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

DOUG VARONE AND DANCERS: in the shelter of the fold / epilogue

epilogue: Hollis Bartlett, Whitney Dufrene, Hsiao-Jou Tang, Courtney Barth |  Photo: © Erin Baiano

Doug Varone’s epilogue makes New York City premiere at BAM (photo © Erin Baiano)

BAM Fisher, Fishman Space
321 Ashland Pl.
June 5-8

Manhattan-based Doug Varone and Dancers will perform their seven-part look into intimacy and faith, the spiritual and the secular, in the shelter of the fold, at BAM Fisher June 5-8, featuring the New York City premiere of an epilogue. The hundred-minute piece is choreographed by Varone, with original music by Lesley Flanigan, Julia Wolfe, David Lang, Michael Gordon, Raz Mesinai, and Kevin Keller, performed live by Flanigan, PUBLIQuartet, and the Bang on a Can All-Stars. The lighting is by David Grill and David Ferri, with costumes by Liz Prince. The evening-length piece comprises the sextet horizon, the duet folded, the trio shelter, the duet field, mass for twelve dancers, the solo solo, and epilogue for eight dancers. The sections, five of which debuted in 2016 at Purchase, are interrelated but can stand alone; folded, with a score by Wolfe, was commissioned by BAM for the company’s thirtieth anniversary season in 2017. The troupe consists of Courtney Barth, Hollis Bartlett, Bradley Beakes, Jake Bone, Whitney Dufrene, Hsiao-Jou Tang, Doug Varone, Aya Wilson, and Ryan Yamauchi with Ross Honaker, DeQuan Lewis, Paulina Meneses, Amber Morgan, and Paul Singh. “Each creative process is a tremendously collaborative event with the dancers, embracing all of our imaginations, instincts, and artistry. My thanks and love to them for being such great, caring allies in the creation of the many dances that fall from my brain,” Varone says in the program.


worlds fare

Citi Field
123-01 Roosevelt Ave.
Saturday, May 18, and Sunday, May 19, noon - 7:00
General admission $23, with three-hour beer garden $49, VIP $199

The second annual World’s Fare at Citi Field, near where the 1963-64 World’s Fair took place, features more than one hundred food vendors from all five boroughs, more than five dozen craft breweries, a World Market Bazaar, and more. The Culinary Committee co-chairs this year are Gael Greene, Alex Raij, Anita Lo, and Joshua Schneps, with the festival curated by food-arena movers and shakers Liza Mosquito deGuia, Niko Triantafillou, Jean Lee, Joe DiStefano, George Motz, Tia Keenan, Hannah Goldberg, Felipe Donnelly, Jenny Dorsey, Joseph Yoon, Karen Seiger, Kysha Harris, Tamy Rofe, and Cindy VandenBosch. There will be live music by Black Tie Brass Band, Strings N Skins, Funky Dawgz Brass Band, Mariachi Loco, Rho & the Nomads, Royal KhaoZ, Kaleta & Super Yamba, and Underground Horns and dance performances by Sachiyo Ito & Company, Leggz Ltd., American Bolero Dance Company, NY Chinese Cultural Center, Salit Bellydance, Nartan Rang Dance Academy, Country Dancing, KG Group Entertainment, Gemuetlichen Enzianer Dancers, and Schade Academy of Irish Dancing along with interactive murals, karate exhibitions, henna, African body painting, art by Taisan Tanaka, and other events. Among the participating eateries are Baba’s Pierogies, Balkan Bites, Barbecue on a Stick, Caribbean Street Eats, Chef Jimmy’s Vicious Creole Cycle, D’Abruzzo NYC, DiRiso Risotto Balls, Donovan’s Pub, Down East Lobstah, Duck Season, George Motz’s Oklahoma Fried Onion Cheeseburger, Keki Modern Cakes, Little Porky’s, Macaron Parlour, Melt Bakery, Memphis Seoul, Miss Holly’s Smokehouse, Nansense, Oaxaca Taqueria, Republic of Booza, Rooster Boy, Sam’s Fried Ice Cream, Stuffed Ice Cream, Tania’s Kitchen, Twisted Potato, Wafels & Dinges, and What’s the Dillaz. General admission is $23; you can add three hours of libations in the beer garden for another $26, while VIP access goes for $199.


