City Arts; 308; Grand Central Station, The Harlem Nutcracker, and LaGuardia High School
A great deal of what restoration of red cent has to do is bring back. A significant space in many many people's daily life. Every little girl's dream will be kind of like a princess. My sugarplum is far far simpler. Leggy kind of. Angular alluring. When you talk to high school they're really like wow you know is it the same thing is fame on TV. Is made possible by Dorothy and Lewis Coleman. The Charitable Trust and Sylvia funding is also provided by the Michael and Helen Shaefer
Foundation in New York City Department of Cultural Affairs through the cultural challenge program and the members of 13. This is a place with a million people a day walk through the journey may have begun in Connecticut maybe going up the Hudson River. It may be gone on a subway line in Queens and I think a great deal of what the restoration of Grand Central has to do is bringing back the significant space in many many people's day rally. One of the things that makes Grand Central so trucker is that it's a mythic place that has a powerful presence. It's even entered our language well this place is busy it's just kind of a standard phrase that everybody uses.
Architecture sers mostly on conscious responses in us for a while people use a snare. This kind of architecture. But we know perfectly well who has a tremendous emotional impact on us. It isn't just material boy. There's some sense of the we saw the power of the people. I'll tell the people of the bills there's a place and the people of the U.S. but. It is a genius of dealing in the way in that it makes. People feel great in it. And one of the reasons for that is the sophistication of the architecture. The architecture. Has ornament it has decoration. They're wonderful materials. There is a great sense of space and proportion throughout the station you can walk in from Lexington and you get to a relatively low ceiling space that draws you in draws you forward. And before you know it. Boom. You emerge into this great wonderful main concourse.
Space with a ceiling a hundred and twenty feet. Yes ma'am. Stratford. OK 650. Guests are coming up the. Next train to. Go. Certainly. Yes ma'am. Birthday. Coffee coffee. Coffee. They give me a bedroom of the 20th century. Leaving in five minutes. Yes I know it to make you sad. Don't go away. Grand Central occupies a very favored position in literature and movies television and radio. Even it is fortune writing in her changed prose at the turn of the century almost a hundred years ago I would have of Tangiers passing through Grand Central. There was a sense of the turn of the century that not just New York but the entire country was coming of age. There was a feeling that we were going to be the great imperial power and that we really needed a kind of a public face particularly to our cities.
The station was built from 900 in 1913 by the New York Central Railroad when they decided they could build an entirely new kind of station based on the possibilities of electric trains which mean that the trains could come in underground. They didn't need to be any giant shed is there had been to disperse the smoke and steam locomotives. Now they could bring the trains in on two levels underground under a street which they would rename Park Avenue you would have once been called Fourth Avenue and build this extraordinary gate way ahead house for the trains in the form of this bi level station interconnected by ramps and designing this extraordinary bus art style of architecture that was popular at the time. Grand Central Terminal suffered from. Almost 50 years of preferred maintenance. So we started out with a project to rebuild the infrastructure the electrical mechanical systems elevators a new roof. And that led us to restore the entire terminal these pinks A terrific.
This. This is very gray. Look at the one that's just going to be uncovered. You see how very different. That's got a lot more modeling in it. Right. That one thank you. You know. It's not going to change significantly right. That is to blend into gray and this has you so much texture. But if you look at the floor you know that you need a little of that. To give it this this for this variety of West already off with an existing building which is not only 80 years old but has changed many times over the course of those eight years. So it's very important in the restoration of the station that not only do we get historic accuracy in the materials but also there are a number of things that were originally done in the station which either though they were designed were not built or if they were built which changed over time and they had a big negative impact. This is a great place symmetrical in every detail but the one thing
it missed and lost. Was. The twin. Of the staircase that was built at the West. Side. Which was intended to be built here. So 80 years after the completion by Warren Moon when for all this great space we're going to. And the second stand the stand which will take the visitors to the balcony and to the travellers to the lower level to the tracks below us. My name is template here I'm an architectural conservator and my role in this project is to oversee all the restoration activities. Done in the middle of the room. There's a mural that shows the scene of the constellations. The dirt has been accumulating since the 20s. We actually started vacuuming the ceiling after we clean it will touch up areas that may have a little bit of damage and perhaps we may have to touch up some of the goalie. That's all the work that has to be done to the ceiling.
