“Some things stay private. Or as Two-Mom always told me, ‘Keep a little mystery about yourself,’” tennis superstar Jimmy Connors writes in his new book, The Outsider: A Memoir (Harper, May 14, 2013, $28.99). The Illinois-born James Scott Connors, winner of eight Grand Slam titles, including five U.S. Open championships, dishes about his life and career, which took off in the 1970s and continued into the early ’80s when playing classic matches against such rivals as Arthur Ashe, Björn Borg, Ilie Năstase, John McEnroe, Rod Laver, and Ivan Lendl. He was engaged to Chris Evert before marrying Playboy centerfold and 1977 Playmate of the Year Patti McGuire; the couple live together in Santa Barbara and have two children. Never one to clam up, Connors also shares details of his battles with OCD, dyslexia, and gambling in the memoir. He’ll be at the Citigroup Center B&N on May 14 at 12:30, signing copies of The Outsider — and probably speaking a little of his mind as well.
Grand Central Terminal
Vanderbilt Hall, Tracks 34-37, and other locations
May 11-12, free, 10:00 am - 4:00 pm
The world’s greatest train terminal, Grand Central, continues its centennial celebration with another in what has been a series of very cool events. On May 11-12, Grand Central Terminal — it was called Grand Central Station from 1900 to 1913, when it was rechristened with its current appellation — is hosting the Grand Centennial Parade of Trains, including Railroadiana, a model-train collectible show in one half of Vanderbilt Hall; Legos, Chuggington, and other family-friendly exhibits and activities in Kid Junction in the other half of Vanderbilt Hall; and a Historic Railcar Collection on tracks 34-37, featuring such classics as the 20th Century Limited, the Babbling Brook (1949), the Berlin (1956), the Birken (1954), the Cimarron River (1948), the Dover Harbor (1923), the Hickory Creek (1947), the Kitchi Gammi Club (1923), the Montana (1947), the New York Central 43 (1947), the New York Central 448 (1947), the Ohio River (1926), the Overland Trail (1949), the Pacific Sands (1950), the Salisbury Beach (1954), the Tioga Pass (1959), and the Wisconsin (1948), many offering tours, as well as a dozen Metro-North cars. (You can find the complete schedule here, including special store discounts.) In addition, the Times Square Shuttle will be running vintage 1940s and 1950s trains on track 4, which commuters can take between Grand Central and Times Square. There will also be live music, MTA Arts for Transit tours, a “World’s Tallest Track” attempt for the Guinness Book of World Records, Metro-North’s robotic Metro Man giving safety talks, author readings by Maureen Sullivan of her GCT-set book Ankle Soup, MTA K-9 police unit presentations, games and prizes, and more. In addition, stop by the New York Transit Museum Gallery Annex to check out “On Time/Grand Central at 100,” an exhibition of works about the past, present, and future of the terminal by such artists as Penelope Umbrico, Jim Campbell, Vik Muniz, Paloma Muñoz, and others. (Please note that backpacks are not allowed in event spaces, and there will be no bag check.)
200 Eastern Parkway at Washington St.
Saturday, May 4, free, 5:00 - 11:00 (some events require free tickets distributed in advance at the Visitor Center)
The Brooklyn Museum celebrates its collaboration with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, “John Singer Sargent Watercolors,” in the May edition of the free monthly First Saturday program. There will be several gallery talks, including one by curator Teresa Carbone, on the show, which brings together ninety-three pieces from the two institutions. In addition, there will be an art workshop in which participants will make their own watercolor postcard, pop-up immersive theatrical happening inspired by Sargent’s paintings, a garden party with a photo booth and swing music by Les Chauds Lapins, a book-club talk with Janet Wallach on Desert Queen: The Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell (whom Sargent painted), screenings of Lisa Duva’s Cat Scratch Fever and Dominique Monfery’s Eleanor’s Secret, live performances by Layali El Andalus, Jesse Boykins III, Young Magic, and East Village Radio DJ Hannah Rad, and more. The galleries will remain open late so visitors can also check out “LaToya Ruby Frazier: A Haunted Capital,” “Käthe Kollwitz: Prints from the ‘War’ and ‘Death’ Portfolios,” “‘Workt by Hand’: Hidden Labor and Historical Quilts,” “Gravity and Grace: Monumental Works by El Anatsui,” “Raw/Cooked: Marela Zacarias,” and other exhibitions.
