This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001


Carmina Burana

Guangzhou Ballet will perform Carmina Burana along with Goddess of the Luo River at Lincoln Center (photo courtesy Guangzhou Ballet)

David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
20 Lincoln Center Plaza
August 17, 8:00, and August 18, 1:00, $50-$150

Founded by former National Ballet of China dancer Zhang Dandan in 1993, Guangzhou Ballet is a classical ballet company that tours the world with lavish productions. On August 17-18, the troupe will be at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center with a pair of ballets, presented by China Arts and Entertainment Group Ltd. Choreographed by Jiang Qi, Carmina Burana, or “Songs from Benediktbeuern,” is based on German composer Carl Orff’s 1935-36 cantata, itself based on the medieval Latin poetry collection that dates back nearly a thousand years; the troupe melds poetry, dramatic text, Western music, and ballet in the work. Goddess of the Luo River is a nearly two-thousand-year-old legend about a mortal poet who falls in love with a river goddess; Guangzhou Ballet tells the story using Peter Quanz’s recomposed score based on Du Mingxin’s violin concerto.


Battery Dance hosts thirty-ninth annual festival August 11-16 (photo by Claudio Rodriguez)

Battery Dance hosts thirty-eighth annual festival August 11-17 (photo by Claudio Rodriguez)

Robert F. Wagner Jr. Park, Battery Park City
20 Battery Pl.
August 11-17, free

The thirty-eighth annual Battery Dance Festival takes place August 11-17, featuring more than two dozen companies from around the world. Formerly known as the Downtown Dance Festival, the event is hosted by the New York City-based Battery Dance, which was founded by artistic director Jonathan Hollander in 1976. The free festival takes place Sunday through Friday in Robert F. Wagner Jr. Park at 7:00, followed by Everybody Dance Now at 9:00, beginning August 11 with Danuka Ariyawansa from Sri Lanka, Leah Barsky and Cristian Correa from Argentina, Mezopotamya Dans from Turkey, Dancers Seeking Refuge — Hussein Smko from Iraq, Battery Dance, and Music from the Sole. The August 12 lineup consists of Water Street Dance Milwaukee, Jon Ole Olstad, Mari Meade Dance Collective / MMDC, Laboration Art Company from France, Pony Box Dance Theatre, Mezopotamya Dans, and Emma Evelein Dance and Choreography from the Netherlands. On August 13, taking the stage will be Laboration Art Company, Janice Rosario & Company, Buglisi Dance Theatre, NVA & Guests, YYDC, and Ashlé Dawson — Breaking Conformity Productions. August 14 brings Ballet Nepantla, B-E from Lithuania, VIVO Ballet, Ballet Boy Productions, konverjdans, Chloe London Dance, Vanaver Caravana, and a world premiere from Battery Dance choreographed by Razvan Stoian.

August 15 celebrates India Independence Day with Dancers and Drummers of Manipur, Darshana Jhaveri, Sanjib Bhattacharya, Sinam Basu Singh, Surbala Devi Bachaspatimayum, Monika Devi Kongengbam. Brojen Kumar Singha Thingom, Angousana Singh Oinam, Premkumar Singh Lourembam, Rajika Puri, and narrator Sutradhar. On Friday, August 16, the performers are SEAD’s Bodhi Project from Austria, Reuel “Crunk” Rogers from Curaçao, MATHETA Dance, Keerati Jinakunwiphat / DIVE, Battery Dance, and Annalee Traylor. The festival concludes August 17 with a ticketed indoor show at Pace’s Schimmel Center with SEAD’s Bodhi Project, Reuel “Crunk” Rogers, Dancers Seeking Refuge — Hussein Smko, B-E, and Battery Dance at 6:00 (general admission $10). In addition, there will be a series of workshops at Battery Dance Studios at 380 Broadway, with Laboration Art Company on Sunday, Battery Dance on Monday, Mezopotamya Dans on Tuesday, Emma Evelein Dance on Wednesday, SEAD’s Bodhi Project on Thursday, Manipuri Dance on Friday (all at 10:30), and B-E Dance on Saturday at 10:30 and Reuel “Crunk” Rogers on Saturday at 1:30.


