This is the second time in 2014 that we’ve featured this show, but the last time it was playing it was only on for one night so you might have missed it. Thankfully you have us to remind you what’s hot and happening each week. This time the show is playing April 18th, 19th, and 20th. In case you weren’t aware, witchcraft is super hot right now and attending this Witch Camp is a must. Amber Martin and Nath Ann Carrera really blew me away last time with their power as proper witches. Starting this Friday the journey continues “through drop-off, Learning Yurts, the pre-dawn camp favorite, Morning Horses/Blood Sacrifice and beyond.” The show is very interactive — expect to be asked to cut your nails off and put them in a container, write some things in blood (don’t worry, not yours) and play with a small bag of hair while wearing black latex gloves. Also you might be asked to “gather around the fireside for a battle cry against the patriarchal rape heads in this ONGOING inquisition!” It sounds wonderful doesn’t it? You are about to meet the hottest witches in town, Amber and Nath Ann. Those two know how to take care of business.
The Company is celebrating their anniversary with some new work
Stephen Petronio has run his dance company for thirty years — no small feat in the demanding world of dance. We were fortunate enough to attend the stellar gala celebrating this momentous anniversary at the Joyce Theatre with a program that featured a new solo performce by Petronio called ‘Stripped‘ set to Philip Glass‘s Etude No. 5 with a costume intervention by artist Janine Antoni who sewed silk ties end to end that were wrapped around Petronio’s head then systematically unwrapped. For this piece, “Mr. Petronio loads himself with 30 gestures as well as a series of emotional states some recalled from his youth and with these materials he enacts his choreographic process onstage” — to great effect I may add.
Also on the bill is Petronio’s piece from 1999 ‘Strange Attractors Part l‘ a classic of sorts in it’s tension between chaos and order as well as the world premiere of ‘Locomotor‘ which is all about moving backwards — literally. The piece, which incorporates dancers moving backwards at break neck speeds with searing elan, has an original score by electronic/hip hop innovator Clams Casino and costumes by Narciso Rodriguez, with a peek-a-boo back. This collaboration works seamlessly as most of Petronio’s do, I say Bravo and look forward to thirty more years!
Remaining performances for this week are Friday, 11th, Saturday, 12th at 8:00PM and Sunday, 13th at 2:00PM & 7:30PM. Joyce Theatre, 175 Eighth Ave. NY, NY. Click here for tickets.
We’ve missed the first 5 weeks of Mx. Justin Vivian Bond’s new show The Drift, which V created with Scott Wittman and Matt Ray. This is the last week of the six show run at Joe’s Pub and we are excited to be able to finally take it all in. The show is a “new, free associative, collage of spoken word and song inspired by The story of Karen Stone, a retired actress who drifts from one space to another — either in her mind, in couture or in bed.” JVB wrote the show, or at least planned it out, in an unexpected way: “I was feeling bored, uninspired and depressed. So I came home and began to look through notes and ideas I had been collecting for years and years: snippets of books, favorite quotations, poems, unfinished lyrics… I let my mind drift from one glittering bread crumb I’d left for myself to another until I’d written the show.” We don’t care how you did it JVB, we’re just glad you did. See you this Friday.
Abi and I took a trip to Hell’s Kitchen, propelled by our press tickets to see a night of new works by Ailey II at The Ailey Citigroup Theater (the second company of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre) on W. 55th St. and 9th Ave. The first piece, ‘Alchemies’ was a good warm up, a piece that “transforms every day gestures- a reach, and embrace, a finger pointed skyward into a reverie of human interactions.” I liked it but Abi thought it was too hetero-normative. The second piece ‘Cuore Sott’olio’ translation: A heart submerged in oil, was more contemplative and soulful, reminiscent of lost loves and a “rediscovered light within.” But the showstopper was the last dance ‘Wings’ (pictured), mainly because the men had their shirts off and I could see their gorgeous muscles, and it was set to a beautiful ambient score by composer Michael Wall. Truly an inspired evening of dance that we followed up with a visit to Totto Ramen for delicious noodles, then to Atlas Social Club for cocktails and a nightcap at Flaming Saddles Saloon, where we were highly entertained by the country music and dancing bartenders. I did my first fireball shot then went straight home to bed; alone yet totally satisfied.
