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

MOBILE UNIT’S SUMMER OF JOY

THE PUBLIC THEATER’S MOBILE UNIT
Multiple locations in all five boroughs
July 31 - August 29, free
publictheater.org

The Public Theater’s Mobile Unit is back on the road after being sidelined by the pandemic lockdown last year, bringing free pop-up Shakespeare to locations across the five boroughs. “I always felt that we should travel,” Public founder Joseph Papp said once upon a time. “I wanted to bring Shakespeare to the people.” The Public has been doing just that in one form or another since 1957; this summer the Mobile Unit, in its tenth year, will be bringing two productions to plazas and squares from July 31 to August 29. Each presentation begins with the National Black Theatre’s Stage for Healing and Resilience, which will provide a space for reflection, meditation, and sharing. That will be followed by Verses @ Work — The Abridged Mix, Mobile Unit in Corrections artist Malik Work’s one-man show that incorporates verse, video, live music, musical theater, jazz, hip-hop, spoken word, and dance. Coproduced by the Public with NBT and directed by Vernice Miller, the autobiographical piece, inspired in part by Homer’s Odyssey, was nominated for a 2017 Audelco Award for Best Solo Performance and was turned into a film; Work has also staged a one-man adaptation of Timon of Athens and teaches Shakespeare, acting, and hip-hop theater. The free afternoon concludes with the hourlong Shakespeare: Call and Response; conceived by director Patricia McGregor, it features Sofia Jean Gomez, Teresa Avia Lim, Reza Salazar, and Work interacting with the audience through text, music, dance, and improv, playing multiple roles anchored by an MC and DJ duo rapping in iambic pentameter, with scenic design by Diggle, costumes by Katherine O’Neill, sound by Jorge Olivo, and choreography by Paloma McGregor (Patricia’s sister).

“The Mobile Unit is the purest expression of the Public’s conviction that the culture belongs to everyone. Our return this summer is a thrilling and responsive artistic expression born from this historical moment. We are responding to the call of community and creating a unifying embodiment of theater for this city,” Public artistic director Oskar Eustis said in a statement. Mobile Unit director Karen Ann Daniels added, “It is essential for the Mobile Unit to build something that could speak to the moment — a unique format that would reinvigorate our communal spaces and our connection to each other. We all came to the table with a strong sense that it is only through the creation of our art, and inviting our community’s participation in it, that we could offer healing, resilience, and the unbridled joy of the simple act of gathering.” The tour begins July 31 and August 1 at Astor Plaza, moving August 5-6 to Roberto Clemente Plaza, August 7-8 to Johnny Hartman Plaza, August 12 and 28-29 to Osborn Plaza, August 13 and 20 to Albee Square, August 14-15 to 125th Street Plaza, August 19 and 26-27 to Minthorne Street, and August 21-22 to Myrtle/Wyckoff Plaza; all shows are at 4:30 except for August 7-8, which start at 2:00. Also joining in the “Summer of Joy” will be the People’s Bus, a community-led initiative that repurposes a retired NYC prisoner transport vehicle into a mobile center that provides “resources and education to restore and build trust in our democracy.”

ALICE NEEL: PEOPLE COME FIRST

Alice Neel, Self‑Portrait, oil on canvas, 1980 (National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC / © the Estate of Alice Neel)

ALICE NEEL: PEOPLE COME FIRST
Met Fifth Ave.
1000 Fifth Ave. at 82nd St.
Through August 1, pay-what-you-wish to $25
www.metmuseum.org

I well remember going to El Museo del Barrio for its fortieth anniversary reopening back in the fall of 2009 after an extensive renovation. I was blown away by the centerpiece of the exhibition “Nexus New York,” a section devoted to the relationship between American painter Alice Neel and Cuban artist Carlos Enríquez, who were married in 1925. Neel is now the subject of a revelatory show continuing at the Met Fifth Ave. through August 1, “Alice Neel: People Come First,” which focuses on her portraiture, from the men in her life to the women and children who evince the beauty and fragility of pregnancy and motherhood.

