The Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York's premiere showcase for cutting-edge performing arts, is in the midst of its celebrated Next Wave Festival. Frequently BAM's productions are harbingers of talents and trends. This ambitious festival, which runs through mid-December, will be no exception.
Although these listings are broken into categories, the Brooklyn Academy is famous for its interdisiplinary approach to performance. Revolutionary theatrical alchemists from Robert Wilson to Bill T. Jones have created works for BAM. Hence, these categories exist only to be defied.
To open the proceedings, Zingaro, an innovative French equestrian troupe, is presenting Chimere under the big top in Battery Park City. Twenty-six horses and an exotic Indian band conjure what has been called "part dream, part circus, part myth." Having received rave reviews for its premiere at the Avignon Festival, Zingaro's limited run is certain to be a hot ticket this fall. BAM will also present the New York premiere of Philip Glass' Les Enfants Terribles, a "dance opera spectacle" based on the story by Jean Cocteau. Les Enfants Terribles is the third Cocteau adaptation by Glass, a noted composer of contemporary classical music. Susan Marshall will direct and choreograph this much-anticipated event. This production will play only four performances at BAM's Opera House, off Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn.
DANCE: The Opera House will also house a 25th anniversary presentation of works by choreographer Trisha Brown. Guest artists, including dance-luminaries Mikhail Baryshnikov and Stephen Petronio, will perform Brown's works from 1971 to present. The Greatful Dead, John Cage and Laurie Anderson are among Brown's diverse musical selections.
An innovative energy characterizes The Predator's Ball: Hucksters of the Soul, a satire of the money-mad '80s, and the rise and fall of junk bond king Michael Milken. As directed and choreographed by Karole Armitage, this extravaganza will incorporate punk, hip-hop and ballet to create a humorous aesthetic.
Defying boundaries and gravity, the Meryl Tankard Australian Dance Theatre will present Furioso an aerial dance-theatre piece. Although trapezes have been incorporated into dance performances by various American groups, including Elizabeth Streb Ringside, this Australian company promises and inventive and original athletic fusion.
In sharp contrast to Tankard's physicality, Japan's Sankai Juku dance company will present Yuragi: In a Space of Perpetual Motion. Seeking to cast-off preconceived notions of Eastern and Western choreography, this company has developed a physical vocabulary of "refined, majestic motions, subtle gestures, and buoyant stylized steps."
The festival's finale, The Harlem Nutcracker, is a jazz-driven rethinking of the classic Christmas ballet. Donald Byrd, of The Group, choreographed this merger of the modern and the traditional, using Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn's electric arrangement of Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker Suite."
A politically-charged drama with music, The Beatification of Area Boy by Nobel Prize winning Nigerian Playwright Wole Soyinka, will play BAM's Majestic Theatre in mid-October. Defiant emotion defines this exploration of a shopping-center protection racket as a microcosm of Nigeria's military regime.
Politics also informs The Seven Streams of the River Ota, the seven hour master work of director Robert Lapage. This high-tech epic employs puppetry, ensemble acting and film to tell the story of a Czech Jew, who travels from Prague in the 1920s to Paris in the '50s, 1970s New York, and ultimately to Hiroshima.
Continuing a BAM tradition of multi-media presentations, a new "interdisciplinary oratorio," by renaissance-woman Meredith Monk, will use film, music and dance to make comment on dehumanizing technology. Inspired by Buddhist texts and novelist Willa Cather, Monk will employ a "non-linear, collage-like" structure to examine the true nature of community and communication.
The boundaries among the arts will be broken down again when BAM presents the second year of the Artists in Action series. This unique program gives visual artists the opportunity to create works for the stage. The eclectic results of this interdisciplinary collaboration will be presented in various venues, from The Brooklyn Museum to Staten Island's Snug Harbor Cultural Center.
Delighting in eclecticism, the producers have designed a double-bill of Global Music which includes Cornershop, an Anglo-Punjabi grunge band (which approximates post-modern rock and roll) and The Sabri Brothers, practitioners of Pakistani devotional music. The combination is sure to titillate, if not provoke.
Seeming uncharacteristically-traditional by comparison, San Francisco's Kronos Quartet, innovators in contemporary classical music, will use the Next Wave Festival to premiere three distinct programs of new work.
Jazz aficionados will appreciate a series of concerts hosted by clarinettist Don Byron. Covering Jazz from swing to bop, the list of notable performers includes Dave Holland, a Miles Davis collaborator in the '60s, and pianist/composer Marilyn Crispell.
Also participating in the Festival will be the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra and the soul-oriented vocal group The Persuasions.
All of these presentations run for a limited time only and many are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. Discounts are available for those wishing to attend four or more events, but seating is limited and popular events sell out quickly. More information may be obtained by calling BAM Ticket Services at (718) 636-4100.
-- By Kevin W. Reardon