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Baryshnikov Arts Center to Return to Live Performance in Spring

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The Baryshnikov Arts Center will return to in-person performances this spring after two years of online programming.

The season features eight dance and music performances, with three presented virtually. The streamed performances are a part of the center’s commissioning program, which began in fall 2020 as a way of sustaining the organization and encouraging artists to continue creating during the pandemic.

Cora Cahan, the center’s president and chief executive, said the delay in the return to live performances was because of the postponement during the pandemic of a long-planned replacement of its building’s heating, ventilation and cooling systems.

“We’re going very slowly and carefully here because we’re moving back to having audiences on site for the first time in so long,” Cahan said. “We’re thrilled to be planning for live performances in lock step with our commissioning program that’s been so vibrant and dynamic since we began it almost two years ago.”

The season is to open with two virtual presentations: the high-wire artist Philippe Petit’s “Open Practice,” about his creative process (Feb. 7-21); and a film and sound installation by the Toronto choreographer Peggy Baker, “her body as words,” inspired by Simone de Beauvoir’s “The Second Sex” (Feb. 28-March 14).

The first live performances will be evenings of music by Chromic Duo, genre-fluid musicians who use prepared piano, toy piano and synthesizers (March 14-15); the violinist and producer Johnny Gandelsman, who will present the New York premiere of his project “This Is America” (March 16-17); and Andy Akiho, whose “Seven Pillars,” an evening-length work for percussion, will have its New York premiere (April 7-8).

Dance programming includes performances by Ashwini Ramaswamy (April 13-15), whose “Let the Crows Come” deconstructs the Bharatanatyam form, and the world premiere of Donna Uchizono’s “Wings of Iron” (May 18-21). Both were originally scheduled for the center’s spring 2020 season. A new dance film by Omar Román De Jesús will be presented virtually (April 25-May 9).



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On ‘S.N.L.,’ Biden Urges Covid-Weary Nation to Stop Seeing ‘Spider-Man’

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Spider-Man just finished saving the very fabric of reality, but to hear President Biden tell it — at least on “Saturday Night Live” — the wall-crawler is the one to blame for the continuing pandemic.

To kick off the first new “S.N.L.” of 2022, James Austin Johnson returned in his recurring role as Biden for a news conference in which he told the nation that “there’s one simple thing you can do to make this whole virus go away: Stop seeing ‘Spider-Man.’”

Addressing the White House press corps in the show’s opening sketch, Johnson said: “This virus has disrupted our lives. It’s canceled holidays, weddings, quinceañeras, gender-reveal parties, wildfires that started as gender-reveal parties.”

He went on to say: “Now, think about it. When did ‘Spider-Man’ come out? Dec. 17. When did every single person get Omicron? The week after Dec. 17.”

The last time “S.N.L.” attempted a live episode, on Dec. 18, it was significantly disrupted by the pandemic. Hours before airtime, NBC announced that because of Covid concerns, the show would not use a live audience; the broadcast was missing most of the cast members, had no musical guest and consisted mostly of pretaped segments and sketches from past episodes.

“S.N.L.” was not spared the intrusion of the coronavirus this week. On Wednesday, the rapper Roddy Ricch, who was originally announced as the musical guest, said on his Instagram account that he would be unable to perform because of “recent COVID exposure on my team and to keep everyone safe.” Instead, the pop band Bleachers took his place.

In the Biden sketch, Johnson explained that he was not asking people to avoid the movies altogether. “I said, stop seeing ‘Spider-Man,’” he declared in reference to “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” which has shattered Covid-era box-office records.

“See anything else,” he continued. “I saw the first half-hour of ‘House of Gucci.’ That’s more than enough movie for anyone.”

Questioned about the lack of available Covid testing, Johnson’s Biden answered, “You want to know if you have Covid? Look at your hand. Is it holding a ticket that says you recently went to see ‘Spider-Man’? If so, you have Covid.”

As Johnson started to expound on the existence of the multiverse, he was visited by a shirtless, white-haired Pete Davidson, who explained that he was Joe Biden “from the real universe,” and that this incarnation of reality had been created “as a joke, starting in 2016 when the Chicago Cubs won the World Series.”

When Johnson asked him if he was the president in this real world, Davidson answered: “Of course not. Did you really think you would lose four times and then finally win when you were 78?”

When you’ve got an “S.N.L.” episode hosted by Ariana DeBose, a star of Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” remake and a newly-minted Golden Globe winner, you know you’re going to have a couple of sketches that pay affectionate tribute to musical theater.

The first of the night was DeBose’s opening monologue, during which she was joined by Kate McKinnon, who professed that “West Side Story” was her favorite musical.

“Did you like the movie?” DeBose asked her. “I didn’t see it,” McKinnon replied. “I don’t leave the house because of Covid and also because I don’t leave the house.” They gamely sang a medley of several “West Side Story” numbers together, including “Tonight” and “I Feel Pretty,” though McKinnon sat out the mambo dance break: “They know I dance,” she said.

Later in the night, the two re-teamed for a “Sound of Music” parody in which McKinnon delivered a deft Julie Andrews impression. DeBose played another wayward woman from Maria’s convent who tries to teach a group of children to sing, with an updated version of “Do-Re-Mi” that’s unexpectedly heavy on references to Queen Latifah. Eat your heart out, Rodgers and Hammerstein.

Earlier this week, when NBC’s Peacock streaming service dropped the trailer for “Bel-Air,” a gritty, dramatic retelling of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” some viewers wondered if it was an “S.N.L.” sketch.

