The Brooklyn Academy of Music will host its first live in-person performance in over a year this week, marking a gradual return to normal as vaccinations ramp up and the city slowly recovers from the pandemic.
BAM will host the New York premiere of the modern dance performance “Influences” on ice at the LeFrak Center at Lakeside in Prospect Park starting April 6. “Influences” will serve as the first of five outdoor BAM performances and installations this spring that will turn the city’s streets into a stage.
“I’m thrilled, I’m elated,” said David Binder, artistic director at BAM. “It’s been an exciting year doing work in the virtual space, but I’m very, very excited to be back in person.”
“Influences,” from the Canadian ice skating company Le Patin Libre, will also mark a return to live, ticketed performances for the company, which mainly participated in spontaneous performances throughout Montreal last summer.
“This performance now in Brooklyn is our first real return in a year to a capacity to really share a real choreographed piece,” said choreographer Alexandre Hamel. “This is how our lives and social lives are organized, so getting together with the troupe was really a joyful moment, like being reunited with a family.”
Hamel describes Le Patin Libre as a cross between the mediums of competitive figure skating and contemporary dance, with their performances aiming to do away with many of the formalities of the figure skating world. At the Lakeside performance of “Influences,” the audience will be seated in spaced-out seats on the rink itself, rather than in far-away grandstands like in a typical figure skating performance.
“We wanted a different relationship with the audience. We wanted them closer, and for many things that we were doing we especially wanted them at the ice level,” Hamel said. “Because a lot of our choreography plays with perspective, some skaters being very far, others being very close to the audience, we needed that room versus stage relation.”
Hamel said he is excited to work with the LeFrak Center to bring “Influences” to life, citing the rink’s integration with the surrounding neighborhood.
“Skating at this rink is important for us,” he said. “It’s a rink that is more opened to its community than most rinks…whereas most rinks are reserved for very elite ice sport club members.”
Other outdoor programming in BAM’s reopening season will include a production of the Alice Harris play “What to Send Up when it Goes Down” staged at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, “1:1 Concerts” at the Brooklyn Navy Yard — which will feature musicians playing to an audience of one — and a performance collaboration with Pop-Up Magazine that will take place on the sidewalks of Fort Greene.
Also on view as part of the series is the Arrivals + Departures installation outside Borough Hall.
“Together these five projects across five locations in Brooklyn are aiming to use the city as a stage,” Binder told Brooklyn Paper. “They really ask the audience to be a player, a protagonist, a partner in the show, to play an active role in shaping the performance.”
Influences at the Lefrak Center at Lakeside [171 East Drive in Prospect Park, Bam.org] April 6-10 at 8pm, April 10-11 at 2pm, $45.