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


cupids undie run

Stage 48, 605 West 48th St.
Saturday, February 9, $40-$50, noon - 4:00

On Saturday, February 9, don’t be surprised if you find hundred of men and women in the Theater District running around with no pants on; no, it’s not business as usual, nor does it have anything to do with the annual No Pants Subway Ride. It’s more likely you’ve encountered Cupid’s Undie Run, a fundraiser for Cupid’s Charity, which raises money and awareness of the rare tumor-causing genetic disorder known as neurofibromatosis (NF). Held in conjunction with the Children’s Tumor Foundation (CTF), the “pantsless, mile-ish” run (#EndNF) will take place in more than three dozen cities across the country as well as another seventeen locations around the world. The event, which has raised nearly seventeen million dollars since it started in 2010, kicks off at Stage 48 and will be followed by a party. So why no pants? The nonprofit charity explains, “We run in our undies because those affected with NF can’t cover up their tumors to feel more comfortable, so why should we?” If you do participate in one way or another — or even if you don’t — you can still live by these three core beliefs of Cupid’s Charity: “1. Always lead with love. 2. Never stop innovating. 3. Attitude is everything.”


tibet house benefit

Who: Artistic director Philip Glass, Stephen Colbert, Jason Isbell, Nathaniel Rateliff, Jon Batiste, New Order’s Bernard Sumner, Phil Cunningham, Tom Chapman & Joe Duddell, Debbie Harry, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Angélique Kidjo, Laurie Anderson with cellist Rubin Kodheli, Tenzin Choegyal, the Patti Smith Band and the Scorchio Quartet, and an invocation by monks, with honorary chairs Maggie Gyllenhaal, Peter Sarsgaard, Uma Thurman, and Arden Wohl
What: Thirty-second annual concert raising funds for the nonprofit Tibet House US, celebrating the Year of the Pig and Tibetan New Year (Losar)
Where: Carnegie Hall, Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage, 881 Seventh Ave. at 57th St., 212-247-7800
When: Thursday, February 7, $35-$200 (special packages with the concert, party, and more start at $500), 7:30
Why: Tibet House US was founded in 1987 at the request of the Dalai Lama, “dedicated to preserving Tibet’s unique culture at a time when it is confronted with extinction on its own soil”; the annual benefit concert is always one of the cultural highlights of the year in New York City, with an eclectic roster of performers paying tribute to the historic nation.


Photo: Michael Kerstgens/Collection Philippe Petit

Philippe Petit will share many of his tightrope secrets at STREB on February 8 (photo by Michael Kerstgens/Collection Philippe Petit)

SLAM (STREB Lab for Action Mechanics)
51 North 1st Street
Thursday, February 8, $40-$45, 7:00

Tightrope master Philippe Petit has walked between the two towers of the World Trade Center and across the Niagara River, the Sydney Harbor Bridge, the Eiffel Tower, Grand Central Terminal, and other locations around the world. On February 8, the sixty-nine-year-old French-born, New York City-based magician, juggler, fencer, bullfighter, and circus performer will be at SLAM in Brooklyn, the STREB Lab for Action Mechanics, holding an open practice. The public is invited into one of his “secret” sessions at 7:00, consisting of an introduction, warm-up exercises, and walking on a twenty-five-foot-long, seven-foot-high tightrope, where the audience can get up close and watch his every movement and facial gesture. The walks will be accompanied by stories of the choreographic elements, followed by a Q&A. Tickets are $40 in advance and $45 at the door for this rare opportunity to go behind the scenes with one of the greatest high-wire artists of all time.


(photo by Maria Baranova)

Cynthia Loemij and Igor Shyshko have a brief encounter in Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s Verklärte Nacht (photo by Maria Baranova)

Baryshnikov Arts Center, Jerome Robbins Theater
450 West 37th St. between Ninth & Tenth Aves.
January 30 - February 3, $20-$25

Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s 2014 streamlined version of Verklärte Nacht (“Transfigured Night”), originally an ensemble piece from 1995, is making its New York debut this week, continuing at the Baryshnikov Arts Center’s Jerome Robbins Theater through February 3. The short but powerful forty-minute work from the Belgian choreographer’s Rosas company is inspired by German Symbolist Richard Dehmel’s 1896 poem, which itself inspired Austrian American composer Arnold Schönberg’s romantic 1899 program music (op. 4) for string sextet. Dehmel’s short poem is about a woman who decides to become a single mother, having sex with a stranger. However, after she is pregnant, she unexpectedly falls in love with another man but has to tell him that she is carrying someone else’s child. In the poem, the specific text of which is not in the show, she opines, “I am carrying a child, and not yours; / I walk in sin beside you. / I have deeply sinned against myself. / I no longer believed in happiness / And yet was full of longing / For a life with meaning, for the joy / And duty of maternity; so I dared / And, quaking, let my sex / Be taken by a stranger, / And was blessed by it. / Now life has taken its revenge, / For now I have met you, yes you.” In a piece that was initially rejected by program committees and the public, Schönberg brings to life the emotions ripping through the woman’s soul as well as the man’s. (De Keersmaeker uses a lovely recording by Pierre Boulez and the New York Philharmonic.)