Neel was born in Merion Square, Pennsylvania, in 1900, lived with Enríquez’s family in Cuba for a short time, then came back to America, where she resided in Greenwich Village before moving to Spanish Harlem for more than two decades. She had two children with Enríquez: Santillana, who died of diphtheria before the age of one, and Isabetta, who Enríquez took back to Cuba when he left Neel in 1930. A few years later, after Neel had a breakdown and spent time in a sanitorium, a relationship with sailor and heroin addict Kenneth Dolittle ended with his destruction of hundreds of her drawings, watercolors, and personal items. She attempted suicide at least twice. In 1939, she had a son, Richard, with the younger, married Puerto Rican musician José Santiago Négrón, following a 1937 miscarriage. In 1941, Neel had another son, Hartley, with Communist activist Sam Brody, whom she was with on and off for fifteen years.

Her biography is integral in appreciating the Met survey, which is expertly curated by Kelly Baum and Randall Griffey with Brinda Kumar. Stretching across eight thematic galleries, the show is filled with what Neel simply called “pictures of people” but were so much more than that, canvases alive with brutal honesty and an unwavering eye for personal identity. As she said in 1950, “For me, people come first. I have tried to assert the dignity and eternal importance of the human being.” In doing so, she also takes back the power of being a woman in what was deemed a man’s world, inherently battling discrimination, class and gender bias, and even, to a point, abstraction in portraits as well as still lifes, landscapes, and city scenes.

Alice Neel, Ninth Avenue El, oil on canvas, 1935 (Cheim and Read, New York / © the Estate of Alice Neel)

“Alice Neel: People Come First” is divided into “New York City,” “Home,” “Counter/Culture,” “The Human Comedy,” “Art as History,” “Motherhood,” “The Nude,” and “Good Abstract Qualities.” Her unflinching works do what only the finest portraits do, whether the realism of Hans Holbein, the idiosyncratic nature of Pablo Picasso, the elegance of John Singer Sargent, the royal gaze of Diego Velázquez, or the reimagining of the Old Masters of Kehinde Wiley. “One of the reasons I painted was to catch life as it goes by, right hot off the griddle, because when painting or writing are good, it’s taken right out of life itself, to my mind,” she says in a passage on the audio guide taken from an old interview. “The road that I pursued, and the road that I think keeps you an artist, was that no matter what happened to me, you still keep on painting; you just should keep on painting no matter how difficult it is, because this is all part of experience, and the more experience you can have, the better it is, unless it kills you, and then you know you’ve gone too far.”

The show consists of more than one hundred of Neel’s paintings and drawings, displaying her immense skill at creating compelling, intensely psychological narratives out of the every day. In 1933’s Investigation of Poverty at the Russell Sage Foundation, painted when Neel was employed in FDR’s Public Works of Art Project, a woman dressed in black, a homeless mother of seven, sits in the center of a room, head bowed, hands held up to her face, as ten men in suits, two women, and a priest are gathered around her, unsure if there is anything they can do to help her. The painting is accompanied by a rare preparatory sketch of two of the men, who themselves have come to ask for assistance from the foundation. In the same year’s Synthesis of New York — The Great Depression, which had been slashed by Dolittle but was repaired, men, women, and children with skulls for faces walk under the el train as two angelic mannequins, one headless, perhaps from the commercial building at the middle of the canvas, hold up a sunlike object on a gray, cloudy day. In Thanksgiving (1965), a decrepit-looking turkey is in the corner of a kitchen sink as if just another object like the nearby can of Ajax. A trio of still lifes, including Black Bottles (1977), are bright and colorful, providing contrast to many of the darker works.

But it’s the portraits that are at the heart of the exhibition. Neel’s 1970 painting of Pop Art icon Andy Warhol shows the shirtless bon vivant sitting on a sketched couch, hands folded on his knees, eyes closed, breasts sagging, scars from his recent shooting clearly visible. In Kenneth Fearing (1935), the poet, novelist, and essayist, cigarette dangling from his mouth, dominates his surroundings like a giant, with a skeleton in the left of his chest because, Neel said, “His heart bled for the grief of the world.” Works such as Puerto Rican Girl on a Chair (1949), Mercedes Arroyo (1952), and Georgie Arce No. 2 (1955) capture the people in her neighborhood, from activist to kids on the street.

