It’s finals time, even in the ballet world. Next week, advanced students of the Boston Ballet School will give their end-of-year performance, and in two weeks the company wraps up its 50th anniversary season with Balanchine’s Jewels. Dancers don’t revert to grunge-mode like college students during crunch time, however. The Boston Ballet was at its finest last Thursday in Pricked. They made the audience laugh, cringe, and marvel in awe during the edgy, fun, and technically demanding performance. They earned a well-deserved standing ovation from the audience at the finale. I’ll long remember the performance.
Patrick Yocum began dancing eleven years ago, in his hometown of Souderton, PA. After graduating high school, he trained for a year at the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School, and then joined the Boston Ballet II trainee program, working his way through to join the Corps de Ballet in 2011. He spoke to The Tech about life as a dancer, and Boston Ballet’s upcoming performance of Pricked.
Walking down the infinite corridor, you might have noticed the slightly demonic child on the poster for Dramashop’s latest production of The Pillowman. It’s hard to miss, as it looks like the cover of a horror film. The Tech chatted with cast members Salvador Esparza Jr. ’14 and Adam K. Strandberg ’14 about the production, their experiences as actors, and their early days in Dramashop.
Tim’s Vermeer follows American inventor Tim Jenison as he tests a novel theory about how 17th century Dutch master Johannes Vermeer used scientific methods and equipment to paint. Produced and directed by the Penn and Teller illusionist duo, it occasionally takes a cut-and-dried documentarian tone about Jenison’s experiment, but eventually switches to a more intimate examination of Jenison himself. Its big themes, thoughtful editing, and memorable characters put it in a class of films somewhere between History Channel specials and Hollywood dramas.
Last weekend the MIT Art Scholars, a group of about 30 students with interests in various artistic disciplines, traveled to New York City. The weekend included an exploration of Indian art, a performance of Rusalka at the Metropolitan Opera, and a tour of a special exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was the Art Scholars’ fourth annual trip to NYC, supported by Council for the Arts at MIT.
If you’ve never Googled “arts at MIT,” I guarantee you’ll be shocked at the vast array of arts activities, exhibits and events going on every week on campus, from alumni-produced films and student performances to professional shows by one of our many visiting artists. Yet I’ve lost track how many times I’ve been asked “MIT has arts?” Art, science, and engineering just don’t typically connect in people’s minds. Partners of the Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities (a2ru), including MIT, think that’s a problem.
“MIT has arts?” I can’t count how many times I’ve heard that question! But it’s only from people who don’t go to MIT. MIT has a vibrant arts community, especially in dance, theatre, and music. This year was no exception. Every week in 2013, there were at least half a dozen arts events on campus, from student performances to an arts-focused hackathon.
Nearly every month since 2011 MIT has hosted a “Choose-to-Reuse” event in the Stata Center lobby, sponsored by the Department of Facilities, Sustainability@MIT, and Green. During the event, community members donate and trade unwanted items. The overarching goal is to promote a culture of recycling and reducing waste. This year they are giving the program an arts-spin by collaborating with sculptural artist Kyle Haines. Haines will repurpose items from Choose-to-Reuse, as well other items found at MIT, into MIT-themed sculptures. His final pieces will be displayed on campus during Earth Week this coming April. He will begin collecting goods at the next Choose-to-Reuse event this Friday. He caught up with The Tech to explain his motives behind the project and how art can relate to the MIT community.
Boyko Dossev, a native of Bulgaria, is a corps de ballet member of the Boston Ballet and has been dancing with the company since 2006. He took time out of their busy Nutcracker schedule to chat with The Tech about the show and the life of a ballet dancer.
Last weekend MIT Dramashop continued a 56-year tradition, presenting one-act plays performed and directed by students. The night included four short plays, ranging from a slightly morbid tale of death and beauty to a comedy/drama between a hobo and an affluent screenplay writer. We walked away entertained, amused, and thoroughly impressed by our theatrically inclined peers.