It wasn’t, but that didn’t stop “S.N.L.” from going forward with this satirical preview for an unnecessarily harsh reboot of another 90s-era sitcom, “Family Matters.” In this incarnation, Carl Winslow (Kenan Thompson) is a sadistic Chicago cop and the lovably nerdy Steve Urkel (Chris Redd) now has an abusive, drunken mom and a violent temper. You’ll never hear the catchphrase “Did I do that?” in quite the same way again.

Over at the Weekend Update desk, the anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che continued to riff on President Biden’s stalled agenda.

Jost began:

Just like everybody else, President Biden’s New Year’s resolutions fell apart in the third week of January. The Supreme Court struck down his vaccine mandate. The voting rights bill got blocked. And his approval rating is so low, it’s gone into power-save mode. But I will point out, there was another president who had a disastrous start to his first term, yet he became an inspiration to generations of Republicans, even to this day. [The screen shows a picture of Ronald Reagan.] I’m talking of course about Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy. [The picture changes to one of Davis.]

“And there are still statues of him in 10 different states,” Jost continued:

Which, come to think of it, probably explains why the voting rights stuff isn’t working out. The bottom line is, I think Biden just needs more time. He might be more of an acquired taste. Unfortunately, most Americans recently lost their sense of taste.

Che picked up on the Biden thread:

President Biden gave a speech in Atlanta where he called on the Senate to pass two voting rights bills, saying, “I am tired of being quiet.” And to prove it, he took a 20-minute standing nap.



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Rosa Lee Hawkins, Youngest Member of the Dixie Cups, Dies at 76

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Rosa Lee Hawkins, the youngest member of the musical trio the Dixie Cups, whose hit single “Chapel of Love” reached No. 1 on the Billboard 100 in 1964, died on Tuesday in Tampa, Fla. She was 76.

The cause was internal bleeding resulting from complications during surgery at Tampa General Hospital, said her sister Barbara Ann Hawkins, who was also a member of the group, along with Joan Marie Johnson, who died in 2016 at 72.

The Dixie Cups epitomized the harmonizing sound of the 1960s girl group. “Chapel of Love,” their debut single and most well-known song, quickly replaced the Beatles’ “Love Me Do” as No. 1 on the Billboard charts in 1964. It was later heard on the soundtrack of Stanley Kubrick’s 1987 Vietnam War film, “Full Metal Jacket.”

Rosa Lee Hawkins was born on Oct. 23, 1945, in New Orleans to Hartzell Hawkins, a self-employed carpenter, and Lucille (Merette) Hawkins, a state worker who registered voters.

While in high school in 1963, Barbara brought Rosa along to sing with her and Joan Marie in a high school talent show. The trio initially called themselves the Meltones, only to discover later that the name had already been taken. Since they were from the land of Dixie, and “cups are cute,” Barbara said in an interview, they came up with the name Dixie Cups (playing on the name of the popular paper cup).

Joan later discovered that the Hawkins sisters were actually her cousins.

While they did not win the talent show, a talent scout in the audience, impressed by their rich harmonies, invited the group, along with other Louisiana musicians, to perform for Red Bird Records. The Dixie Cups sang “Iko Iko,” a song that was traditionally sung during Mardi Gras and that was a favorite of the Hawkins sisters’ grandmother. They signed a recording contract soon after.

The Dixie Cups received two Gold Records, for “Chapel of Love” and another hit, “People Say.” They were inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2007.

The group recorded a total of four albums, their last in 2011. Ms. Johnson, ill with sickle-cell anemia and weary from touring, left the group and was replaced by a number of singers through the years. The Hawkins sisters remained, though, and kept singing just as they did in high school, with harmonies as vibrant as ever.

“When the audience smiled and applauded, it made her happy because she knew she put a smile on their faces, if only for that time,” Barbara said of her younger sister.

In addition to Barbara, Ms. Hawkins is survived by another sister, Shirley; a son, Eric Blanc; and two grandchildren.



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John Bowman, Comedy Writer With a Knack for Crossing Over, Dies at 64

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John Frederick Bowman was born on Sept. 28, 1957, in Milwaukee. His father, William, was a lawyer, and his mother, Loretta (Murphy) Bowman, was a homemaker.

White attending Harvard as an undergraduate, Mr. Bowman was an editor at The Harvard Lampoon. He graduated from Harvard Business School in 1985 and became an executive at PepsiCo, based in Purchase, N.Y., before deciding that what he really wanted to do was work in comedy.

At the time, his wife was writing for “Saturday Night Live.”

“I told Jim that my husband wasn’t happy at PepsiCo and he wanted to do this,” Ms. Gaughan Bowman said, referring to Jim Downey, the longtime “S.N.L.” head writer.

It was a big leap from a corporate job to the “S.N.L.” writers’ room, but Mr. Downey, a former president of The Lampoon, had mined the magazine for writers and was familiar with Mr. Bowman through his writing and through mutual friends. He asked Mr. Bowman to submit sketches; he was hired a year later.

“He had the best dry sense of humor of almost anyone I’ve ever worked with,” Mr. Downey said by phone. In his only season with the show, Mr. Bowman shared a 1989 Emmy Award with the rest of the writing staff.

He went on to be the showrunner in the mid-1990s for “Murphy Brown,” starring Candice Bergen.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Bowman is survived by his daughter, Courtney Bowman Brady; his sons, Nicholas, Alec, Jesse and John Jr.; a sister, Susan Bowman; and two brothers, William and James.



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