Upon entering the Joyce on Saturday night, June 17, to see Benjamin Millepied’s L.A. Dance Project, we were sad to hear that the performance of the brand-new duet In Silence We Speak had been canceled due to an injury. However, the three pieces that remained, all very different, made up a program that still worked extremely well. First was New York City Ballet wunderkind Justin Peck’s 2013 Murder Ballades, his debut as a contemporary dance choreographer. The curtain is raised, revealing six pairs of sneakers onstage, in front of Sterling Ruby’s colorful abstract backdrop of vertical and horizontal bars. Stephanie Amurao, Aaron Carr, Julia Eichten, Nathan Makolandra, Robbie Moore, and Rachelle Rafailedes, all in casual modern-day dress (Peck did the costume design), enter, lace on the sneakers, and proceed to run around the stage, the buzz of sudden freedom in the air, as if Peck is breaking free of ballet en pointe, at least momentarily. (He continues to dance and choreograph for NYCB.) Over the course of six sections, the dancers appear to be having a great time as they divide into solos and duets, including a lovely pas de deux between Makolandra and Rafailedes, and intersect in fluid trios and a variety of lines and patterns. At one point, Carr actually pauses to look at Ruby’s painting, making sure we all acknowledge its grandeur. Peck displays an infectious glee with his vigorous movement language, although it can get repetitive and a little too showy, but it works breathlessly with Bryce Dessner’s energetic score and Brandon Stirling Baker’s pinpoint lighting.
Next was Merce Cunningham’s MinEvent, a 2006 majestic collage that is like a Mondrian canvas brought to glorious life. Arranged and staged by Silas Riener, it’s performed by Amurao, Carr, Eichten, Makolandra, Moore, David Adrian Freeland Jr., and Lilja Rúriksdóttir, wearing tight black costumes, designed by Millepied, marked with spare, rectilinear thin stripes of color, the women’s and men’s costumes mirror images of each other. The often staccato, almost mechanical abstract movement, sudden stops and starts that seem to presage voguing but with blank facial expressions, form Mondrian-esque geometric patterns, not just with the shapes of the bodies, but with how the lines on the costumes merge. John Cage’s “Music for Piano” is performed live by Adam Tendler, who is like a seventh dancer, having to stand so he can pluck the strings inside of the instrument in addition to playing the regular keys, the minimalist score balancing sound with silence.
The evening concluded with Millepied’s adventurous, multimedia Orpheus Highway, making its world premiere at the Joyce. The piece is set to Steve Reich’s stirring “Triple Quartet,” played live by PUBLIQuartet, featuring Curtis Stewart and Jannina Norpoth on violin, Nick Revel on viola, and Amanda Gookin on cello. Wearing contemporary clothing and sneakers (the costumes were designed by Millepied), Morgan Lugo, Amurao, Carr, Eichten, Freeland Jr., Makolandra, Moore, Rúriksdóttir, and Janie Taylor (replacing Rafailedes) dance in front of a film of themselves (but with Rafailedes instead of Taylor) that Millepied shot in Marfa, Texas, on the local streets, down a narrow alley, and on an endless highway in the middle of nowhere. Freeland Jr. and Taylor reenact the tragic myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, as all the live dancers move in opposition to, in unison with, and completely differently from their screen doppelgängers. There’s a lot going on, so you’re not always sure where to look, and your mind can’t help but try to make sense of how the filmed images relate to the live ones, but just let it unfold without thinking too hard about it. In some ways, it’s an innovative combination of the two works that preceded it. The two-week Joyce run continues through June 25; Program A consists of Millepied’s Hearts & Arrows, Ohad Naharin’s Yag, and In Silence We Speak if Carla Korbës has recovered.
