The Winter Flea of Breukelen

The idea was to get a glimpse inside the grandiose interior of what used to be the headquarters of Williamsburg Savings Bank. Little did we know that walking past the entrance doors, we would fall into a real-life Narnia – and we didn’t even need a closet. For over the cold winter months Winter Brooklyn Flea finds shelter under the vaulted ceilings of One Hanson Place; and its food market, the irresistible Smorgasburg, takes place in the underground vault. That’s where we followed our nose, first. Then went on for a long stroll to the flea market, to tantalize the rest of our senses.   

The Summer Brooklyn Flea takes place every Sunday in DUMBO. And Smorgasburg is Saturdays in Williamsburg and Sundays in Prospect Park.

November 19th, 2016

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.

wp20161006_191654wp20161006_192532wp20161006_192511 wp20161006_192616 wp20161006_192640 wp20161006_192952wp0161006_192834wp20161006_193022 wp20161006_193042 wp20161006_193236 wp20161006_193627 wp20161006_193706wp20161006_193542wp20161006_194605 wp20161006_194636 wp20161006_200617 wp20161006_200713 wp20161006_200734 wp20161006_200801 wp20161006_200853 wp20161006_200943-pano wp20161006_201022 wp20161006_214956 wp20161006_230450

Takk Sigur Ros, see you again soon!

Kings Theatre
1027 Flatbush Avenue
Brooklyn

More reading here and here.

October 6th, 2016