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Monday, April 20, 2015

In Context: Mark Morris Dance Group


The musically minded Mark Morris Dance Group returns to BAM April 22—26 with two programs representing two decades of the company’s diverse, passionate approach to contemporary dance paired with live music. Context is everything, so get even closer to the performance with this curated selection of articles, interviews, and videos related to the production. Once you've seen it, help us keep the conversation going by telling us what you thought below.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Filmmaker's Film: Vertigo

"Here I was born, and there I died.": The Vertigo Effect screens at BAM Apr 16—30.
Photo: Paramount Pictures/Photofest

By C. Mason Wells

In 1958, Alfred Hitchcock’s 45th feature Vertigo was released to largely mixed reviews. This story of acrophobic San Francisco detective Scottie (Jimmy Stewart) hired to trail mysterious blonde Madeleine (Kim Novak) was tagged “basically only a psychological murder mystery” by Variety. Writers ranging from the Young Turks of Cahiers du Cinéma to Andrew Sarris to Robin Wood had begun to make the case for Hitchcock as a consummate film artist during the 1960s, but critical consensus took far longer; Vertigo failed to place in Sight and Sound’s once-a-decade critics’ poll until 1982. In 2012, it climbed to the number one slot and the title of Best Film of All Time, knocking Citizen Kane (1941) from its 50-year reign atop the belltower.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

20 years of BAM Design Celebrated over 100 Days


by Clara Cornelius

The BAM look is identifiable anywhere. As the Creative Director at BAM, I find myself talking to a lot of people about our identity. A friend recently described it as "all cut off and hard to read, but, like, in good way.” Similarly, most people who I talk to about BAM's design say they recognize it when they see it, that it's "all chopped up" and they "like how it's hard to read."

Our visual identity was created in 1995 by Michael Bierut, a partner at Pentagram. He was tasked with creating a cohesive graphic identity for the Next Wave Festival, which went on to define the design for BAM as a whole. The core of the concept, from Bierut himself:
Fragments of News Gothic type obscured behind wide stripes became the basis of the Next Wave look, used on all festival posters, advertisements, invitations, and brochures. Practically, this design system allows for the use of very large type, even in cramped applications such as newspaper advertisements. More poetically, the use of type stepping from behind horizontal lines suggests the next big thing coming over the horizon. 
I've seen the design evolve and grow beyond the benchmarks of Michael's original concept--we've pushed and pulled at it, testing its limits to keep it relevant to new generations. Sometimes it is hard to read, but that is often the point.

So here we are 20 years later, and the beautiful, flexible system that Michael Bierut conceived in 1995 is still going strong. To celebrate our design anniversary, we will be participating in another Bierut-derived concept, The 100 Day Project, by showcasing 100 different ways his identity has been applied.

The project was inspired by a workshop Bierut taught at Yale, and has since evolved into a popular social media “event,” thanks to Elle Luna and The Great Discontent. This is the second year of The 100 Day Project, and starting Monday, April 6, we (and the rest of the internet) will post a photo a day highlighting our project. Be sure to follow us on Instagram at @BAM_Brooklyn and the hashtag #100daysofBAMtype.

Clara Cornelius is the Creative Director of BAM.

Friday, April 3, 2015

In Context: Ghosts



Uncouth family relations. Malicious infections. Upended Victorian mores. Considered shockingly indecent when it premiered in 1882, Ghosts haunts the BAM Harvey Theater April 5—May 3. Context is everything, so get even closer to the show with this curated selection of articles, interviews, and videos related to the production. Once you've seen it, help us keep the conversation going by telling us what you thought below

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A new look for “BAM This Week”

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

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

Now, for the changes:


Wednesday is the new Thursday


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



Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Connecting Through Dance

Mark Morris leads a workshop in Cambodia. Photo: Johan Henckens
By R. Michael Blanco

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

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

Monday, March 30, 2015

Richard Eyre's Notes on Ghosts

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

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Space is the Place: Afrofuturist Music Videos

By Ashley Clark


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

Monday, March 23, 2015

Rethinking Robeson

Daniel Beaty. Photo: Don Ipock
By Brian Scott Lipton

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

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

Friday, March 20, 2015

Mark Morris' Jazzy Spring

Spring, Spring, Spring. Photo: Peg Skorpinski
By Susan Yung

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