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


DJ Spooky offers up a new spin on D. W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation in Rebirth

DJ Spooky offers up a new spin on D. W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation in Rebirth of a Nation

NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts
566 La Guardia Pl. between Third & Fourth Sts.
Saturday, November 4, $35, 7:30

DJ Spooky That Subliminal Kid’s Rebirth of a Nation is a unique multimedia deconstruction and live remix of D. W. Griffith’s controversial 1915 silent film, Birth of a Nation, interweaving music, film, and art to create a wholly new work that the multidisciplinary artist keeps on tweaking. First performed in New York at the 2004 Lincoln Center Festival,
the show has toured around the world; we caught it back in 2007 at the Tribeca Film Festival, during the Bush administration, so it should be fascinating to see the state of the piece now when Spooky brings it to the Skirball Center on November 4, with America in the midst of a crisis over immigration, racism, white supremacy, historical statues, and other sociopolitical issues and the presidency has shifted from Barack Obama to Donald J. Trump. Spooky mixes both the Kronos Quartet’s trip-hop score and the visuals live, beginning with an overview of racism and an interview in which film pioneer Griffith discusses the importance of his so-called masterpiece. He then intercuts different scenes of the film, following the narrative, with Griffith’s original interstitial titles along with new ones credited to Paul D. Miller, DJ Spooky’s real name. He avoids being overly didactic and does not hit the audience over the head with Griffith’s unrelenting racism and support of the KKK, instead letting the film speak for itself. And it has a whole lot to say, as, of course, does DJ Spooky.


(photo by Ben Arons)

The girls of Special K struts their stuff in immersive KPOP (photo by Ben Arons)

A.R.T./New York
502 West 53rd St. between Tenth & Eleventh Aves.
Through October 21, $25-$75

The fictional JTM Entertainment and Crossover Productions have teamed up to bring their roster of popular South Korean singing stars to Manhattan in an effort to capture the American audience, and they need your help. That is the setup for the immensely entertaining immersive show KPOP, continuing at A.R.T. through October 21. An inventive collaboration between Ars Nova (Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812), Woodshed Collective (Empire Travel Agency), and Ma-Yi Theater (The Romance of Magno Rubio), KPOP ostensibly invites people behind the scenes of a music factory, with the audience becoming small focus groups that are led through numerous rooms as they follow how stars are made. “This is my Korea / This is my story-ya,” JTM’s roster belts out at the beginning, setting the stage for cultural arguments about sacrificing Korean heritage in order to make it big in the States, a discussion built around Crossover head Jerry (James Seol), a master marketer who was born in America and knows little about Korea. JTM is led by the elegant and proper Jae Tak Moon (James Saito) and his wife, Ruby (Vanessa Kai), a former superstar singer who now likes to spout odd Korean sayings, such as “When you’re eating kimchi, don’t lick the sauce first.” Each focus group’s experience is slightly different, but it doesn’t matter which you are part of, as you’ll eventually meet Dr. Park (David Shih), who is ready to take his scalpel to every face to craft it into something even more beautiful; vocal coach Yazmeen (Amanda Morton); strict dance teacher Jenn (Ebony Williams), who makes sure the performers know all the right moves; girl group Special K, consisting of Sonoma (Julia Abueva), Tiny D (Katie Lee Hill), Mina (Susannah Kim), Callie (Sun Hye Park), and XO (Deborah Kim); boy band F8, featuring Timmy X (Joomin Hwang), Oracle (Jinwoo Jung), Lex (Jiho Kang), Bobo (John Yi), and Epic (Jason Tam); and label diva MwE (Marina Kondo).

