Utica Starts with You!

This post is in memory of a very dear friend who died last Sunday. He is deeply missed.

Utica is in the part of New York State filled with classically named cities: Rome, Troy Ithaca and Syracuse, among others. The tenth biggest city in the state, Utica lies in the Mohawk Valley midway between Buffalo and NYC. After the Erie Canal arrived in 1825 Utica officially became a city.

Today despite a slew of buildings on the National Registry of Historic Places, I can’t think of a reason to visit Utica except for the fabulous Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute.  Located in a building designed by Phillip Johnson, the institute is linked to Fountain Elms, home of the Williams Family and is now a ‘house museum’ exhibiting (largely) decorative arts. The whole arts institute derives from the Munsons, Williams and Proctors, three generations of a Utica family.  The money behind the whole shebang came from textiles, coal mining, canal development and railroad/steamship transportation. Helen Elizabeth Munson Williams, (1824-94), described as a “shrewd investor” started the collection. Today the institute offers classes, workshops for all ages, tours and community education.

More bric than brac

The permanent collection is nothing short of dazzling encompassing 18th through 21st century paintings; stoneware, sculpture, textiles and a great deal more. In the lobby there is a spectacular Jackson Pollack from 1949.

Pollack in the lobby

   

 

   

 

 

       The collection has such breadth and quality it’s impossible to describe so here’s a link: http://collections.mwpai.org/objects/images

The following day we escaped the madhouse that is today’s Saratoga Springs to drive to Glens Falls for the just–reopened Hyde Collection. The core collection includes works by Rembrandt, Rubens, Seurat, Picasso, Renoir and American artists Thomas Eakins, Childe Hassam, Winslow Homer, and James McNeill Whistler. There are modern works by Albers, Gottlieb, Kelly, LeWitt, Motherwell, Rauschenberg and others.  I was particularly knocked out by Steve Roden’s The Silent World and a work by Myron Stout.

Steve Rodin

 

 

For an additional artistic touch, here is the recipe for Ansel Adams’s Poached Eggs in Beer from The Photographer’s Cookbook 

¼ cup (⅛ pound) butter                                                                      
Mixed spices (this one is a mystery. I’d probably omit.)
Dash sherry
1 bottle dark malt liquor or strong ale (ordinary beer is not strong enough)
¼ tsp salt
2 eggs
2 pieces toast
Dash paprika

1) Melt butter in microwave oven, but do not allow to brown. Add (a dash of mixed spices) and sherry. 

2) In a small bowl, microwave malt or ale with ¼ teaspoon salt just to the boiling point. Carefully slide eggs into this hot liquid, cover with paper plate or glass bowl (to retain thermal heat), and cook as desired in microwave. (See note below on microwave cooking.) 

3) While eggs are cooking in microwave, make two pieces of toast. Spread part of the butter-spice mix over the toast.

 4) Serve eggs on the toast, and pour over the rest of the butter-spice mix. Add a dash of paprika.

I find that 1 egg in the hot ale or malt takes about 1 minute to cook, 2 eggs about 2 minutes (this note from curator Lisa Hostetler at the George Eastman Museum, Rochester, NY)

This sounds like a breakfast or brunch dish. Depending on the weather, how about tea or coffee, hot or iced? If you want to get really artsy, try an absinthe cocktail https://www.thespruceeats.com/absinthe-cocktail-recipe-759567 as absinthe was drunk by many writers and the subject of many paintings.  Widely banned in the early 1900s, it no longer contains wormwood, popularly thought to make drinkers go mad, blind or both. Pernod and other anise-flavored beverages are often served in lieu of absinthe but the thought of this alongside poached eggs is unappealing.  Maybe just hum a few bars of Mona Lisa a la Nat King Cole…

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Utica Starts with You!

Jane: Her Own Urban Legend

Jane Jacobs

As in Jane Jacobs, urban planner, writer and activist who argued that urban renewal didn’t respect the lives of city dwellers. Jacobs stood up to Robert Moses who wanted to overhaul Greenwich Village where she lived and helped cancel plans for the Lower Manhattan Expressway which would have wrecked what today is Soho along with parts of Little Italy and Chinatown.

