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


Dancer Gabrielle Hamilton will be part of National Arts Club panel discussion on Oklahoma! (© Little Fang Photo)

Who: Daniel Fish, Ted Chapin, Rebecca Naomi Jones, Patrick Vaill, Gabrielle Hamilton, Foster Hirsch
What: Discussion of reworking of classic Broadway musical
Where: The National Arts Club Zoom
When: Monday, March 15, free with RSVP, 7:30
Why: In 2018, Daniel Fish presented his seventy-fifth-anniversary adaptation of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s beloved Oklahoma! The longtime downtowner reimagined the show with diverse casting, an intimate setting that included chili during intermission, significant tweaking of the score, and a controversial solo dance to replace Agnes de Mille’s dream ballet. In my review, I called the show, which started at St. Ann’s Warehouse before moving to Circle in the Square, an “extraordinary adaptation . . . Fish has created a masterful retelling of the 1943 original, immersing the audience in the optimism that came with the southern territory becoming a state in 1906 — but uncovering a deep layer of darkness in the rich farmland soil.”

On March 15 at 7:30, the National Arts Club is hosting the live Zoom panel discussion and Q&A “Oklahoma! Re-imagining a Classic Broadway Musical,” featuring the Tony-nominated Fish; Rodgers & Hammerstein president Ted Chapin (about halfway through the show, the woman next to me muttered, “How could Ted Chapin let this happen?”); Rebecca Naomi Jones, who played Laurey; Patrick Vaill, who portrayed Jud; Bessie winner Gabrielle Hamilton, who performed the dance that opens the second act; and moderator Foster Hirsch. (The show was nominated for eight Tonys, winning for Best Orchestrations [Daniel Kluger] and Best Revival of a Musical.) Registration is free, but donations will be accepted for the NAC Artist Fellows program.


Who: Lorna Luft, Joel Grey, Lily Tomlin, Michael York, Joan Collins, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Ben Vereen, Ute Lemper, Michael Feinstein, Billy Stritch, Kathie Lee Gifford, Lea Delaria, Chita Rivera, Jonathan Groff, Charles Busch, Kathy Najimy, Sandra Bernhard, Andrew Rannells, Julie Halston, John Waters, John Kander, Nathan Lane, Mario Cantone, Tony Hale, Coco Peru, John Cameron Mitchell, Andrea Martin, Michele Lee, Nicolas King, Parker Posey, Craig Ferguson, Hoda Kotb, Jason Alexander, Jim Caruso, Kathy Griffin, Neil Meron, Haley Swindal, Seth Sikes, Verdon Fosse legacy dancers
What: Seventy-fifth birthday tribute to Liza Minnelli
Where: The Town Hall via Stellar
When: Friday, March 12, $30, 8:00 (also available March 13 at 8:00 and March 14 at 7:00)
Why: On March 12, 1946, Liza May Minnelli was born to beloved actress and singer Judy Garland and Hollywood director Vincente Minnelli in Los Angeles, ultimately a family of Academy Award winners. On March 12, 2021, several dozen of Liza’s friends and admirers will gather virtually to wish the Tony-, Oscar-, and Emmy-winning star of stage and screen — Cabaret, The Sterile Cuckoo, Arthur, Liza with a Z, The Act — a very happy seventy-fifth birthday. Presented by the Town Hall, “A Love Letter to Liza Minnelli: 75th Birthday All-Star Tribute” will feature performances and appearances by a wide-ranging group of celebrities, including Joel Grey, Lily Tomlin, Joan Collins, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Ben Vereen, Michael Feinstein, Kathie Lee Gifford, Chita Rivera, Jonathan Groff, Charles Busch, Sandra Bernhard, Andrew Rannells, John Waters, John Kander, Nathan Lane, Mario Cantone, Andrea Martin, Michele Lee, and Kathy Griffin, along with surprise guests and never-before-seen footage of Liza.

“Sometimes you’re happy, sometimes you’re sad / But the world goes ’round / Sometimes you lose every nickel you had / But the world goes ’round,” Minnelli sings in New York, New York, offering words to live by, especially during the current crises. “Somebody loses and somebody wins / And one day it’s kicks, then it’s kicks in the shins / But the planet spins, and the world goes ’round.” Of course, this is Liza’s world; we’re only living in it. Tickets to the birthday tribute are $30, with twenty percent of the proceeds benefiting the Actors Fund.

HopeBoykinDance: Redefine US, from the INside OUT.

