Welcome to Rockefeller Center
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New York is a city of such extremes that any visitor would be hard pressed to describe it without resorting to superlatives. Words like biggest and best come to mind when referring to America's most populated city. The superlatives are not always positive though. The enormous number of people, pace of life and stark urban landscape contribute to an often grim and sometimes frustrating experience when walking along its streets. Despite problems common to any major city, New York attracts 34 million visitors each year to its man-made canyons.

A true archipelago, the 314 square miles that make up New York City are a series of islands that embrace five boroughs, or administrative districts: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and the Bronx. More than 8 million people live in the city's metropolitan area, which includes Long Island and parts of southern New York State, northeastern New Jersey and southwestern Connecticut.

Performing Arts

Performing Arts in NYC

The soul of New York City—its unique vibrance and urban beat—bears witness to a love of the arts and a willingness to share this fascination with everyone. The choices are endless—theater, music, opera, dance, film; traditional or experimental; indoors or outdoors; free or ticketed. There is no escaping the delightful barrage of offerings.

Most types of performances take place at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts at Broadway and 65th Street. Its plaza includes Alice Tully Hall, (212) 875-5050, the only public concert hall of orchestral size to be constructed in the city since 1891; Avery Fisher Hall, (212) 875-5030; Juilliard School of Music, (212) 769-7406; Metropolitan Opera House, (212) 362-6000; the New York State Theater, (212) 870-5570; Vivian Beaumont and Mitzi E. Newhouse theaters, (212) 239-6200; and the Walter Reade Theater, (212) 875-5600.



Dance

As the nation's cultural mecca, New York City invests a great deal of time and money into its expressive nature, including dance. The greats have all danced here, and Mikhail Baryshnikov, Gregory Hines and Rudolf Nureyev even embraced the city as their home turf.

In a class by itself, the New York City Ballet garners rave reviews for its performances of contemporary works under the guidance of well-respected, inventive choreographers. The troupe performs November through February at the New York State Theater at Lincoln Center. The American Ballet Theatre presents the classics and some newer ballets to a global audience at the nearby Metropolitan Opera House from April through June.

Modern dance enthusiasts flock to several distinguished venues, such as the Joyce Theater in Lower Manhattan. This dance emporium caters to all forms, from its ballet company in residence, the Ballet Tech to more contemporary, avant-garde works.

In seasons past, Midtown Manhattan's City Center, the city's largest concert hall, has played host to such great modern troupes as the Alvin Ailey Dance Company, the Dance Theater of Harlem, the Joffrey Ballet and the Paul Taylor Dance Company. The venue is on 55th Street between Sixth and Seventh avenues; phone (212) 581-1212.



Film

Moviegoing is an event in New York City. You can see the latest blockbusters, an oldie but goodie and everything in between. Foreign and domestic art films are abundant, with both small and large houses catering to those in the mood for an offbeat documentary or underground film.

The Walter Reade Theater at the Lincoln Center schedules repertory showings, sometimes by genre or director. It's an ideal setting for studying film. The Florence Gould Hall, 55 E. 59th St., Midtown Manhattan, also shows films; phone (212) 355-6160.

Several museums and art societies hold their own film revivals. In Queens, head to the American Museum of the Moving Image for an American film series. In Midtown Manhattan Asia Society Galleries, The Museum of Modern Art (rare classics) and Museum of Television and Radio have showings.

Foreign and independent films are shown throughout the city. Try the Film Forum, 209 W. Houston St.,(212) 627-2035; The Joseph Papp Public Theater, 425 Lafayette St., (212) 260-2400; or Millennium, 66 E. Fourth St., (212) 673-0090.



Music

Musical director Kurt Masur conducts the illustrious New York Philharmonic Orchestra, the oldest symphony in the United States, in Avery Fisher Hall at the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts September through June. In July and August the Philharmonic performs free concerts under the stars in various city parks. The innovative American Symphony Orchestra also performs in Avery Fisher Hall.

The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center performs in Alice Tully Hall at the Lincoln Center from September through May, often in conjunction with visiting ensembles and famous soloists. Don't forget to check out the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), 30 Lafayette Ave., which boasts an active opera performance schedule as well as its orchestra in residence, the Brooklyn Philharmonic. Phone (718) 636-4100.

