LaGuardia Performing Arts Center - LIC
This section contains our coverage of dance, theater and performing arts events at the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center in Long Island City.
Sorry: A Work of Art ... a Masterpiece?
Modern, Multi-media Melange Explores Emotions of Misunderstanding
I attended a performance of Sorry, a multi-media dance, poetry and theatrical work that came about from a two year residency at the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center in Long Island City. I went in expecting to see a modern dance performance, but experienced so, sooo much more.
I was instructed to arrive a bit early as there's free form dancing that begins about thirty minutes prior to the performance opening. When I arrived, I couldn't distinguish between the audience members and the cast, as some of the people in the crowd were quite good dancers.
The performance was held on the stage of the Main Theatre, which the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center has quite skillfully transformed into a modern dance / theatrical space - which is quite separate, but a subset of the original, traditional, Grecian auditorium style of the Main Theater itself.
After a while the performance began with an Islamic, American immigrant poetically recanting a mournful separation he was in the midst of experiencing with his girlfriend. One of the walls lit up with a life-size passing #7 subway train, as the orator took us with him on a current-day journey through the boroughs of New York City as witnesses to the angst in his life.
It was a bit like the movies, although so much more real, as we sat huddled in the ambient darkness of the theater, with life size video murals sweeping by, accompanied equally large still life photos and a three performer live cast. The music and choreographed dances allegorically captured the powerful troubled feelings of the characters portrayed.
The work explores the near universal, difficulty of human relationships in a modern, mixed, urban environment. Relationships complicated by gender roles, ethnicity and cultural learning - that are being sorted out simultaneously by all of us whether knowingly or not, as we travel through space and time in what may intermittently seem our lengthy, but short lives.
Later this week I'll continue this, including the addition of video and photos, but you only have a few days left to see it [Wednesday, Thursday & Friday at 8 pm] - and seating is limited [www.lpac.nyc - $20].
Androgynous Dance or a Dream?
Venomous by BARE Dance Strikes LaGuardia Performing Arts Center
I was right on schedule as I bounded up the subway stairs. At the turnstile I learned that my commute might take 20 minutes longer than planned due to maintenance … but as the fates would have it … I arrived just in the nick of time.
I joined the last audience group as they diffidently entered the backstage area of the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center. We followed a wolf headed actor into the labyrinthine hallways where our first stop was a dressing room, where the cast began preparing us (the audience) for the show. I looked into the mirror at the actors and audience, and in the blue and pink theatrical light, it was difficult to discern the difference. The lines between performers and audience had already begun to blur.
The wolf headed man, sternly motioned us to follow him and then like a dog he led us onward through the shadowed hallways. We soon came upon another theatrical vignette … in the chamber of the freight elevator … where audience members were singled out for … ohmigod AAAAAAArrrgggghhhhh.
Click here to read the rest of our story including photos of the performance of Venomous by Bare Dance Company at LaGuardia College Performing Arts Center.
Theater: Unpacking American Identity
Want to Know What it Feel like to be a Minority Living in the USA?
I attended A Black Lives Matter Play performed at the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center in Long Island City. The play is part of a theatrical theme developed by LaGuardia College Performing Arts Center to explore the intricate mosaic of humanity that comprises American society. A wide number of the cultural composite represented in American society may be found in the culturally diverse student body at LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City.
Last year the program focused on exploring Muslim identity in New York City. The intent was to provide a more holistic view of Islamic peoples than portrayed by the American media, whose primary depiction of Islam, a culture representing over a fifth of the world’s population, is centered around those working in the field of terrorism. And by American media, it’s important to include the Hollywood entertainment industry, which accounts for a huge portion of time people spend absorbing programs factually or fictionally portraying the world around us.
The obsession with the more gruesome events and villainous people of a culture is not uncommon for the American media. One doesn’t have to look far to find lopsided depictions of the culture of Italian Americans, through the obsession of those working as mafiosos, of Latin Americans as drug lords, and of African Americans, by depicting them as hoodlums.
