Just Do Art, Week of June 12, 2014
BY SCOTT STIFFLER
277DanceProject PRESENTS: “FLIGHT” | Choreographer Nicole Philippidis’ return to Dixon Place finds her troupe — 277DanceProject — executing a series of sometimes harsh, often fluid, deeply expressive maneuvers that explore the impact of city life on its inhabitants. Philippidis planted the seeds for “FLIGHT” by asking her dancers about the good, bad, and indifferent thoughts they had while riding the subway. That began, recalls dancer Benjamin Wolk, “a conversation about our relationship with the city…how it offers us something that no other place offers us, but it really takes as much as it gives.” No stranger to the love/hate tug of war with urban existence, lifelong New Yorker Philippidis saw her current project take form as a series of vignettes that, she notes, express “the difficulty we as a society have connecting to one another.” Contemporary dance, music, and video are used to explore altruism, compassion, and interpersonal connections. A soundtrack from the indie folk band Burlap to Cashmere brings out the contemplative aspects that lurk just below the often chaotic surface. The result is a dark and driven work grounded in isolation, but not abandoned to it.
June 17-19, 7:30 p.m. at Dixon Place (161A Chrystie St., btw. Delancey & Rivington Sts.). Tickets are $15 in advance, $18 at the door, $12 for students/seniors. Box Office: 212-219-0736 or dixonplace.org. For info on the artists, visit 277danceproject.com and burlaptocashemere.com.
LINDA LAVIN, in “PORTRAIT OF AN ARTIST” and “TOO MUCH SUN” | Linda Lavin is in short supply — and when she’s around, it always seems to be for a limited time only. That’s about the worst criticism we can muster when it comes to our favorite “momster.” Once TV’s beloved “Alice,” the underlying sweetness she put into that single mom/waitress is what makes you swoon, while cringing at the utterly horrendous behavior of her more recent characters. (Case in point: her turn as the acerbic mother on NBC’s late sitcom “Sean Saves The World” managed to make us love someone who was easy to hate.) “Sean” may be gone, but Lavin can still be seen (until June 22) as another high-strung soul who’s more than the sum of her bad behavior.
“Too Much Sun” reunites Lavin with playwright Nicky Silver, whose words earned her a Best Actress Tony nomination for 2012’s “The Lyons.” This time out, she’s a thespian who storms off the rehearsal stage and onto the seaside property of her estranged daughter. It’s the sort of layered performance we’ve come to expect, and plenty believable — especially when her character reveals herself to be a clumsy crooner. But in real life, Lavin’s sweet voice and distinct phrasing brings new life to everything from American Popular Standards to Donald Fagen tunes.
For proof of that, check out her debut CD, “Possibilities,” selections from which we’ve seen her sing at Birdland and 54 Below. Hopefully, Lavin will bring some of the between-song anecdotes from her cabaret act to the same stage where “Too Much Sun” takes place. For one show only, “Portrait of an Artist” finds Lavin singing (speaking, actually) for The Vineyard Theater’s supper — in an intimate benefit event during which her husband, actor and jazz drummer Steve Bakunas, will paint her portrait while posing questions about his lovely wife’s life and career. The finished portrait will be raffled off at the conclusion of the event.
“Too Much Sun” plays through June 22: Tues./Wed. at 7 p.m., Thurs./Fri. at 8 p.m., Sat. at 3 & 8 p.m. and Sun. at 3 p.m. At The Vineyard Theatre (108 E. 15th St., btw. Union Square E. & Irving Pl.). For tickets ($80), call 212-353-0303 or visit vineyardtheatre.org. “Portrait of an Artist” is performed on Mon., June 16, 7 p.m. at the Vineyard Theatre. Tickets are $75 (raffle tickets, $25 each). VIP admission (premium seating, a raffle ticket & a private reception with Lavin and Bakunas following the show) are $250. To order: vineyardtheatre.org or 212-353-0303. To order Lavin’s excellent debut CD (“Possibilities”), visit sh-k-boom.com.
