The First Nations Dialogues Lenapehoking/New York festival takes place January 5-12 with live performances, community gatherings, discussions, and other special programs focusing on Indigenous cultures in the US, Canada, and Australia. The centerpiece is KIN, a series of events curated by Emily Johnson that includes three conversations with Paola Balla, Genevieve Grieves, and Johnson; a fabric workshop with Spiderwoman Theater cofounder Muriel Miguel; the play-reading series “Reflections of Native Voices,” with Muriel Miguel, Gloria Miguel, Carolyn Dunn, Ed Bourgeois, Henu Josephine Tarrant, Rachael Maza, and Nicholson Billey; presentations by Joshua Pether and S. J. Norman; and the outdoor ceremonial fire gathering “Kinstillatory Mappings in Light and Dark Matter.” Kicking off the Global First Nations Performance Network, First Nations Dialogues is held in partnership with the Lenape Center, Amerinda, American Indian Community House, Abrons Arts Center, American Realness, Danspace Project, La MaMa, Performance Space New York, Safe Harbors Indigenous Collective, Under the Radar, the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, and the International Society for the Performing Arts. Below are some of the highlights.
Saturday, January 5
Tëmikèkw, an honoring and welcome gathering, with Muriel Miguel, Gloria Miguel, and Deborah Ratelle of Spiderwoman Theater, Diane Fraher (Osage/Cherokee) of Amerinda, the SilverCloud Singers led by Kevin Tarrant of the Hopi and HoChunk Nations, Laura Ortman of the Apache Nation, and fancy shawl dancer Anatasia McAllister of the Colville Confederated Tribes and Hopi Nation, Danspace Project, free with RSVP, 12:30 – 4:00 pm
Saturday, January 5, 7:00
Sunday, January 6, 3:00
Jupiter Orbiting, by Joshua Pether, immersive movement-based work about dissociation and trauma, Performance Space New York, $15
Tuesday, January 8, 7:30
Cicatrix 1 (that which is taken/that which remains), by S. J Norman, four-hour durational ritual, Performance Space New York, $15
Wednesday, January 9, 10:00
Thursday, January 10, 10:00
Friday, January 11, 1:00
Serpentine, by Daina Ashbee, performed by Areli Moran to music composed by Jean-Françoise Blouin, La MaMa, Downstairs Theater, $20-$25
Friday, January 10, 2:00, 6:00, 8:00
Footwork/Technique, by Mariaa Randall, incorporating contemporary Aboriginal footwork and dance legacies, Performance Space New York, $15
333 East 47th St. at First Ave.
Friday, January 4, and Saturday, January 5, $30, 7:30
The annual Contemporary Dance Festival: Japan + East Asia, previously known as the Contemporary Dance Showcase, takes place at Japan Society January 4-5 with works from three countries. From Japan, butoh legend Akira Kasai’s Pollen Revolution, which marked Kasai’s New York debut at Japan Society in 2002, has been reimagined for his son, Mitsutake Kasai, who will perform the solo, which incorporates several costume changes involving gender shifts. Taiwan also honors family with the North American premiere of Kuan-Hsiang Liu’s award-winning Kids, a tribute to his mother that includes recorded excerpts of her voice as she battled cancer (and will be performed by Liu, Yu-Yuan Huang, and Wan-Lun Yu). And from Korea, Goblin Party presents the North American premiere of Silver Knife, a work, inspired by the traditional eunjangdo, for four women that explores female identity and expectations, directed and choreographed by Jinho Lim and Kyungmin Ji and featuring Lim, Lee, Hyun Min Ahn, and Yeonju Lee. Opening night will be followed by a meet-the-artists reception.
