June 10-27, free (some events require advance RSVP)
RSVPs open June 1
The twentieth annual River to River Festival, one of the most eagerly awaited events of each summer, runs June 10-27, with free live performances and screenings on Governors Island, in Battery Park City, the Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural & Educational Center, and other locations. Curated by Lili Chopra and Nanette Nelms, the 2021 edition features works that explore female identity, the African diaspora, colonialism, and other sociopolitical issues. Everything is free, but some events require advance RSVP, beginning June 1; from the way New Yorkers have responded to other live, free performances as the city opens up following the pandemic lockdown, you better be at your computer, ready to go, if you want to snag some tickets.
Among the highlights are processions through Battery Park City led by Miguel Gutierrez, Okwui Okpokwasili, and the Illustrious Blacks; a concert honoring Wayne Shorter, with esperanza spalding, Terri Lyne Carrington, and Leo Genovese; the premiere of Arthur Jafa’s WS, a longer super nova, a tribute to Shorter; Maria Hassabi’s TOGETHER, which was booked immediately when it was part of the 2019 Performa Biennial; and nora chipaumire’s Nehanda, an opera based on the 1898 court case The Queen vs. Nehanda, involving a medium who was also a heroic revolutionary leader in Southern Rhodesia. Several films will be available to livestream following its public premiere.
Thursday, June 10
Opening Concert honoring Wayne Shorter, with esperanza spalding, Terri Lyne Carrington, and Leo Genovese, La Plaza, the Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural & Educational Center, 114 Norfolk St., followed by premiere of Arthur Jafa’s WS, a longer super nova, Flamboyán Theater, 107 Suffolk St., free with RSVP, 7:30
Saturday, June 12
A Day at The Arts Center at Governors Island, with site-specific exhibitions by Meg Webster and Onyedika Chuke, a participatory sculpture by Muna Malik, Open Studios with LMCC 2021 Arts Center artists-in-residence, Damon Davis’s film The Stranger, and more, free with RSVP, noon - 5:00
esperanza spalding, Songwrights Apothecary Lab, live installation, the Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural & Educational Center, 107 Suffolk St., more info to come
June 12, 17, 24, 8:00, June 19, 26, 3:00
Livestreaming of Arthur Jafa’s WS, a longer super nova, followed by discussion with Wayne Shorter, esperanza spalding, Greg Tate, and Craig Street, free with RSVP
Damon Davis, The Stranger, allegorical film shot in Ghana about a Black American returning to his place of origin, starring Sel Kofiga, Damon Davis, Lola Ogbara, and Dalychia Saah, narrated by Ria Boss, with a score by Owen Ragland, digital streaming, free
Sunday, June 13
Processions, with Miguel Gutierrez, Teardrop Park, Battery Park City, free with RSVP
Sunday, June 20
Processions, with Okwui Okpokwasili, Rockefeller Park, Battery Park City, free with RSVP
Friday, June 25
Processions, with the Illustrious Blacks, South Cove, Battery Park City, free with RSVP
Womxn in Windows, multipart video installation in storefront windows exploring female identity, co-curated with Zehra Ahmed, Seaport District, free
June 16, 19, 22, 24
Black Gotham Experience, As Above So Below, interactive walking tours about the African diaspora in Lower Manhattan, featuring Kamau Ware and Rodney Leon, begins at 192 Front St., free with RSVP, 5:30 - 7:30
Mariana Valencia, Futurity, queerstories featuring Star Baby, Studio A3, the Arts Center at Governors Island, free with RSVP, 1:00 & 4:30
Saturday, June 26
nora chipaumire, Nehanda, immersive, participatory, and durational filmed performance, La Plaza, the Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural & Educational Center, 114 Norfolk St., free with RSVP
Maria Hassabi, TOGETHER, location TBA, free with RSVP, 6:00
The best free multidisciplinary arts festival of the summer, River to River packs a whole lot into a narrow amount of time. Sponsored by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, this year’s activities, which, as always, focus on more experimental presentations, take place June 14-25 at such locations as Governors Island, Federal Hall, the National Museum of the American Indian, the Fulton Center, City Hall Park, and other downtown areas. While everything is free, some performances require advance registration because of space considerations. In addition to the below events, Katja Novitskova’s “EARTH POTENTIAL” Public Art Fund exhibition opens June 22 in City Hall Park, photographer Kamau Ware’s “Black Gotham Experience” interactive storytelling project will pop up at various places throughout the fest, LMCC’s Open Studios allows visitors the chance to meet with dozens of artists, and Kameelah Janan Rasheed’s “A Supple Perimeter” will be on view at LMCC’s Arts Center and Movie Theater Exterior on Governors Island.
