Commentary & Opinion
12:25 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

Rogovoy Report for October 25, 2013

Seth Rogovoy highlights some art and cultural events going on in the Berkshires this weekend.

My picks this week include a multimedia dance performance; a film festival; and an orchestral concert.

The New York-based dance company Shen Wei Dance Arts performs at MASS MoCA in North Adams on Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m., in a co-presentation with Jacob’s Pillow Dance. Led by Chinese-born American choreographer Shen Wei, the performance blends his signature movement vocabulary with elements of film, theater, new media, and visual art. The program, which it should be noted contains partial nudity, includes Shen Wei’s interpretation of Igor Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. Also on the bill is the newly created “Collective Measures” — Shen Wei’s exploration of personal separation within physical proximity to others. American fashion designer Austin Scarlett designed and fabricated the costumes for this piece in collaboration with Shen Wei, who is perhaps best known for the international acclaim he received as principal choreographer for the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The work will be staged in MASS MoCA’s Hunter Center for the Performing Arts.

Shen Wei Dance also coincides with the final weekend of MASS MoCA’s Xu Bing: Phoenix exhibit, an installation featuring two monumental birds fabricated wholly from materials foraged from construction sites in urban China. Record numbers of museum visitors have been mesmerized by “the birds,” including me. The Birds are part of a larger exhibition of key works by Xu Bing, considered among the most important Chinese artists working today. Xu Bing: Phoenix is on view only through Sunday, so it’s worth taking a trip to MASS MoCA this weekend just to see that installation before it gets removed.

New movies by Stephen Frears, the Coen Brothers, Alexander Payne and Holocaust documentarian Claude Lanzmann top the lineup at FilmColumbia, which began on Tuesday and continues today through Sunday at the newly digitalized Crandell Theatre in Chatham. Many of the movies being screened are prize-winning films and audience favorites from prestigious international festivals such as Cannes, Toronto, Berlin and Sundance.

Among the weekend’s hottest tickets are Inside Llewyn Davis by the Coen Brothers, and August: Osage County, starring Meryl Streep. Inside Llewyn Davis is the fictional portrait of a Greenwich Village folk singer in 1961, the era of Dave van Ronk, Joan Baez and Bob Dylan, among others. T-Bone Burnett supervised the music for this film, as he did with the Coen Brothers hit, O Brother, Where Art Thou, which proved responsible for a revival of roots-based folk and country music since then. Inside Llewyn Davis already won the Grand Prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, and also played the Telluride Film Festival.

August: Osage County has Oscar-winner written all over it. Based on Tracy Letts’ Pulitzer Prize winning play, the film tells the story of Violet, played by Meryl Streep. Violet is a cancer-ridden, drug-addicted matriarch of an Oklahoma family that gathers around her bedside to pay their respects, vent their grievances, and listen to her raging against the inevitable. In addition to Streep, the amazing cast includes Julia Roberts, Sam Shepard, and Margo Martindale, better known to you perhaps as Mags Bennett from the TV series Justified.

And finally, the American Symphony Orchestra kicks off its new season this weekend with back-to-back concerts featuring works by Stravinsky, Mendelssohn, and Dorman on Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., in the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College. The program features Igor Stravinsky’s Petrushka; Avner Dorman’s Piccolo Concerto, and Felix Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 5.

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