Jane is recognized on a weekend in May all over the world. In New York City the Municipal Arts Society organizes a group of free, docent-lead tours knows as Jane’s Walk. I went on one that more or less centered around the East River. Although I’ve lived here my entire life, I didn’t know about the fire on June 15, 1904 on the paddlewheel boat the General Slocum.  The fire’s cause was possibly a carelessly discarded match; of the 1,358 passengers, many of whom were women and children, 1,021 died, largely because they couldn’t swim and were hampered by the heavy clothing of the day.

 

 

 

I also didn’t know (or forgot) that York Avenue was named for Sergeant Alvin York, one of the most decorated soldiers of WWI. TCM fans probably know the 1941 movie, Sergeant York, staring Gary Cooper which brought him that year’s Oscar for Best Actor.

One more Jane-related factoid: Since its founding in 1901, Rockefeller University has produced twenty-six Nobel Prize winners.

Having tried and failed to find a recipe with “city” in it (if you come across one I’d love to hear) I’m going with a Manhattan.

2 ounces rye whiskey (or bourbon if you prefer)

1 ounce sweet vermouth

2 dashes Angostura bitters

1 dash orange bitters

Garnish: brandied cherry or lemon twist

Add the bourbon (or rye), sweet vermouth and both bitters to a mixing glass with ice, and stir until well-chilled.  Strain into a chilled coupe. (I doubt that you will be struck by lightening if you use a glass.} Garnish with a brandied cherry (which everyone has around the house) or a lemon twist.

Before your first sip raise your glass to Jane.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Jane: Her Own Urban Legend

Old World/New Exhibit

Salmagundi front entrance

The Salmagundi Club has been around since 1871 and today occupies a quirky brownstone on lower Fifth Avenue. The name is derived from the Salmagundi Papers published by Washington Irving and James Kirk Paulding in the 1820s. The word salmagundi first meant a dressed salad of meats, anchovies, eggs, and vegetables arranged in rows for contrast; in modern parlance, a salmagundi is a mixture or potpourri.

The Club has several large galleries for art exhibitions; a bar and restaurant downstairs arrived at via a room displaying paint-daubed artists’ palettes;

three vintage pool tables; a  library available only to members and a press for printing monotype. The building was originally built for Irad Hawley, president of the Pennsylvania Coal Company and his wife, Sarah.  Past members include William Merritt Chase, Louis Comfort Tiffany, N.C. Wyeth, Childe Hassam and Winston Churchill

 

Every spring the club hosts a major exhibition of works by members of the American Watercolor Society (AWS) with artists from all over the world showing their impressive paintings. All work shown must be in water soluble media: watercolor, acrylic, casein, gouache and egg tempera – only on paper, canvass not allowed. To see the works on view click  her

 

visitors in upstairs gallery

Impressive take on an eggbeater

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speaking of water, here is a recipe for raspberry/lemon infused water—refreshing, pretty and a good way to cut back on the sugar in traditional lemonade.

2 quarts water

1 cup fresh raspberries

3 lemon slices

Combine all ingredients in a large glass carafe or pitcher. Cover and refrigerate 12-24 hours. Strain before serving.

I suppose you could kick it up a notch by adding vodka or gin but that would undercut the point. For additional trippiness, play or hum Starry, Starry Night.  Maybe you’ll get the urge to start painting. Grandma Moses didn’t begin painting until she was 76 when her fingers became too stiff to do embroidery. You may not love her work but gotta admire that spirit!  Cheers.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

My Asia Week (redux)

 

 

Asia Week New York, self-described as a “nine day extravaganza of exhibitions, auctions and museum shows,” takes place towards the end of March and has done so since 2009 barring when the city –and the world –has been in shutdown mode.  I learned a little about Asian art from my late husband who owned Art Asia, a gallery-cum-retail biz on Madison Avenue, so the week is always of interest.

In this Year of the Tiger there were opportunities to view Asian porcelain, jewelry, textiles, paintings, ceramics, sculpture, bronzes, prints, photographs, and jades sourced from different Asian countries and dating from 2000 BC to the present.

I went to three exhibits, all worthwhile,  all very different as are the three galleries.

Da Ichi Arts, 18 East 64th Street, tucks a lot into a small brownstone space.  The gallery’s Asia show was Future Forms: Avant-Garde Sculpture in Modern Japanese Ceramic. Kato Momi made this beautiful ceramic piece of stoneware that is a very light pale green. Happily, it sold. Shingu Sakaya’s Erosion reminded me of a sea anemone which the gallery assistant agreed was apt as she explained the complicated method by which the inner “tendrils” are rolled and hand-cut.

