A Summer Night at The Frick Collection with Dina Denis

The Frick Collection
Summer Night: Enlightenment and Beauty
A Fricking Awesome Experience! by Dina Denis
July 18, 2014
Looking for something stimulating to do Friday evening, I checked out DanceNYC.org's calendar and a Summer Night: Enlightenment and Beauty at The Frick Collection grabbed my attention. I called and left a message to inquire about this free event. Shortly after my inquiry I received a response from Adrienne who left a detailed message explaining all I needed to know for an eventful visit to The Frick Collection.
The Frick Collection - The Entrance
Photo by: Dina Denis
When entering The Frick Collection I was warmly greeted by young art enthusiasts (possible student interns or volunteers) whose polite and gleeful vibrancy radiated in Henry Clay Frick's (1849-1919) extraordinary residence. In the entrance hall we were given a small sheet of paper with just enough information to navigate through the museum, attend mini-lecturers of the work on display and participate in performances and interactive events. Velvet ropes and friendly faces guided us down bright cool stone corridors lit by an evening sun peering through ornately framed floor to round top recessed glass doors. Wood basket woven floors, smooth marble structural accents and enormous carpets filled rooms such as the library where we found Henry Clay Frick's portrait hanging over the fireplace. In the library one can see a painting of the great George Washington as well as other nobles depicted in large self-portraits with decadent frames. Perhaps they were the family and friends of Mr. Frick. Each room in the Frick household museum offered the opportunity to discover a new and exciting piece of centuries old art such as the Jean-Antoine Houdon sculptures, 19th and 20thcentury portraits and early American furniture and décor.
During my visit I danced on the rim of enlightenment and indulged my senses in beauty by strolling through the collections, engaging in Frick-art inspired conversations, sketching in the garden court and sampling the light snacks and lemon water refreshments. Every now and then I'd look down at my small eco-friendly paper map to see where I was, where I could go and how I could best prioritize my time before the 8pm performance.
Court Garden Sketches, Map and Program
Photo by: Dina Denis
While sketching in the Medici style garden court I had a bird's eye view of the line forming outside the music room in preparation for the evening's presentation. In this circular room an estimated 160 people gathered for an excerpt performance of George Balanchine's 1928 Neoclassical “Apollo.” This was the second repeat performance given that evening. “Apollo” was gracefully danced by New York City Ballet soloist Amar Ramasar on micro-stage that was aptly cited as their “Mount Olympus” by Head of Education Rika Burnham. Ramasar demonstrated precision and agility with his sculpted posture and balletic movement. From an upstage center alcove draped in a blue and sometime gold lit curtain, Ramasar appeared as Apollo, god of music, in his white fitted costume. His movements seemed limitless on this pedestal-esque stage where he posed in the piece's signature lunge with pulsing hands as accented as his footwork. Thanks to The George Balanchine Trust and the curatorial staff at The Frick Collection, Mr. Balanchine and Igor Stravinsky's collaborative legacy and celebration of Neoclassical dance was able to transcend the David H. Koch theatre in order to commune with a visual art audience at The Frick Collection.
Prior to the solo several short talks were given in order to prepare the mind, heart and spirit for the communion of beauty and enlightenment. Thoughtfully researched and synthesized remarks by Olivia Powell, Associate Museum Educator for Academic Programs on “Classical Imagery and its Continuing Influence” helped me make a personal connection to my recent research and curriculum development on 17th and 18th century classical dance history. Stephen Bury, Andrew W. Mellon's Chief Librarian provided insight “on the imitation of the paining and sculpture of the Greeks” and “art among the Greeks.” As a Greek-American I had a shining moment of heritage pride and as a Frick guest I was given an informed lens to examine the collection in conjunction with the performance. The presentation and performance was a true example of classical influence in today's society and it left the audience wanting to experience more.
It is apparent that education continues at The Frick Collection with the young arts interns learning best practices for hosting a successful evening and methods for preservation and the proliferation of art in our culture. As a Frick Collection guest, you are also part of this continuing education. The Frick Collection is an inviting place to meet minds, research the past, explore possibilities and contemplate creative inspiration and process. There is a Museum Shop, Frick Art Reference Library and lush green gardens surrounding the gated property for all to savor. There are opportunities to engage with the staff and young interns who are present at almost every corner or giant entrance to a new room. The building offers much to see and feel with its breathtaking enormity, natural beauty and European inspired architecture and décor. Everything at The Frick Collection was just enough to feel full for the moment, yet still maintain a curious hunger for more. I wanted more and I thought another visit would be necessary. Perhaps on Friday, August 15 from 6-9 I can enjoy a Summer Night of “Men in Armor.” Until then, I will continue to spread the word about the joys of visiting The Frick Collection.