This is one party you are not going to want to miss. HERE Resident Artists Donovan & Calderón invite audiences to a rather surreal gathering in the exhilaratingly funny and utterly bizarre dance-theater piece The Reception, continuing at HERE through June 24. Actor, dancer, and writer Sean Donovan and actor, director, and scholar Sebastián Calderón Bentin have been collaborating since 2003 on such cutting-edge works as Not Unclear, The Climate Chronicles, and 18½ Minutes. For The Reception, they have put together quite a guest list: master choreographers Jane Comfort and Ishmael Houston-Jones, performer and choreographer Leslie Cuyjet, actress Hannah Heller, and the well-mustachioed Donovan himself, an extremely talented comic actor who was a standout in such recent productions as the Builders Association’s Elements of Oz and the first two parts of Faye Driscoll’s Thank You for Coming trilogy. The five fabulously dressed partygoers — the costumes are by Felix Ciprián, with Heller’s sparkling gown a particular stunner — drink, dance, nosh, and schmooze on Neal Wilkinson’s circular wooden stage, cluttered with a couch, a few chairs, a table of snacks and bottles of alcohol, and a light-up globe. Snippets of dialogue come front and center and then disappear into the background, ranging from silly jokes to more serious tales of sexism, misogyny, and ageism, as Houston-Jones tries to score with every other character in hysterical ways. Words and actions repeat, high-heeled shoes come off and are put back on, and Donovan grows ever-more desirous of the “tarty things,” all set to Stevie Wonder’s infectious “Another Star” from his groundbreaking 1976 double album, Songs in the Key of Life. Tension and anxiety wax and wane, stimulated by a sly little take on a fundamental horror movie trope. The fun sound design is by Brandon Wolcott and Tyler Kieffer, which is complemented by Amanda K. Ringger’s inventive lighting, especially when the story takes a creepy turn. And the ending is splendidly mad.
Codirected by Calderón and Donovan, The Reception was inspired by such classic European cinema as Alain Resnais’s Last Year at Marienbad, Luis Buñuel’s The Exterminating Angel, Jacques Tati’s Playtime, and Michelangelo Antonioni’s L’Avventura. It was originally titled “Abbadon,” which in Hebrew means “place of destruction” and in Revelation refers to a king who was the “angel of the Abyss,” a hellish place of confinement. The five characters are trapped in their own private sphere, alternating between being deliriously happy, then nervous and worried, concerned for their immediate future. The social-gathering aspects of the show are beautifully precise even with improvisation, expertly detailing the interaction among the bash attendees, from movement to language to facial gesture, especially since all of the performers have collaborated previously on multiple projects: Cuyjet has danced with Jane Comfort and Company since 2005, Donovan and Heller both portrayed Dorothy Gale (and other roles) in Elements of Oz, and Houston-Jones and Comfort teamed up for The Studies Project, among other collaborations, making the proceedings that much more believable no matter how strange it gets. But underneath it all, literally and figuratively, lies the unknown, a dark side from which there might be no escape. In which case, the only thing to do is to keep on partying.
June 16-25, free - $625
Showing one’s pride is more than just using a rainbow flag emoji on Facebook. You can wave the flag much higher by attending any of these special pride events, the first Pride Week held under President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence; as always, the ticketed events are selling out fast, so you better act quickly if you want to shake it up at some pretty crazy parties.
