The return of live culture in Brooklyn with Culture Window @ the Jewelbox
Two Downtown Brooklyn cultural staples —Actors Fund and Brooklyn Ballet — make a cautious return to live performance with window showcases that tell stories through live dance, music, song and spoken word.
As the city returns to its much-missed live culture of the performance arts, Brooklyn turns to showcase live performances from a safe viewpoint, through the looking glass. Brooklyn Ballet’s glass front studio space at 160 Schermerhorn Street, which also is the home of the Actors Fund, gets transformed into an enchanting Jewel Box, with socially distant sightlines presenting a program coined Culture Window @ the Jewel Box.
Designed to be viewed safely from the street and intended as a colorful revivifying moment of pride and connectivity for the neighborhood, these relaxed free evening programs span the world of live arts from classical piano to folk dance. More than one year after the closure of all performance venues in New York City, these vibrant and varied evenings bring together artists from across the borough to share their work with a live audience, many of them for the first time since the shutdown. With a strong commitment to honor and authentically represent the creative, multicultural community of Brooklyn, passersby and audiences will experience a different program each Friday night from April 16th - April 30th. Program highlights will include pianist Simone Dinnerstein, Brooklyn Ballet, The Knights, Girl Be Heard, and Porch City Stompers. Part block party, part cultural happening, Culture Window @ the Jewelbox will be free and fun for the whole family to enjoy.
Culture Window @ the Jewelbox will be held Friday, April 16, 23, and 30, 2021 Friday, April 16 8:00 p.m Friday, April 23 8:00 pm Friday, April 30 8:00 pm
Photo: Simone Dinnerstein, photo credit: Tanya Braganti
Lynn Parkerson, Brooklyn Ballet’s visionary founder and artistic director, shares her excitement about the program, and the possibility for people to come out in a safe way to enjoy the magic, she compares with “standing before the animated window decorations at Christmastime.” It is not the first time she has re-invented her company’s performance spectrum. In a time when we are just dipping our feet in bringing live performances back, this is quite an attractive proposition. “We had to do it for our school’s parent observation week in January, when parents peaked through the window, to see their children perform, but warmer weather will make this a real treat,” she says.
The NY Times, reporting in March on the very first creative solutions during lockdown, already mentioned her storefront performance of The Brooklyn Nutcracker, as one of the first efforts of its kind, in December of 2020.”
“By then, with all the cancellations of our planned live performances, I had applied for support from the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership’s Revitalization Initiative for this alternative idea. While that did not happen in time for December, (they picked up on the April series now) I felt I had to just go ahead with all the cancelled planned performances, and make it happen anyway. It was not with live music, like much of the April series. It had more of an ad hoc character, with rented lighting equipment and a loudspeaker installed on the street that blared Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece into the audience. But the dances, nine short, episodic selections (20 minutes total) of our Brooklyn Nutcracker, became genuinely great performances – and captivated people that stopped and stayed, got of their bikes, and lingered,” she explains. “At these big, open windows, people stand and watch.”
The original re-interpretation of Brooklyn Ballet’s Nutcracker certainly added to the genuine interest: “Brooklyn Ballet’s production is culturally authentic and challenges some of the racist constructs of the traditional Nutcracker. It also includes a diverse assortment of dance forms and dancers, the excerpts offer a delightful taste of the full spectacle: a prologue with pop-and lock hip-hop dancers; the marzipan variation with African dancers and ballerinas moving in delightful counterpoint…,”describes a Dance Enthusiast review. “I feel our Nutcracker honored the artform, while making it accessible for all people today.” says Parkerson.
Most certainly, the upcoming April live performances will tribute to the excitement to open the next season.
The Jewelbox is located at Brooklyn Ballet studio, 160 Schermerhorn Street in Brooklyn. This is a free non-ticketed event for all ages. Accessible by the A, C and G trains at Hoyt-Schermerhorn Streets; 2, 3 at Hoyt Street; F, N, R, and W at Jay Street-Metrotech; and the 4 and 5 at Borough Hall.
This is a non-ticketed, free performance, however RSVP is encouraged through Eventbrite. Caribbean food and snacks will be available for purchase from Norm’s Bkn Jerkmobile!
Running time: 75 minutes
See the full program here:
FRIDAY, APRIL 16
● Simone Dinnerstein ○ Solo Piano ○ Pianist Simone Dinnerstein will perform Mad Rush by composer Philip Glass.
● Brooklyn Ballet ○ Ballet and Hip-Hop Duet ○ Pas de Deux is a mixed-movement duet co-choreographed by Lynn Parkerson and James “Floats” Fable, set to Jean-Philippe Rameau’s Gavotte et Six Doubles, with live music by the pianist Simone Dinnerstein. ○ Video projection by visual artist Cornelia Thomsen ○
● Steven Beck ○ Solo Piano ○ Steven Beck, a member of The Knights, plays two piano sonatas by George Walker, the first Black composer to win the Pulitzer Prize for music. His recording of Walker’s sonatas (the first recording of the complete set) will soon be released on Bridge Records. ○
● Gleich Dances ○ Contemporary Ballet ○ Innovative choreographer Julia Gleich will present excerpts from a contemporary ballet, See Through, created in collaboration with visual artist Karen Schifano. ○
● Girl Be Heard ○ Song and Spoken Word ○ Girl Be Heard will present an excerpt from their 2021 production The People vs. Justice.
FRIDAY, APRIL 23
● Alex and Austin ○ Duet for flute and violin ○ Alex Sopp and Austin Wulliman of The Knights will play lively and delightful music for the two stars of classical music’s upper register: violin and flute! Works by Telemann and Bartok.
● Gleich Dances - Maxfield Haynes ○ Contemporary Ballet Solo ○ Innovative choreographer Julia Gleich will present, P73 #1, a contemporary solo, en pointe, for Maxfield Haynes.
● Girl Be Heard ○ Song, Video, and Spoken Word ○ Girl Be Heard will present an excerpt from their 2021 production The People vs. Justice.
● Malcolm Parson and Killian Jack Venman ○ Jazz Duo○ Jazz duo Malcom Parson and Killian Jack Venman will perform a set for cello and percussion. ○
● Brooklyn Ballet ○ Intersection, mixed-movement ballet with live music ○ Choreographed by Lynn Parkerson to a score composed by Malcolm Parson, Intersection is an ode to the city, its repetition, rhythm, and routine, its energy, community, and human connection. Live music by Malcolm Parson and Killian Jack.
APRIL 30 - Family Friendly!
● Dancing Crane Ensemble ○ Georgian Music and Dance ○ The Dancing Crane Ensemble will perform a section of traditional music and dance from across all regions of Georgia. ○
● Brooklyn Ballet ○ Highlights from The Brooklyn Nutcracker ○ Brooklyn Ballet will perform excerpts from their triumphant production of The Brooklyn Nutcracker in the Fall of 2020 ○
● Aliesha Bryan Pájaro Negro ○ Flamenco ○ Originally choreographed by Inmaculada Ortega, Aliesha Bryan will bring her signature style to two Flamenco dances. ○
● City Stompers ○ Bluegrass Music and Dance ○ City Stompers’ lively flat foot dancing adds a bright spark to their traditional American fiddle music and bluegrass songs. ○