Holiday Guide: Arts Listings

by , , , and



Edited by Seth Colter Walls


Dinosaur Jr.


December 1

You might call any album other than You’re Living All Over Me the best work by Dinosaur Jr., but you’d be wrong. For its 25th anniversary, the band will play the work front to back. But because it’s just 36 minutes long, they’ll need to do more than just regurgitate the album. Good thing they’ve released a trio of improbably great records in recent years, including this year’s I Bet on Sky. Kurt Vile and a bevy of “special guest stars” are also promised. Terminal 5, 610 West 56th Street,


Olga Neuwirth


December 6

During the holidays, most of New York’s classical institutions turn to chestnuts of the repertoire, making for something of a dry run of concerts. That cannot be said of Columbia University’s Miller Theater, however, which is devoting an entire night to an exploration of the Austrian composer’s midcareer works. Count on the spectral, atonal heritage of late-20th-century masters like Murail and Nono (both of whom Neuwirth studied under), and also bet on strong performances by the International Contemporary Ensemble (whose executive director, Claire Chase, just won a MacArthur award). Miller Theater, 116 Broadway,


Robert Glasper Experiment


December 13 through 14

The pianist turned in one of this year’s best overall jazz records with Black Radio, a work that played around with hip-hop/r&b fusion without falling victim to any clichéd pitfalls. But now it’s on to the next project, a reworking of songs from Stevie Wonder’s catalog (and some new Wonder-inspired tunes by the leader). Questlove, who turned in a Black Radio remix, pops up to assist Glasper’s core electronic group. Harlem Stage, 150 Convent Avenue,


John Cale


January 16, 18 through 19

He co-founded the Velvet Underground. What else does he have to do before you buy a ticket? New music is promised on the two nights that the Wordless Orchestra is set to help Cale perform his solo classic 1919; if uncut nostalgia is your thing, go for the separate evening billed as “a tribute to Nico.” Brooklyn Academy of Music, Peter Jay Sharp Building, 30 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn,


David Virelles


January 31

In the young pianist’s latest songs, avant influences like Steve Coleman and Henry Threadgill get mixed up with Cuban rhythms, computer music, and poetry recitations. Judge the results on the group’s debut album from Pi Recordings, titled Continuum. You might suspect a muddle from so much complexity in the blender—instead it contains hints of both grace and mystery, along with a strong dose of improvisational power. 92YTribeca, 200 Hudson Street,



Edited by Alexis Soloski




Begins November 27

Sure, it launches in the midst of flu season, but Ben Jonson’s 1606 play, revived by Red Bull, promises to cure whatever ails you. Volpone concerns a deliciously immoral magnifico who decides to dupe three noblemen of their wealth by feigning a deadly illness. Happily, Red Bull director Jesse Berger has attracted a healthy cast, including Rocco Sisto, Stephen Spinella, Alvin Epstein, and Tovah Feldshuh. Lucille Lortel Theater, 121 Christopher Street,


‘The Other Place’


Begins December 11

The commanding Laurie Metcalf stars as Juliana Smithton, a brilliant, thorny research scientist who fears a diagnosis of brain cancer. But just as we’ve settled in for a familiar illness drama, Sharr White adroitly flips the script, forcing audiences to question everything we’ve come to believe about character and plot. Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, 261 West 47th Street,




Begins December 14

If the world of American theater were a just one, William Inge would nudge his way into the pantheon typically reserved for Williams, O’Neill, and Miller, with his gentle and devastating surveys of small-town life. The admired director Sam Gold makes the latest case for Inge’s inclusion, staging a revival of Picnic, about a locale discombobulated by a smoldering drifter, for the Roundabout. And he’s attracted a remarkable cast to lay out the fixings: Reed Birney, Elizabeth Marvel, Mare Winningham, Ellen Bursty, et al. American Airlines Theatre, 227 West 42nd Street,


Begins January 3

P.S. 122’s COIL Festival begins the year with performative bangs and Chekhovian whimpers. The five theatrical works include Kristin Kosmas’s There There, which features a character from Three Sisters, and Half Straddle’s Seagull (Thinking of you). Non-Russophile shows feature Radiohole’s “blood chilling and completely strange” Inflatable Frankenstein; Peggy Shaw and Lois Weaver’s Ruff, in which Shaw returns to the stage after a stroke; and Tea Tupajic and Petra Zanki’s The Curators’ Piece (A trial against art), which places P.S. 122’s artistic director in the dock. Various locations,


