Israeli-born, LA-based dancer and choreographer Danielle Agami has reimagined her autobiographical solo piece, Framed, which had its world premiere in May 2018 at NYU Tisch School of the Arts, as the fifteen-minute film Homesick, streaming online December 20 to January 10. In the work, she looks deep inside herself as a woman and a creator, asking such questions as “What is expected for me to provide? Will dance be enough? Am I enough?” Directed by Samantha Shay and photographed by Victoria Sendra for Source Material, Homesick follows Agami as she moves from her apartment to a bar (where she is served by real-life Icelandic cocktail bartender Martin Cabejsek) to an indoor flower market (where she is joined by Jordan Klitzke) to a vast outdoor landscape and, as an encore, around Jerry Moss Plaza at the Music Center in LA.
For much of the film, Agami, a former Batsheva dancer and gaga teacher who has run Ate9 Dance Company since 2012, first in Seattle, then in LA, changes between a black negligee, head shaved, to regular clothing and fuller hair, moving in fits and starts on her hands and knees, shaking her head in trancelike gestures, petting a cat, and extending her arms as if searching for freedom and love. “For me, there are two kinds of home,” she narrates. “There is the outer, and the inner. When I feel safe and peaceful in my surroundings and my mind, I feel at home, and everything falls into place.” Agami dances to a pair of haunting songs by Iceland-based Danish musician Sara Flindt, aka ZAAR, “Homesick” and “How Many Hearts.” The film is followed by a Q&A with Agami (Pick a Chair, calling glenn), Shay (In These Uncertain Times, Light), Sendra, and Flindt, moderated by CalArts professor of dance cinema Francesca Penzani.
Who: Riz Ahmed
What: One-man show with music and stories
Where: BAM Manchester International Festival
When: Saturday, December 19, $6.75 - $27 (pay-what-you-feel), 3:00
Why: Back in March, British actor, musician, and activist Riz Ahmed was scheduled to premiere his one-man show, The Long Goodbye, at the Manchester International Festival, followed by a run at BAM this fall, but the pandemic lockdown scrapped those plans. Emmy winner Ahmed has appeared in such films as Nightcrawler, Sound of Metal, and his latest, Mogul Mowgli, such television shows as Dead Set, The Night Of and The OA, and such plays as Stephen Adly Guirgis’s Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train and the opera Gaddafi in addition to being a founding member, known as Riz MC, of the hip-hop band Swet Shop Boys, which has released the full-length record Cashmere and the EPs Swet Shop and Sufi La. This past March, he released the concept album The Long Goodbye, featuring such tracks as “The Breakup (Shikwa),” “Can I Live,” “Deal with It,” and “Karma,” with such special guests as Mindy Kaling, Mahershala Ali, and Hasan Minhaj. You can check out his latest video, “Once Kings,” here.
Ahmed combines all those talents in his virtually reimagined The Long Goodbye: Online Edition, streaming live one-time-only on December 19 at 3:00. Co-commissioned by MIF and BAM, the thirty-minute presentation is a companion piece to the full show, which has been postponed to 2021, once theaters are allowed to open and welcome audiences once again. Directed by Kirsty Housley with sound by Gareth Fry, the show is a personal journey with live music and storytelling that asks the question: “How did we get here?” Tickets are $6.75 to $27 based on what you can pay, but they are very limited, so act now if you want to catch what should be a unique, compelling experience.
