full well you’ve chosen one of the best of the Caribbean.
10 CityArts | December 14, 2011–January 10, 2012
Richard Bona. Photo courtesy of the artist
Seasonal Sensation ManDEkan cuBano ProJEct DELivErs BY HOWaRd mandEl
he winter holidays’ emphasis on warmth and good will towards humankind means that musicians genuinely possessing those qualities bear the most desirable of gifts. As a New Yorker in constant search of musical substance, engagement and freshness, I’m thrilled that singer-songwriter-electric bassist Richard Bona debuts his Mandekan Cubano project at the Jazz Standard Dec. 27 through Jan. 1. This new sextet promises the seasonal message without the cloying sentiments or predictable set lists. A comingling of West African and Caribbean island sensibilities suggests heat and light, melody and rhythm, virtuosic performance with plenty of fellow feeling, and Bona is one Santa who can deliver. His ensemble—comprising Latin jazz specialists on trumpet and trombone, the Cuban Quintero brothers playing percussion and pianist Osmany Paredes—is designed to be flexible and spontaneous. The crosscultural concept is not a stretch; as Bona says, “It’s all the same music. I don’t see any difference, actually. “What we call Cuban music in the western world, to an African it’s not something strange. It’s African music. The clavé, the rhumba, all the rhythms are African. The beat is right there. It belongs to us. When you listen to bands from Africa and Cuba recorded in the ’50s, they have the same orchestration. Cuban music was really popular in Africa back then.” Bona discovered this in retrospect. Born in 1967 in a small village in Cameroon to
a griot family that encouraged his obvious talents, he arrived as a professional in America in 1995 by way of studies in Germany and France. His first gigs here were with fusioneers who dug his fluid, legato bass lines, reminiscent of the late Jaco Pastorius, one of his main influences. Bona toured with Joe Zawinul, the keyboardistcomposer who’d brought Pastorius into Weather Report, and recorded with guitarist Mike Stern, Jaco’s buddy. But Bona is not one to be limited or defined by style. Since Scenes from My Life, his first album (released in 1999), he’s issued eight more under his own name, each varied in focus. He’s also taken supporting roles in efforts as different as An Evening with Harry Belafonte and Friends, Pat Metheny’s group and Jazz Standards on Mars, featuring the Soldier String Quartet with avant-garde flutist Robert Dick. All of Bona’s music highlights his gentle—but never wimpy!—touch, his welcoming if not enveloping lyrical voice and his self-effacing yet winning instrumental confidence. The Mandekan Cubano musicians have had only four rehearsals, but its leader says that from the start, “I’d play a rhythm and everybody else would jump right in. Nobody asked where the downbeat is, which shows how close our musics are. I’m singing some of the old Cuban songs, but in Fulfulde, not Spanish, and they sound beautiful. Even the language works.” Bona will record the band while at The Standard. He plans to take it to European fests next summer, but we have it here, now. And on New Year’s Eve he has a special guest: guitarist Lionel Loueke, another boundaryless musician from Cameroon.
Reach Howard Mandel at email@example.com.
Scenes from EA’s Surviving High School.
High School Rites of Passage BY STEvE HaSkE
hether you were prom royalty or a total wallflower, few of us would probably say there isn’t at least one thing we might’ve done differently in high school. I wished I had been more outgoing. I should have studied more. Why didn’t I ask my crush out? These are formative years, and trying to navigate the landscape of social cliques and possible self-identities throughout is no easy task. It’s exactly these teenage stereotypes that made me initially breeze right by EA’s Surviving High School on the iOS app store; aside from games like Battlefield, Need for Speed and Madden, the Redwood City publisher also has a number of casually oriented titles for mobile devices. Thus it wasn’t a stretch to picture SHS as a mindless, Disney Channel-esque affair whose simple goal was to become a cheerleader or quarterback. Interestingly, its “new kid” setup starts you on that exact path, but its nuance and execution are deceptively smart. Let’s say you pick the football star scenario. In your first week, the hot girl shows you around, you get hassled by the quarterback (who seems like a real jerk), you meet some friends and a hot girl invites you to a party. Then it’s Saturday night: What do you do? This is where SHS gets interesting. You can choose to date or stay single (a goth girl has also shown interest), work out, watch TV or do homework, affecting athleticism, popularity or your grades. You can’t excel in all three—it’s a tough choice. Your social interactions, especially, become genuinely difficult. One scenario has you on a date with only $50—do you get the cheap appetizer, even though she offhandedly remarked it was her ex’s favorite? Or do your order the expensive starter and bank on her getting a cheap entrée? Whether it’s worse to end up washing dishes or risk offending her by dredging up the past is your call. Another dilemma: You’re watching a particularly graphic horror film with the goth girl and she asks if it’s good, or just gross. “This is awesome!” you decide. She
Steve Haske is a Portland, Ore.-based freelance journalist. You can follow him on Twitter @afraidtomerge.
