Liralen Li (liralen) wrote,
Liralen Li

Lincoln Center of the Performing Arts, Hell's Kitchen, the Met, and An American in Paris -- May 30

This day was an amazingly long day, but worth every bit of it.

It started in Columbus Circle, which is at the southwest corner of Central Park. It's where all distances from New York City are measured by New Yorkers. Right off the plaza was a beautiful mall, also called Columbus Circle and within it was the first of several performance arenas all connected with the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, including the Fredrick P Rose Hall for Jazz. It's a beautiful little venue.

Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
A few blocks north on Broadway, we went left at Dante Park and arrived at the David Rubinstein Atrium. It's the place that takes care of all the tours for the Lincoln Center along with discount tickets for all the Lincoln Center performances, free performances, and, of course, free wifi. *laughs*

The amazing thing, for me, was that wall of greenery by everyone. It's actually a whole wall filled with pockets of dirt, and there's a plant in each of the pockets. The whole wall has spotlights on it, and Dick said that it used to be a climbing wall, but no one used it, so they converted it to a living wall of moss, spider plants, and other things that do really well indoors. the other amazing thing was a fiber art installation of felted designs covering the upper wall. Jet and I studied them intently and were impressed with the sheer size of the things as well as the intricacy of the design.

The Map
I'm so glad one of us took a picture of this map. It shows the whole layout of the campus of the Lincoln Center, and I use campus thoroughly because The Julliard School is on this map. The Rose building is used also for the freshman student dorms, as all freshmen are required to live on campus. It seems a good policy for all colleges, but in the midst of New York City, I could see why it might be even more important.

I'd never really known everything that was involved with the Lincoln Center, really, though so many things are broadcast "from Lincoln Center." But there were seven original buildings, all designed by different architects, and each shaped to a particular purpose, using the materials, designs, and structure necessarily to best present the art that they were to frame.

First Glimpse at Avery Fisher Hall
We went wandering around for a while, before we got our tour guides. We were a large enough group that they were going to split us up and go around with us, so Dick took us around to look at the whole place from the outside before we went in. There were a lot of buildings that looked so familiar....

This is the Avery Fisher Hall, built for the New York Philharmonic, and it was the first building on campus. It's a Concert Hall, built in 1962 for one of the oldest Symphony Orchestras in the nation.

First Glimpse at Koch and the Opera House
In 1964, the Koch Hall on the left in the picture, was built for the New York City Ballet company, and the one at the back there is the Metropolitan Opera House, but it has a huge number of stages, shops in the back for building things for the Opera and the theaters, and has some amazing moving stages that even allow the audience to walk with the actors as they move from scene to scene. It also houses the School of American Ballet and some of the studios used for recording work.

Only a third of the building is devoted to the front Opera stage, the rest of the building is all "backstage", and that includes 20 rehearsal stages.

One interesting thing was finding out that the Opera only does two performances a week, but the theater's musicals can go many more, sometimes five to seven times a week because they have amplification, and the opera, traditionally, relies on the projection solely of the human voice.

First Glimpse at Julliard
We really didn't get much more than this look at Julliard, with the tilted green in front with a restaurant set into the base of the greens. The school is a school, and there were obviously students wandering about the grounds. There's a branch of the New York Library underneath the Vivian Beaumont Theater, and one of the treasures in it are all the tape, video, and movie archives of all the Broadway performances ever done. That was kind of mindblowing. That they are all recorded and available to anyone that goes into the library to take a look.

It would take me months to get through what I wanted to see there!

Ballerina of Many Layers
We met our docent, Miss Marlayna Franklyn, when we went back to the atrium, and she took half of our group to the Koch theater, first. She obviously loved the New York Ballet, at a fundamental level. One of our first stops was here, at one of the several statues of the Dustin Yellin installation of his glass works at the Ballet. They're all 3000 pounds of glass, each, with paint, clippings, found objects, and the like all sandwiched together into a layered study of human nature.

Miss Franklyn had obviously been at the installation and her love of it was clear, but it was kind of hard to understand just how amazing it was by standing there before a single sculpture with little bits all through it.

Then she took us through the gilded hallways, under the gold leaf ceiling, and into the top balconies of the David H. Koch Theater. We weren't allowed to take photographs in there, because there were people going across the stage, though they were mostly stage hands. But the steepness of the seating was obvious, the chandelier in the center was gorgeous, and the stage was amazing. And there were "diamond lights" marking each tier of seats.

