I coupled my Fall for Dance experience with a trip to Long Island to see the So You Think You Can Dance Tour featuring the top ten dancers from season 3 of the summer’s number one show. More then the show itself I was excited to get out of Manhattan and see a different part of the city. (I’m not sure if Long Island is e
ven still considered part of the city.) I took the LIRR (Long Island Rail Road) which is more like the Amtrak trains than New York City’s metro. You have to purchase tickets before you get on the train and then conductors walk through the train and punch holes in your ticket to show that it’s been used. Note: Leave some time for you to get to the station and buy tickets because buying tickets on the train is waaaayyyy to expensive! I learned this the hard way. On the way I paid $13 while on the train, but paid only $6 on the way back because my brother held the train’s doors while I bought us both one way tickets back to Penn station.
The concert was amazing though. I don’t know if it was more exciting that I finally was able to see some of my favorite routines that I had seen on television or that there were new routines that had never been created solely for the tour. I love the show mostly because it’s been a great way to bring dance to middle America and get more people interested in lots of different styles of dance from hip hop to the Viennese waltz. Also, the show has made choreographers and some dancers
house hold names, which would never have happened without repeatedly seeing and voting on pieces created or danced by these artists. Well I could talk about SYTYCD forever, but if you haven’t watched. There are lots of reruns of all three of the past seasons on MTV soon. probably now.
Today I think I performed the equivalent of a Herculean task: I got Ally to
accompany me to MoMA.
Our good friend from Duke, Amanda Tong, was in town this weekend and requested
that MoMA be a featured stop on our whirlwind 2-day NYC tour. I was happy to
oblige, and much to our surprise, come Sunday morning we found Ally dressed and
ready to go with us. Seriously folks, I kid you not.
As we mounted the stairs into the atrium we found that it was roped off for the
installation of a new exhibit. Reading the sign, we discovered that we were
looking at the Martin Puryear exhibit that Sean and Marianna had assigned us to
write about for our museum paper if time allowed (since its opening
unfortunately fell only a day before the paper?s due date). I don’t want to
give away too much for those of you who haven?t been to MoMA recently, so I
will just say that the Puryear pieces we saw are certainly making unique use of
the expanse of vertical space in the atrium in
even more gravity-defying ways
than the last exhibit.
I was really influenced by a painting which I totally snubbed until Amanda
convinced me to look closer. I didn’t write down the artist?s name or the
title of the piece, but it basically looks like a giant black square until you
press your nose a few inches from the surface. First, I noticed that the
painting wasn’t actually one-dimensional: it had very subtle lines and
textures that offered some relief to the surface. Secondly, upon reading the
little explanatory card I also saw that the painting
was blocked into a 3×3
grid of colors that were actually reds, greens, and blues and weren’t at all
pure black. The experience taught me that writing off art that doesn’t seem
like "traditional art" really only hurts yourself by not keeping your mind
open to the ideas of minds that think along different planes than your own.
All in all, I had a really good time at MoMA today, and I’m glad that Ally
gave it another chance as well. I think even she was surprised at how
complex and artistic a black square can be.
Bruce Springsteen Concert
Last night I went to the Bruce Springsteen concert at Continental Airlines Arena (out by Giant Stadium in Jersey). I have been hearing about the legendary Bruce concerts from my dad ever since I was little, so I was excited to see what it was actually like in person. We ended up getting there about an hour & a half early, and we walked around the parking lot where people were grilling, throwing footballs and blasting Springsteen songs. (The only bad part was that there was only one PortaPotty, so the lines were really long. It was bad enough to have to use a PortaPotty so the wait did not make me very happy).
The culture at the concert was so distinct, everyone seemed to know when to sing, what to do, etc. My dad told me that pretty much everyone there has already seen him one million other times, so it was a little intimidating because I dont know many of his songs, especially the newer ones. Dave and I were also significantly younger than most people in the crowd. Despite that, it was a lot of fun anyway. I have never been to something where the crowd was so excited and so into a show, and that made the atmosphere absolutely amazing. Springsteen is actually from New Jersey so that fact that it was a hometown crowd definitely added to the craziness. All in all, it was an awesome night and I’m really glad I got to experience one of his concerts, as the tickets are nearly impossible to get.
In addition to seeing the Bruce concert, Dylan and I happened to stumble on a
really great street fair that was taking place down by NYU. We went down to
that area to go shopping for Halloween costumes (which we did eventually find
in a rather questionable shop across the street). Anyways, the fair was great! The weather outside was perfect, a typical fall day the way it should be (and by that I mean not 80 degrees!). We were really excited by the idea of getting fresh squeezed lemonade and we eventually got taken in by the experience and walked the entire 2 block stretch of vendors. There were people selling everything from $1 Thai Food to 2 for $10 scarves to American Apparel clothing to handmade jewelry. Dylan bought two great scarves (which I?m sure I will borrow by the end of the semester) and we both bought dresses from this awesome Indian shop. They are essentially just long pieces of material that can be wrapped, twisted or tied in a variety of ways to create really cool dresses or skirts. I won?t bore you with the details of these outfits but trust me, they are pretty cool. Finding this street fair randomly actually reminded me of E.B. White?s piece we read at the beginning of the semester. We would never have known this was g oing on unless we had accidentally stumbled on it the way we did. It is really crazy to think about what other types of things I must be missing out on, if I have already found so many cool surprises!
I saw Chicago at the Ambassador
Theatre last Sunday night. Since it was
my first time seeing a
Broadway musical, I figured I’d pick a reliable standby,
just so I could get a feel for what a proper Broadway musical should look
like. In any case, I’m really glad I
chose Chicago, because it was a fantastic show, with lots of energy, great
voices, and exciting dance sequences.
I tried to
buy tickets about an hour before the show began. On a general note, I’d advise against trying
to buy tickets an hour before the show begins on a weekend night. It’s not a very smart thing to do. Fortunately for me, standing-room tickets
were still available. I don’t know if
all the Broadway theaters sell standing-room tickets, but to those of you out
there who know nothing about theater (like me), I’d suggest you always buy
standing-room tickets. They’re cheaper
than student-rush tickets (about $20 per), and you don’t have to actually stand
during the performance. You can walk
around and find an empty seat instead. Technically this is forbidden, but since they close the doors after the
show starts – and everybody (including security) is too busy watching the show
anyway – it’s very easy to find an open seat. Although it’s probably safer to buy student-rush tickets, when I watched
Chicago there were aisles of empty seat.
show. Roger Ebert described Chicago as a
musical where the stories interrupted the songs instead of the songs
interrupting the stories. That sums up
Chicago neatly; it’s a long series of high-energy, glorious, frenzied musical
numbers that narrates through music and dance rather than through
dialogue. The story itself is a sharp
satire about criminals and the media/entertainment business during the Jazz Age,
where murderers and gangsters were sensationalized by a yellow-journalism
press. There’s a lot of clever irony
here, some of which is still resonant today.
Musically, the singers and dancers
are all top-class. The choreography is
very energetic and fits the music perfectly, and all the singers were great –
especially Adriane Lenox, who swept the crowd off their feet with “When You’re
Good to Mama.” That isn’t to say the
performances are perfect. One of my
quibbles with the show was the over-the-top acting; Rob Bartlett, while very,
very funny, goes a little too far in turning Amos into a clown, and Michelle
DeJean turns Roxie into a demented pixie. Though the show was a lot funnier than the movie, it’s also much less
convincing from a dramatic standpoint.
glaring eyesore throughout the entire show was George Hamilton. As Billy Flynn, he plays a central role in
the musical. Unfortunately, he couldn’t
sing to save his life – he had a range that went from A to almost B. Furthermore, he is not, as far as I can tell,
a very good dancer, and only a serviceable actor. I don’t really know what he was doing in a
All in all, I thought it was a very
good production, and I highly recommend seeing it.