January 10, 2024

RARELY SEEN REPERTORY: When the Mark Morris Dance Group returns to McCarter Theatre January 27, audience members will see works spanning his long career. (Photo by Danica Paulos)

The Mark Morris Dance Group (MMDG) returns to McCarter Theatre on Saturday, January 27 at 8 p.m., as part of the company’s international tour. On the program are “A Wooden Tree,” “Excursions,” “Candleflowerdance,” and “Castor and Pollux.” These works span the decades of Morris’ ensemble, which was formed in 1980 and has toured with its own music ensemble since 1996.

In addition to creating over 150 works for his company, Morris conducts orchestras, directs opera, and choreographs for ballet companies worldwide. Morris was named a Fellow of the MacArthur Foundation in 1991. He has received 11 honorary doctorates and awards, including the Samuel H. Scripps/American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement, the Leonard Bernstein Lifetime Achievement Award for the Elevation of Music in Society, the Benjamin Franklin Laureate Prize for Creativity, the Cal Performances Award of Distinction in the Performing Arts, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s Gift of Music Award, and the 2016 Doris Duke Artist Award. His memoir, Out Loud, co-written with Wesley Stace, was released in paperback by Penguin Press in October 2021.

MMDG always performs with live music, the MMDG Music Ensemble. The Mark Morris dance center, opened in Brooklyn in 2001, is the home of the Dance Group and provides educational opportunities in dance and music to people of all ages and abilities.

LADIES OF DELTA NU: The cast of “Legally Blonde The Musical JR.” are rooting for their friend Elle Woods in this production at the Kelsey Theatre January 12-14.

Harvard’s favorite blonde will be center stage in the production of “Legally Blonde The Musical JR.,” presented by Tomato Patch Workshops at Mercer County Community College’s Kelsey Theatre, January 12-14.

Based on the award-winning Broadway musical and the hit motion picture, “Legally Blonde The Musical JR.” is a journey of self-empowerment and expanding horizons. The show follows the transformation of Elle Woods as she tackles stereotypes, snobbery, and scandal in pursuit of her dreams.

Shows are Friday at 7 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday at 1 and 4 p.m., at  Kelsey Theatre on the MCCC West Windsor Campus, 1200 Old Trenton Road. Tickets are $14-$16. Visit kelseytheatre.org.

SHOWCASING THEIR MUSICAL TALENTS: Students from Legacy Arts International’s All-Abilities Music Creation Program will perform their new compositions as part of Mozart’s Birthday Marathon on Sunday, January 28 at Princeton United Methodist Church.

On Sunday, January 28 at 3:30 p.m., more than 20 pianists and musical colleagues of Cristina Altamura, artistic director of Legacy Arts International (LAI), will gather at Princeton United Methodist Church (corner of Nassau and Vandeventer Ave.) to perform Mozart’s music and raise funds for the organization’s All-Abilities Music Creation Program.

“Among these performers are celebrated musicians and teachers such as Phyllis Lehrer, Ena Barton Bronstein, and Ingrid Clarfield, who for four decades have consistently contributed to the excellent standard of music making in Princeton’s extraordinary piano teaching scene,” said Altamura.  more

ON THE ROAD: The Marshall Tucker Band and The Outlaws play the State Theatre New Jersey in New Brunswick on January 25 at 8 p.m.

State Theatre New Jersey presents The Marshall Tucker Band (MTB), with special guests The Outlaws. on Thursday, January 25 at 8 p.m.

The MTB has had an impact on generations of listeners who’ve been “Searchin’ for a Rainbow” and found it perfectly represented by this Southern institution over the decades. “I’ve been in tune with how music can make you feel, right from when I was first in the crib,” said lead vocalist and bandleader Doug Gray, who’s been fronting the MTB since the very beginning.

The band came together as a six-piece outfit in Spartanburg, S.C., in 1972, having duly baptized themselves with the name of a blind piano tuner after they found it inscribed on a key to their original rehearsal space. Their music catalog includes the hits “Heard It in a Love Song,” “Can’t You See,” “Fire on the Mountain,” “Long Hard Ride,” and “Ramblin.’”  more

By ARTIST TALK AT D&R: Liz Cutler will be at D&R Greenway Land Trust’s Johnson Education Center for an artist talk and dessert reception on Thursday, January 18 starting at 6:30 p.m.

The public is invited to an artist talk and dessert reception on Thursday, January 18 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at D&R Greenway Land Trust’s Johnson Education Center, One Preservation Place. In the event of inclement weather, the event will be rescheduled to Thursday, January 25.  Registration begins at 6:30 p.m. followed by artist Liz Cutler’s presentation at 7 p.m. 

