A weekly, highly personal and subjective list of performances and artists we want you to know about:
It’s January. And that means New York City is being flooded with contemporary dance and performance art, in multiple festivals, showcases, and New Year’s openings throughout the city. Originally scheduled in concert with the annual APAP Conference (Association of Performing Arts Presenters,) the festivals have become blockbusters in their own right, powerful expressions of the artistic chops of the New York arts organizations that host and organize.
“American Realness,” Ben Pryor’s now almost decade-old brainchild, was once a maverick festival of downtown art that launched many new faces and works when he curated early festivals at Abrons Arts. Pryor is still the mastermind, now presenting “Realness” with Gibney Dance, still in collaboration with Abrons. This year’s expanded festival, from January 9-16, is bursting at the seams, showing both premieres and encore performances at several locations, including not only Abrons and Gibney, but also Danspace Project, Invisible Dog, SculptureCenter and others.
One of the North American premieres will show at Industria in Brooklyn: “Everything Fits in the Room,” from a talent-rich creative team including Simone Aughterlony and Jen Rosenblit, with Miguel Gutierrez and Colin Self. Among many other highlights, Neal Medlyn’s North American premiere of “/<3PINA,” an homage to the iconic Bausch, will be at Abron’s Experimental Theater. At the Invisible Dog, Michelle Ellsworth’s NYC premiere of “The Rehearsal Artist” immerses tiny audiences (only a handful at each performance) in an environment of images, and uses a huge rotating wooden wheel as a prop, as she considers stability and its shifts (and that couldn’t be more timely). Some of the powerful encore performances to look for include Nora Chipaumire’s “PUNK,” Jaamil Olawale Kosoko’s “Séancers,” and Adrienne Truscott’s beyond-irreverent “THIS.”
Most of the “Realness” offerings are full productions, but the festival is also showing works in process, in a nod to the many APAP-related showcases happening around the city. At the Gibney, an all-day showcase for Gibney’s Dance-in-Process Resident Artists is offered on Sunday January 14, with an impressive lineup (including two of my favorites: Molly Lieber & Eleanor Smith.) There will also be a free showing on January 15 of Tere O’Connor’s continuing work on “Long Run,” a beautiful work recently premiered at Bard’s Fisher Center.
Among the standout showcase festivals this year is “Live Artery” at New York Live Arts, from January 12-15. In hourly offerings, some the best choreographers in New York will show samplings of current work, either recently produced, or works-in-progress, including several world premieres that will be seen at NYLA in 2018.
Susan Marshall, whose subtle work isn’t seen often (she now runs the dance program at Princeton,) shares a slice of current works-in-progress, as she creates artistic hybrids across disciplines. In “Construction,” made in collaboration with the Sō Percussion ensemble, the musicians move through space, intersecting and weaving as a medium for playing their music. “Closed System,” to a score by Marshall’s musical collaborator Jason Treutig, is a performance feedback loop as both dance and music fold in and over themselves, featuring solo dancer Raven White.
Among the “Live Artery” showcases of last year’s hits, Walter Dundervill will reprise a segment of “Skybox,” festooning the New York Live Arts stage with his lush costumes and textiles, and hypnotizing the audience with his mysterious dancers. Other top draws include Kimberly Bartosik, Roseanne Spradlin, Jack Ferver, and Joanna Kotze. If your stamina is high, you can see all of these and more in a long back-to-back day.
While you’re at it, keep an eye out for some of the other splashy festival schedules, including COIL, which is finally returning to PS122 – now renamed “Performance Space New York” — after its’ long-extended renovation. One of the hot tickets for COIL comes up at the end of the month, the premiere of David Thomson’s long-awaited “he his own mythical beast“ on January 31.
This is the month to take a deep breath and dive into dance.
Cover: Kimberly Bartosik in “I Hunger for You.” Photo © Ian Douglas.
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