Who: Paul Pfeiffer, Eiko Otake, Amina Henry, Morgan Bassichis, Mona Chalabi, Ivy Mix, Mariana Valencia, Jessica Lappin, Maggie Boepple
What: LMCC benefit fundraiser
Where: Lower Manhattan Cultural Council online
When: Wednesday, December 9, free with RSVP (donations accepted), 7:00
Why: Since 1973, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council has “served, connected, and made space for artists and communities in NYC through programs that deepen artists’ creative practice and afford them opportunities to share their process and work with local communities.” Rarely has that been more important than during the pandemic lockdown. On December 9 at 7:00, LMCC’s annual fundraiser goes virtual with “A Toast to Downtown,” celebrating the great work the organization does not only in Lower Manhattan but on Governors Island and other locations. This year’s civic leadership honorees are Downtown Alliance president Jessica Lappin and former LMCC president Maggie Boepple; in addition, Amina Henry (The Animals, Bully) will receive the Sarah Verdone Writing Award, Eiko Otake will be presented with the Sam Miller Award for Performing Arts, and Paul Pfeiffer will receive the Michael Richards Award for Visual Arts.
The evening will include video from Pfeiffer, who will show excerpts from a new work as well as from 2001’s Orpheus Descending, which was installed at the World Trade Center and follows the life cycle of a flock of chickens; a new video from Eiko, made for this gala and recently shot on location at LMCC’s Arts Center at Governors Island; and appearances by LMCC artists and alumni Morgan Bassichis, Mona Chalabi, Ivy Mix, and Mariana Valencia. It’s free to RSVP, but $20 gives you a chance to win a limited edition “100 New Yorkers” print by Chalabi based on her 2020 River to River project, $50 helps fund artist residencies, $100 supports grants to neighborhood arts communities, and $250 gives artists the opportunity to share their work and their creative process.
Who: Carol Burnett, Emanuel Azenberg, Mayim Bialik, Billy Crystal, Tovah Feldshuh, Beanie Feldstein, Joel Grey, Jackie Hoffman, Carol Kane, Barry Manilow, Mandy Patinkin, Itzhak Perlman, Eleanor Reissa, Neil Sedaka, Steven Skybell, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Jerry Zaks, Geni Brenda, Mendy Cahan, Yefim Chorny, Josh Dolgin, Suzanna Ghergus, Miwazow Kogure, Shura Lipovsky, Freydi Mrocki, Polina Shepherd, Merlin Shepherd, Motl Didner, Zalmen Mlotek, Frank London, Tatiana Wechsler, Elmore James, more
What: Global online Chanukah celebration
Where: National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene
When: Tuesday, December 8, free with RSVP, 7:00 (available for ninety-six hours)
Why: National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene is doing more than its part in keeping alive Yiddish theater and the Yiddish language itself, with regular presentations at the Museum of Jewish Heritage. But with the pandemic lockdown, it has adapted to online shows and discussions, and on December 8 it will welcome in the Festival of Lights with a Chanukah celebration with guests from around the world. Debuting on December 8 at 7:00 and available on demand for ninety-six hours, “Folksbiene Chanukah Spectacular” features an all-star lineup, beginning with an audio greeting from Carol Burnett and including appearances by such favorites as Mayim Bialik, Billy Crystal, Tovah Feldshuh, Beanie Feldstein, Joel Grey, Jackie Hoffman, Carol Kane, Barry Manilow, Mandy Patinkin, Itzhak Perlman, Neil Sedaka, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, and many others.
Although it’s free to watch, Chanukah gelt will be gladly accepted, as this is a fundraiser for the company, which in recent years has staged such wonderful Yiddish productions as Fiddler on the Roof, The Sorceress, and The Golden Bride, under the leadership of conductor and artistic director Zalmen Mlotek, who said in a statement with executive director Dominick Balletta, “We’re excited to present this exceptional Yiddish celebration, bringing together Yiddish ambassadors from across the globe, from across the United States to as far away as Australia. This will be a theatrical experience like no other — presented virtually so that families and communities across the world can enjoy it together.” Directed and produced by Adam B. Shapiro, the evening will include music and dance, comedy sketches, and tributes to the golden age of Yiddish theater, along with a grand finale led by members of the Children’s Choir from Tzipporei Shalom of Congregation Beth Shalom in New Jersey. There’s also a special preshow Zoom event with Skybell, Mlotek, and others if you donate at a certain level, in addition to an appetizer delivery from the Lox Cafe.
