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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

In Context: Shakespeare's Sonnets




Shakespeare's Sonnets, created by Robert Wilson and Rufus Wainwright, runs at BAM from October 7—12. Context is everything, so get even closer to the show with this curated selection of original blog pieces, 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.

In Context: Not I, Footfalls, Rockaby


Samuel Beckett's Not I, Footfalls, and Rockaby run at BAM from October 7—12. Context is everything, so get even closer to the production with this curated selection of original blog pieces, articles, interviews, and videos related to the artists. Once you've seen it, help us keep the conversation going by telling us what you thought below.

Queering the Scandal in Shakespeare’s Sonnets

by Ryan Tracy

Photo: Lucie Jansch


Unthrifty loveliness, why dost thou spend

Upon thyself thy beauty’s legacy?
—William Shakespeare, Sonnet 4
Shakespeare’s sonnets have occasioned at least two “scandals.” The first has to do with the purported realization that two thirds of the sonnets are thought to be addressed to a young man. The second scandal appears to lie in the sheer raunchiness and adulterous innuendo of the sonnets that are attributed to a female subject, often referred to as “The Dark Lady.” Much scholarship has added scandals to these two (the scandal of the latter poems’ unabashed misogyny being an important one). While some scholars have succeeded in broadening our contemporary view of the sonnets and their scandalous past, there remain many open questions about the genders represented by and addressed in the sonnets, as well as the erotic relations that exist between speaker and his or her subjects of adoration.

One of the things at stake in debates about the gender and sexuality represented in the sonnets is the availability (or unavailability) of certain literary interpretations which consequently affect the stories we can tell with them today. Too many of the scandalous narratives surrounding the sonnets aim to reduce them to a single, anodyne Man-Loves-Woman narrative. That may sound like an age-old story, but deeper inquiry into the history of sexuality shows us that the erotic narratives told by Shakespeare and enjoyed by Elizabethans were complex, various, and triggered by different sets of values not easily translated to contemporary notions of heroic heterosexual romance.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Justin Peck on Murder Ballades

Murder Ballades. Photo: Laurent Phillippe


L.A. Dance Project brings to the Next Wave Festival repertory by three exciting choreographers who have been in the news lately. Benjamin Millepied, ex-New York City Ballet principal, founded LADP in 2012. He has established a reputation for creating challenging dances in the classical vocabulary while working with unexpected collaborators. He is also the next artistic director of the Paris Opera Ballet, which recently premiered a critically acclaimed ballet by Millepied. His work Reflections, with music by David Lang and visuals by Barbara Kruger, comes to BAM Oct 16 to 18.

William Forsythe, an artist well known to BAM audiences for his daring theatrical and movement experimentation, recently announced his upcoming retirement from The Forsythe Company, based in Germany, and will join the University of Southern California as a dance professor in 2015, teaching choreographic process and composition. LADP will dance Quintett—a profoundly moving work to Gavin Bryar’s haunting music, which Forsythe’s previous company, Ballett Frankfurt, performed in the 2001 Next Wave Festival.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

In Context: QUANTUM


QUANTUM runs at BAM from October 2—4. Context is everything, so get even closer to the show with this curated selection of original blog pieces, 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.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

In Context: Alan Smithee Directed This Play: Triple Feature


Alan Smithee Directed This Play: Triple Feature runs at BAM from October 1—4. Context is everything, so get even closer to the show with this curated selection of original blog pieces, articles, interviews, and videos related to the artists. Once you've seen it, help us keep the conversation going by telling us what you thought below.

BAM Blog Questionnaire: Joanne Howard, set designer for Alan Smithee

The set's floor in process. Photo: Joanne Howard
Big Dance Theater is known for its engrossing productions that shapeshift between dance and theater, but a constant among its shows is the presence of memorable set designs. Joanne Howard has been designing sets for many Big Dance Theater productions including Alan Smithee Directed This Play: Triple Feature, coming up at the BAM Harvey Theater from Sep 30—Oct 4. The busy designer shared a few thoughts in a BAM Blog Questionnaire.