Who: Blake Shelton, Dave Matthews, Jimmie Allen, Jason Mraz, Michael Ray, Shy Carter, the War and Treaty, John Rzeznik, Dispatch, Keala Settle, Mt. Joy, Augustana, Indigo Girls, Lucie Silvas, Annie Bosko, Bre Kennedy, CJ Hammond & Sloane, Veridia, Public, Michael Cerveris, the McCrary Sisters, Sam Wade, Roger Daltrey, Steve Connell, Michael McDonald, Kenny G, Jeff Tweedy, Nick Wheeler, Greta Van Fleet, Adam Gardner, Ray Parker Jr., Jerry Dipizzo, Taye Diggs, Ben Wysoki, the Harleys, Dublin Gospel Choir, Jim Sheridan, Storme Warren, Nicole Ryan
What: “A Festival of Music & Stories of Life On & Off the Road”
Where: Ryman Auditorium
When: Wednesday, December 16, free (donations encouraged), 8:30
Why: “It is so important that music fans and governments realize the impact this virus is having on millions of self-employed people who make the music industry function to bring much needed joy to our lives,” Roger Daltrey says about the effect the pandemic lockdown is having on the people who make a living supporting the work of superstar musicians. Daltrey will be appearing along with dozen of other rock, country, pop, R&B, and gospel musicians at “Lift Up,” a festival streaming live on Twitch from the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville that benefits the entertainment and events industry. The concert will feature the brand-new song “12 Million,” written by Sam Wade and LEVL UP music supervisor Keith Levenson in tribute to the crews that make music happen from behind the scenes. “Almost my whole adult life I have been touring in one shape or form and the road crews on my team and the venue crews that welcomed us and helped us put on a great show are all part of my extended touring family,” Cisco Adler said in a statement. “They really make it possible for artists like me to do what we do, and they are truly unsung heroes. They are also the first to be hit hard by a situation like this, so part of our mission at NoCap is to get shows happening again and get these good people back to work.”
Who: Engelbert Humperdinck
What: Engelbert Humperdinck’s first Christmas special
When: Saturday, December 12, $25, 3:00
Why: Engelbert Humperdinck. Christmas concert. Livestreamed from his California home. Virtual meet and greets. Need I say more?
Who: Taylor Mac, Colin Brooks, Viva DeConcini, Antoine Drye, Greg Glassman, J. Walter Hawkes, Marika Hughes, Dana Lyn, Gary Wang, Thornetta Davis, Stephanie Christi’an, Tigger! Ferguson, Dusty Childers, Sister Rosemary Chicken, sidhe degreene, Romeo-Jay Jacinto, Glenn Marla, Travis Santell Rowland (Qween), Timothy White Eagle
What: Virtual edition of annual seasonal celebration
Where: Multiple venues through Holiday Sauce website
When: Saturday, December 12, pay-what-you-can, 2:00, 7:00, 10:00 (also available on demand through January 3)
Why: Taylor Mac isn’t about to let something like a lockdown keep him from celebrating the Christmas season as only judy, Mac’s preferred gender pronoun, can. On December 12, Mac will be hosting three “Holiday Sauce . . . Pandemic!” livestreamed parties, at 2:00, 7:00, and 10:00, featuring a fabulous cast of performers where just about anything can happen. This virtual vaudeville, an online edition of the event Mac has been holding around the country since 2017, features special guests Thornetta Davis, Stephanie Christi’an, and Tigger! Ferguson and cameos by Dusty Childers, Sister Rosemary Chicken, sidhe degreene, Romeo-Jay Jacinto, Glenn Marla, Travis Santell Rowland (Qween), and Timothy White Eagle. The festivities are directed by Jeremy Lydic, designed by Machine Dazzle and Anastasia Durasova, and photographed by Rob Kolodny.
Mac, who has written and/or performed in such works as Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus, Hir, The Lily’s Revenge, and A 24-Decade History of Popular Music, will be highlighting songs from judy’s new album, Holiday Sauce, which includes covers of Graham Nash’s “Cathedral,” the Velvet Underground’s “The Black Angel’s Death Song” (paired with “Carol of the Bells”) and “All Tomorrow’s Parties” (with “Little Drummer Boy”), and Frank Ocean’s “Super Rich Kids,” such seasonal favorites as “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and “Silent Night,” and the new tune “Christmas with Grandma,” which doesn’t go well for the old lady. Ticket prices vary from pay-what-you-can to $25 for the livestreams and $10 to watch it on demand through January 3. Each institution presenting the fifty-minute show is dedicating it to a local elder of the queer community; Mac has dedicated Holiday Sauce to judy’s drag mother, Mother Flawless Sabrina. As Mac explains in the album’s liner notes, “I declare this holiday season, and all future ones, a celebration of drag mothers. That’s the world I want to live in. And if you don’t have a drag mama . . . the spirit of Mother Flawless Sabrina is out there for the loving.” In addition, Mac will be receiving the International Ibsen Award, the first American to have that honor.