April 29 - May 5, free - $30
“Without literature, it’s all just words,” PEN America president Peter Godwin writes in his opening letter to the ninth annual PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature. The organization that fights for freedom and first amendment rights this year celebrates the idea of bravery in art, politics, and personal everyday life during the weeklong festival comprising more than fifty readings, live performances, discussions, workshops, master classes, and more. Below are just some of the many highlights for this annual tribute to the power of the written word and how it can and does make a difference throughout the world, featuring such participants as Martin Amis, Joy Harjo, Paul Auster, Ai Weiwei (via Skype), Salman Rushdie, Sapphire, Sonia Sotomayor, Lewis Lapham, Amy Wilentz, Naomi Wolf, Fiona Shaw, Oskar Eustis, Fran Lebowitz, Edna O’Brien, Colm Tóibín, Lynne Tillman, and many more at such venues as Joe's Pub, the New School, the Standard, and NYU.
Monday, April 29
Opening Night Reading: Bravery, with A. Igoni Barrett, David Frakt, Darrel Vandeveld, Joy Harjo, Jamaica Kincaid, Ursula Krechel, Earl Lovelace, Vaddey Ratner, Mikhail Shishkin, and Najwan Darwish, hosted by Baratunde Thurston, the Great Hall of the Cooper Union, $20, 7:00
Tuesday, April 30
2013 PEN Literary Gala, with Philip Roth, American Museum of Natural History, $1,000, 7:00
An Evening with McSweeney’s, with Francisco Goldman, Clancy Martin, Wyatt Mason, José Luís Peixoto, Francesco Pacifico, and others, Joe’s Pub, $15, 9:00
Wednesday, May 1
Bravery in Poetry, with Hilton Als, Paul Auster, Henri Cole, Edward Hirsch, Mary Karr, Yusef Komunyakaa, Eileen Myles, Sapphire, and others, Tishman Auditorium, the New School, $30, 7:30
Speaking in Languages on the Edge, with Gillian Clarke, Joy Harjo, Natalio Hernandez, Bob Holman, and others, Joe’s Pub, $15, 9:30
Thursday, May 2
Master/Class: Jamaica Kincaid with Ru Freeman, Tishman Auditorium, the New School, $20, 6:30
Master/Class: Sapphire with Nicole Sealey, Tishman Auditorium, the New School, $20, 8:30
Obsession: Andrew Solomon on Sleep, with Andrew Solomon and Joan Golden-Alexis, hosted by Katie Halper, the Standard, East Village Hotel, $20, 9:00
Friday, May 3
African Writers Workshop with Igoni Barrett, NYU Africa House, 10:00 am
The Literary Mews: Outdoor Indie Book Fair (with readings by Epiphany magazine, Four Way Books, St. Petersburg Review, Gigantic magazine, and Open Letter Books), presentation by photographer Nancy Crampton, Irish Song Workshop with Pádraig Ó Cearúill, Magically Grimm: German Folk Songs with Tine Kindermann & Band, Kasperl-Puppet Theater, The Griot: African Storytelling, and Chapbook Binding, Washington Mews, NYU, free, 10:00 am – 4:00
The Testament of Mary: A Discussion on the Broadway Show, with star Fiona Shaw, writer Colm Tóibín, and director Deborah Warner, moderated by Jeremy McCarter, Tishman Auditorium, the New School, free, 1:30
The Novelist as Truthteller: The Achievement and Legacy of Vasily Grossman, with Agata Tuszynska and Martin Amis, moderated by Edwin Frank, the Public Theater, $15, 6:30
A Literary Safari, with Michal Ajvaz, Nadeem Aslam, Loree Burns, Dror Burstein, Gillian Clarke, Mia Couto, Eduardo Halfon, Natalio Hernandez, Nick Holdstock, Randa Jarrar, John Kenney, Tararith Kho, Jaime Manrique, Margie Orford, Jordi Punti, Noemi Szecsi, Padma Venkatraman, Gerbrand Bakker, James Kelman, Téa Obreht, and others, Westbeth Center for the Arts, $15, 6:30
Master/Class: Fran Lebowitz with A. M. Homes, Tishman Auditorium, the New School, $20, 6:30
Saturday, May 4
Asia Society Presents: Monkey Business, with Paul Auster, Mina Ishikawa, Genichiro Takahashi, and Charles Simic, facilitated by translators Motoyuki Shibata and Ted Goossen, Asia Society, $12, 2:00
Revitalizing Endangered Languages, with Gillian Clarke, Natalio Hernandez, Daniel Kaufman, and Lorna Williams, moderated by Nick Holdstock, the Public Theater, $15, 3:00
An Evening with Lapham’s Quarterly, with Lewis Lapham, Oskar Eustis, Maryann Plunkett, Jay O. Sanders, and others, Joe’s Pub, $15, 7:00
Obsession: Naomi Wolf on Truth, with Naomi Wolf and Ben Schrank, hosted by Katie Halper, the Standard, East Village Hotel, $20, 9:00
Sunday, May 5
Granta: 2013 Best of Young British Novelists, with Hari Kunzru, Sigrid Rausing, John Freeman, and several 2013 Best Young British Novelists, Joe’s Pub, $15, 2:00
Burma: Bones Will Crow, with Khin Aung Aye, James Byrne, and Zeyar Lynn, moderated by Phillip Howze, the Public Theater, $15, 3:00
Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture: Sonia Sotomayor, the Great Hall of the Cooper Union, $30, 5:00
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
900 Washington Ave. at Eastern Parkway
Saturday, April 27, and Sunday, April 28, $15-$20 (children under twelve free)
Last weekend, we were in Washington, DC, where we were delighted to see that the cherry trees were in bloom, filling the streets with their beautiful pink and white blossoms, even though it was still unseasonably cold down there. The weather should be a whole lot milder this weekend for the annual Sakura Matsuri at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, with temperatures nearing seventy for the always charming Cherry Blossom Festival. Over the course of two days, there will be workshops, live music and dance, martial arts demonstrations, flower arranging, arts & crafts, food tastings, art exhibits, comedy, book signings, origami lessons, manga drawing, games, museum tours, and more. Below are only some of the highlights of one of the most enjoyable, though usually extremely crowded, festivals of the year; most programs are held both days.
