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Rogovoy Report 6/30/17

The fourth of July weekend is typically NOT a big one in terms of cultural events, but this year is an exception, with major art openings, dance performances, and music ensembles playing across the region.

One doesn’t ordinarily think of Hancock Shaker Village as a place to go to see contemporary art, but that’s about to change in a big way. Works by an all-star team of contemporary artists, including Gregory Crewdson, Don Gummer, Stephen Hannock, Jenny Holzer, Maya Lin, and David Teeple, go on view at Hancock Shaker Village, just outside of Pittsfield, Mass., on Saturday, in Making: Then and Now, a landmark exhibition of contemporary art that explores the connection between artists today and the historic utopian Shaker movement in the Berkshires. 

And one doesn’t necessarily think of viewing modern art at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Mass., best known for its 19th century works by the likes of Homer, Sargent, and Renoir. However, this summer the Clark is upending that stereotype, with exhibitions of works by 20th century titans Pablo Picasso and Helen Frankenthaler. On Saturday, the Clark lifts the veil on two Frankenthaler exhibitions: No Rules: Helen Frankenthaler Woodcuts, an exhibit exploring the artist’s inventive and groundbreaking approach to the woodcut, and As in Nature: Helen Frankenthaler Paintings, which focuses on nature as a long-standing inspiration for the artist. The No Rules exhibition includes 17 large-scale prints, presenting the full range of Frankenthaler’s experimentation with the medium from the 1970s through 2000s. The As in Nature exhibition comprises a selection of large paintings by Frankenthaler from the 1950s through the 1990s, focusing on nature as a longstanding inspiration.

Over at Jacob’s Pillow in Becket, Mass., MacArthur “Genius” and tap dancer/choreographer extraordinaire Michelle Dorrance has curated TIRELESS: A Tap Dance Experience, running today through Sunday. For this Pillow-exclusive engagement, Dorrance has brought together outstanding tap artists from around the world. And on the Pillow’s second stage, Portland, Ore.-based NW Dance Project makes a rare East Coast performance, in a program of accomplished and rising choreographic talent from the U.S. and abroad.

Speaking of dance, New York City Ballet MOVES kicks off the 2017 Bard SummerScape Festival this weekend, tonight through Sunday, ushering in seven weeks of music, opera, theater, dance, film, and cabaret at the annual festival, this year centered around the cultural world and impact of Frederic Chopin. For its first SummerScape engagement, New York City Ballet MOVES presents a triple bill of works by Jerome Robbins, George Balanchine, and Justin Peck.

Also at Bard College, soprano Dominique Labelle will perform works by Caldara, Handel, Purcell and others in Arias and Sinfonias from Biblical Oratorios, accompanied by the Aston Magna string ensemble, at Bard tonight at 8pm, and also at Saint James Place in Great Barrington, Mass., on Saturday at 6pm, as part of Aston Magna Music Festival.

And last but not least, the Krakauer/Tagg Duo brings its innovative blend of world music, jazz, classical, experimental techniques, and electronics to Club Helsinki Hudson on Sunday at 7pm. Grammy Award-nominated clarinetist David Krakauer and South African-born pianist/ composer Kathleen Tagg will perform their “Breath and Hammer: Clarinet, Piano and Beyond” multimedia program, enhanced by an immersive video feed, and featuring arrangements of works by downtown composer John Zorn, Syrian clarinetist Kinan Azmeh, and Cuban percussionist Roberto Rodriguez, plus original compositions with influences ranging from interlocking African drumming patterns to Romantic symphonic music to Minimalism to klezmer.

In the hands of Krakauer and Tagg, these diverse and seemingly disparate musical influences intermingle, transformed into something entirely new: a hybrid art form that bridges the cultures of the past and new work that looks towards the future. This duo of virtuosos also play the heck out of their instruments.

Seth Rogovoy is editor of Berkishire Daily and the Rogovoy Report, available online at rogovoyreport.com