Friday, June 16
The Rally, Foley Square, free, 6:00 - 8:00 pm
Sunday, June 18
Pride Luminaries Brunch, with special guests, the Garden at David Burke, 23 Grand St., $60, 1:00 - 4:00 pm
Monday, June 19
OutCinema, screening of Cherry Pop (Assaad Yacoub, 2016) and open-bar after-party, with Bob the Drag Queen, Detox, and Tempest DuJour in person, SVA Theatre, 333 West 23rd St., $30, 7:30 pm
Tuesday, June 20
Family Movie Night: The Lion King (Roger Allers & Rob Minkoff, 1994), hosted by Miss Richfield 1981, Pier 45, Hudson River Park at Christopher St., free (reserved seating $50), 8:30 pm
Wednesday, June 21
Village Voice Pride Awards, hosted by Alan Cumming, Capitale, 130 Bowery, 6:00 pm
Friday, June 23
Moxie, with Mary Lambert and DJs Mary Mac and Susan Levine, Taj II Lounge, 48 West 21st St., $25-$48, 4:00 – 11:00 pm
Fantasy, with DJs Ralphi Rosario and Eddie Martinez and special secret performances, Highline Ballroom, 431 West 16th St., $39-$79, 11:00 pm - 5:00 am
Friday, June 23
Sunday, June 25
Pride Island, with Deborah Cox, DJ Lina, and Patti Labelle on Friday, Tegan and Sara, Years & Years, Roisin Murphy, Gallant, Dimitri from Paris, and Occupy the Disco on Saturday, and DJ Scott Martin, DJ Cindel, Chus & Ceballos, and Nelly Furtado on Sunday, Pier 26, Hudson River Park at Laight St., $35-$180
Saturday, June 24
Youth Pride, with interactive games, activities, and live entertainment, free with advance registration, 14th St. Park, 12 noon – 6:00 pm
VIP Rooftop Party, with DJs Alex Acosta, GSP, and Hannah and secret acts all night long, Hudson Terrace, 621 West 46th St., $69-$85, 2:00 - 10:00 pm
Teaze (formerly known as Rapture on the River), exclusive party for women only, with DJs Taryn Manning and Tatiana, the DL, 95 Delancey St., $48-$80, 4:00 – 10:00 pm
Masterbeat: Game Show, Hammerstein Ballroom, 311 West 34th St., $120-$140, 10:00 pm – 6:00 am
Sunday, June 25
PrideFest, twenty-fourth annual street fair with music, food, merchandise, and live performances by LeAnn Rimes and many others, Hudson St. between Abingdon Sq. & West 14th St., free (special packages $10-$625), 11:00 am – 6:00 pm
The March, with grand marshals the American Civil Liberties Union, Brooke Guinan, Krishna Stone, and Geng Le, Lavender Line from 36th St. & Fifth Ave. to Christopher & Greenwich Sts., free, 12 noon
Femme Fatale, women’s rooftop party with DJs Nikki Lions, Mary Mac, and Tatiana, Hudson Terrace, 621 West 46th St., $25-$60, 4:00 - 10:00 pm
The best free multidisciplinary arts festival of the summer, River to River packs a whole lot into a narrow amount of time. Sponsored by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, this year’s activities, which, as always, focus on more experimental presentations, take place June 14-25 at such locations as Governors Island, Federal Hall, the National Museum of the American Indian, the Fulton Center, City Hall Park, and other downtown areas. While everything is free, some performances require advance registration because of space considerations. In addition to the below events, Katja Novitskova’s “EARTH POTENTIAL” Public Art Fund exhibition opens June 22 in City Hall Park, photographer Kamau Ware’s “Black Gotham Experience” interactive storytelling project will pop up at various places throughout the fest, LMCC’s Open Studios allows visitors the chance to meet with dozens of artists, and Kameelah Janan Rasheed’s “A Supple Perimeter” will be on view at LMCC’s Arts Center and Movie Theater Exterior on Governors Island.
Wednesday, June 14, 6:00
Wednesday, June 21, 8:00
Sunday, June 25, 7:00
The Dance Cartel: R2R Living Rooms, with DJ Average Jo and special guests, Pier A Harbor House
One of the most energetic companies around, the Dance Cartel will host a trio of live music and dance performances at the River to River Festival hub, with plenty of audience participation.
Thursday, June 15, 3:00 & 6:00
Monday, June 19, 3:00
Netta Yerushalmy: Paramodernities #2 and #3, National Museum of the American Indian
South Carolina–born choreographer and performer Netta Yerushalmy’s “Paramodernities” series deconstructs landmark dance works within the framework of modernity. For River to River, she will present Paramodernities #2, examining Martha Graham’s Night Journey, and Paramodernities #3, investigating Alvin Ailey’s Revelations, accompanied by scholars who will take part in public discussions. The seventy-five-minute production will move around inside the National Museum of the American Indian.
