Performing Arts Talks and Events This Winter

By Alison Durkee

New York City has one of the best performing arts scenes in the world—and as winter starts up and the weather gets chilly, there’s no better time to duck into a theater and discover it for yourself. Get a perspective on NYC’s art scene both on and off-stage with these upcoming talks and events.

Dance fans have plenty to look forward to this November and December, from performances by major companies like Ballet Hispanico (November 22-23, above) and Pam Tanowitz Dance (December 10-15) to smaller companies like Alpha Omega Theatrical Dance Company, who will present a program of works at Peridance November 17. But there are also plenty of ways to learn about dance beyond just watching it onstage: choreographer Ishmael Houston-Jones will talk about his own work and the work of others at the NYPL’s The Dance Historian Is In talk on November 27; choreographer James Klosty will present a new edition of his book celebrating choreographer Merce Cunningham November 17; and a November 20 event will dive into percussive dance traditions in North America. The Guggenheim Museum’s ongoing Works and Process series will also offer a number of discussions with the creators behind upcoming dance works. Hear from Brian Brooks Moving Company on November 17, or get a preview of Alvin Ailey Dance Theater’s season with resident choreographer Jamar Roberts on November 18. The series will also include several dance performances and experiences, including a Merce Cunningham Centennial Celebration (November 24-25) and an evening of swing dancing with choreographer Caleb Teicher, musician Ben Folds, and Eyal Vilner Big Band (December 9).

Theater lovers also have plenty to enjoy this winter, including major Broadway debuts from shows like Jagged Little Pill and Tina; hot tickets off-Broadway like Tony Kushner’s A Bright Room Called Day (through December 15), and more unexpected fare, like GUAC: My Son, My Hero, a social justice theater piece at the 92nd Street Y exploring the aftermath of the Parkland shooting (November 22). The 92nd Street Y will also go behind the scenes with upcoming theater talks, including a conversation with the cast of Broadway’s Betrayal November 23, and a December 12 talk on Oscar Hammerstein’s pre-Rodgers career with Hammerstein’s grandson. NYPL’s Library of Performing Arts will also offer a packed slate of events, including a November 19 “interactive sound salon” of Harold Prince’s works with legendary record producer Thomas Z. Shepard; a look back at La MaMa founder Ellen Stewart’s production of Euripides’ Trojan Women with co-creator Andrei Serban (December 2); and a December 19 look at Broadway set designer Boris Aronson’s partnership with wife Lisa Jalowetz.

Other talks and performances this season will dive into musical greats both past and present. The Paley Center for Media will celebrate 50 years since The Beatles were last together on November 18; while the Town Hall will spend that same evening paying tribute to Prince and celebrating the launch of his memoir, The Beautiful Ones. Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Booker T will also celebrate the launch of his autobiography with a performance and reading on the 18th as well. On November 20, the NYPL will pay tribute to Lou Reed with an event looking at the musician and poet Federico García Lorca, while a November 23 event at Caveat will celebrate the music of the iconic Billie Holiday. To hear from a musical great still on the scene today, meanwhile, join Questlove as the drummer and producer talks about food, music, and creativity November 22.

Beyond these talks, of course, there are also plenty of upcoming concerts to simply enjoy music for its own sake. Classical music lovers can enjoy upcoming concerts by the Brooklyn Chamber Music Society (November 15-16), NY Chamber Collective (November 17-18), the New York Flute Club (November 17), Alexander String Quartet (November 20), or a one-hour family show by orchestra collective The Knights (November 23). Opera buffs can check out the immersive, twisted fairy tale Der Freischütz (December 4-15), while a November 20 event will bring together the talents of musician Dessa with the Argus Quartet and vocalist Matthew Santos. For a different kind of sound, enjoy African music at the Poster House’s after-hours event November 15, or explore the sisters, sounds, and science of Afrofuturism December 13. Jazz lovers, meanwhile, can enjoy an evening of jazz from Helen Sung, the resident artist at Columbia’s Zuckerman Institute, November 18.

With the holiday season kicking off, all of these performing arts genres will also be on display this winter through special holiday shows. Theatergoers can check out the iconic Radio City Christmas Spectacular or A Christmas Carol on Broadway (both through January 5), while dance fans of course have their pick of Nutcrackers. Beyond the New York City Ballet’s iconic production (through January 5), other Nutcrackers will pop up this season from the New York Theater Ballet and Dances Patrelle (both December 13-15), while the Hip Hop Nutcracker will make its way back to Brooklyn December 15. The Guggenheim will get into the holiday spirit with their annual Peter and the Wolf performance (December 7-15), featuring fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi, as well as a Holiday Concert in their rotunda December 15-16. For something a bit different, head to the BETTY Holiday Show at City Winery December 8, which will feature special guest Gloria Steinem.

Beyond the stage, other events this winter will go behind the screen to talk with the creators behind top films and TV shows. The 92nd Street Y will offer upcoming events with Willem Dafoe (November 15) and Laura Dern (December 1) to discuss their films The Lighthouse and Little Women, respectively, before hosting Marvelous Mrs. Maisel star Rachel Brosnahan for a talk and screening December 17. On November 18, hear from Emmy Award-winning writer-producer Lena Waithe at a discussion and screening of Waithe’s newest television project, Queen & Slim. The Paley Center will then look at the effects of television within the broader discourse on November 25, as the organization presents a panel discussion on the power of political satire on TV.

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