Bonsai Basics for Home Gardeners, Steinhardt Conservatory, 10:00 – 5:00
Ikebana Flower Arrangements with students of master Fumiko Allinder, Rotunda, 10:00 – 5:00
Vintage Kimonos: YokoDana Kimono, Magnolia Plaza, 11:00 – 5:00
Wagashi Japanese Sweet Shop: Minamoto Kitchoan, Magnolia Plaza, 11:00 – 5:00
Uncle Yo: Anime Stand-up Comedy, J-Lounge Stage at Osborne Garden, 12 noon
Manga Drawing and Book Signing with Misako Rocks, Osborne Garden, 12 noon – 4:45
Nihon Buyo classical dance: Dancejapan with Sachiyo Ito, Cherry Esplanade Stage, 1:00
Shogi: Japanese Chess, with New York Shogi Club, Osborne Garden, 1:00– 5:00
All-female marching band: Zakuro Chindon Band featuring vocalist Maiko, Cherry Esplanade Stage, 3:00
Traditional Tea Ceremony: Urasenke Chanoyu Center, Auditorium, 3:00
The BBG Parasol Society Games, J-Lounge Stage at Osborne Garden, 4:30 (preregistration required 2:00 – 4:00)
Hana Kanzashi Hair Ornaments, Magnolia Plaza, 11:00 – 5:00
DJ Saiko Mikan’s Tokyo Teleport Station, J-Lounge Stage at Osborne Garden, 11:00 – 5:30
Harie Paper Collage Exhibit, with artist Junko Yamada, Members’ Room Annex, 1:00 – 5:00
Meet Puzzle Craftsman Maki Kaji, Osborne Garden, 1:00 – 5:00
Kuni Mikami and East of the Sun: Jazz-inspired renditions of traditional folk songs, Cherry Esplanade Stage, 2:00
Moku Hanga Woodblock Printing Demonstration with April Vollmer, Steinhardt Conservatory, 2:00
Ukiyo-e Illustration with Jed Henry, Osborne Garden, 3:00
Samurai Sword Soul, Cherry Esplanade Stage, 3:45
Magician Rich Kameda, J-Lounge Stage at Osborne Garden, 4:00
LIVE IDEAS: THE WORLDS OF OLIVER SACKS — RE: AWAKENINGS (DANCE)
New York Live Arts
219 West 19th St.
Thursday, April 18, 8:00, and Saturday, April 20, 4:00, $40
Festival runs April 17-21
In the preface to the 1990 edition of his bestseller Awakenings, Dr. Oliver Sacks wrote, “It is now 21 years since my patients’ awakenings, and 17 years since this book was first published; yet, it seems to me, the subject is inexhaustible — medically, humanly, theoretically, dramatically. It is this which demands new additions and editions, and which keeps the subject for me — and, I trust, my readers — evergreen and alive.” In celebration of Sacks’s upcoming eightieth birthday (on July 9) and the thirtieth anniversary of the publication of Awakenings, New York Live Arts is hosting its first Live Ideas festival, “The Worlds of Oliver Sacks,” five days of special programs that medically, humanly, theoretically, and dramatically examine and explore the good doctor’s inexhaustible contributions to the field of science and the arts. The festival includes the world premiere of Bill Morrison’s short film Re: Awakenings; a series of talks delving into Sacks’s work with people who have Tourette’s, Parkinson’s, and hearing loss; an evening of music and dance with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, choreographer Aletta Collins, dancer Daniel Hay-Gordon, and conductor Tobias Picker; back-to-back presentations of Harold Pinter’s A Kind of Alaska, the first with spoken words, the second in American Sign Language; and such panel discussions as “Disembodiedness: Body Image & Proprioception,” “Musicophilia & Music Therapy,” “Neurologists & Philosophers Consider Sacks at 80,” and “Minding the Dancing Body,” the latter bringing together NYLA executive artistic director Bill T. Jones, Miguel Gutierrez, Colin McGinn, Alva Noë, and Gwen Welliver.