live ideas

New York Live Arts
219 West 19th St.
May 8-12, $10-$20

New York Live Arts’ seventh annual Live Ideas humanities festival explores artificial intelligence with five days of art, dance, discussion, music, lectures, and more, asking the question “AI: Are You Brave Enough for the Brave New World?” Inaugurated in 2013, the festival previously focused on Dr. Oliver Sacks and James Baldwin; social, political, artistic, and environmental issues; a nonbinary future; and strengthening democracy. Among those participating in the 2019 edition are Bill T. Jones, Nick Hallett, Yuka C Honda, Scorpion Mouse, Kyle McDonald, Patricia Marx, and Eunsu Kang, delving into technological dreaming, coding, mental illness, drones, and the truth. Tickets for most events are between ten and twenty dollars; below are some of the highlights.

Wednesday, May 8
What Is AI?, keynote/performance with Nick Hallett, Meredith Broussard, Patricia Marx, Baba Israel, and Ragamuffin, $15, 6:00

Wednesday, May 8
Saturday, May 11

Rhizomatiks Research X ELEVENPLAY X Kyle McDonald: discrete figures, performed on stage designed for interactivity between performers, drones, and AI, $36-$45, 8:00

Thursday, May 9
Future of Work, panel discussion with Arun Sunderarajan, Matthew Putman, Carrie Gleason, Madeleine Clare Elish, and moderator Ritse Erumi, $20, 6:00

Rational Numbers: Music and AI, performance by Yuka C Honda and Angélica Negrón, $10, 9:00

Friday, May 10
Does Truth Need Defending?, panel discussion with Ambika Samarthya-Howard, Hilke Schellmann, Jeff Smith, and moderator Malika Saada Saar, $10, 6:00

Algorave: LiveCode.NYC, rave featuring AI experiments and live performances by Scorpion Mouse, CIBO + Ulysses Popple, Colonel Panix + nom de nom, ioxi + Zach Krall, and Codie, $10, 9:00

(photo by Tomoya Takeshita )

Rhizomatiks Research, ELEVENPLAY, and Kyle McDonald collaborate on interactive performance piece discrete figures (photo by Tomoya Takeshita )

Saturday, May 11
Symposium: AI x ART, including “Body, Movement, Language: AI Sketches” with Bill T. Jones, “Between Science & Speculation: Technological Dreaming” with Ani Liu, “AI in Performance: Making discrete figures” with Kyle McDonald, “Yes, AI CAN help you develop a new relationship with your audience” with Dr. Brett Ashley Crawford, “Livecoding Traversals through Sonic Spaces” with Jason Levine, “GANymedes: Art with AI” with Eunsu Kang, “Emergent Storytelling with Artificial Intelligence” with Rachel Ginsberg, and “Creating in the Age of AI” with Ani Liu, Dr. Brett Ashley Crawford, Eunsu Kang, Kyle McDonald, and Bill T. Jones, $15, 4:30

Sunday, May 12
Class: How to Question Technology, Or, What Would Neil Postman Say?, with Lance Strate, $15, 1:30

HACK-ART-THON: ACT LABS, “Breaking the Stigma Around Mental Illness,” prototype presentation, jury deliberation, and award ceremony, with Katy Gero & Anastasia Veron, Artyom Astafurov & Beth Graczyk, Jennifer Ding & Dominika Jezewska, Ishaan Jhaveri & Esther Manon Siddiquie, Keely Garfield & Cynthia Hua, Keira Heu-Jwyn Chang & Nia Laureano, Jared Katzman & Rachel Kunstadt, and Marco Berlot & Zeelie Brown, free with advance RSVP, 6:30


The Pentacle dance series at the Rubin concludes on May 8 with Francesca Harper

The Pentacle dance series at the Rubin concludes on May 8 with Francesca Harper

Rubin Museum of Art
150 West 17th St. at Seventh Ave.
Wednesday, May 8, $19, 6:00