THE LOWER EAST SIDE FILM FESTIVAL | With Landmark Sunshine Cinema, Anthology Film Archives and East Village Cinema as its anchor venues, the 11-day Lower East Side Film Festival has thematic sprawl and ambition to rival its physical reach (which goes all the way to Chelsea Market). Specialty programming is the hook, by way of evenings devoted to sci-fi, horror, documentaries, music videos, animation, shorts, and international films. The festival opens on June 12, with “The Sturgeon Queens” — a documentary celebrating the 100th anniversary of L.E.S. institution Russ & Daughters. That one’s already sold out, but visitthesturgeonqueens.com to view the trailer and pre-order the DVD.
LGBTs and their allies have nothing to fear at Friday, June 13’s “Gay Night” — when a rooftop pool party, a full moon, plenty of bare flesh and a dusk screening of “Dragula” conspire to up the chances of getting lucky. Director Frank Meli will be in attendance for the New York premiere of this short film about a high school senior whose meeting with the toothy, titular character helps him overcome low self-esteem and emotional dysfunction. Barry Bostwick and Carmen Electra are among the cast. On June 14, the “NY Filmmakers Night” features shorts written and/or directed by locals — includingSha Huang’s “Under Ground,” about a young Chinese woman dreaming of indie rock fame while busking in the subway, and David Kestin’s “Open House,” in which a recently evicted French woman embarks on an intense NYC apartment hunt. June 18’s “GLASS Shorts” event features a screening of short films created by using Google GLASS. Screen the flicks, schmooze with the filmmakers and take the tech for a test spin. On June 19, a panel explores the present and future viability of digital distribution as a platform for emerging filmmakers.
June 12-22, at various Downtown venues. Most general admission tickets are $12.50 in advance, $15 at the door (some events are free). For the schedule, visit lesfilmfestival.com.
THE WASHINGTON SQUARE MUSIC FESTIVAL | “Eternally experimental” and “eclectic” are among the affectionate superlatives we’ve used to describe past editions of the Washington Square Music Festival — and that’s just from the “E” section. Come up with some of your own when you take in the completely free, priceless sights and sounds of (as we’ve previously noted) one of the city’s “top summer highlights for those with a love of serious music.”
The 56th season begins on June 17 — with Lutz Rath conducting the Washington Square Festival Orchestra, joined by harmonica soloist Robert Bonfiglio. The program includes work by Claude Debussy (“Reverie” arranged for harmonica and orchestra) and Gustav Mahler’s “Adagietto” for strings and harp (from his Fifth Symphony). On June 24, the “Vocal Music: Baroque to Modern” program features soloists Lucia Hyunju Song (soprano), Laila Salins (mezzo-soprano), and the Washington Square Music Festival Ensemble performing four centuries of vocal music — including Anne Sexton-themed works by composer and arranger Laila Salins. The season concludes on Aug. 8, when oboist Matthew Sullivan hosts “A Partnership Concert with the International Double Reed Society/NYU.”
Free. Seating is on a first-come, first served basis. At 8 p.m. on Tues., June 17, 24 and Fri., Aug. 8. At Washington Square, main stage south of Fifth Avenue. June 17 & 24 rainspace: NYU’s Frederick Loewe Theatre (35 W. Fourth St., at Greene St.). Aug. 8 rainspace: St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church (371 Sixth Ave., btw. Waverly Pl. & Greenwich Ave.). For info, call 212-252-3621 or visit washingtonsquaremusicfestival.org.
MUSIC IN ABE LEBEWOHL PARK | Back in 1981, it took a petition drive organized by the combined forces of 2nd Avenue Deli owner Abe Lebewohl, the Third Street Music School, and the 10th and Stuyvesant Streets Block Association to bring concerts to a 155-acre patch of land that had become a haven for alcoholics and drug addicts. Year after year, musical performers who represented the rich ethnic and cultural diversity of the East Village and the Lower East Side drew the community back. In 1996, the park and the series were named after Lebewohl — after he was fatally shot during an early morning ATM transaction. Now in its 33rd year, the free outdoor summer concert series continues to entertain those old enough to remember (and those too young to appreciate) how far the neighborhood has come. Celebrate Abe’s legacy and the current state of the East Village/L.E.S. arts — with upcoming concerts from, among others, the Claire Daly Quartet (June 26), the Third Street Music School Settlement Players (July 10), and the Gypsy Jazz Caravan (July 24).
Free. Thursdays, through June 24, 12:30 p.m. in Abe Lebewohl Park (corner of 10th St. & Second Ave., in front of St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery). For info, visit thirdstreetmusicschool.org or call 212-777-3240.