The Koch theater is a Jewel Box theater, and the seating was modeled to be 'like a Ballerina embracing the stage". The floor is sprung, with five layers of wood to keep it solid. The top layer is made up of the same stuff that the top layer of an aircraft carrier's deck, durable, solid, and with just enough cushion to help on the landings. So it actually helps preserve the dancers' legs, feet, and ankles. The best part about the whole floor is that it folds up and when the Ballet Company travels, it goes with them.

The orchestra goes in a pit below the stage, and while there was some care taken with the acoustics, there's little amplification abilities in there.

One interesting thing was that on the way out, Miss Franklyn found out that we were going to see "American in Paris" and she happily noted that Robert Fairchild, one of the leads in "American in Paris" was a principle dancer at the New York Ballet. And she thought he'd do amazingly well in the musical.

Avery Fisher Hall
The Avery Fisher Hall was built to be the house for the New York Philharmonic. Alan Gilbert is the present music director, and his mother and father both played in the Philharmonic Orchestra, so he grew up in this theater. The Orchestra also has principle musicians and composers, who create works for the orchestra and the stage. One of them is Wynton Marsalis.

There is no orchestra pit, here, as you can see. The acoustics are all wood with deadening panels at the back to allow for no echoes or bounce back. The seats are pretty straightforward. There are no curtains to deaden the sound, and the stage is actually built to be one big megaphone. There is only the amplification system necessary for voice narrations, for things like Peter and the Wolf or James Earl Jones narrarted Copeland's "Lincoln Portrait". Though groups have rented the space out for amplified music and they bring their own systems.

I was fascinated by the technical reasons for the structure.

The last place we went into was the Vivian Beaumont Theater, and the building actually houses three theaters. the Beaumont is the only "Broadway" theater that's not actually on Broadway within the usual blocks it's defined by. It turns out that being "On Broadway" has a very very narrow definition. It has to have more than five hundred seats, and it has to be on Broadway street in New York between certain blocks, but the Lincoln Center is grandfathered in. Less than five hundred but more than a hundred seats is called "Off Broadway", and less than 100 seats is "Off Off Broadway." So the building houses one of each of those types of theaters.

The Beaumont was beautiful too, and set up for the King and I revival, so not for pictures, but the orchestra pit was under an extension built out of the stage, and the whole was modeled more after Shakespeare's Globe and they borrowed elements of the Coliseum as the creator had just gone there to look at it. The whole stage can slide back and forth with the touch of a button, so during the overture of most musicals, they actually have the stage back so you can look at the orchestra, and then it moves forward to cover them when it's done.

It was an amazing tour. The other group had more of the choir members, so they got to sing on the Beaumont stage, which I wished I hadn't missed, but so it is.

Farmer's Market
We said our farewells to Miss Franklyn, and headed out and through this farmer's market on our way south to somewhere near 53rd and 8th, i.e. the Pick A Bagel shop, where they had real New York bagels.

Dick left us there for lunch, said that he'd be back after a while, and let us loose. John didn't really want a bagel as we have them all the time and we like what we have, so he asked if there was a place we could go with Deli food, and Dick didn't know of anything right there. But he sent us down 8th for a hotel and a food court or something in there. We never found that. *laughs* Hell's kitchen was just one Avenue over, on 9th, and we saw the Soup Nazi's Kitchen sign near by, but it was too hot for soup.

So we wandered around for a while, and finally found not only a deli, but a deli with a place to sit inside in the air conditioning, what there was of it.

The Counter at DeliZ
It was just called DeliZ, and they had some content looking customers, and they'd stuffed the deli in with a corner grocery store and called it good. There were shelves all around the tables, filled with daily things, including a small produce cooler.

The sandwiches were pretty straightforward, and they had all kinds of breakfast options as well. We just got the basics, the New Yorker and the Deli Z, both of which had pastrami, Swiss cheese, some dressing, and coleslaw!

The New YorkerThe DeliZ SandwichApple Soda
I also managed to get an apple soda that I'd never seen before, but it might have been more Mexican than native New Yorker. *laughs* But it was good, and I liked it.

It was tasty. It was really nice to sit down. And Teresa, John, Jet, and I found the sandwiches to be more than adequate for our needs. Poor Jet couldn't even finish half his sandwich, but that's all right for traveling.

Bagels and Lofts
On our way back, John snapped this shot off the side of the Pick-A-Bagel. I like that the condominiums started at eleven million dollars. You know that was for the closet-sized one bedroom ones, and it only went up from there. It is really expensive to live in NYC.