Boy band F8 gives it their all in KPOP (photo by Ben Arons)

Boy band F8 gives it their all in awesomely phenomenal KPOP (photo by Ben Arons)

Unfortunately, not everything is going according to plan. Not happy with Special K’s rehearsal, Jenn shouts, “Do y’all understand why you’re here? This is where the sausage is made. When they [the audience members] leave, they should want the sausages. Right now, no one wants the sausages.” Moon adds, “I love all of you like my own children. Why do you continue to break my heart?” Meanwhile, MwE, who has a rather luxurious private chamber, is worried that Sonoma, aka Jessica, is going to supplant her as the label’s centerpiece; Epic wants to take F8 in a new direction, which angers Bobo; and there’s a mysterious building tension between Timmy X and Callie. But at the heart of it all is the concept of trying to maintain one’s cultural heritage and become international pop icons. “If you are Korean, why don’t you speak Korean?” Callie asks Jerry, who replies, “Who says I have to speak Korean to be Korean?” Callie answers, “Don’t you care where you’re from?” to which Jerry responds, “I’m from San Diego. . . . You could be a real sensation here. If you could just lose the accent.” The book by Korean-born New Yorker Jason Kim is superb, wonderfully weaving through clichés and melodrama as the individual characters burst forth and the story takes shape, while the music, lyrics, and orchestrations, by Helen Park and Max Vernon, have just the right pop flourishes, from “Wind Up Doll” and “Shopaholic” to “So in Love” and “All I Wanna Do,” from “Dizzy” and “Hahahaha” to “Phoenix” and “Amerika (Checkmate).” Music director Sujin Kim-Ramsey nails the various styles, with genre-licious choreography by Jennifer Weber, flashy costumes by Tricia Barsamian, projections by Phillip Gulley, and splashy lighting by Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew. Director Teddy Bergman keeps everything flowing beautifully as the audience marches through the numerous sets, designed by Woodshed Collective cofounder Gabriel Hainer Evansohn, including a doctor’s office, a sound booth, a lounge with multiple platforms, a mirrored dance rehearsal space, and several surprises. In order to enjoy immersive theater, you have to be willing to fully immerse yourself in it, and there’s plenty to get involved in with KPOP, an awesome journey into music making, promotion, assimilation, the desire for fame, and more. Early on, Jerry explains that the mission of his agency “is to launch rockets into American markets.” With a sly sense of humor and charm to spare, KPOP accomplishes that mission, in explosive, provocative ways.


pickle day

Orchard St. between Houston & Delancey Sts.
Sunday, October 15, free, 12 noon - 5:00 pm

“A naughty pickle is how I’d best describe myself. I think fun and laughter is the whole point of life,” Olivier Award-winning actress Celia Imrie told Woman & Home in 2009. Indeed, pickles are all about fun and laughter, which should be available in abundance at the annual Lower East Side Pickle Day, being held Sunday on Orchard St. between Houston and Delancey. Among those participating in the festivities, which include food, fashion, and family-friendly games and activities, are pickled purveyors Guss’ Pickles, Pickle Me Pete, Backyard Brine, Grillo’s Pickles, Crisp Pickles, Messy Brine, the Pickle Guys, Rick’s Picks, Horman’s Best Pickles, Adamah Farm, Brooklyn Brine, MacDonald Farms, Epic Pickles, Brine Brothers, City Saucery, Brooklyn Whatever, Kilhaney’s Pickles, Anomaly Season, and Pickals Foundation in addition to Melt Bakery, Saxelby Cheesemongers, Sweet Buttons Desserts, the Meatball Shop, Shi Eurasia, Macaron Parlour, the SKINny Bar & Lounge, Georgia’s BBQ, Pop Karma, and Roni-Sue’s Chocolates. There will also be live music and a home pickling contest. Pickles have a long affiliation with the Lower East Side, and the annual Pickle Day only adds to that pickled history.


performa 17

Multiple venues
November 1-19, free - $40

The seventh Performa biennial takes place November 1-19 in multiple venues around the city, featuring an impressive roster of international artists pushing the limits of what live performance can be. This year’s lineup includes ten Performa commissions and dozens of events, from film, poetry, and dance to architecture, music, and comedy, arranged in such categories as Performa Projects, Performa Premieres, and Pavilion without Walls. In addition to the below recommendations for this always exciting festival, there will be presentations by Kendell Geers, Xavier Cha, Yto Barrada, Brian Belott, Flo Kasearu, Jimmy Robert, Mohau Modisakeng, Kelly Nipper, Kemang Wa Lehulere, Nicolas Hlobo, Kris Lemsalu with Kyp Malone, the Marching Cobras of New York, and others at such venues as Abrons Arts Center, BAM, the Met, White Box Arts Center, Marcus Garvey Park, the Connelly Theater, St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery, Harlem Parish, and the Glass House in New Canaan.

