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

NOH-NOW: LEFT-RIGHT-LEFT

Luca Veggettis Left-Right-Left will make its North American premiere at Japan Society October 13-14 as part of NOH NOW series

Luca Veggetti’s Left-Right-Left will make its North American premiere at Japan Society October 13-14 as part of “NOH-NOW” series

Japan Society
333 East 47th St. at First Ave.
Friday, October 13, and Saturday, October 14, $35, 7:30
212-715-1258
www.japansociety.org

In May 2014, Italian director and choreographer Luca Veggetti brought Project IX — Pléïades to Japan Society, a graceful collaboration with Japanese percussionist Kuniko Kato and Japanese dancer Megumi Nakamura that was the finale of the sixtieth anniversary season of the institution’s performing arts program. Veggetti and Nakamura are now back for the North American premiere of Left-Right-Left, part of Japan Society’s 110th anniversary and the series “NOH-NOW,” which blends the traditional Japanese musical drama with contemporary styles. The work, commissioned by Japan Society and Yokohama Noh Theater, is conceived, directed, and choreographed by Veggetti, with the esteemed author and scholar Dr. Donald Keene of the Donald Keene Center of Japanese Culture serving as project advisor and text translator. The three-part piece is inspired by the ancient play Okina, a sacred ritual about peace, prosperity, and safety. It will be performed by butoh dancer Akira Kasai, contemporary dancer Nakamura, and butoh-trained dancer Yukio Suzuki, with music director Genjiro Okura on noh small hand drum and Rokurobyoe Fujita on noh fue. Child noh actor Rinzo Nagayama will recites the new English translation of passages from Okina and another popular traditional noh play, Hagoromo, about a celestial feather robe. The lighting is by Clifton Taylor, with costumes by Mitsushi Yanaihara. “Noh has very precise patterns in the space that the performers follow,” Veggetti says in a promotional interview, explaining that his goal was “to use this archaic blueprint form and infuse it with different choreographic ideas, with that to find a language that is somehow organic.” Left-Right-Left, or “sa-yu-sa” in Japanese, will be at Japan Society on October 13, followed by a Meet-the-Artists Reception, and October 14, followed by an artist Q&A. In addition, Okura, Grand Master of the Okura School of kotsuzumi, will lead a noh music workshop on October 14 at 10:30 am ($45). “NOH-NOW” continues November 3-5 with the world premiere of Hiroshi Sugimoto’s Rikyu-Enoura, December 7-9 with Leon Ingulsrud’s adaptation of Yukio Mishima’s Hanjo, and January 11-14 with Satoshi Miyagi’s Mugen Noh Othello.

OCTFEST

octfest

The Brooklyn Hangar
2 52nd St., Sunset Park
Saturday, September 9, $60 (two for $100), 1:00 - 9:00
www.octfest.co

You can celebrate Octoberfest a little early at the Brooklyn Hangar on September 9, when an excellent lineup of music joins an all-day beer tasting for OctFest. More than forty breweries are participating in the event, including Radeberger, Kona, Oskar Blues, Blue Point, 4 Hands, Rogue, Stony Creek, Braven, Citizen Cider, Shmaltz, ABK, Lord Hobo, and Alphabet City, offering unlimited craft beer. Considering the bands that are scheduled to play, the $60 ticket is one of the best deals in town — and a pair goes for $100. On the impressive bill are Guided by Voices, Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires, Kilo Kish, Okkervil River, the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, and the Sadies. The event is sponsored by October magazine, which “aims to capture the spirit, ambition, and wort-soaked labor of the gambrinus pursuit — the making and drinking of the good life.”

COCKTAILS AT COOPER HEWITT — JONAH BOKAER: THE DISAPPEARANCE PORTRAITS

(photo by KSharkeyMiller)

Jonah Bokaer concludes Cooper Hewitt series on August 24 with The Disappearance Portraits (photo by KSharkeyMiller)

Who: Jonah Bokaer
What: The Disappearance Portraits
Where: Arthur Ross Terrace and Garden, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, 90th St. between Madison & Fifth Aves.
When: Thursday, August 24, $13-$15, 6:00
Why: The summer Thursdays Cocktails at Cooper Hewitt series concludes August 24 with American choreographer and visual artist Jonah Bokaer’s The Disappearance Portraits, taking place in the Smithsonian Design Museum’s Arthur Ross Terrace and Garden. Bokaer, whose previous works include Eclipse, Triple Echo, Rules of the Game and Neither, will be performing to original music by Soundwalk Collective. The site-specific live installation was inspired by research Bokaer conducted into his family history and the Mediterranean migration crisis.

