Season Preview: DNA, NY Live Arts & BAC

Deganit Shemy's "2 kilos of sea" opens the dance series at BAC later this month

Dance New Amsterdam: The good people over at the plucky DNA have a really interesting season this year that kicks off the weekend of Sept. 15 with Black Moon (La Lune Noir), a new work from artist Monstah Black. Based on Shoenberg’s 1912 melodrama Pierrot Lunaire, itself based on the Symbolist poetry cycle of the same name by Albert Giraud, the original was part of the bohemian reclamation of popular arts, taking the moonstruck Pierrot of commedia dell’arte and recontextualizing him as the example par excellence of the bohemian artist. Shoenberg’s text and music composition freely combined a variety of classical and traditional forms, and cabaret performer cum musician cum choreographer Monstah Black has, in turn, re-imagined Pierrot from an African-American perspective, and adapting everything from Afrobeat to house music in place of Shoenberg’s fragmentary Modernism, in Major Scurlock’s score for the piece.

Other season highlights include a shared evening of work from Benn Rasmussen and Joanna Kotze (Oct. 13-16). I’ve never seen Rasmussen’s work before, but Kotze I caught last year and made a note to check out again. Moving up from RAW Materials (DNA’s presentation of short pieces from emerging choreographers) to SPLICE (their shared evening program), Kotze is building out the same show I saw last year, Between You and Me, which suggests both a high degree of technical accomplishment and theatrical insight on her part. I’ll definitely be checking that one out.

Additionally, the season offers everything from a world premiere from French-American choreographer Julie Bour to a “Late Night” cabaret evening curated by Jack Ferver to the lovely people of Witness Relocation. This is getting us all the way to January, but during APAP they’ll be re-presenting their random-order dance-theater piece I’m Going To Make A Small Incision Behind Your Ear To Check And See If You’re Actually Human (Jan. 5-14). The show originally debuted at the Bushwick Starr last season, and though I didn’t like it quite as much as Heaven on Earth, it’s still a blast, and decided more chaotic. Anyway, for the full DNA season of presentations, see here.

New York Live Arts: Editorial feedback requested: What do we call this thing, officially? Is it NY Live Arts? Live Arts? “Nyla,” pronounced to rhyme with “Lyla”? I don’t know. Change is confusing and frightening, from an editorial perspective. I can’t be expected to write out “New York Live Arts” every time. We need to sort the nomenclature out, community-wise.

Whatever the case, this year is a transitional year for what used to be DTW, as the new shape of the organization forms following the merger will Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. And predictably and rewardingly, Mr. Bill T. Jones figures prominently in the season. The company kicks it off starting Sept. 16 with Body Against Body, an evening of works that hark back to Jones’s “roots in the avant-garde,” recreating works from 1979 through 1982 that mostly if not all found their early home at DTW. Honestly I’m not sure what that thing about “avant-garde” means. My, er, admittedly limited experience suggests that Jones has remained a very adventurous artist to this day, even while pursuing more commercial projects. Whatever. I’ve got better things to do than to continue quibbling over marketing focus–Jones is, above all, a singular and remarkable American artist, and I’m stoked for the program, which does highlight significant earlier works. It’s also the touring program nationally this fall, heading to Chicago afterward, with the company bringing separate works to Laramie, Wyoming.

Otherwise, New York Live Arts’ fall season is a piecemeal set of offerings. Dancer Crush comes up Oct. 5 & 8, featuring a line-up of downtown’s finest dance talent, as chosen by Carla Peterson and Annie-B. The rest of the fall is rounded out with the likes of Rachid Ouramdane (Oct. 11-15), whose Company L’A will present two pieces on separate weekends; John Kelly (Oct. 22-29) with Find My Way Home; Emily Johnson’s Catalyst brings The Thank-you Bar Nov. 9-12, giving me the chance to make up for missing her last year at TBA; and Fresh Tracks, a great opportunity to catch work from some of the best young choreographers around, is one of the performances rounding out the season in December. Also of note is the return of Richard Move’s Martha@…the 1963 Interview (Nov. 16-19), which impressed us earlier this year.

Baryshnikov Arts Center: BAC has a truly fascinating season coming up this fall, beginning this coming weekend with St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble, celebrating Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde at a spry 100 years old, with Shoenberg’s chamber arrangement. In only two short weeks with a new piece by Israeli choreographer Deganit Shemy with 2 kilos of sea (Sept. 15-17), which looks amazing; a Culturebot interview with Shemy will be published in the near future. (Coincidentally, the work premiered last year a site-specific performance commissioned by our own Andy Horwitz through LMCC.) Choreographer Liz Gerring and longtime collaborator composer Michael J. Schumacher present  She Dreams In Code (Oct. 13-16). Irish choreographer Colin Dunne brings Out of Time Oct. 19-22 for its NYC premiere. And finally, there’s Beckett: Peter Brook and Marie Hélène Estienne’s presentation of five Beckett shorts, collected under the evening name Fragments (Nov. 9-Dec. 4).

Finally, it’s worth noting that BAC, in collaboration with ICE, the International Contemporary Ensemble, a truly fantastic contemporary music group, is presenting a series of lab performances with ICE collaborators. On Nov. 4 it’s Phyllis Chen and Du Yun, who use mixed-media to create visual sonicscapes, and on Dec. 16 it’s Marcos Balter’s new work Portmanteaux. We here at Culturebot only occasionally cross over into contemporary classical music, it’s just not our bailiwick, unfortunately, but ICE is, to put it in the bluntest, slangiest terms I can think, an ensemble sick talented people doing amazing work, and classical aficionado though I’m not, I will be checking out both these performance.

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