The famed Carnegie Hall, 57th Street and Seventh Avenue, plays host to celebrated orchestras, noted conductors and a variety of performers. Town Hall, noted for its fine acoustics and excellent seating layout, is between Sixth and Seventh avenues on 43rd Street; phone (212) 840-2824.

There are dozens of classical music locales throughout the city and plenty of performances to choose from, even concerts for children put on by the Little Orchestra Society; phone (212) 971-9500 for current offerings. The group normally appears at Florence Gould Hall, 55 E. 59th St., the Sylvia and Danny Kaye Playhouse, 695 Park Ave., and Lincoln Center.

For complete, current information about outdoor concerts, phone the City Parks Events Hotline at (212) 360-3456.

Opera

Tenor Luciano Pavarotti brings the house down every time he performs with the Metropolitan Opera Company in the elegant surroundings of the Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center. The Met's season runs from September to April and normally includes crowd pleasers like “La Boheme,” “Rigoletto” and “Figaro.” Founded in the late 1880s, the Met continues to captivate audiences.

The New York City Opera, which performs September to April, assembles at the Lincoln Center's New York State Theater. This younger company also is known for fine performances, including “Carmen” and “Madame Butterfly.” The Amato Opera Theatre offers a classic repertoire at its Lower Manhattan location; phone(212) 228-8200 for performance dates and times.



Theater

New York is the theater capital of the world. Whether on Broadway, off-Broadway or off-off-Broadway, the glitzy bright lights of New York's theater district beckon showgoers from around the world. Simply put, theater flourishes in New York City.

Centered on the Times Square area between 41st and 53rd streets from Eighth to Sixth avenues are the theaters that have perpetuated the magic of Broadway—only two of these theaters are actually on Broadway. Glittering marquees announce the latest productions.

The categories of Broadway and off-Broadway indicate the size of the theater—all off-Broadway houses have fewer than 465 seats. This size distinction allows apparent contradictions in that some of the theaters in the Times Square area are classified as off-Broadway; other houses almost next door are described as Broadway theaters.

While the Broadway shows stick to the formula of name stars, writers and directors, the off-Broadway productions are noted for their experimental presentations and revivals. These sometimes equal or surpass the artistry of Broadway and are usually the offerings of young hopefuls, although it is not uncommon for a Broadway “name”' to appear in them.

Some Broadway theaters have become as well-known as the mainstream blockbuster plays they have supported, like “Les Miserables” at the Imperial and “The Phantom of the Opera” at the Majestic. The Ford Center for the Performing Arts on 42nd Street is home to the revival production of one of Broadway's longest running musicals, “42nd Street”. The Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on W. 46th Street presents the long-running Disney musical classic “Beauty and the Beast”.

Off-Broadway has its share of fine productions and performers, many along W. 42nd Street in places like the Playwright's Horizons.

Cherry Lane Theatre, 38 Commerce in Greenwich Village, is where many young actors got their start.

Queens Theatre in the Park, in the New York State Pavilion at Flushing Meadows Corona Park, presents a year-round schedule of plays, children's theater and dance; phone (718) 760-0064.

Off-off-Broadway is a free-for-all of experimental performances, usually by unknowns with something to say. Performances are staged at smaller venues and in out-of-the-way cafes.

Current theater listings appear in New York and The New Yorker magazines, in the newspapers and in Variety, a weekly newspaper devoted to the entertainment world, including off-Broadway theaters in Greenwich Village.

Tickets to Broadway shows are hard to come by but not impossible. Advance planning is the key to obtaining the best tickets for the best prices. Seats to Broadway shows are on sale anywhere from 3 months to 1 year in advance. Otherwise, TKTS booths at Times Square in Midtown Manhattan and near the South Street Seaport in Lower Manhattan sell discounted tickets on the day of the performance. Seating varies and there is a service charge, but the effort may be well worth your while. In addition, tickets generally are available at theater box offices a few hours before show time (usually 8 p.m.).

Hit Show Club offers discounts of up to 50 percent off Broadway theater tickets. For a complete listing of services phone (800) 222-7469.

Or contact a ticket agency. Agencies charge a fee in addition to the price printed on the ticket; they also may charge a service fee for delivery of tickets to the hotel or box office.