Enter LaGuardia Community College Performing Arts Center and ‘Unpacking American Identity’, which strives to use theater to educate, elucidate and eradicate the inherent biases and popular misconceptions disseminated via the unrelenting sounds, images and lopsided portrayals of the cultures of the members of their student body.
LaGuardia Performing Arts Center
Beyond Sacred: An Insightful Look into Muslim Culture & America
Long Island City Neighborhood / Dance & Theater in Queens / Queens Buzz. The LaGuardia College Performing Arts Center [LPAC] produced a year long look into the Muslim culture vis a vis America. Unfortunately I wasn't able to attend all of the events they hosted, but I did attend several of them, and each time I was moved by the art, dance, music and theatrical productions created and shown by LPAC.
The intent was to expand American's view of the Muslim culture. Since 911 Muslims have been almost exclusively characterized by the America media and Hollywood as terrorists. The American media obsession with Muslim terrorists fails to put Muslims and Islamic culture in context, by only showing one small part of it. Islam is a millenium and centuries old culture that spans the globe and comprises 1.6 billion people - some of which live in most nations around the world. The American media portrayal of Islamic culture and Muslims has prior parallels in American history, as a half century ago the American media (including Hollywood) depicted African Americans as lazy, pregnant food stampers, drug dealers and hoodlums, and in the thirty years preceding that period, depicted Italians as evil mobsters and Irishmen as alcoholics.
Hence the following are the reports we posted while covering this extraordinary, ground-breaking production by the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center LPAC Beyond Sacred.
In Search Of A Civilization Lost By Mass Media
LaGuardia College Performing Arts Center Uses Theater & Art To Stimulate Cross Cultural Community Conversation
February 9, 2015 / Long Island City / Queens Theater / Queens Buzz. It was nearing sunset on Saturday evening as I made my way through a beautifully quiet Flushing Meadows Corona Park. The clean white snow glistened gently in the fading light, and the leafless trees along the road provided what felt like an ancient natural cathedral.
I checked in at the admissions desk and made my way to the second floor of the Queens Museum. The Queens Museum was once the home to the United Nations and hence provided the perfect context for this community conversational performance. The floor to ceiling windows looked out onto the landmarked Unisphere which emanated a universal vibe. In the long wide hallway a crowd was engaged in clustered conversations following the conclusion of four performances shown that afternoon. I had seen the performances at an event earlier in the season.
I began talking to Tasneem, a member of the audience who is shown in the photo at right standing alongside a photo taken by a friend of hers who is shown in the photo. Tasneem came from Jordan twelve years ago, only two years after 911. She said that it's important for the general populace of Muslims to stop being afraid of showing they're Muslim, because otherwise New Yorkers and the rest of America will be left with the picture of Islam as depicted by a few extremists which is amplified and continually repeated by the American mass media.
I couldn't deny it. It seems American television stations, radio stations, newspapers and magazines are obsessed with providing the Islamic terrorists all the publicity they want.
But here, tonight, in the Queens Museum; I would not see any of the faces shown by our mass media. I would see only the faces of everyday Islamic New Yorkers who generally receive no publicity at all. Muslims who hail from dozens of cultures around the world. And there wasn't a single terrorist among them. Hence - and likely not coincidentally - there also wasn't a single mass medium reporter covering this event.
Tasneem told me how she, like many other American Muslims, fears showing she's Muslim because of the stereotypes created by the terrorists and perpetuated and blown up by the American mass media. The notion of a silent majority came to mind.
It occurred to me that the gore of the Islamic extremists must be good for tabloids and TV ratings. And I pondered what it must feel like to be stereotyped by this relentless, distorted depiction of one's culture and people. Andy Warhol's characterization of the mass production of images came to mind.
I thought about what it would be like if I lived somewhere else in the world where the nation's media mass produced stereotypes of Americans, depicting us as murderers, rapists and thieves. That could easily be done if a nation's media decided to portray Americans by solely covering the 5.6 million violent crimes and the 17.1 million property crimes that took place in this country in 2011 alone [source: Wikipedia / Bureau of Justice Statistics]. That just wouldn't be right ... would it?