Who: Carol Burnett, Emanuel Azenberg, Mayim Bialik, Billy Crystal, Tovah Feldshuh, Beanie Feldstein, Joel Grey, Jackie Hoffman, Carol Kane, Barry Manilow, Mandy Patinkin, Itzhak Perlman, Eleanor Reissa, Neil Sedaka, Steven Skybell, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Jerry Zaks, Geni Brenda, Mendy Cahan, Yefim Chorny, Josh Dolgin, Suzanna Ghergus, Miwazow Kogure, Shura Lipovsky, Freydi Mrocki, Polina Shepherd, Merlin Shepherd, Motl Didner, Zalmen Mlotek, Frank London, Tatiana Wechsler, Elmore James, more
What: Global online Chanukah celebration
Where: National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene
When: Tuesday, December 8, free with RSVP, 7:00 (available for ninety-six hours)
Why: National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene is doing more than its part in keeping alive Yiddish theater and the Yiddish language itself, with regular presentations at the Museum of Jewish Heritage. But with the pandemic lockdown, it has adapted to online shows and discussions, and on December 8 it will welcome in the Festival of Lights with a Chanukah celebration with guests from around the world. Debuting on December 8 at 7:00 and available on demand for ninety-six hours, “Folksbiene Chanukah Spectacular” features an all-star lineup, beginning with an audio greeting from Carol Burnett and including appearances by such favorites as Mayim Bialik, Billy Crystal, Tovah Feldshuh, Beanie Feldstein, Joel Grey, Jackie Hoffman, Carol Kane, Barry Manilow, Mandy Patinkin, Itzhak Perlman, Neil Sedaka, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, and many others.
Although it’s free to watch, Chanukah gelt will be gladly accepted, as this is a fundraiser for the company, which in recent years has staged such wonderful Yiddish productions as Fiddler on the Roof, The Sorceress, and The Golden Bride, under the leadership of conductor and artistic director Zalmen Mlotek, who said in a statement with executive director Dominick Balletta, “We’re excited to present this exceptional Yiddish celebration, bringing together Yiddish ambassadors from across the globe, from across the United States to as far away as Australia. This will be a theatrical experience like no other — presented virtually so that families and communities across the world can enjoy it together.” Directed and produced by Adam B. Shapiro, the evening will include music and dance, comedy sketches, and tributes to the golden age of Yiddish theater, along with a grand finale led by members of the Children’s Choir from Tzipporei Shalom of Congregation Beth Shalom in New Jersey. There’s also a special preshow Zoom event with Skybell, Mlotek, and others if you donate at a certain level, in addition to an appetizer delivery from the Lox Cafe.
Who: Zalmen Mlotek, Eleanor Reissa
What: Virtual Hanukkah concert
Where: On Stage at Kingsborough online
When: December 6-20, suggested admission $10
Why: Hanukkah takes place December 10-18 in this year, but you can get a head start by checking out On Stage at Kingsborough’s special holiday concert, “A Celebration of Light,” streaming December 6-20. Suggested admission is $10, although you can give less or more, depending on what you can afford, to watch the inimitable Zalmen Mlotek, conductor, musical arranger, pianist, accompanist, composer, and artistic director of the National Yiddish Theatre, and Eleanor Reissa, Tony-nominated director, singer, writer, and actor. Mlotek (Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish, The Sorceress) and Reissa (Those Were the Days, God of Vengeance) performed the intimate concert in Reissa’s home, where they celebrated the Festival of Lights in addition to the Yiddish language itself, sharing songs, stories, and more. You can get a taste of the wonderful Reissa here.