Before you start loading up your fall culture calendar, take a moment this Labor Day Weekend to reflect on those people who make sure that the city’s cultural events — concerts, Broadway shows and art exhibitions — go off without a hitch. In a culture center like New York, that means there are thousands of people to thank; here, we introduce you to several of them. These are edited excerpts from conversations. — Nicole Herrington, Weekend Arts Editor
Eric Parra, 23, member of the Limón Dance Company
On Saturday mornings during the summer, there is an open invitation from the Limón Dance Company to learn a modern technique typically reserved for dancers training in spacious mirrored rooms. The class is free and takes place in a grassy corner of Bryant Park. No registration is required, and anyone — from toddlers to retirees — can join.
“For all you know, you could be going out for a walk in Bryant Park and you end up taking a full body movement class,” said Eric Parra, who led last Saturday’s class.
He started with simple combinations to warm up the spine and legs, then transitioned into slightly more complicated movement sequences, all set to the rhythms of a live percussionist.
The class highlights core aspects of the Limón technique, which values movement that swings, releases and maintains a grounded connection to the floor.
“If you fall here, you’re going to fall on grass,” Parra said. “It feels safe. It feels fun. When you’re a kid, you love to play in the grass, so I think dancing in the grass lifts the spirit.”
The participants tend to be a mixture of locals and tourists making their way through the park. You could end up dancing with your neighbor, Parra said, or you could be dancing with someone who traveled from across the world. Often participants do not speak English, but luckily, the most important language here is movement.
“You don’t necessarily have to hear everything in order to understand what’s going on,” Parra said. “We try to cultivate a warm, welcoming space for everybody, where language isn’t a barrier to getting the most from this experience.” JULIA JACOBS
When: Saturdays at 10 a.m. through Sept. 28 at Bryant Park; bryantpark.org.
The Frame Makers
Bill Schunk, 64, and Rose Schunk, 57, owners of Frames New York
The Schunks’ work has been seen by thousands of people — and yet it hasn’t, because, as they put it, their work is best if it vanishes. “The frame sort of needs to disappear,” Mr. Schunk said. “If you’re noticing the frame, maybe something is wrong.”
The husband-wife team has quietly been supporting the art world since the late 1980s, giving prints, photographs and paintings a border, an edge.
Mr. Schunk works with individual artists who flutter in and out of their studio in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and Mrs. Schunk works with galleries and corporations in New York and across the world, including the new Pace/MacGill Gallery. (She is currently working on its upcoming Peter Hujar exhibition.)
Each frame is created at their studio from locally sourced materials, like wood and glass. They finish it off with stains or layers of lacquer and, finally, they decide on a type of glazing.
Over the years, the couple has worked with the Irving Penn Foundation, Hudson Yards and artists like Chuck Close, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Ed Ruscha. “It’s like we have our own private show with each piece that comes in,” Ms. Schunk said.
They agreed that seeing artists progress and develop is the best part. It’s “like watching them all grow up,” Mr. Schunk said. ALISHA HARIDASANI GUPTA
When: “Peter Hujar: Master Class” opens on Sept. 14 at Pace/MacGill Gallery, 540 West 25th Street, Manhattan; pacemacgill.com.
Evelyn Emile, 32, film projectionist at Anthology Film Archives
For Evelyn Emile, a projectionist who has been working at Anthology Film Archives for more than three years, films aren’t just seen and heard; they are also something you touch.
“I love handling film,” she said. “I have some contact with reality when I’m projecting film that I don’t have when I’m doing something digital.”
Working with film prints, she explained, requires precision and constant attention: “If I move the focus knob a millimeter, I know it will come into focus. Small movements can make a big difference on the screen.” And that’s what’s rewarding about it, she added. It’s up to her to ensure that the sometimes fragile reels of film show up onscreen in the way they were intended.
This isn’t accomplished by simply pressing a button. Film prints have to be inspected and occasionally repaired, cue marks have to be added, and lenses, aperture plates and sound formats must be set properly. All that extra effort, she says, is worth it. “Working at a theater that continues to program and screen films in their original format is very important to me. I think that when the film gets digitally transferred, it does lose a little bit of its soul.”
Film projection, she said, keeps her grounded. “Everything that I do in the booth, especially with film, has a consequence for how the film is shown. If I make small movements with framing adjustments, it affects how people see the film.”
The tactile relationship that Emile has with the films she projects has only deepened her love of cinema. Emile is particularly excited to screen films by Carl Dreyer, including “The Passion of Joan of Arc” (1928) and “Ordet” (1955), over Labor Day weekend. “Each of his films is really extraordinary,” she said. “They have simple plots showing everyday people, not judging them, just showing their relationships and how they work through the problems of their lives.” PETER LIBBEY
When: Carl Dreyer’s films will be shown through Sept. 3 at Anthology Film Archives, 32 Second Avenue, Manhattan; 212-505-5181, anthologyfilmarchives.org.