Thursday, June 15, 7:00
Saturday, June 17, 7:00
Sunday, June 18, 7:00
A Marvelous Order, Fulton Center
Joshua Frankel, Judd Greenstein, Will Rawls, and Tracy K. Smith have collaborated on the multimedia opera A Marvelous Order, which delves into the famous fight between Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs over the future development of New York City. For the River to River Festival, they will present a twenty-five-minute excerpt at the Fulton Center, with Eliza Bagg, Tomás Cruz, Lucy Dhegrae, Christopher Herbert, and Dashon Burton as Robert Moses and live music by NOW Ensemble, conducted by David Bloom.
Friday, June 16, 6:00
Amir Elsaffar: Rivers of Sound — Not Two, the Plaza at 28 Liberty
American jazz trumpeter and composer Amir Elsaffar celebrates the release of his latest record, Not Two (New Amsterdam, June 16), with a two-hour performance at the Plaza at 28 Liberty featuring his seventeen-piece Rivers of Sound orchestra.
Friday, June 16, 3:30
Saturday, June 17, 3:30
Sunday, June 18, 3:30
Jodi Melnick: Moat, Fort Jay, Governors Island
Choreographer, dancer, and teacher Jodi Melnick, who has said, “I am truly, madly, deeply in love with movement,” has teamed up with visual artist John Monti for Moat, a sixty-minute site-specific performance taking place in the moat that surrounds historic Fort Jay on Governors Island.
Saturday, June 17, 8:00
Sunday, June 18, 8:00
Monday, June 19, 8:00
Beth Gill: Catacomb, Federal Hall
In May 2016, Bessie Award–winning choreographer Beth Gill presented the site-specific Catacomb at the Chocolate Factory, a dreamlike physical and psychological exploration of what we see and who we are. For River to River, the aching sixty-minute performance moves to historic Federal Hall.
Saturday, June 17, 12 noon – 6:00
Sunday, June 18, 12 noon – 6:00
Saturday, June 24, 12 noon – 6:00
Sunday, June 25, 12 noon – 6:00
The Set-Up: Island Ghost Sleep Princess Time Story Show, the Arts Center at Governors Island
For five years, Wally Cardona and Jennifer Lacey have been collaborating with men and women from multiple dance disciplines, presenting unique performances that push the boundaries of the movement arts. Their project now culminates in a grand finale on Governors Island, with dance masters I Nyoman Catra (Balinese Topeng), Proeung Chhieng (Cambodian), Junko Fisher (Okinawan), Saya Lei (Mandalay-style, classical Burmese), Jean-Christophe Paré (French baroque), Kapila Venu (Indian Kutiyattam), and Heni Winahyuningsih (Javanese refined) and musicians Jonathan Bepler, Reiko Fueting, and Megan Schubert. “Many dances on an ISLAND, a GHOST of what they were, having lost details during a long SLEEP but nevertheless the PRINCESS of their destiny. This TIME it is one STORY, full of fortuitous meetings, grave errors, and happy misunderstandings. It’s a SHOW, folks!” Cardona and Lacey explain. You can see the complete schedule here.
Monday, June 19, 6:00
Tuesday, June 20, 2:00
Wednesday, June 21, 2:00
Faye Driscoll: Thank You for Coming: Play, Broad and Wall Sts.
At last year’s LMCC Open Studios on Governors Island, the endlessly inventive Faye Driscoll offered a work-in-progress showing of the second part of her participatory “Thank You for Coming” series, which began in 2014 with Thank You for Coming: Attendance Play later moved to the BAM Fisher. She now revisits Play, staging a forty-minute version at the intersection of Broad and Wall Sts.
