Brooklyn Academy of (not solely) Music.
The performing arts center that has been around since the Civil War, The Brooklyn Academy of Music for over a century inspired avant-garde collaborations like the one of Merce Cunningham Dance Company and Radiohead.
Founded in 1861 the first BAM facility at 176-194 Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights was conceived as the home of the Philharmonic Society of Brooklyn. It housed a large theater seating 2,200, a smaller concert hall, dressing and chorus rooms, and a vast "baronial" kitchen. After the building burned to the ground on November 30, 1903, plans were made to relocate to a new facility in the then fashionable neighborhood of Fort Greene. The cornerstone was laid at 30 Lafayette Avenue in 1906 and a series of opening events were held in the fall of 1908 culminating with a grand gala evening.
In 1967 Harvey Lichtenstein was appointed executive director what started the 32 years of BAM’s renaissance. The institution is now recognized internationally as a progressive cultural center well known for The Next Wave Festival (started in 1983). BAM continues to develop and present a unique roster of traditional and contemporary dance, theater, music, opera and film, placing particular emphasis on artists of international stature who have a cutting-edge artistic vision. Four theaters showcase the acclaimed Next Wave Festival for new work—BAM's fall flagship event focusing on artists probing new and emerging areas of the performing arts—as well as programs ranging from classical music to circus arts, from Shakespeare to African dance. Artists who have presented their works there include Philip Glass, Peter Brook, Laurie Anderson, Steve Reich, Seal, Alice in Chains, Robert Wilson, BLACKSTREET, Ingmar Bergman, The Whirling Dervishes and the Kirov Opera directed and conducted by Valery Gergiev among others. Despite (or perhaps because of) some walkouts during its interdisciplinary festival, BAM’s commitment to work that pushes the envelope has bred loyalty in both artists and audiences alike. Today, BAM is under the leadership of President Karen Brooks Hopkins and Executive Producer Joseph V. Melillo.
BAM’s seven-story Beaux-Arts building houses a cavernous, 2,109-seat theater, which has been the site of legendary performances from Enrico Caruso, Isadora Duncan, John Cage, Vanessa Redgrave, Mark Morris, and Bill T. Jones. It’s 46-foot proscenium has accommodated elaborate sets, like Robert Rauschenberg’s fabric sculptures and Pina Bausch’s mountain of colorful Chinese flowers. The remainder of the building houses BAM’s multifaceted operations, including BAMCafé (a restaurant–music venue), BAM Rose Cinemas (a multiplex for both first run and art-house films), a Brownstone Books outpost, and a small, first floor gallery. The opera house’s top two floors—also known as the BAM Richard Alan Hillman Attic Studio and the Penthouse Studio—are dance studios most commonly used for rehearsals. The 874-seat Harvey Theater, BAM’s other major performance space, is located just a few blocks away on Fulton Street.
BAM, which showcases local and out-of-town companies, is one of New York's prominent cultural institutions. The Howard Gilman Opera House, with its Federal-style columns and carved marble, is a beautiful dance venue.
The 1904 Harvey Theater (651 Fulton St between Ashland and Rockwell Pl), formerly called the Majestic, has hosted the work of John Jasperse, Wally Cardona and Matthew Bourne. Each fall, BAM's Next Wave Festival highlights established and experimental dance groups; in the spring, there's an assortment of ballet, African and modern dance. Every Memorial Day weekend, BAM hosts DanceAfrica. A celebration of African dance and culture showcasing dance groups from the U.S. and around the world, DanceAfrica has become a weekend-long community tradition with an outdoor bazaar, exhibitions, films, and live music.
The four-screen BAM Rose Cinemas (BRC) opened in 1998 to screen alternative and independent films that might not otherwise be seen in Brooklyn. In 1999, BAMcinématek, the repertory program, was inaugurated to add retrospective screenings and festivals to the mix. BAMcinématek is a program for new and rarely seen contemporary work, a presenter of classic films from cinema history, and a platform for community groups, local screenings and festivals. Starting in 2006, BAM has collaborated with the Sundance Institute on a special series of film screenings, performances, panel discussions, and special events bringing the institute's activities and its annual film festival's programming to New York City. The program highlights projects supported by the institute's programs in film making, theater, and film music.