The artist discuses his vision for his project 'I Want Them to Turn Black'
The 22 year-old from Monterey Rhyan Hamilton is currently in his final year at Marymount Manhattan College, where he’s studying Communications with a concentration in Creative Media. Speaking with him, it’s clear that Rhyan has a very clear sense of himself. He’s approachable, articulate and so passionate when he gets to talking about his upcoming project, I Want Them to Turn Black, that it’s impossible not to share in his excitement. The event, set for May 17th, is a definite must. Hosted by Amanda Lepore, it will feature live sound by The House of Pain, a live-streamed performance by Lady Alchemy and the work of a number of New York City based artists.
We got to talking with Rhyan about his vision, his inspirations, and what we can do to help.
Hey Rhyan! Tell us a bit about yourself. First off, thanks for having me! I’m a fashion videographer, model, drag artist and Bay Area transplant based in Brooklyn. And curator, I suppose you could add to that list. And I’m also pursuing a rap career, but that’s another interview.
So, what is I Want Them to Turn Black? I WANT THEM TO TURN BLACK is a multi-media salon exploring Beauty, Monstrosity, and Fragility through the lenses of performance and new media. It’s a celebration really, of individuals who use their physicality to make art.
This interest in beauty, monstrosity — does it come from someplace personal? When I moved here from California in 2010, I never really had exposure to this kind of world — that manifests itself from standing out from everyone else. Back home, it’s very much about looking and feeling like everyone else. I was never really comfortable with this. I always wanted to stand out, and if I were to do something no one else was doing, I was going to do it perfectly.
The club scene in New York really asked me to challenge what I knew about fitting in. Here, fitting in was fitting-out. Over the course of the past few years I’ve watched people change: I’ve watched their faces change, their mannerisms, everything about them. It’s a question of identity, really. How much can you change before you’re a different person entirely? Vanity and perfection are words that are usually associated with negative connotations, but I think to devote your life to your representation is something of a sacrifice. I think there is a lot of bravery in it.
What inspires you, in general and in relation to this project? I’m really inspired by people who use their bodies to empower themselves or prove a point — performance artists, sex workers. When doing research for his project I read a lot of works on aestheticism. I’m inspired by people who use their body as their canvas.
When I met Amanda Lepore for the first time, I just didn’t really have words. She made a decision to devote herself to beauty, and I think that’s admirable. I think many would protest this statement, but I see Amanda Lepore as a feminist icon. Here is someone who took every expectation of women by men and the male gaze, accepted the challenge (intentionally or otherwise), and reconstructed her body to be an item of perfection. When you isolate each feature she has, she is objectively flawless. But in totality, when you get the whole picture, it’s bizarre. It’s a conundrum. And she lives her life as a spectacle. That, to me, is deserving of recognition.
How will this be different from all the other showcases and events out there? I think what makes this showcase different is that the theme is really specific without being specified. It’s not about gender or feminist discourse or issues surrounding body dysmorphia. It’s also not, not about them. It kind of transcends all of those things without undermining them. Everything is gong to be organic and unrehearsed. It’s going to happen once, and never happen again. I want it to feel very grounded yet really fleeting. I think that what each member of the audience will perceive will be different.
The first half of the salon will be very much a walk-around, gallery sort of set up followed by a performance in the second half which will be an experience more so than just something to watch. It’s going to be absolutely, almost illegal. Like, I thought about having people sign a waiver before viewing the performance haha. My goal is to put you on the edge of vertigo.
Now, how would you sum up what attendees have in store, what donors will be helping to realize —in one sentence? I Want Them to Turn Black is the democratic summation, deconstruction, and reinterpretation of the sacrifice that is Beauty, through a visually and aurally stimulating experience.
Anything else you think our readers should know? I almost forgot! In order to raise funding for the event, I’ve started an Indiegogo campaign to get things in motion. And if readers don’t have the means to contribute financially, there are other ways to help. The showcase is accepting art submissions online at iwantthemtoturnblack.com and I encourage everyone to submit something! We’re also looking for volunteers to help set up at the event. There are a ton of ways everyone can be a part of the experience. If you can’t make the showcase be sure to check out a live stream of the performance on the event’s site on the day of the showcase. See you there!
I WANT THEM TO TURN BLACK will be taking place on May 17th, 2014 at Colony Studios, 67 West St. Brooklyn, NY. It will streamed live on iwantthemtoturnblack.com.
To help Rhyan make this a reality, head over to his Indiegogo site and make a donation!