Thursday, November 2, 7:00
Friday, November 3, 7:00 & 9:00
Saturday, November 4, 7:00

Teju Cole: Black Paper, BKLYN Studio at City Point, 445 Albee Square West, $15-$25

Thursday, November 2, 9, 16
Barbara Kruger: The Drop, Performa 17 Hub, 47 Walker St., $5, 4:00 - 8:00

Sunday, November 5
Monday, November 6

William Kentridge: Ursonate, Harlem Parish, 258 West 118th St., $25-$40, 7:00

Sunday, November 5, 12, 19
Eiko Otake: A Body in Places, Metropolitan Museum of Art, free with museum admission, 10:30 am

Wednesday, November 8
Estonian Pavilion Symposium: Call for Action — Key Moments of Estonian Performance Art, lecture and screening with curators Anu Allas and Maria Arusoo, free, Performa 17 Hub, 47 Walker St., 5:00

Thursday, November 9
Friday, November 10
Saturday, November 11

The Tracey Rose Show in Collaboration with Performa 17 and Afroglossia Presents: The Good Ship Jesus vs The Black Star Line Hitching a Ride with Die Alibama [Working Title], the Black Lady Theatre, 750 Nostrand Ave., $15-$25, 7:30

Friday, November 10
Zanele Muholi on Visual Activism, grand finale of two weeks of meetings, performances, discussions, and art-making, the Bronx Museum, 1040 Grand Concourse, free, 7:00

Friday, November 10
Sunday, November 19

Alex Schweder and Ward Shelley: The Newcomers, with Lena Kouvela and Sarah Burns, 28 Liberty Plaza, free, all day

be here now

Saturday, November 11
Architecture Conference, with Giovana Borasi, Lluís Alexandre Casanovas Blanco, Yve Laris Cohen, Cooking Sections (Daniel Fernández Pascual & Alon Schwabe), and Elizabeth Diller, Performa 17 Hub, 47 Walker St., free, 2:00 - 6:00

Monday, November 13
Tuesday, November 14

Wangechi Mutu: Banana Stroke, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium, free with museum admission, 7:00

Monday, November 13
Friday, November 17

Kwani Trust: Everyone Is Radicalizing, multimedia installation and public programs, Performa 17 Hub, 47 Walker St., free, 12 noon – 6:00 pm

Wednesday, November 15
Thursday, November 16
Friday, November 17

Anu Vahtra: Open House Closing. A Walk, Performa 17 Hub, 47 Walker St., free, 5:00

Thursday, November 16
Julie Mehretu and Jason Moran: MASS (HOWL, eon), Harlem Parish, 258 West 118th St,, $25-$40, 7:00 & 9:00

Thursday, November 16
Friday, November 17
Saturday, November 18

Gillian Walsh: Moon Fate Sin, Danspace Project, St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery, 131 East Tenth St., $22-$25, 8:00


honk 2017

Multiple venues
October 10-15, free - $15

The eleventh annual international street band extravaganza known as the HONK NYC Festival runs October 10-15, a yearly celebration of grassroots brass and percussion music, focusing on fun and revelry. The festivities kick off October 10 with a free party at the City Reliquary in Brooklyn, with the Nevermind Orchestra, the L Train Brass Band, and New Creations Brass Band. On October 11, it’s off to Staten Island for the free HONK! for Healing in Tompkinsville Park and the Everything Goes Book Cafe, with Damas de Ferro, Kenny Wollesen and Wollesonic Lab’s Sonic Massage, and New Creations Brass Band. On October 12, HONK! heads to Jersey with the Hungry March Band, Veveritse Brass Band, Pussy Grabs Back: the Band, Damas de Ferro, and New Creations Brass Band for a parade beginning at the Newark Pavilion, followed by a 7:00 gig at WFMU’s Montgomery Hall ($10). On Friday the Thirteenth, the festival moves uptown for HONK Harlem at the Shrine with Damas de Ferro and New Creations Brass Band ($10, 9:30). There will be several shows on October 14, starting with a HONK Pop Up at the NY Transit Museum at 1:30 with the L Train Brass Band and at Anita’s Way at 3:30, with the Brasstastic Blow Out! taking place at Rubulad from 8:30 pm to 3:30 am ($12 in advance, $15 at the door), with Raya Brass Band, Funkrust Brass Band, Nation Beat, Plezi Rara, de Ferro, DJ Ryan Midnight, DJ Baby K, projections by the Sperm Whale NYC, Norm Francouer’s Light Circus extraordinaire, and more. On Sunday, October 15, the HONK for More Gardens! Parade will march through the Lower East Side and the East Village from 1:00 to 5:00, followed by the closing party at DROM (5:00 - 10:00, $10) with William Parker and the Artists for a Free World Marching Band, Frank London, the Three Million Majority Marching Band, and Damas de Ferro.