Retired Princeton Day School teacher Cutler, who led the school’s sustainability club to inspire students to observe and care for nature, is showing her botanical art in memory of her son, Isaac. Together, they walked Greenway Meadows park throughout his lifetime. more

“LITTLE FOOT, BIG STEP”: This work by Rashmi George is featured in ‘Manifesting Beloved Community,” a juried exhibition presented by Art Against Racism and the West Windsor Arts Council, on view through March 2. An opening reception is on January 12 from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

Art Against Racism and West Windsor Arts Council present “Manifesting Beloved Community,”  the third year of a juried exhibition of work responding to a call for artists to visualize what it means to create or live in a nation or world designed around social and economic justice beyond the ills of structural racism. The exhibition is on view through March 2.

“The exhibition is Inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s  advocacy for a  ‘Beloved Community,’ a global vision where all people share in the wealth of a healed planet,” said Rhinold Ponder, executive director of Art Against Racism. “With our partner the West Windsor Arts Council for this exhibition, we are so proud of going into our third year with such a diverse collection of artists and programming, such as the multicultural game night we’re planning, designed to build a beloved community.”  more

“CHARLOTTE”: This photograph is part of “Anthropomorphic: Photos and Stories” on view at Princeton Public Library through March 15. An art talk is on January 18 at 6:30 p.m.

Photographer Darren Sussman will be at Princeton Public Library on Thursday, January 18 at 6:30 p.m. for the opening reception for “Anthropomorphic: Photos and Stories,” an exhibit of his work on view in the second floor Reading Room.

The exhibit, featuring a selection of photographs and text from the book of the same name, is on view through March 15 and explores the human tendency to assign human emotions and characteristics to animals. 

“I can’t help it, when I look at an animal, I give it a human story,” said Sussman. “I’ve been doing it my whole life. So it was only natural, when I started into wildlife photography, that I’d make up stories for my subjects. That’s how ‘Anthropomorphic,’ the book and exhibit, was born.” more

“SERENITY”: This work by Sejal Ashar is part of “Earth Song Refrain: BIPOC Artists on the Climate and the Environment,” a group exhibition curated by Art Against Racism, on view through January 12 at the Princeton Public Library.

“Earth Song Refrain: BIPOC Artists on the Climate and the Environment,” a group exhibition curated by Art Against Racism now showing at the Princeton Public Library, will close on January 12.

The exhibition presents the perspectives of visual artists and poets of color on the climate crisis and environmental challenges threatening the Earth’s health. Inspired by Michael Jackson’s environmental anthem “Earth Song,” this group exhibition reflects a tradition of Black and Brown artists using art to address issues related to mankind’s behavior and relationship to the planet, including the consequences of global warming, environmental racism, and climate change.  more

“WEATHER CONSTRUCT”: The Arts Council of Princeton’s first Taplin Gallery show of 2024 is “Waiting to Detonate,” a mixed media exhibition featuring Andrew Chalfen, whose work is shown here, Katelyn Liepins, and Ida Ochoteco.

The Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) now presents “Waiting to Detonate,” a group exhibition by Andrew Chalfen, Katelyn Liepins, and Ida Ochoteco, on view in the Arts Council’s Taplin Gallery through February 3.

“Waiting to Detonate” features work in vibrant colors and shapes that, sometimes literally, burst off the canvas and onto the floor.

Chalfen’s mixed media pieces feature patterns that vibrate, bloom, cluster, and break apart in dazzling color. At times, they are constructivist, abstract, geometric, and even psychedelic. They may allude to aerial views, cartography, architectural renderings, musical notation, urban-like densities, and impenetrable data arrays.  more

THE HEALING TOUCH: “Helping Hands” are the focus at Alchemy Mind and Body Spa. “We are experts at what we do. But knowing the best techniques is only part of the process. We are also here to make you feel great. Whether you’re here for a one-hour service or an entire day, your happiness is of utmost importance.” Owner Denyse Thedinga is shown near a Buddha replica in the waiting room, which helps to create a sense of serenity and relaxation. (Photo by Julie Dassaro)

By Jean Stratton

The healthy benefits of massage and facials are well known, and you will definitely be in good hands at Alchemy Mind and Body Spa in Kingston,

Once considered a luxury, massage and facials are now thought of as essential by many. More and more people are discovering not only the benefits for their skin, but also for their state of mind.