Begins January 11

Apparently, real women have Off-Broadway contracts. Taking a brief sabbatical from film and television, America Ferrara arrives on the Women’s Project stage as Crystal, the hard-pressed heroine of this new play. Another victim of the financial crisis, Crystal watches as her home is foreclosed on, her child taken away from her, and her job threatened. Laura Marks, a recent Juilliard graduate, makes her professional debut with this script. Gaye Taylor Upchurch, who has made an acerbic splash with two dark Simon Stephens plays, repossesses it. New York City Center Stage II, 131 West 55th Street


Edited by Alexis Soloski


‘Matisse: In Search of True Painting’

Opens December 7

“It has bothered me all my life,” said Henri Matisse, “that I do not paint like everyone else.” This Metropolitan Museum exhibition focuses on the themes and compositions he returned to throughout his career. Should Matisse’s dazzling use of color and line not put you into the holiday spirit, you can top off your visit with a walk by the Met’s Christmas tree and Neapolitan baroque crèche. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue,

‘Inventing Abstraction: 1910–1925’

Opens December 23

Marcel Duchamp once proposed, “An abstract painting need in 50 years by no means look ‘abstract’ any longer.” A hundred years on, the Museum of Modern Art presents an exhibition detailing nonrepresentational art’s early years, including works by Duchamp, Francis Picabia, Vasily Kandinsky, Piet Mondrian, and Kazimir Malevich alongside contemporary examples of allied arts. Museum of Modern Art, 11 West 53rd Street,

‘Ignacio Uriarte’

Opens January 17

Who among us has not doodled idly with a Bic pen, made a chain of paperclips, or gone a little crazy with a stack of Post-it tabs? But few of us see our idle scribbles displayed at the Drawing Center, which will be exhibiting Ignacio Uriarte’s stunningly precise works, all constructed from generic office supplies. Also opening at the Drawing Center in January are works by Alexandre Singh, who resituates interviews with scientists and artists as photocopied collages, and Ishmael Randall Weeks, who represents his native Peru via hand-distressed slides. The Drawing Center, 35 Wooster Street,

‘Roman Vishniac Rediscovered and We Went Back: Photographs From Europe 1933–1956 by Chim’

Opens January 18

The International Center for Photography shakes off the syrupy aftertaste of holiday kitsch with exhibitions devoted to two extraordinary mid-century Jewish photographers. Roman Vishniac recorded Jewish life between the two world wars, while Dawid Szymin, known as Chim, helped to pioneer photojournalism and co-founded the Magnum Photos cooperative before being killed while on assignment during the Suez War. The show includes 120 of Szymin’s prints. The International Center for Photography, 1133 Sixth Avenue,

‘Precision and Splendor: Clocks and Watches at the Frick Collection’

Opens January 23

With the triumph of the smartphone, who wears a watch anymore? And when was the last time you had occasion to buy a clock? Perhaps the extraordinary timepieces in the Frick Collection’s latest exhibition will tempt you. Thirty-eight pieces represent the art of horology from 1500 to 1830. (And if you’d like to psych yourself up a month or so in advance, you can stop in to MOMA for Christian Marclay’s extraordinary 24-hour film montage, The Clock.) The Frick Collection, 1 East 70th Street,


Edited by James Hannaham


‘Empress of Fashion’ by Amanda Mackenzie Stuart

December 4

A cottage industry has emerged around Diana Vreeland, the late editor of Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue and all-around fashion guru. The frenzy already includes the memoir-gone-mad D.V., as well as the 2011 documentary The Eye Has to Travel, but this is her first full-length biography. This perhaps has as much to do with how much more seriously we take fashion nowadays as with how quaintly delicious we now find Vreeland’s gushy, borderline Dadaist sensibility: “I loathe red with any orange in it—although, curiously enough, I also loathe orange without red in it.” There’s also the allure of Vreeland’s mid-20th-century jet-set world, when fashion and mass media had only begun their ever-burgeoning romance, and the shamelessness with which she adored it. Harper, 432 pp., $35

‘The Testament of Mary’ by Colm Tóibín

November 13

Award-winning author Tóibín (Brooklyn, The Master) brings us a provocative novella in which he inhabits the voice of an aging Virgin Mary. Throughout, Mary remains very much perturbed and mystified that the events of her personal life have begun to take on a mythic and religious significance that we know will last thousands of years. It might prove difficult for readers to identify with a married woman who gives birth to the Lord’s child, Jesus, though remaining a virgin, only to watch him die on the cross, presumably for the sins of people who at that moment would not be in evidence to her, but Tóibín brings us into Mary’s late middle age in prose that’s full of grace. Scribner, 96 pp., $23