The Joyce Theater
175 Eighth Ave. at 19th St.
January 3-7, $10-$40
The Joyce welcomes in 2019 with American Dance Platform, a five-day program consisting of works by six exciting companies. On January 3 and 7, the bold and always entertaining Stephen Petronio Company will present 2018’s Hardness 10, with music by Nico Muhly and costumes by Patricia Field, and Steve Paxton’s 1986 Excerpt from Goldberg Variations. Also on the double bill is Martha Graham Dance Company, performing Steps in the Street and Prelude to Action from 1936’s antiwar Chronicle and Pontus Lidberg’s 2016 Woodland. On January 4 and 6, Philly’s Ballet X takes the stage with Trey McIntyre’s 2018 The Boogeyman, featuring music by Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Gilbert O’Sullivan, and Earth, Wind & Fire, Matthew Neenan’s 2014 Increasing, set to the first movement of Franz Schubert’s Quintet in C Major, and a surprise premiere; the company is sharing the bill with another Philadelphian, Rafael Xavier, making his Joyce debut with Point of Interest. And on January 5 and 6, Ephrat Asherie Dance presents the new Nazareth Suite #1 and 2016’s Riff This, Riff That, the latter a collaboration between Bessie winner Ephrat and her brother, jazz pianist Ehud Asherie, with an all-star lineup, while the inimitable Ronald K. Brown/Evidence teams up with Arturo O’Farrill and Resist for this year’s New Conversations: Iron Meets Water, inspired by the huntress spirit Oxossi; Evidence will also perform Upside Down, an excerpt from 1998’s Destiny.
Abrons Arts Center and other venues
466 Grand St. at Pitt St.
Since 2010, Abrons Arts Center has presented American Realness, a multidisciplinary festival of dance, music, theater, discourse, literature, and more. The 2019 lineup features a stellar lineup of creators, including Marjani Forté-Saunders, Jack Ferver, nora chipaumire, Reggie Wilson, Julian F. May, Miguel Gutierrez, Gillian Walsh, and the Royal Osiris Karaoke Ensemble staging works across four boroughs, at such venues as Performance Space New York, the Chocolate Factory, Danspace Project, La MaMa, and Gibney. Below are only some of the highlights.
Moon Fate Sin, by Gillian Walsh, location and ticketing TBD, January 4-6
100% Pop / Shebeen Remix, by nora chipaumire, Jack, January 4-6 and 10-12, $25
Everything Is Imaginable, by Jack Ferver, New York Live Arts, January 7-12, $15-$25
The Bridge Called My Ass, by Miguel Gutierrez, Chocolate Factory Theater, January 8-19, $20
Folk Incest, by Juliana F. May, Abrons Arts Center, January 9-12, $21
UNDER THE RADAR
Public Theater and other venues
425 Lafayette St. by Astor Pl.
The Public Theater’s annual Under the Radar Festival invites adventurous theatergoers to experience cutting-edge, experimental theater and music from around the world. The 2019 iteration features works from twenty-one artists from nine countries, with most tickets costing a mere thirty bucks. Below are some of the highlights.
Hear Word! Naija Woman Talk True, by Ifeoma Fafunwa, January 3, 5, 6, 7, Public Theater, Martinson Theater, $30
Frankenstein, by Manual Cinema, concept by Drew Dir, January 3, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12, Public Theater, LuEsther Theater, $30
Minor Character, New Saloon adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, January 4-13, Public Theater, Martinson Theater, $30
BITCH! DYKE! FAGHAG! WHORE! The Penny Arcade Sex and Censorship Show, by Penny Arcade, January 3, 6, 10, 12, 13, Joe’s Pub, $35
Incoming! Macbeth in Stride, by Whitney White, Public Theater, Shiva Theater, $25
New York Live Arts
219 West 19th St.
January 4-7, $10-$20
The annual Live Artery winter performance festival at New York Live Arts brings back popular shows from the previous year as well as advance looks at works-in-progress. This year’s creators include such fab dancers and choreographers and twi-ny faves as Jack Ferver, Kimberly Bartosik, Yanira Castro, Netta Yerushalmy, and Joanna Kotze, with tickets between twenty and thirty bucks.
