March 2, 2022

By Stuart Mitchner

Through the closed door I can hear the muffled urgency of voices coming from the TV in the next room, where my wife is watching coverage of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. I’m reminded of “The Hearth,” a poem by C.K. Williams (1936-2015) that I first read two weeks before the invasion of Iraq and a year before I got to know the poet, whose grandparents came to America from Lvov (Lviv) and Kiev (Kyiv), both now major cities in Ukraine.

Contrary to the domestic tranquility usually associated with “hearth and home,” the fire Williams pokes at is “recalcitrant” and he’s “alone after the news on a bitter evening in the country,” troubled by thoughts of war and the “more than fear” he feels for his children and grandchildren. The fire “barely keeps the room warm,” and at the end, when he writes, “I stoke it again and crouch closer,” you’re in the chilly room with him, holding your hands toward the hearth.

“Dreaming About It”

As I imagine the impact Putin’s invasion would have on a poet with Ukrainian roots, I recall the extraordinary German film, The Lives of Others, a painfully resonant title now that the lives of Ukrainians have been uprooted and plunged into chaos.

Fifteen years ago this week my wife and I were at a packed Garden Theatre watching Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s Academy Award-winning picture, which is haunted and illuminated by Ulrich Mühe’s portrayal of a captain in the Stasi, the East German secret police.  more

“A DOLL’S HOUSE”: Theatre Intime has staged a reimagined “A Doll’s House,” presented February 18-27 at the Hamilton Murray Theater. Directed by Ariel Rockman, Ibsen’s 19th-century drama is transplanted to a literal, contemporary dollhouse. Above: Nora (Caitlin Durkin) spends time with one of her “children.” (Photo by Rowen Gesue)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

Late in A Doll’s House Nora, the play’s protagonist, says this in a confrontation with her domineering husband: “I’ve been your doll-wife here, just as at home I was Papa’s doll-child. And in turn the children have been my dolls.” In a recent production, that literally was true.

Princeton University’s Theatre Intime has presented (February 18-27) a stylized production of A Doll’s House. Working from Rolf Fjelde’s translation of Henrik Ibsen’s script, Director Ariel Rockman brings a contemporary, imaginative viewpoint to the 1879 drama about a woman’s self-discovery.

There is a marked change from the visual aesthetic of many productions. Set Designer Kat McLaughlin replaces the usual staid, if opulent, 19th-century parlor. Instead, we see bright pink walls and furniture that resembles dollhouses that one might see in commercials for Barbie toys. McLaughlin also is the sound designer, and makes the doorbell an imitation of those heard on Barbie houses.

In a program note Rockman explains the reasoning behind this approach. “I was inspired to set the play in a literal doll’s house to emphasize how Nora is a doll-like figure to everyone in her life,” the director writes. “I also wanted to show that she has agency in turning herself into a doll for other people.” more

By Nancy Plum

Princeton University Orchestra returned to the Richardson Auditorium stage last week with a concert featuring both guest conductors and soloist winners of the University Orchestra Concerto Competition. The performance Friday night (the concert was repeated Saturday night) showed convincingly the impact of University Orchestra conductor Michael Pratt’s long tenure with the Orchestra and the depth of the University music program.

Soprano Marley Jacobson, a University senior who had a leading role in last season’s  “pandemic” virtual opera La Calisto, led off the evening with a performance of a concert aria by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Mozart composed the orchestrally accompanied “Vorrei spiegarvi, oh Dio!” for soprano voice and oboe obbligato for his sister-in-law and as an interpolation into another composer’s opera in which she was performing.

Orchestra conductor Michael Pratt led the ensemble in this work, demonstrating well-blended winds and horns, with an especially elegant oboe solo by Vedrana Ivezic. Jacobson sang Mozart’s concert aria of plaintiveness and emotional confusion with the lyrical poise and vocal self-assuredness of the Countess in The Marriage of Figaro. Ivezic’s contrasting oboe solo line was equally vocal in character, and the two instruments together were often delicately answered by pizzicato playing from the lower strings. From a 21st-century viewpoint, Mozart seemed to like torturing sopranos with huge intervallic skips, and Jacobson was well prepared for the technical challenges of this piece.