makes a face, saying she doesn’t see the point in torture porn films. You blew it. And the quarterback? You eventually learn that his brother was killed the previous summer by a drunk driver. “You just thought he was a jerk?” one of the jocks asks. “Things
are never that simple.” They really aren’t. Surviving High School and additional episodes are available now on DSiware, iOS and Windows mobile devices.
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LISTINGS Art Events
W. 53rd St., moma.org/poprally; 9:30, 18+.
American Realness: Abrons Arts Center presents 46 productions of 20 dance, theater & performance works over 10 days. Jan. 5–15, Abrons Arts Center, 466 Grand St., abronsartscenter.org.
The Sixth Voice 4 Vision Puppet Festival: Theater for the New City presents this 11-day celebration of puppetry with theatrical works (some for adults & others for the whole family), film, live music & even a puppet gallery. Ends Dec. 18, 155 1st Ave., 212-254-110, theaterforthenewcity.net.
Peter & The Wolf: Isaac Mizrahi narrates Prokofiev’s classic, performed by the Juilliard Ensemble, as Jason Hackenwerth creates a mobile installation with thousands of balloons. Ends Dec. 18, Peter B. Lewis Theater, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1071 5th Ave., 212-423-3587; 2:30 & 4, $35. PopRally Presents RELIQUARY HOUSE—An Evening with Oneothrix Point Never & Nate Boyce: The multimedia performance piece created specifically for MoMA features reconstructions of works by Anthony Caro, Jacob Epstein & others, in which the sculptures are digitally transformed into “kinetic apparitions.” Dec. 17, 11
Music & Opera Avery Fisher Hall: Alan Gilbert conducts the NY Philharmonic in Haydn’s “Symphony No. 88” & works by Schubert & Ravel, with mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie Von Otter. Dec. 28–30, 10 Lincoln Center Plz., 212875-5656, nyphil.org; $33+. Carnegie Hall: Musica Sacra gives its annual performance of Handel’s “Messiah.” Dec. 20 & 21, Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage, 57th St. at 7th Ave., 212-247-7800, carnegiehall.org; 8, $25+.
Immanuel Lutheran Church: Pomerium performs in “Creator of the Stars—Christmas Music from the Old World,” featuring Gregorian chants & largescale polyphonic Renaissance works from DuFay, Palestrina & others. Dec. 28, 122 E. 88th St., 212-9679157, midtownconcerts.org; 1:15, free.
(reservations by phone only); 7:30 & 11, $350+.
Metropolitan Opera: The Met presents Humperdinck’s English-language “Hansel & Gretel.” Opens Dec. 16, 70 Lincoln Center Plz., 212-362-6000, metopera.org.
American Ballet Theatre: The company performs Alexei Ratmansky’s new production of “The Nutcracker.” Dec. 14–31, BAM Howard Gilman Opera House, 718-636-4100, Peter Jay Sharp Building, 30 Lafayette Ave., Brooklyn, abt.org.
St. Ignatius of Antioch Episcopal Church: The Canticum Novum Singers & Parthenia perform works by Josquin, Morley & others. Dec. 16 & 17, West End Ave. at 87th St., 914-763-3453, nyvirtuoso.org; 8, $25. Jazz 2012 Winter Jazzfest: Over 60 ensembles perform at 5 West Village venues—(Le) Poisson Rouge, Sullivan Hall, Kenny’s Castaways, Zinc Bar & Bitter End—in this jam-packed 8th annual 2-day festival. Jan. 6 & 7, winterjazzfest.com. Blue Note: Smooth jazz sax sensation Kenny G performs. Jan. 10–15, 131 W. 3rd St., 212-475-8592, bluenote.net; 8 & 10:30, $45+.
