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The Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts Blog Schimmel Center seeks to enrich and engage our audiences by bringing world-class talent to Lower Manhattan. Our programming features internationally-acclaimed talent in the areas of music, dance, cabaret, comedy and family programming

25 April 2017 ~ 0 Comments

On Stage: Interview with Amanda Treiber of New York Theatre Ballet

This Friday and Saturday, April 28 and 29, our audiences are in for a treat. The New York Theatre ballet is back for an all new program of Uptown/Downtown Dance celebrating the best repertoire from the past alongside new pieces by leading contemporary choreographers. The evenings will include world premieres by Martin Lawrence and Zhong-Jing Fang alongside a re-staging of former NYTB resident choreographer Edward Henkel’s Re-Vision which originally debuted in 1986. Audiences will also be treated to three pieces by choreographer Pam Tanowitz. Below, we talk with Amanda Treiber, one of the dancers who bring the works to life.

Amanda Treiber Courtesy of New York Theatre Ballet

Amanda Treiber
Courtesy of New York Theatre Ballet

SC: How long have you been with New York Theatre Ballet? What distinguishes the company from other ballet companies?

 

AT: I have been a dancer with New York Theatre Ballet for nine years. Since it is a small chamber company, each dancer gets to bring a unique quality to the work, and the audience gets to see this individuality because we are all soloists. But what I find the most interesting is the programming. NYTB specializes in bringing revivals of rarely seen ballets as well as doing new works by many up and coming choreographers. Diana Byer, the founder and artistic director, has a good eye for interesting and diverse pieces. Our programs are so varied, I’m sure everyone in the audience will find at least one piece they love!

 

SC: What can audiences look forward to in Uptown/Downtown Dance?

 

AT: NYTB is known for having live music. In this program not only are all the pieces played live by pianist and music director Michael Scales, he will also be joined by a violinist, Chloé Kiffer, and a cellist, Amy Kang.

 

SC: Do you have a favorite piece from the production? Why does that piece resonate with you?

 

AT: It’s hard to pick just one favorite from this upcoming performance…. they are all so different. I enjoy the movement of “Re-Vision.” The way the movement sits on the music is very satisfying I think for both the performer and the audience. But I would say I’m most looking forward to performing Pam Tanowitz’s “Double Andante.” It is an abstract piece first made for NYTB 2 years ago but has not been performed much in the past year. Coming back to it this year we have had to replace some of the original dancers and in doing so I have become more aware of my relationship to the others on stage including the musician, who Pam cleverly integrates into the piece.

 

SC: Do you have an all-time favorite piece that you have performed with NYTB? Why is that one your favorite?

 

AT: I would say currently my favorite piece to perform is Richard Alston’s “Such Longing.” The cast of four (4) move in and out of solos, duets and group pieces set to Choppin. We have been fortunate to perform this piece many times over the past (3) years. Sometimes in excerpts, sometimes in large spaces and sometimes in tiny spaces. But every time we come back to it I learn something new of myself. I trust myself and partners more. I find I can let myself go deeper into the music. On the best of nights I feel that I can fly.

 

SC: What advice would you give to a young dance student who dreams of being a part of a prestigious dance company one day?

 

AT: Being a professional dancer is tough. It takes determination, passion and constant training to have a sustained career. It’s important to stay in the moment not just onstage but in the studio too.

 

Below: enjoy an excerpt of Pam Tanowitz’s “Double Andante.”

 

New York Theatre Ballet Uptown/ Downtown Dance; Friday, April 28 at 7:30PM and Saturday, April 29 at 7:30 PM ; Price $29; Schimmel Center at Pace University; 3 Spruce St, New York, NY 10038; (212) 346-1715; Tickets available at http://schimmelcenter.org/event/uptown-downtown-dance

06 February 2017 ~ 0 Comments

Brevity is the Soul of Wit… An Interview with Reed Martin of the Reduced Shakespeare Society

The Schimmel Center is proud to be presenting the New York debut of the acclaimed Reduced Shakespeare Company’s latest play, William Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play (abridged.) For two performances only, the merry men of beguilement and brevity act out an entirely new narrative that weaves together most of the famous speeches and plot devices of Shakespeare’s thirty-nine plays to create a fast, funny, and fictional fortieth. I had the pleasure of speaking about the piece with Co-creator and performer Reed Martin.