Erosion

Work by Jonathan Yukio Clark was at Miyako Yoshinaga, 24 East 64th Street, as was Jonathan himself. Japanese-American, raised in Hawaii, Jonathan showed me the stones he cast for this work which are based on actual stones in a wall built in Japan by his grandfather. The piece has a little sliding panel and incorporates a monotype (look it up; too complex to explain here) and several kinds of exotic wood

Note “rocks” on left

At Colnaghi, 38 East 70th Street, work from TAI Modern, a gallery in Sante Fe, focused on bamboo. Though all of it was worth seeing, the highlight were pieces by Yufu Shohaki, an 80-year-old artist known for his rough-plaited baskets that incorporate bamboo branches and roots, half-split chunks of bamboo, and bamboo ropes meaning he twists long pieces of bamboo into ropes and then makes shapes of them.

Basket by Yufu Shohaku

 

Asia Week is an exceedingly special time with lots of great work that isn’t ordinarily featured. Would that my bank account would permit owning one or two!

This recipe for Asian slaw is easy—don’t get fazed by the ingredients. If you can chop a carrot—or buy one already chopped– you’ve got it.

Asian Slaw from Once Upon a Chef by Jenn Segal

(Segal says this serves 6 as a side dish—looks like more to me)

Dressing:

¼ cup honey

¼ cup vegetable oil

¼ cup unseasoned rice vinegar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil

1 tablespoon peanut butter

Heaping ½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce (optional) –I’d omit

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger (peel and chop, no technique required)

Slaw:

4 cups prepared shredded coleslaw (note “prepared” i.e. in bag from supermarket)

2 cups prepared shredded carrots (can be bought ready to go)

1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced into bite-sized pieces

2 medium scallions, finely sliced

1 cup cooked and shelled edamame (serve the rest of the bag another time)

½ cup chopped salted peanuts (or you can leave them whole)

½ cup loosely packed chopped fresh cilantro (I’m in the non-cilantro camp and omit)

Whisk together all of the ingredients for the dressing in a bowl –be sure the peanut butter is dissolved. Set aside.

Combine all of the slaw ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add the dressing and toss well. Let the slaw sit for at least ten minutes so the vegetables have a chance to soak up the dressing. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary (maybe needs more salt?)

Note: Leftovers will keep in the fridge. Dressing can be made and stored several days ahead. This will pair well with almost any main course.

If you know or wish to look up a toast in Japanese, Korean, Chinese or another Asian language, do so.  Won’t matter if you raise a glass of water, beer or something more exotic.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Please ignore this

Having a problem delivering emails. Please ignore this message.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Please ignore this

Poor Butterfly

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0M_fun2

The song is said to be inspired by Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. The sentiment is so un- PC it makes me cringe but it’s a pretty melody.

This dog is a Papillion which means butterfly in French referring to the wing-like ears. Unlike the woman in the song, this pooch is anything but poor, living as he does in a cute house in New Heaven with his owner, a college friend. The pup’s name is Beau and he gets pretty much what he wants thanks to his indulgent companion.

 

The breed, a variant of a toy, i.e., small, spaniel, is smart and eager to please. It’s been around for ages as seen in paintings by the likes of Watteau, Fragonard and Veronese.

Lady with Papillion by Titian

Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette are said to have owned a clutch of Papillion’s; as this was long before commercial dog food maybe they did feed them cake. Rumor has it that Marie carried her favorite Papillion with her to the guillotine; the dog was spared Marie’s fate and later cared for by a friend.

I’m more a proponent of shelter dogs but that’s not how you acquire a Papillion. ‘Nuff said.

Next week I’m going to a rehearsal of Madama Butterfly at the Met in a production by Anthony Minghella. As many of you undoubtedly know,

Met showing the Chagall murals on view in the evenings

this opera takes place in the Japanese port city of Nagasaki at the turn of the last century. I doubt if Cio-Cio-San will appear with a Papillion but you never know at the Met where producers are fond of introducing live animals (and have a special door for large ones, like horses, to enter from.)