The bagel shop had been completely packed when we'd gotten there, with the line outside into the street, and the seating had been completely packed, which was part of why we hadn't wanted to go in, either, and it had cleared out a little after the lunch rush.

Waiting For You...
On the whole, the whole group was really patient with everything, and the kids were great about being where they had to be at the time they were given. I was really impressed with the whole group about that. Especially since we were often told just wait at odd curb-side places like this, out in the foot and car traffic. No one really did a dumb thing at all, just got there and entertained themselves while we waited.

Miss Judeen Summerville
We were waiting for this. This is Miss Judeen Summerville, a professional dancer and singer, who has been in a number of Broadway plays, and has been through the work that has to be done to get on stage.

She's taken on a new challenge of educating kids about what it's like to be in the performance industry and encouraging them to do what it is that they really dream of doing. She's more of an inspirational speaker than anything, but she had some pretty practical advice for the kids in the room, about making connections, about self-presentation, and about a lot of things that were pretty interesting to these kids, a very few of whom wanted to make careers in performance.

I'd realized, early on, when we were preparing for the trip, that there was no way I'd be able to 'present' the way I thought I'd want to present if I were going to the Big Apple to be seen. I'd decided, early on, that I was going to see people and things, and consciously went to present as 'tourist' and be comfortable about it with the rigors of all the walking and stuff we were going to have to do. Some of the middle school girls had gone entirely the other way, especially on the theater days, and one of the chaperones mentioned that some of the girls had chaffed so badly from close fitting shorts and all the walking the first day they were walking funny today because of it.

That... the bailiwick of the young, I guess, or those who want to 'make it' still. And I was taught in a very, very different school than that of a stage performer or dancer, engineering presentation was always about not being flashy, but about looking smart and capable, which is pretty much the opposite of being there to be stared at and attracting attention... it was mildly uncomfortable coming head-to-head with the emotional content of that reality. Especially knowing that I wasn't even close to measuring up to Jadeen's professional assessment of how one had to look to make it on the stage in New York City.

But then that goes with my deep-rooted need to measure up no matter how absurdly off my goals a particular measurement might be.

Her program was good for the kids, I'm sure. There was enough of a dose of the reality of how expensive it was and just how much work it took and toughness needed to just ignore detractors, that it seemed to be good stuff for them to know if they really wanted to do this work.

Shakespeare's Garden
But I was relieved to be out of there. The bus came and picked us up, and Dick warned us that if we kept our backpacks, we'd have to check them at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, so it was best to leave them all in the bus. So we did. Luke took us back into Central Park.

Luke dropped us off near Shakespeare's Garden.

It's a huge garden that climbs up one of the hills in the park and amid all the switchbacks are all these flowers, trees, and shrubs that are all mentioned in Shakespeare's plays. There were all kinds of things, including lots and lots of wild roses. Rosemary for remembrance... etc.

I didn't remember nearly enough of the actual plants in Shakespeare to be able to identify much more than that. *laughs* But it was a pretty pleasant walk.

Delacorte Theater
Dick took us further, toward the Delacorte Theater, the home of Shakespeare in the Park.

Dick was explaining it to us, about getting in line early early in the morning to get the free tickets and then coming back later to get to go see it. You could also buy tickets, but that seems like cheating. *laughs* Of course, near the end of his explanation, we suddenly heard a crack of thunder that rolled on and on. I automatically looked up at the sky, but then Dick cackled.

The play they were presenting was, of course, The Tempest and it was just beginning...

Next to that was a huge lawn and picnic and play area that was filled with people enjoying a sunny Saturday afternoon.

Belvedere Castle
We wandered to Turtle Pond and Belvedere Castle. There were actually turtles in the pond! Though at first we could only see one of them sunning itself on a rock, later on, John spotted half a dozen of them at various places on the shore.

Above the pond was this tiny castle. There was one spiral staircase to the top, and it was so narrow, they actually had someone at the bottom directing what people should go in which direction so that they could actually fit through. It was really hot, and since I'd left my water with my backpack, I bought another one at the park, proceeds going to the maintenance of Turtle Pond, and shared it with the boys. We drank it down in minutes, and I was grateful for it.

Upper West Side
We popped out of the park on the east side, right next to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The architecture and homes along here were really really expensive, and, I thought, quite beautiful, and they all went with the stature of the museum itself.

Getting in there was a bit of a pain as most of the kids hadn't actually listened to Dick, and had brought along their backpacks. Some of them thought they could check them individually, but the guards eventually insisted on everyone checking everything together. Those that checked things had to meet up again at a certain time, so they had extra things they had to do.

