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


(photo by S.J Norman, Cicatrix I, 2019)

S.J Norman’s Cicatrix I is the symbol for “Knowledge of Wounds” weekend festival

Performance Space New York
150 First Ave. at Ninth St.
January 11-12, day pass $35, weekend pass $55

The second annual “Knowledge of Wounds,” celebrating indigenous cultures through readings, discussions, performances, and ritual gatherings, takes place January 11-12 at Performance Space New York in the East Village. Organized by S. J Norman (Koori, Wiradjuri descent) and Joseph M. Pierce (Cherokee Nation), the event explores ideas of threshold spaces, displacement, settler colonialism, borders, and community. Below is the full schedule; tickets are $35 for one day and $55 for both days.

Saturday, January 11
Morning physical session with devynn emory and Joshua.P, noon

Opening Blessing & Group Prayers with the Fire, 1:00

Kinstillatory Action, with Emily Johnson, 2:30

Bodies in Resistance, 4:00

Active rest with devynn emory and Joshua.P, 5:30

Story time with Joe Cross and Donna Couteau, 6:00

Shadow Songs and Root Mirrors, with Laura Ortman, Demian DinéYazhi’ and Kevin Holden, and Elisa Harkins, 8:30

Ixkin: Kaxb’ichil, Xamal, Ootzaqib’al / ThreeStones: Wound, Fire, Knowledge — Tohil Fidel Brito, in collaboration with María Regina Firmino-Castillo and with the participation of Amaru Márquez Ambía, 10:30

Sunday, January 12
Morning physical session with devynn emory and Joshua.P, noon

Opening blessing and fire ritual blessing with Javier Stell-Frésquez, 1:00

Making Love to the Land, 2:30

La utopía de la mariposa, María Regina Firmino-Castillo, 4:30

Ancestral Skin, with Holly Mitiquq Nordlum, 6:00

Sustenance with Chef Quentin Glabus of I-Collective, 8:00

Night offering and fire ritual with devynn emory and Joshua.P, 9:30



Anne Innis Dagg returns to where it all started in The Woman Who Loves Giraffes

Quad Cinema
34 West 13th St. between Fifth & Sixth Aves.
Opens Friday, January 10

Before Jane Goodall went to Tanzania to study chimpanzees and Dian Fossey headed to Rwanda to study mountain gorillas, Canadian biologist Anne Innis Dagg was in South Africa, studying giraffes. Her delightful yet infuriating story is told in Alison Reid’s The Woman Who Loves Giraffes, which opens January 10 at the Quad, where the eighty-six-year-old Dagg will participate in Q&As with Reid at six screenings on Friday and Saturday. Dagg fell in love with giraffes when she was three and first saw them at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago. In 1956, when she was twenty-three, she set off for the Fleur de Lys ranch near Kruger National Park. That trip was quite a victory, based on a bit of subterfuge; in her application to manager Alexander Matthew, she didn’t identify herself as female because she had been previously rejected by many other locations that claimed that “Africa is no place for a young woman.”

She spent a year taking meticulous notes on the social and sexual behavior of giraffes, essentially making up her methods as she went. “No one had ever really studied an African animal in the wild, or pretty well any animal in the wild,” she says in the film. “So I was sort of breaking ground without realizing it.” But when she returned to Toronto, Dagg, the daughter of a university professor father and an economic historian mother, both of whom were widely published writers, was met with a frightening amount of misogyny in the scientific and education communities; she failed to get tenure or other prominent teaching positions, which led her to become a feminist activist in the 1970s. “She ran into the old boys’ network and I think it destroyed her career,” says former University of Guelph professor Sandy Middleton, the only member of the tenure committee that supported Dagg. All these years later, the head of the committee, former dean Keith Ronald, still adamantly defends his decision against Dagg.

It wasn’t until 2010 that Dagg, who uses “giraffe” as both a singular and a plural, reentered the giraffe fold, mainly because of women such as San Francisco Zoo curator Amy Phelps, who says, “I was the little girl that that woman was a hero for, and so it was really important to me that we be able to find her. . . . We were searching for Anne because we really didn’t know if she was alive.” Reid follows Dagg as she is celebrated at the Giraffe Care Conference in Arizona, then goes back to Africa for the first time since the mid-1950s to attend a Giraffe Indaba near Fleur de Lys, bringing her daughter, Mary, with her. Reid and editors Mike Munn and Caroline Christie heartwarmingly intercut footage Dagg took in 1956, photographs and 16mm film, with new scenes of her in the same exact places. Reid also includes narration of Dagg’s extensive letters and writings — she’s written more than twenty books, most importantly The Giraffe: Its Biology, Behavior, and Ecology, considered the bible on the subject — with the voices of Tatiana Maslany as Dagg, Victor Garber as Matthew, David Chinchilla as Anne’s husband, Ian, and Lindsay Leese as Dagg’s mother, Mary Quayle Innis.