enoteca & trattoria
Iridium: Singer/comedian Terese Genneco & her 8-piece band perform with vocalist Nicolas King. Dec. 27, 1650 Broadway, 212-582-2121, theiridium.com; 8 & 10, $25. Dance
Dance Gotham: A dozen companies from across the country—& one from Italy—perform original works in the 6th annual festival. Jan. 7 & 8, Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, 566 LaGuardia Pl., 212-352-3101, skirballcenter.nyu.edu; $10. The Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet: Dancers from the academy perform in “Mostly Bournonville & Petipa,” featuring seasonally relevant excerpts from both choreographers’ works. Dec. 16, Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway, 212-864-5400, symphonyspace.org; 7:30, $35.
City Winery: Whitley & The Hard Times perform the music of Ray Charles. Dec. 23, 155 Varick St., 212608-0555, citywinery.com; 8, $15.
Johannes Wieland: Wieland’s company—joined by over 50 red-haired women—performs “newyou - I think you might be in deep denial.” Dec. 21 & 22, Merce Cunningham Studio, 55 Bethune St., 11th Fl., firstname.lastname@example.org; 9, $20.
Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola: Wynton Marsalis headlines two special New Year’s Eve sets, playing the music of Jelly Roll Morton & King Oliver. Dec. 31, Broadway at 60th St., 5th Fl., 212-258-9595
New York City Ballet: The company performs Balanchine’s “The Nutcracker”—a holiday must-see. Ends Dec. 31, David H. Koch Theater, 20 Licoln Center Plz., 212-496-0600, nycballet.com.
LESLEY HELLER WORKSPACE
December 14 – January 22, 2012
In the heart of the Upper West Side ‘Cesca serves equal portions of elegance and relaxed ambiance. A “very fine, though unrelentingly rustic” authentic dining experience borne of its founders’ Italian heritage. Executive Chef Kevin Garcia presents simple yet extraordinary fare and owner and Italian-wine expert Anthony Mazzola has put together an incomparable list of Italian wines.
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12 CityArts | December 14, 2011–January 10, 2012
Gallery 1: Dana Melamed: Transforming Voids Gallery 2: Limited Engagement Curated by Krista Saunders Laura Cooperman, Jennifer Grimyser, Mayumi Ishino, Kelly Murphy, Devin Powers, Sam Vernon Gallery Hours: Wed-Sat 11am-6pm, Sun 12-6pm Dana Melamed, Reflection on Dynamics, 2011, mixed media, 31.5 x 145 x 7 inches
Dancing in Character W I Pina Recalled, Gelsey Returns
hen it comes to the “character dance” repertory—those people who arrive at the prince’s ballroom or the rajah’s palace to dance stylized verBy Joel Lobenthal sions of national or gypsy or aristocratic n Pina Bausch’s choreo-stagings, out- dance, not wearing ballet slippers or pointe side and indoors trade places; in Wim shoes—a significant challenge is posed to Wenders’ new 3-D documentary, Pina, the American dancer, since the character we see in the crispest of photographic detail discipline has only rarely been taught in our her deep-pile stage floors, where dancers ballet schools. But in recent years that has are forced to rise in relevé in the loam. Her been changing: When the studio company troupe braved elements that were punish- of Gelsey Kirkland’s Academy of Classical ing, even if simulated. We watch them get Ballet performs at the Symphony Space Dec. soiled in Le Sacre du Printemps, drench 16, examples of different character genres will be staged by someone in a position to themselves in Vollmond. know: Slava (Yaroslav) Wenders conceived the Fadeyev, who teaches film, which opens in New As distinctly both character and classiYork Dec. 23, with Bausch different as cal at Kirkland’s Academy. herself before her unexFadeyev graduated in 1989 pected death in 2009. It they are, ballet from the state ballet school sometimes transports her and character in St. Petersburg, where work to settings around study of character dance the company’s home base are mutually is mandatory. He then of Wuppertal, Germany, complementary danced both character and and in the surrounding classical roles at the Kirov and essential countryside, so that the Ballet (where, as in most excerpts become teasing ingredients in of the state-subsidized exercises in faux sitethe 19th-century companies of Europe and specificity. The tactics of 3-D also provide a singu- “grand ballet” mix. Russia, entire rosters may be dedicated to character lar reconfiguration: thealone). In 1995, he emiatrical downstage meets cinematic foreground as the lower margin grated to join the Hartford Ballet. Character work is usually done with of the frame protrudes into our visual field. Pina gives us lengthy and representative the legs turned in, rather than turned out samplings of her “dance-theater” pieces, in classical imperative. Character dance but only by the most oblique means does classes, Fadeyev’s included, start with a the movie attempt to provide an interpre- special warm-up at the barre. As distinctly tative handle on her life or work. That is its different as they are, ballet and character prerogative as an exponent of a particular are mutually complementary and essential documentarian approach. Perhaps that ingredients in the 19th-century “grand balminimalist framework functions as