As owner Denyse Thedinga points out, “The benefits of massage and facials include relaxation and stress relief. It is important to relax and take a moment for yourself, especially with the stresses in the world today.” more

REACHING NEW HEIGHTS: Princeton University men’s basketball player Xaivian Lee heads to the hoop in recent action. Last Saturday, sophomore Lee poured in a career-high 33 points as Princeton routed visiting Harvard 89-58 in the Ivy League opener for both teams. Lee was later named the Ivy Player of the Week for the second time this season. The Tigers, now 13-1 overall and 1-0 Ivy, host Dartmouth on January 15. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

As the Princeton University men’s basketball team hosted Harvard last Saturday afternoon in the Ivy League opener for both teams, Zach Martini kept the Tigers in the game with some yeoman’s work as they got off to a shaky start.

Senior forward Martini drained a 3-pointer, hit a lay-up, and made a steal that led to a Matt Allocco bucket as Princeton trailed 11-7 in the early going.

“It was fortunate that I made a few shots to start the game because there were a little bit of jitters going into the first Ivy League game,” said Martini. “To see that first one fall really gives me the utmost confidence to start the game off and play the way I want to play on both sides of the floor. They got back to a little bit of a lead, but we got comfortable and started scoring the ball inside, which helps me score.” more

SKYE’S THE LIMIT: Princeton University women’s basketball player Skye Belker guards a foe in a game earlier this season. Last Saturday, freshman guard Belker tallied eight points along with three assists and two rebounds in her Ivy League debut as Princeton defeated Cornell 79-38 in its league opener. The Tigers, now 11-3 overall and 1-0 Ivy, play at Harvard on January 13 and at Dartmouth on January 15. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

Skye Belker hasn’t put down her tennis racket for good, but her athletic attention is fully on basketball now that she’s joined the  Princeton University women’s hoops squad.

Belker grew up playing both sports along with volleyball. She went 29-0 in the regular season in her final season of tennis at Windward High in Los Angeles before shifting her focus to the basketball courts for the Tiger women’s program. Last Saturday, Belker scored an efficient eight points with three assists and two rebounds in 19 minutes in her 14th straight start as Princeton routed host Cornell, 79-38, in the Ivy League opener for both teams, improving to 11-3 overall and 1-0 Ivy. more

STROKES OF BRILLIANCE: Princeton High boys’ swimmer David Brophy heads to a win in a freestyle race earlier this season. Last Friday, junior standout Brophy placed first in the 100-yard butterfly and the 500 freestyle as PHS topped WW/P-South 124-46. The Tigers, who defeated Nottingham 121-49 last Monday to improve to 9-0, host Trenton on January 11. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

For David Brophy and the Princeton High boys’ swimming team, facing formidable rivals Notre Dame and WW/P-South last week figured to be key midseason litmus tests.

“They are two very competitive teams, we were really excited for the meets and the competition in there,” said PHS junior standout Brophy. “I know a couple of kids from the other teams, it is always good to race against them.”

Brophy competed hard through the week, taking first in the 100-yard butterfly and second in the 500 freestyle as PHS defeated Notre Dame 117-53 last Wednesday. more

CHARLES IN CHARGE: Princeton High boys’ hockey player Charles Ross controls the puck in recent action. Senior forward and co-captainRoss has tallied seven points on three goals and four assists so far this season to rank second on the team in scoring behind Brendan Beatty (10 points on 7 goals, 3 assists). PHS, which moved to 1-4 with a 9-1 loss to Middletown North last Wednesday, faces Hopewell Valley on January 10 and Robbinsville on January 12 with both games to be played at the Mercer County Skating Center. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Showing rust after not having played a game in 15 days, the Princeton High boys’ hockey team dug an early hole as it faced Middletown North last Wednesday night in its first action of 2024.

PHS fell behind 4-0 seven minutes into the contest. While the Tigers did get on the board with a goal by Liam Campbell midway through the second period to make it a 5-1 game, PHS couldn’t find a rhythm as it fell 9-1.

“It was a tough team to come out against; we never got it going, we were chasing the whole game,” said Tiger head coach Rik Johnson, whose team dropped to 1-4 with the setback. “There were flashes but at no point did it feel like they were poised to come back.” more

AIR JORDAN: Princeton Day School boys’ basketball player Jordan Owens flies to the hoop in a game earlier this season. Last Friday, sophomore guard Owens scored 16 points to help PDS edge Hamilton West 39-36. The Panthers, who improved to 3-5 with the victory, host Steinert on January 12 before playing at Princeton High on January 16. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Starting 2024 with a bang, the Princeton Day School boys’ basketball team pulled out a 50-46 win at Notre Dame High in overtime on January 2.