Alice Neel, The Spanish Family, oil on canvas, 1943 (Estate of Alice Neel / © the Estate of Alice Neel)

The canvases of pregnant women and mothers with their children are what take the exhibition to another level. There are no smiles in The Spanish Family (1943), in which Négrón’s sister-in-law, Margarita, is seen with her three children. A vertical painting of Isabetta from 1934-35 depicts the young child, not yet six, standing naked, defiantly with hands on her hips; it was painted from a photograph, as mother and daughter never had a close relationship. In a sign of the times, the wall label explains, “The frank nudity of the young child disconcerted viewers then and continues to raise legitimate questions now around consent and children’s bodily autonomy.” In Margaret Evans Pregnant (1978), a naked Margaret Evans, her belly bulging with twins, is on a gold duvet, staring at the viewer, part of her reflected in a mirror behind her. In the ink on paper Mother and Child (1956), a woman is lifting her blouse so her infant can suckle. The subject of Pregnant Maria (1964) evokes the classic reclining nude, as a naked woman, belly bursting, breasts swollen, reveals her body, flaunting her sexuality.

There are two paintings of Neel’s son Hartley, one from 1943, with a young, blue-eyed Hartley on a rocking horse, the other from 1966, with an assured, grown Hartley on a chair, wearing a T-shirt, his hands clasped on his head, his face very similar to a 1943 painting of her son Richard, also in a chair, his left leg crossed over his right. Neither appears completely relaxed or comfortable.

Three works explore Neel as a mother and a daughter. In the ink and gouache City Hospital (1954), Neel’s mother is hunched over in a wheelchair in a hospital ward in the last year of her life. In Well Baby Clinic (1928-29), Neel returns to the hospital ward for lower-class women where she gave birth to Isabetta; the two are in the far middle right amid swirling activity. And finally, in her 1980 Self-Portrait, Neel is fully nude, sitting in a blue-and-white-striped chair, holding a slender paintbrush in her right hand, a white cloth in her left. She leans forward, her sagging skin at the center of the canvas, her lips downturned, her feet at awkward angles on a floor separated into different colors. It took her five years to finish what would be her only painted self-portrait. “Life begins at seventy!” she once declared. Neel passed away in 1984 at the age of eighty-four, leaving behind a legacy that is well served by this extraordinary retrospective.

(You can watch several virtual programs about the show on the Met website, including “Alice Neel and Spanish Harlem or El Barrio” with artist Miguel Luciano and curator Susanna Temkin, “Hilton Als on Alice Neel” with Als and Baum, and “Alice Neel and Gay Liberation” with Griffey. In addition, the audio guide features contributions from artist Jordan Casteel and curator Jasmine Wahl.)

AILEY

The life and career of Alvin Ailey is explored in new documentary opening in theaters July 23

AILEY (Jamila Wignot, 2021)
Angelika Film Center
18 West Houston St.
Film Society of Lincoln Center, Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, Howard Gilman Theater
144 West 65th St. between Broadway & Amsterdam Ave.
Opens July 23
neonrated.com/films/ailey

“We’re gonna do something, we’re gonna create . . . whatever it is, it gotta be good,” choreographer Rennie Harris says at the beginning of Ailey. The American Masters documentary, which opens July 23 at the Angelika and Lincoln Center, is good but sometimes overshadowed by how it could have been better.

Directed by Jamila Wignot’s (Town Hall, Walt Whitman) and edited by Annukka Lilja, the film cuts back and forth between rare archival footage of Alvin Ailey, who was born in Texas in 1931 and died from AIDS in 1989 at the age of fifty-eight; new interviews with former members of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; and Harris and the company rehearsing Lazarus, the Philadelphia-born choreographer’s specially commissioned 2018 ballet celebrating the life and legacy of Ailey. “Mr. Ailey talked about blood memories — what his parents went through, what his parents’ parents went through, what his folk went through. And that was a major key for me — memory. That was the anchor,” Harris, the troupe’s inaugural artist-in-residence, explains about his motivation in creating the company’s first two-act ballet.

