Performance

Ride the “Next Wave” to Extraordinary Dance, Music, and Theater

Every fall, Brooklyn Academy of Music becomes the destination for performances from around the globe.

Dreaming of Lions; photo courtesy of Ian Douglas

It takes guts to call yourself “next wave” after 34 years, but Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) somehow continues to pull it off. One of New York’s biggest and longest-running multidisciplinary arts festival, BAM Next Wave has brought true legends of the stage to Brooklyn for limited but unforgettable runs. You can catch world-class and avant-garde dance, theater, music, and opera at its three venues: the deluxe Howard Gilman Opera House; the more intimate and artfully distressed BAM Harvey Theater; and the black-box Fisher Space. If you’re a follower of the experimental scene, some of this year’s names will be familiar, but you can get to know some new talent, such as composer Matthew AuCoin, playwright Marc Bamuthi Joseph, and performance artist Xavier Cha. Whatever you see, it’s bound to expand your assumptions about what’s possible on a stage. Keep scrolling down for our picks by genre.

SHAKESPEAREAN

Richard III

Know the term regietheater? It’s German for “director’s theater,” and it refers to a classic piece with a new conceptual framework, a stylized design, or when the text has been radically altered. Think: Ivo van Hove’s modern-dress, stripped-down versions of Arthur Miller’s A View From the Bridge or The Crucible in 2015–16. Now regietheater star Thomas Ostermeier returns to BAM with his glam-grotesque take on Shakespeare’s tragedy about crookbacked Richard III, who schemes and murders his way to the English throne. The stage is covered in packed clay and glitter; the costumes are Weimar-cabaret lurid; and Ostermeier includes lots of heavy drumming to go with the iambic pentameter (translated into German).

Details:
BAM Harvey Theater
651 Fulton Street, Fort Greene
In German with English titles
October 11–15
$35–$105

DANCE

Café Müller / The Rite of Spring

Iconoclastic German choreographer Pina Bausch first brought her work to BAM in 1984 with the double bill of Café Müller (1978) and The Rite of Spring (1975). The New York dance world instantly swooned for her troupe, Tanztheater Wuppertal, which executed Bausch’s highly visceral, theatrical choreography with shocking passion and immediacy. It will certainly be an historic occasion to see the same double bill back at BAM 33 years later. Café Müller is performed to music by 18th-century English composer Henry Purcell, featuring a spooky sleepwalker and tableaux of romantic obsession and disappointment. The erotic and primal Rite of Spring, meanwhile, boasts 32 dancers enacting a ritual of terror and desire on a dirt-covered stage. Bausch passed away in 2009, but her indomitable spirit lives in the dance.

Details:
BAM Howard Gilman Opera House
30 Lafayette Avenue, Fort Greene
September 14–24
$30–$115

17c

17c

For its latest appearance at BAM, the postmodern wags of Big Dance Theater take a deep dive into the voluminous diaries of Englishman Samuel Pepys (1633–1703). Pepys was a compulsive recorder of his life, from banal business transactions to play-going and sexual infidelities. Big Dance will collage movement, complex sound design, and the radical feminism of 17th-century playwright Margaret Cavendish to track the evolution of narcissism through the centuries.

Details:
BAM Harvey Theater
651 Fulton Street, Fort Greene
November 14–18
$30–$55

PHYSICAL THEATER

HOME

Performer Geoff Sobelle is a theatrical wizard. In The Object Lesson (Next Wave 2014), the dryly humorous clown wandered around a theater filled top to bottom with thousands of boxes, pieces of furniture, card-catalog drawers, and other knickknacks to tell a story about the mountains of stuff (and memories) we accumulate in life. Sobelle is back with another virtuoso installation to meditate on how and why we dwell in places. He leads an ensemble of dancers and designers as they construct, inhabit, and deconstruct an actual house onstage before our eyes. It’s sure to be domestic bliss…of an unusual sort.