libera- let” mix. Indeed, in ballets like Raymonda or tion; one is certainly free to fill in the miss- Don Quixote, the lead balletic roles require ing antecedents and context. We note that fluency in steps that are shaded by character one of Bausch’s favorite gambits is tasking flavor. In addition, as Fadeyev confirms, the her dancers with stripping down façades intricate co-ordinations of character work of persona, like a choreographically “real- actually help the student in her pursuit of life” parallel to an acting improvisation ballet technique as well. The Kirkland Academy program is selfclass. For me, much of the impetus behind Bausch’s work also involves an Antony explanatory: “Mostly Bournonville and Tudor connection. She was a student of Petipa.” Stagers include former Royal DanTudor at Juilliard and danced for him at the ish Ballet Karina Elver, Alexandra Lawler, Metropolitan Opera. Tudor was interested as well as Kirkland herself and her husband in people whose desires were frustrated by and the co-artistic director of the Academy, societal and psychological obstructions. Misha Chernov. “What are you longing for?” Bausch would ask her dancers. Read more by Joel Lobenthal at Lobenthal.com.
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Thatcher Sings strEEP’s iron LaDY MakEs historY BY aRmOnd WHiTE
efore confronting Meryl Streep’s remarkable transformation as British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady, it behooves us to consider Thandie Newton playing Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice in Olivier Stone’s W. Newton’s portrayal of a female public figure invading a masculine realm necessitated combining tenacity with feminine reserve— a rare sight, especially in the genre of biographical political drama. Stone’s ambivalent concept in W. constrained Rice—as well as Bush—between tribute and satire. Yet Newton trod an unmistakably original middle ground; it was a bold artistic victory in the face of media-wide scorn. Streep and director Phyllida Lloyd achieve a similar take that! victory in The Iron Lady, going against prevailing liberal preconceptions: They humanize Thatcher’s rise in British politics with a specific understanding of (rarely seen) feminine tenacity. The Iron Lady doesn’t confuse its tribute because Streep and Lloyd (whose goofy Mamma Mia! collaboration grossed a fortune, thus gaining personal power) find a deeper core to Thatcher than her political achievements.
Streep and Lloyd emphasize a principled woman’s wily resolve. They give emotional detail to moments that define the character while also shaping an era (“Move to the right!” she instructs her daughter during a driving lesson; “Someone must force the point,” she tells political advisors). If this upsets liberals who can’t tolerate the opposition articulating a polemic, that’s too bad. Streep and Lloyd force politics to provide deep, rousing human insight. The British, being Shakespeareans, are past masters of a tradition of replaying, if not reexamining, political history through the perspective of complicated heroism. It’s a distinct form of culture, unlike Americans’ current tabloid-partisan tendency seen in Stone’s W. and the wretched Frost/Nixon. Watching Streep’s Thatcher score points about the miners’ strike, equating the Falklands War to Pearl Harbor and disparaging pseudo-feminism (“Instead of doing something they want to be someone”) is theatrically thrilling as well as politically challenging. Streep’s maturity (the hallmark of her socially attuned and underrated performances in Lions for Lambs and Jonathan Demme’s The Manchurian Candidate) grants greater subtlety to her flamboyant gift for mimicry. Her old-lady tics and vocal lilt are as authentic as Dame Edith Evans in
dance cadaverous WEnDErs 3-Ds Pina Bausch BY GREGORY SOlman
raming Wim Wenders’ emotional 3-D tribute to “dance theater” creator Pina Bausch, some of the late choreographer’s most esteemed dancers, young and old, move slowly along a line atop the high horizon line of rolling hills, signing Bausch’s expressions of the seasons passing, over and over. The incanting cortège conjures the image of Guido’s circle of the past on parade in the climax to Fellini’s 8 1/2, adding Wenders’ artistic generosity to Fellini’s sentimental self-indulgence. Naturally, artificial dimensionality develops dance on screen, advancing the art as
surely as avant-garde artifacts of the ’80s such as David Byrne/Twyla Tharp’s The Catherine Wheel and Laurie Anderson’s Home of the Brave. Maybe it took passing from mime to Mummenschanz to get here. Judiciously applying 3-D to dancers within spare, symbolic, sometimes virtual sets, Wenders vivifies the normally flattened movie dance experience, creating an implicit (and explicit) sense of a diorama wherein the spectator has a privileged view of the entire space, vaulting over or passing through the proscenium arch. Wenders’ modulated pace, minimalist camera movement and tasteful performance selection, coupled with the work of musician-turned-editor Toni Froschhammer and stereographer Alain Derobe, intrigues the
14 CityArts | December 14, 2011–January 10, 2012
Jim Broadbent and Meryl Streep in Phyllida Lloyd’s The Iron Lady.