The classical music tradition of Armenia has been represented for the past 100 years by composer Aram Khachaturian. Originally intending to become a biologist, Khachaturian turned instead to music and composed works capturing the exotic colors and rhythms of the region, as well as the Mugham melodic themes which fascinated him as a child. Khachaturian composed the Adagio pas de deux as part of his 1956 ballet Spartacus, and the movement contained some of the most memorable melodies in the entire ballet. Conducting this piece in Friday night’s concert was University senior Montagu James, also a violinist and composer who has had several works commissioned by Princeton University Sinfonia.   more

BACH REIMAGINED: Pam Tanowitz Dance and pianist Simone Dinnerstein will join forces for a performance of “New Work for Goldberg Variations” at McCarter Theatre on Friday, March 11 at 8 p.m.

Pianist Simone Dinnerstein and Pam Tanowitz Dance will perform New Work for Goldberg Variations at McCarter Theatre on Friday, March 11 at 8 p.m.

Dinnerstein and Tanowitz collaborated on the work, which “deconstructs classical, formal, and traditional movement vocabularies, mirroring and conversing with Bach’s score in an interplay of rhythm, style, and idiosyncrasy,” according to a press release about the piece. “Shifting between encoded gestures and virtuosic dancing, it demonstrates the rich emotional world lying beneath the poised surface of the Goldberg’s musical architecture.”

Dinnerstein is one of the best-known Bach interpreters of her generation, as well as a specialist in The Goldberg Variations, having recorded it for her breakout debut album in 2007. She performs the piece live with the dancers onstage.

Since that recording, she has played with orchestras ranging from the New York Philharmonic and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra to the London Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale Rai. She has performed in venues from Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center to the Berlin Philharmonie, the Vienna Konzerthaus, the Seoul Arts Center and the Sydney Opera House. She has made 13 albums, all of which topped the Billboard classical charts, with repertoire ranging from Couperin to Glass. more

Having had her Princeton debut canceled due to the pandemic, pianist Mitsuko Uchida is finally scheduled for two concerts this month at Richardson Auditorium. The first, on March 10, will pair her with tenor Mark Padmore; the second, on March 24, features Uchida with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. Get tickets at puc.princeton.edu or call (609) 258-2800.

“DAFFODILS”: This work by Martin Schwartz is part of “Painterly Flora,” his collection featured in “Two Artists, Two Views of the World,” on view March 5 through March 27 at Gallery 14 in Hopewell.

Gallery 14 in Hopewell presents “Two Artists, Two Views of the World,” by two member artists, John Clarke of Hopewell and Martin “Marty” Schwartz of West Windsor. The exhibit will be on view March 5 through March 27.

“Street Vibe” is a collection of 22 black-and-white photos made by Clarke that depict the emotions, gestures, and activities one encounters in urban locations.

“There is a rich romance to urban street life,” said Clarke. “Streets are where we walk to see and be seen. They are places of commerce where we go to buy and sell the necessities of daily life. Streets, parks, and public places are also where we go to take a break from the stress of urban life.”

Clarke said he is inspired by some of the acknowledged masters of black-and-white street photography including Henri Cartier-Bresson, Fan Ho, and Robert Frank. Clarke is a retired architect, and his design background is evident in the composition of his street images strong use of geometry. He is drawn to the inherent abstract quality of black-and-white photos.

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Liza Peck

The Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) has announced that longtime Princeton resident Liza Peck has been named director of development, effective March 3.

Peck has spent nearly a decade at HomeFront, playing a critical role with HomeFront’s Community Engagement Team to achieve its mission to end homelessness in central New Jersey. At HomeFront, Peck partnered with the Arts Council to ensure that HomeFront’s clients had access to the breadth and depth of ACP offerings. Before her tenure at HomeFront, Peck served on the board of the Arts Council of Princeton and the Friends Council at Princeton Public Library. Early in her career, she also worked at Michael Graves Architecture and Design.

Peck holds degrees in art history and design from Hobart and William Smith Colleges and the Parsons School of Design,
respectively. Peck and her family have lived in Princeton for over 25 years. Her children have attended classes and camps at the Arts Council of Princeton, and have also served as volunteers for many of its activities.

“I am overjoyed to be joining the passionate and talented staff at Arts Council of Princeton,” said Peck.