On May 8, American dancer and choreographer Francesca Harper will present the final installment of the Rubin Museum’s “Pentacle” series, “Within and Between Us,” a site-specific performance in the Rubin galleries as part of the institution’s yearlong theme of power. Harper, who founded the Francesca Harper Project in 2005, has choreographed works for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Ailey II, Tanz Graz, Hubbard Street II, Dallas Black Dance Theater, and others. There will be three shows, at 6:00 , 6:45, and 7:30. Started more than four decades ago, Pentacle “believes in the unique and critical role the artist citizen plays in our democracy, and that art and artists inspire people in many communities to understand, articulate, and seek to attain their highest aspirations for the world.” The current exhibitions on view at the Rubin are “Faith and Empire: Art and Politics in Tibetan Buddhism,” “Masterworks of Himalayan Art,” “The Power of Intention: Reinventing the (Prayer) Wheel,” “The Wheel of Intentions,” “Shrine Room Projects: Wishes and Offerings,” “Gateway to Himalayan Art,” and “The Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room.”


(photo by Scott Shaw)

Gibney inaugural EMERGE program features new dance, discussion, classes, and more (photo by Scott Shaw)

The Theater at Gibney
280 Broadway between Chambers & Reade Sts.
May 2-4, $15-$20

Gibney Dance Company presents EMERGE this week, a new program that highlights emerging choreographers through performance, classes, and discussion focusing on the creative process. From May 2 to 4, there will be new work from former Batsheva dancer Bobbi Jene Smith, former Trey McIntyre Project dancer and Harvard Dance Center artist-in-residence Chanel DaSilva, and Micaela Taylor, winner of the inaugural GDC/Springboard EMERGE Choreographic Award. You can check out a preview of DaSilva’s Swept here. “In my mind it was this split screen of two couples who were essentially the same couple but were showing two different facets of their relationship,” she says about the piece. The Thursday and Saturday shows will be followed by Q&As moderated by Risa Steinberg, while the Friday show will be preceded by a free Living Gallery performance by Aynsley Vandenbroucke, curated by Eva Yaa Asantewaa.


If the Dancer Dances

Meg Harper works with Dava Fearon in If the Dancer Dances

IF THE DANCER DANCES (Maia Wechsler, 2018)
Quad Cinema
34 West 13th St. between Fifth & Sixth Aves.
Opens Friday, April 26

Shortly before the opening credits roll in Maia Wechsler’s lovely documentary If the Dancer Dances, Newark-born, New York City-based choreographer Stephen Petronio says, “The beauty and tender and amazing thing about dance is that it gets passed from one body and one soul to another. There’s something so precious and beautiful about that, yet it’s very fragile. It comes out of the body, it goes into the air, and then it disappears.” In 2014, Petronio announced his “Bloodlines” initiative, in which his company would restage iconic works by Merce Cunningham, Trisha Brown, Anna Halprin, Yvonne Rainer, and Steve Paxton. The series began with Cunningham’s 1968 masterpiece, RainForest, and writer, director, and producer Maia Wechsler and writer and producer Lise Friedman followed the production from the casting stage to three weeks of intense rehearsals with former Cunningham dancers through to the first public presentation of the work at the Joyce in 2015. “I was shocked. I said, Stephen would never in a million years do any other choreographer’s work,” Stephen Petronio Company dancer Dava Fearon says.

If the Dancer Dances

Stephen Petronio wonders just what he has gotten himself into in If the Dancer Dances