TWI-NY TALK: EMILY JOHNSON / THEN A CUNNING VOICE AND A NIGHT WE SPEND GAZING AT STARS

(photo by Karl Allen)

Emily Johnson in her Wassaic residency, laying the groundwork for Randall’s Island event (photo by Karl Allen)

Randall’s Island Park
Saturday, August 19, $50, dusk to after sunrise
www.catalystdance.com
www.ps122.org

Born in Alaska of Yup’ik descent, Bessie Award-winning multidisciplinary artist and Guggenheim Fellow Emily Johnson has been forging a unique identity as an innovative creator for more than fifteen years, engaging with a wide range of diverse collaborators to present immersive works that combine dance with other artistic forms, structured around a heartfelt connection with the natural environment, civic responsibility, and Indigenous cultures. A charming, ever-enthusiastic dancer and choreographer who recently moved from Minneapolis to New York City, Johnson and her aptly named Catalyst troupe have been crazy busy preparing her biggest project yet, Then a Cunning Voice and a Night We Spend Gazing at Stars, a PS122 production that takes place on Randall’s Island from 6:00 pm Saturday night until just after sunrise on Sunday morning, for an audience of three hundred very lucky people. Directed by three-time Obie winner Ain Gordon, the unique gathering will feature stories by Muriel Miguel of Spiderwoman Theater, Karyn Recollet leading a kinstillatory activation and roundtable discussion, specially researched food by futurist Jen Rae, visual design by textile artist Maggie Thompson, lighting by Lenore Doxsee, and performances by Johnson, Tania Isaac, and Georgia Lucas, all situated on and around four thousand square feet of quilts made at sewing bees around the United States and Australia and Taiwan. Johnson, whose previous pieces include Niicugni, Shore, and The Thank-You Bar, somehow found some time to discuss her latest project in this exclusive email interview.

twi-ny: A lot of years have gone into this project. Are you nervous about August 19? I imagine it’s a massive undertaking.

emily johnson: It’s so big. Everything about it. Moving the quilts from where we have them stored on Randall’s Island to the bit of land we lay them down on — that itself is a massive undertaking we do twice a day. The amount of story . . . the movement of light. The ideas written on the quilts — hundreds and hundreds of ideas from hundreds of people who have voiced what they want for their well-being, for their futures. The bringing of care packages, of blankets, of food to the audience. The connection between ground and sky. The hunting and fishing and harvesting. The continual learning of this land and these waters — the stories, plants, histories, and futures here. For two years now I’ve been saying — we can keep preparing. We could go on preparing forever. But in a way, there is only so much we can prepare for. We prepare and prepare and then — the more difficult part — we let go of needing it to go the way in which we’ve prepared. Not totally, of course. Even writing that is hard. But we have to be ready to hold the movement of the night. Because what we have been preparing for is a shared thing. A shared night. We will host you — we will hold you with these quilts, these stories, this movement, this food we’ve made. And we have a beautiful plan, but the biggest part of this plan (ha) is the unknown. We now also have to be prepared to move and respond and be with the collective energy. We have to hold the night, guide it, but listen, too. So, we’re ready. We have to be. I mean all of us. All of us who gather on this night — audience and cast and crew; beings seen and unseen — we have to be ready to listen, to let go of things moving in the direction they are on, and of course to put our actions into moving things in a direction that is good. We have to be ready to pay attention to one another, to rest and then gather the resources of time, energy, intent to actually make this world one we can continue to live in, one our kids can live in, one that the kids seven generations from now will not curse us for but, instead, be thankful for. That’s our job. And, of course, what is special about this night is that it is a continuation of this labor. We have gathered ideas, made quilts, made stories and dance, harvested food. . . . But really, what I can say is that hundreds of people have gathered these ideas, made these quilts, harvested, hunted, farmed, and gifted vegetables, meat, fish, fruits, herbs . . . so . . . What is there to be nervous about? (I say that with a smile, of course.) We are all in this together.