And yet, it seems that this is exactly what's been happening to Muslims in America, because of the unbalanced coverage of Islam by the big American mass media companies. The TV and newspaper tabloids make a living by sensationalizing - spinning things out of context - but aren't the real journalists supposed to provide perspective by putting things back in context?
This seems generally not to have been done.
And so the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center applied for and received a grant to begin such an effort. An effort to provide exposure to the lives and contributions of the other billion Muslims who go peacefully and productively about their lives each day, just like most of the rest of us. An effort to create a community conversant with a deeper and broader understanding of a millenial and centuries old culture that is embedded in the lives of over a billion people on the planet. People who live in dozens of nations around the globe, and none of whom are terrorists - and hence generally not represented in the American mass media.
I met American born Charles Bernett of Rego Park who had traveled to Cairo in 1979. Thirty-five years ago he was about to embark on his second trip through Africa ... [see photo at right].
More to come later in the week. Click here to learn more about the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center exploratory, year-long, theater and arts, cultural endeavor.
Can One Connect Communities Through Culture?
Islam & America: LaGuardia College Performing Arts Center Artistically Explores Muslim Culture
September 29, 2014 / Long Island City Neighborhood / Queens Theater / Queens Buzz. On September 11th, 2001 the Muslim culture came front and center into America's consciousness. It was a disastrous day for Americans including Muslim Americans. But for Muslim Americans it also created, and left behind, a long lasting negative bias toward all Muslims - not just those associated with the 911 atrocities.
Most of what America hears and knows about Muslim culture comes through the war torn lens of the Middle East, even though more than 80% of Muslims in the world live outside of that region. The reason America pays so much attention to the Muslims of the Middle East is that they are inextricably tied up with the world's - and our own - oil energy needs. Hence many of the stories we see and hear are generally associated with either the terrorists involved in 911 or the multi-millenia old blood feuds of the Middle East. Yet examining Muslim culture using the battles of the Middle East as the peephole, is akin to learning about German or Japanese culture through the narrow lens of World War II.
Historically America has had a generous heart, even toward those with whom we've fought. Two centuries ago we fought the Revolutionary War For Independence against Great Britain. And it was less than 70 years ago that both Germany and Japan were our nation's greatest enemies. Germany attacked our Atlantic crossing ships and Japan dropped bombs on our Navy at Pearl Harbor. Yet today we now count all of these nations among our closest friends.
There are an estimated 1.6 billion Muslims around the world, making it the second largest religious / cultural group in the world [there are 2.2 billion Christians]. And Muslim culture spans the globe, from the Middle East [317 million], to Europe [44 million], Africa [248 million], Asia [986 million] and the Americas [4 million]. But that said, only between four and five million of Muslims live in the Americas.
Hence, to broaden and deepen our understanding of Islamic culture beyond the Middle Eastern crises, the LaGuardia College Performing Arts Center applied for and won grants from the Association of Performing Artists, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art to widen our lens of Muslim culture. And they added more than a dash of NYC spice to it.
Thus on Friday evening, I attended a dance performance entitled Leap of Faith, the second event of the year long series entitled Beyond Sacred: unthinking Muslim identity. The performances included a belly dancer, a swirling dervish, and three modern interpretive dances - two of which explore personal journeys by Muslim Americans who are children of both cultures. We'll post more later today including a photo slide show of the performances.
Real-Time. Off Line. Interactive. Online. Theater.
LaGuardia College Performing Arts Center Takes Center Stage With Rough Draft Festival
A bit more than a week ago I headed down to the LaGuardia College Performing Arts Center to watch / participate in one of the performances of the week-long Rough Draft Festival.
The Rough Draft Festival is the creation of Managing Director Steven Hitt and Assistant Director Handan Ozbilgin of LaGuardia College Performing Arts Center. The festival was the evolution of experimental dance and theatrical work the two had been collaborating on with Queens and New York City performing artists over a number of years. In 2013 they launched the first Rough Draft Festival to attract, audition, present and refine original choreographed and theatrical works probing themes relevant to the Queens community.
