Culture Vulturing Roundup

This is one of those "you should really get that post up... but there's an event soon so maybe if you wait you can add that" posts. In the interest of clearing the deck before the summer culture vulturing (I'm counting at least eight - 8 - plays scheduled already), here goes.

First event was the Columbia Ballet Collaborative's performance at Columbia. Some of you may have read about them in the NYTimes, and when I received an invitation to see them in action, I grabbed the opportunity. Full disclosure: I know several of the dancers from MFPOW. So, how was it? The solos by Emily Hayden, Lydia Walker and Tess Reichlen ("on loan" from NYCB) were wonderful. The other dancers were varying degrees of great to pretty good - the telling thing (for me) was whether they'd had Ballenchine's training, and who the choreographer was. While not everyone gets a position in a company, there's something about that training that means the lines are a little crisper, the technique just a little sharper... others can be good, but, well, not quite as good. And some of the choreography didn't seem to showcase the girls well; there were one or two pieces that were a little too experimental for this old fogie.

Thanks to my prep school's efforts to not just be about fundraising! They scheduled a "Perfect Pairings" event (wine + food) at the Sean Kelly Gallery. At that time, the exhibit was of Gavin Turk's works, an artist completely new to me. According to the curator, Turk is one of the Young British Artists, exploring the bounderies of art, expression, identity, etc.. I loved his take on Pollack, where he deliberately dribbled his name over and over and over again, ultimately obscuring it and creating an abstract work with hidden depth (something I don't always find with Pollack). Definitely an artist to watch.

The next stop on my cultural tour was Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall. Why? To hear Solange Merdinian perform Vayomer Shlomo (a new work by Judd Greenstein, created as part of the Osvaldo Golijob and Dawn Upshaw Young Artists Concert program). Thing One and I sat through the first piece, which was a little like Yma Sumac-meets-Philip-Glass, so we didn't have high hopes for this one. How wrong we were. As Greenstein says "Vayomer Shlomo is a philosophical/musical rumination on the meaning of the King Solomon story, and the texts ascribed to him by later writers. OK, wake up. The thing is, it's also my most successful integration of a number of musical influences - Afro Beat, 70s Steve Reich, and western vocal technique. Doesn't that sound a lot more interesting? Seriously, this piece is no joke." If you get a chance to hear it, go. You'll be pleasantly surprised (and if you get a chance to hear Solange, run!).

Finally, there was the annual trek to SAB's Workshop. This year they opened with Serenade, which I'd never seen. It was just stunning - the technique, the grace, the choreography. (No, I'm not the best reviewer; I know what I like, but putting it into words is sometimes difficult). The next piece was one of those "ooooh! cute!" pieces, Harlequinade, starring SAB dancers as young as (I'm guessing) 6. You can't go wrong with cute kids in adorable costumes dancing on a big stage, can you? Finally, Stars and Stripes, with a huge cast and crowd pleasing music. This was the second time I'd seen this work, and both times it reminded me of my (mercifully) brief career as a dancer: year-end-recital that entertains and showcases the best while making the others look good as well. Not that I, or my classmates, were anywhere near SAB's standards, but it felt the same.

What good is culture without good food, or wine?

While not quite the Quest for the Perfect Blueberry Muffin, good pizza is something I'm always up for. SwissToni'd mentioned Lucali and, well, it's right around the corner from where Thing One and I used to live. So, of course, we had to try it. While I wouldn't say "go to Brooklyn just for this pizza", GQ seems to say that and who am I (or you) to argue with GQ? (A good second is La Pizzetta, also near Thing One.)

As mentioned up above, the Gavin Turk exhibit was part of a "pefect pairing". Who knew that there were wines that went really well with deviled eggs? or tuna ceviche? Well, Sarah Sutel at Pour Wine knows, and a whole lot more besides. She's in my Delicious links, and when I run out of wine, I'm heading on over to get some great wines to go with my usual nosh.


There you have it. Look for more food and fun reviews in late August, post conferences and post vacation.

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