The previously little-known Dagg — who in 1965 stumped the To Tell the Truth panel, a clip of which begins the documentary — revels in her newfound semicelebrity and has delved right back into her research. “I always wanted to be a scientist,” she says. The documentary has an inconsistent pace and treacly music, but it’s a thrill watching Dagg look back at her past as she heads into the future; it’s also hard not to think about what could have been had she not been thwarted time and time again because of her gender.


(photo by Ryuichiro Suzuki)

Dancer-choreographer Wataru Kitao stars in one-man multimedia show at Japan Society (photo by Ryuichiro Suzuki)

Japan Society
333 East 47th St. at First Ave.
January 10-14, $35
Festival continues through January 19

Writer-director Suguru Yamamoto returns to Japan Society after the success of his Hanchu-Yuei collective’s 2017 production of Girl X with The Unknown Dancer in the Neighborhood, a one-man dance-theater piece featuring dancer-choreographer Wataru Kitao. In the ninety-minute show, which is running January 10-14 as part of the Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival, the Tokyo-based Yamamoto explores ideas of anonymity, empathy, and death in an abstract urban environment where young people rely on texting to make connections. Kitao, founder of the dance ensemble Baobab, portrays multiple characters of different ages and genders as he moves across a stage with various props, police caution tape, and a back wall onto which text (in Japanese and English), video, and photographs are projected; meanwhile, the lighting shifts from reds, blues, and greens to grays and blacks.

“This is a dance performance and also a play,” the thirty-two-year-old Yamamoto (I Can’t Die without Being Born, Enjoyable Time) says in an Under the Radar promotional video. “The theme is the indifference of people living in a metropolis.” It might have been written about Yamamoto’s experiences in Tokyo, but it should feel right at home here in Gotham, although Yamamoto, who founded Hanchu-Yuei in 2007 and has cited such influences as Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Woody Allen, is a bit worried. “I don’t know how such a performance is going to be received by a New York audience, but I hope it will catalyze something interesting.” The January 10 show will be followed by a meet-the-artists reception, while the January 11 show will be followed by an artist Q&A.


the shed

The Shed, the Bloomberg Building
545 West 30th St. at Eleventh Ave.
Saturday, January 11, free with RSVP, 11:00 am - 8:00 pm

If you haven’t been to the Shed yet, the entertainment hub at Hudson Yards, this Saturday offers you a pretty good reason to finally head over. From 11:00 am to 8:00 pm, admission to the two current art exhibits, “Agnes Denes: Absolutes and Intermediates” and “Manual Override,” which usually require $10 tickets each, is free. There will also be several special programs as well as food trucks in the McCourt, a photo booth on level six, and music and dance. There will be tours of the wide-ranging Agnes Denes retrospective, which consists of more than 150 works from throughout the career of the eighty-eight-year-old Budapest-born American artist (including newly commissioned pieces), at 2:30 with artists Bahar Behbahani, Tattfoo Tan, Avram Finkelstein, Moko Fukuyama, and Janani Balasubramanian and astrophysicist Dr. Natalie Gosnell, at 3:15 with curatorial assistant Adeze Wilford, at 3:45 with senior curator Emma Enderby, and at 5:00 with John Hatfield and artist Torkwase Dyson. “Manual Override” brings together the work of Morehshin Allahyari, Simon Fujiwara, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Sondra Perry, and Martine Syms, which combines social and ethical issues with cutting-edge technology. In addition, DJ Synchro will be spinning in the lobby from 2:00 to 4:00, DJ April Hunt from 4:00 to 6:00, and DJ Bembona from 6:00 to 8:00; Dance Battle: It’s Showtime NYC! vs. the D.R.E.A.M. Ring will get under way in the lobby at 2:15 and 4:30; the two dance teams will be hosting workshops around the building at 3:00 and in the Tisch Skylights at 5:00 and 5:15; and Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter J Hoard will perform in the Tisch Skylights at 5:30.