It's going to be much more brilliant space even if you look at the color of the painted plaster which is now important to its historical. Sort of an off white. Guitar station. Which. I was up on top of that when they did it all those years ago working down to these tiny tiny ants crawling around on the floor. I see right now with all this scaffolding and all the tarps is a brand new thing nobody's ever seen anything like this of course in Grand Central recuperation of this great work in progress will probably not take place until maybe years after around 10 and even I had to fill in for me because I like you know as a nation on how it's going to not only save forever but greater than ever for the reconstruction of it and the improvements being made to it. European society buildings take on different lives as they go through their history as we go into the 21st century. This nation will change. I don't
know that it's necessarily going to be a bad thing. We'll have to in a sense keep alive the memory of what it was and make sure people feel it. But in fact I think it's still going to work as a great urban building. I think. That the hundreds of thousands of commuters who use this five days a week. I think of they're walking through France and four or five years from now looking up and thinking hey this would be a great place to bring the kids. Why don't I come into the city and go to Radio City Music and instead of jumping in the car as they do now they get on the train. They get on a train because they know at the other end of the train journey this is wonderful space. It's going to blow the socks off.
The thing that makes my Nutcracker different is it takes place in Harlem you know and it's actually from the perspective of an African-American family. The music is that there are but he now has a role in the jazz idiom by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. And I dish you know she calls the melodies were arranged by David Berger. This is a fun project for me and then. I'm collaborating with a with a live choreographer so we get to speak every day about developing the piece but I'm also collaborating with a composer that's been dead close to 100 years and two other composers that have been dead for 20 30 years. American music is a synthesis of all the cultures that America. Uses So it's it's it's an easy thing for an American musician to buy from any music. That's not right.
Thought that modern life and dimension of it had sway. If you could swing. This production really is new. It's the traditional story. But the updating of it that the dial has done. Turns it into real drama. The traditional Nutcracker central character is really a little girl and in my production the central character is an elderly woman. This is her first Christmas without her husband. She's really feeling emptiness of the house he used to fill the house with his joy and his mind this effervescence he was wonderful. In that emptiness and loneliness. She begins to remember Christmases past. Don bird has a habit of. Revisiting classic valets
because he's very excited by the form. So he is likely to take the form of a word and insert his own agenda on sugar plum. Is every little girl's dream of being kind of like a prince. Yes. My sugar plum is a Bob Fosi one. Leggy kind of cold angular alluring. What we have now is a way of moving. That's just the way American. World. Most crackers that you see it's always a girl that doesn't Rabia is beautiful and typical in terms of the image that you had. About a radiant
beautiful girl going like that. One of the phenomenons of the the late 80s and 90s has been has become this the kind of sexualizing of the male body. The Arabian number in my Nutcracker. It kind of comments on that. Jazz has a timeless quality about it just like. Tchaikovsky's music or Bach's music or Beethoven's music. Good jazz stays with us in a way that it still speaks to us. So all Americans should be tried to sway if they don't have feel a little frustrated when I'm around and they really they pay a lot to see other people smile because they know it is an imperative to grow not just one. I think this Harlem Nutcracker will become a real alternative.
As a holiday tradition. It has a familiar story. Dynamite dances. And has jazz music it appeals to everyone. I want to create a company that presented work that was distinctly American in its integration of the different aspects of American culture. I think the Harlem knock cracker does that. But there is Americanisation of words we. Use dances that crisis to make them be proud being what they are and
work with them on our promise the overall. Performance is to reach for self esteem for a conference. We are brothers really. Need to get it ladies and gentlemen. Doing a one woman show is overwhelming and it's so much pressure. But on the other hand when it works it's you that's making you or. I need you to do all for an ovary once. Cut off from its
responsibilities to travel. I were an ovary and I suddenly didn't have to deal with that fellow be intimidated. And I just wanted. Some stuff some people say to me this was be a dream come true for you. We'll say you know no I because I never dreamed that I would be on Broadway. And in a way to me that makes it even greater than I was knowing might exist anyways right into them. But true when you're trying is used really to describe any sort of Plains Indian drawing on paper. Many of them were drawn in discarded letters and account books used by shopkeepers by military men before the Indians took over the discarded ledger and drew it.
This document their bodies in a unique combination the elements of antiquity and genius. Leonardo wrote in the Renaissance Italian and he wrote that word. Disco which is our translation tool. It's your incredible access to understanding the importance of writing. It is also a manuscript that blends art and science as we blend. Culture and Science. As lenses through which to interpret the world. I wake up at. 5:30. And I write this stuff. To the US. To China. To the center.
