Brooklyn Arts Exchange will celebrate 10
years of arts and artists in progress April 6 with a gala event
at the Brooklyn Museum of Art.
Comedian Julie Goldman and fire-eater Jennifer
Miller will co-emcee the evening, which will feature a roster
of artists from a range of disciplines, including many who have
appeared at BAX in the past.
The arts center at 451 Fifth Ave. is celebrating
more than 10 years in Brooklyn. BAX is also celebrating its proudest
achievement, "putting Brooklyn on the map" in the world
of performing arts, explained Executive Director Marya Warshaw.
The gala event will include a re-staging
of a section of "Root and Branch," a dance project
for fathers and sons, which will feature some guest appearances
by members of the original cast, as well as an excerpt from choreographer
Dean Moss’ latest work, "American Deluxe."
"We do something no one else does,"
said Warshaw. "We’re one of the only art centers in Brooklyn
that has its own performance space." Over the past 10 years,
BAX has brought to Brooklyn original works in dance, theater
and film – edgy, provocative works that have been every bit as
sophisticated as what one might find across the river.
Some of the artists, like Moss, who developed
the First Weekend dance series with Warshaw, have found BAX to
be a launching pad for further success. Moss, a well-known artist
with the David Gordon Company, was able to establish himself
as a choreographer as an artist-in-residence at BAX.
"He needed the time and the space
and the support to develop his craft as a choreographer and that’s
how we defined his residency here," said Warshaw. "At
BAX, he began to work on what was to become the vocabulary for
the dances he made, and he took advantage of the large number
of performance opportunities with audiences who often gave him
After leaving BAX in 1999, Moss went on
to become dance curator at The Kitchen in Manhattan. He also
received the New York Dance and Performance award (called the
"Bessie" after the renowned choreographer Bessie Schoenberg)
for "Spooky Action at a Distance," a work he developed
BAX nurtures not only established artists,
but also aspiring ones. This year, BAX is teaching 200 students
in dance, theater and video. Those dedicated enough to become
proficient in their fields join the Young People’s Performing
Workshop in dance or theater, and many eventually work towards
Jessica Fein who graduated from the BAX
dance program in 1998, went on to major in dance at Smith College,
spend a year studying dance and choreography at the Laban Center
in London and expects to return to New York City to pursue a
career in dance after graduating from college this June.
BAX also schedules performances specifically
for children and women – two groups that are not always well
served by more commercial performing arts centers. The Groundhog
series on Sunday afternoons presents concerts designed specifically
for young audiences and families, and the Women’s Performance
Festival, a biannual event now in its sixth year, has an "incredibly
loyal" audience, said Warshaw. At the festival, which continues
this weekend, participants see performances and films, take workshops
and are "thrilled with what women can do," she added.
"Women’s work gets to be seen in context
with other women. That’s a wonderful thing, and it’s been really
great," Warshaw said, noting that both the Groundhog series
and the Women’s Performance Festival are particularly popular
with Brooklyn audiences.
But Warshaw is especially proud of a musical
theater piece, "Fairytales," which was developed at
BAX, and became the first BAX production to move from the center
to another performance space. It took BAX four years to develop
"Fairytales," now called "Breathe," which
is a series of vignettes about gay men and women by Dan Martin
and Michael Biello.
The piece evolved slowly and was performed
in parts, until it was finally performed in its entirety in Provincetown,
Mass., during the summer of 1997. It was the first time BAX had
been involved in musical theater and the longest time BAX had
ever been involved with a single piece.
As Warshaw looks forward to Brooklyn Arts
Exchange’s next decade, she hopes the center will remain a safe,
nurturing and professional venue for artists – young and old,
male and female, gay and straight.
"I’d like to make sure that we really
focus on our role of developing arts and artists in progress.
In a city like New York we tend to want to see the finished product,"
she said. "And the finished product doesn’t exist without
The Brooklyn Arts Exchange’s 10th Anniversary
Gala at the Brooklyn Museum of Art (200 Eastern Parkway) will
be held on Friday, April 6 at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $100 (reserved
priority and poster), $50 (reserved priority), $25 (general admission)
and $15 (children). The performance will be followed by a VIP
reception. For more information and reservations, call (718)
The BAX Biannual Women’s Performance Festival runs through March
25. Events include performances, a workshop and films. For more
information see BAX listings in GO Brooklyn’s Events