Instead of a recipe for dog food, here is one for very easy Fried Rice with Shrimp and a revoltingly-named (Yum Yum) sauce that is also a snap and delicious.

Shrimp Fried Rice

2 cups uncooked jasmine rice (Reach for the Uncle Ben’s unless you stock exotic rice)

3 cups water

3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced (not in my house; maybe one clove put through garlic press)

1 (16 ounce) package frozen peas and carrots

4 tablespoons butter, divided

2 eggs

4 tablespoons oyster sauce

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 lemon, juiced, divided

Salt and pepper to taste

1 pound uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

Sauce:

1 cup mayonnaise

3 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons paprika

1 teaspoon ginger paste

1 teaspoon white sugar

½ teaspoon garlic powder

Salt and pepper to taste

Bring 3 cups water and rice to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until rice is tender and water has been absorbed, 20 to 25 minutes. Set aside and let cool.

Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Mix in cooked ice and frozen peas-carrot mixture; fry until rice begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons butter and stir to combine. Pour in eggs and cook until firm. Add oyster sauce, soy sauce, and 1/2 lemon juice; stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

Sauce:

Combine mayonnaise, water, paprika, ginger paste, white sugar, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a bowl to make sauce. Stir well. Serve with the fried rice.

Note: make the sauce a day ahead so flavors combine.

I’d serve this with sake but white wine or beer would be dandy. Put on Madama Butterfly or content yourself (or hum along) with Callas singing Un Bel Di which never fails to make me sob. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-r2vu4t9-g

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Poor Butterfly

Deerstalker

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

My father was a big Conan Doyle fan and passed his interest along to me -hence my visit to the Sherlock Holmes in 221 Objects show at NYC’s Grolier Club. The Grolier, a largely unheralded gem, never has a many visitors at one time. Founded in 1884 and named after Jean Grolier, a Renaissance collector known for sharing his treasures with friends, it is America’s oldest and largest society for all things book-related.

The Sherlockian cannon is not enormous: fifty-six stories and four novels. All kinds of material relating to the work has been amassed by Glen S. Miranker, a former Apple executive: letters; manuscripts; book illustrations; photos of William Gilette, the late 19th century  actor/stage manager  noted for portraying Holmes onstage and in a 1916 silent film; movie posters and a host of pirated editions of books, i.e., cheaply printed volumes published without the consent of the author. The exhibit’s  title is a nod to Holmes’ 221B address where he presumably lived with Dr. Watson.

221B Baker Street, London, now a Holmes museum

Among the items I especially enjoyed are posters advertising The Hound of the Baskervilles showing the beast with its jaws dripping blood and a handwritten speech by Conan Doyle noting that {killing Holmes}” “was justifiable homicide in self defence. (CD’s spelling).” The demise of Holmes left the public so frantic that Conan Doyle resurrected his hero in 1901 in the Hound story. There is also a 1901 Christmas card sent by William Gillette with an annotation on the back: “Did you ever imagine that Sherlock would be sending his compliments to his maker?”

Benedict Cumberbach, the most recent Holmes, in deerstalker

There is no deerstalker per se, although there are many illustrations of Holmes wearing one, nor does the exhibit include a magnifying glass, violin, pipes or any indication of cocaine use, (Homes famously injected a seven and one-half percent solution.) In the late 1880s cocaine was a new drug used as a local anesthetic, nerve tonic and in throat lozenges, gargles, wines, sherries and ports. Conan Doyle,  a trained physician  also used cocaine.  Interestingly, he wrote several articles in favor of vaccination against smallpox and also denounced the views of anti-vaccinators.  The more things change…

If Homes interests you and you are in New York, you might enjoy the exhibit. NB:make an appointment.

In Victorian times recipes could be very elaborate especially in well-off households. Working class folks ate what was cheap and available which meant a lot of onions. If you learn how to caramelize the vegetable you can incorporate it into many dishes. It takes a while to complete but you can putter, sip a glass of wine, read or whatever you prefer during the process. Herewith:

:

Caramelized Onions

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

4 medium yellow onions, halved and sliced

½ teaspoon sea salt

Heat the oil in a 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté for 5 minutes or until starting to soften.

Add the salt, reduce the heat to medium low and cook for 50 to 80 minutes, stirring every few minutes, or until the onions are very soft, golden brown, and caramelized. The timing will depend on the size of your onions and the heat of your stove.

