A Shorter Next Wave Festival Planned at BAM

An intimate dinner-party performance, a fire-and-brimstone immersive show and a slew of dance performances are on tap for the coming Next Wave Festival at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the performing arts center announced on Friday.

The festival will be the last to be programmed under David Binder, the artistic director, who announced earlier this year that he would step down and transition to an artistic advisory role on July 2. An interim artistic director will be announced in the coming weeks.

This year’s edition of the storied festival will be scaled back, featuring seven programs — nearly half the last slate — from Oct. 19 through Jan. 13. The festival’s offerings have been steadily declining in recent years. In 2019, Next Wave featured 16 programs, down from 31 in 2017.

“We prefer to think of it as dense and not necessarily shrinking,” said Amy Cassello, BAM’s associate director of artistic programming. “I don’t think it’s any secret that arts institutions are pressed for funding.”

The program is “an incredibly intentional effort,” she said.

First on the schedule is the U.S. premiere of “Broken Chord” (Oct. 19-21), a retelling of South Africa’s first Black choir by the South African dancer and choreographer Gregory Maqoma and the composer Thuthuka Sibisi. Using atmospheric soundscapes and traditional Xhosa movement, the performance will feature a single dancer, four vocal soloists and a live local choir.

Also on the lineup is the theater maker Geoff Sobelle’s surreal interactive dinner performance, “Food” (Nov. 2-18), in which audience members gather around an colossal banquet table. The show, which debuted at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival in 2022, and which the New York Times critic Alexis Soloski called “a meditation on what and how and why we eat,” is the third in a trilogy of Sobelle’s performance works at BAM, following “The Object Lesson” in 2014 and “Home” in 2017.

The artist and filmmaker Lynette Wallworth’s “How to Live (After You Die)” (Dec. 7-9) is a personal monologue on the seduction of cults and the extreme edges of organized religion. The choreographer Trajal Harrell’s “The Köln Concert” (Nov. 2-4), a dance work inspired by Keith Jarrett’s genre-hopping piano recording of the same name, will be performed by Harrell’s Schauspielhaus Zürich Dance Ensemble. And the choreographer Rachid Ouramdane’s “Corps Extrêmes” (Oct. 27-29), an aerial dance work, contemplates the space between earth and sky, set against the backdrop of a climbing wall and a suspended high rope.

The season will conclude with Huang Ruo’s “Angel Island” (Jan. 11-13), an opera-theater work about the plight of Chinese migrants who were detained under the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1883. In collaboration with the Del Sol Quartet, the Choir of Trinity Wall Street and the archival filmmaker Bill Morrison, Ruo’s BAM debut will present a multimedia requiem based on poetry engraved on the detention center’s walls.

“BAM has always said that we follow the artist,” Cassello said. “The work in this festival is very much attuned to present-day issues. We don’t take for granted that people are wanting to come back to theater.”

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