“It was a great win for our program, playing against a really good team that has a great tradition,” said PDS head coach Eugene Burroughs. “I was excited for our kids to go in there and battle and compete and really just find a way to win.”

A day later, the Panthers battled hard against the Solebury School (Pa.), trailing 31-22 at halftime before fading in the second half on the way to a  69-41 setback. more

FIGHTER JETTE: Hun School boys’ hockey player Charles-Etienne Jette, right, goes after the puck in a game last season. Last Thursday, senior defenseman Jette contributed an assist as Hun fell 4-2 to Don Bosco Prep. The Raiders, now 2-5, face the Portledge School (N.Y.) at the Beaver Dam Winter Sports Club in Locust Valley, N.Y., on January 11 before hosting St. Augustine Prep on January 16 at the Ice Land Skating Center. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Julien Arseneault was primed to step up for the Hun School boys’ hockey team as it hosted powerhouse Don Bosco Prep last Thursday.

“I was ready, it is a big team,” said Hun senior goalie Arsenault of the clash with the Ironmen, who came into the game ranked as the No. 1 team in the state by NJ.com. “It is a challenge for me so I love it.”

Arseneault proved to be  up for the challenge, looking sharp from the start, making 10 saves in the first period as the foes battled to a 1-1 tie. In the second period, Arseneault took things to a higher level, holding Don Bosco scoreless as he made 15 stops. more

January 3, 2024

Skaters enjoyed the synthetic rink on Hulfish Street behind the Nassau Inn on Saturday. Skating at the rink continues on Thursday and Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 12 to 3 p.m. and 4 to 7 p.m. through February 25. (Photo by Weronika A. Plohn)

By Donald Gilpin

Workers at Labyrinth Books on Nassau Street have announced their intention to unionize with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), “joining a movement of bookstore workers fighting to improve standards across the industry,” according to a RWDSU post on X (formerly Twitter).

“Unionization and collective bargaining will create a better future for this bookstore,” said Rebecca Ziemann, a Labyrinth employee and a leader of the unionization effort, in a speech delivered on December 21 in the bookstore and posted in a video on X and Facebook. “To make Labyrinth the best that it can be we want to make sure that all of our voices are heard.”

The audience of employees, most wearing red T-shirts bearing the RWDSU logo, listened intently and cheered loudly as she spoke. “We care about the outcomes and decisions made in this store and therefore we the workers want a seat at the table,” she said. “We want decisions that affect all of us to be transparent. We want to ensure that when we bring concerns to management they will be taken seriously and addressed promptly. All of that means unionization.” more

By Donald Gilpin

A learning experience called eSTEAM has been bringing together about 75 Princeton Middle School (PMS) and Princeton High School (PHS) students on Saturday mornings over the past three months to work on science and technology projects.

As an extension of the district’s “Focus Forward” strategic plan, eSTEAM aims to increase STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) engagement for seventh graders in particular, who have been working with helpful mentorship from PHS students. The focus from October to December was on orientation and exploration, according to 6-12 Science Supervisor Joy Barnes-Johnson, and this month the students will be preparing for the Mercer County Science and Engineering Fair (MSEF), which will take place in late March.

Barnes-Johnson noted that the three content areas of the students’ work include an environmental project, a project on the physics of fitness and the science of play, and a third emphasis on challenges in science and technology. more

JAMMIN’ IN LONDON: The Princeton High School (PHS) Studio Band recently returned from a trip to London, where it recorded an album at the Abbey Road Studios and presented three additional concerts. The group is currently preparing for performances at the Big Band Dance on January 12 and the 2024 Princeton Jazz Festival on January 26 and 27, both at PHS. (Photo courtesy of Joe Bongiovi)

By Donald Gilpin

There are no winter doldrums for the Princeton High School (PHS) Studio Band, which is back from its recording session at the Abbey Road Studios in London and is now preparing to host a Big Band Dance in the PHS cafeteria on January 12, then the two-day 2024 Princeton Jazz Festival on January 26-27 in the PHS Performing Arts Center.

The annual Festival, in its 17th year at PHS, is the largest educational jazz festival in New Jersey and will feature more than 700 student musicians. A middle school competition will take place on January 26, and a high school competition on January 27. Education clinics will be held for all festival participants, and there will be special sets both evenings starring guest artist and Grammy Award-winning trumpeter Randy Brecker and acclaimed tenor saxophonist Ava Rovatti performing with the PHS Studio Band. more

BATTLE COMES TO LIFE: The annual reenactment of the Battle of Princeton at Princeton Battlefield State Park is expected to be bigger than ever this year, with participants representing both sides. (Photo by Al Pochek)

By Anne Levin

Judging from the statistics, interest in local history is big.