If at any point the onions start to stick to the bottom of the pan, reduce the heat to low. If the onions aren’t deeply brown after 50 minutes and you’d like to speed things up, you can turn the heat higher to get more caramelization. Stir continuously (well, every so often) to prevent burning.

Once done, caramelized onions have lots of uses: pile onto a burger or almost any sandwich, add to scrambled eggs, eat on a piece of toast with goat cheese, top pizza or flatbread, etc.  You can keep them for several days in the fridge or freeze them.

It’s elementary as Holmes would say. What is not elementary is having this published–gremlins at work. If you get it I’d greatly appreciate hearing from you– a quick “got it” would be terrific. Thanks.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Lights, iPhone, Action

There was much of all the above in my ecumenical week of December 29th. On Tuesday, Temple Emanu-El offered a free Handel & Hannakkah (their spelling) concert with counter- tenor Anthony Roth Costanza and mezzo- soprano Isabel Leonard together with the Clarion Choir and orchestra playing period instruments no less. Judas Maccabeus, written by Handel five years after he wrote The Messiah, has similarities though this oratorio focuses on the rebellion against King Antiochus that allowed the Jews to reclaim the second temple. The huge sanctuary seats 2500– and almost all the seats were filled.

Friday Emanu-El had a classic Shabbat service enlivened with Hannakuh (my spelling) music and performers from the Yiddish production of Fiddler on the Roof. The performance, um, service was pretty rousing all around ending with the dreidel song for which one of the cantors donned sunglasses and rocked it.

Saturday I trekked to Brooklyn’s Dyker Heights to see the houses adorned in zillions of lights, total holiday one-upmanship. My express bus was comfy and landed me less than two blocks from my destination. A friend and I walked around gawping and especially liked the more over-the-top  homes. Santa riding a polar bear is a new look as was a

Dyker Heights house in all its modest decoration

display featuring six reindeer—possibly made where the classic legend is ignored or not appreciated. In this display, poor Rudolph didn’t even get a nod.

Sunday was the annual Park Avenue tree lighting with streets blocked off so people could congregate. I thought crowds would be on the sparse side but no, the area was jammed  with adults, babies, toddlers and a great many dogs. The event takes place in front of the Brick Church that went mod a few years back with colored lights. I forgot to wear my reindeer antlers but will get them out for Christmas day.

Brick Church with trees

Very bright all around, a great contrast to last year.

More lights…

Light Oven Baked Salmon

3 Tbls low sodium soy sauce

2 Tbls olive oil

2 Tbls honey

1 Tbls Dijon mustard

2 cloves minced garlic (not in my house)

1 lb salmon filet skin on

Let salmon come to room temperature. Preheat oven to 400°.  Line a 9×13-inch baking dish (or any dish that will hold salmon) with foil or parchment paper for easy clean up.

In small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, olive oil, honey, Dijon and minced garlic (if using.)

Place salmon, skin side down, in baking dish. Pour about 2/3 of the sauce over the salmon, reserving the rest. Bake for 15 minutes; brush on the remaining sauce. Bake 2-5 minutes more. Test for doneness by sticking knife into thickest part of fish. If flaky, even it a little pink, that’s it.

Serve with dry white wine, sparkling water or pretty much any beverage of your choice. Hum a seasonal song.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Lights, iPhone, Action

Today’s Bears and Lions

To say that both the Brown and Columbia football teams are inept is an understatement. On Saturday I went to the game at Columbia’s Baker Stadium with a friend although we left slightly before halftime when lightening crackled. (At that point Brown was ahead 7-0. When play resumed they lost—by a lot.) The whole experience was so far removed from my previous involvement with college football it was like a time warp.

Back story: many of the men in my family —father, uncle, cousin– went to Princeton. All of them cherished college life.  Going to a Princeton football game was a sacred ritual; it didn’t matter if it was raining or snowing, we went. Once, in the stands with our fathers, freezing from an onslaught of wet snow, my cousin and I, (both in our very early teens), begged for the car keys. Finally, one of the men tossed them to us; we finally found the car in one of the large lots, opened it and huddled in the cold back seat until the game was over and our fathers returned. No one discussed our near hypothermia; the game was what counted. I still know the words to all the Ivy college football school songs from Going Back to Nassau Hall to Roar Lion Roar.