Boy Blue returns to Lincoln Center with Blak Whyte Gray at Mostly Mozart Festival (photo by Carl Fox)

Boy Blue returns to Lincoln Center with Blak Whyte Gray at Mostly Mozart Festival (photo by Carl Fox)

Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College
524 West Fifty-Ninth St. between Tenth & Eleventh Aves.
August 1–3, 7:30
Festival continues through August 9

London-based troupe Boy Blue’s Blak Whyte Gray consists of a trio of vibrant, electrifying works that fuse hip-hop, contemporary dance, and African movement while taking on the current state of sociopolitical tension in England, America, and the world. “Do we crack and break the system made for us? / rules give people purpose / can you tell them what they know is a lie?” Boy Blue cofounder, composer, and co-artistic director Michael “Mikey J” Asante asks in a poem printed in the program. “Inhale. Exhale. / You’re ALIVE / Wake Up / It’s REVOLUTION.” Blak Whyte Gray made its US debut last November at Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival, where it was such a hit that it’s back for a special return engagement at the Mostly Mozart Festival, continuing through August 3 at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College. It’s divided into three thrilling sections in which Asante and choreographer and director Kenrick “H2O” Sandy proceed from the subtle to the overt in making their case.

Boy Blue returns to Lincoln Center with Blak Whyte Gray at Mostly Mozart Festival (photo by Carl Fox)

Michael “Mikey J” Asante and Kenrick “H2O” Sandy call for revolution in Blak Whyte Gray (photo by Carl Fox)

The evening begins with Whyte, with Gemma Kay Hoody, Ricardo Da Silva, and Nicole McDowall in white fringed dress that evokes both straitjackets and Japanese anime robots; the three dancers move like automatons, seemingly trapped in a white rectangular box, at one point their hands behind their backs as if handcuffed. On the screen behind them is projected a white box with black vertical lines that recalls a barcode or uneven prison bars; the barcode shows up again on the floor in a later piece. (The costumes are by Ryan Dawson Laight, the lighting by Lee Curran.) The dancers move as if controlled by rather than in response to the music, individually and in unison, eventually letting out silent screams. Gray opens with Theophillus “Godson” Oloyade, wearing a hooded winter jacket, sliding on his back onto the stage, soon joined by Natasha Gooden, Jordan Franklin, and others, incorporating hip-hop, African dance, and krumping as they rally together in an uprising, pointing unseen rifles and lobbing invisible hand grenades at the audience in a powerful statement of action rather than reaction.

Following intermission, the troupe returns for the scintillating Blak: A man falls to the ground, possibly dead, and is surrounded by others, who try to resuscitate him, lift him up, and get him to stand on his own. The community refuses to give up, and moments later they are wrapping him in an elegant red cloth, as if anointing him king, an indirect reference to Asante’s Ghanaian and Egyptian heritage, while masks descend paying tribute to their ancestors. The company, which also includes Dani Harris-Walters and Idney De’Almeida, is extraordinary, bold and physical, with exquisite control of their bodies. Blak Whyte Gray is an exhilarating experience, with a spectacular conclusion that is filled with hope for a new conception of individual and collective identity.


Boy Blue returns to Lincoln Center with Blak/Whyte/Gray at Mostly Mozart Festival (photo by Richard Termine)

Boy Blue returns to Lincoln Center with Blak Whyte Gray at Mostly Mozart Festival (photo by Richard Termine)

Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College
524 West Fifty-Ninth St. between Tenth & Eleventh Aves.
August 1–3, 7:30
Festival continues through August 9