From Left to Right: Austin Tichenor, Teddy Spencer and Reed Martin

From Left to Right: Austin Tichenor, Teddy Spencer and Reed Martin

 

The Reduced Shakespeare Company started in 1981 as a “pass-the-hat act” in a California Renaissance Faire. When and how did you become involved in the company?

I joined the RSC in 1989, about a year before it became a full-time job. I’d gone to college with one of the founders of the RSC, Jess Winfield so when an opening came up he contacted me to see if I’d be interested in joining the company. Id just finished a two-year stint as a Clown and Assistant Ringmaster with Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus. Previous to joining the circus I’d earned an MFA in Acting from UC San Diego and double-majored as an undergraduate at UC Berkeley in Political Science and Dramatic Arts.

 

You mention previously performing  in the Ringling Brothers circus. What skills were you able to bring from that world into this one?

I learned physical comedy in the circus, as well as the ability to keep a performance fresh during a long running show. The other invaluable skill I developed in the circus was learning how to comfortably deal directly with audience members which is integral to RSC shows. When I was in the circus the clowns spent about 25 minutes per show in the seats actually interacting with patrons and, of course, frightening a few children.

 

You have co-created nine plays for the Reduced Shakespeare Company including America, Bible, Hollywood, Western Civilization and Christmas (all abridged.) Where did your inspiration for this latest play come from?

 Several years ago we toured the vaults at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC where they told us that the holy grail of Shakespearean scholarship would be to find a play written by Shakespeare in his own hand. We were unable to find anything remotely like that so we decided to write one ourselves. The conceit of the show is that we find (in a parking lot in Leicester, England) the first play that Shakespeare ever wrote. He was seventeen at the time and it contained every character that we now see in his later plays, but they are all woven together into a brand new, 400 year old, storyline. The actual play is over 100 hours long so as a public service we reduce it down to under two hours.

 

For those who have never seen a production by the Reduced Shakespeare Company, what can they expect with this production? 

The show is a nouveau-vaudevillian roller-coaster ride through the newly discovered first play that Shakespeare ever wrote and is not recommended for people with heart conditions, back problems, inner-ear disorders or English degrees. Audience reaction to the show has been the same the world over. People leave the theater with a feeling of nausea and motion sickness. The RSC cannot be held responsible for expectant mothers.

 

Does one have to be well versed in Shakespeare’s plays to truly appreciate this show?

Absolutely not. I think between we three performers, we have heard of most of Shakespeares plays. We like to say that if you like Shakespeare, you’ll like the show. But if you hate Shakespeare, you’ll love the show!

 

This play creates many strange bed fellows between the greatest characters of the Bard’s canon. Without giving away too much, which is your favorite new coupling in the play?

Dromio and Juliet.  But Hamlet meeting up with master motivator Lady Macbeth is a close second.

 

What advice would you give to a young person starting a career in theatre?

Engineering is a good field.

The Reduced Shakespeare Company’s William Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play (abridged); Saturday, February 11 at 7:30PM and Sunday, February 12 at 2 PM ; Price $29 | $39; Schimmel Center at Pace University; 3 Spruce St, New York, NY 10038; (212) 346-1715; Tickets available at http://schimmelcenter.org/event/the-reduced-shakespeare-company

 

11 January 2017 ~ 0 Comments

Looking Ahead to a New Year of Programming

We are just about two weeks into the New Year. The post-holiday blues are starting to fade and only a handful of us are still sticking to our New Year’s resolutions. In these early days of 2017 we look ahead to what the Schimmel Center has in store to ease those winter blues in February and March.