The work I would view today was entitled The Art of Hijab. Kohl Black and the Right Way to Pray. This production dovetailed with another project undertaken by the LaGuardia College Performing Arts Center dubbed Beyond Sacred, which is a grant-sponsored exploration of Islamic cultural identity.
Click here to read our report about the Rough Draft Festival at the LaGuardia College Performing Arts Center. Report.
Three Graces & The Struggle For Rights
August 7, 2014 / Long Island City LIC / Theater In Queens / Queens Buzz. By Michael Wood. On June 28th I attended the final performance of Three Graces at the LaGuardia College Performing Arts Center.
The title, Three Graces, has a historical reference to Greek mythology. The three graces include beauty, delight and creativity. These characteristics were oftentimes depicted by three young, frequently nude, women who were meant to fill the world with pleasant moments and goodwill. In art these three women are frequently shown dancing around in a circle to the divine music of Apollo. Since the play was written by an American woman with Greek roots, Ruth Margraff, I assumed the historical references had relevance.
The play opens in modern day Istanbul. Istanbul has long been both the cultural and economic capital of Turkey, while Ankara is the political capital of the nation. This is similar in kind to the national role of New York City in the U.S. vis a vis the governing role of Washington, D.C.
The play references recent modern day events - the Spring 2013 riots of Taksim Square / Gezi Park in Istanbul, where reportedly 11 people were killed and thousands significantly injured when the Turkish government / police cleared the park of a sit-in to protest a new government-lead real estate development in Taksim Square and Gezi Park. As is frequently the case, embedded in the protest were a number of issues and themes that went well beyond the real estate development itself.
Click here for the rest of our review of the Three Graces play w/ photos at the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center in LIC.
The Play For Rent Runs This Week
New Theatrical Production at LaGuardia in LIC
October 22, 2012 / LIC Neighborhood / Dance & Theater in Queens / Queens Buzz. I attended one of the dress rehearsals of For Rent last week at LaGuardia Community College in LIC. It was the second time I had seen the play and it gets better with each viewing. The play is a working project of the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center.
The play is set in modern day Istanbul, the thriving capital of Turkey, and quite possibly one the next members of the European Union. Istanbul has become the New York of its country - where extreme wealth resides side by side with extreme poverty. Rather than ignore or hide these people's plight, this play dives right into their midst; with all the violence, sex and fragility that permeates their impoverished lives. In the photo to your left is Sadik, the boss, with Ferhan the cheat in For Rent at LPAC in LIC.
Maids – Final Installment
Mutation From Original Themes, Into Exploration Of Time
November 5, 2011 / Long Island City / Theater in Queens / Queens Buzz. I just returned from watching the final installment of Maids. Maids was a four production work put on by the LaGuardia College Performing Arts Center [hereafter referred to as LPAC] in Long Island City. While the germ of the work was based on a Jean Genet play, the play only served as the starting point for what was an experimental work created by Handan Ozbilgin, Assistant Artistic Director of LPAC.
It’s been said, that “art should make one feel uncomfortable”. One of the goals of art is to challenge one’s perspective, move one out of their comfort zone, get one to see things in a different light and make one think about things. And so it was tonight that … click here to read the rest of our review of the final installment of Maids – experimental theater in LIC Queens.
LEAP Showcases Dance In Queens
Sensuous, Dramatic, Traditional, Frivolous & Very Entertaining
June 17, 2011 / Long Island City LIC / Dance & Theater / Queens Buzz. I entered the Little Theater of the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center [LPAC] on a recommendation of the performances by Steven Hitt, Managing Director of the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center. Steven had been one of the pivotal people, who in collaboration with the Queens Council on the Arts [QCA], had put together the show.
There were six separate pieces by local choreographers, which were to be performed by about a dozen dancers. The variety of dances was analogous to a buffet given by a high end hotel that had invited six of the best restaurateurs to select one dish with which to serve their guests. Each of the choreographers had created works that were different from one another, ranging from Indian traditional, to modern dramatic, to Germanic sensual to … Superman.
Click here to view a slide show and read more about the LEAP Dance Project Showcase and modern dance in Queens.