The comedian, actor and “spiritual virgin” John Early is performing this Friday in his new show titled ‘Literally Me.’ He told me the name was inspired by his love for “second album” titles — so basically the show is like his unplugged album. “The joke is that there hasn’t even been a John plugged…” but that’s ok, lets just go with it. He’s going to be singing four songs, covering Erykah Badu some acoustic Britney, plus he mentioned he’s “closing with the greatest song of all time.” He also told me he’s going to show a new short film, do “body rolls” (what?) and of course throw in some stand up comedy. The lovely drag queen, and Facebook star, Hamm Samwich along with the “genius dance comedy group” Cocoon Central Dance Team will be opening the show. The venue says that John’s show is for adults only, but John has not confirmed any nudity, he might get naked, but he’s not sure yet. He has promised however that “there will be emotional pornography.” OMG, like seriously, he is just sooooo quiche.
You’ve probably heard about Beauty and the Beast, and likely you’ve seen some Disney version of it, but if you are looking for the adult presentation this is the one you’ll want to see. Coming off of a successful run at the Young Vic Theatre in London, Beauty and the Beast is now playing at Abrons Art Center until March 30th. It’s the true love story of “a natural born freak and an American beauty queen” performed by the provocative “British disabled actor/writer” Mat Fraser and the “downtown New York legend” Julie Atlas Muz, directed by Phelim McDermott. Fasten your seatbelt and get ready for a wild, raunchy and real ride filled with lots of cock, tits and clits. The performers take us through a journey of their real life love relationship with each other played out through the drama of Beauty and the Beast...it’s a twisted, surprising performance. It made me think about the human condition in all its various guises and what beauty really means. Yeah, I can get deep sometimes.
Performance art is one of those things that’s not for everybody. Some don’t really get it, or are not ok with not fully accepting the fact that they might not understand it. Others think that pop stars such as Lady Gaga are performance artists (see our FB page to see all the drama about her). The point is when you call something performance art it can throw people off. Well it’s time to rethink everything. Tom and I went to see this dance performance last week and we were blown away. It was twisted, it was collaborative, it was sexy, it was provocative and constantly surprising. We unknowingly became a part of the show in the most amazing way (you’ll find out how). Thank You For Coming is choreographed by Faye Driscoll and performed by Giulia Carotenuto, Sean Donovan, Alicia Ohs, Brandon Washington and Nikki Zialcita. Faye is known for “her irreverent mix of dance, theater, and performance where the live theatrical experience is investigated, exploited, and revered.” In this case the point of this piece is “to examine how our bodies and stories relate to and depend on one another, as individuals come together to make something bigger than the sum of their parts.” The show is sold out, but a wait list will be taken at the door at 7:15PM on each performance night. It’s worth waiting in line for. I promise.
The ABT dancer on Russia's most famous gay composer
Late last summer, Russian minister of culture Vladimir Medinsky told a news outlet that historic composer Peter Tchaikovsky, despite years of documented proof otherwise, was not a homosexual. While Tchaikovsky’s sexuality has little import over his epic oeuvre of music, he has long been understood by historians and Russians alike to be gay, and Medinsky’s claim functions as an attempt among many in recent months to rewrite history in service of Russia’s newly homophobic political agenda. There has been a decent amount of opposition to the controversial disavowal of the composer’s sexuality since, but none have quite as much resonance as Tchaikovsky: None But the Lonely Heart, a new theatrical concert coming to BAM this week.
Presented by Ensemble for the Romantic Century, the concert is a combination of music, theater, and dance that hones in on the composer’s uncanny relationship with his patroness, Madame von Meck, conducted solely through letters spanning an incredible fourteen years. One member of the production, however, holds a personal interest in the story of Tchaikovsky’s life: Daniel Mantei Keene, the openly gay and extraordinarily talented American Ballet Theatre member who serves as dance choreographer as well as dancer in the production. Although Mantei has been dancing for about twenty years, Tchaikovsky: None But the Lonely Heart is truly a reason for him to stand out, providing the audience with some gorgeous choreography (alongside some decent eye candy while he’s at it).
We got in touch with Daniel ahead of the production’s run at BAM’s new Fishman Space to ask a few questions about the concert, how he thinks it functions in conversation with Russia’s current political climate, and what it was like choreographing to one of the most famous gay composers of all time.
Where did you start your dance education? I started at a small ballet studio called Ozsoy School of Ballet in a Southern suburb of Dallas. My teacher, Ceyhun Ozsoy, is Turkish — he danced at Ankara National Ballet Company before moving to the states. When I started, the supercollider was being built nearby so there were lot of kids from all over — my family moved to Texas from Indonesia—my father is a mining engineer.