The film focuses on how Kennedy Center Honoree Ailey’s personal experiences directly impacted his work, from being raised by a single mother in difficult circumstances, to his homosexuality, to fighting racial injustice and being an important influence on the Black community, incorporating traditional African movement and American jazz to construct pieces unlike any ever seen before. “Alvin entertained my thoughts and dreams that a Black boy could actually dance,” former AAADT company member George Faison remembers. “It was a universe that I could go into, I could escape to, that would allow me to do anything that I wanted to.”

In a 1988 interview, Ailey says, “You have to be possessed to do dance,” and he was from an early age. The documentary includes clips from such works as 1958’s Blues Suite, a party set to traditional songs performed by Brother John Sellers; 1969’s Masekela Langage, which takes on racial violence and the prison system; 1971’s Cry, a solo for Judith Jamison that was a birthday present for Ailey’s mother; 1971’s Flowers, inspired by the life of Janis Joplin; 1979’s Memoria, a tribute to his late friend and colleague Joyce Trisler; and 1983’s Fever Swamp, Bill T. Jones’s athletic piece for six male dancers. The film also digs deep into Ailey’s most famous ballet, Revelations, the 1960 masterpiece that explores the richness of Black cultural heritage. “We didn’t have to go out on the street and protest; our protest was on the stage,” Faison says. “This was our march to freedom.”

In addition to Jones, Jamison, and Faison, also sharing stories about Ailey are current AAADT artistic director Robert Battle, original company member Carmen de Lavallade, former rehearsal directors and associate artistic directors Mary Barnett and Masazumi Chaya, stage manager and executive director Bill Hammond, and former company dancers Don Martin, Linda Kent, Sylvia Waters, Hope Clark, and Sarita Allen. Barnett calls Ailey’s dances “a reenactment of life,” while de Lavallade, who is shown dancing with Ailey back in the 1950s, notes, “Sometimes your name becomes bigger than yourself. Alvin Ailey — do you really know who that is, or what it is?”

The film would have benefited by Wignot (Town Hall, Walt Whitman) spending more time with Harris and the current Ailey dancers preparing Lazarus, which premiered in 2018 as part of the “Ailey Ascending” sixtieth anniversary season. The scenes were shot at the company’s home studio on West Fifty-Fifth St., a sharply white, brightly lit space with windows on two sides, in contrast to the grainy black-and-white videos and personal photographs tracing Ailey’s life and career that are spread throughout the film.

Last week, Rosalynde LeBlanc and Tom Hurwitz’s Can You Bring It: Bill T. Jones and D-Man in the Waters opened at Film Forum, a thrilling look at the 1989 dance by Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company that dealt with the AIDS crisis; the documentary details the original conception of D-Man in the Waters while also following Loyola Marymount dancers as they get ready to perform the piece in 2016, as the directors zero in on humanity’s evolving relationship with tragedy and art across generations. In Ailey, that connection is much less clear, and the contemporary rehearsal scenes feel out of place, especially without the grand finale of a fully staged production of Harris’s homage. (You can watch a brief excerpt of Lazarus made during the pandemic here. AAADT will also be performing August 17-21 at the BAAND Together Dance Festival on Lincoln Center’s Restart Stage at Damrosch Park, featuring Lazarus and Revelations, and the company just announced that its annual New York City season will take place December 1-19 at City Center.)

Even so, Ailey offers a compelling portrait of one of the most important choreographers of the twentieth century, an extraordinary man who changed the way we look at dance and Black culture. Wignot will be at the Angelika for Q&As at the 7:30 screening on July 23 and the 12:45 show on July 24; she will also be at the Howard Gilman Theater at Lincoln Center for a Q&A with Battle, moderated by National Black Justice Coalition executive director David Johns, on July 23 at 6:15 and with Waters, moderated by author, professor, and Shubert board member Pamela Newkirk, on July 24 at 6:15.

