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BAM BASH CAPS OFF HOT 2006

The Brooklyn Paper
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Some may think 2006 is winding down, but GO Girl’s party-studded year hadn’t hit its noisemaker-blowing crescendo until she got her invitation to the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s 2006 Next Wave Gala.

The event on Tuesday night promised plenty of bold-faced names, what with fashion designer Narciso Rodriguez - who’s dressed a few red carpet beauties in his still-young, but already-brilliant, career - serving as gala chair.

And as she threaded her way through the densely packed crowd, GO Girl’s star-spotting dreams came true. While Vegas might attract ho-ho-holiday nightlife addicts like Paris, Britney and Lindsay, BAM attracted not one - but a trio! - of infinitely classier, critically acclaimed blondes: Jessica Lange, Holly Hunter and Claire Danes.

The party’s pre- and post-show decor, by Josh Hickey, echoed the Turkish theme of the evening’s dance theater work in the BAM Opera House, "Nefes," which is choreographer Pina Bausch’s ode to Istanbul (formerly Constantinople).

Perhaps in keeping with the depressing custom of sobriety in predominantly Muslim Turkey, GO Girl was saddened to learn that a festive cocktail was not invented for the party. (But she was grateful to not have to gulp down another Turkish "raki," the clear licorice-flavored spirit that turns milk white when it is cut with water by those tea-totalers.)

Happily, Joseph and Diane Steinberg of Pine Ridge Winery served as gala vice chairs, so there was some scrumptious vino to help the partygoers transition from the three-and-a-half-hour program to dinner.

Prior to the show, the first annual Richard B. Fisher award was presented to Bausch, in honor of her artistic achievements. The award, a glittering shillelagh by local artist Chris Piazza, was titled "The Snow Queen’s Walking Stick." At first, GO Girl was shocked by the implication. But the title wasn’t a joke on the senior dancemaker’s age, but a reference to Fisher.

Other VIPs spotted in the crowd included Boerum Hill native Jonathan Lethem, who’s currently serving time as the Friends of BAM chairman; Williamsburg-based choreographer Elizabeth Streb; artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude; NYC’s arts commish Kate Levin; Brooklyn Philharmonic chief Catherine Cahill; Brooklyn Museum head Arnold Lehman; and dancer-choreographer-actor Mikhail Baryshnikov, who supped with the evening’s grand dame, Bausch.

Although there was no mistaking the audience’s overwhelming enthusiasm for Bausch’s epic work, one curmudgeonly guest at GO Girl’s post-show table opined that the program’s length suggested the woman named "the uncrowned empress of modern dance" by Newsweek was suffering from "diarrhea of dance."

"But there was so much to love about ’Nefes!’ " thought GO Girl. It opens with scenes from a hamam, a Turkish spa! The sexual tension between the dancers is exquisite! And what about the sculptured abdomens of those male dancers, which were still visible beneath suit jackets during the curtain call? And in a surprising - yet much appreciated - ode to "Flashdance," those naked male torsos were splashed with backlit water that fell from the theater’s ceiling. Viva Pina!

Yet sometimes even GO Girl needs a second opinion, so she made a beeline to Oscar-winning actress Lange ("Blue Sky," "Tootsie"), who attended the dinner with her daughter, Shura Baryshnikov.

Lange agreed with GO Girl that "Nefes" is a hit - although the actress had offered different reasons.

"I love Pina Bausch’s work, I have for a long time," Lange said. "I was curious to see this piece, because I haven’t seen anything for a while. There was so much I’m just in awe of her direction and choreography. Specific movements make your heart stop, make you catch your breath. And her dancers are some of the most talented stage performers I have ever seen."

Presumably Lange, who had a fruitful relationship with Russian choreographer-turned-"Sex and the City" actor Mikhail, knows a bit more about dance than GO Girl’s tablemate, but alas there were no more seats available at her table.