How did you get involved in this project? A board member at ERC, Susan Winokur, is also a patron at ABT. She contacted ABT in search of a dancer and choreographer for the show. I’ve done pieces on ABT for a choreography workshop and for a kids show at the Metropolitan Opera House — I’m very eager to choreograph more. I’m grateful that artistic staff at ABT directed this project to me.
Was Tchaikovsky: None But the Lonely Heart, produced as a direct response to Russia’s anti-gay legislation? I believe the show was written before the anti-gay legislation was passed, but the legislation gives Tchaikovsky: None But the Lonely Heart a greater relevance and power. It illustrates that, though some would try to deny it, great Russian heroes were and are homosexuals — challenging the notion that gays are lesser.
Who is your favorite choreographer and why? It’s hard to pick one! I love Jiri Kylian’s and Antony Tudor’s work. I feel like they take dance and make it relevant to everyone. Their work pushes the boundaries of the art form — they give power to dance, and they tell truths — which we all need.
What has been the most challenging role to play on stage? Again it’s hard to pick just one! There are many different kinds of challenges. There are roles that are so physically demanding that you are exhausted and you have that inner dialogue with yourself on stage: “I could just stop now.” You have to push through the pain, push through not being able to even feel your legs anymore. Then there are roles that are challenging because of the acting aspect. Then there are roles that are challenging emotionally. Sometimes the hardest thing is to perform 8 shows a week as townsperson number whatever — you can feel like you are just stage dressing or moving scenery.
Tchaikovsky’s ballets are arguably his most famous works. What was it like creating new choreography for such an eminent composer’s music? Did you ever find yourself drawing from the classic ballets or distancing yourself from them? I definitely want to try my hand at choreographing the full lengths — especially Tchaikovsky’s. There’s a lot of pressure when it comes to reworking these classics because there have been many great versions in the past. Sometimes it’s hard to get away from what one has already seen, but I try to do it in a way that is true to myself. I aim to emphasize awareness — which I feel is the hallmark of classicism. In dance this means an attention to alignment and coordination — aiming to strip away tension and affectation — and using purity and simplicity of line and movement to create a whole that is greater than the sum of each part. I find myself moving away from the trends of ballet today — trends like overwrought, busy movement, affectation, circus acts and the celebration of a freak-of-nature-ness. When I see dance, I want to feel an awareness, a heightened human-ness, a return to naturalism.
What has been the general response from Russian citizens regarding the production? Has there been any so far? I haven’t heard from any Russian citizens so far — I hope they come check out the show!
What do you hope audiences will take away from the story of Tchaikovsky’s life after seeing this production? I hope they gain a better understanding of Tchaikovsky and a greater appreciation for his music. I want the audience to take away the importance of art and its patronage. I would love if they would hear his music in a different way than they’ve heard it before. I think his music is so powerful it affects all of us emotionally — reminds us of our commonality. I hope the audience can feel the pain of being gay in a world that does not accept gays.
Tchaikovsky: None But the Lonely Heart opens March 3 and runs through March 9 at BAM. Buy your tickets here.
With Navaridas+Deutinger, Ferenc Fehér, Niv Sheinfeld & Oren Laor.
There’s a lot of information to disseminate so I’ll get to the point. There’s a FREE night of Israeli and European dance at the Abrons Arts Center on February 28th and March 1st at 8:00PM — you just have to reserve tickets. We’re told one piece by two hot Israeli men, Niv Sheinfeld and Oren Laor, “brings it with a hot duet that involves nude partnering.” I saw a clip — it was hot! In addition there’s a lecture/performance piece titled Your Majesties by Austria’s Navaridas+Deutinger whereby Obama‘s acceptance speech at the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony is recited to “revive a piece of World History and reveal the underlying absurd vagaries of the text.” Saw a clip — I agree. The last piece is by Ferenc Fehér titled Stix 66, an “ultimatum to simplicity.” I absolutely love that. Ferenc is a Hungarian dance artist who claims “it is not movement but rather the state of the dancer that influences the viewer.” I didn’t see a clip but strongly agree. Sounds like a riveting night of performance. Act fast to reserve your free tickets, and see you at the Abrons.
The show runs from February 28 through March 1 at 8:00PM, Abrons Arts Center, 466 Grand St. NY, NY. For free ticket reservations click here.