Tuesday, June 20, 4:00 – 8:00
Night at the Museums
Many Lower Manhattan museums and cultural institutions will stay open late on June 20, offering free entry to historic sites along with special programs. Among the participants are the African Burial Ground National Monument, China Institute, Federal Hall National Memorial, Fraunces Tavern Museum, Museum of American Finance, Museum of Jewish Heritage — A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, National Archives at New York City, National Museum of the American Indian, National September 11 Memorial Museum (advance RSVP required), 9/11 Tribute Center, NYC Municipal Archives, Poets House, the Skyscraper Museum, and the South Street Seaport Museum.
Wednesday, June 21, 5:00
Thursday, June 22, 3:00
Friday, June 23, 3:00
Marjani Forté-Saunders: Memoirs of a . . . Unicorn, Melville Gallery, South Street Seaport Museum
Pasadena-born, Harlem based dancer and choreographer Marjani Forté-Saunders, who previously was in the Urban Bush Women Dance Company, brings her solo Memoirs of a . . . Unicorn to the South Street Seaport Museum, a collaboration with media designer Meena Murugesan and sound designer Everett Saunders that relates to the history of Black American magic.
Thursday, June 22, 7:00
Friday, June 23, 7:00
Saturday, June 24, 7:00
Sunday, June 25, 5:00
En Garde Arts: Harbored, Winter Garden, Brookfield Place, 230 Vesey St.
En Garde Arts, which was founded by Anne Hamburger to “catalyze social change” through immersive theater, will stage the sixty-minute site-specific collage play Harbored, about Willa Cather, Lewis & Clark, and Cather’s character Ántonia. The piece, featuring more than fifty performers, is written and directed by Jimmy Maize, with an original score by Heather Christian sung by the Downtown Voices Choir and movement by Wendy Seyb. During the day, you can share your immigration story with them and it just might be incorporated into that night’s show.
Friday, June 23, 6:00
Sunday, June 25, 6:00
Maria Hassabi: Staged? (2016) — undressed, City Hall Park
Last summer, Maria Hassabi presented Movement #2 on the High Line, a dance performed by Simon Courchel, Hristoula Harakas, Molly Lieber, and Oisín Monaghan as people passed by. That morphed into Staged, which ran at the Kitchen in October. Now Hassabi is bringing Staged? (2016) — undressed to City Hall Park, where four dancers will move around Katja Novitskova’s “EARTH POTENTIAL” exhibition.
The innovative and exciting L.A. Dance Project follows up its 2016 Joyce debut with a two-week run at the Chelsea institution, performing a pair of what promise to be terrific programs, boasting an impressive array of collaborators. For the first program, the company, which was founded in 2012 by former New York City Ballet principal dancer Benjamin Millepied, will be presenting 2015’s Hearts & Arrows, choreographed by Millepied, with music by Philip Glass performed live by PUBLIQuartet, sets by English conceptual artist Liam Gillick, lighting by Roderick Murray, and costumes by company dancer Janie Taylor; Ohad Naharin’s Yag, a forty-minute piece for six dancers, set to music by John Zorn, Gaetano Donizetti, John Taverner, Ennio Morricone, Ran Slavin, and Maxim Waratt and for which LADP rehearsed with ballet masters from Naharin’s Batsheva Dance Company; and the world premiere of Millepied’s In Silence We Speak, a duet, inspired by Michelangelo Antonioni’s L’Avventura, for Taylor and Carla Korbës that you can get a sneak peek at here. The second program consists of New York City Ballet resident choreographer Justin Peck’s 2013 Murder Ballades, with an original score by Bryce Dessner of the National, sets by American artist Sterling Ruby, and lighting by Brandon Stirling Baker; Merce Cunningham’s MinEvent, a collage of excerpts from Cunningham’s oeuvre, with live piano by Adam Tendler; In Silence We Speak; and the world premiere of Millepied’s multimedia Orpheus Highway, set to Steve Reich’s Triple Quartet, played live by PUBLIQuartet. The company also includes Stephanie Amurao, Aaron Carr, David Adrian Freeland Jr., Rachelle Rafailedes, Nathan B. Makolandra, Julia Eichten, Robbie Moore, Morgan Lugo, and Lilja Rúriksdóttir. There will be a Curtain Chat following the June 15 performance of Program 2. LADP’s 2016 season at the Joyce sold out, so you better hurry if you want to see this sizzling hot company.
