Archive for May, 2008

The Best Day of Your Life: Get It On Your Calendar

Monday, May 26th, 2008

Happy Festivus
Photo by Barbara Smith — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

Have you ever felt left out from a celebration?

Did you know that you missed “World Day for Cultural Diversity?” As posted this past week on KArts Culture News, the day is sponsored by UNESCO. Sure, the only celebration we could find took place in Zimbabwe. But still, I bet it felt as though every one else had it in their calendars, but you didn’t know. You were left sitting alone thinking that day was just like any other.

Your worries are now over. We have collected the key days of the international cultural calendar (provided in bold), along with those days that call out for everyone’s maximum creativity to appropriately celebrate:

  • January 20: Penguin Awareness Day
  • January 29: Freethinkers Day (How free are they if they all have to celebrate on the same day?)
  • February 5: Weatherman’s Day (One prediction actually comes true!)
  • March 18: Awkward Moments Day (note: one day only)
  • March 27: World Theatre Day
  • April 4: World Rat Day
  • April 11: Barbershop Quartet Day
  • April 11: International “Louie Louie” Day
  • April 23: World Book and Copyright Day
  • April 29: World (or International) Dance Day
  • May 2: No Pants Day
  • May 17: World Telecommunications Day
  • May 17: World Information Society Day
  • May 21: World Day for Cultural Diversity
  • May 25: National Tap Dance Day
  • May 29: International Jazz Day
  • June 14: World Juggling Day
  • June 16: Bloomsday (be sure to read Joyce’s Ulysses)
  • July 24: National Drive-Thru Day (as in “I’ll have a big mac, shakes, fries”)
  • July 27: Walk on Stilts Day
  • August 12: Vinyl Record Day
  • August 13: International Left-Handers Day
  • August 28: Race Your Mouse Around the Icons Day
  • September 7: Salami Day
  • September 19: Talk Like a Pirate Day
  • September 21: International Day of Peace (hasn’t worked so far, but hope springs eternal)
  • October 1: International Music Day
  • October 2: World Farm Animals Day (George Orwell would be proud)
  • October 29: Safer Internet Day
  • November 3: Cliché Day
  • November 6: Saxophone Day
  • November 30: Computer Security Day
  • December 11: International Mountain Day
  • December 23: Festivus (television watchers only)

And, in case you are really out of the loop, 2008 is the year of: International Year of Languages; International Year of Planet Earth; International Year of the Potato; and, wait for it… the International Year of Sanitation.

Stay clean. Be creative. Celebrate.

- Bill Reichblum

Arts Presenters: Baraka Sele

Monday, May 26th, 2008

Baraka SeleBaraka Sele is Assistant Vice President of Programming and Curator of the World Festival at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. She has also held senior positions at 651 Arts Center, the Yerba Buena Arts Center and the Houston International Festival.

In this interview Baraka talks about her curatorial process, why it is essential to look at the performing arts as a business, and why you should go to the Fes World Festival of Sacred Music in Morocco.

This interview is part of an ongoing series with the Association of Performing Arts Presenters.

 Arts Presenters: Baraka Sele [11:25m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Wedding Feast to Wedding Fest

Monday, May 19th, 2008

First Dance

Photo by zeandroid — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

Just when you might have thought it was perfectly acceptable to look silly and in love, along comes a new movement to raise the cultural stakes: the professionalization of a wedding’s first dance.

Is this a reverberation of the televised star searches and dance competitions? Is it a radical outlet for performance art? Or, is it only a new competitive approach to make sure that one wedding is more memorable than another?

According to a recent article in the New York Times, the professionalization of the first dance at weddings began innocently enough: choreographers and performance artists making sure that their audience had a good show, and showing off their own imaginative moves.

Now, there are companies who will train the bride and groom and then choreograph their very own special routines to their favorite music, “tailored to the couples’ personalities and abilities”. If the couple is too shy, there are always the bridesmaids who can be counted on to create a show-stopping number.

All art comes with a price. This one starts at $1,500.00.

Maybe it is a bit old-fashioned, but when one looks at the recent posts in the Forum that feature some of the world’s more awkward first dances, they might not be Fonteyn and Nureyev but they certainly are in love. What else could be the motivation? After all, what is a better way to show-off your newly cemented relationship: dancing like Fred and Ginger, or stumbling your way through Meatloaf’s “Dashboard Light” for your in-laws, friends, and their young children?

In the end, rather than judge the smoothness (and coaching) of the couple’s first moves, more insight into their characters (and relationship) is revealed in the choice of the music.

Imagine the couples behind Ruben’s choices in the Wedding Bells and Songs playlist, which move from David Bowie’s Changes to Thomas Dolby’s She Blinded Me with Science to Sid Vicious singing My Way.

Now, that’s a first dance — and saves the money for the feast. As an audience member, don’t you think that’s more important?

- Bill Reichblum

Arts Presenters: Yoshiko Chuma

Monday, May 19th, 2008

Yoshiko ChumaYoshiko Chuma is the artistic director and choreographer of The School of Hard Knocks. Her work takes many forms, including theatrical dance performances, street theater, and large-scale outdoor projects, as well as intimate performances in homes and community centers. Chuma’s post-modern performances have received BESSIE awards and grants from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

In this interview, Chuma describes her creative process (not unlike fitting together LEGOs), how she finds commonalities in seemingly radically different cultures, and how her journey from post-war Japan to New York shaped her as an artist.

This interview is part of an ongoing series with the Association of Performing Arts Presenters.

 Arts Presenters: Yoshiko Chuma [10:38m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

A Lesson from Lessing: Didn’t Win? Good News!

Monday, May 12th, 2008

Doris Lessing

Photo by Elke Wetzig — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

Under the “grass is always greener” category, what is more important to you: to keep working, contributing and creating; or to win a prize, even the ultimate prize?