Wednesday, June 14, 6:00
Wednesday, June 21, 8:00
Sunday, June 25, 7:00
The Dance Cartel: R2R Living Rooms, with DJ Average Jo and special guests, Pier A Harbor House
One of the most energetic companies around, the Dance Cartel will host a trio of live music and dance performances at the River to River Festival hub, with plenty of audience participation.
Thursday, June 15, 3:00 & 6:00
Monday, June 19, 3:00
Netta Yerushalmy: Paramodernities #2 and #3, National Museum of the American Indian
South Carolina–born choreographer and performer Netta Yerushalmy’s “Paramodernities” series deconstructs landmark dance works within the framework of modernity. For River to River, she will present Paramodernities #2, examining Martha Graham’s Night Journey, and Paramodernities #3, investigating Alvin Ailey’s Revelations, accompanied by scholars who will take part in public discussions. The seventy-five-minute production will move around inside the National Museum of the American Indian.
Thursday, June 15, 7:00
Saturday, June 17, 7:00
Sunday, June 18, 7:00
A Marvelous Order, Fulton Center
Joshua Frankel, Judd Greenstein, Will Rawls, and Tracy K. Smith have collaborated on the multimedia opera A Marvelous Order, which delves into the famous fight between Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs over the future development of New York City. For the River to River Festival, they will present a twenty-five-minute excerpt at the Fulton Center, with Eliza Bagg, Tomás Cruz, Lucy Dhegrae, Christopher Herbert, and Dashon Burton as Robert Moses and live music by NOW Ensemble, conducted by David Bloom.
Friday, June 16, 6:00
Amir Elsaffar: Rivers of Sound — Not Two, the Plaza at 28 Liberty
American jazz trumpeter and composer Amir Elsaffar celebrates the release of his latest record, Not Two (New Amsterdam, June 16), with a two-hour performance at the Plaza at 28 Liberty featuring his seventeen-piece Rivers of Sound orchestra.
Friday, June 16, 3:30
Saturday, June 17, 3:30
Sunday, June 18, 3:30
Jodi Melnick: Moat, Fort Jay, Governors Island
Choreographer, dancer, and teacher Jodi Melnick, who has said, “I am truly, madly, deeply in love with movement,” has teamed up with visual artist John Monti for Moat, a sixty-minute site-specific performance taking place in the moat that surrounds historic Fort Jay on Governors Island.
Saturday, June 17, 8:00
Sunday, June 18, 8:00
Monday, June 19, 8:00
Beth Gill: Catacomb, Federal Hall
In May 2016, Bessie Award–winning choreographer Beth Gill presented the site-specific Catacomb at the Chocolate Factory, a dreamlike physical and psychological exploration of what we see and who we are. For River to River, the aching sixty-minute performance moves to historic Federal Hall.
Saturday, June 17, 12 noon – 6:00
Sunday, June 18, 12 noon – 6:00
Saturday, June 24, 12 noon – 6:00
Sunday, June 25, 12 noon – 6:00
The Set-Up: Island Ghost Sleep Princess Time Story Show, the Arts Center at Governors Island
For five years, Wally Cardona and Jennifer Lacey have been collaborating with men and women from multiple dance disciplines, presenting unique performances that push the boundaries of the movement arts. Their project now culminates in a grand finale on Governors Island, with dance masters I Nyoman Catra (Balinese Topeng), Proeung Chhieng (Cambodian), Junko Fisher (Okinawan), Saya Lei (Mandalay-style, classical Burmese), Jean-Christophe Paré (French baroque), Kapila Venu (Indian Kutiyattam), and Heni Winahyuningsih (Javanese refined) and musicians Jonathan Bepler, Reiko Fueting, and Megan Schubert. “Many dances on an ISLAND, a GHOST of what they were, having lost details during a long SLEEP but nevertheless the PRINCESS of their destiny. This TIME it is one STORY, full of fortuitous meetings, grave errors, and happy misunderstandings. It’s a SHOW, folks!” Cardona and Lacey explain. You can see the complete schedule here.