‘Later Poems Selected and New 1971–2012’ by Adrienne Rich

November 5

‘Poems 1962–2012’ by Louise Glück

November 13

Lesbian feminist Rich, who passed away last March, was known for her fearlessly political subject matter, beginning with 1972’s National Book Award winner Diving Into the Wreck. Critics frequently pigeonhole Glück as a bard whose plainspoken style strips down language and disposes of artifice, while at the same time avoiding anything too obviously confessional. This anthology is poised to demonstrate the breadth of her exploration—perhaps the haunting photo of Saturn on the cover means to symbolize that journey. W.W. Norton, 544 pp., $39.95; FSG, 656 pp., $40

‘Spectacle’ by Susan Steinberg

January 8

Don’t trust my judgment about this book—Steinberg is a close friend of mine. Instead, believe Publishers Weekly‘s starred review (obviously, not written by me) of her upcoming linked-story extravaganza, Spectacle: “Steinberg is a maestro of stylistic innovation, conducting orbits of narrative and motif, coaxing meaning and music from each line.” After reading this devastating cluster of uncompromising, funny, and eye-opening stories about women trapped in a male-centered world, I told Susan: “Your sentences are like whips. With all the possible connotations thereof.” Meaning pain, pleasure, Sadism, discipline, surprise, injustice, lion taming—you name it. But even I’d be afraid to say to her what Publishers Weekly did, for fear of sounding gushy: “With its literary inventions and sharp storytelling, this is a masterpiece of contemporary short fiction.” Graywolf, 152 pp., $14

‘There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister’s Husband, and He Hanged Himself: Love Stories’ by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, translated by Anna Summers

January 29

The title itself is a miniature short story, full of the bleakness and pathos one might expect from one of Russia’s best living writers. She’s certainly a master of the minimally counterintuitive, a/k/a the story just outrageous enough to be true, like “The Fountain House,” from an earlier collection called There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor’s Baby. That tale, which appeared in The New Yorker, concerns a father so vexed by his daughter’s death that he rescues her from the morgue and pleads with the doctors to put her in intensive care, where they eventually do bring her back from the grave. Penguin, 192 pp., $15

‘See Now Then’ by Jamaica Kincaid

February 5

Some writers mean to rehabilitate the careers of earlier ones through their new work, partially as fans and partially as evangelists. I suspect that Jonathan Lethem is partially responsible for the Philip K. Dick renaissance. For her part, Jamaica Kincaid has taken Gertrude Stein as her career’s guiding light, having written several biographies and “autobiographies” of her own loved ones. Ten years after the enigmatic Mr. Potter, Kincaid’s narrator rambles through the saga of the Sweets, a family living in New England, as their relationships disintegrate. In quintessentially Steinian fashion, says Mrs. Sweet, “The present will be a now then, and the past is now then, and the future will be a now then.” FSG, 192 pp., $23


Edited by Elizabeth Zimmer

‘The Nutcracker’ (various)

November 23 through January 6

Ah, Christmas. Stay out of stores and off the Internet, and instead take your money and your loved ones to a culture palace and wallow in Tchaikovsky. We face a barrage of Nutcrackers: The pick of the crop is Alexei Ratmansky’s mildly scary, beautifully designed one, exquisitely performed by American Ballet Theatre, at the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House (December 7 through January 6). A miniature, Art Nouveau version for the younger set, choreographed by Keith Michael for New York Theatre Ballet runs December 7 through 22 at Florence Gould Hall. The granddaddy of them all, New York City Ballet’s The Nutcracker by George Balanchine, runs at Lincoln Center November 23 through December 30. A novelty version, Dances Patrelle’s Yorkville Nutcracker, sets its celebration in Olde New York, mixing NYCB principals with local students (December 6 through 9). Brooklyn Academy of Music, 30 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn, Florence Gould Hall, 55 East 59th Street, New York City Ballet, 20 Lincoln Center, Dances Patrelle, the Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College,

Tere O’Connor

November 27 through December 1

The philosopher king of downtown dance and mentor to emerging artists brings two new works to New York Live Arts. On his blog, O’Connor discusses his process: “I develop material from multiple unrelated sources down divergent pathways as a way of entering the realm of consciousness where nothing aspires to order. I then bring these ideas/materials together by placing them in close temporal proximity.” Sounds perfect for the week after Thanksgiving. New York Live Arts, 219 West 19th Street,