Who: National Dance Institute, Ronald K. Brown / EVIDENCE, Wendy Whelan and Brian Brooks, Complexions Contemporary Ballet
What: Hudson River Dance Festival
Where: Pier 61 at Chelsea Piers, Hudson River Park
When: Thursday, June 8, and Friday, June 9, free, 6:30
Why: On June 8 and 9, SHS Foundation and the Joyce are presenting the 2017 installment of the annual Hudson River Dance Festival, featuring an impressive lineup of four terrific acts. Former New York City Ballet principal dancer Wendy Whelan has turned toward contemporary dance for her “Restless Creature” project, which includes Brian Brooks; the two recently performed Some of a Thousand Words at the Joyce. Founded in 1976 by New York City Ballet principal dancer Jacques d’Amboise, the National Dance Institute focuses on programs for children; their appearance at the Hudson River Dance Festival will be followed June 17-19 by “Harlem Night Song” at the Skirball Center. The award-winning Complexions Contemporary Ballet has been promoting dance and unity since 1994; next week, Complexions, led by founders Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson, will be off to Detroit for Star Dust: A David Bowie Tribute. And Brooklyn-based Ronald K. Brown / EVIDENCE has been incorporating West African movement into its choreography for decades; choreographer and dancer Brown will bring his immensely talented company to the Fire Island Dance Festival July 14-16 and to the New Victory Theater July 27 and August 3. The free Hudson River Dance Festival takes place on Pier 61 at Chelsea Piers; blankets are allowed, but chairs are not.
Abrons Arts Center, the Playhouse
466 Grand St. at Pitt St.
Thursday - Sunday through June 11, $20
In her artist statement, Brooklyn-based dancer and choreographer Ivy Baldwin explains, “Choreography is a way of processing the experiences of my life, my dancer’s lives, and the world around us. . . . I love making dance that is mysterious, darkly emotional, embraces absurdity, and explores twisted humor, violence, and human fragility. . . . As an artist, I strive to let my imagination rule the roost, embrace the chaotic and messy, and most importantly, to be present, open-minded, and brave.” Baldwin opens herself up bravely in her latest evening-length piece, Keen [No. 2], which continues at Abrons Arts Center June 8-11. Co-commissioned by Abrons Arts Center, the Chocolate Factory, and the Joyce as part of Joyce Unleashed, a program that presents experimental off-site works, it is a follow-up to Keen (Part 1), which began Baldwin’s exploration of mourning, grief, rituals, and loneliness following the loss of her longtime friend, dancer, and muse, Lawrence Cassella, who died on January 28, 2016, from the immune system disease HLH. Keen (Part 1) took place at the Glass House in Connecticut, where Anna Carapetyan, Eleanor Smith, Katie Workum, and Baldwin performed inside a glassed-in room (with the audience outside) and along the grounds. (You can see excerpts here.) Keen [No. 2] continues many of the same themes indoors at Abrons, where Baldwin will be joined by Smith and Workum in addition to Anna Adams Stark, Katie Dean, Marya Wethers, Dia Dearstyne, Heather Olson, Kay Ottinger, Tara Sheena, and Tara Willis. The set design is by Wade Kavanaugh and Stephen B. Nguyen, who contributed the twisted paper sculptures for Baldwin’s Oxbow at the BAM Fisher in November 2014 (the night we saw it, an ill Cassella was replaced by Luke Miller), with sound by Justin Jones, lighting by Chloe Z. Brown, and costumes by Mindy Nelson. But don’t expect overly sentimental movement filled with sadness; Baldwin favors mystery and absurdity, and, in a rare turn for her detailed perfectionism, has given the dancers the opportunity for structured improvisation. Thus, each show will be different, just as each day is different as people deal with personal loss in their own way.