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Friday, May 30, 2014

How to Make Your Own Game Show by Jo Firestone

RadioLoveFest starts this coming Wednesday, and features some of our favorite trivia shows on the air: Ask Me Another, and Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me. As fans of game shows of all kinds, we were eager to learn more about what goes into making one, and reached out to Brooklyn-based comedian Jo Firestone. She is the creator and host of several game show events, including Friends of Single People, Bullsh*t History, The Incredible Game Show Showcase, and PUNDERDOME 3000 (which she runs with her dad).

So you want to make a game show? I don’t blame you! For generations people have been gathering together, playing games to display their knowledge and strange, otherwise un-marketable skills to the people around them. Today with ever-expanding forms of media, you can experience game shows not only through television and radio, but also through podcasts, internet videos, mobile phone apps, and even zing zongs and waddledoodles! What a perfect American past-time that continues to transform with the 21st century!

But you may be wondering, “What do you know about making a game show? Your name isn’t Alex Trebeck or Drew Carey!” Of course, I understand your trepidations. I grew up in a household where my father made us play Table Talk (his own game show) at the dinner table, Daddy Dollars (his own game show) for allowance, and Least Trusted People (his own game show) whenever we went into the garage. Truthfully, I know very little about actual televised game shows, but if my upbringing left me with anything (besides knowing which people to really “least-trust”), I know how to make home-made game shows.

I’ve narrowed down all my game show creating knowledge into an easy-to-use step-by-step guide to teach you how to create your very own game show. Go on, read it. It’s very helpful.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Eat (Sandwiches), Drink & Be Literary: Meg Wolitzer

Illustration by Nathan Gelgud
Our sandwich series continues with author Meg Wolitzer, who joins us tonight for Eat, Drink & Be Literary.

Wolitzer penned The Interestings, one of the must-reads of 2013 that was on The New York Times best-seller list, Amazon's top pick for March, and garnered comparisons to other top novels, including the über-lauded Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen.

She outlined some of the methods she uses to find inspiration while writing a novel, including watching the movie Up, doodling, and listening to folk music.

Her go-to sandwich:
I love the house roasted turkey sandwich on a sweet semolina roll at Parm, on Mulberry Street. (And I like saying all those words...)
Parm's beautiful 'wich, available on a roll, hero, or as a platter (no bread, with sunday salad or ziti). Photo by Robyn Lee.
We spot a trend among our literary friends' sandwich preferences... keep it simple. (Does the simplicity of menu choice free up brain space for creativity? Just a thought.)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Cedar Lake—Pivoting

by Susan Yung

Tuplet. Photo: Christopher Duggan

Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet is having a moment. The company celebrates its 10-year anniversary and BAM debut with a run from June 11 to 14 in the Howard Gilman Opera House. And it welcomes a new artistic director, Alexandra Damiani—although “new” is not exactly right. Damiani has been with Cedar Lake for nine years now as associate artistic director and ballet master, running rehearsals and keeping the impressively diverse repertory in top shape, and has been acting artistic director after the departure last year of its previous AD, Benoit Swan Pouffer. In this time, she has forged strong working relationships with the dancers, many of who are long-tenured.

Another twist is the appointment of an associate choreographer who is in demand worldwide, Crystal Pite, who created for Cedar Lake Grace Engine, included in BAM’s season. She will create a minimum of two works over a few years, with time in between to research. Pite said, “Cedar Lake is a dynamic company of distinct individuals; I love the versatility and courage of the dancers. They have a rigorous commitment to physical skill and a willingness to risk, so I can manifest a lot through them—both choreographically and theatrically. The organization itself—administration, production—is professional and open-minded. There is a spirit of curiosity and commitment to innovation that permeates the whole building. I can throw a seed of an idea in there and I know it will find fertile ground.”

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

About Last Night: DanceAfrica Opening Celebration Party

Dancers turned the reception into a virtuosic showcase.

The opening performance of DanceAfrica Sunday afternoon marked the 37th anniversary of the historic festival. In celebration of the event, which featured guest company Groupe Bakomanga from Madagascar, BAM hosted a reception in the Lepercq space.

Ambassador of Madagascar to the United Nations, Zina Andrianarivelo-Razafy, with guests and artists.

In Context: DanceAfrica 2014

America’s largest festival of African dance returns to the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House and beyond; the opening festivities took place this past weekend, and events resume from May 23 to 26. Context is everything, so get even closer to the production with this curated selection of articles, videos, and original blog pieces related to the show. For those of you who've already seen it, help us keep the conversation going by telling us what you thought below.

Monday, May 19, 2014

DanceAfrica—Leadership Transition in 2016

(L) Chuck Davis; (R) Abdel R. Salaam
A big DanceAfrica announcement was made this past weekend: Abdel R. Salaam will succeed Chuck Davis as artistic director of DanceAfrica in 2016!