Today’s football experience was different. I missed the bands– Columbia’s band was –literally–disbanded a few years ago and Brown’s didn’t come to New York.

Instead of college songs there was piped-in, contemporary music. Before the game the senior Columbia players were introduced with reference to their home towns and majors (several are in Sustainable Development, a field I never heard of before but apparently it equips one to join the military or work for a company that wants to operate in a way that reduces strain on the environment.)

Farewell to an actual Columbia lion; instead, there was a huge blue and white lion-esque blowup which the Columbia players ran through to get onto the field. Although my friend went to Brown, we sat on the Columbia side because only there can you secure a ticket for a seat with a back.  There are cheerleaders, mostly women with a few men, but as yet women refs haven’t hit the Ivies.

Regardless of the changes, the day was a lot of fun. The world has moved on and with it college football.

 

 

Here is a recipe with a focus on brown:

Caramel Sauce with Brown Sugar

1 cup packed brown sugar

½   cup butter

¼ cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Bring brown sugar, butter, and milk to a gentle boil and cook until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat; add vanilla extract.

Serve over gingerbread, bread pudding, ice cream or anything else as it would enliven a sponge. Listen to the Brown Band play a few Brown songs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vcr6rrl23YI

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Today’s Bears and Lions

Review: City Center Fall for Dance

Review for www.newyorkarts.net:

Dance Antipasto

Fall for Dance, City Center’s festival of moderately-priced eclectic offerings, returned to a wildly enthusiastic crowd more than ready for live entertainment.  Even without the urging of Felix Hess, Emcee of the opening act, to “make noise” the audience was revved up and ready to roll in the full we’re back spirit.

Streb Extreme Action opened the evening with electronic music and the circus plus a cheerleading-esque routine. The curtain rose on three performers poised high above the stage atop a metal unit that looked like a gigantic Erector Set. Their boots were strapped to the top bar enabling them to revolve forwards and backwards highlighting abs of steel. Later, the entire troupe in asexual steel blue unitards bounced creatively on a huge trampoline before landing on crash mats with a sickening thud. While it was exciting to watch the athletes flying and posing in the air, the whump as they landed with outstretched arms was terrifying. There was more fear and tension as the company leapt from the trampoline in twos and threes so that a mid-air collision seemed entirely possible.

Streb Extreme Action

Interspersed with the performance and covering the breakdown of the equipment, Hess worked the crowd, urging them into a stadium wave and shooting T-shirts into the audience.

Cheers to the performers for technical flair and a fervent hope that they avoid injury.

Our Indigo: If We Were a Love Song, was set to music by Nina Simone performed by A.I.M. by Kyle Abraham, a company “galvanized by Black culture and history.” In Little Girl Blue, Gianna Theodore displayed sinuous limbs and lovely flow; too bad the choreography was so earth-bound because, on the few occasions she was upright, her impact was much stronger.  Emotional pain was suggested throughout the work but, except for a few group tangles and the exaggerated chest contractions of Jae Neal in Don’t Explain, the effect was murky. None of the pieces, all choreographed by Mr. Abraham, went anywhere even as the superbly conditioned dancers bent, rolled and occasionally reached out for one another. The group spent too much time on the floor to make their movements fully visible which diminished the total effect. If Indigo were a painting it would be a dark central blob with a few elongated curls that would not make me spend a long time in close examination.

Our Indigo

 

Last up was Sweet Gwen Suite, a recreation of three Bob Fosse works from the 60s’ choreographed for Gwen Verdon. Their daughter, Nicole Fosse, credited as Artistic Director, said she intended the work as homage especially to her mother.  Dancing Verdon, Georgina Pazcoguin, a New York City ballet soloist, is very unlike her physically, a smart call to avoid that particular comparison. Pazcoguin rendered the hip thrusts, shoulder pops and other hallmarks of Verdon’s dancing and Fosse’s choreography admirably but minus the sense of impish fun that Verdon injected.  Zachary Downer and Tyler Eisenreich completed the trio in the right tone but it was true Gwen-ness we were waiting for and didn’t quite get. We did get style and an angled sombrero, part of the reimagined original costumes with plenty of glitz from costume designer Bobby Pearce. The three go-go numbers were fun but the real Verdun/ Fosse team was boffo.

Suite Gwen Suite

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments