When attending Studio 5, my friend and I have a ritual: early supper in a Thai restaurant on 58th Street, jaywalking across the street into one of the City Center buildings and taking the ornate elevator to the fifth floor to a well lit rehearsal room surrounded on three sides of folding chairs. The early birds grab the center section. We sit on the stage right side. Studio 5 was invented by Damian Woetzel who is now the seventh president of Juilliard. The president has left the premises but he’s been succeeded by other ballet luminaries. This evening Kate Lydon, the Artistic Director of ABT Studio Company, moderated American Ballet Theatre: From Trainee to Luminary.The average age of the dancers was nineteen. They discussed where they came from, what it was like training and living in ABT housing but the focus of the evening was when they danced. We were treated to excerpts from Giselle, William Tell and Le Jeune. So backstage, so NYC.
The next evening we went to Juilliard Jazz. Wynton Marsalis introduced A Tribute to Blue Note Records. In the playbill, there was a short interview with Conductor Marsalis in which he stressed the importance of jazz’s history for musicians and named some of the Blue Note musicians with whom he’d played: . Juilliard Jazz played nine pieces including Woody Shaw’s The Moontrane and Dexter Gordon’s Ernie’s Tune. The evening ended with Wayne Shorter’s Free for All with a tremendous drum solo.
Graphic Lessons: Recent thirty-five-year-old widow Millie Fitzgerald applies for a private school teaching job, faints on a stabbed and dying man in the school kitchen, deals with the only witness to the stabbing – a troubled nine-year-old, develops a crush on a NYPD detective and her dog dies.
Graphic Lessons: Nine-year-old Dana is the only witness who overhears a person fighting with George Lopez, the soon to be stabbed Windsor School kitchen worker. Who can she tell? Her mother who never listens or accuses her of lying? Her father who’s started a new family in Singapore? She tells Millie.
Graphic Lessons: Something’s eating at NYPD Detective Steve Kulchek: a failed marriage? surviving a car bomb? his girlfriend marrying his corrupt boss? screwing up an important case?It doesn’t matter because he’s relentless.
Judson Memorial Church was packed on Easter Sunday. The clergy conducted the service, the choir sang with gusto and the cooks arranged the parishioners’ gifts of food – ham anyone?- A few brave women revived the Easter bonnet tradition.We were asked to write on a strip of ribbon what we treasured most and then hang the ribbon on the line pictured in the photo. Buddhism + United Church of Christ?
Eugène Green”s Sapienza was showing at Film Forum. The photography is wonderful.It’s a thoughtful, formal whirlwind tour of Borromini’s architecture. How do you determine your love of a place? One of my ways is its architecture.
A delicious dinner at Molyvos preceded a Carnegie Hall evening with Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock. Do these musicians walk on water? The multiage audience thought so. We were seated in the central balcony which is five stairways north. We were surrounded by fans who were utterly silent during the music and gloriously rowdy when applauding. Did you see The Red Shoes? There’s a scene in the Covent Garden peanut gallery showing the passion of the poor, young, talented students. I thought of that at Carnegie Hall. As much as I admire Hancock’s and Corea’s work, the real stars were the audience.
On Friday, I spent a civilized two hours in the Frick’s Music Room. Clinton Luckett, ABC’s ballet master, stood ramrod straight and explained in a too soft voice the convoluted origins of the Don Quixote ballet. Excerpts from the ballet were performed by ABC artists. It was so precious we could have been encased in a Fabergé egg.
The ballet maniac and I went to our last ABT performance for this year. Because of a lovely coincidence, we were seated next to some friends I usually run into at a Chinese banquet.It was such fun listening to the gang toss around ballet names from the past and present and complain about the current New York Times dance critic. The performances on stage were equally wonderful. It was Shakespeare’s night: The Dream based on A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the eponymous The Tempest. The gang gave thumbs up for The Dream, Gillian Murphy and Herman Cornejo. I was the only one who was enthusiastic about The Tempest.
This bronze statue of Fiorello LaGuardia is in LaGuardia Place.I like his chubby figure and dated suit. Thankfully, he’s not draped in a Roman toga. I passed by it on a steamy, humid July 3 after ducking into Bruno’s Bakery to pick up July 4th goodies.
Welcome to a gorgeous lush garden in the depths of Brooklyn.
The BBC had an article by Stephen Evans about NYC’s Lower East Side. Known these days as Alphabet City, it was once called Kleindeutschland (Little Germany). On June 4th, 1904 more that 1000 people in the city’s German community died. St Mark’s Lutheran Church had chartered a paddle ship, the General Slocum, but a fire broke out. The captain believed it could be contained. It couldn’t. The Slocum Memorial Fountain, dedicated in 1906 and donated by the Sympathy Society of German Ladies, is in Tompkins Square Park.
On a more cheerful note, Saturday night three of us celebrated a birthday at Kafana on Avenue C. Feeling an Italian/Chinese overload? How about Serbian food? We settled on the spicy sausages and ajvar, the delicious pepper, tomato and eggplant spread, washed down with lovely, unpronounceable red wine. Lots of noise, the World Cup was on the TV, and good natured cheering. “Kafana je moja sudbina” means Kafana is my destiny.
Have you ever said to yourself, I will never sit through (fill in with a movie, book, etc.) again? I’m saying that about Swan Lake. The ballet fiend and I left ABT’s Wednesday night’s performance because we were disappointed by David Hallberg’s canceling, the ragged corps de ballet and the uncomfortable seats.
This is not a lime. A friend bought this avocado squash in the Union Square Farmers Market. The recipe will be in next week’s blog.
It’s been a busy week. Diana Vishneya and Marcelo Gomes were superb in the ABT’s GISELLE. Gillian Murphy, as Myrta, the Wiilis’s Queen, and her creepy followers, the corp de ballet were perfect. But the forest was so dark. It was almost as dark as the Charles James’s reverential exhibit at the Met, beautiful but I felt the need of a seeing eye dog.
BELLE was predictable and boring. Not even Tom Wilkinson’s performance saved it. I ran into some neighbors, Joe (the man) and Winston (the bird) outside the theatre.
MALEFICIENT was lots of fun. Angelica Jolie was her chiseled best. A friend and I saw the movie at AMC 25 in tacky, tourist infested 42nd Street. The movie house’s decor is vaguely Hollywood Egyptian with escalators that go who knows where. Afterwards, to Ginger, a huge Chinese restaurant, where we filled up on duck and Tom Collins.
Mutton chop, anyone? A dear friend took me to Keens. It’s Con Haggerty’s favorite restaurant. He’s Steve Kulchek’s retired uncle. We were offered a reservation at 5:30 or 9:30. We took the earlier hour. Keens has casino lighting. In other words, the minute you enter time doesn’t exist. It’s got everything: great food, great service, great decor, and a great history.
That’s not the Goodyear blimp floating over lower Manhattan, that’s me, having indulged alla Paul Bunyan in two –2 — two restaurants this week.
My balletomania friend and I went to American Ballet Theatre to see MANON. The music is by Massenet. I find the story very moving, especially the final scene with the lovers dying in a Louisiana swamp. The dancers were glorious: Diana Vishneva who attracts a large Russian presence, Marcello Gomes and Herman Cornejo, two of the best male dancers performing today.
A friend who helps maintain the west 40th Street Hell’s Kitchen Rooftop Garden invited me to an open house on the Metro Baptist Church’s rooftop. It’s quite a climb – at least six flights and the last one has narrow metal steps meant for tiny feet. The friend told me the ingenious ways the four year old vegetable and flower garden came into existence. The volunteers formed a bucket brigade to get the supplies to the roof. The first season they learned from bitter experience that pigeons are not fooled by balloons and owl statues. That’s why the plots, children’s wading pools, are covered by netting. An added plus is it’s in a wonderful neighborhood for foodies.
Get thee to the Guggenheim! There’s an extensive exhibit of Italian Futurism. It’s such fun to walk up the ramp and duck into the nooks and crannies. What you miss on the way up you can catch on the way down. In spite of the crowds, the Guggenheim does not seem packed.
On Saturday I went on a Municipal Art Society two hour architectural walk on the Lower East Side. Saturday was one of those NYC days that goes from spring to summer temperatures in a few hours. In spite of the heat, Sylvia Laudien-Meo’s low keyed enthusiasm and knowledge kept up my interest. It’s not Steve Kulchek’s Bowery which he patrolled as a young police officer. Has it changed. Sober, expensively dressed people stream into stark, discreet art galleries. The Bowery still has a raffish quality which, please God, it doesn’t lose in spite of Keith McNally’s new restaurant.
On Monday, my ballet crazy pal and I continued our dance marathon by going to ABT”s “Don Quixote” and watched, transfixed, as Ivan Vasiliev flew around the Met stage. Later that week we returned to the Met to see “La Bayadere”. The second act is everything. The corps de ballet was perfect, twenty-four dancers who glided in unison.
Like citing the first robin of spring, I realized the annual Fleet Street celebration was in town when I saw several sailors in sparkling white uniforms gathered around a fire truck. In its 26th year, it celebrates the maritime services. Remember “On the Town”? Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, and Jules Munshin cavorted around 1944 Manhattan in those camp sailor boy outfits.