The Whisperers. Lloyd provides delicacy and rapport worthy of such eloquent historical biopics as The Young Mr. Pitt, Becket and the recent Amazing Grace. But Lloyd also nimbly depicts the context of Thatcher’s passion in a clever
montage of female high heels among male wing-tips, a speech from St. Francis and a syllogism about thoughts, words, actions, habits and character that allows Streep/ Thatcher to really sing. The obtuse, however, will not sing along.
eye and excites the imagination. Those familiar with the modesty of Wenders’ anything-but-didactic fiction will immediately appreciate the companionable qualities of Bausch’s art, particularly in the equipoise between hope and angst, the unmistakably spiritual expressions of existential condition in movies such as Im Laufe der Zeit (Kings of the Road) and excerpts from Bausch’s Café Muller, Le Sacre de Printemps, Vollmond and Kontakthof. Adding to Wenders’ peculiar timing— working with Nicholas Ray just before his death for Lightning Over Water, and after Michelangelo Antonioni’s debilitating stroke for the glorious Beyond the Clouds— Bausch died in situ, leaving the interpretation to Bausch’s ensemble but ingeniously framing the work as a memorial that summarizes her legacy. Bausch imagines dancers as park plants in red earth rising up, struggling for turf
and withering, illustrating that “life must die to itself.” She captures robotic repetition of overstimulated sexual instinct—from the chin-chuck to the ass-slap—without dehumanizing or denying the embrace. She dresses a male dancer as a ballerina, remarkably, without a trace of titillation or provocation, casting the dilemma against an urban-expressionist backdrop that suggests anomie rather than Weimar decadence. In the preternatural, Wagnerian setting of the Bergisches Land, she pits water against stone and disinters burial rituals that hearken back to Greek drama and create lonely futility. As Bausch’s dancers—some pointedly past their prime—possess a plaintive, unpretentious quality, Bausch’s Tanztheater supplications are humble offerings of “method” dancing and poetic pleasure. Wenders and Bausch have mastered the art of confident, passionate creation without being combative.
THE CITYARTS INTERVIEW
o one could have been better suited than Robert Battle to take over the artistic direction of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater from the stupendous Judith Jamison. When he assumed the position in July 2011, though only 38, he had already achieved more than many people do in a lifetime. Battle graduated from two of the most prestigious arts schools in the United States: The New World School of the Arts, in his hometown of Miami, and the Juilliard School in New York. He joined the popular Parsons Dance in 1994 and spent seven years performing and choreographing with the troupe. In 2002, he founded his own company, Battleworks, and toured the United States and Europe, making a name for himself with his dynamic works. Battle has also won his share of honors. He was named one of the Masters of African American Choreography by The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 2005 and received the prestigious Statue Award from The Princess Grace Foundation-USA in 2007. In July 2010, he was a guest speaker at the United Nations Leaders Program in Turin, Italy. Tall, handsome and with a mischievous sense of humor, Battle has already brought dramatic changes to Ailey, showing little hesitation about asserting his imprint. Audiences can see what he’s up to when Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the world’s most popular dance company, arrives at City Center for its annual season Nov. 30–Jan. 1. [Valerie Gladstone]
In your first season as artistic director, you have made some radical changes in programming. You are presenting Paul Taylor’s Arden Court, a choreographer who has never been performed by the Ailey company, and you are bringing back the iconoclastic Israeli dance master Ohad Naharin with Minus 16. Naharin has been in the repertory before, but he’s certainly not who one thinks of as a traditional Ailey choreographer. How did you, right from the start, have the nerve to bring in works that are so stylistically different from most of the repertory? I’ve been thinking about these things for some time. Over the year that I was being considered for the position, I dreamed about new possibilities for Ailey.
