In normal times, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater now camped in downtown New York for a month, which aroused awe and brought joy. This year everything is virtual: a mix of archive and newly filmed video, complemented by conversations, available free of charge on the company’s website, YouTube channel and Facebook page.
One or two new programs will be released each week of the season through December 31st and will stay online for a week thereafter. Programs on offer this weekend include one dedicated to star couple Glenn Allen Sims and Linda Celeste Sims, who are retiring this year, and a presentation, Dancing for Social Justice, featuring works by Kyle Abraham and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar.
Then on Monday comes the season’s big premiere, a video piece by company-based choreographer Jamar Roberts. Charlie Parker plays in honor of the 100th birthday of this jazz legend and is called “A Jam Session for Troubling Times”. That sounds exactly as the doctor ordered.
If you haven’t seen Will Arbery’s “Heroes of the Fourth Turning” during its New York premiere, the Wilma Theater in Philadelphia shot a version in a quarantine bubble at the Poconos, and you can’t miss it.
I encountered this production with fresh memories of the production I saw last year and was fascinated by what I hadn’t noticed from my orchestra seat. Arbery’s words grew more urgent; His characters – a group of conservative friends at a house party – were brought to life with urgency. Her need to understand why her pleas were being ignored by liberals became palpable.
They were literally in my living room.
The director Blanka Zizka and the excellent cast (Sarah Gliko is a miracle) took this unthinkable circumstance into account, as did the camerawork (by cameraman Jorge Cousineau) that made the abyss appear within reach. In the darkness of my Brooklyn apartment, I was ready to dive.
“Heroes” can be streamed until Sunday. Tickets are $ 37. After the purchase, the theater sends a link that allows a viewing.
Immerse yourself in the holiday spirit
In Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” the ghosts materialize mainly from the ether in Scrooge’s residence. On Sunday they will appear in some homes using a 21st century method: zoom.
The occasion is the Winter Family Fair, a free virtual version of the Morgan Library & Museum’s annual homage to Victorian England. First, curator Philip Palmer will take a closer look at the handwritten manuscript of the novel, which the museum exhibits each year. (Ghost stories were once as popular around Christmas trees as they were around the campfire.) Then the Grand Falloons will present an abridged adaptation of this story about holiday salvation with characters like Scrooge, Bob Cratchit and Dickens himself.
The celebration ends with a project inspired by the Morgan exhibition, Betye Saar: Call and Response: Using household materials, participants will assemble a family symbol that will express hopes for the New Year.
Attendees must register for the event, which runs from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. – apparently, not all ghosts work at night.
Fruits of a musical exchange
Members of the opening class of M3 showcased the fruits of their collaboration in free Zoom Sessions – Partial Concert, Part Q. and A. – hosted by journalist Jordannah Elizabeth on jazzmuseuminharlem.org. The second and final session on Saturday at 7pm Eastern Time will feature pieces from three different duos – Eden Girma and Anjna Swaminathan, both singers and multi-talented instrumentalists; Erica Lindsay on saxophone and Serpa on vocals; and the drummer Lesley Mok and the cellist Tomeka Reid – a mixture of electronic and acoustic instrumentation, text recitations and abstract sound. To receive a link to the event, attendees must register on their Eventbrite page.
Where the jokes fly fast and hilarious
If you miss shows like “@midnight” where funny people traded Zinger for points and your approval, Chase Mitchell and Sean O’Connor’s “The Fun Time Boys Game Night Spectacular” is the online event you attended waiting for.
In “Fun Time Boys,” O’Connor, the former chief writer of “Lights Out With David Spade,” plays host, Mitchell is its staunch sideman, and the name of the game is Quiplash. Players take turns as two of them respond incredibly absurdly to even more absurd prompts such as “What’s the hardest part of fighting a killer doll?” Give. and “The Strangest Celebrity Demand in a Driver Contract: The Green Room MUST have ____.” The other participants and the audience vote for the answer that they like best.
Mitchell and O’Connor will be joined by Kurt Braunohler, Taran Killam, DC Pierson, Blair Socci and Niccole Thurman for their final show in 2020. The action begins Friday at 10 p.m. Eastern Time on the Hold the Phone Comedy channel on Twitch.
SEAN L. McCARTHY