Adam Welch, ACP executive director, said, “We are beyond thrilled and more than fortunate to have Liza Peck joining our dedicated team. Liza has exhibited her deep and sustained interest in the arts, education, and our work in the community. Most importantly, Liza brings with her a knowledge and admiration of the town of Princeton and a deep and meaningful history with the Arts Council.”

For more about the Arts Council of Princeton, visit artscouncilofprinceton.org.

This work by Amy Martin is part of “N.J. Birds and You,” on view through March 4 at the Johnson Education Center, 1 Preservation Place. D&R Greenway Land Trust has partnered with the Princeton Public Library to present the pop-up exhibit of art created by community members and submitted as part of the library’s Great Backyard Bird Count programming. Viewing hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

 This watercolor by Beatrice Bork is part of “Awakenings,” an exhibit also featuring works by Jane Adriance, Debbie Pisacreta, and Richard Harrington. It will be on view March 10 through April 3 at Artists’ Gallery, 18 Bridge Street, Lambertville. For more information, visit LambertvilleArts.com.

The month of March celebrates National Youth Art, and The Cranbury School will be highlighting youth art at the Gourgaud Gallery in Cranbury with a show on view March 7 to March 30.

Stacey Crannage, art teacher at The Cranbury School, has chosen pieces from students in kindergarten through eighth grade to be showcased. The criteria for the works to be displayed were technique, originality, and the student’s personality shining through. Student artwork will include paintings, drawings, and relief sculpture, among others.

The Gourgaud Gallery is located in Town Hall, 23A North Main Street, Cranbury, and is free and open to the public Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, visit cranburyartscouncil.org.

February 23, 2022

By Stuart Mitchner

“K. was haunted by the feeling that he was losing himself or wandering  into a strange country …”

—Franz Kafka (1883-1924), from The Castle

Although I didn’t finish Kafka’s unfinished novel The Castle in time to meet the deadline for this article, I wasn’t about to rush through a long-delayed return visit to this “strange country.” Like Franz Schubert’s Unfinished, Franz Kafka’s Unfinished delivers the equivalent of a full symphony. For a start there’s the rollicking scherzo of the third chapter, where K., the unwanted Land Surveyor, feels that he “might die of strangeness” as he rolls around “for hours” on the floor of the Herrenhof with a barmaid named Frieda while “their hearts beat as one,” and you feel that, like K., you’ve strayed into a country “whose enchantment was such that one could only go on and on and lose oneself ….”

For company on the journey, I’ve been reading Martin Greenberg’s translation of Diaries 1914-1923, along with Kafka’s letters from the period when he was at work on a novel he had reason to believe would be his magnum opus. I’ve also been consulting Kafka: The Years of Insight, the third and final volume of Reiner Stach’s definitive biography, published in 2013 by Princeton University Press and insightfully translated by Princeton resident Shelley Frisch.

Breaking the News

Kafka began writing The Castle in or around January 1922, and gave it up in late August, breaking the news to his friend and executor Max Brod on September 11 of that year. As Stach phrases it, Brod “replied merrily that he could only regard Kafka’s message as ‘fabricated sensationalism’ “ and advised him “to write more about the matter at hand, ‘that is, about continuing on with work.’ “

Stach explains what Kafka was up against, having developed “a whole network of social relationships,” introducing “more and more characters” who all “have their own stories; they forge alliances and foster hostilities, despise or love one another,” and it was up to Kafka “to follow them through to the end and to tie them together plausibly.”  more

“THE OK TRENTON PROJECT”: Performances are underway for “The OK Trenton Project.” Written by David Lee White, Richard Bradford, and members of the OK Trenton Ensemble; and directed by Passage’s Artistic Director C. Ryanne Domingues, the play runs through February 27 at Passage Theatre. Above, from left, are Richard Bradford, Wendi Smith, Kevin Bergen, Carmen Castillo (seated), and Molly Casey Chapman. (Photo by Jeff Stewart)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

In August 2017 the Associated Press ran an article with the headline, “Not OK? Sculpture of hand gesture moved over gang worries.” The subject of the piece was Helping Hands, a metal sculpture of a hand making the “OK” sign, which was installed on a city-owned vacant lot on the corner of Trenton’s Perry and Montgomery streets.