Monday, June 19, 6:00
Tuesday, June 20, 2:00
Wednesday, June 21, 2:00
Faye Driscoll: Thank You for Coming: Play, Broad and Wall Sts.
At last year’s LMCC Open Studios on Governors Island, the endlessly inventive Faye Driscoll offered a work-in-progress showing of the second part of her participatory “Thank You for Coming” series, which began in 2014 with Thank You for Coming: Attendance Play later moved to the BAM Fisher. She now revisits Play, staging a forty-minute version at the intersection of Broad and Wall Sts.
Tuesday, June 20, 4:00 – 8:00
Night at the Museums
Many Lower Manhattan museums and cultural institutions will stay open late on June 20, offering free entry to historic sites along with special programs. Among the participants are the African Burial Ground National Monument, China Institute, Federal Hall National Memorial, Fraunces Tavern Museum, Museum of American Finance, Museum of Jewish Heritage — A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, National Archives at New York City, National Museum of the American Indian, National September 11 Memorial Museum (advance RSVP required), 9/11 Tribute Center, NYC Municipal Archives, Poets House, the Skyscraper Museum, and the South Street Seaport Museum.
Wednesday, June 21, 5:00
Thursday, June 22, 3:00
Friday, June 23, 3:00
Marjani Forté-Saunders: Memoirs of a . . . Unicorn, Melville Gallery, South Street Seaport Museum
Pasadena-born, Harlem based dancer and choreographer Marjani Forté-Saunders, who previously was in the Urban Bush Women Dance Company, brings her solo Memoirs of a . . . Unicorn to the South Street Seaport Museum, a collaboration with media designer Meena Murugesan and sound designer Everett Saunders that relates to the history of Black American magic.
Thursday, June 22, 7:00
Friday, June 23, 7:00
Saturday, June 24, 7:00
Sunday, June 25, 5:00
En Garde Arts: Harbored, Winter Garden, Brookfield Place, 230 Vesey St.
En Garde Arts, which was founded by Anne Hamburger to “catalyze social change” through immersive theater, will stage the sixty-minute site-specific collage play Harbored, about Willa Cather, Lewis & Clark, and Cather’s character Ántonia. The piece, featuring more than fifty performers, is written and directed by Jimmy Maize, with an original score by Heather Christian sung by the Downtown Voices Choir and movement by Wendy Seyb. During the day, you can share your immigration story with them and it just might be incorporated into that night’s show.
Friday, June 23, 6:00
Sunday, June 25, 6:00
Maria Hassabi: Staged? (2016) — undressed, City Hall Park
Last summer, Maria Hassabi presented Movement #2 on the High Line, a dance performed by Simon Courchel, Hristoula Harakas, Molly Lieber, and Oisín Monaghan as people passed by. That morphed into Staged, which ran at the Kitchen in October. Now Hassabi is bringing Staged? (2016) — undressed to City Hall Park, where four dancers will move around Katja Novitskova’s “EARTH POTENTIAL” exhibition.
The thirty-second annual Bessie Awards are returning to their early home at BAM’s Howard Gilman Opera House, where on October 18 they will celebrate the best in dance. Since 1984, the awards, named after dancer, choreographer, and teacher Bessie Schönberg, who passed away in 1997 at the age of ninety, have honored such performers, designers, composers, and choreographers as Pina Bausch, Bill T. Jones, Trisha Brown, Paul Taylor, Wendy Whelan, Martin Puryear, Annie-B Parson, Mark Morris, Faye Driscoll, Nari Ward, Ohad Naharin, Alexei Ratamansky, Movement Research, John Jasperse, and Linda Celeste Sims. Among this year’s nominees are Nicholas Bruder, Molly Lieber, Aaron Mattocks, Gillian Murphy, and Jamar Roberts for Outstanding Performer, Ralph Lemon, Eamonn Farrell, Holly Batt, and DD Dorvillier and Thomas Dunn for Outstanding Visual Design, and Admanda Kobilka and Ustatshakirt Plus for Outstanding Music Composition / Sound Design. The twelve nominees for Outstanding Production include Jack Ferver and Marc Swanson’s Chambre, Maria Hassabi’s PLASTIC, Heather Kravas’s dead, disappears, Lemon’s Scaffold Room, and Justin Peck’s Heatscape, in addition to works by luciana achugar, Souleymane Badolo, Camille A. Brown, Pat Graney, Dada Masilo, Liz Santoro and Pierre Godard, and Safi A. Thomas with H+ | the Hip-Hop Dance Conservatory.