Who: Kenneth Tam, Lumi Tan
What: Kenneth Tam’s first live performance
Where: The Kitchen OnScreen Zoom
When: December 5-6, free with RSVP, 7:00
Why: Brooklyn-based multidisciplinary artist Kenneth Tam has been in residence at Queenslab in Ridgewood since October 30, preparing a new work for the Kitchen, following all Covid-19 protocols as he rehearses the piece and prepares for its livestream debut December 5-6. Performed by Martin Richard Borromeo, Paulina Meneses, James Lim, and Resa Mishina, The Crossing explores issues of race, gender, identity, ritual, and assimilation in relation to Asian Americans and Culturally Based Fraternal Organizations, centering on Taoist funeral rites, probate ceremonies, and the brutal hazing death of Baruch college freshman and pledge Michael Deng in 2013 while running through the gantlet known as the Glass Ceiling. Admission is free with RSVP; the December 6 performance will be followed by a Q&A with Tam (All of M, Breakfast in Bed) and Kitchen curator Lumi Tan. You can see previous Kitchen OnScreen projects here by Baseera Khan, Autumn Knight, and Ka Baird with Max Eilbacher.
Who: Malena Dayen, Karen Lancel & Hermen Maat, Caitlin & Misha, Katelyn Halpern, Paul Pinto, divinebrick, Chris SooHoo
What: 3D live, interactive experience
Where: New York Live Arts
When: Saturday, December 5, $7-$15, 1:00 - 4:00
Why: On October 10, EdgeCut introduced us to the remarkable NowHere platform for the first part of its collaboration with New York Live Arts, “Captivity,” five hours of short performance works, discussions, and networking in which audience members navigated through different levels in order to watch livestreamed events in little pods and hang out with curators, creators, and other visitors in their pods. You could steer through fantastical landscapes, float in space, and pull up next to another pod and talk about where you’d been so far or where you were off to next, with cameras on so your face is visible on the front of your pod. I’ve tried just about every form of online entertainment while we’re all sheltering in place and arts venues are closed, and nothing else comes close to this one, even given various hiccups that require patience.
The second iteration, “Sanity,” takes place December 5 from 1:00 to 4:00, a more manageable three hours that will feature four unique rooms. In the Growth Room, you can catch director and singer Malena Dayen's opera While You Are with Me and the bright and colorful Living Room music video of dancing television heads by multidisciplinary artists Katelyn Halpern and Paul Pinto; in the Worry Room, you can let out steam with Caitlin & Misha’s Infinite Worries Bash, a participatory installation of electroacoustic piñatas that inquires, “Can the destruction of these interactive worry vessels create space for clarity?”; in the Transformation Room, you can meditate to divinebrick and Chris Soohoo’s Performance Prayer; and in the Kissing Room, you can share private moments courtesy of intimacy agents Karen Lancel and Hermen Maat, who ask, “Can we measure a kiss and what kissers feel together?”
Curated by Heidi Boisvert and Kat Mustatea, the EdgeCut program, which originally convened at the New Museum’s NEW INC incubator for art, tech, and design for in-person presentations, is now seeking to expand and redefine the virtual 3D experience during the pandemic lockdown, exploring the question “How do we create collective experience and transformative gatherings in this moment of ‘a crisis within a crisis’ that speak to transition, change, healing, humanity?” The works were chosen through an open call; the finale of the trilogy, “Humanity,” is scheduled for February 13, 2021. Tickets range from $7 per room to $15 for the full experience, which has to be seen to be believed.
