Funny thing about that Broadway strike—I thought the reduced slate of plays and musicals might grant me a reprieve from the monstrous crowds clogging Times Square’s streets, Sephora, the Virgin Megastore and the sidewalk below MTV’s studios in the Minskoff Building. Didn’t happen, so I sucked up the inconvenience, dodging the starry-eyed out of towners milling about like clubbed baby seals while scheming to flee the madness.
Brooklyn answered my prayers. Made it to Sufjan Steven’s The BQE, part of BAM’s Next Wave Festival. I confess I’m a sucker for Sufjan’s rhythmic palette, a synthesis of Burt Bachrach and Neil Young (circa Harvest) wrapped in the composer’s peculiar brand of wistful precociousness. Big screen footage of the wailing byways that make up the BQE provided a bonus by turns amusing and sad, a paean, and rebuke to Robert Moses’ tragic vision.
A lovely, albeit uneven collaboration between Isaac Julien (Looking for Langston—rent it) and the choreographer Russell Malaphant, Cast No Shadow derived its fire and magic from cinematic images. Julien’s gorgeous investigations of race, class and journeys both actual (that of Matthew Henson and immigrants) and cosmic (dislocations of the mind) unfolded on a triptych of screens; the filmed portions alternately coalesced and warred with some stunning movement patterns by live dancers. When it worked, as in the haunting Small Boats segment, the Harvey’s stage oozed with the kind of phantasmagoric imagery that would have made the Surrealists proud.
Back at the Opera House Ohad Naharin and the Batsheva Dance Company spun their own visions of people adrift in the world—and with each other. His Three surpassed last spring’s DECADANCE, the 10 year survey of his work presented by Cedar Lake in Chelsea, and the New York dance world is all the richer for those occasions when he and his fluid, idiosyncratic style takes our stages; he shows us not only new movement possibilities but a fresh take on our place in the world—our tyrannies, our sorrows and our joys, the politics of life writ provocatively large and compelling.
Starving for art, I took a break from my deadlines for Attitude: The Dancer’s Magazine this weekend. Two stunning exhibitions satiated the art part in me: at Sean Kelly, Antony Gormley’s installation Blind Light II turned my senses inside out; Gormley achieves such upending simply by filling a room made of glass with a dense cloud of mist. You enter a world where people become phantoms; disorientation reigns. After you’ve purged your nervous laughter, what’s left is what can only be described as an eerie calm. And awe: Gormley pulls the rug out from your defenses to give you the mind-bending ride many artists promise but few deliver. Sadly it closed in Manhattan on Saturday; keep an eye open for more of Gormley.
There’s still time to catch Thomas Demand’s Yellowcake at the 303 Gallery. The nine photographs on display tell a story that recalls Alan J. Pakula’s paranoid thrillers of the 70’s, a parallex view of an obscure, chilly “threat” felt through Demand’s icy color schemes and his use of “absence.” I won’t explain—see for yourself, it’s on view through December 22nd.
Midtown beckons. All Broadway shows are back up, and a few new ones—The Farnsworth Invention, August: Osage County and the Roundabout’s dynamic duo, The 39th Steps and their revival of Sunday in the Park with George—hold such promise I needs must gird my loins and jump back into the fray. Wish me luck.
Photo courtesy of Jonathan Nye