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

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.


if these walls could talk

Who: David Bromberg, Jimmy Vivino, Darlene Love, David Johansen, Sean Altman, Marshall Chapman, Clint de Ganon, the GrooveBarbers, Ula Hedwig, Garland Jeffreys, Christine Lavin, Curtis King, Terre Roche, Feifei Yang, Garry Dial, the Uptown Horns, Will Lee, Paul Shaffer, Gregg Bendian
What: Music and memories about the Bottom Line
Where: Schimmel Center at Pace University, 3 Spruce St. between Park Row and Gold St., 212-346-1715
When: Friday, October 13, and Saturday, October 14, $29-$55, 7:30
Why: From February 11, 1974, to January 22, 2004, the Bottom Line was one of the great music clubs in the country, a four-hundred-seat venue that featured acts from a multitude of genres, good food and drink, and large pillars that could block part of your view depending where you were sitting, but there was no place else like it. Among the myriad performers who played there from a multitude of genres were Lou Reed, Bruce Springsteen, Charles Mingus, Patti Smith, Donovan, Warren Zevon, Prince, Little Feat, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Meat Loaf, Janis Ian, Santana, Melissa Etheridge, Steve Earle, the Indigo Girls, the New York Dolls, Mose Allison, Joan Armatrading, the Uncle Floyd Show, Tom Waits, Captain Beefheart, Barry Manilow, Cheech & Chong, Television, Jimmy Buffett, Buddy Guy and Junior Wells, Nona Hendryx, Gil Scott-Heron, the Roches, the Cars, Miles Davis, the Hollies, Richard Thompson, Suzanne Vega, Steve Forbert, Dolly Parton, 10,000 Maniacs, Jorma Kaukonen, Carly Simon with James Taylor, Richard Belzer, and regulars Flo & Eddie from the Turtles and Buster Poindexter, the alter ego of David Johansen. Owners Alan Pepper and Stanley Snadowsky had a knack for finding new talent; in some ways, the Bottom Line was the folk version of CBGB, a key step on an artist’s rise to national, and international, success.

On October 13 and 14, tribute will be paid to the legendary club with the special program “If These Walls Could Talk: Celebrating the Life and Times of the Bottom Line,” two evenings of live music and personal stories about the venerable venue, which closed its doors over back-rent and lease issues with NYU. Hosted by Paul Shaffer and with Gregg Bendian serving as music director, the shows will feature Sean Altman, David Bromberg (Friday), Clint de Ganon, the GrooveBarbers, Nona Hendryx, Garland Jeffreys (Saturday), David Johansen, Christine Lavin (Saturday), Will Lee, Darlene Love with Ula Hedwig and Curtis King, Terre Roche with Feifei Yang and Garry Dial (Friday), the Uptown Horns, and Jimmy Vivino. It’s like the ultimate version of “In Their Own Words,” the Bottom Line’s long-running series of “a Bunch of Songwriters Sittin’ Around Singing,” which was started on May 24, 1990, by the great Vin Scelsa. The Bottom Line had a personality all its own, and it is dearly missed by those of us who frequented its hallowed halls on the corner of Mercer and West Fourth Sts., so this should bring back some grand memories, along with some great music.