Helping Hands was created by students (ages 12 to 15) from Camp Mercer, a summer camp operated by HomeFront, a nonprofit group. The sculpture was crafted in collaboration with artist Eric Schultz of Grounds For Sculpture, along with Trenton-based community development organization Isles, Inc.

The AP article notes that the students chose the “OK” sign “because they felt the peace sign was overused.” After the mayor’s office received anonymous complaints that Helping Hands resembled a gang symbol, the sculpture was removed from city property.

The controversy surrounding the removal of  the sculpture — and reactions to other works of art — is explored in The OK Trenton Project, a new play that is being presented by Passage Theatre. The docudrama was developed through Passage’s PlayLab program, over a period of four years.

This iteration of The OK Trenton Project marks the first full mainstage production of  “Trenton Makes,” a season that will feature plays about the city. “Both true and fictional, each piece highlights the capital city’s triumphs and challenges while celebrating its unique community,” promises a promotional email from Passage. more

By Nancy Plum

With a 22-appearance history of performing with Princeton University Concerts, the Takács Quartet has made a home at Richardson Auditorium and has become a good friend of the series. The four members of the string ensemble — violinists Edward Dusinberre and Harumi Rhodes, violist Richard O’Neill, and cellist András Fejér — returned to Richardson Auditorium last week after a nearly two-year hiatus performing in the area for an eclectic program featuring music for string quartet and an instrument rarely heard in Princeton. Joining the ensemble for last Thursday night’s concert celebrating the series’ return to live performance was bandoneón and accordina virtuoso Julien Labro, and the five musicians together created an impressive evening of innovative classical music.

Born in France, Labro has brought music for the Argentine bandoneón to the forefront of the classical and jazz arenas. Most often heard in tango ensembles, the bandoneón creates its sound by pulling and pushing actions forcing air through bellows as the player routes air through reeds by pressing buttons on either side of the instrument. Labro has been applauded for his brilliant technique and imaginative arrangements, several of which he presented with the Takács Quartet. He connected with American composer Bryce Dessner when performing on Dessner’s score to the film The Two Popes, and when composer and performer were further introduced to the Takács Quartet, the seed for an imaginative commission was planted. Dessner’s Circles, performed by Labro and the Takács Quartet, interweaved rhythms and polyphonies of all five instruments, with a great deal of free expression from all the musicians.

Dessner’s Circles was co-commissioned by Princeton University Concerts and the consortium Music Accord, of which University Concerts is a member. The work began with the bandoneón contrasted with a chipper string accompaniment, and Labro showed particularly fast fingers on repeated motives and offbeat rhythms. The melodic ostinato became more ornamented as the piece went on, and the players together were able to cohesively move the music into other colors and shadings.  more

LIFE-CHANGING: Since Cindy Lorenzana began studying viola with Trenton Music Makers in 2018, she has attended Camp Encore/Coda in Maine on full scholarship and continues to make music a major part of her life. Trenton Music Makers and Trenton Children’s Chorus have merged to form Capital Harmony Works.

By Anne Levin

Trenton Children’s Chorus and Trenton Music Makers have merged to form Capital Harmony Works, which will serve as home to the two organizations, along with Trenton Music Makers’ program Music for the Very Young.

The merger of the chorus, which was founded in 1989, and the youth orchestra program, which began a decade later, comes nearly 10 years after it was first considered as a way to focus musical instruction and participation for Trenton youth under one umbrella.

“Our missions are so well aligned,” said Carol Burden, who has been with Trenton Music Makers since 2015 and will serve as Capital Harmony Works’ president and CEO. “But the timing was never quite right. But we’ve come to the point where we are two strong organizations and two strong programs, and we really think this is the time.”

Trenton Music Makers brings together young people from kindergarten through high school into one youth orchestra, at Trenton’s Westminster Presbyterian Church. At West Trenton Presbyterian Church, the Trenton Children’s Chorus operates choirs, drumming, and the Learning Academy, which provides help with homework, tutoring, and other academic services. Trenton Music Makers’ students also participate in the Learning Academy. more

PRIZE-WINNING CELLIST: Pablo Ferrández comes back to Princeton to perform Dvorak’s Cello Concerto in B Minor with the Princeton Symphony Orchestra on March 5 and 6.

