Posts Tagged ‘ Amsterdam ’

NaNoWriMo Kick-off

NaNoWriMo 2011

Fabulous NaNoWriMo 2011 kickoff at the Central Amsterdam Library (OBA) today.
NaNo veteran Nico Janssen sketched a bit of NaNoWriMo history for newcomers and pointed out that by last year, 2.8 billion words have been generated through the NaNoWriMo community that has grown to 200.000 writers!
The challenge is personal. It is no problem if you don’t finish or manage to get 50.000 words in by the end of the month. It’s about being productive all the time, every day, writing during the month of November with 200.000 fellow writers spread out over the globe.
Lisa Friedman introduced freewriting to the assembled NaNoWriMo wannabees. “Just Do It, Don’t Think, Outrun the Critic.”
Some of her tips on how to be productive during NaNoWriMo include “Train yourself like a dog to write on command; don’t re-read (as of yet); replace self-criticism with encouragement; forget about Facebook.”
Are we ready?
I am.


The Marriage of Malasch and Moore

A new museum? A Lab? An art space, or factory – like Andy Warhol? A think tank? Or a community center?

There’s a new hotspot in town.

The new Serieuze Zaken is Amsterdam Arts Lab. This is the petri dish for creativity in Amsterdam West.
It started as a merger of meneer de wit and Serieuze Zaken and is now a marriage of sorts between gallerist extraordinaire Rob Malasch and moving image magician Jack Moore.
Moore’s vast archive straddles both sides of art and entertainment.
On opening Sunday last week, Jack treated the audience to Norman McLaren’s wistful and fistful Neighbours from 1952; a rare complete (the only in the world) recording of Grace Jones’ debut concert at the Roseland Ballroom in New York on Halloween 1978 and a stream of George Méliès’s wickedly funny shorts shot in 1896 (yes, you got that right, late-19th century film!).
Jack’s running encyclopedic commentary, providing context and piquant details make the marriage between Malasch and Moore a great success.
“Don’t forget to tell them it was a shotgun marriage,” Malasch said to me when I left his gorgeous new gallery space where the paint had barely dried.

I need a man

Norman McLaren

George Méliès

Mickery and La MaMa

The histories of Ellen Stewart’s La MaMa E.T.C. (Experimental Theater Club) in New York and the Mickery Theatre in Amsterdam are intertwined. Both La MaMa and the Mickery provided a home base for experimenters in the theatre from the sixties onwards. Just like with La MaMa, once you had worked at the Mickery, you were part of that family, you belonged to a group of people that shared a very specific collective history. La MaMa and the Mickery became the wellsprings of an internationally branched-out network of creators in the theatre.
Mickery was the brainchild of Ritsaert ten Cate, a rebel who found a cause in the budding avant-garde theater scene of the ‘60’s. With money inherited from his textile-manufacturing family, Ritsaert ten Cate set up shop at a farmhouse in Loenersloot, about 13 miles outside Amsterdam. He was an avid collector of “arte povera” and used the vast barn space as a gallery. (The parallels with Ellen’s First Street La MaMa Galleria are clear.) When Ellen Stewart got wind of Ritsaert’s new theatre space, she called him up to establish a tour date and residency for her La MaMa troupe, wedged between performances at Eugenio Barba’s theatre in Holstebrö and the Edinburgh Festival in 1967.
Her handwritten confirmation said:
“We will arrive with 3 buses, you will pay the actors a fee of $60 for each performance, plus a per diem, and you will make sure that they can sleep somewhere. We will perform Tom Paine, Part One, and we will perform each play two times. We will also need to rehearse. Thank you, Ellen Stewart”
During their two week-residency in Loenersloot, the company performed the first part of Tom Paine, while Tom O’Horgan readied Part Two with them for the Edinburgh Festival. Some actors slept in the farmhouse and others were hosted by neighbors. The Dutch press flocked to the Mickery barn and was unanimously flabbergasted by the spectacle, resulting in hundreds of theatergoers and curiosity seekers following in their tracks.
Over the years La MaMa revisited the Mickery – which in the early ‘70’s had relocated to an abandoned cinema in the center of Amsterdam – with 12 productions.
Unlike La MaMa E.T.C., still going strong and in its fiftieth anniversary year, Mickery closed its activities after some 800 productions in 1991.
Ellen Stewart and Ritsaert ten Cate have passed away, but not before passing on the commitment and passion to experiment.

Ellen Stewart and Ritsaert ten Cate. The mirror behind Ritsaert ten Cate has a quote from Heiner Müller "Enduring Is Also A Choice"