TICKET GIVEAWAY: CROSSOVERS LIVE! WITH BRIAN STOKES MITCHELL

Who: Brian Stokes Mitchell, Vanessa Williams, Daniel J. Watts, Marc Shaiman, Bernadette Peters, Kristin Chenoweth, David Hyde Pierce, more
What: Ticket giveaway for Crossovers Live! with Brian Stokes Mitchell
Where: Stellar
When: Premiering monthly July 26 - December 20, $15-$100 per show, six-show bundle $49-$500; use code BBS10 to save $10 on any six-show bundle through July 21 (benefiting the Actors Fund)
Why: Brian Stokes Mitchell was already a Broadway and television star when he reached a new stratosphere of fame for his nightly renditions of “The Impossible Dream” early in the 2020 pandemic lockdown in New York City. Delivered from the window of his Upper West Side apartment after the 7:00 pm clap for health-care workers, Stokes’s performances were part of his vocal retraining after a serious bout with Covid-19. He sang one of the hit songs from Man of La Mancha, a show that earned him a 2003 Tony nomination for Best Actor in a Musical, an award he had won in 2000 for Kiss Me Kate. The Seattle-born Mitchell, who has appeared in such other Broadway musicals as Jelly’s Last Jam, Kiss of the Spider Woman, and Ragtime and such TV series as Mr. Robot, Glee, and Trapper John, M.D. (in addition to a ton of voiceovers on animated programs), is now hosting his own online talk show, Crossovers Live!, which will stream live monthly July through December and be available on demand for a limited time.

In a promotional video, Mitchell — who has also been nominated for a Grammy, formed Black Theatre United in June 2020 with Audra McDonald, LaChanze, Billy Porter, Anna Deavere Smith, and others, and received the key to the city for his extensive work during the coronavirus crisis as chairman of the board of the Actors Fund — asks, “Do you like movies? TV shows? Miniseries? How about theater? Do you like theater? Like, really like theater? Do you like any medium that actors, composers, singers, writers, dancers could be on? We asked Vanessa Williams, Marc Shaiman, Bernadette Peters, Kristin Chenoweth, David Hyde Pierce, and more to talk about crossing over from stage to screen. And they all accepted because they love audiences, and audiences love them, and we all just love each other. You get it.” The show premieres July 26 with Williams (Soul Food, Kiss of the Spider Woman) and Daniel J. Watts (Tina: The Tina Turner Musical, The Last O.G.), followed August 30 with composer Shaiman (Hairspray, Mary Poppins Returns), September 27 with Peters (Annie Get Your Gun, The Jerk), October 25 with Chenoweth (Wicked, Glee), November 22 with Hyde Pierce (Spamalot, Fraser), and December 20 with a Holiday Finale. A minimum of ten percent of the net proceeds will benefit the Actors Fund.

TICKET GIVEAWAY: Tickets for Crossovers Live! with Brian Stokes Mitchell are $15 each, $25 for the show and access to the VIP chat room, and $100 for the Super VIP Livestream, which adds in signed merchandise. The six-show bundle is $49/$99/$500.

However, twi-ny is giving away two standard six-show bundles ($49) and one VIP bundle ($99) for free. In order to be eligible, you must like Crossovers Live! on Facebook and Instagram and, in addition, send your name, phone number, and favorite play, television show, or movie with Brian Stokes Mitchell in it to contest@twi-ny.com by Thursday, July 22, at 3:00 pm. All entrants must be twenty-one years of age or older; three winners will be selected at random. As Mitchell sings, “And the world will be better for this / Oh, that one man, scorned and covered with scars / Still strong with his last ounce of courage / To reach the unreachable, the unreachable / The unreachable star.”