The crowd at the annual Christmas Day reenactment of Washington crossing the Delaware is said to have included some 10,000. And registration for the 247th anniversary reenactment of the Battle of Princeton in Princeton Battlefield State Park, set for Sunday, January 7, is well above the previous year.

“We’re preparing for bigger and bigger attendance,” said Todd Quackenbush, communications spokesperson for the Princeton Battlefield Society (PBS). “We’re going to have about 300 reenactors on the field, with artillery on both sides, giving a more realistic feel for how the battle proceeded.” more

By Anne Levin 

Once again, the bridge on Washington Road over the D&R Canal has been closed to motorists. But unlike last year, when the span was unavailable between the end of July and the end of October, this round is expected to last only until January 13.

The New Jersey Department of Transportation closed the bridge Tuesday morning between Nursery Road and Faculty Road, to allow replacement of the temporary bridge bearings, installed during the first closure, with permanent bearings. But local access has been maintained between Route 1 and Nursery Road.

Several detours will be in place until the work is completed. Those traveling southbound on Washington Road will be directed to turn left on Faculty Road, turn right onto South Harrison Street, turn right onto Route 1 southbound, and then stay right on Route 1 to take the “All Turns” lane to County Road 571/Highstown/Princeton back to Washington Road. more

FLAMENCO FIRE: This summer, the dance studio at the Arts Council of Princeton will be named for Lisa Botalico, who has taught Spanish dance there for 25 years.

By Anne Levin

When Lisa Botalico moved from New York to Princeton with her family in 1998, she worried that her flourishing career as a flamenco dancer, teacher, and choreographer would suffer.

But it wasn’t long before the Arts Council of Princeton hired her to teach. Two levels of classes soon grew into eight. Botalico, whose students will perform as part of the Arts Council’s “Dia de Los Reyes Magos” (Three Kings Day) celebration on Saturday, January 6, is a mainstay of the nonprofit — so much so that starting in June, the organization’s dance studio will bear her name. more

By Stuart Mitchner

His tragedy was that when he attempted to enter the human race, there was no human race there. 

—William Faulkner on Holden Caulfield

“If you really want to hear about it,” the first thing you need to know is that J.D. Salinger was born in New York City on the first of January 1919, 105 years ago. The first and only time his creation Holden Caulfield appeared in the The New Yorker was on December 21, 1946, in “Slight Rebellion Off Madison,” a story that got bumped from the 1941 Christmas issue after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

The writer who crafted The Catcher in the Rye’s famous “all-that-David-Copperfield-kind-of-crap” opening sentence clearly had another character in mind in the story’s “Holden Morrisey Caulfield,” who wore his hat “with a cutting edge at the ‘V’ of the crown.” The character who came to life in his own voice in 1951 is the one who left “all the goddam foils” of the Pencey Prep fencing team on the subway the same morning he bought a hat “for a buck” in a sports store and wore it with the peak swung “way around to the back” because he “looked good in it that way.”

One of the few times the later Holden’s presence can be felt in “Slight Rebellion” is during a theatre intermission when someone calls the Lunts “absolute angels” and Holden thinks “Angels. For Chrissake. Angels.” You hear him again when he and his date Sally are talking about school and he says, “Boy, do I hate it!” and “hate” gets him going. He hates living in New York, the Fifth Avenue and Madison Avenue busses “and getting out at the center doors” and “the Seventy-second Street movie, with those fake clouds on the ceiling.” You get another hint of the reading world’s Holden when he tries to talk Sally into running away from New York with him. more

IRISH MUSIC: Poor Man’s Gambit brings its distinctive sound, steeped in Irish culture, to Princeton on Friday, January 19. (Photo courtesy of Poor Man’s Gambit)

On Friday, January 19 at 8 p.m., the Princeton Folk Music Society presents Poor Man’s Gambit, a Philadelphia-based Irish music band, at Christ Congregation Church, 50 Walnut Lane. The multi-instrumentalist group comprises Deirdre Lockman (fiddle and vocals), Corey Purcell (button accordion, cittern, bodhran, vocals, and dance), and Federico Betti (guitar and fiddle).

Lockman and Purcell are steeped in the traditional Irish culture of the Philadelphia area. Both started as step dancers in childhood, and went on to dance competitively at national and international levels. In time, however, they found their true calling in Irish music. Lockman began competing in fiddle competitions, and Purcell started teaching himself Irish-style button accordion. He studied with all-Ireland button accordion champion John Whelan. His musical interests expanded to include other instruments and voice. more