Davis founded the DanceAfrica Festival in 1977. It's the largest festival of its kind and has since presented more than 80 African and African diaspora dance companies and has expanded to several major cities.

Salaam founded Forces of Nature Dance Theatre in 1981; it has appeared in DanceAfrica eight times since 1986.

Read coverage of the announcement in The New York Times.

And don't miss this year's DanceAfrica, with its packed slate of dance performances featuring the Malagasy troupe Groupe Bakomanga, the fabulous bazaar—outdoors and at the Fisher, plus music at BAMcafé Live, art, and film.

The festivities take place as usual on Memorial Day Weekend, May 23—26. Ago! Amee!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

DanceAfrica—Scouting Madagascar

by Nick Schwartz-Hall

Unicef performance, Centre Valbio, Ranomafana. Photo: ZOU

Last August Baba Chuck Davis and I flew 20 hours from JFK to Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar, in search of a traditional Malagasy dance troupe to invite to DanceAfrica this May. Neither of us had been to Madagascar, and DanceAfrica has never had a Malagasy dance troupe. We were looking forward to new approaches to African dance, with, as Chuck put it, not a djembe in sight.

Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world, a self-contained republic off the east coast of Africa, drawing its heritage from early migrations from Asia and East Africa, with an overlay of English and French colonialism in the 18th and 19th centuries. Many of us know of it as the home of the lemur species and rainforests. About 90% of the plants and animals of Madagascar are found nowhere else.

Our visit was enthusiastically supported by the staff of the US Embassy in Antananarivo, in particular Brett Bruen, Erik Atkins, and David Andriessen. They introduced us to amazing cultural advisors including the former Minister of Culture Mireille Rakotomalala and Hanitrarivo Rasoanaivo, leader of the renowned world music group Tarika Be.

The morning after our arrival, the embassy arranged a press conference to announce our arrival and give journalists the chance to ask questions about our intentions. With their partners at Vision Madagascar and journalist Francoise Eid, the embassy got the word out in Madagascar about our visit and search for a troupe for DanceAfrica. The press conference was well attended, and we received quite a bit of coverage.

Eat (Sandwiches), Drink & Be Literary: Alison Bechdel

Illustration by Nathan Gelgud
Our sandwich series continues with author and cartoonist Alison Bechdel, who joins us tonight for Eat, Drink & Be Literary.

When it comes to sandwiches, she keeps it simple and French:
My favorite sandwich is ham and butter on a baguette. I had this for the first time on a high school trip to France, late one night in a bar. I’ve since learned that it’s called jambon beurre, and that it is the iconic French sandwich. I like its simplicity and purity. I get sandwich panic whenever I have to order a custom-made sandwich from a long list of ingredients. And ready-made sandwiches are no solution. I have stood in front of airport coolers full of complex gourmet assemblages, none of which is the exact combination I want, until my flight is called and I walk away hungry.

But of course it’s rare to find a decent jambon beurre in an airport or a sandwich shop. And though I have had many excellent ones over the years, none have quite lived up to that first one.

Le grand classique.

It's not quite the same, but Bittersweet by Fort Greene Park serves an excellent salami and butter sandwich. Feel free to share any leads on local jambon beurre purveyors in the comments!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

About Last Night: Lyon Opera Ballet Opening Night Party

Yorgos Loukos, artistic director, Lyon Opera Ballet Company (second from R); choreographer Christian Rizzo (second from L), and company members celebrate opening night.
BAM members didn’t have far to go for the party after the show Wednesday night. As the Lyon Opera Ballet's ni fleurs, ni ford-mustang let out in the Opera House, members at the Supporter level and up made their way to BAM’s Lepercq Space for the Opening Night Party.

BAM & WNYC Archives—Shared Histories

Badge; WPA New York Civic Orchestra label; Chester Nimitz and Fiorello LaGuardia. WNYC Archive.
WNYC is in residence at BAM for RadioLoveFest (June 4—8), when eight of New York public radio’s most beloved shows are presented as live theatrical engagements, plus additional events. Here, WNYC archivist Andy Lanset talks with BAM’s archivist, Sharon Lehner, about preserving and sharing, respectively, 90 and 153 years of each major institutions’ collections.

Sharon Lehner: How did you become the director of archives at WNYC?

Andy Lanset: I was a public radio reporter doing field recording and engineering as well. I got involved with preservation work as well. That, along with periodic overtures at WNYC about the need to do something with their collections, eventually led to starting the WNYC Archives as a department in 2000. It wasn't till after then that I went to through the library program at Pratt at night. And you?

SL: A similar circuitous yet organic path. I began as a performer but what really interested me was the process of creating performances. What are its historical roots, influences, components? Really an interest in the ontology of performance, leading to a graduate degree in performance studies focusing on contemporary performance, which brought me to BAM as a fan. I started part-time at BAM, which created a full-time archives position in 2005; I was finishing a degree in Archival Management and Historical Editing at NYU.