Sacks himself will participate in an Opening Keynote Conversation with Jones and will introduce a screening of the 1974 British television documentary Awakenings, followed by a Q&A. “Live Ideas” also features a pair of works by New York-based choreographer Donna Uchizono, performed by Levi Gonzalez, Hristoula Harakas, and Rebecca Serrell Cyr: a “Sacksian version” of Uchizono’s 1999 State of Heads and the newly commissioned Out of Frame. Earlier this week Uchizono discussed her involvement in this inaugural festival while preparing for the April 18 and 20 shows.
twi-ny: How did you get involved in “Live Ideas: The Worlds of Oliver Sacks” in the first place, and how familiar were you with his work prior to becoming part of the festival?
Donna Uchizono: I received a phone call from [NYLA artistic director] Carla Peterson asking me if I would be interested in creating a work about Awakenings based on Oliver Sacks’s work. I was, of course, completely honored and intrigued while simultaneously humbled by the offer. My father had his PhD in psychology and was interested in the workings of the brain. My father had a great love for books and had a huge library. Oliver Sacks’s books were among the many books my father owned. He gave me a copy of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat to read quite a long time ago. I had also seen the film Awakenings so was somewhat familiar with the horrible loneliness and “silent scream” of sleeping sickness. Heartbreaking. It’s quite a different challenge being commissioned to create a work about a specific topic other than a concept that is driven by oneself. The new work is turning out to be much more representational than work that I normally create, which I think is quite natural given the subject and the context in which it will be performed.
twi-ny: You’ll be presenting State of Heads, which premiered at Dance Theater Workshop in 1999. Why did you choose this to be part of your Sacks presentation?
Donna Uchizono: Coming out of a much larger discussion, the reasons for State of Heads being in the program are many and beyond the scope of this writing. But when the suggestion to move away from a program that included a play, music, and dance on one evening, to that of separate evenings of dance, music, and theater, State of Heads was discussed as a piece that may be included in the evening of dance because of its movement vocabulary. As I wrote in the choreographer’s notes, State of Heads explores the feeling of waiting and the passage of time in the state of hiatus where familiar time and scale are pushed. Using the separation of the head from the body as a point of departure, in an exploration of disjointedness and the sense of a will apart from the mind driving the movement, surprisingly created a world of endearingly odd characters. State of Heads reveals endearment in the awkward where the ordinary become extraordinary. The accounts of the patients that Oliver Sacks writes about in his book Awakenings are remarkable, where most definitely the ordinary become extraordinary and where profound “humanness” is found in the most unlikely places and time.
twi-ny: You’re also debuting Out of Frame, incorporating text from Dr. Sacks’s work. What was it like transforming his scientific studies into dance?
Donna Uchizono: I rarely use text in my work, but Oliver Sacks is not only a neurologist of note, he is also a well-known writer, thus it seemed natural to use his words. It was Oliver Sacks’s words that conjured up the images and movement for Out of Frame. I made a conscious decision not to view Bill Morrison’s film that incorporates actual archival footage or revisit the film Awakenings while creating the new work. I did not want to imitate but rather to create the movement vocabulary and images from Sacks’s writings. I was deeply moved by Dr. Sacks’s humane understanding of the plight of his patients. It was the idea of compassion and the need for tenderness towards the individuals that drives the work, rather than his scientific studies. The short solo seems to float between three states — the physical torque of the disease, the human beneath the dress, and the dreamlike temporary state of L-DOPA.
twi-ny: This year marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of your choreographic debut. What are some of the key differences in being a New York City dancer-choreographer in 1988 as opposed to today?
Donna Uchizono: I feel quite lucky to be part of a generation that started to show their work during the late 1980s and early ’90s. At that time it seemed as if anything was possible. We could design spaces, design programs, and find places to create. We were not yet aware of the looming financial shutdown that was about to happen. We looked around at other choreographers and there seemed to be a possible linear path moving from individual and emerging choreographer to having a small dance company. By the mid-’90s the financial wall had crumbled. I think it is much harder to make work now. Well, it is for me anyway. Young choreographers today seem to be much more aware that there is no obvious financial path. What remains the same is the need to make work.
twi-ny: You’ve had a long relationship with Dance Theater Workshop, which recently morphed into New York Live Arts. What do you think of the new venue?
Donna Uchizono: I have had a long relationship with with the wonderful and dedicated Carla Peterson, who continues to champion experimental artists. I am quite thrilled and honored to be in this Live Ideas festival, and the staff at NYLA have treated me with openness and generosity.