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Monday, August 19, 2013

Fisher Performances—In Your Face

by Susan Yung

Kate Weare Company. Photo: Keira Heu-Jwyn Chang
After just one season, the new BAM Fisher (Fishman Space) has become a favorite BAM destination, alongside the Howard Gilman Opera House and the BAM Harvey Theater. Here, reasons why, plus a look at this fall’s Fisher offerings.

    • Variety. Dance, music, theater, and multi-genre events are equally at home in the Fisher.
    • Proximity. It offers unbeatable, arm's-length views of work that rewards an up-close experience from each of the theater’s 250 (or fewer) seats.
    • Affordability. Tickets are $20, and for DanceMotion USA(sm), free.
    • Access. The lobby is at street level at 321 Ashland Place, and the theater doors are situated just inside for simple access.
    • Flexibility. In the 2012 Next Wave, seats were on one, two, three, and four sides, in addition to zero seats, at least regulation theater style—they were stowed to make room for 60 rocking chairs, and for another show, the theater was converted into a laser pointer gallery. Plus, the balcony offers a totally different point of view. In the 2013 Next Wave Festival, all configurations will again be employed, some described with words like “tennis court” and “runway.”

      2013 Next Wave Festival at the Fisher
      Come fall, dance lovers rejoice! Four companies make BAM debuts; two return (in addition to the companies in the two larger theaters). In Dark Lark, BAM’s first dance artist-in-residence, Kate Weare, expresses the complexity of inner life and relationships through pliant movement. In Run Don’t Run, 2013 Guggenheim Fellow Brian Brooks applies his distinctive mad scientist/triathlete take to the genre, plus eye-popping visuals. Tere O’Connor, equally nimble with the formal and conceptual, throws it down in the ambitious Bleed, layering three disparate dances. And in Dark Theater, John Heginbotham feeds inspiration from a Dada ballet into his own often humorous formal structure.

      Two renowned dance companies make anticipated returns. Susan Marshall takes music videos and indie rock and adds dance in Play/Pause. And Doug Varone and Dancers completes the final chapter of a DanceMotion USA(sm) tour of South American cities; a collaboration with Buenos Aires-based Brenda Angiel Aerial Dance Company will be performed in addition to a work by Varone, an acknowledged master of expressing emotion physically, ranging in dynamic from a subtle glance to a daring move.

      A little-known legend in modern music: guitarist Gary Lucas co-wrote “Grace” with the late Jeff Buckley. In The Edge of Heaven, Lucas frames pop-jazz songs from 1940s China with his uniquely American take and the talents of two singers from Shanghai. The Table, by Polish ensemble Karbido, may permanently alter your behavior at breakfast. Using their bodies and other stuff, they produce myriad percussion sounds on a custom-crafted table. And in Goldberg’s Variations, Andy Biskin does a musical riff, in the style of early jazz, on Rube Goldberg’s giddy invention schematics as animations are projected onscreen.

      The Fisher also suits intimate theater productions. Ken Rus Schmoll directs the Pick Up Performance Co(s) in Ain Gordon’s Not What Happened, in which a woman and her reenactor convey slightly divergent versions of a story. British visual artist Alexandre Singh presents The Humans, an evolved installation work with an edge that sardonically ponders no less than man’s fall from grace.

      With the aid of an algorithm, in A Piece of Work Annie Dorsen parses Hamlet and produces a unique take on the Bard’s famous text each night, performed on the fly by theater vets Scott Shepherd and Joan Macintosh, alternating performances. And in Bodycast, Frances McDormand conveys the perverse humor of being in a full body cast for two years, as writer Suzanne Bocanegra was in her teens, in addition to dispensing other vivid biographical anecdotes.

      The Fisher has quickly developed a following among BAM cognoscenti eager to see how different artists will utilize its unlimited flexibility. If you haven’t, check the schedule at BAM.org and come join the ranks of the culturally curious.

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