twi-ny: How did you come about choosing to do this on Randall’s Island?

ej: Randall’s Island is something special. To me it’s an energy. We are in the city but we are on another island in this city. The actual ground we lay the quilts on is backfill from one of the subway constructions, so it’s actually land from Mannahatta, built up for these baseball fields and picnic areas. We are on the bank of the East River — which you can’t really access in such a way most other areas in the city. There is a mix of baseball, soccer, families picnicking, people fishing, the farm on the island, also the industries — the hospital and fire department training grounds, the shelters. What I like is that through this night of community, of performance, of sharing, of discussion — in the morning, we are right here. In the city. In the place we need to begin. Baseball players coming to practice; people coming to fish. We see Rikers Island, we hear the Bronx and the traffic, we see tugboats and the barges moving by. We are not separating this art, this movement, this discussion, this imagination, this action from the world. It’s all here. We step into the day.

twi-ny: You’re very tuned in to the land and the environment; have you encountered anything particularly unique or surprising about the specific space where Then a Cunning Voice is being held?

ej: When I walk up to the spot at Sunken Meadow where we will be most of the night I immediately relax — maybe it’s the expanse of water. Maybe it’s the anticipation of gathering people there. It’s like the ground is waiting for this night. The other day we walked from Wards Meadow to Sunken Meadow through a Native flower garden and a praying mantis on Sweet Joe Pye Weed caught my eye. I spent time looking at it. It turned its head toward me. There is energy on Randall’s Island — one that is calling for this relationship, for this exchange.

(photo by Chris Cameron)

Emily Johnson communes with nature during MANCC residency (photo by Chris Cameron)

twi-ny: Your quilting events have been held all over the country as well as in Taiwan and Australia. When you started, did you ever foresee the kind of results you have gotten? What kind of community has been built around the quilts?

ej: What I have been so beautifully surprised with is the way in which the sewing bees have accumulated, how people and organizations have and keep asking if they can host them. I had no idea people love to sew so much! It’s showing me again and again how deeply people want to spend time together. I have many favorites — the times when the sewing bees are casual and people stop by for a brief time or spend hours. These have been hosted in living rooms, art centers, dance studios, museums, parks. . . . And there are more formal sewing bees, like Umyuangvigkaq, which we hosted with PS122 as part of the Coil Festival in January, a seven-hour-long sewing bee and Long Table Discussion centered on Indigeneity in the performing arts world and the world at large. We gathered a brilliant council of Indigenous women to lead the provocations — Karyn Recollet, Dr. Mique’l Dangeli, Lee-Ann Buckskin, Vicki Van Hout, myself — and built a day of deep discussion. I could feel the shifts happening. The cracks opening. I looked around and saw a large gathering of people dedicated to this conversation, to making the deep personal inquiries that go into healing. Because this is what we need. We need those deep personal inquiries that go into decision making but that come from our own narratives and histories. This is where change/shift/possibility comes from. This spring at a school in Melbourne, I was working with a group of students who are newly arrived refugees to Australia. They are separated from their families. They are having a difficult go. They are hopeful. As we sat and sewed, laughed, and talked about what we each wanted for the well-being of the world, one of the students looked up and said, “These quilts — they’re like maps to the futures we envision.”

twi-ny: You are working again with Georgia Lucas, who was part of Shore. She’s now twelve; what is so special about this young talent?

ej: During the first provocation of Umyuangvigkaq, which was about confronting perceived invisibility and led by Lee-Ann Buckskin and Dr. Mique’l Dangeli, Georgia looked up from her sewing and said to the large gathering of adults in the room, “This conversation makes me understand . . . I was born here . . . but the land does not belong to me. I belong to the land.”