You are a close collaborator of Annie-B Parson and Paul Lazar. How did you meet?
Annie-B and I were introduced through a mutual friend. I needed a roommate and she needed a room.
 
What are your some of your favorite props from Alan Smithee?
It's a toss up between the fur coats and the telephones.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Laurie Anderson—Storyteller

Laurie Anderson wrote Landfall for Kronos Quartet (Harvey Theater, Sep 23—27), drawing on experiences from Hurricane Sandy. Projected text is triggered electronically, compounding the stories.

Anderson is one of the first Next Wave artists, bringing her epic
United States: Parts I—IV to BAM in 1983, before the series became a festival. Prior to Landfall, 10 BAM performances featured her unforgettable sui generis music-theater, or involved her music. The following is a sidebar which was included in BAM: The Complete Works, an overview of BAM's history.

Laurie Anderson in Delusion, 2010. Photo: Rahav Segev
by Don Shewey

Anytime someone in contemporary culture wants to peer into the future, they usually try to engage Laurie Anderson to serve as consciousness scout. She’s a visionary who can be relied upon to bring curiosity, humor, and intelligence to the question “What’s next?” whether the subject is art, media, technology, spirituality, outer space, the political climate, or the new millennium. She’s a dauntless pioneer who surfs the edge between the known and unknown with a visual artist’s eye, a linguist’s ear, and a storyteller’s tongue, wearing her signature spiky haircut and soft, spangly slippers. She has put a friendly face on the sometimes-forbidding phenomenon we call avant-garde art.

A university-trained sculptor and art historian from a large, affluent suburban Chicago family, Anderson emerged from the fertile, cross-pollinated art garden that was 1970s SoHo to become the world’s first performance-artist-as-pop-star, thanks to “O Superman,” the unlikely hit song from her 1980 performance United States Part II. Its “ha-ha-ha-ha” sampled voice tape-loop has joined the pop pantheon of famous riffs alongside the buzzing guitar of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” or the opening notes of “Billie Jean.” And the accompanying video, album, and concert tours—including the complete four-part United States, unveiled at BAM in 1983 in the second season of the Next Wave series, the first of Anderson’s many appearances at BAM—created a new form of pop performance collage in which DIY graphics, images, electronic sounds, movement, and spoken word could be infinitely recombined, paving the way for innovative art-music-video practitioners from the early days of MTV to innovative contemporary rock-theatrical performers such as Björk and Lady Gaga.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

In Context: Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters



Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters come to BAM September 27 as part of Nonesuch Records at BAM. Context is everything, so get even closer to Plant and band with this curated selection of articles, and videos related to the show. Once you've seen it, help us keep the conversation going by telling us what you thought below.

Friday, September 19, 2014

BAM Blog Questionnaire: Liubo Borissov of Landfall

Landfall. Photo: Marc Allan


Landfall, inspired by the experience of Hurricane Sandy, was written by Laurie Anderson for Kronos Quartet. Liubo Borissov programmed the software Erst used in Landfall—dense projected texts are triggered musically, lapping and overlapping as Anderson spins stories. Landfall is at the BAM Harvey Theater, Sep 23—27, part of Nonesuch Records at BAM. Borissov was kind enough to participate in a BAM Blog Questionnaire.

How did you meet Laurie Anderson and Kronos Quartet?
Laurie and I first met a few years ago when she was looking for some ideas redesigning her live performance setup into a more compact and streamlined system. In one of our sessions the collaboration with Kronos came up before anyone knew it was going to become Landfall.

What is unique about the software you have designed for Landfall? 
Typically software design has utilitarian connotations of a general tool with some practical functionality, e.g. a word processor, which is not really what I do. Instead, code is more of a means of expression, and the piece of software that is the result is much closer to a custom-built musical instrument or an open-ended score that one has to learn how to play. In that sense almost everything about it is unique because it serves the purpose of bringing a specific idea to life and is part of the work of art.