AL: What cataloging and content/digital management systems do you use?

SL: In the BAM Hamm archives we have a highly customized version of Collective Access, an open-source, web-based relational database. Because performance is event- rather than object-based we try to model the event (production) rather than an object—a data set describing the production: dates, artists, genres, elements of the performance. We also describe the time in which it occurred and relate it to a concept or work.

Our relational database is a kind of hybrid between a digital asset management (DAM) and a catalog; form follows function. The production (a description of a past event) is the center; we relate productions through time to an idea, such as Hamlet, and relate all of the objects in the archives—programs, video, correspondence, scripts, scores, and other objects—to the people involved, the production, and the work. Before we had dynamic descriptive digital tools, we were left with a list of performances, a catalogue of objects. New tools allow us to visualize this data in new ways.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

About Last Night: BAM Art Auction Closing Party

BAM took a trip to downtown Manhattan on Monday for the closing party of the 10th annual BAM Art Auction.

The auction was held at the Whitebox Art Center in the Bowery, and featured the work of 90 artists, including such well-known names as Richard Serra, Alex Katz, Dustin Yellin, and Deborah Kass; some lesser known emerging ones, like Brie Ruaz and Rachel Beach; and at least one you recognize but didn’t know created visual art—Moby.

The Troubadour of Madagascar

by David Hsieh

Madagascar Slim. Photo: Jason Dickinson
Malagasy blues singer and guitarist Madagascar Slim has not played much in the US, but he is known in Canada, where his Malagasy-style blues has earned him three Juno (Canada’s Grammy) awards since 2000. He will perform at this year’s DanceAfrica opening celebration on May 18 at the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House. Although he was sent to Canada in his late teens with the expectation that he would become an accountant, the B.B. King and Jimi Hendrix-worshipping teen was never happier when playing his guitar. Madagascar Slim eventually emerged and started to play in various clubs and venues. But as fate would have it, Canada not only gave him the chance to become a professional musician, it also helped him recover his musical roots. As he tells it:
This is how it happened. One day my uncle called me and said excitedly, “Hey Ben, there is a Malagasy band coming to Toronto and they're gonna be at Harbourfront this weekend; let's go check it out!” Well if there was anybody hungrier than me for Malagasy things at that time it had to be my uncle. We went and it was a shock. The band Tarika spearheaded by Hanitra Rasoanaivo was performing and we just sat there stunned! They were playing these traditional Malagasy instruments such as the Valiha, Jejy Voatavo, and marovany and yet they were just as loud and as good! I was looking at my uncle and tears were flowing down his cheeks. I was pretty choked up myself too. You see, I was so immersed into the blues and guitar dueling in just about all the venues here in Toronto that I forgot all the pent-up Malagasy music in me. Song after song Tarika just seems to be pulling right out of my very soul. After the show I went to talk to Hanitra and she introduced me to Derek Andrews, the artistic director of Harbourfront Center at that time. He asked me if I play Malagasy music so I invited him to my next gig and promised him to do a number or two. I guess he liked for he became my friend and manager after that.
Slim was so taken by this recovery that he even went back to Madagascar to study valiha, seen in this documentary. Slim describes a valiha:
Valiha is a bamboo zither with strings all around it. You pluck it the way you do a harp and it produces a very delicate and tiny sound. I was told that it might have its origin in Indonesia where they have a similar instrument called Vadia. On one trip to Madagascar I took some lessons from the late Valiha master Sylvestre Randafison.

Monday, May 5, 2014

In Context: Lyon Opera Ballet

Photo by Michel Cavalca

The Lyon Opera Ballet performs Christian Rizzo's ni fleurs, ni ford-mustang at the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House from May 7—9. Context is everything, so get even closer to the production with this curated selection of articles, videos, and original blog pieces related to the show. For those of you who've already seen it, help us keep the conversation going by telling us what you thought below.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Dispatch from the Brooklyn Reads 2014 Poetry Contest

For the first time ever, BAM offered two Brooklyn high school students the opportunity to perform on the BAM Harvey Theater stage alongside some of today's most acclaimed spoken-word and hip-hop artists. And you, our audience, made the final call.

Contestants in the virtual slam that ran during April are all participants in Brooklyn Reads, a free program BAM runs with local schools that connects spoken-word artists with students in the classroom, teaching creative writing, literacy, and performance poetry. These 12 young people were chosen by their teachers and teaching artists, and are performing entirely original work.

All the contestants and their friends, family, and schools showed immense support and enthusiasm throughout and the contest, and we're thrilled to announce the winners:
  • Miana Vega, Grade 10, ACORN Community High School (audience selection)
  • Brandon Lambert, Grade 11, Brooklyn High School of the Arts (BAM selection)

We asked all the finalists to participate in a sort of Exquisite Corpse, each contributing a favorite line from their poem. You can see the results after the jump—and don't forget to check out all their videos!