The Dayton Contemporary Dance Company’s presentation of Donald McKayle’s Rainbow ’Round My Shoulder has already been named Outstanding Revived Work, with Joya Powell grabbing the coveted Outstanding Emerging Choreographer award; the October 18 show, hosted by Adrienne Truscott, will feature performances by those winners as well as an all-star tap tribute to Lifetime Achievement in Dance awardee Brenda Bufalino. In addition, Pam Tanowitz won the Juried Bessie Award, and Outstanding Service to the Field went to the Jerome Robbins Dance Division of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts and Thelma Hill Performing Arts Center executive chairman Alex Smith; Eiko Otake will receive a Special Bessie Award from Meredith Monk. Other presenters include Ayodele Casel, Ishmael Houston-Jones, Judy Hussie-Taylor, Judith Jamison, Alastair Macaulay, and Alice Sheppard. The show will be preceded by the Bessie Awards Angel Party at the Mark Morris Dance Center ($100-$6,000), honoring Marilynn Donini, Stephanie French, Karen Brosius, and Jennifer Goodale, and will be followed by a free dance party at BRIC with complimentary pizza from Two Boots.
This past June, Cyprus-born, New York City–based dancer and choreographer Maria Hassabi presented an informal preview on the High Line of a new work that she called Movement #2, another slow, deliberate, meditative piece that displayed the impressive strength and skill of her dancers — Simon Courchel, Molly Lieber, Hristoula Harakas, Oisín Monaghan — while furthering her ongoing investigation into the relationship between performer and audience. One at a time, the dancers inched toward a central space at the 30th St. Rail Yards section of the aboveground park, then came together in a kind of living sculpture as tourists and New Yorkers passed by, many wondering what was going on. Hassabi’s two previous works at the Kitchen, PREMIERE and SHOW, also experimented with the boundaries that generally separate dancer and viewer, a concept that was beautifully laid bare for her site-specific Plastic presentation at MoMA earlier this year. The High Line sneak peek is now making its way down to the Kitchen, expanded into STAGED, part of FIAF’s annual multidisciplinary Crossing the Line festival. Running October 4-8, the piece features Courchel, Harakas, Monaghan, and Jessie Gold, with music by Marina Rosenfeld. “With the decelerated velocity of my work, nuances that are usually dismissed become the center of the work,” Hassabi says about the piece. For more on the Crossing the Line festival, go here.
French Institute Alliance Française and other locations
Florence Gould Hall, 55 East 59th St. between Madison & Park Aves.
FIAF Gallery, 22 East 60th St. between Madison & Park Aves.
September 22 - November 3, free - $55
We can’t help but get excited for FIAF’s annual multidisciplinary fall festival, Crossing the Line, now celebrating its tenth anniversary. Every summer, we eagerly await the advance announcement of what they’ll be presenting, then scour the lineup for the most unusual events to make sure we see them. This year is another stellar collection of cutting-edge international dance and theater, beginning September 22 and 24 with screenings of concluding episodes seven, eight, and nine of Nature Theater of Oklahoma’s epic Life and Times at Anthology Film Archives ($11), along with a Thursday night party in FIAF’s Florence Gould Hall ($10) that begins with a screening of the eighth chapter of Kristin Worrall’s rather ordinary life, with the artists themselves serving up PB&Js. The festival features a special focus on French choreographer Jérôme Bel, who will be involved in four programs, beginning October 17 (free with RSVP) with a screening of his short biographical film on Paris Opera dancer Véronique Doisneau, followed by a discussion with Bel and Ana Janevski. Bel’s award-winning The Show Must Go On will go on at the Joyce October 20-22 ($36-$46), with Bel hanging around for a Curtain Chat after the 2:00 show on October 22. Bel will present the New York premiere of his controversial eponymous 1995 signature work at the Kitchen October 27-29 ($20) while also moving over to the Museum of Modern Art October 27-31 (free with museum admission) for Artist’s Choice: MoMA Dance Company, a site-specific piece for MoMA’s Marron Atrium that will be performed by members of the MoMA staff.