On Saturday, March 5 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, March 6 at 4 p.m., the Princeton Symphony Orchestra (PSO) welcomes Spanish cellist Pablo Ferrández back to Princeton for a performance of Antonín Dvorak’s Cello Concerto in B Minor. Edward T. Cone Music Director Rossen Milanov conducts the program, which includes contemporary composer James Lee III’s recent work Amer’ican, and Igor Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite (1919). Performances take place at Richardson Auditorium on the campus of Princeton University.

“I am so looking forward to welcoming audiences back to our acoustically spectacular musical home — Richardson Auditorium — and to share the stage with the brilliant musician and our friend, the cellist Pablo Ferrández in Dvorak’s beloved concerto,” said Milanov.

Prizewinner at the XV International Tchaikovsky Competition and SONY Classical exclusive artist, Pablo Ferrández released his debut album last year under SONY Classical, “Reflections,” which explores his musical roots and the unexpected similarities between Russian and Spanish music at the beginning of the 20th century. The album earned him the Opus Klassik Award 2021 in the category of “Young Artist of the Year.”  more

Brian McKnight

State Theatre New Jersey presents The Brian McKnight 4 on Saturday, March 12 at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $35-$95. 

Contemporary musician McKnight is a singer, songwriter, producer, radio-host, and multi-instrumentalist. His hits include “Back at One,” “One Last Cry,” and “Anytime.”

Starting as a young child in his church choir, McKnight was quickly recognized for his high vocal range. At the age of 19, he submitted demo tapes and signed a recording contract with Wing Records, releasing his first album with them, Brian McKnight, in 1992. 

McKnight’s debut album peaked at number 58 on the Billboard 200 chart and has since been certified Platinum by RIAA. He released two more albums, 1995’s I Remember You and 1997’s Anytime before signing with Motown Records in 1998. Under Motown Records, McKnight released Back at One, his bestselling album to date. The album has sold over 3 million copies in the U.S. He continued to release albums with Motown records including 2001’s Superhero, 2003’s U Turn, and 2005’s Gemini, his highest charting album. more

“LOVE THEORY 1”: A Black History Month panel discussion featuring artists Marlon Davila, Veronica Foreman, Danyelle Kessler, and Rhinold Ponder, whose work is shown here, will take place at the Princeton Makes store in the Princeton Shopping Center on Saturday, February 26 at 4 p.m. 

Princeton Makes, a Princeton-based artist cooperative, and Art Against Racism, a nonprofit that advances anti-racism through the arts, will host a Black History Month panel discussion on Saturday, February 26 at 4 p.m.  It will take place at the Princeton Makes store in the Princeton Shopping Center.

The February 26 panel will feature four Princeton Makes artists — Marlon Davila, Veronica Foreman, Danyelle Kessler, and Rhinold Ponder.  “The Black Thoughts Table — Four Creatives on Perspective, Process, and Possibilities” will allow the artists to share their insights on their art practices, creative processes, and artistic philosophies.  Ponder will moderate the panel. 

Additionally, there will be a Black History Month special offer of two limited edition giclée prints by Ponder, which will be available at a discounted price at the event. more

“STEEP”:The Arts Council of Princeton has announced a call for ceramic art for a national exhibition exploring the possibilities of the teapot. Adam Welch, ceramicist and ACP executive director, will jury. (Teapot by Adam Welch)

The Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) is now accepting submissions for “Steep: A National Teapot Exhibition,” exploring the infinite possibilities of the idea of a teapot. The exhibition will be juried by Adam Welch, ceramic artist and ACP executive director.

The deadline for submissions is March 7, 2022, and is open to all artists 18 years or older living and working in the U.S. Work must address the idea of “teapot” and have been created primarily out of clay/ceramic in the last two years.

Current show awards include Best of Show ($250), Juror’s Choice ($100), and Honorable Mention ($50).

Juror Adam Welch is the executive director for the Arts Council of Princeton and an artist, critic, and educator. Welch’s art is about making and decoration. His writing examines the artists and activities of contemporary art. As an educator, Welch encourages students to inquire and create, examine worldviews, and to awaken their understanding of self and the world and the relationship of the two. more

“INTERWOVEN STORIES”: The Arts Council of Princeton invites the community to add their pages to the final chapter of a stitching project created by ACP 2016 Artist-in-Residence Diana Weymar.

The Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) has announced “Interwoven Stories: The Final Chapter,” the return of the popular community stitching project created by artist/activist Diana Weymar.

Weymar facilitated “Interwoven Stories” as the ACP’s 2016 artist-in-residence, creating a special dialogue within the Princeton community. With some participants picking up a needle and thread for the first time, each received a blank fabric page to tell a story through their memories, honor beloved family or friends, or return home to a favorite place through needle and thread.

The response to this project exceeded organizers’ expectations. Each page spoke to the generosity, diversity, spirit, commitment, and creativity of the community and ultimately, more than 100 completed pages were donated to “Interwoven Stories 2016” and displayed in the ACP’s Taplin Gallery to mark the culmination of her residency.

In 2018, the project was expanded and dubbed “Interwoven Stories International,” the result of Weymar taking the project on the road for two years to curate more than 250 pieces collected from the original Princeton project, plus pages from The Peddie School, the Nantucket Stitching Gam, the Zen Hospice Project (San Francisco, Calif.), Open Space Art (Damascus, Syria), Build Peace (Columbia), the University of Puget Sound (Tacoma, Wash.), Yarns/NoDominion Theater (Jersey City), and Trans Tipping Point Project (Victoria, B.C.). more

SHOWING THE LOVE: Local artist Chris Harford, whose work is shown here, will be performing as DJ Francis Fuqua at the closing reception for “The Love Show” on Friday, February 25 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Small World Coffee, 14 Witherspoon Street.

Small World Coffee at 14 Witherspoon Street will host a closing reception for “The Love Show” on Friday, February 25 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The community art show, based around the theme of love, features more than 30 artists.

Two DJs will be performing: DJ Francis Fuqua, aka Chris Harford, a local artist and musician; and DJ Miracle, aka Mira Shane, a graduate of Princeton High School and lacrosse goalie star at the University of Michigan. According to Jessica Durrie, owner of  Small World Coffee, “Mira is truly the first ‘love child’ of Small World Coffee, since her then-barista dad fell in love with a regular customer — and then came Mira!”

Also at the reception, a sing-a-long to “All You Need Is Love” by the Beatles will be led by Small World Coffee barista and musician Aaron Payne, and there will be a drawing for a basket of Love Blend coffee and love themed mugs, no purchase necessary.

For more information, visit smallworldcoffee.com.

February 16, 2022

By Stuart Mitchner

Love that is singing: love’s old sweet song.”

—James Joyce, from Ulysses

When Lata Mangeshkar died in Mumbai at 92 a little over a week ago, some obits referred to her as a “playback singer.” The headline in The New York Times came closer to the truth with “Bollywood’s Most Beloved Voice.” She’s often been called “the Nightingale of India,” which suggests the wonder of Lata only if you think of the nightingale in Keats’s Ode “pouring forth thy soul abroad in such an ecstasy!” Lata pours her spirit into kohl-eyed, sari-clad, ankle-braceleted barefoot females coyly, kinkily, saucily dancing or emoting to the tune of spectacularly frenzied orchestras of violins, sitars, and electric guitars creating symphonic extravaganzas of joy and pain.

Singing Love

In the aftermath of Valentine’s Day I’ve been listening to Lata on an album from 1957, Modern Motion Picture Music of India, a 12-inch “High Fidelity” Capitol LP “recorded in Calcutta.” The songs are from two films, Nagin, “a romantic story in the classic Romeo and Juliet tradition” about two young lovers “who belong to rival, hostile tribes of snake charmers.” The other film tells the story of the title character, Anarkali, “an attractive dancing girl” who “falls in love with the son and heir of the Emperor Akbar, a romance that began in the wilderness, flourished briefly, and eventually ended with the death of the young beauty.”