Who: Sidra Bell Dance New York, Immanuel Wilkins
What: Performance of a new work in progress and conversation
Where: 92Y online
When: Friday, December 4, $10, 7:00
Why: Originally scheduled to debut at National Sawdust in June, Sidra Bell Dance New York and Immanuel Wilkins’s waiting will make its work-in-progress premiere December 4 at 7:00 in a presentation hosted by the 92nd St. Y’s Harkness Dance Center. Bell and Wilkins met in June 2019 at an SBDNY performance and decided to collaborate; because of the pandemic lockdown, they have continued working on the piece, which was commissioned by the Jazz Gallery, over Zoom and are ready to show an early version, to be followed by a live discussion between SBDNY artistic director Bell, whose New York City Ballet commission, Pixelation in a wave (Within Wires), can be seen here, and composer, arranger, and alto saxophonist Wilkins, who released his debut album, Omega, in August. SBDNY, which calls itself “an internationally recognized boutique brand of prolific movement illustrators based in New York City that presents and fosters a canon of innovative and progressive dance theater in a world of ideas and (im)possibilities,” consists of Marisa Christogeorge, AJ Libert, Kimie Parker, Sophia Halimah Parker, and Uma Shannon; Wilkins will be joined by Jeremy Corren on piano, Daryl Johns on bass, and Kweku Sumbry on drums. Virtual tickets for “Infrastructure (of a Work): waiting” are $10 and are available here.
Who: Nederlands Dans Theater (NDT)
What: Livestreamed dance
Where: NDT online
When: December 3-5, €15, 2:00 (with an added 6:00 am show on December 5)
Why: This past March, Nederlands Dans Theater brought its sixtieth anniversary celebration to City Center, presenting three US premieres: Gabriela Carrizo’s The Missing Door, Marco Goecke’s Walk the Demon, and Sol León and Paul Lightfoot’s Shut Eye. With much of the world in lockdown, there is no telling when NDT will be back on these shores — they have appeared at the Joyce often as well — but you can catch them December 3-5 in the company’s latest digital performance, Yoann Bourgeois’s I wonder where the dreams I don’t remember go. For his NDT 2 debut in 2019, the French acrobat, actor, juggler, dancer, and choreographer staged Little Song, in which a man and a woman move about a small wooden set that becomes a character unto itself while the Texas rock band Explosions in the Sky hovers behind them. The Hague-based company previously streamed “Dare to Say” November 6-8, consisting of Alexander Ekman’s Four Relations and Dimo Milev’s Fusions and some confusions. The forty-five-minute December 3-5 shows will be livestreamed from the Zuiderstrandtheater, where all coronavirus protocols were followed during the filming. “The livestreams are by no means a diluted theater experience,” NDT notes on its website. “The dancers and support teams make every effort to make your visit to our online theater as special and inspiring as possible.” The work will not be archived for later viewing but must be experienced live, so take careful note of the scheduled time depending on where you are in the world. (For more on Bourgeois, you can watch Les grand fantômes here.)
Update: Streamed live from NDT’s Zuiderstrandtheater in front of a limited audience, Yoann Bourgeois’s I wonder where the dreams I don’t remember go is a mesmerizing, meditative, awe-inspiring work about identity and personal relationships that uniquely captures the emotional and physical ups and downs of life during this age of Covid-19 and quarantine. The presentation begins with a short documentary that goes behind the scenes of the making of the piece that only gives hints about its visual marvel. The forty-minute work is performed by four men and four women wearing some combination of a blue-patterned button-down shirt or green T-shirt, blue jeans or dark pants, and white sneakers or black heels, as if they are all interchangeable, and set to a score by German-British composer and pianist Max Richter.
Bourgeois’s initially claustrophobic set consists of two large catty-corner walls and a wooden floor on which there are two chairs and a table, all made of unpainted wood, the grain forming Rorschach-like designs. A man and a woman soon enter and take seats; as they glide about the floor and against the walls, using the furniture as props, film of them is projected onto one of the walls but at a different angle, rotated ninety degrees, making it look like they are executing gravity-defying feats, floating through the air in impossible ways as your head swivels between the real and the recorded, the latter at times becoming a haunting, dreamlike vision, especially when the table and chairs are repositioned directly into the walls, more of the dancers enter and reach out to one another, and the walls start moving. So many of us might still be trapped at home, desperate for the end of this global nightmare, but Bourgeois is reminding us that human existence is impermanent, that people are by nature social animals who need to be among fellow beings, and that life, above all, is intrinsically beautiful and poetic — and pretty darn cool — and that there is virtually no limit to what we can accomplish if we just put our minds and bodies to it.