John and I, because we hadn't checked anything, decided we were going to explore ourselves, but that was when we both realized the real benefits of Mr. Swarn. It took us a while to find a map, and then when we had the map, we weren't sure of exactly what we wanted to see, and by the time we'd tentatively decided where to explore first, Mr. Swarn and the whole crew had made it out of Checking Hell, and were headed on their way to the first thing they all wanted to see. We only had an hour and a half, total, and having someone, anyone, to guide us was a real way to not waste any time.

Temple of Dendur
This is the Egyptian Temple of Dendur. It was found on the West bank of the Nile about 50 miles south of Aswan, and it was in a place that was going to be completely flooded when they built a dam nearby.

We ran through four or five exhibits of Egyptian art, tomb findings, and the like. The Art Museum seemed filled as much with artifacts as it was with what I typically think of as "art", but when you're preserving the art of Egypt, of the Middle Ages, of historical periods, it really is also preserving a piece of the history with it.

In this case, because it was going to get flooded, the Met offered to buy it and move it, and the Egyptian government agreed to it, but one aspect of the religion is that all of its temples have to be able to be accessed by worshipers 24/7. So the Met built an area for this temple that included glass to the outside, and the lighting by which anyone could see the temple at any time of the day or night.

Washington Crossing the Delerare
The other amazing thing Mr. Swarn wanted us all to see was this, Washington Crossing the Delaware. And the reason you have to see it if you're there is because of the sheer scale of the thing. When you look at pictures of paintings you don't always get the correct feeling for its size. This thing was utterly massive. And it also turned out that the framing was done to historic notes by someone that was there when it was first hung. The framing and mounting had changed through time, but when the Met found the notes from the original hanging, they actually recreated the frame to that it could be presented as it was presented originally.

That was pretty impressive to see. Note that Washington in the painting is actually larger than the men wandering around in front of the painting. It's a monster of a painting.

LovelyTiffany's GlassFaberge Egg
John and I took off soon after that, running into treasures of all kinds from Tiffany Glass from Tiffany's to Fabrege eggs (which we just happened about randomly) and in the statuary there were just some gorgeous ones I'd never seen before and were amazing. I loved finding out that if you hit the ground level view of the Met in Google maps, you are put in the gallery of statuary. It's amazingly fun to recognize everything there including Perseus with Medusa's head in his hand.

Van Gogh
And suddenly we stumbled into the Impressionists and I blinked a lot at seeing this painting, along with Van Gogh's self-portrait. There was also George Seurat's "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte", which I knew better through A Sunday Afternoon in the Park with George than the painting itself. But having seen so many pictures of it, it was a little breathtaking to be right in front of the actual painting itself.

There were a number of Monet there as well, and I wanted to see Starry Night or Van Gogh's Irises, so I went to the information desk to ask about them. It turned out that there was a special exhibit of Van Gogh's Roses and Irises on the top floor, so we went there. I stumbled across Jet wandering about on his own up there, and he joined us. But these weren't the Iris I was looking for. *laughs* These were a four painting series of wild white roses and irises that weren't the iconic ones.

Since it was a special exhibit, I wasn't allowed to take photos, but it was mildly interesting. I was able to take a lot of photos that I want to study for layout and thoughts about painting, later...

The Steps
We all ended up on the steps outside, waiting on the bus in the shade. It was nice being in the shade. There were musicians, food vendors, all kinds of things just wandering about there.

Eventually, our bus arrived and took us here, to Schnippers rather than where our originally itinerary had us going, which was Dave and Busters. Dave and Busters, here in the States is a chain that has burgers and such along with lots of video games, and it's a chain that's across the whole country. This, at least, was local, and they specialized in Sloppy Joes and their own macaroni and cheese.

Luckily, for the adults, there were also salad options in a nice Cobb Salad with lots of goodies on it. With this large a group, we were limited to a group meal menu, that had only a few of the choices they had on it. I'd seen on the menu on the main floor that they also had things like steak, a goat cheese and roasted beet salad, and a few other amazing items that we weren't allowed.

One of their combos was having both the Sloppy Joe and the macaroni and cheese on one plate. I opted for the Sloppy Joe (it's ground meat in a sauce on a bun) and their sweet potato fries, which were quite good. It's hard to get sweet potato fries to be crispy, and they did a good job of it.