(photo by Maria Baranova)

Boštjan Antončič holds up Cynthia Loemij in emotional work at Baryshnikov Arts Center (photo by Maria Baranova)

The dance takes place in a stark black box theater with no accoutrements whatsoever. (The spare lighting is by De Keersmaeker and Luc Schaltin.) The opening is rendered in silence, as Cynthia Loemij (the woman) engages with Igor Shyshko (the stranger). Once the music starts, Verklärte Nacht transforms into an epic expressionistic silent film as Loemij and Boštjan Antončič as her true love repeatedly come together and separate. She falls to the floor again and again, jumps on him with her knees on his shoulder, brings his head to her belly. He stands in the corner, looking away, then runs around the space, lifting and twirling her. On the ground, she motions as if giving birth, exhibiting the pain and loneliness she expects to experience once he ultimately rejects her. She’s in a loose-fitting flower-print dress, a sign of spring and rebirth though muted, while he is in a dark suit and white shirt; both are barefoot. (The costumes are by Rosas and Rudy Sabounghi.) In some ways it is a feminist reinterpretation of thebiblical story of the Garden of Eden; the woman took a bite of a stranger’s fruit and now must face the consequences after being cast out of paradise, but Dehmel, Schönberg, and De Keersmaeker (A Love Supreme, Six Brandenburg Concertos) offer a touching finale. Although its operatic scope may feel a bit dated, the performers’ total mastery of the material and Loemij’s brilliant dancing continue to make the piece involving and compelling.


Roy DeCarava, Couple Walking, gelatin silver print on paper, 1979 (© 2017 estate of Roy DeCarava)

Roy DeCarava, “Couple Walking,” gelatin silver print on paper, 1979 (© 2017 estate of Roy DeCarava)

Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Parkway at Washington St.
Saturday, February 2, free (some events require advance tickets), 5:00 - 11:00

The Brooklyn Museum honors Black History Month in the February edition of its free First Saturday program. There will be live performances by Winard Harper, YahZarah (“I’m Taking You Back”), and Toshi Reagon with violinist Juliette Jones and bassist, guitarist, and vocalist Ganessa James; curator tours of “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power” and “Eric N. Mack: Lemme walk across the room” with Ashley James; a Learning Lesson discussion with artist Kameelah Janan Rasheed inspired by Octavia Butler’s idea of “primitive hypertext”; pop-up gallery talks of “Soul of a Nation” with teen apprentices; a screening of Mr. Soul (Melissa Haizlip & Samuel D. Pollard, 2018), introduced by the directors; a hands-on workshop in which participants can create wearable activist patches inspired by the messages of the Guerrilla Girls and AfriCOBRA; an artist talk featuring Shani Jamila’s new podcast, Lineage, with photographers Ming Smith and Russell Fredrick of the Kamoinge collective; “Soul of a Nation”–inspired poetry with Karisma Price, Naomi Extra, and Stephanie Jean of Cave Canem; an “Archives as Raw History” tour with archivist Molly Seegers; and Black Gotham Experience’s immersive Magnetic Resonance, consisting of a photo studio by Kamau Ware with styling by Charles Johnson, video collage by Kearaha Bryant, and music by GoodWill, P.U.D.G.E., and Rimarkable. In addition, the galleries will be open late so you can check out “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power,” “Eric N. Mack: Lemme walk across the room,” “One: Do Ho Suh,” “Half the Picture: A Feminist Look at the Collection,” “Something to Say: Brooklyn Hi-Art! Machine, Deborah Kass, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, and Hank Willis Thomas,” “Rob Wynne: FLOAT,” “Infinite Blue,” “A Woman’s Afterlife: Gender Transformation in Ancient Egypt,” “Kwang Young Chun: Aggregations,” and more.