According to the ever-perceptive Doris Lessing, winning the Nobel Prize in Literature, in 2007, has been a “bloody disaster.”

In an interview with UK Radio 4’s Front Row, Lessing laments all the obstacles that come with being a prize winner: “All I do is give interviews and spend time being photographed.” As for her talent and vocation, “It has stopped, I don’t have any energy any more.”

No more novels because she has become too celebrated? (Do you think the fact that she has also become eighty-eight years of age has anything to do with the level of her energy?)

This is certainly a turn from the woman who declared on winning on the award: “Oh Christ! I couldn’t care less” and that the prize “doesn’t mean anything artistically.”

Lessing has always been a master of altering our perceptions of our world. The author of The Grass is Singing, The Golden Notebook, The Good Terrorist, amongst so many other significant works, has never shied from critiquing with a smile.

In an appearance at one festival, Lessing asked, “What use are men?” At another festival, she defended men against “unthinking and automatic rubbishing” by feminists.

So from all sides, it is worth considering the words of the Nobel’s oldest prize winner. Then again, wouldn’t you rather have the phone ring and the email box ping with some regular frequency?

Be it wisdom, weariness, or just age, Lessing deserves her prize and her privacy to work, if not at least think.

Born in Iran, and raised in Rhodesia, which is now Zimbabwe, Lessing’s voice also counts in politics: “Mugabe is a disaster.”

Through her work, and her interviews, Lessing has held fast to a core principle: “We are free… I can say what I think. We are lucky, privileged, so why not make use of it?”

Wouldn’t you, too, make good use of an award?

- Bill Reichblum

Interview: James Murray and Andy Ovsejevich

Monday, May 12th, 2008

James Murray and Andy OvsejevichTwelve years have passed since the opening night of Jonathan Larson’s musical Rent at the New York Theater Workshop in 1996. After twelve years of success and awards, one of the longest running musicals on Broadway has now premiered in Buenos Aires. The venue couldn´t have been a better choice: Ciudad Cultural Konex, a former oil factory turned into a cultural center in the heart of the Abasto neighborhood, where famous tango singer Carlos Gardel spent part of his childhood.

Director James Murray and producer and executive director Andy Ovsejevich talked with KadmusArts about how and why they decided to produce the musical in Buenos Aires, what the creation process was like, and how they dealt with the translation and adaptation of the script and lyrics. In closing, they shared with us an upcoming production at Konex: Puccini’s opera, La Boheme.

Cast Photos from the Ciudad Cultural Konex Production of Rent:

Rent Cast
Rent - Mark
Rent - Roger and Mimi

 Interview: James Murray and Andy Ovsejevich [20:08m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Get Smart

Monday, May 5th, 2008

Photo by Kenneth Lu — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

Wired magazine has created a twelve-step program that makes you smarter.

While the regular audience for Wired might approach this program from a techie point of view, we have a much better path towards intellectual enlightenment and accomplishment.

For this twelve step program, you don’t have to be shamed into action. Here’s the hook: If you go to festivals, you will have fun, and each of the twelve steps is made easy.

Here are Wired’s twelve steps to think about, and KadmusArts’ twelve steps to take:

1. Distract Yourself

Your ability to remember works better when you take your mind off the task.
What better way to distract yourself from your daily grind than to go to any festival in the world?

2. Caffeinate with Care

Java science shows that frequent small doses are better than a few large ones.
Did you know that there are festivals that boast coffee drinking as a perk? (Pun intended.)

3. Choose Impressive Information

The goal is to feed your mind.
A helpful step is the Pick of the Week, be it cool classical, dynamic dance, terrific theatre, or just outdoor wild rock ‘n roll.

4. Think Positive

If you approach new learning with a positive attitude you will learn better.
So, you must positively go to New Work.

5. Do the Right Drugs

How smart is this: don’t listen to anyone but a doctor.
Read about the art of stimulation.

6. Juice Your IQ Score

The more you test yourself, the better you do on tests.
Fortunately, there are festivals that test, too.

7. Know Your Brain

Amygdala, Cortex, Hippocampus, Hyphothalamus, and Thalamus…
…these are not just heavy metal bands.

8. Don’t Panic

The more relaxed you are, the better you think and react in tense situations.
Perfect opportunities to relax are produced by classical music fests.

9. Embrace Chaos

A good mind — and life — comes from a willingness to mix it up.
There are music festivals that give you a mix of all kinds of sounds and styles.

10. Get Visual

Use your imagination to see a problem, or situation, in parts.
New ways of seeing are part and parcel of theatre festivals.

11. Exercise Wisely

No surprise here: a fit mind is helped by a fit body.
Get inspired by some of the fittest bodies, and best minds, at dance festivals.

12. Slow Down

When you slow down, you see, read, and perceive better. You also won’t take life too seriously.
Make the time to travel, see live entertainment, and be part of the culture of your community and our world.

Don’t you feel smarter already? So, where are you going to go now?

- Bill Reichblum

Arts Presenters: Margaret Lawrence

Monday, May 5th, 2008

Margaret LawrenceMargaret Lawrence is the Director of Programming at the Hopkins Center for the Arts at Dartmouth College. The “Hop” presents each year 100 or more live performances in music, theater and dance, plus well over 200 film screenings and other events. Most recently, Class Divide, a three-year programming initiative, seeks to examine the issue of class through the arts.

In this interview, Margaret talks about the multiple roles that the Hopkins Center plays within the local community, how to forge relationships with artists, and the whys and hows of commissioning new works.

This interview is part of an ongoing series with the Association of Performing Arts Presenters.

 Arts Presenters: Margaret Lawrence [10:36m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download