The New York Dance and Performance Awards aka 'The Bessies' after Bessie Schoenberg were presented on October 19th at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. Jock Soto was co-host for the awards show along with the performance artist Carmelita Tropicana.
Justin Peck, New York City Ballet's Resident Choreographer was honored for Outstanding Production for 'Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes' and Amar Ramasar, a New York City Ballet principal dancer was honored for Sustained Achievement in Performance.
Here are their citations:
Justin Peck for 'Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes', New York City Ballet
For a bracing new interpretation of a well-known score, wiping it clean of prior associations and using it as the springboard for an entirely new ballet marked by wit, surprise, poignant intimacy, and robust ensemble energy.
Sustained Achievement in Performance
Amar Ramasar for his work with New York City Ballet
For his natural ease and contemporary presence on the classical stage. For his ongoing contributions to a wide range of new ballet work, and for his sensitivity and skill in the demanding and sometimes unseen art of partnering.
|Amra Ramasar with his Bessie Award at the October 19th Award ceremony at the Apollo Theater.|
Photo from The Bessies facebook page
In early October we saw 'The Intern' written and directed by Nancy Meyers and starring Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway.
|Poster for 'The Intern'|
Jules is trying to have it all -- a successful career and a family. The family consists of stay-at-home-dad, Matt (Anders Holm) who has given up his own successful career to care for daughter Paige. As Ben begins working his way into Jules confidence at work they develop an increasingly strong bond. Meanwhile, complimentary work and family crises develop in Jules life which Ben helps to clarify and resolve. And Ben begins a romance with About the Fit's in-house massage therapist (Rene Russo).
'The Intern' is a charming twist on the standard buddy comedy that focuses on a mutually beneficial inter-generational relationship between Hathaway and De Niro. Unfortunately, about two-thirds of the way through it goes off the rails. Nevertheless, for feminists and seniors it will have special resonance -- and maybe dot-com-ers will even find some redeeming value amidst its cliched view of their environment.
In mid-October we went to see 'The Martian' (in 2D on a normal size screen). The movie stars Matt Damon and is directed by Ridley Scott from a screenplay by Drew Goddard based on a 2011 novel of the same name by Andy Weir.
|Poster for 'The Martian'|
Watney, of course, survives -- with an abdominal wound that he repairs himself. He calculates how to conserve resources and survive until he can be rescued. He also figures out how to reestablish communications with NASA on Earth. One of his greatest successes is figuring out how to grow potatoes in the harsh Martian environment.
This is a wonderful movie -- probably best in IMAX and 3D -- that makes survival on Mars seem achievable. Matt Damon is spectacular, bringing viewers along as he talks (to himself) about each advance and set-back. Both Matt Damon and Ridley Scott deserve to be part of the year-end awards buzz for this exceptional science fiction adventure.
'Bridge of Spies':
We also saw 'Bridge of Spies' in mid-October. The movie is directed by Steven Spielberg from a screenplay by Matt Charman and Joel & Ethan Coen based on actual events that took place in the late 50's and early 60's during the Cold War.
|Poster for 'Bridge of Spies'|
Concurrently with Abel's trial and subsequent appeals, the U-2 spy plane program is being developed and launched. While flying one of the first U-2 missions Francis Gary Powers (Austin Stowell) is shot down over Russia.
About the same time in the chaos surrounding the building of the Berlin Wall, Frederic Pryor, an American economics student, is captured by the East German Stassi and accused of being a U.S. spy.
The last half of the film concerns Donovan's efforts to arrange a 2-for-1 prisoner exchange -- Powers and Pryor for Abel. The negotiations are complicated by political issues between Russia and East Germany as well as by American Cold War paranoia.
Spielberg weaves this all together into a masterful suspense thriller. While it's quite long, the film is beautifully paced to sustain viewer interest. Hanks gives an indelible performance as Donovan -- a man who refuses to compromise his belief in the American capacity for fairness and justice -- and Rylance as Abel practically steals the show with his slyly colorful performance.
George and I have been participating in a project of the Butler Ageing Center of Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health called 'Exceeding Expectations'. George was contacted last Spring by Lauren Isaacs, one of the reporters on the project and a graduate of Northwestern, because he was listed in the Northwestern University alumni directory -- as a resident of New York City from a graduating class that were sure to be over 80 (he's 81). At his first meeting with Lauren and Dorian Block the project leader, George suggested (or maybe insisted) that they include me, even though I'm only 75 and below the 80-year-old age threshold established for the project.
Anyhow, Dori and Lauren, along with their photographer, Floor Flurij, have been following us for about six-months. In late September Dori was joined by Ruth Finkelstein, who conceived and advises the project, for a video shoot at Columbia Medical School.
The first chapters of the Exceeding Expectations project covering the first four subjects have now been released along with an introduction to the project. You can find them at:
I suggest that you take a look at the 'About' section of the website which includes a brief video compilation of the 20 subjects of the project, including George and me. If it looks like something that you'd enjoy following, you can subscribe to the entire project by entering your email address in the form at the bottom of the 'About' page.
The sections about us will be published later in the series, but seven chapters on the first four subjects are already available on line and they're very interesting. Read them for yourself to learn how 20 remarkable New York seniors are 'exceeding expectations' as they get older.