Hope Boykin premieres a new work live onstage from the Annenberg Center on March 11 (photo courtesy HopeBoykinDance)

Who: Hope Boykin, Meagan King, Alisha Peek, Martina Viadana, Terri Ayanna Wright
What: Livestreamed dance performance written, choreographed, and directed by Hope Boykin
Where: Annenberg Center at the University of Pennsylvania
When: Thursday, March 11, $25, 7:00 (available on demand through March 13)
Why: The inimitable Hope Boykin, the longtime Alvin Ailey star who has also danced with Complexions and Philadanco and delivered the Lincoln Center Activate keynote lecture in October, brings her own company, HopeBoykinDance, to the Annenberg Center at the University of Pennsylvania for a live program March 11 at 7:00. She will present the world premiere of Redefine US, from the INside OUT., performed live onstage and followed by an interactive Q&A. The show, which will be available on demand through March 13, features Boykin, Meagan King, Alisha Peek, Martina Viadana, and Terri Ayanna Wright, with music by Bill Laurance and lighting by Al Crawford. In the piece, which was developed in the #BoykinBubble in a residency at Modern Accord Depot in upstate New York, Boykin, a native of Durham, North Carolina, addresses such questions as “What if we decided to make and give our life of words new meaning? Or maybe, shift the pain and invite love in? What if we decided to see ourselves with new eyes, erase the old and redefine us from the inside out? What if we all had a new, inside out me? What if...?” AC Presents continues April 1 with Rennie Harris Puremovement, April 8 with Zakir Hussain, April 15 with Keyon Harrold, and April 22 with Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers.


Nowhere Fest takes place in three-dimensional fantastical wonderlands

March 11-13, $5-$100

One of the most innovative online platforms to emerge during the pandemic is Nowhere, a three-dimensional fantastical world where users’ images appear on the front of seedlike pods that can move around the location and interact with one another face-to-face. I’ve experienced it three times so far, twice for multimedia presentations from EdgeCut and New York Live Arts (NYLA), allowing participants to navigate through different virtual spaces to watch live and prerecorded dance, music, and high-tech art, and once when NYLA rolled out its upcoming season, previewing works and giving people the opportunity to speak with the artists. What feels unique is the agency each pod has, able to meet others and interact, settle in front of a virtual screen or proscenium within the virtual area, or wander off with magical flourishes. The platform, which can be pronounced “No Where” or “Now Here,” will be hosting a virtual festival March 11-13, featuring performances, panel discussions, and more in conjunction with the one-year anniversary of the World Health Organization’s declaration that Covid-19 was a global pandemic. Admission is $5 to $100, based on what you can afford, with proceeds benefiting Helping Hearts NYC, which “was created to provide aid to those affected the most during this time, and to those on the front line saving lives.”

Nowhere digital platform offers new way to experience live events with other people (screenshot by twi-ny/mdr)

Nowhere Fest celebrates the technological advances made over the last twelve months to connect people when they couldn’t physically be together in the same space. Jen Lyon, Liz Tallent, Patrick Wilson, Stephen Chilton, and Becca Higgins of the National Independent Venue Association will talk about their industry and the Save Our Stages Act. Columbia University Rabbi Irwin Kula, the president of the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, will meet with Kristina Libby, the CEO and founder of SoCu and the Social Works Co., and chair professor Robert Wolcott, cofounder of the World Innovation Network. Athena Demos, Michael “Danger Ranger” Mikel, and Damian Madray will look at the future of Burning Man. Tony winner Christine Jones, director Tamilla Woodard, and actor-writer Shyla Lefner will discuss the success of the Theatre for One program “Here We Are,” in which one actor at a time performed for one audience member, with microphones and cameras on for both. Heidi Boisvert and Kat Mustatea of EdgeCut will lead a conversation with artists about the development of hybrid live performances. Group.BR will delve into its use of the digital platform in its reimagining of its immersive, site-specific Inside the Wild Heart. EMBC Studio goes behind the scenes of its recharge rooms.

People can meet face-to-face and watch live performances and talks at Nowhere Fest

There will also be appearances, performances, demonstrations, and talks by comedian Chris Gethard, mentalist and mind reader Vinny Deponto, Shasta Geaux Pop, world champion whistler Lauren Elder, singer-songwriter Andrew McMahon, QuarMega, House of Yes & Elsewhere, Macy Schmidt of Broadway Sinfonietta, Deep End NYC, the Feast + Art Plus People, wellness innovator Leah Siegel, Hoovie cofounder Vallejo Gantner, Pete Vigeant of Completely Surrounded Games, poet Mason Granger, filmmaker Storm Saulter, MICRO DIY MUSEUMS founder Charles Philipp, Robert Siegel and Scott Simon of NPR, magician Greg Dubin, DJ Passionfruit, DJ MSG, Globally Curated founder Megs Rutigliano, photographer Will O’Hare, and strategy and design consultant and musician Alain Sylvain. Attending Nowhere Fest might just be the best five-dollar entertainment purchase you make during the pandemic (of course, give more if you can), introducing you to the future of live, online performance once we’re on the other side of this crisis.