The SteelDrivers Photo Credit: Robert Rausch

The SteelDrivers
Photo Credit: Robert Rausch

Highlights include the acclaimed bluegrass group The SteelDrivers performing songs from their latest Grammy Award® winning album, The Muscle Shoals Recordings on Friday February 10. Speaking of bluegrass, The Hillbenders come to us straight from the South by Southwest Festival with their presentation of Tommy: A Bluegrass Opry on March 25. This engaging concert reinvents The Who’s classic Rock Opera with an all acoustic orchestration including banjo, dobro, mandolin, bass and guitar. I recently had the opportunity to see this concert live and this energetic group had the audience and myself in the palm of their hand. The group has an obvious passion for the piece which shows through in their performance. Their comic narration and original orchestrations bring a fresh outlook to the Rock Opera that has previously shown its age.

If you are looking to, “brush up your Shakespeare,” and tickle your funny bone, look no further than the New York premiere of The Reduced Shakespeare Company’s latest play William Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play (abridged.) The hilarious production re imagines the Bard’s most famous characters, speeches and plot scenarios while hilariously combining them into an imaginary, newly discovered work. I remember seeing the group perform in college and on DVD’s of their classic PBS performances and their work never disappoints. Whether you are a Shakespeare aficionado or someone looking for a night of classic slapstick and physical comedy, this is the evening for you. The play runs Saturday February 11th– 12th.

We continue our reputation for showcasing dance with lauded companies such as Lula Washington Dance Theatre on February 24. The company is celebrating 35 years of choreography that both celebrates and examines African American heritage and culture. The Los Angeles based choreographer, Lula Washington was responsible for the choreography in Disney’s The Little Mermaid. Disney Animators watched filmed footage of her choreography to animate famous musical numbers like the Academy Award winning song, “Under the Sea.” She later returned to the silver screen in 2009 when she choreographed the movement for James Cameron’s groundbreaking film Avatar.

The Lula Washington Dance Company

The Lula Washington Dance Company

Our world roster is incredibly strong this winter. Gypsy Flamenco dancer José Maya brings his latest work, Latente: A Flamenco Journey to our stage on February 17th. The piece is accompanied by legendary Gypsy singer Juana la del Pipa, powerhouse vocalists José Valencia and Manuel Tañé, and celebrated guitarist El Perla. It is a deeply personal piece for the artist and explores the soul of a Gypsy Flamenco dancer. We are ecstatic to present the Portuguese Fado singer Gisela João as she makes her New York debut on February 25th. This young artist has been making a name for herself in her native Portugal, drumming up an impressive line of rave reviews. Straight form Argentina, the incredible Che Malambo will heat up our floor boards on March 24th.  This exciting performance showcases the thrilling and unique South American cowboy tradition of the gaucho.

To see our full line up of exceptional programming which also includes Magic, Cabaret and Lecture, visit SchimmelCenter.org

05 December 2016 ~ 0 Comments

Celebrating the Art of Storytelling in Song- Inside the music of Tom Rush, Matt Nakoa and Seth Glier

American folk music is a broad term that encompasses many genres. The famous folk musician Mike Seeger once famously defined it as “all the music that fits between the cracks.” Gospel, bluegrass, Appalachian jug bands, blues and Native American music all fit within those cracks. The genres have two commonalities that tie them together; they are all uniquely American and they all rely heavily on the art of storytelling. It is that story telling that artists such as Woody Guthrie, Burl Ives and Susan Reed brought to the fore front in the great American Folk Revival of the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s. This weekend we are proud to have one of the greatest practitioners of American Folk music, Tom Rush, who helped shape the genre during the 1960’s along with the likes of Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Judy Collins. He will be joined by new emerging artists who follow in his tradition by placing story telling at the forefront of their music; Matt Nakoa and Seth Glier.