She is joined by fellow company members Gino Grenek, Nicholas Sciscione, Emily Stone, Joshua Tuason, Barrington Hines, and Jaqlin Medlock and special guest Melissa Toogood, a former Cunningham dancer, as they rehearse the piece at DANY Studios on West Thirty-Eighth St., led by former Cunningham stagers Meg Harper, Rashaun Mitchell, and Andrea Weber, who painstakingly go over every intricate motion with the dancers, training Petronio’s team as Cunningham trained them. Petronio’s dancers desperately try to learn Cunningham’s very different, unique movement language, which is clearly not easy, as it requires them to use unfamiliar muscle memory and timing that they find extremely frustrating. “Merce never told us any of these images. He never, ever, ever told us what to think or what to feel,” Mitchell explains about Cunningham’s method, which was done without music. Wechsler speaks with former Cunningham dancers Albert Reid, Silas Reiner, Sandra Neels, and Gus Solomons Jr, several of whom were in the original production of RainForest at Buffalo State College in March 1968. “It was the quintessence of stripped-down abstraction,” Reid says of the piece. Wechsler also includes rare footage of performances of RainForest from 1968, 1970, 1977, and 2011, the earlier ones featuring Cunningham, who is a treat to watch onstage, in cut-up costumes by Jasper Johns and moving amid the Mylar balloons of Andy Warhol’s Silver Clouds floating around his body. The film is edited by Mary Manhardt with Adam Zucker, who imbue the film with the pace of a dance as they shift between rehearsals, interviews, and archival clips. As opening night approaches, the cast has a lot of work still to do, everyone concerned whether they’ll be ready to perform in front of the highly knowledegable New York City audience. Through it all, Petronio, who considers Cunningham and Brown his “artistic parents” — he was the first male to be in the Trisha Brown Dance Company — primarily works with Harper from the sidelines, sitting and watching as she gets deep into worry mode, doing whatever she can to protect Cunningham’s treasured, and carefully controlled, legacy. In that way, If the Dancer Dances unfolds like a thriller about the creative process; you don’t have to be a dance fan to get caught in its grip.

If the Dancer Dances — the title comes from the start of a Cunningham quote — features an enchanting score by Paul Brill, including the beautiful song “Everything I Believe In” that plays over the closing credits, so don’t be so quick to leave the theater. The film opens April 26 at the Quad, enriched with special appearances by the creators all weekend. Wechsler, Friedman, and Petronio will participate in a Q&A moderated by Alastair Macaulay after the 7:00 screening April 26, and Wechsler and Friedman will introduce the 9:00 show; on April 27, there will be Q&As with Wechsler, Friedman, Grenek, Solomons jr, and Mitchell, moderated by Julie Malnig, at the 1:00 show and with Wechsler, Friedman, Solomons jr, and Harper, moderated by Deborah Jowitt, at the 7:00 screening, while Wechsler and Friedman will introduce the 9:00 show; and on April 28 there will be a Q&A with Wechsler, Friedman, and Fearon, moderated by Macaulay, after the 1:00 screening.


(photo by Steve Vaccariello)

Alvin Ailey dancer and choreographer Hope Boykin will perform at “In Perpetual Flight: The Migration of the Black Body” presentation at Schomburg Center (photo by Steve Vaccariello)

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
Langston Hughes Auditorium
515 Malcolm X Blvd.
Tuesday, April 16, free with advance registration, 6:30

Carnegie Hall’s wide-ranging, multidisciplinary Migrations: The Making of America festival comes to the Langston Hughes Auditorium at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture on April 16 for “In Perpetual Flight: The Migration of the Black Body.” Through dance, music, and theater, the program traces the journey toward liberation of the black body across time in the US, from the slave trade and the Great Migration to the Civil War and the Back to Africa movement, exploring its impact on contemporary American culture. The evening, held in conjunction with the fiftieth anniversary of Dr. Barbara Ann Teer’s National Black Theatre and its current NBT Beyond Walls initiative, features four live performances and presentations by Alvin Ailey dancer and choreographer Hope Boykin, screenwriter, playwright, and director Keith Josef Adkins, Obie-winning actress and singer Kenita R. Miller, composer and sound designer Justin Hicks, NBT CEO Sade Lythcott, and NBT artistic director Jonathan McCrory, utilizing works from the Schomburg Center archives from such seminal figures as James Baldwin, Harriet Powers, Marcus Garvey, Harriet Tubman, and Jacob Lawrence. “This event is allowing us to acknowledge the consistent flight, movement, and navigation black people have been engaged in within this country ever since the black body was ripped from the shores of Africa — human bodies stripped from home and forced into slavery,” McCrory said in a statement. “That perpetual flight has produced four hundred years of migration that have generated moments of agitation, acceleration, acclimation, and aspiration.” Admission is free; advance registration is strongly recommended.