To the right. Oh it's an hour and 35 minutes something like that. To get here. Maybe a 757 for anything. And I might you know talk and lollygag a bit until the first. We told him he went to a boarding high school where we look at you like you know is it the same thing as fame on TV. Anybody know what they're getting into but it must be committed 100 percent what people are doing here is they're learning to take this energy in them instead of just letting it sit there using it constructively. They're using it to express something. Yes. We. Kind of get here which is wonderful. Every nationality. Some don't speak English and. They
all speak. Like a child. What you what you do what I do that you bring in the winter. We have our basic academics for a first part of the day and then we have a studio in one of the five cities create art music drama or dance. Kids. Who become dancers have to dance. And they have to dance because. When they dance they feel a lot. They have a feeling that can't be put into words I mean that's what dance is it's freaking without words. Usually like when you dance with a couple they fall in love and they live happily ever after. This time it finishes off the she turns back just at your last year. I still don't know.
Basically I want to purchase. Which is in upstate New York is one of the best conservatory for dance. If not I'm actually going to Marine Corps. Basically the discipline is the same thing because we come in here in the morning rain snow sleet a matter why don't we come we dance. This same thing over to you go over there and you have a sergeant in your face all the time over here we have this a bit easier so this is the head of the dance department and I face all the time telling us what to do what not to do. That's OK that's OK. What you do is we will drop it we'll do it tomorrow. They get wonderful teachers who become role models for them and they don't just see that they could become a dancer like their teacher but they see they could become a person like their teacher. There's this thing that was. I get your show. Right. So it's got it's got a lot of meaning you're giving it much more meaning than it has because at the end of it really does work out. It was a lot of I know that I'm going to
pursue acting professionally but. Everything that the school has taught us has is useful for any I think any career choice. It teaches you really more that if you just be open and how to deal with people. You can be my friend. That's sort of interesting about a school for the arts is that it is that blurs the line between between your work and who you are yeah I mean it absolutely needs you you need to put your whole self into it. We talked about for three hours once I don't know what chord it did but that intensity taking on a role that sort of allows you to express things which you really can express in everyday life. So I laid out everything I wanted to tell or high school so many people are trying to find you know a sense of identity in who they are. I need to choose one that's represented me it would be my for. My self portraits I can be beautiful ugly happy. And I refused to be just one Can I just have different
aspects personalities that I never showed anyone but I can show to the world. Near teenage you go through a lot of problems and it's fine. And when I get into class you can just look and feel however you want to feel. When I was 10 years old I was singing on this why you know they wanted someone to just sing on line so I was really nervous and I sang it was like yeah I'm like OK you know I didn't think much of it was was was a and I feel good. I sing it does something to like it so.
When I think about that all it all comes together. And so when I sing it. It's like damn this school is so accepting and it's such a it's such an amazing God it's such an amazing place. You don't have to try to be somebody that you know that everybody comes from all over the place and there's a whole bunch of different people and you can be yourself don't have to make believe to somebody else. We. Have. So many people that they spend their whole lives and they will find the thing that clicks and so many people have found it here in life. I mean found what they want to do when your teenager you're thinking what to do in the future so you know you want to start you know the arts have anything to do with how the school is going to love every minute of it.
Next time the best of city arts. Like her man I love rehearsing almost more than anything because the feeling of everyone Firstly is different from every other. Series. In order to get people to bookstores not have to sell them something they really want which is coffee. To me it seems like a really weird combination. That's why we have homes coffee get books go together yes in your home. Was the air and eat the effete. The EH EH EH EH EH EH EH EH EH.
- City Arts
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- Thirteen WNET
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- This episode of City Arts includes three features: the first looks at restoration work at Grand Central Station, the second covers the Harlem Nutcracker ballet, and the third profiles the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts. The Grand Central Station segment highlights the station's architecture, its history, and the various people involved in conserving the space, including architects and architectural conservators. The second segment presents a behind-the-scenes look at the creative process in producing the Harlem Nutcracker, from the perspectives of Donald Byrd, Choreographer, David Berger, Composer, and the ballet's dancers. After a brief "Selects" segment on 5 arts-related events and activities to do in the city, the third feature covers the programs and students at LaGuardia High School.
- City Arts is a magazine featuring segments on New York's art and artists.
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Producing Organization: Thirteen WNET
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Thirteen - New York Public Media (WNET)
Identifier: wnet_aacip_6608 (WNET Archive)
Format: Betacam: SP
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- Chicago: “City Arts; 308; Grand Central Station, The Harlem Nutcracker, and LaGuardia High School,” 1996-00-00, Thirteen WNET, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed September 18, 2020, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-75-01pg4hg3.
- MLA: “City Arts; 308; Grand Central Station, The Harlem Nutcracker, and LaGuardia High School.” 1996-00-00. Thirteen WNET, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. September 18, 2020. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-75-01pg4hg3>.
- APA: City Arts; 308; Grand Central Station, The Harlem Nutcracker, and LaGuardia High School. Boston, MA: Thirteen WNET, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-75-01pg4hg3