A Moving Monument

Is it Dance
Is it Theatre
or is it LIFE
the trailer announces PINA (Dance, Dance, otherwise we are lost…), a film by Wim Wenders that just opened in Amsterdam.
The 3D film is a loving monument to choreographer/dancer Pina Bausch, who died suddenly and unexpectedly on June 30 2009. Here space, such an essential part of dance, is a character/actor, as is the camera, not registering the movements and emotions frontally, but amidst the dancers.
The result is a mesmerizing, totally tension-laden feature film. Full, rich fragments of Rite of Spring turn into moments filled with ominous suspense as heavy as any good cliffhangher scene in Hollywood movies.
In the sparse moments that Pina herself appears in person in the film, she speaks with utmost love of her dancers, a motley crew of well-trained, daring and above all extremely imaginative dancers. It becomes clear that Pina Bausch searched and collected shards of the collective unconscious in her dancers, who arrived in Wuppertal from all corners of the world. What they shared with her and us, the spectators, constitutes a gestural idiom from all nations, resulting in the creation of a universal language of longing.
I’m less interested in how people move
than in what moves them
she simply says.
Wim Wenders’ film zooms in on Café Muller and Kontakthof, both dating from 1978 and Vollmond, a newer piece created in 2006.
Thrilling sections tilt the dance out of the theater and rehearsal studio onto the streets, into industrial spaces and woodlands of Wuppertal. Its famous suspended monorail serves as a location and becomes a character in and of itself.
Wim Wenders gave the dancers the opportunity to give Pina a last message, much in the way she herself poked them with questions like: “What does it mean to you, love, joy, pride?” They are short glimpses into their souls and shed light on the process.
One of the dancers says: “For 22 years she watched me from behind that table. That’s more time than my parents ever watched me.” Another dancer relates how the only direction Pina ever gave her was “Keep searching.”
They were willing to go deep, her dancers, for her, for themselves, and for us. It is real, their exploration, never a coquettish play with ideas. At the beginning of the film, Pina Bausch says in voice over: “It is not about the words, it is about what it invokes, that’s where the beginning of dance is.” Signature movements with arms floating up and hands fluidly following each other like fish in a stream, are repeated over and over until something stirs. Not unlike Sanford Meisner instructed his actors to repeat the words UNTIL SOMETHING HAPPENED. Pina’s eclectic choice of music is always a joyful surprise. She uses anything, from Dido and Aeneas, Edith Piaf, popular, traditional and folklore music. As long as it enables to evoke feelings and invoke what Germans call Sehnsucht (longing, yearning, desire, nostalgia). She dared, they, the dancers, dared in ongoing commitment and with an intensity that gives the chills, touching a universal chord.
Wim Wenders captured this with a deftness that defies any of the blockbuster movies made in 3D sofar, giving dance and art in motion a depth it has longed to match with the experience of live performance.

Be sure to watch Die Klage der Kaiserin (The Empress’ Laments, Pina Bausch’s personal moving snapshot album (filmed on video in 1990 and blown up to 35mm for distribution) and
Un Jour Pina m’a demandé, Chantal Akerman’s documentary in which she follows the company in rehearsal and on tour in 1983 – both available on You Tube

MakingOf PINA – 3D from neueroadmovies on Vimeo.

Soccer Madness

I don’t care for soccer. Not a single shred in my body cares for it. If soccer would disappear from the crust of the earth today, I wouldn’t miss it. But others would.
Eighty-thousand soccer fans trekked yesterday to the Museumplein in Amsterdam to join in the celebrations for the thirtieth national title of the Ajax team.
My nephew had assured me that FC Twente would win, so I had deluded myself into looking forward to a quiet Sunday afternoon and evening.
Ajax is the only publicly listed company and its shares went up 8% today. Television executives are elated about yesterday’s ratings for the match itself and for programs around the honors ceremony on the Museumplein afterwards.
The City of Amsterdam reports that it is pleased, because “Nobody got seriously hurt.” This, in spite of dozens of people being hurt in minor ways squashed by the crowds, the need to set up an emergency hospital behind the stage, ambulances delayed by berserk crowds and racial slurs toward the Jewish people persisting, even during the honors ceremony. Sixty-two people were arrested for violent behavior and vandalism.
Amsterdam is happy.
Money speaks.
The majority speaks.

Philip Glass – the Days and Nights Festival Party

In a packed Melkweg space last Friday night the master of minimal music dazzled and mesmerized a conspicuously young audience with pieces from all stages of his illustrious career. Most of his listeners must have been born decades after Einstein on the Beach premiered in 1976. I perceived some chuckled reactions to the relentless repetitions of the Spaceship-section of that opera, written by Glass and directed by Robert Wilson. The performing arts have not been the same since. The chuckles went mute when Tim Fain performed a dazzling Kneeplay from same opera.
But the highlight for me was to hear Allen Ginsberg’s recorded voice in Wichita Vortex Sutra. Hearing Allen Ginsberg’s voice swept up to emotional heights, accompanied and balanced by Glass’s meditative live piano performance was a religious experience.
Producer Rob Malasch, a longtime friend and producer of Glass’s work in The Netherlands, threw the party of the season afterwards in his gallery Serieuze Zaken Studioos on the Lauriergracht amidst the starkly evocative photographs of Max Snow, whose exhibition opened with much fanfare that afternoon.
Video giants Jack Moore (Videoheads) and Raul Marroquin were there to enliven the scene, besides everyone who is somebody in the Amsterdam cultural scene, to pay homage to “Phil.” Two lusciously bearded bakers of Bakker Baard provided on-site-a-la-minute miniature apple/cherry delicacies and plates with Chef Thor’s – small bites, big flavors – orgasmic vegetarian “bitterballen” kept everyone going until the wee hours.
You should have been there.

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