BOURNE TO DANCE • Brooklyn Paper


Oh what a night: BAM's Spring Gala on March 15 featured guests Kevin Kline and Liam Neeson.
The Brooklyn Papers / Greg Mango

This year’s BAM Spring Gala – featuring
the U.S. premiere of choreographer-director Matthew Bourne’s
"Play Without Words" at the effortlessly chic BAM Harvey
Theater – was a welcome relief to all who attended.

There’s little doubt that patrons must have been holding their
breath (and crossing their fingers!) after being eyewitnesses
to last fall’s premiere of Bang on a Can’s "Lost Objects."
That world premiere ended with an ominous silence, when the baffled
audience, whose senses were no-doubt dulled by a monotonous show
plagued by production snafus, forgot to applaud.

Still, that debacle raised $600,000 for the Brooklyn Academy
of Music, according to BAM President Karen Brooks Hopkins. This
year’s wonderful Spring Gala, set in the comparatively intimate
Harvey Theater, raised over $300,000.

Bourne’s "Play Without Words" was an ironic choice
for a fundraiser intended for an audience of well-heeled donors,
as it is the story of a wealthy young man, coddled by his butler,
who soon becomes manipulated by him and is seduced and dumped
by his maid.

In stark contrast to "Lost Objects," the only thing
redundant about "Play Without Words" was the consistently
superb score by Terry Davies and the relentless sexuality of
cigarette-smoking, scantily-clad dancers against a backdrop of
swinging ’60s London, attempting (not so successfully) to control
their urges. (The show runs through April 3.)

Respected actors Philip Seymour Hoffman ("Along Came Polly"),
Liam Neeson ("Kinsey") and Kevin Kline ("De-Lovely")
arrived at the pre-show cocktail hour and mixed and mingled through
the gala dinner that followed in a loft-like space on the 28th
floor of the new tower at 330 Jay St. in Downtown Brooklyn.

Hoffman said he initially heard about "Play Without Words"
in a recent article and that piqued his interest in attending.

"I love the Harvey theater," said Hoffman, who canoodled
with Mimi O’Donnell at the cocktail reception. "And I love
to support BAM, too.

"[’Play Without Words’] tells a story through movement and
sensuality, and that intrigued me," he said. "It’s
something I’m interested in as an artist."

Neeson said he was invited to the show.

"I’m a guest of Mr. Giorgio Armani," said the endearingly
polite, tall, dashing Irishman to GO Brooklyn as we nearly succumbed
to visions of Neeson in "Michael Collins" dancing in
our heads. "I’m a big fan of [Bourne’s] work, especially
’Swan Lake.’"

Kline was also a guest of Armani and when asked if that meant
he was wearing an Armani suit to go with his distinguished, gray
beard, the actor quipped, "What? Do you think I’m stupid?"

Kline said that he’s a "big fan of BAM" and has been
coming to BAM productions for "25 to 30 years," before
asking, "Am I dating myself?"

At the dinner, chaired by John Lipsky and Zsuzsanna Karasz, guests
were surrounded by the spectacular view of Brooklyn and Manhattan
from the enormous windows. Bruce Ratner, principal owner of Forest
City Ratner Companies, who is desperately trying to bring the
Nets to Brooklyn, was a gala vice chair and provided the dinner
location. Other VIPs included composer Philip Glass and filmmaker
Michael Almereyda ("Aliens").

Qool DJ Marv, who spins in Manhattan and London, successfully
eroded the reluctance of the gala-goers (perhaps intimidated
by the fancy footwork of that evening’s performers) to shake
and shimmy on the dance floor.

The BAM Next Wave Gala, on Oct. 25, will feature a performance
by Brazil’s contemporary dance troupe Grupo Corpo. Tickets begin
at $350 per couple. For reservations or more information, call
(718) 636-4182.

’Basquiat’ & dancing

On April 21, the Brooklyn Museum will honor JPMorgan Chase at
its annual Brooklyn Ball. Vice Chairman David A. Coulter will
accept the Museum’s Augustus Graham Medal on the company’s behalf.

In addition to the cocktail hour, attendees will have the opportunity
to view the newly opened exhibit "Basquiat," featuring
the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat, the Fort Greene painter who
collaborated with Andy Warhol and dated Madonna before dying
in 1988 at the age of 27. JPMorgan Chase is the sponsor of the
national tour of Basquiat, which will travel to Los Angeles and
Houston after closing in Prospect Heights on June 5.

Dinner and dancing in the Beaux-Arts Court will follow the cocktail

Tickets to the event, co-chaired by Stephanie Ingrassia, Carol
Hochman and Cristina Enriquez-Bocobo, are $350-$1500. Proceeds
will support the Museum’s public and education programs. For
more information, call (718) 501-6423 or e-mail special.events@brooklynmuseum.org.

Sofia’s the choice

At long last, Xaverian High School in Bay Ridge is honoring a
woman at its annual Joe DiMaggio gala on June 23. And what an
honoree she is: Oscar-winning filmmaker Sofia Coppola.

Each year, Xaverian’s fundraiser is a jaw-dropping celebrity-infused
event, chaired by Xaverian alum Dr. Rock Positano. In 2004, the
school, with fellow beneficiary Loyola High School in Manhattan,
paid tribute to singer-songwriter Paul Simon. Stars from the
stage and screen turned out for that soiree, and it’s certain
this year’s party will also be a home run for the celestially

Tickets for this year’s fundraiser will benefit the scholarship
programs of Loyola and Xaverian. For more information, call (718)

More from Around New York