Ask la Cour and Sterling Hyltin perform in Stravinsky Violin Concerto, choreographed by George Balanchine for NYCB (photo by Rosalie O’Connor)

New York City Ballet online
Through March 18, free

New York City Ballet pays digital tribute to its legendary cofounder and longtime leader, George Balanchine, with the free virtual program “Three Sides of Balanchine,” continuing through March 18. The three-week series, hosted by principal dancer Russell Janzen, consists of “Inside NYCB” on Tuesdays at 8:00 and streams of previously recorded performances on Thursdays at 8:00. Each part will be available on YouTube and the NYCB site for seven to nine days. “Three Sides of Balanchine” kicked off February 23 with an exploration of the Siren from Sergei Prokofiev’s Prodigal Son, with a sneak peek at a rehearsal and a live conversation with principal dancer Maria Kowroski, who has played the role many times, NYCB repertory director Lisa Jackson, and corps de ballet member Christina Clark, who is learning the role. That was coupled with a stream of Prodigal Son with Daniel Ulbricht and Teresa Reichlen.

Through March 11, you can catch a discussion about the male solo from Tschaikovsky’s Theme and Variations, with principal dancers Andrew Veyette and Joseph Gordon and repertory director Kathleen Tracey, paired with a 2015 stream of Theme and Variations starring Veyette and Tiler Peck. On March 9, NYCB will explore one of the female solos from Stravinsky Violin Concerto with a conversation and rehearsal session with principal dancer Sara Mearns, soloist Claire Kretzschmar, and repertory director Rebecca Krohn and, beginning March 11, a filmed performance featuring Sterling Hyltin, Ask la Cour, Mearns, and Taylor Stanley. As Balanchine himself said, “Why are you stingy with yourselves? Why are you holding back? What are you saving for — for another time? There are not other times. There is only now. Right now.”


FIAF will fly in the Paris Opera & Ballet’s playful Play this week, with a live talk March 11

Who: The Paris Opera & Ballet
What: Virtual screening and live discussion
Where: French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) online
When: Thursday, March 11, $15, 12:30 (stream available on demand March 8-14)
Why: Swedish dancer, choreographer, and director Alexander Ekman’s first commission from the Paris Opera & Ballet was the wild and woolly Play, a 2017 work that featured women dressed as deer, a furious rain of green balls, large blocks floating in the air, and other dreamlike scenarios. “We thought of life by analogy with the journey, with a pilgrimage, which had a serious purpose at the end, but the thing was to get to that end, success or whatever it is, or maybe heaven after your death, but we missed the point the whole way along,” a disembodied voice explains. FIAF will be streaming a recorded version of the production, with music composed by the Harlem-based Mikael Karlsson, from March 8 to 14; each $15 ticket also gives you access to a livestreamed Zoom talk with Ekman (Cacti, Tuplet), Karlsson, and theater critic Laura Cappelle on March 11 at 12:30.


WP Theater
Streaming through March 14, pay-what-you-can

For arts institutions now facing a pandemic lockdown that has lasted nearly a year with no immediate end in sight, it helps to have a sense of humor. And that’s precisely what Monica Bill Barnes & Company have plenty of in Keep Moving. Presented by WP Theater, Keep Moving is a ten-chapter series conceived and created by Monica Bill Barnes and company creative producing director and performer Robbie Saenz de Viteri that looks at how a group of women have dealt with the health crisis.

The digital presentation is hosted by Saenz de Viteri with a wry smile as he speaks with Barnes and several of the dancers, mostly via Zoom but a few over the phone, with no visuals. Chapters such as “Get. Ready. To. Go.,” “The Only Tedious Part,” “It Is Super Essential,” “Oh Hey I Do Exist,” and “Then I’m Gonna Fix the World” introduce such participants as Julieta Rodriguez-Cruz, Manuela Agudelo, Nadjie Forte, Kai Chen, Anakeiry Cruz, mentor Wendy Rogers, and others as Saenz de Viteri focuses on how everyone has been surviving the lockdown, with a specific focus on the company’s collaboration with Hunter College on a project called The Running Show. It’s both funny and poignant as the young women talk about what it means to be a dancer and the older ones discuss how that changes over a career. In “Even Though I Was Alone,” Barnes thinks she’s out of shape and Naja Newell, Esther Nozea, and Amanda Konstantine Perlmutter dance in their kitchen or bedroom or out on the street as they keep moving despite all the current limitations. Extended through March 14, Keep Moving offers a tantalizing inside look at the creative process during a time of crisis, stagnation not an option.