INAUGURAL DRAMA BOOK SHOP IN-PERSON SIGNING — IN THE HEIGHTS: FINDING HOME

Who: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Quiara Alegría Hudes, Jeremy McCarter
What: Book signing
Where: The Drama Book Shop, 266 West Thirty-Ninth St. between Seventh & Eighth Aves.
When: Wednesday, July 21, 2:00 (tickets on sale Friday, July 16, 10:00 am)
Why: In 2002, a theater group started rehearsing a new musical in the tiny Arthur Seelen Theatre in the basement of the Drama Book Shop, which was founded in 1917 by the Drama League and was bought by Arthur and Rozanne Seelen in 1958. With the future of the beloved store in jeopardy, it was purchased in January 2019 by two of the primaries involved with that rehearsal, director Thomas Kail and writer Lin-Manuel Miranda, along with producer Jeffrey Seller and theater impresario James L. Nederlander. The production was In the Heights, cowritten by Quiara Alegría Hudes, the Broadway smash that was nominated for thirteen Tonys and won four, including Best Musical. Delayed by the pandemic lockdown, the new store, designed by David Korins, opened June 10 on West Thirty-Ninth St., and it is celebrating with its first in-store book signing, a rather big one.

On July 21 at 2:00, composer-lyricist-star Miranda, librettist Hudes, and theater writer Jeremy McCarter will be signing copies of their new tome, In the Heights: Finding Home (Penguin Random House, June 2021, $40), following up on the virtual launch that took place last month. The book opens with an introduction by McCarter that begins, “The actors took their bows, the crowd finished cheering, and everybody headed for the doors. Spotting a friend, I cut across the lobby. I asked, Did you just see what I just saw? Or words to that effect. It’s been fourteen years, so I can’t remember exactly what I said that night. But I do remember exactly how In the Heights made me feel.” The show was turned into a major motion picture that was released on June 10, in theaters and on HBO Max, to wide acclaim and a casting controversy. Limited tickets for the bookstore event, in which the authors will not sign anything other than the books and no photos with them are allowed, go on sale July 16 at 10:00 am, and they’re likely to go fast, so don’t hesitate if you want to keep sharing that feeling.

CAN YOU BRING IT: BILL T. JONES AND D-MAN IN THE WATERS

Documentary explores the creation and legacy of Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company’s D-Man in the Waters (photo courtesy Rosalynde LeBlanc)

CAN YOU BRING IT: BILL T. JONES AND D-MAN IN THE WATERS (Rosalynde LeBlanc & Tom Hurwitz, 2020)
Film Forum
209 West Houston St.
Opens Friday, July 16
212-727-8110
www.d-mandocumentary.com
filmforum.org

In 1989, the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company presented the world premiere of D-Man in the Waters at the prestigious Joyce Theater in New York City, a physically demanding, emotional work born out of the AIDS crisis, dealing with tragedy and loss in the wake of the death of Zane, Jones’s personal and professional partner, at the age of thirty-nine in 1988. Directors Rosalynde LeBlanc and Tom Hurwitz take a deep dive into the history of the dance and its lasting impact more than thirty years later in the captivating documentary Can You Bring It: Bill T. Jones and D-Man in the Waters, opening July 16 at Film Forum.

“What is D-Man? Is it alive now? Is it a cautionary tale? Is it one of inspiration?” Jones tells fifteen Loyola Marymount dancers who are staging the piece under the direction of LeBlanc, a former company member who runs the Jones/Zane Educational Partnership at the school, where she is an associate professor in the Department of Dance. Jones continues, “Makes you want to get all your shit together, your community together, take responsibility, be beautiful, be fierce — is that what it is? I don’t know what it is. . . . What do they share that is so big, so tragic that you need a piece like this to move it and give it body?”

LeBlanc, who also produced the film, and two-time Emmy-winning cinematographer Hurwitz, the son of longtime Martha Graham dancer, choreographer, and teacher Jane Dudley, talk to most of the original cast of D-Man, many of whom have gone on to form their own companies: Arthur Avilés, Seán Curran, Lawrence Goldhuber, Gregg Hubbard, Heidi Latsky, Janet Lilly, and Betsy McCracken, who, along with Jones and his sister Johari Briggs, share intimate stories of working with Jones and Zane and the importance of the piece as the arts community was being ravaged by AIDS. Sometimes holding back tears, they speak lovingly of Zane and Demian Acquavella, nicknamed “D-Man,” who died at the age of thirty-two in 1990. “He was always a boy, but always a bit of a devilish boy, and the dancing was also that way,” Jones remembers.