Larry Siegel, 44, general manager of SummerStage in Central Park
Larry Siegel wears many hats at a venue that, this summer, has hosted performances by the British singer-songwriter Corinne Bailey Rae, the indie-rock act Japanese Breakfast, singers from the Metropolitan Opera and others. Even Taylor Swift stopped by, for a live performance broadcast on “Good Morning America.”
This is what a typical day looks like for Siegel, before and during a show.
“I get in between 7 and 8 a.m., and that’s when we have our first production meeting. After that the band starts coming in. We make sure our hospitality teams are setting up coffee and tea and opening the dressing rooms. I make sure our delivery of portable toilets are coming in, that our turf is clean, and all the leaves and debris from last evening have been blown off.
“Then I check in with the union workers over at the stage. I meet with our production manager, then the front-of-house manager. That’s all in the morning. Then our security deployment arrives and we check them all in, make sure they’re all up-to-date with any threats or anything that we receive from the N.Y.P.D. or Homeland Security.”
This is the time in the day, Siegel said, when they get ready to open the doors to thousands of concertgoers. Then things get frantic.
“There’s a lot of running around. My radio is going off constantly. There was a medical situation last night, so I dealt with that. We tend to have a lot of fainting at shows. Taylor Swift, especially. We had her last week. That was a lot of little girls fainting.
“The best part of my job is knowing that people are coming to us to enjoy their lives, to take a few hours out of their grind. Once a show is up and running and the band is performing and there are smiles on the people’s faces as you’re looking out across them — that, to me, is worth every piece of sweat.” AS TOLD TO GABE COHN
When: SummerStage continues through Oct. 5 at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park; cityparksfoundation.org.
The Bingo Host
Linda Simpson, host of “Linda Loves Bingo” at Le Poisson Rouge and other locations
“I started hosting bingo in the late 1990s. And ‘Linda Loves Bingo’ as an entity started about 10 years ago at Le Poisson Rouge. That’s where my main residency has been and, yes, I have been there that long.
“What I’ve created, I hope, is a real escapist environment. It’s a no-political zone, which I find kind of important these days, and it’s just a great chance for people of all kinds — it’s a very mixed crowd — to enjoy themselves.”
“The challenges include always shopping for prizes because I offer discount-store delights, which means I scour the stores of New York City for fun stuff. I actually enjoy it, but it’s a lot of schlepping — it’s time-consuming. I do have a great crew that works with me — I have D.J.s and drag queens and burlesque girls that work as the Vanna Whites. I will say, even to this day, there’s a little preshow jitters, but I think that’s good.
“Some of the players, I’m genuine friends with them now. And it’s been really good affirmation for me. I always wanted to make a living doing drag, and bingo has just allowed me to live as a drag queen.” — AS TOLD TO ALISHA HARIDASANI GUPTA
When: Saturdays at 7.30 p.m. at Le Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleecker Street, Manhattan; lindalovesbingo.com.
The Theater Guide
Ricky Jones, 35, TKTS patron services supervisor
Times Square isn’t a setting normally associated with well-informed conversation, but Ricky Jones says that’s what you’ll get if you come to the TKTS booth at 47th Street and Broadway to buy discounted theater tickets. “One of the big things about us,” he said, “is that you can really have a discussion with people about theater, which I think is really special.”
Part of his job, he explained, is to circulate among the customers waiting in line to go over the shows that have tickets available and that might be of most interest to them. For visitors not on top of the New York theater scene, these exchanges can reduce the stress of choosing among unfamiliar offerings. “When a lot of people come to New York City for the first time, they might know about ‘Phantom of the Opera,’ ‘Chicago’ and maybe ‘Wicked,’ but they probably don’t know about all the other shows on the board,” Jones said.
Instead of offering their opinions on shows, Jones and his team try to find the right play, musical or dance performance for each customer. “I usually ask what kind of show they are looking for, if they’ve seen a Broadway show before, and then I try to pair what they’ve seen before with what they’re looking for.”
For theater experts, these conversations can go deeper. “We can talk about the show you saw or want to see and geek out about it,” Jones said. He speaks from experience, having first come to TKTS as a theater-obsessed kid: “We would come to New York every year for Thanksgiving, and I remember there was a promoter, a British guy with purple hair. While my Mom waited in line, I would just talk theater with this guy, to the point that he has watched me grow up since I was about 8 years old.” PETER LIBBEY
When: Daily at the Times Square booth, as well as the TKTS outlets at Lincoln Center and South Street Seaport.