Lou Reed was a decade-long practitioner of tai chi. Photo credit: Brooklyn Public Library

Brooklyn Public Library is hosting the inaugural International Lou Reed Tai Chi Day on Saturday, August 3 at its central library branch.

The event, organized in partnership with Reed’s wife, musician and performance artist Laurie Anderson, is inspired by the late artist’s decades-long practice of tai chi and its principles. The Brooklyn native was an avid practitioner of the art form for more than 30 years, became a tai chi master and believed deeply in its power to change one’s life physically and spiritually.

Originally developed for self-defense in ancient China, tai chi has evolved into a graceful form of exercise that is now used for stress reduction and a variety of other health conditions. Often described as meditation in motion, tai chi promotes serenity through gentle, flowing movements.

The day-long event will feature demonstrations, classes and meditations celebrating the many disciplines of tai chi, with the main demonstration led by Master Ren GuangYi, Reed’s teacher for over 12 years. 

The day will begin at 8:30am with a 30-minute meditation exercise inside the lobby, followed by demonstrations and discussions on the art of tai chi on the Central Library Plaza from 9:00am to 11:00am.

In the evening, the International Lou Reed Tai Chi Day will culminate at the Prospect Park Bandshell as part of BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival. Beginning at 6:00pm, Master Ren GuangYi and tai chi practitioners will demonstrate Chen style forms accompanied by Lou Reed “Drones,’ an immersive sonic work featuring Reed’s guitar feedback and special guests Laurie Anderson, John Zorn, Sarth Calhoun and Stewart Hurwood. The demonstration will be followed by a screening of the Academy Award-winning film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Leading up to the International Lou Reed Tai Chi Day, BPL will display a curated selection of Reed’s comprehensive collection of tai chi-related books, films and weapons, objects that will be on display for the first time ever.

BPL’s event serves as the flagship event for International Lou Reed Tai Chi Day, with simultaneous celebrations slated to take place in Paris, Warsaw, Berlin, San Francisco and Washington D.C. to share Reed’s love of the martial art form.

Events are open to all levels and backgrounds — no experience is necessary to participate, in keeping with Reed’s belief that everyone can benefit from the Chinese martial art.


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