what will we be like when we get there, by Joanna Kotze, January 4, 8:00, and January 5, 12 noon, $20
Last Audience, by Yanira Castro / a canary torsi, January 5, 5:00, $10
I hunger for you, by Kimberly Bartosik / daela, January 5, 7:00, January 7, 5:00, $10
Body Comes Apart, by Molly Lieber & Eleanor Smith, January 6, 2:00, $10
Paramodernities (3 Installments), by Netta Yerushalmy, January 7, 7:00, $10
I usually check out one of the all-new programs every year at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s City Center season, guaranteeing that I see productions I’ve never seen before. But for the company’s sixtieth anniversary, I decided instead to choose “3 Visionaries,” an evening of works by AAADT’s trio of artistic directors, Ailey (1958-89), Judith Jamison (1989-2010), and Robert Battle (2011-). The night began with Battle’s 2004 Mass, which the troupe debuted last year, restaged by Elisa Clark. Inspired by seeing Verdi’s Requiem at Carnegie Hall, Battle created a fourteen-minute dance in which a sixteen-piece choir in long robes move under a heavenly glow to John Mackey’s percussive score. (The lighting is by Burke Wilmore, with costumes by Fritz Masten.) The group comes together in a tight circle, forms a straight line, and glides across the floor on their tiptoes in spiritual reverence. Next was Battle’s Ella, reconceived from a solo to a duet in 2016, in which Michael Francis McBride and Chalvar Monteiro spend five exhilarating minutes prancing and preening, having a ball in Jon Taylor’s black sequined outfits as they try to outdo each other to a live recording of Ella Fitzgerald’s scat classic “Airmail Special.”
Following intermission, there were two very short excerpts from Jamison’s ouevre, a four-minute solo from Divining, beautifully performed by Jacquelin Harris to music by Monti Ellison and Kimati Dinizulu, and a duet from 1989’s Forgotten Time, with Clifton Brown and Chalvar Monteiro stretching the bounds of what the male body can do, with music by Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares and costumes by Jamison and Ellen Mahlke. Then came a stunning version of Ailey’s 1971 classic, Cry, a seventeen-minute ballet he created as a birthday present for his mother. Wearing A. Christina Giannini’s nineteenth-century-style ruffled white dresses, Akua Noni Parker, Ghrai DeVore, and Constance Stamatiou each perform a solo (to Alice Coltrane’s “Something about John Coltrane,” Laura Nyro’s “Been on a Train,” and the Voices of East Harlem’s “Right On. Be Free,” respectively), with Parker starting out incorporating a long white sash that she uses to clean the floor and as a headdress, celebrating women’s historical and evolving roles in African culture and the diaspora.
The program concludes with the usual finale (except in the all-new program), Ailey’s signature work, 1960’s Revelations. Don’t look past this thirty-six-minute gem, which still contains plenty of thrills and chills. Ailey was inspired by such writers as James Baldwin and Langston Hughes as well as childhood church services he attended in Texas, leading to a multipart ballet that Ailey explained thusly at its debut: “This suite explores motivations and emotions of African American religious music which, like its heir to the Blues, takes many forms — ‘true spirituals’ with their sustained melodies, ring shouts, song-sermons, gospel songs, and holy blues — songs of trouble, love, and deliverance.” The piece is divided into three sections, “Pilgrim of Sorrow” (“I Been ’Buked,” “Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel,” “Fix Me, Jesus”), “Take Me to the Water (“Processional/Honor, Honor,” “Wade in the Water,” “I Wanna Be Ready”), and “Move, Members, Move” (“Sinner Man,” “The Day Is Past and Gone,” “You May Run On,” “Rocka My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham”). Highlights included Parker and Jeroboam Bozeman’s duet to “Fix Me, Jesus,” McBride’s solo to “I Wanna Be Ready,” and the trio of DeVore, Brown, and Stamatiou’s “Wade in the Water.” Ailey also said, “I wanted to explore black culture, and I wanted that culture to be a revelation.” After nearly sixty years, it still is. Ailey’s winter season continues at City Center through December 30, with “3 Visionaries” being presented again on December 26 at 2:00. Among the other upcoming programs are “Timeless Ailey,” “All Battle,” and “All New.” Each performance begins with Bob Bonniol’s new seven-minute documentary short, Becoming Ailey, with audio quotes from Ailey.