In 2001, Missy Suicide (Selena Mooney) co-founded SuicideGirls, a website that features pin-up photography and profiles of alternative female models, as a way to show the world that there is more than one way to be beautiful. Seven of the “SuicideGirls” featured on the site will come to Boston’s House of Blues on Nov. 17 to star in Blackheart Burlesque. The Tech caught up with the show’s organizer, Missy Suicide, about her thoughts on the show, stereotypes, and the sexiness of engineering.
World-famous pianist and American music specialist Alan Feinberg was an artist-in-residence at MIT the week of the Boston lockdown last April. His recital, originally scheduled for that fateful Friday evening, will now take place tonight, Friday, Nov. 5, at 8 p.m. in Killian Hall.
Boston Ballet corps de ballet member Diana Albrecht spoke with The Tech about her career in ballet as well as her favorite moments of La Bayadère. A native of Paraguay, Albrecht has been dancing since she was three years old, and professionally since she was 16 years old. In La Bayadère, her roles include dancing as a bayadère (Hindu temple dancer) in the first act, in the fan waltz in the second act, and as a shade in Solor’s dream in the third act.
Last week the Boston Ballet began their 2013–14 season with La Bayadère, a classical ballet set in a fantastical-version of ancient India, that artistic director Mikko Nissinen describes as “one of the most iconic and quintessential pieces in the classical ballet collection.”
The audience filled bleachers around the ice rink, wrapped in their coats in the chilled warehouse-like building, eagerly anticipating the show’s start. The Ice Theatre of New York (ITNY) didn’t disappoint. After sneaker-clad Artistic Director Douglas Webster explained the company’s aim to “elevate dance on ice as a performance art,” ten dancers glided onto the ice to the familiar “Awake My Soul” by Mumford & Sons, mesmerizing spectators with their athleticism and grace.
“What if Mick Jagger stopped singing ‘Honky Tonk Woman’?” asked MFA curator Erica Hirshler at the opening of John Singer Sargent Watercolors. By 1907, the renowned Gilded Age portraitist John Singer Sargent had effectively abandoned his lucrative career as a portrait artist in favor of landscapes and figure studies in watercolor. It came as a shock to the art world, as if Jagger had given up “Honky Tonk Woman.”
Last Thursday you might have noticed a red-tape line running through campus. The line ran from Lobby 7 up to the third floor Wolk Gallery for the opening of Sidewalk City, a mini-exhibit by Urban Studies Professor Annette Kim and her group SLAB, the sidewalk laboratory. The Tech caught up with Professor Kim about the new exhibit.
Your MIT ID can get you free or heavily discounted admission to nearby arts venues. The Council for the Arts at MIT gifts these memberships and discounts as a way to greaten students’ exposure to and appreciation for the arts. The following is a list of the places where you can flash your card. In addition, you can use it to check out museum passes from Hayden Library for guests in town.
Prints and drawings are two of my favorite art media. Something about them is deceptively simple — they comprise only a few dollars’ worth of graphite and paper, yet a priceless amount of artistic talent. For anyone who feels the same, or just wants to get out of the heat for an afternoon, three interesting new exhibits await you at the MFA.
At the beginning of July, the MIT Museum hosted an afternoon of sewing-with-fabric artist Clara Wainwright. The project, Mending Boston, aims to bring community members together and “mend” their souls while collaborating on a fabric collage. Wainwright began Mending Boston after the Boston Marathon tragedy, spending many hours working on the piece with visitors to community centers and museums throughout Greater Boston, who wished to honor victims of the bombing.
The MIT Wind Ensemble (MITWE) scored a coup last Friday when PBS aired the television world premiere of MIT-produced documentary Awakening: Evoking the Arab Spring Through Music. The documentary featured MITWE’s performance of Awakening, composed by MIT alumnus Jamsheid Sharifi ’83. The piece is intended to encourage listeners to contemplate the movement that swept Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, and other Arab countries. MITWE director Dr. Frederick Harris commissioned the piece from Sharifi, a renowned New York-based composer, who felt personally connected to the Arab Spring because of his Middle Eastern heritage.