Sophia Petrides’s BREATHING WITH THE ROOM is part of New Ear Festival

Once upon a time, January was considered a relative artistic wasteland, as people suffered from a post-holidays letdown with a dearth of high-quality movies and Broadway shows opening up. But this century continues to fill that void with more and more cutting-edge, experimental, and offbeat music, dance, film, and theater at unique performance festivals around the city. You can catch cabaret at Pangea, opera at Prototype, dance at the 92nd St. Y and New York Live Arts, jazz at JazzFest, Irish theater at Origin’s 1st, avant-garde music and film at New Ear, and a little of everything at Under the Radar. Sadly, the last few years have seen the demise of COIL and American Realness. Below are only some of the highlights of this exciting time to try something that might be outside your comfort zone and take a chance on something new and different to kick off your 2020, especially with the majority of tickets going for about twenty-five bucks.

Fridman Gallery
287 Spring St. by Hudson St.
January 6–12, $20, 8:00

Monday, January 6
CT::SWaM ExChange, with Ginny Benson, Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste, Dani Dobkin, Bernd Klug, and a very special guest

Tuesday, January 7
Victoria Keddie exchanges transmissions from Copenhagen, improvised animations and sound by Theodore Darst and Kevin Carey, and a performance by Adelaide Damoah

Wednesday, January 8
Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter of the Roots, with Zachary Tye Richardson, Vuyo Sotashe, Onyx Violins, and Brother Paul Daniels II

Thursday, January 9
Model Home, new commission by Brandon Lopez with TAK Ensemble, and Sa’dia Rehman

Friday, January 10
Susie Ibarra and Dreamtime Ensemble, Allard van Hoorn, and the Dream Mapping Project

Saturday, January 11
Violist Joanna Mattrey, percussionist William Hooker’s quartet, and Sophia Petrides

Sunday, January 12
DeForrest Brown Jr., Muyassar Kurdi and MV Carbon, and SHYBOI

Public Theater and other venues
425 Lafayette St. by Astor Pl.
January 6–19

January 6, 10, 12, 20
Daniel J. Watts’ The Jam: Only Child, with Daniel J. Watts and DJ Duggz, Joe’s Pub, $35

January 8–19
The Shadow Whose Prey the Hunter Becomes, with Michael Chan, Simon Laherty, Sarah Mainwaring, and Scott Price, LuEsther Hall, Public Theater, $30

January 10–19
Selina Thompson: salt., with Rochelle Rose, Martinson Hall, Public Theater, $30

January 11–19
The Truth Has Changed, by Josh Fox & International WOW Company, Newman Theater, Public Theater, $30

January 11 & 17
Waterboy and the Mighty World by the HawtPlates, Shiva Theater, Public Theater, $25

(photo by Carol Rosegg)

London Assurance is part of Origin’s 1st Irish Festival (photo by Carol Rosegg)

Multiple venues
January 7 – February 3

Through January 26
London Assurance, by Dion Boucicault, directed by Charlotte Moore, Irish Repertory Theatre, $50-$70

January 7–18
The 8th, written and directed by Seanie Sugrue, the Secret Theatre, $20

January 22 – February 2
The Scourge, by Michelle Dooley Mahon, directed by Ben Barnes, starring Michelle Dooley Mahon, Irish Repertory Theatre, $50

January 26 – February 1
Appropriate, by Sarah-Jane Scott, directed by Paul Meade, starring Sarah-Jane Scott, New York Irish Center, $26

January 27–28
Round Room: An Open Studio, by Honor Molloy, directed by Britt Berke, music by Susan McKeown, with Labhaoise Magee, Brenda Meaney, Rachel Pickup, Maeve Price, Zoe Watkins, and Aoife Williamson, the Alchemical Studios, $16

(photo by Maria Baranova)

Molly Lieber and Eleanor Smith will present Body Comes Apart at New York Live Arts (photo by Maria Baranova)

New York Live Arts
219 West 19th St.
January 8-14

Saturday, January 11
Kathy Westwater: Rambler, Worlds Worlds a Part, $10, 2:00
Kimberly Bartosik/Daela: Through the Mirror of Their Eyes, 5:00

Saturday, January 11, 9:00
Sunday, January 12, 12 noon

Molly Lieber and Eleanor Smith: Body Comes Apart, $15

January 12-14
Sean Dorsey: Boys in Trouble, $15

Monday, January 13
Yanira Castro/a canary torsi: Last Audience, free with RSVP, 4:0