London-based troupe Boy Blue’s Blak Whyte Gray made its US debut last November at Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival. The sold-out dance-theater production proved so popular that Lincoln Center is bringing it back, running August 1-3 at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College as part of — surprise! — the annual summer Mostly Mozart Festival. The three-part, ninety-minute piece offers an abstract look at culture and identity, incorporating hip-hop, African chanting, electronics, and more. The music and creative direction are by Boy Blue cofounder Michael “Mikey J” Asante, with choreography and direction by Kenrick “H2O” Sandy, lighting by Lee Curran, and costumes by Ryan Dawson Laight. The August 2 show will be followed by a talk with Sandy and Pulitzer Prize–winning writer, professor, and critic Margo Jefferson. “The time is right to ask questions, to break free from the inner tension of a system that isn’t working, and to emerge on the other side to an awakening — a return to roots, a celebration of culture,” Boy Blue’s website explains about Blak Whyte Gray. Mostly Mozart continues through August 9 with plenty of Wolfgang programs as well as Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Yang Liping Contemporary Dance’s Under Siege, and International Contemporary Ensemble performing works by Nathan Davis, Ann Cleare, György Kurtág, Kate Soper, Anahita Abbasi, and Dai Fujikura.


(photo by twi-ny/ees)

Ligia Lewis’s Sensation 1 / This Interior creates a shared space on the High Line (photo by twi-ny/ees)

The High Line, Fourteenth Street Passage
July 23-25, free with advance RSVP, 7:30
online slideshow

Dancer and choreographer Ligia Lewis takes her Sensation series outside with the captivating Sensation 1 / This Interior, continuing in the High Line’s Fourteenth Street Passage through July 25. The free show is set in one half of the divided passageway under a building, protecting it from potential rain, and the audience gathers at either of the two ends or lines up against the long, horizontal walls. Over the course of sixty minutes, Trinity Bobo, Emma Cohen, Rebecca Gual, Miguel Ángel Guzmán, Stephanie Peña, and Jumatatu M. Poe slowly walk into the space one at a time, moving extremely slowly as they head to spots marked on the ground by a pink “X.” When they reach their destination, they stay there for an extended period of time, their feet firmly planted on the ground as their bodies convulse, their hands reach out, and their faces contort into silent screams, set to an electronic score by Twin Shadow (aka George Lewis Jr., Lygia’s brother) that begins as noise, then incorporates words and phrases before transforming into a song.

(photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Dancers reach out in Sensation 1 / This Interior in the High Line’s Fourteenth Street Passage (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

To best experience the powerful performance — admission is free with advance RSVP — attendees are strongly encouraged to walk throughout the area, weaving around the dancers and making direct eye contact; it is like a sculpture garden where the statues have come to life, moving in agonizing, yearning ways. (Of course, the High Line is itself a sculpture garden, its 1.4-mile length filled with changing site-specific artworks.) Very few audience members, however, took advantage of that opportunity on opening night; after the show, I spoke with several of the dancers, who said they want the people to walk around them in the shared space, to become part of what is happening together. The Dominican-born, Berlin-based Lewis, who has recently completed a trilogy consisting of Sorrow Swag (2014), minor matter (2016), and Water Will (in Melody) (2018), rightfully calls this outdoor piece Interior, as it delves deep into what’s inside all of us, and needs to get out.


Ligia Lewis, minor matter, 2016. Photo by Martha Glenn.

Ligia Lewis, whose minor matter is seen above, translates Sensation 1 for the High Line this week (photo by Martha Glenn)

The High Line, Fourteenth Street Passage
July 23-25, free with advance RSVP, 7:30

Dancer and choreographer Ligia Lewis presents the next iteration of her Sensation series July 23-25 with Sensation 1 / This Interior, the first to be performed outside, taking place at 7:30 each night at the Fourteenth Street Passage on the High Line. Sensation 1 premiered as an indoor solo in 2011, followed the next year by Sensation 2; both pieces involved very slow movement that viewed the body as a sculptural object. Now the Dominican-born, Berlin-based Lewis, who has recently completed a trilogy consisting of Sorrow Swag (2014), minor matter (2016), and Water Will (in Melody) (2018), revisits Sensation with dancers Trinity Bobo, Emma Cohen, Rebecca Gual, Miguel Ángel Guzmán, Stephanie Peña, and Jumatatu M. Poe and music by Lewis’s brother, George Lewis Jr., aka Twin Shadow, focusing on the last note of a song on multiple bodies as a shared experience. Admission is free with advance RSVP.

(photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Lubaina Himid’s Five Conversations is part of High Line group show “En Plein Air” (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Be sure to show up early or stay late and take a walk along the High Line to see its current art commissions. The group show “En Plein Air” comprises works by Ei Arakawa, Firelei Báez, Daniel Buren, Sam Falls, Lubaina Himid, Lara Schnitger, Ryan Sullivan, and Vivian Suter that, like Sensation 1 / This Interior, take advantage of the outdoor location. Also be on the lookout for Simone Leigh’s giant Brick House, a sixteen-foot-high bronze figure of a black woman with long cornrow braids and a skirt that doubles as her body and a dwelling; Ruth Ewan’s Silent Agitator, which demands that it’s “time to organize”; Dorothy Iannone’s I Lift My Lamp Beside the Golden Door, depicting three colorful versions of the Statue of Liberty; and Autumn Knight’s Complete Total Pleasure, a new video about anhedonia, power, race, and control.

And on August 6 at 5:00, the High Line will host “In Conversation: On Top of All This,” a free (with advance RSVP) three-hour gathering on the Spur at Thirtieth St. and Tenth Ave., with poetry, fiction, prompts, and predictions from poet and scholar Lucas Crawford, poet, curator, and artist Anaïs Duplan, and dancer, writer, curator, and choreographer Emily Johnson, including prerecorded audio reflections, readings, and a panel discussion.


(photo by Rachel Neville Photography)

Drew Jacoby and Maria Kochetkova get groovy at the Joyce in Rachel, Nevada (photo by Rachel Neville Photography)

The Joyce Theater
175 Eighth Ave. at 19th St.
July 16-21, $56-$96

Thirty-five-year-old Moscow-born ballerina Maria Kochetkova gives audiences an intimate look into her future with her first solo project, Catch Her If You Can, continuing at the Joyce through July 21. After eleven years as a principal with San Francisco Ballet, the last two overlapping as a principal here in New York City with ABT, Kochetkova has worked with the Joyce Foundation on an evening of seven short pieces and one longer one by seven contemporary choreographers created specifically for the Moscow-born ballerina and several of her friends and colleagues. The program displays a talented woman bridging the gap between the classicism of ballet and the unpredictability of modern dance, and while some pieces are more exciting than others, it makes for a splendid introduction to what is next for Kochetkova.

(photo by Rachel Neville Photography)

Maria Kochetkova performs in David Dawson’s At the End of the Day in independent debut (photo by Rachel Neville Photography)

The evening begins with William Forsythe’s Bach Duet (from New Suite), in which Kochetkova pairs with Sebastian Klorborg in a romantic pas de deux that is more balletic in nature, focusing on exquisite use of the upper body and arms in particular. Following Carlo Di Lanno’s bold solo in Myles Thatcher’s Painting Greys, with music by Emmit Fenn, Drew Jacoby wows with her muscular solo in Marco Goecke’s Tué, set to music by Barbara; Jacoby’s back muscles ripple in a dance all their own. Kochetkova next takes center stage, showcasing innovative footwork and astonishing flexibility on the floor to Oleg Malov’s version of Alexander Knaifel’s “O Heavenly King” in Marcos Morau’s Degunino. In David Dawson’s White Swan Pas de Deux (from Swan Lake), Di Lanno and Sofiane Sylve, two statuesque, athletic presences, perform breathtaking lifts and carries to Tchaikovsky’s familiar sounds.

The first act concludes with Jacoby and Kochetkova having a blast with the world premiere of Jacoby’s Rachel, Nevada. Their substantial size difference is put to good effect in front of a screen showing mostly black-and-white optical illusions designed by TOYKYO, with music by Sam Spiegel and opaque costumes by Anja Mlakar. Following intermission, Kochetkova and Kloborg offer up Dawson’s romantic duet At the End of the Day, set to Szymon Brzóska’s “Migrations,” but it’s the grand finale, the world premiere of Jérôme Bel’s Masha Machine — Kochetkova is affectionately known as Masha — that lays bare Kochetkova’s style, devotion to dance, and perhaps surprising sense of humor in a comic and revealing media-rich duet.