So GO Girl sallied back to her designated seat, where one of her fellow diners bore a striking resemblance to Sylvia Fine (mother of Fran Fine, as played by Renee Taylor on TV’s "The Nanny"). During GO Girl’s brief absence, the bouffant blonde had managed to find out about this column and made her best attempt to be included.

She leaned toward GO Girl to reveal that she had been on one of the first reality TV shows, "Bride and Groom," and had gotten married on the show. "But not to him" she said, gesturing to her date.

Blinded by the glare from the woman’s bosom, which had clearly lost its battle with the Bedazzler, GO Girl wondered how to delicately frame the question, "Which decade did that show air?"

Becoming increasingly agitated, GO Girl was reminded of one of the clever lines from Bausch’s show: "Smiling without a reason is difficult."

But GO Girl dutifully exposed her pearly whites and inexplicably blurted, "Do you live in Brooklyn?"

To which the Sylvia-look-a-like responded, "No, Queens. But that doesn’t have anything to do with this."

Oh, but Sylvia it does. GO Girl was going to march over to the first lady of Brooklyn’s table, Mrs. Jamie Markowitz, and ask if her hubby, Borough President Marty, and President Bush could forget about the wall between Mexico and the United States and instead build a wall between Brooklyn and Queens.

We must keep this riff-raff out! Narciso Rodriguez is here for goodness sake! What if he sees that woman’s top? Brooklyn must be kept pristine for hipsters and celebrity visitors. Our coolness cannot be diluted by former reality show stars who hit the airwaves before microwaves were invented! Whoop-whoop-whoop! The alarm must be sounded.

But when GO Girl got to Mrs. Markowitz’s table, she was distracted by the diamond-encrusted "Brooklyn" pin on the first lady’s lapel.

"My Brooklyn bling," Markowitz explained. Just the idea of having jewelry custom-made was so soothing for GO Girl that her cheerful demeanor and clear head returned and she was able to map a course through the elaborate labyrinth of chairs to Danes and gala chair Rodriguez.

Rodriguez, who said he’s been coming to BAM for at least eight years to see Bausch’s work, told GO Girl that in "Nefes," "the men and women looked beautiful" and that he was struck by how "very human this show is. This is my favorite performance of hers."

Danes, who will dance in Tamar Rogoff Performance Projects’ "very intimate work" "Edith & Jenny" at PS 122 in January, explained that attending "Nefes" was a homework assignment from her own choreographer and she found the piece to be "brilliant."

GO Girl wondered about how such a "brilliant" work comes to be, so she posed the question to one of Bausch’s dancers, Pablo Aran Gimeno of Spain.

"She is fantastic," said Gimeno, who is enjoying his first season with Tanztheater Wuppertal. "She has a very disciplined way, but is very sensitive - like a mother - with us. There are 30 of us from different countries, after all. She has a clever mind and a big heart."

As Tuesday turned into Wednesday, the dancer continued to speak of Bausch.

"To talk about this work, to talk about Pina Bausch, is to talk about love," the charismatic Gimeno, 25, told GO Girl, who was just about to offer to take him on a tour of Brooklyn when her date gently pried her away, luring her with the promise of a gift bag.

Imagine GO Girl’s dismay upon discovering the sobering content of her bag - no booze, mostly books! But this shock was tempered by the announcement of the BAM Spring Gala, which will include choreographer Matthew Bourne’s version of "Edward Scissorhands" on March 14, 2007. The idea of transforming Tim Burton’s film, which starred Johnny Depp, into dance-theater made GO Girl’s heart beat a little faster.

Or maybe the spinning was due to the dizzying array of warmth and good cheer shared by all who celebrated Bausch’s triumphant "Nefes," certainly one of the highlights of GO Girl’s slate of holiday season soirees in Brooklyn.

Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch’s "Nefes" continues through Dec. 16 at 7:30 pm at the Brooklyn Academy of Music Opera House (30 Lafayette Ave. at Ashland Place in Fort Greene). Tickets are $25, $50, $75, and $85. For more information, call (718) 636-4100 or visit the Web site www.bam.org.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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