You get a sense of the high-flown, love-driven lyric content of the music from samples in the liner notes. In the first song from Nagin, “the girl sings emotionally, suffering from a separation and calling her lover. My world is hollow without you … life has become an ocean of sorrow.” Another song “ponders why providence should give love, then snatch it away.” In a “happy and rhythmic song,” the girl sings, “Let me go, my beloved. I will meet you again but I dare not stay any longer or the gossips will taint my good reputation.” In the last song, the lovers are together again as the girl sings, “I come to you breaking all my bonds and all my dear ties. What I have lost I feel not, for I’ve found a new world of love that fills my life with a thrill of joy and ecstasy.”  more

FROM FILM TO STAGE: The national touring company of the Broadway show “An American in Paris,” with music by George Gershwin, comes to the State Theatre New Jersey February 25-27.

Four performances of the Tony award-wining An American in Paris, the Broadway musical inspired by the film musical of the same name, comes to the State Theatre New Jersey Friday, February 25 at 8 p.m.; Saturday, February 26 at 2 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday, February 27 at 2 p.m. Tickets range from $40-$98.  

The winner of four Tony Awards, this production directed and choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon features classic Gershwin songs including “I Got Rhythm,” “Liza,” “’S Wonderful,” “But Not for Me,” and “Stairway to Paradise.” Dance plays a major part in the production.

The show takes the audience to post-World War II Paris, where romance and youthful optimism are in the air. Hoping to start a new life, World War II veteran Jerry Mulligan chooses newly liberated Paris to try and make his mark as a painter. Jerry’s life becomes complicated when he meets the mysterious Lise, a young Parisian ballet dancer with a haunting secret who, like Jerry, is yearning for a new beginning. 

The State Theatre New Jersey is at 15 Livingston Street, New Brunswick Visit STNJ.org for more information.

Ballet Folklorico de Mexico de Amalia Hernandez comes to the State Theatre New Jersey in New Brunswick on Thursday, February 17 at 8 p.m. Some 76 folk dancers are part of the troupe, which has been an official cultural representative of Mexico since 1959. A special pre-performance by the local dance troupe, Grupo de Danza Folklorico La Sagrada Familia, will be held in the State Theatre’s Studio for ticket buyers at 7:10 p.m. Tickets are $15-$55. Visit Stnj.org.

INSPIRED BY THE PANDEMIC: A still from “Ten Degrees of Strange,” an animated short film by Lynn Tomlinson, one of the works to be screened at the 41st Annual Thomas Edison Film Festival. (Photo courtesy of Lynn Tomlinson)

The 41st season of the Thomas Edison Film Festival (TEFF), a series of virtual events in collaboration with Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts, runs from February 12-26.

Award-winning films representing experimental, animation, documentary, screen dance, and narrative genres by Lynn Tomlinson, Joe Quint, Caleb Slain, Zillah Bowes, David De La Fuente, Lisa Fuchs, Richard James Allen, and Karen Pearlman will be available to view on Vimeo. A live-streamed awards ceremony and panel discussion with filmmakers will be held virtually on Saturday, February 19 at 7:30 p.m.

The TEFF is an international juried competition celebrating all genres and independent filmmakers across the globe.  For more than 40 years, the TRFF has been advancing the creativity and power of the short film by celebrating stories that shine a light on issues and struggles within contemporary society. It was founded in 1981 as Black Maria Film Festival and originally named for Thomas Edison’s West Orange, New Jersey, film studio dubbed the “Black Maria” because of its resemblance to the black-box police paddy wagons of the same name. Renamed in 2021, the TEFFl’s relationship to Thomas Edison’s invention of the motion camera and the kinetoscope and his experimentation with the short film is at the core of the festival. more

Michael Mindlin

American Repertory Ballet (ARB) will open its spring season with an evening of world premieres at its Mask-erade Gala on Saturday, March 12 at the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center (NBPAC). This major fundraising event supports the organization’s artistic, educational, and community engagement programs.

The performance program will feature an exclusive sneak peek of Ethan Stiefel’s new A Midsummer Night’s Dream; an excerpt from the classical ballet Don Quixote; a duet created by American Ballet Theatre’s Claire Davison; and a work by Michael Mindlin, a Princeton Ballet School alumnus and dance supervisor of Hamilton, among others. Students from Princeton Ballet School, the official school of American Repertory Ballet, will also perform.

The evening’s honorees include the Rutgers Global Health Institute; Jeffrey Grosser, Princeton’s deputy administrator of health and community services; and the Princeton Spine & Joint Center, for enabling ARB and Princeton Ballet School dancers to safely return to the studio and the stage. more