As the summer comes to a close this month, two NYC-based dance companies are offering free outdoor performances over the upcoming weekend, while the weather is still agreeable and with COVID-19 protocol still in place.
Under the direction of Emily Smyth Vartanian, General Mischief Dance Theatre combines high-level storytelling, high-quality movement, and a playful attitude, with the goal of reminding audiences that dance is as much visceral as it is visual. The company has performed dance adventures that are accessible, and often interactive, throughout New York, Washington, DC, and virtually during the pandemic, to reinforce the power that joy and laughter have in communicating ideas, and to uphold their motto, “We are serious about fun.”
For the last two Saturdays of this month – September 18, at 3:00 pm, and September 25, at 1:00 pm – the troupe will be presenting Let’s Go/Vamos outdoors at Plaza de las Americas (175th Street and Broadway). The one-hour family-friendly show includes an all-new collaboration with the Los Angeles-based Taikoproject entitled Stroll; a new piece called Glad, created by company members, with music by the Venezuelan-inspired VNote Ensemble; Circle Road by resident guest choreographer Karen Gayle; and excerpts from An Eastern West, a collaboration with the contemporary Armenian folk trio YY Sisters. In addition, there will also be a pop quiz for the performers (Jane Abbott, Maiko Harada, Ellen Henry, Wendy Lechuga, Saki Masuda, Allyson Ross, Richard Sayama, Kierstyn Sharrow, Emily Smyth Vartanian, and JP Viernes).
Lechuga, a native of Toluca, Mexico, and a company member since 2014, said that audiences can expect “a mix of Armenian folk dance, jazz, modern, contemporary, dance theater, and lots of storytelling through movement.” She added that she is “thrilled to be back on stage performing with General Mischief” in front of a live audience, after expanding her voice-acting career on the upcoming animated television series Alma’s Way. Created by Sonia Manzano and produced by Fred Rogers Productions for PBS Kids, with an original theme song written and produced by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Bill Sherman, the TV episodes, beginning in October, will showcase different aspects of Latino culture and are available in both English and Spanish.
Wendy also told me that she’s most excited about performing Circle Road excerpts from Suite Shel (inspired by the poems of Shel Silverstein) in General Mischief’s weekend program. “Every time I play this principal role I find myself in a different moment in life, but interpreting the same idea, so it makes me realize where I was and where I’m going; it’s as if the character evolves with me as a person and as an artist. The piece is about the ‘requirements’ life gives us, such as finishing school, getting a job, a car, a partner, marriage, kids, better car, better house, and the list goes on as a never ending circle – until my character chooses to be herself, to select the people around her, and most of all, to be proud of her own accomplishments.”
Let’s Go/Vamos by General Mischief is free, but reservations are recommended. The performance is wheelchair accessible; ASL interpretation by Hands On will be provided on September 18. COVID protocols are in place and proper masking is required for all audience members.
On Sunday, September 19, beginning at 6:30 pm, the large-scale outdoor dance company Kinesis Project dance theatre, known for creating expansive yet intimate dances, will present Search(Light) on Riverside Park’s Locomotive Lawn (Hudson River Greenway and W. 62nd Street) as part of NYC Parks’ annual arts and culture festival Summer on the Hudson. The company’s newest work combines high-energy dancing, light-refracting costumes designed by Rebecca Kanach, and live music by violin soloist Doori Na, in a mesmerizing 45-minute performance that traverses from bridges to hilltops to the shores of the Hudson River, prompting viewers to contemplate the potency of human connections across great distances.
According to Kinesis Artistic Director and Choreographer Melissa Riker, “the dancers [company members Claudia-Lynn Rightmire, Therese Ronco, David L. Parker, and Nicole Truzzi] and I are thrilled to bring another performance of our unconfined dances to Riverside Park South . . . to reveal the scale of the landscape overlaid with the intimacy of individual connection.”
Please be prepared to be mobile, as the audience follows the dancers across the park; verbal description will be available. For everyone’s safety, all attendees should maintain social distancing of six feet during programming regardless of vaccination status, wear a mask if unvaccinated. and stay home if sick. For more information and to reserve a free ticket, go online
In keeping with the company’s process of using varying environments to explore a single dance work, Search(Light), which was performed in Seattle and Vashon Island, WA, over the summer of 2021, will also be presented on NYC’s Little Island on September 25.