Maids 3:337 - Life As Theater
Kept Off Balance While Struggling To Find Meaning
February 21, 2011 / Long Island City LIC / Queens Buzz. I find myself being increasingly drawn into the four part experimental theater entitled Maids. I reviewed the first show last fall [use the search function to find it] and I just returned from having watched, witnessed or participated in the second show, which was held this past weekend.
The production explores a couple of themes, but its texture contains so many dimensions, that I can only begin to give you a sense of them in this review. The stage included the hallways of LaGuardia College, a loading dock and freight elevator, the back stage and the main theater. Having been to the first show in this series, I found myself beginning to get comfortable with the sense of discomfort one feels when we, in the audience, aren't completely anonymous.
Click here to read the rest of our review, including a slide show, of Maids 3:337 at the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center in Long Island City.
Experimental Theater In LIC
Maids 4:39N Engages Audience & Gives Them Roles
Long Island City LIC / October 9, 2010 / Queens Buzz. I participated in an experimental theater production Saturday night. Participation was open to the general public, sponsored by the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center, and hosted at the Flux Factory in Long Island City.
While I entered into the production not knowing what to expect, I found the experience very engaging. After the show I soon found out that I was not alone.
Click here to read more about Maids 4:39N, an experimental theater production in LIC.
Three Sisters Vanishing
Queens Director Updates A Chekhov Classic
April 18, 2010 / Long Island City LIC / Queens Buzz. Three Sisters Vanishing is an adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s play entitled Three Sisters by Queens playwright / director Handan Ozbilgin Bromley of the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center.
Adaptation Of Chekhov's Three Sisters - At LPAC
The story is about three sisters living in the Russian countryside who, following their father’s death, long to return to the bright lights and sophistication of Moscow. Moscow, in the Chekhov story, is analogous to the sisters’ dreams and aspirations. The play progresses through four acts, with the sisters’ hope of returning to Moscow fading along with their dreams, as they come to grips with the realities of their lives. Click here to view the rest of the review of Three Sisters Vanishing at LaGuardia Performing Arts Center in LIC.
24 Hours @ LPAC
Long Island City / November 7 & 8, 2009. I visited LaGuardia Community College last night to see for myself, exactly what the 24 Hours event was all about. It's essentially a worldwide sharing of original theatre, dance and music via the internet. The international piece [inbound from other parts of the world] was due to resume at 2 am, so I decided to forgo it in favor of sleep, but I did get a chance to talk to the people responsible for the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center as well as their collaborators, the Internationalists, and a few of the students to begin to piece together what the program is all about. Click this link to view the full report about the events of last night at the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center in Long Island City.
Rioult Dazzles Audience
World Class Dance At LPAC
Long Island City / February 7, 2009. The Rioult Dance Company gave an outstanding performance at the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center [LPAC] in Long Island City last Saturday night. The production provided a collage of theater, dance and music which brought to mind the latest vogue in the art world ... I felt like I was witnessing performance art.
There were three dances to be performed for the evening in the Big Theater. The auditorium was relatively full of people aging in range from college students to folks possibly in their sixties. None left disappointed. I overheard one woman talking to her friend, who had invited her to go with her to see the performance. She remarked, "This was sooo much better than I thought." I got the impression that she initially wasn't very interested in attending at all. To the right are two dancers performing one of Rioult's choreographed works.
Click here to read / view the rest of the story about the Rioult Dance Company at the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center in Long Island City.
Ben Allison Headlines Gig At LPAC
Ben Allison and his band performed at the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center in the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens NY.
LaGuardia Performing Arts Center - Section
LaGuardia Performing Arts Center - LPAC - Dance Theater Performing Arts LIC
The LaGuardia College Performing Arts Center [LPAC] offers a variety of performances including dance, music, theater and performing arts.
Click here to view our coverage of the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center at LaGuardia College in LIC.
Christmas Traditions In LIC
December 12, 2009. I visited LaGuardia Community College to check out their performance of an old holiday classic, the Nutcracker. The ballet was performed by the LIC School of Ballet. Following the show, Santa had set up a workshop in the Little Theatre and hosted a sell out crowd of kids and their parents in what turned out to be a fun family afternoon.
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