James ‘Blood’ Ulmer

James ‘Blood’ Ulmer will be at the Sultan Room on January 11

Multiple venues
January 8–18

Wednesday, January 8
GilleS Peterson (DJ Set), Lefto, Kassa Overall, Niblu, $20-$25, doors 8:00

Thursday, January 9
Lee Fields & the Expressions with Adeline, Brooklyn Bowl, $25, doors 7:00

Friday, January 10 & Saturday, January 11
Manhattan Marathon, multiple venues, $50-$75 one night, $95-$125 both nights

Saturday, January 11
James ‘Blood’ Ulmer Odyssey, Harriet Tubman, Sultan Room, $25-$30, doors 7:00

Thursday, January 16
Seu Jorge with Rogê, Anat Cohen & Choro Aventuroso, the Town Hall, $55-$85, 8:00

Friday, January 17
Brooklyn Marathon, multiple venues, $30-$55

Multiple venues
January 9–19

January 9, 12, 15–17
Blood Moon, by Ellen McLaughlin and composer Garrett Fisher, Baruch Performing Arts Center, $35-$75

January 11–17
Magdalene, chamber opera cocreated by performer Danielle Birrittella and director Zoe Aja Moore, with poetry by Marie Howe, HERE, $35-$75

January 10–11
Iron & Coal, rock opera by Jeremy Schonfeld, featuring Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Contemporaneous, MasterVoices, Rinde Eckert, and Daniel Rowan, Gerald W. Lynch Theater, $35-$75

January 14–15, 17–19
Ellen West, by poet Frank Bidart and composer Ricky Ian Gordon, Gelsey Kirkland Arts Center, $35-$75

January 15–18
Cion: Requiem of Ravel’s Boléro, by Gregory Maqoma, featuring Vuyani Dance Theatre, Joyce Theater, $10-$75

January 17–18
REV. 23, libretto by Cerise Lim Jacobs, composed by Julian Wachner, featuring Novus NY, Gerald W. Lynch Theater, $35-$75


Harkness Dance Center festival features Catherine Tharin, Kyle Marshall Choreography, and more

92nd St. Y
1395 Lexington Ave.
January 10-12, $15 in advance, $25 at the door

Friday, January 10
King by Kyle Marshall Choreography, through the mirror of their eyes by Kimberly Bartosik (work-in progress excerpt), Quarry by Ivy Baldwin Dance, Good Rhythm Wonderful Life by Kazunori Kumagai, noon

Sunday, January 12
Good Rhythm Wonderful Life by Kazunori Kumagai, 3:00
through the mirror of their eyes by Kimberly Bartosik (work-in progress excerpt), 4:0
Of you from here by Catherine Tharin, 4:45
Quarry by Ivy Baldwin Dance, 5:30
A.D. by Kyle Marshall Choreography, 6:15
DECADOSE (excerpts) by cullen+them, 7:15

Raquel Cion

Raquel Cion will perform Me and Mr. Jones: My Intimate Relationship with David Bowie at Pangea Winter Alt-Fest

Pangea NYC
178 Second Ave.
January 10–18

Tuesday, January 7, 14, 21
Barbara Bleier & Austin Pendleton, Bits and Pieces, $20-$25 plus $20 food/beverage minimum, 7:00

Friday, January 10
Vicki Kristina Barcelona, the songs of Tom Waits, $15-$20 plus $20 food/beverage minimum, 7:00

Hannah Reimann: Both Sides Now: The Music of Joni Mitchell 1966 – 1974, $20-$25 plus $20 food/beverage minimum, 9:30

Thursday, January 16, 7:00, and Friday, January 17, 9:30
Raquel Cion: Me and Mr. Jones: My Intimate Relationship with David Bowie, $20-$25 plus $20 food/beverage minimum

Friday, January 17
Susanne Mack: Where I Belong, $20-$25 plus $20 food/beverage minimum, 7:00


Karen Elson and Anna Sui will talk about music and muses at MADMuseum (photo courtesy Museum of Arts & Design)

Karen Elson and Anna Sui will talk about music and muses at MAD (photo courtesy Museum of Arts & Design)

Museum of Arts & Design
2 Columbus Circle at 58th St. & Eighth Ave.
Saturday, January 11, $30, 4:00