Sullivan (Sebastian Urzendowsky) and Camille (Lola Créton) experience the pleasure and pain of young romance in Goodbye First Love

7 Ludlow St. between Canal & Hester Sts.
Monday, February 4, 9:30

French filmmaker Mia Hansen-Løve will be at Metrograph on February 4 to introduce a special screening of her third film, an infuriating yet captivating tale that runs hot and cold. Goodbye First Love begins in Paris in 1999, as fifteen-year-old Camille (Lola Créton) frolics naked with Sullivan (Sebastian Urzendowsky), her slightly older boyfriend. While she professes her deep, undying love for him, he refuses to declare his total dedication to her, instead preparing to leave her and France for a long sojourn through South America. When Camille goes home and starts sobbing, her mother (Valérie Bonneton), who is not a big fan of Sullivan’s, asks why. “I cry because I’m melancholic,” Camille answers, as only a fifteen-year-old character in a French film would. As the years pass, Camille grows into a fine young woman, studying architecture and dating a much older man (Magne-Håvard Brekke), but she can’t forget Sullivan, and when he eventually reenters her life, she has some hard choices to make. Créton (Bluebeard) evokes a young Isabelle Huppert as Camille, while Urzendowsky (The Way Back) is somewhat distant as the distant Sullivan. There is never any real passion between them; Hansen-Løve (All Is Forgiven, The Father of My Children) often skips over the more emotional, pivotal moments, instead concentrating on the after-effects and discussions. While that works at times, at others it feels as if something crucial was left out, and not necessarily with good reason. Still, Créton carries the film with her puppy-dog eyes, lithe body, and a graceful demeanor that will make you forgive her character’s increasingly frustrating decisions.


(photo by Ahron R. Foster)

Playwright Amy Staats is Eddie Van Halen and Megan Hill is David Lee Roth in new play about 1970s hard rockers (photo by Ahron R. Foster)

Atlantic Stage 2
330 West 16th St. between Eighth & Ninth Aves.
Tuesday - Sunday through February 17, $56.50

I have a difficult confession to make: I have never been a fan of Van Halen, the 1970s/’80s hard rockers with such hits as “Jump,” “Jaimie’s Cryin’,” “Hot for Teacher,” and “Runnin’ with the Devil.” But I am a big fan of Eddie and Dave, first-time playwright Amy Staats’s very funny show about the on-again, off-again relationship between the band’s songwriters, guitarist and composer Eddie Van Halen and lyricist and lead singer David Lee Roth — which has been extended at Atlantic’s Stage 2 through February 17. The story is told in flashback by a former MTV VJ based somewhat on Kurt Loder (“This is my memory play,” she says), centering on the group’s very brief reunion at the 1996 MTV Video Music Awards, when Eddie; his brother, drummer Alex Van Halen; bassist Michael Anthony; and Roth got together for the first time in more than a decade to present a prize. At the podium, Alex leans over and whispers something to Dave; what was said is the mystery behind the play and a solid-enough excuse to dig into the band’s strange and bizarre history. But Staats pulls an outrageous gender switch in her casting: She plays Eddie, Megan Hill is Dave, Adina Verson is Alex, Omer Abbas Salem is Valerie Bertinelli (Eddie’s eventual wife), and Vanessa Aspillaga is the VJ, a roadie, the Van Halens’ father, Quincy Jones, and other minor male characters. Anthony is portrayed by a framed photograph.

(photo by Ahron R. Foster)

Van Halen brothers Eddie (Amy Staats) and Alex (Adina Verson) look on as David Lee Roth (Megan Hill) struts his stuff at Atlantic Stage 2 (photo by Ahron R. Foster)

Scenic designer Reid Thompson has filled the theater with posters and flyers advertising such other 1970s/’80s groups as Pantera, Misfits, Iron Maiden, Dead Kennedys, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, and the Ramones; as the audience enters the space, music by Journey, AC/DC, Black Sabbath, and Aerosmith is likely to have attendees of a certain age singing along and playing air guitar. Montana Levi Blanco’s costumes are send-ups of what the band really wore, including Eddie’s overalls and flannel shirt and Diamond Dave’s flashy over-the-top style. Cookie Jordan is responsible for the fab hair and wigs, featuring some damn fine mullets. Whether because of rights issues or as an artistic (financial?) choice, there is no actual Van Halen music in the show, only instrumental snippets (by Michael Thurber) heard here and there or seen in Shawn Boyle’s projections; in fact, no original Van Halen songs or albums are even mentioned by name except for their 2012 comeback record, A Different Kind of Truth.

(photo by Ahron R. Foster)

Van Halen rocks out — and fights — all over again in new play Eddie and Dave (photo by Ahron R. Foster)

None of the actors attempts to impersonate the famous people they portray, instead turning them into eccentric characters who say and do a lot of dumb but endearing stuff, the key word being “dumb.” Thus, Anthony comes off as the most intelligent member of the group, since he never speaks. (“We can’t talk about him; there’s not enough time,” the VJ explains.) Gleefully directed by Margot Bordelon, Eddie and Dave is a highly original mini-soap-rock opera that would delight Wayne and Garth (“Wayne’s World! Excellent!”), a fun and snarky account of a group of grown-up men, and one woman, who are not the brightest bulbs in the chandelier but managed to carve out some pretty successful careers. I’m still not a Van Halen fan, but I definitely have a newfound admiration for their wild and wacky tale.