BAM is America's oldest performing arts center and a leading presenter of the avant-garde. Since opening in 1861, it has presented the finest in performing arts. The renowned performers who have appeared at BAM include Isadora Duncan, Enrico Caruso, Sarah Bernhardt and Arturo Toscanini, and contemporary counterparts such as Pina Bausch, Merce Cunningham, Steve Reich and Philip Glass.
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. Simply put, BAM is the country's most exciting performing arts venue for contemporary work and the avant-garde.
The four-screen BAM Rose Cinemas (BRC) opened in 1998 to screen alternative and independent films that might not otherwise be seen in Brooklyn. And in the summer of 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.