Yes Love No Locks

Ha…! Says who?

No sooner had the locks been removed from the sides than they reappeared on mast arms of lights over the traffic lanes. This one is right underneath the sign!

Not long before, one of the bridge’s street light wires had snapped under the pressure of the locks attached to it, halting the traffic for a couple of hours.

Ah, the casualties of too much love…

October 23rd, 2016

Letter to a Man

Letter to a Man is the third collaboration between two icons from the world of performing arts – Robert Wilson and Mikhail Baryshnikov. I had the privilege to enjoy all three, in three different corners of the world.

Video Portraits came first in 2013; hosted by Onassis Cultural Centre in Athens Greece, it was an audiovisual feat unlike anything we’d seen before – in that part of the world, at least. A few months later and some three thousand kilometres north of Greece The Old Woman came to town, with William Dafoe joining the party in deSingel, Antwerp’s centre of contemporary arts. And, finally, three years later, a performance at the source, with Letter to a Man marking our initiation to the theatre world of New York at BAM, Brooklyn’s leading performing arts venue. We didn’t know it then but BAM would become a regular ”hangout” where we would enjoy many an entertaining weekend night out.

Letter to a Man is based on autobiographical texts by Vaslav Nijinsky (1889-1950), with extracts from his diaries, written in less than six weeks in 1919 when Nijinsky was already succumbing to madness and trying to record and understand what was happening to him.

In Robert Wilson’s play, each passage is repeated many times in English and in Russian by Mikhail Baryshnikov alone on the set, assisted only by Wilson’s masterfully minimalist – yet grandiose – mise-en-scène on which light, sound, props, movement and text are all of equal importance; and staged to perfection by the Director himself.

Now, I will readily admit I had never been a great fan of Baryshnikov, tilting toward the ethereal grand jeters of the likes of Nureyev rather than the solid, precise movements of Mikhail. Despite his extraordinary leaps, which apparently were higher than Rudolf’s, Baryshnikov always gave me the impression that he was somehow heavier, earthbound.  And I have to take Nijinsky’s brilliance as an establish fact, since none of his performances were ever recorded.

But watching Baryshnikov alone on the stage channelling a lifetime’s worth of earthbound precision, mastering choreography and pantomime, being almost seventy years old and unstoppable, the least I can do is concede admiration. For Baryshnikov rendered Nijinsky’s descent to insanity with the brio and gentleness, compassion and deep understanding, as only another great dancer could.

This is how it began:

”I understand war because I fought with my mother-in-law,” he repeats several times while confined to a straitjacket.

”I am a beast, a predator. I will practice masturbation and spiritualism. I will eat everyone I can get hold of. I will stop at nothing.”

”I am God’s plan, and not the Antichrist’s. I am not the Antichrist. I am Christ.”

Letter to a Man, BAM, October 2016.

It will run in Barcelona on 29 June – 02 July 2017. Details for this and other productions can be found on Robert Wilson’s website.

Photo credits: all, except the last two, photos are by Lucie Jansch.

October 23rd, 2016

Of Music and Glorious Kings

October had arrived cool bringing a hint of autumn, fiery colours, pumpkins – and Sigur Ros to Brooklyn. Tickets booked many months in advance, long before the flight tickets that would bring us to New York. This performance was added ”due to popular demand”, after their first night at Radio City was sold out in a matter of minutes. My initial frustration in missing a performance at the legendary venue quickly evaporated, replaced by awe the moment I stepped in the exquisite, historic landmark that is the Kings Theatre.

Unused since 1977, damaged by time and pilferage, painstakingly restored from scratch to its former glory, its interior inspired by the French Renaissance Revival style of the Palace of Versailles and the Paris Opera House, with brand new state-of-the-are staging facilities Kings Theatre is a prime example of what determination, good planning, respect to the original architecture and an investment of $95 million can do to the benefit of the community.

And I have Sigur Ros to thank for my initiation into the world of New York’s historic theatres, in such grand style.

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Takk Sigur Ros, see you again soon!

Kings Theatre
1027 Flatbush Avenue
Brooklyn

More reading here and here.

October 6th, 2016

Sears Roebuck & Co.

With rows of red brick family houses and small apartment buildings, modest and slightly rundown, this part of Beverly Road is not particularly pretty.

But, then, one comes across this marvelous Artdeco tower on the edge of a seemingly triangular structure. Later, I found out that it is a department store, opened in 1932 with Eleanor Roosevelt being the guest of honour, keynote speaker and first customer in what was to be Ms. Roosevelt’s last public appearance before her husband became President.

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Beverly Road, Flatbush, Brooklyn

More reading about Sears here.

October 6th, 2016

Dyker Heights

I was longing to see them up close, the famous Christmas lights in Dyker Heights. These are some of the decorations to be seen between 11th & 14th Avenues and 82nd & 85th Streets. They range from zero to elegant minimal to mesmerizing to hypnotizing to glorious to explosively colourful to downright extravagant. In all cases they are magnificent and are best enjoyed on foot. Choose any route but, whatever you do, save the displays on the Spata house at 1152 84th St. and that of Polizzotto at 1145 84th St. for last. You’ll be so bedazzled everything else will seem just a little bit dimmer (if that is even possible!) next to them.

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We took the subway from Manhattan: the D train to Brooklyn Heights until 18th Av. and on the way back, the R train from 86 St. The trip was an hour and-a-half long each way, with a 20-minute walk from/to the subway stations. But it was worth every minute.

December 27th, 2016

Christmas all year round

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During the walk, I keep thinking that some people don’t have to wait for Christmas. Behind me and all along the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, there are apartment buildings with large windows and balconies. The lower level ones may be less lucky but those higher up enjoy this glorious unobstructed view day-in day-out.

September 5th, 2016