Beverly Hills opened the new Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts last month and has now inaugurated the venue, a former historic post office, restored, repurposed, and expanded, in grand style with performances by the Martha Graham Dance Company. It is no exaggeration to state that Martha Graham is and remains an icon of modern dance. And the company she launched in 1926 remains contemporary both because of Graham’s original aesthetic, idiom, and technique and also because it commissions work from today’s leading choreographers. But there’s a special link with Los Angeles, dance, and Graham. It was there in California that Martha Graham—so wholly identified with New York—studied with Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn, the influential and essential pioneers of modern dance.
Fifteen years ago, the cellist Yo-Yo Ma, who was already busy with a full and demanding career as a recitalist, a soloist with orchestras, and chamber music, launched the Silk Road Project, a music collective inspired by the cross-cultural exchange along the ancient Silk Road route. As befits an ensemble that performs music diverse in style and from varied musical traditions, the group includes Western classical instruments—violin, cello, double bass—but also features instruments from throughout the Mediterranean, the Middle East, South Asia, and China: Galician bagpipe; a kamancheh, a Persian fiddle; tabla or Indian drums; and the pipa, an ancient Chinese plucked string instrument, among others. The aim was to foster contemporary music, incorporating varied and established traditions, and that they have.
Ten years ago, New York City Center came up with an inspired idea: invite dance companies—ballet, modern, contemporary—and popular and national troupes from throughout the United States and around the globe; present sampler programs (four works by four companies each night); and offer all tickets at a rock-bottom price: $15. Ideal for the hard-core dance fan or the curious first-timer. The Fall for Dance Festival celebrates its 10th anniversary now through October 5 with performances by 24 international companies, Royal Ballet, Martha Graham Dance Company, Bodytraffic, among them, and three commissions from up-and coming choreographers: Annabelle López Ochoa, Justin Peck, and Liam Scarlet.
The dance cavalcade continues at City Center with the New York premiere of British choreographer-iconoclast Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty, set in turn-of-the 19th century and advancing to the modern day, with a gamekeeper instead of prince to woo Princess Aurora (October 23-November 3).
The New York City Opera and Brooklyn Academy of Music present the highly anticipated American premiere of the opera Anna Nicole now through September 28. The work about the one-time Playboy Playmate, femme fatale, and reality television personality Anna Nicole Smith is by English composer Mark-Anthony Turnage and librettist Richard Thomas and was first produced at London’s Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in 2011. American soprano Sarah Joy Miller takes on the title character and speaks with T+L about the opportunity and the challenge.
Probably few regions in the United States have influenced American artists as significantly as the Hudson River Valley. The painters of the so-called Hudson River School, Albert Bierstadt, Frederic Church, Thomas Cole, and Asher Durand, among others, created a grand vision of 19th-century landscape, comparable yet distinct from the Romantic movements in England and continental Europe.
Travel informed their vision, of course, and the artistic response extended beyond the Hudson to New England, the American West, and to Italy, including idealized antiquity. The Hudson River School: Nature and the American Vision at the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, New York brings together 45 paintings that put on display the full range of the artists’ inspiration. There may be to no better place to consider their work than in Cooperstown, New York, an icon of American history—the American novelist James Fenimore Cooper made his home there as does today the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum—that is also a showcase for the innovative opera and musical theater of the Glimmerglass Festival.
The waning days of the summer bring the final weeks of music and arts festivals, from the large and celebrated, the Salzburg Festival in Austria, Tanglewood in the Berkshires, to the less well-known.
One surprise and a secret to most, but not for long, is the Staunton Music Festival in Virginia. Staunton has acquired a near mythic status in farm-to-fork food circles (see the “Up On The Ridge”by Matt Lee and Ted Lee in Travel + Leisure, July 2012) and for nine days in August, the Staunton Music Festival brings together some of the most talented musicians, established professionals and emerging young artists, from throughout the United States and Europe to this quiet spot in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
This week marks the 25th Anniversary of the Vail International Dance Festival in Colorado, renowned as a showcase for diversity: from ballet masterpieces, to new work by established and emerging choreographers, and dancers and companies from New York City to Seattle and beyond. It is also a place of experimentation: traditional dance styles can blend with novel forms of movement, often with eye-popping results. Prime example: Charles “Lil Buck” Riley, whose cross-pollination of the Memphis-born jookin' street dance and classical ballet has gained him worldwide acclaim.
Santa Fe, New Mexico is known and loved for many reasons: as a hiking and ski destination, for its cultural scene, from galleries to the acclaimed Santa Fe Opera, and a range of delicious cuisines. Less well-known—but not for long—is the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market, which celebrates its tenth anniversary this weekend and is extraordinary in its breadth and mission. Why? It brings 170 artists and artisans of fine craft from more than 50 countries to New Mexico to display their creations:carved horn jewelry from Peru, felt and muslin shawls from Kyrgyzstan, paper kites from Japan, embellished leather saddles from the Republic of Tuva (Russia), woven silk scarves from Madagascar, embroidered clothing, textiles, jewelry, pottery and ceramics from every continent, except Antarctica.
In addition to being the largest folk art market in the world, it provides the opportunity for artists to sell their work (they retain 90% of the proceeds), which in many cases provides the primary support for families at home and even sustains entire communities. What’s more, as a showcase for artisans and their work, the Folk Art Market has become a catalyst for the preservation of creative tradition, some of which would surely have been lost without exposure and economic incentive. The world is a more beautiful place because of it.
Photo © Marcella Echavarria. All rights reserved.
Longwood Gardens, in Kennett Square, near Philadelphia and equidistant from Washington, D.C. and New York City, is one of the world's spectacular botanical parks, with more than 1,000 acres of woodlands, gardens, flowers, and fountains. Vibrant in all four seasons, Longwood takes on a particular hue in summer with a concert season that features performers ranging from Lyle Lovett to Tony Bennett to the Philadelphia Orchestra. In a grand ballroom, it also houses one of the world's largest concert organs with more than 10,000 pipes (music was a passion of Pierre S. du Pont, whose family legacy supports the gardens) that give full aural dimension to grand 19th and 20th symphonic organ music.
This month and next, art—Old Masters to Impressionists to contemporary—is on the auction block at the major auction houses, including Christie’s, Sotheby’s, Bonhams, in New York, London, and beyond. They coincide with art fairs, Frieze New York, Art Basel in Switzerland (June 13-16), and the granddaddy of all international art exhibitions, the Venice Biennale (June 1-November 24)). T+L spoke with Karen Stone Talwar, founder of Adventures in Art, about this high season for art and what it means for the traveler.
Q: What is the allure of the art sales?
A: First, admission to the previews at the auction houses is free, and second, although the viewings take place during five to eight days, they often offer the only opportunity to see works that have been in private collections and likely little exhibited. Depending on the purchaser they may never be lent for public exhibition. So this could be your once-in-a-lifetime chance to see that rare Picasso, just as it is for the collectors, gallery owners, and museum directors.