In conjunction with its current exhibition “The World of Anna Sui,” the Museum of Arts & Design is hosting a series of related events. Next up is “Anna’s Music and Muses,” in which the Detroit-born fashion icon will sit down on January 11 with British musician and supermodel Karen Elson to discuss inspiration and collaboration. Sui, who won the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009 at the age of forty-five, following in the footsteps of Diane von Furstenberg, Donna Karan, Anna Wintour, Karl Lagerfeld, Calvin Klein, Valentino, and Yves Saint Laurent among other fashion legends, told CBS that year, “I think whenever people talk about the ‘Anna Sui woman,’ they’re talking about someone that’s probably kind of more downtown, and there’s always like this ambiguity: Is she a good girl, or a bad girl?” Forty-year-old Elson, who hails from Greater Manchester, has released two albums, The Ghost Who Walks and Double Roses, is an ambassador for Save the Children, and has two children with former husband Jack White. “The World of Anna Sui” continues through February 23; on January 9, the series “Sui Screens,” featuring films that influenced Sui collections, will present 2006’s Marie Antoinette, followed by a Q&A with director Sofia Coppola, and will conclude February 20 with Ken Russell’s 1971 The Boy Friend, starring Twiggy.


Kung-Fu Master!

Julien (Mathieu Demy) and Mary-Jane (Jane Birkin) fall for each other in Agnès Varda’s Kung-Fu Master!

KUNG-FU MASTER! (LE PETIT AMOUR) (Agnès Varda, 1988)
Film at Lincoln Center, Walter Reade Theater
165 West 65th St. between Eighth Ave. & Broadway
Monday, January 6, 9:15
Series continues through January 8

Film at Lincoln Center’s “Varda: A Retrospective” continues January 6 with a real family affair, Agnès Varda’s curiously compelling 1988 drama Kung-Fu Master!, the French title of which is the more appropriate Le petit amour, or “The Little Love.” Written by Varda and English actress, model, and singer-songwriter Jane Birkin from Birkin’s idea, the film stars Birkin as Mary-Jane, a divorced forty-year-old woman living with her fourteen-year-old daughter, Lucy, portrayed with wide-eyed innocence by Charlotte Gainsbourg, Birkin’s real-life daughter with French superstar Serge Gainsbourg, and her younger child, Lou, played by Lou Doillon, Birkin’s daughter with French director Jacques Doillon. Mary-Jane falls in love practically at first sight with one of Lucy’s classmates, fourteen-year-old Julien, portrayed by Mathieu Demy, Varda’s son with French auteur Jacques Demy. Birkin’s parents, actress and playwright Judy Campbell and fine artist and actor David Birkin, play Mary-Jane’s mother and father, while Birkin’s brother, screenwriter Andrew Birkin, plays her brother. And Varda’s daughter, costume designer, actress, and producer Rosalie Varda, will be at the Walter Reade Theater on January 6 to introduce the screening. Varda often liked to blur the line between fiction and nonfiction, but don’t let all that reality confuse you: Kung-Fu Master! is most certainly not a documentary, thank goodness.

Kung-Fu Master!

Mother and daughter Jane Birkin and Charlotte Gainsbourg star as mother and daughter in Kung-Fu Master!

Somewhat reminiscent of Bertrand Blier’s 1981 Beau-père, in which thirty-year-old Rémi (Patrick Dewaere) falls for his fourteen-year-old stepdaughter, Marion (Ariel Besse), Kung-Fu Master! treads in dangerous territory, exploring a taboo love, even as it does so with care and sensitivity and a tender performance by Birkin. Mary-Jane is well aware that she should not be considering a relationship with a young boy, but she has a yearning to explore the furthest boundaries of desire. However, her choice of Julien is beyond strange, as he is an ordinary teen, who plays Dungeons and Dragons and the arcade game Kung-Fu Master! and has banal conversations with his peers; he is not some hulking, mature figure who is smart and sophisticated for his age. “I know I won't be around when you start shaving,” Mary-Jane tells Julien. The film also refers repeatedly to the AIDS crisis, which the teenagers are only just learning about and dismiss as somebody else’s problem. Varda never brings the AIDS subplot full circle; perhaps it’s there primarily to emphasize the dangers sex can bring, but she leaves that thread hanging. You’re likely to feel dirty watching Kung-Fu Master!, but you also won’t be able to look away. (Birkin/Gainsbourg fans will also want to check out “Birkin Gainsbourg The Symphonic Starring Jane Birkin” at the Beacon Theatre on March 6, with special guests Iggy Pop and Charlotte Gainsbourg.)