I’ve always loved Paul Taylor’s work. I danced his Esplanade when I was at Juilliard. I knew the dancers would like the challenge. The same is true of Ohad’s work. He has this whole different system of movement called Gaga, which they’ve learned, and it’s so much fun for them. It’s also fun for me to see their fervor. It gives them a chance to push the envelope. They’ve responded beautifully. You are also commissioning what might be considered a controversial piece: Home, from Rennie Harris, the terrific Philadelphia-based hip-hop choreographer, about living with HIV and AIDS. What was behind that? I’ve admired Rennie’s choreography ever since we worked together on the three-part Love Stories for the Ailey company in 2004. I admire his purity of approach to hip-hop. He’s interested in the roots, not the commercial aspects. The impetus for Home came from BristolMyers Squibb, who wanted to see a dance at Ailey that reflected 10 people’s experiences living with HIV or trying to do something about it. They submitted prize-winning essays to the company. I thought it would be fascinating to see Rennie look at the subject through the lens of hip-hop—he always comes up with surprising perspectives. How about your audiences? How do think they’ll take to the new works? Ready or not, here we come! You do have a classic Alvin Ailey work on the program too. Hedging your bets? Alvin’s Streams has always been one of my favorites and it’s largely gone unnoticed. People always think he choreographed narrative dances, but that’s not necessarily true. This was his first abstract dance. For many, it’s great that you are bringing some fresh air into the repertory. But it’s also not an easy thing to do because good, young choreographers are hard to find—in part because they have few places to develop their skills. So it’s ingenious and helpful to the field that you started the New Directions Choreography Lab. Tell us about that. It’s crucial. Choreographers don’t have anywhere to get direction and try out their ideas. It was wonderful to have the chance when I was at Juilliard to ask questions like, “Why end a piece this way? Why start on the diagonal?” After leaving a university or college, no one has that luxury.
Robert Battle, artistic director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Photo by Andrew Eccles
We’ll be giving resident fellowships of $9,500 each to four young or mid-career artists yearly, starting with Adam Barruch, Camille Brown, Joanna Kotze and Malcolm Low. The Lab is also a way to find new choreographers for the company. You have to juggle a lot of responsibilities. How do you do it? I handled a lot when I ran Battleworks, producing work for the company, looking for places to perform, making sure everything was well danced. Running a company also shares traits with performing on stage: You have to think what’s coming up next, how you did the last move—and figure out what you want for lunch. Now, my concerns are the choreography and the dancers’ progress, and I’m constantly thinking about
how to develop the school. I’d like to be able to provide housing for students. I’d like to have more live music for performances. We can’t become complacent. Still, it’s a big deal being in the spotlight in one of the world’s most popular and revered dance companies. The position doesn’t feel foreign to me. It’s as if it was part of my destiny. Leading feels natural to me. And then I have so much support from Judi Jamison and the staff. It’s very grounding. I feel that, no matter what, things will be OK. I’ve also learned that I can’t do everything. How do you relax? On the treadmill at the gym. When people ask me a deep question, I tell them I’ll think about it on the treadmill.
December 14, 2011–January 10, 2012 | CityArts 15
The Gift of Art
An American Craftsman Galleries
Glass Menorah Thorn Bowl
Manhattan at Times Square Hotel
Gallery 55 150 W 55th St
790 7th Ave & 52nd St New York, NY 10019 212 399 2555
Between 6th & 7th Ave New York, NY 10019 212 757 7757
Madison Avenue 941 Madison Ave, next to The Whitney Museum of Art New York, NY 10021 212 288 2446
www.AnAmericanCraftsman.com 16 CityArts | December 14, 2011â€“January 10, 2012