Breakdance world champion Anne Nguyen is making her U.S. debut with a pair of works: the free Graphic Cyphers will take place September 23 at Roberto Clemente Plaza in the Bronx at 2:00 and in Times Square September 25 at 2:30 and 4:30, while Autarcie (....): a search for self-sufficiency has its American debut September 29 to October 1 ($20) at Gibney Dance. “I seek to reconcile the peculiarities of hip-hop with demanding theatrical performance to question the place of human beings in the modern-day world,” Nguyen says; you can hear more from her at the October 1 artist talk “Towards Cultural Equity: The Artist’s Perspective” (free with RSVP) with fellow panelists David Thomson, Mohamed El Khatib, and Rokafella, moderated by George Emilio Sanchez. The UK’s Forced Entertainment, which is “interested in confusion as well as laughter,” will likely dish out a healthy portion of both at the New York premiere of Tomorrow’s Parties in Florence Gould Hall September 28 and 30 and October 1 ($20). From September 30 to October 2 ($35-$55), Venice Biennale lifetime achievement award winner Romeo Castellucci will deliver the one-man show Julius Caesar. Spared Parts, making the most of Federal Hall’s marble columns. This past June, dancer-choreographer Maria Hassabi gave an informal preview of her latest work, Staged, on the High Line; she will now bring the final piece down to the Kitchen, below the High Line, where it will be performed by Simon Courchel, Jessie Gold, Hristoula Harakas, and Oisín Monaghan October 4-8 ($20).
On October 6-8 and 13-15 ($35), drag fabulist Dickie Beau will conjure up Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, and Richard Meryman at Abrons Arts Center for Blackouts. [Ed. note: All performances of Blackouts have been canceled because of unexpected travel circumstances.] Also on October 13-15 ($20), Lora Juodkaite and Annie Hanaeur will perform the U.S. premiere of Rachid Ouramdane’s Tordre (Wrought) at Baryshnikov Arts Center; CTL veteran Ouramdane will take part in the October 15 artist talk “Towards Cultural Equity: The Institutional Perspective” (free with RSVP) with keynote speaker Patrick Weil, panelists Firoz Ladak and Zeyba Rahman, and moderator Thomas Lax. On October 25 (free with RSVP), Aaron Landsman will host Perfect City, in which a group of young people from the Lower East Side will gather at Abrons Arts Center and discuss what the future holds in store for them, particularly in their neighborhood. The festival ends on November 3 with My Barbarian’s Post-Party Dream State Caucus at the New Museum (free with RSVP), held in conjunction with the exhibition “The Audience Is Always Right.” Throughout the festival, you can check out Mathieu Bernard-Reymond’s “Transform” art exhibit in the FIAF Gallery, and Tim Etchells’s multichannel video installation “Eyes Looking” will be projected at 11:59 each night in Times Square as October’s Midnight Moment.
Who: Maria Hassabi
What: High Line Performances
Where: The High Line, West 30th St. & Twelfth Ave.
When: June 28-30, free, 7:00
Why: We’d follow Cyprus-born, New York City–based dancer and choreographer Maria Hassabi just about anywhere to see her unique, intense performances. We’ve seen her crawl across cobblestones on Broad St., slither up and down stairs at MoMA, wrestle with a carpet at PS122, and wind her way through the audience on the floor of the Kitchen. On June 26, 27, and 28 at 7:00, Hassabi will be on the High Line at the Rail Yards at West Thirtieth St., presenting the site-specific Movement #2. The beautiful elevated park is in full bloom now, so it should provide a splendid backdrop for Hassabi’s thirty-minute show, an informal preview of her next full-length piece, Staged, which will have its world premiere at the Kitchen October 4-8 as part of FIAF’s annual Crossing the Line Festival. Movement #2 features Simon Courchel, Hristoula Harakas, Molly Lieber, and Oisín Monaghan in separate parts of the park; viewers must move around in order to see them all, which is of course part of the fun. (Admission is free; no advance RSVP is required.)