November 29 through December 23

If you missed them at the summer Olympics, never fear: Williamsburg’s own Streb opens the doors of its Streb Laboratory for Action Mechanics (S.L.A.M.) for Forces! The Movical. A theater of “flight and impact, physics and courage,” it glorifies the kind of roughhousing that frightened your mother. With music by David Van Tieghem, a book by Fela‘s Jim Lewis, Elizabeth Streb’s customary daredevil moves, and a lot of heavy equipment. Streb Lab for Action Mechanics, 51 North 1st Street, Brooklyn,

Doug Elkins

December 5 through 8

What happens when a mad fusion B-boy, raised on street dancing and finished at the Purchase conservatory, grows up? Simply a flowering of his classically trained, pop-addled sensibility, already defined by the legendary Fräulein Maria, a notorious take on The Sound of Music. For this four-nights-only program, Elkins re-imagines his 1990 mash-up of Shakespeare’s Othello and the music of Motown in Mo(or)town/Redux, a quartet for dancers who can evoke both Limón technique and the fleetest break dancing. Baryshnikov Arts Center, 450 West 37th Street,

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo

December 18 through January 6

You think a performance featuring hairy-chested men in tutus and size-13 pointe shoes is inappropriate holiday fare? Think again. This two-week, two-program run at the Joyce both parodies and worships the tropes and clichés of classical technique, making festive fun of such warhorses as The Dying Swan, Paquita, Swan Lake, and, in Go for Barocco, master choreographer George Balanchine. The Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue,


Edited by Aaron Hillis


‘Home for the Holidays’

December 15 through 20

Bored by Ralphie shooting his eye out and Clarence getting his wings? BAM spikes the eggnog with a hodgepodge of less-than-jolly Christmas gems, kicked off by Joe Dante’s sly horror-comedy Gremlins. Also stuffed in the stocking are 1974’s proto-slasher Silent Night Bloody Night (co-starring John Carradine and a bevy of Warhol superstars), John Waters’ Female Trouble, Kubrick’s orgy-licious Eyes Wide Shut, John Huston’s The Dead, and Minelli’s musical Meet Me in St. Louis. Brooklyn Academy of Music, 30 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn,

‘A Very Culty Christmas’

December 21 through 23

Formerly just a DVD-rental shop, Williamsburg’s newly revamped Videology now boasts a full bar and a 45-seat microcinema. Toss back a stiff drink with its free lineup of gonzo Yuletide clas-sicks, including two killer-Santa nightmares (1980’s Christmas Evil, 1984’s Don’t Open ‘Til Christmas) and three VHS oddities: 1972’s low-rent kiddie matinee Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny, 1964’s so-bad-it’s-amazing The Magic Christmas Tree, and 1989’s reindeer-shit insane Elves—which pits Dan Haggerty against Nazi demons. Videology, 308 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn

‘See It in 70mm!’

December 21 through January 1

Although 70mm prints were once a standard, Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master was the first film since the mid ’90s to be shot it. Soon-to-be-returning Voice critic Scott Foundas curates 15 classics and rarities in their stunning original format, from 2001: A Space Odyssey to Jacques Tati’s Playtime. In an age when screens are ubiquitously becoming more portable, experience The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, Ryan’s Daughter, Tron, John Ford’s Cheyenne Autumn, and more in a wonderfully counterintuitive way. The Film Society of Lincoln Center, West 65th and Broadway,


December 28 through January 3

Billy Wilder co-wrote the script for witty wunderkind Ernst Lubitsch’s cynically sharp 1939 satire, about three comrades on a mission in Paris to sell confiscated jewels for the Russian government, only to be delayed by the seductive allure of capitalism. The headliner, however, is Greta Garbo, making her successful first foray into comedy as a stern Soviet envoy who, too, lets the champagne go to her head. Film Forum presents a new 35mm print and free glasses of bubbly to all ticketholders on New Year’s Eve at the 7:30 p.m. and 9:40 p.m. shows. Film Forum, 209 West Houston Street,

‘New Yawk New Wave’

January 11 through 31

The Film Forum relives a long-bygone era when not just NYC was dangerous and more exciting, but so was its fiercely independent filmmaking. Largely conceived as two-for-one double features, the films in this series include anarchic ’60s comedies by Robert Downey Senior (Chafed Elbows, Putney Swope), Brian De Palma’s early, funny ones (Greetings and Hi, Mom!), subversive whatsits (Norman Mailer’s Maidstone, William Greaves’s Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take 1), gritty time capsules (Lionel Rogosin’s On the Bowery, Shirley Clarke’s The Connection), and other countercultural must-sees from Paul Morrissey, Jonas Mekas, and Kenneth Anger. Film Forum, 209 West Houston Street,