Each week, for the past seven weeks, a sculpture titled “I am Mit, as I am in Mit, just like a lot of other people are” by Amalia Pica has been traveling to various places on campus, hosted by different members of the community. The 30-pound pink granite sculpture, hand-carved by Pica, is shaped like an Echevaria plant, which is known for its ability to thrive in nearly any condition.
MIT Professor of Music and Theater Arts Jay R. Scheib’s newest production, Elektra, took stage this month at Kresge Little Theater, starring an all-MIT-student cast. The Greek myth inspired tale of heartache and revenge makes the audience cringe, laugh, and gasp as characters spit blood into each other’s faces, surgically remove someone’s heart, reunite with long-lost siblings, and commit murder. The performance both captivates and horrifies the audience while effectively articulating its tragic theme.
Boston Ballet’s The Sleeping Beauty opened the Friday before spring break. The three-hour show is set in a sparkly pink fairytale world, where people dance to communicate, and everyone is merry except the evil fairy Carabosse. The company does an extraordinary job with Marius Petipa’s 120-year old classical ballet. The dancing, costumes, and scenery were superb.
It’s the close of World War II. The British and Americans have imprisoned Germany’s top ten nuclear scientists in a lavish English estate, Farm Hall. Every room in the house, from the piano room to the parlor, is bugged. The Allies listen to the scientists’ conversations to determine how close Nazi Germany is to building an atomic bomb.
Startup companies competing in the MIT $100K Launch Contest now have a chance to win $10K for incorporating art or design into their business. The $10K Creative Arts Competition, sponsored by Arts at MIT, will be awarded annually starting this year. To be eligible, a $100K entrant must have art or design at the core of its business model. The goal of the prize is to promote art-focused startups and put MIT at the forefront of art and design competitions.
The main actors in Beautiful Creatures, Alice Englert and Alden Ehrenreich (characters Lena Duchannes and Ethan Lawson Wate in the movie), visited Boston at the end of January for interviews with the press. British stalwarts Jeremy Irons and Emma Thompson played supporting roles in the movie, but regrettably did not make the press tour. Nevertheless, it was fun to meet the young stars. They were entertaining, energetic, articulate, and as endearing as their characters the movie. Gone were the Southern accents from the movie (Englert has a soft New Zealand accent, while Ehrenreich, an NYU alum, speaks with your basic Midwestern accent), and both seemed relaxed during our short interview. Ehrenreich had his feet on the table at one point, and Englert was eating strawberries and doodling on a Ritz Carlton notepad. Here are some of their thoughts:
Beautiful Creatures is the story of two teenagers, one supernatural and one mortal, whose destinies are intertwined. They dream of each other months before actually meeting, and fall in love at first sight. But they must fight a battle and learn about each other’s family histories before their relationship can succeed.
Dramashop’s production of Margo Veil plays this weekend and next. The play starts with an explosion, indicating a war. Set in a recording studio, the cast makes a radio-show with entertainment of all forms: romance, action, magic, religion. The titular character is an actress whose soul gets transferred to different bodies. The Tech interviewed cast member, Princess Len M. Carlos ’13.
MIT alumna Amanda Wang ’03 performed on the violin in Killian Hall last week with her group, the Ellipsis Piano Trio. Having just finished her doctoral degree in music at Boston University, Wang also competes with the MIT ballroom dance team. She took time Sunday afternoon to tell us about her experiences with engineering and music.
A giant lamp with a crown of bulbs turns its head into position. Like an alien saucer it beams down onto the stage, illuminating a single motionless dancer. The dancer moves in a rapid jerking motion. Is it a man or a woman? Suddenly, the sound of Bach’s Goldberg Variations breaks the silence.