Friday Night is a Little More Crowded
From Schnippers we walked the few blocks it took to get to Times Square.

It was Saturday night, so it was a lot more crowded, and it was obvious that almost half the people there were either tourists or with some tour group. It helped when they all had matching shirts. *laughs*

There was, again, shopping time for everyone, and some of the younger ladies kept clamoring for more of that. John and I had no desire to shop at all, but we went into a Swatch store for a while just to look around. I'll admit that I wasn't intending to buy a thing, but I had a nostalgia for Swatch from way back when. It was during a business trip, where I'd really wanted to kill my marketing person, but in the Paris airport, when I had a little time, I'd found a Swatch pocket watch that I'd bought back then and was comforted enough by it that I didn't just strangle him when I had the chance.

Swatch doesn't sell pocket watches anymore, in fact, they don't seem to really sell anything that's particularly different from their mainline watch... so it was almost a relief when one of the salesmen came up behind me to say, "Hey, buddy..."

I just turned and looked at him and said, "Yes?"

"Oh..." he said slowly, "Hey, tall lady..."

I just nodded at that. "You wanna buy...?"

I just shook my head silently, and he left me to myself after that. There are moments when how I present is exactly what I want it to be. *laughs*

Empty Stage
Right at 7:30, they handed us all our tickets, and the office opened and people poured into the Palace theater. The stage was set, and John snapped the shot while there was no one on stage, and it was all good.

The funny thing was that a little before the show started, a lot of people on the first floor got up to applaud! We were kind of surprised and even more so as people started leaning over the first balcony, below us, to take pictures of whomever was there. It turned out to be the Clintons! Both Hilary and Bill were there to take in the show, and afterward, the staff of the theater said that celebrities normally don't stay after the lights go up, but the Clintons did. Some happily speculated that since it's going to be an election year sooner rather than later, that they were doing it more for the publicity than anything.

It was a mild distraction during the intermissions, but it didn't detract at all from the performance itself.

George Gershwin wrote an orchestral composition back in 1928 on this theme, and in 1951 it inspired a film of the same name. George wrote the music and Ira the lyrics for the movie. I'd seen the movie, I've always loved Gene Kelley.

But this was a cut above. I hadn't realize what having a Principle from the New York Ballet would mean for the dance numbers, but the sheer power and grace of the ballet sequences was amazing. The music was entirely well matched to the play itself and the drama as it progressed.

I loved the multi-part songs. I could clearly hear each part, how they added to each other and how they blended when they were doing two-part or even three-part harmonies. Each of the singers clearly kept their parts, and supported the others when they were taking center stage. I loved it and I fell in love with the story and "the girl" all over again.

It was everything I wanted from a musical, especially now that I can also compare it in my head to how Phantom of the Opera played. Some of it was probably the playhouse and the stage, because all the singers and the orchestra, even in the upper balcony, were in perfect balance. The singers were louder than the music, all the time, and they could be clearly heard.

One thing that we all marveled at were the scene changes. They'd used these panels, probably thirty feet tall panels that moved and spun seemingly effortlessly, and used the background cast to move them on and off as needed. The choreography of the scene changes was utterly amazing, beautifully done, graceful and transformative in surprisingly delightful ways. They really used the fact that they had dancers who could move things around amazingly well, and sometimes during scenes the changes would occur as well, especially the scene when Jerry is wooing Lise while she's working at the shop. The juggling of the umbrellas, counters, and clothing was amazing.

I loved the production immensely, and filed out wondering if I should go to more live performances again; but I also had a feeling that this was better than nearly anything I'd be able to see in Denver. *laughs*

Bright as Day
After the play, we filed out with a brief disruption of people getting photos of Bill and Hilary, but we all were to meet in the same spot as before we went in. It was a lot more crowded, and it was really really bright. Bright as day, again, it was something else to just stand in the middle of it and blink owlishly at all the lights.

Can you believe it's night?
I'm still kind of amazed by this picture. *laughs* We're just standing out there, waiting to figure out which way to walk to get to the bus, and it's so bright the camera has to compensate for it a little.

It was also, as you can tell, really crowded. Times Square on a Saturday night, we should have expected it, but there were also another dozen groups all meeting up right there after the performance, all heading out their own ways to get to buses that couldn't approach this area without taking forever to get there.

We got on the bus and headed back to the hotel a little after midnight. The quiet, dark ride was really nice, and the banter between Dick and Luke was fun to be in on, we got back to the hotel in good time, and everyone filed up to go to sleep.
Tags: art, travel, walking

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