James Taylor once said, “Tom (Rush) was not only one of my early heroes, but also one of my main influences.” It’s clear that Rush possesses many qualities that an artist like James Taylor would find inspiring; from his distinctive guitar styling to his warm, expressive voice. One would argue that the main quality that keeps audiences coming back is the wry humor and expressive story telling so distinct in his music.  The story telling is especially evident evident in his performance of “The Child’s Song,” seen below. The song so perfectly tells the story of a son leaving his family for the first time. The story not only comes out in the lyrics but in Rush’s soulful expression.

Below Matt Nakoa and Seth Glier continue the tradition of Storytelling in “The Ballad of Jenny Kane” and “Love is a Language” respectively. Each plays in their own distinctive style but they both harken back to Tom Rush’s example.

These three artists converge on the Schimmel Stage for one night only. Don’t miss your opportunity to celebrate this uniquely American art form with one of the best.

An Evening with Tom Rush and Matt Nakoa with Special Guest Seth Glier; Friday, December 9 at 7:30PM; Price $29 | $39; Schimmel Center at Pace University; 3 Spruce St, New York, NY 10038; (212) 346-1715; Tickets available at http://schimmelcenter.org/event/tom-rush

16 November 2016 ~ 0 Comments

Avoid the Mid-Town Grid Lock- Celebrating the Holidays in FiDi

The most joyous of seasons is upon us. It is that time of year when the city transforms into a magical wintery wonderland, capturing the hearts and minds of people around the world. While tourists from all over the globe descend on midtown in droves for the likes of the Rockerfeller Christmas tree, the windows at Saks 5th Avenue and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, New Yorkers have other options right in Manhattan’s FiDi neighborhood. Let’s take a look at all the holiday activities taking place downtown.

The interactive light display at Brookfield Place

The interactive light display at Brookfield Place

Visit Santa

While many flock to 34th Street to visit Santa’s Village in the iconic Macy’s store, the lines can sometimes stretch on for hours. Luckily for families in FiDi, Brookfield Place has their own top-notch version of the North Pole. While you are waiting on line for your child’s opportunity to sit on the big guy’s lap, you can send up a wish through “touch-sensitive” wish lights which are a part of Brookfield Place’s “Luminaries,” exhibit. For more information click here.

The rink at Brookfield Place

The rink at Brookfield Place

Hit the Skating Rink

Ice skating is one of the most cherished of Holiday traditions. While the rinks at Rockerfeller Center and Bryant Park have made postcards for years, a new picturesque skating rink has sprung up at Brookfield Place. Located on the Hudson River waterfront, the rink is a one of a kind skating experience. The rink offers private skating lessons as well as public skating hours. For more information click here.

The Tree at South Street Seaport

The Tree at South Street Seaport

Visit the Christmas Tree at South Street Seaport

Yes, the tree at Rockerfeller is gorgeous but you can always watch it being lit on television from the comfort of your own home. There’s no real need to venture to mid-town for it. The beautiful South Street Seaport boasts a tree every year as well. Dressed up for the holidays, the seaport is a majestic coastal winter wonderland worth seeing.

Celebrate with Festive Holiday Music

This holiday season the Schimmel Center welcomes Emmy winner and Grammy, Tony and Drama Desk Award nominated Rob Mathes. Known for a storied career in music alongside names like Sting and Bruce Springsteen, Mathes leads an all-star band made up of musicians from Saturday Night Live, David Letterman’s Late Show, and Paul Simon’s band. Powerhouse vocalists Vaneese Thomas and D-Train Willams will sing holiday classics and new original songs with a funk, R&B and gospel twist. There is no better way to feel the holiday spirit than with the sounds of the season. Below is a clip of the classic carol, “Silent Night” performed by Vaneese Thomas and D-Train Williams in Mathes’ signature style.

The Rob Mathes Holiday Concert; Sunday, December 18 at 3:00pm; Price $29 | $39 | $55; Schimmel Center at Pace University; 3 Spruce St, New York, NY 10038;(212) 346-1715; Tickets available at http://schimmelcenter.org/event/rob-mathes