She knows and learns and inquisites deeply. She shares her energy through her stories and movement in a way that is calculated — she knows and feels when is right and if she trusts you, you’ll receive what she has to share. I think this is a pretty brilliant way to perform. I’ve actually never seen someone perform like this before. We teach one another about sharing energy. Also, she’s just awesome to hang out with. And she knows the best superhero movies to see.

twi-ny: People will be spending ten to twelve hours on Randall’s Island, from dusk to after sunrise. What is the one thing they shouldn’t forget to bring with them?

ej: This process has brought us to create a work in which we are all part. We are all responsible for making this night a good one for one another. Partly that’s in being game — to be outside, through bugs and wind (oh god, hopefully not rain!), to be up all night or most of it, to be at but also inside of a performance, to engage in discussion, to be asked to understand the reality of being a guest here — if you are a guest here, which, if you are not Lenape or of one of the Indigenous Nations with deep ties to Lenapehoking, you/I/we are. How are we good guests — of this night, of this land? How do we let this knowledge be resonant in our lives and how does this change every single thing about how we relate to and understand where we live — the physical place and the circumstantial place of August 2017? So, how do I say — “Don’t forget to come with an open heart!” without sounding totally cheesy? But we need that. We need open hearts. I say it in one of my stories: “We unfold our hearts.” I hope for that. For this night but also for the shifts we must become ready to make for our future and our world. And on the practical side — we are sharing a gorgeous bounty of food and food knowledge conceived of, researched and prepared by food futurist Jen Rae (Metis) — as this is a zero-waste event — don’t forget your cup, your bowl, utensils, and cloth napkin!

(photo by Erin Westover)

Emily Johnson leads sewing bee at Northern Spark in Minneapolis (photo by Erin Westover)

twi-ny: You’ve long been an Indigenous activist; what are your views about the Dakota Access Pipeline and Standing Rock Indian Reservation? What are some other Indigenous-related problems going on in America that are not getting as much publicity?

ej: I like this question, Mark. But first I need to shift the second part to read: Indigenous-related solutions. Because this is what I see — Indigenous people, Indigenous women especially, at the center, at the apex, at the front lines always, always, always of the solutions. We are a steady working, powerfully supple and surgent force. It is Indigenous women who began the stand against the Dakota Access Pipeline. It is Indigenous women who lead the legal, political, cultural, and familial decisions and discussions. I refuse to say fight. It is Indigenous women — with the help of our Indigenous men, Two-Spirits, children, ancestors, and non-Indigenous allies who see what needs to change and who work through language, art, politics, protections toward the solutions that are part of our everyday — food sovereignty, land rights, education, economic growth, and justice in our communities, healing. We are doing this work. Individually, collectively, in large circles and smaller ones. We need ally-ship. We need those of you who are from the dominant, settler side of things to take a step back, to listen more than you speak, to be in relation with us so we can do the work we need to — for all of us.

twi-ny: You were born in Alaska, lived for a long time in Minneapolis, and recently moved to New York. How are you liking it here? I see you out a lot, so you seem to make time to enjoy the city even as you prepare for Then a Cunning Voice.

ej: I love living here. Every time I come back here from tour, from Australia, from Alaska, I am so happy that this is now my home. The two places in this country I feel most myself are Alaska and NYC — it’s the landscape, I think. Different landscapes, of course. But huge. Huge landscapes that you must tune attention to, be in relation with. Both places call for a kind of looking out for one another. You help your neighbor. You ask for help. Because we all can see the reality of not helping. If you pass someone by broken down on the road in the bush in Alaska — well, you don’t — because you recognize the danger that the weather or the wilds can present. It’s the same here — just different weather and different wilds. I see more kindnesses extended here each day. And actually, as a shy person . . . it’s so nice to step out into it, become part of it.

twi-ny: Then a Cunning Voice is very much a positive look at our future. These are very tough times in America; do you really have that much hope in humanity?

ej: I do, Mark. I have that much hope.

TICKET ALERT: THEN A CUNNING VOICE AND A NIGHT WE SPEND GAZING AT STARS

(photo by Chris Cameron)

Emily Johnson’s Then a Cunning Voice and a Night We Spend Gazing at Stars will take place overnight on Randall’s Island on August 19 (photo by Chris Cameron)