Details:
BAM Harvey Theater
651 Fulton Street, Fort Greene
December 6–10
$30–$55

THEATER

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The Fountainhead

If you have neither the time nor inclination to read Ayn Rand’s 736-page doorstop, not to worry: Director Ivo van Hove has done it for you! The astounding Belgian director has turned Rand’s sprawling, reactionary epic of individualism and capitalism into a four-hour multimedia performance in which architects and sexually predatory journalists vie for dominance in a stylish loft space. The soapy plot concerns the ruthlessly idealistic (and handsome) architect Howard Roark, who gets tangled up with jealous rivals, society ladies, and left-wing columnists.

Details:
BAM Howard Gilman Opera House
30 Lafayette Avenue, Fort Greene
In Dutch with English titles
November 28–December 2
$35–$125

Buffer

Next Wave’s buffet must include the stage equivalent of stinky cheese—abstract, off-putting work only connoisseurs can appreciate. Thus, this Internet-themed triptych by avant-garde darling Xavier Cha. Taking inspiration from mindless online browsing, Cha has invited a diverse group to participate: highly physical performers Babs Olusanmokun and Cassandra Freeman, opera singer Michael Maniaci, and real porn actors. Toggling between three scenarios like browser windows (hence, buffering), the piece “lays bare the intimate yet alienated relationships we have with the bodies on our screens.” The production includes music by Aaron David Ross and a libretto by Juliana Huxtable.

Details:
BAM Fisher Space
321 Ashland Place, Fort Greene
November 1–4
$25

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/peh-LO-tah/

Prodigiously talented writer-performer Marc Bamuthi Joseph has described his exuberant piece as “a letter from Black joy.” His show (the title translates to “ball”) blends hip hop, lyrical speeches, stylized movement, and soccer imagery to create an impressionistic story that takes us around the world, from Brazil and Haiti to America and South Africa. Using poetic language and kinetic choreography, Joseph looks at soccer as a metaphor for society, with its rules, limitations, and hierarchies—things he didn’t immediately realize as a 5-year-old kid from Queens who fell in love with the game.

Details:
BAM Harvey Theater
651 Fulton Street, Fort Greene
October 18–21
$25–$55

OPERA

Crossing

One of the youngest and fastest-rising opera composers in America, Matthew AuCoin makes his BAM debut with this portrait of poet Walt Whitman during the Civil War. Inspired by the diary Whitman kept while volunteering as a nurse, this 100-minute drama explores Whitman’s deep empathy, soldiers’ sacrifices, and the complexity of love between men in the 19th century. The music itself strikes a postminimalist note, an astringent and insistent soundscape that brings to mind Philip Glass and John Adams. The handsome production is directed by Diane Paulus (Broadway’s Waitress).

Details:
BAM Howard Gilman Opera House
30 Lafayette Avenue, Fort Greene
October 3–8
$35–$125

MUSIC

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My Lai

One of the foremost American string ensembles, Kronos Quartet, teams with tenor Rinde Eckert to present a monodrama about U.S. Army pilot Hugh Thompson, Jr. On March 16, 1968, Thompson flew his helicopter dangerously low to try and stop the mass killing of South Vietnamese civilians by his fellow soldiers at My Lai. This portrait of heroism in the face of an unwinnable, morally disastrous war has a score by Jonathan Berger and a libretto by Harriet Scott Chessman. Berger’s music uses Asian zithers and xylophones, with Kronos amplified.

Details:
BAM Harvey Theater
651 Fulton Street, Fort Greene
September 27–30
$30–$55

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Book of Travelers

In the wake of last year’s presidential election, Gabriel Kahane hit the road to see America. Well, technically, he hit the rails—via Amtrak. Over the course of two weeks (sans phone and Internet), Kahane got to know nearly 9,000 miles of landscape passing by his window. This concert performance, coconceived with director Daniel Fish and scenic-video designer Jim Findlay, emerged from Kahane’s interactions with strangers on the train—cowboys, radical believers, computer programmers. Expect tuneful observations about what it means to be American in 2017.

Details:
BAM Harvey Theater
651 Fulton Street, Fort Greene
November 30–December 2
$30–$50