Through new and old interviews, home video and archival photographs, and exciting footage from the dance’s original rehearsals and Joyce premiere, LeBlanc, Hurwitz, and editor Ann Collins choreograph a gracefully flowing, compelling narrative as the documentary participants discuss specific movements — Latsky’s attempts at a jump and Curran’s memories of a duet with Acquavella in which their foreheads have to keep touching are wonderful — and LeBlanc tries to reach inside the Loyola Marymount performers to motivate them. They might have the movement down, but D-Man requires more than that to be successful. “Do you dare to let the stakes really be high?” she asks as they search for contemporary issues that impact them similarly to how AIDS affected the creation of the work, which is set to Felix Mendelssohn’s 1825 Octet for Strings, which the German composer wrote at the age of sixteen. “There was some healing, cathartic ritual in the making and the doing of this dance that sustained us,” Curran says, a feeling LeBlanc wants to instill in the college students.

“This work is not about anybody’s epidemic,” Jones, a Kennedy Center Honoree, MacArthur Grant awardee, and Tony winner who is the artistic director of New York Live Arts, said in a statement about the film. “It is about the dark spirit of what is happening in the world and how you push back against it.” Can You Bring It: Bill T. Jones and D-Man in the Waters gets to the heart of that spirit by revealing the legacy, and the future, of a seminal dance piece that continues to find its place on an ever-evolving planet.

LeBlanc and Hurwitz will be at Film Forum to discuss the film at the 7:00 shows on July 16 and 17 and will participate in a live, virtual Q&A with Jones at 8:00 on July 21. Jones, whose riveting Afterwardsness at Park Avenue Armory in May explored the Covid-19 pandemic, isolation, and racial injustice, will return to the space this fall with Deep Blue Sea, a monumental work for more than one hundred community members and dancers that begins with a solo by Jones and incorporates texts by Martin Luther King Jr. and Herman Melville, with water again playing a critical role.

ACROSS THE MacDOWELL DINNER TABLE: EXCELLENCE, AESTHETICS, AND VALUE

Who: Nell Painter, Linda Harrison, Joyce Kozloff, Garth Greenan
What: Livestreamed discussion
Where: 92Y online
When: Thursday, July 15, free with advance RSVP, 7:00
Why: For more than a century, artists of all disciplines have come to MacDowell to create works in residency in a welcoming New Hampshire community. (It was previously known as the MacDowell Colony, but the name was changed in 2020 because of the its oppressive overtones.) MacDowell Fellows have included James Baldwin, Meredith Monk, Thornton Wilder, Leonard Bernstein, Suzan-Lori Parks, Studs Terkel, Ruth Reichl, and Jonathan Franzen. On July 15 at 7:00, the 92nd St. Y is hosting the free virtual discussion “Across the MacDowell Dinner Table: Excellence, Aesthetics, and Value,” with Newark Museum director and CEO Linda Harrison, visual artist Joyce Kozloff, and gallerist Garth Greenan, moderated by artist, author, and board chair Nell Painter. They will consider the past, present, and future of MacDowell and its place in a quickly changing art world. The Garth Greenan Gallery is currently showing “Alexis Smith: Not in Utopia” through July 30; the Newark Museum has on view “Anual de Artes de Nueva Jersey 2021: ReVisión y Respuesta,” “Four Quiltmakers, Four American Stories,” and “Wolfgang Gil: Sonic Geometries”; and Kozloff’s “Uncivil Wars,” in which she repurposes Civil War battle maps by incorporating images of viruses, runs through August 13 at DC Moore. Kozloff will be at the gallery to talk about the exhibition on July 21 at 6:00 as part of the free ADAA Chelsea Gallery Walk.