Who: Emily Johnson / Catalyst
What: All-night outdoor performance gathering
Where: Randall’s Island Park
When: Saturday, August 19, $50, dusk to after sunrise
Why: You don’t just go to a show by Emily Johnson / Catalyst; you become part of an experience. In such presentations as Niicugni and Shore, Johnson builds a sense of community for all involved, including cast, crew, and audience. On August 19, her multiyear project Then a Cunning Voice and a Night We Spend Gazing at Stars reaches its next level on Randall’s Island, where people will gather for an evening of song, dance, storytelling, quilting, ritual, and more under the night sky. The world premiere, presented by Performance Space 122, is directed by three-time Obie winner Ain Gordon (The Family Business, Spalding Gray: Stories Left to Tell) and features performers Tania Isaac, twelve-year-old Georgia Lucas, and Johnson, with visual design by textile artist Maggie Thompson, lighting by Lenore Doxsee, and quilt construction by volunteers from around the country. The ten-to-twelve-hour piece explores such questions as “What do you want for your well-being? For the well-being of your chosen friends and family? For your neighborhood? For your town, city, reserve, tribal nation, world?” You can participate as much as you want as the audience is led into discussions and programs about engaged citizenship, safety, Indigenous people, and making connections. Four thousand square feet of quilts will serve as home base for performances, resting, and just hanging out. Supper, breakfast, and snacks will be served as well. Johnson is a magnetic personality who cares very deeply about the future of all the people and animals living on this planet, so Then a Cunning Voice and a Night We Spend Gazing at Stars should be a powerful and moving experience, in addition to being a lot of fun. Look for our interview with Johnson about the project coming soon; in the meantime, you can contribute to the Kickstarter campaign to help fund this project here.

MOCA MIXER: SUMMER JAM

moca mixer summer jam

Museum of Chinese in America
215 Centre St. between Howard & Grand Sts.
Friday, July 28, $30, 6:30
www.mocanyc.org

On July 28, the Museum of Chinese in America is hosting a multidisciplinary Summer Jam, with live music by YouTube ukelele star Nix, singer-songwriters Grace Ming and Jessica Rowboat, and Brooklyn folk duo Heartland Nomads, spoken-word poetry by Edric Huang and Lavinia Liang from Songline, stand-up comedy with Joon Chung, and storytelling from Talkingstick cofounder Master Lee. There will also be a raffle and a sale in the shop benefiting the museum’s educational program, light hors d’oeuvres courtesy of the pulled-noodle experts at the awesome Xi’an Famous Foods, and unlimited Hiro Sake, Tiger Beer, Bruce Cost Ginger Ale, and other alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks. And as a bonus, attendees will be treated to a preview of MOCA’s upcoming exhibition, “FOLD: Golden Venture Paper Sculptures,” which opens October 5.

PANORAMA NEW YORK CITY

The Lab hosts interactive installations using cutting-edge technology (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

The Lab is back at Panorama with interactive, cutting-edge art projects (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Randall’s Island Park
July 28-30, $125 per day, $345 for all three days
www.panorama.nyc
randallsisland.org

Last year’s inaugural Panorama festival was everything it promised it would be, three days of cool music, art, technology, and food on Randall’s Island. It’s back for its second go-round, taking place July 28-30. Tickets are $125 per day and $345 for the full weekend to see such performers as Future Islands, Girl Talk, MGMT, Spoon, Solange, DJ Shadow, and Frank Ocean on Friday, Belle & Sebastian, Matoma, Vince Staples, Motor City Drum Ensemble, and Tame Impala on Saturday, and Cloud Nothings, Justice, Glass Animals, a Tribe Called Quest, and Nine Inch Nails on Sunday at four different locations — the main stage, the Pavilion, the Parlor, and the Point. Eats and drinks will be available from El Paso, Oddfellows, Roberta’s Pizza, Salvation Taco, Ed & Bev’s, Loco Coco, Spicy Pie, Trapizzino, Uma Temakeria, Matchabar, Pasquale Jones, PDT, Sam’s Fried Ice Cream, and others. The Lab is also back, a 360-degree virtual-reality theater with such interactive works as Future Wife’s “Boolean Planet,” Emilie Baltz’s “Dream Machine,” Prism’s “Future Portrait,” Ekene Ijeoma’s “Heartfelt,” the Windmill Factory’s “Right Passage,” Dirt Empire’s “The Ark Dome Show,” and SOFTlab’s “Volume.” Among the sponsors selling products, giving away samples, and hosting unique experiences are Rough Trade, Barefoot Wine & Bubbly, Sephora, Califia, Macy’s Pool Party, Bai, the Global Inheritance Recycling Store, and Tullamore Dew. Keep watching twi-ny for daily highlights as the fest approaches.