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Park Avenue Armory Announces Spring Re-Opening Featuring New Commissions by David Byrne and More

Rigorous safety protocols for audiences that extend from arrival, entry, and seating to performance and departure have been developed, workshopped, and tested.

Park Avenue Armory Announces Spring Re-Opening Featuring New Commissions by David Byrne and More

Park Avenue Armory announced today the launch of Social Distance Hall, with a season of new commissions of dance, music, and theater created by artists during and in response to the pandemic. Health conditions and governmental regulations permitting, the season will premiere on March 24 with a new event conceived by Bill T. Jones and will also feature additional new commissions developed over the past eight months by Steven Hoggett, Christine Jones, and David Byrne; and Laurie Anderson and Jason Moran. Park Avenue Armory, like other open, flat-floored flexible venues, offers the possibility of welcoming live audiences back in a completely socially distanced and extremely safe environment that is not achievable in traditional performance venues that have fixed seating and tight corridors and lobbies.

The Armory, with its immense, 55,000-square-foot Wade Thompson Drill Hall and multiple airy rooms and entrances-featuring an air volume comparable to being outdoors-can provide an early pathway and model for the re-opening of the performing arts in New York and beyond. The Armory and its consultant team have designed seating plans for Afterwardsness for audiences at 10% of the Drill Hall's normal capacity, in which audience members are placed 9 feet - 12 feet apart in every direction.

Rigorous safety protocols for audiences that extend from arrival, entry, and seating to performance and departure have been developed, workshopped, and tested with invited audiences . Among these safety procedures are: masks worn properly at all times; a detailed and monitored choreography of audience flow to ensure artists, patrons, and staff are socially distanced at all times throughout their visit; contactless temperature-checks and ticket scanning outside at the door; no points of gathering in the building or on the sidewalk; no retail concessions, food and beverages, or ticket sales; restroom use one person at a time, with cleaning between each use; and refreshing of the Drill Hall air three times pre-show and post show. Rapid Testing will be conducted on-site at the Armory.

If health conditions and governmental regulations do not permit the re-opening of the Armory on the dates noted below, the performances will be canceled, all tickets will be immediately refunded, and if possible, the performances will be rescheduled.

Reflecting the organization's commitment to support creative endeavors and the entire artistic community, beginning in May 2020 the Armory turned to artists close to the institution to create new works that would offer employment and a glimmer of hope to a devastated cultural sector. The resulting Social Distance Hall season includes:


(March 24-31)

an original composition created by dancer, director, and choreographer Bill T. Jones. Performed by nine dancers of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company, Afterwardsness addresses imposed isolation and the trauma of the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and the ongoing violence against Black bodies. The work is accompanied by a musical landscape featuring works by Holland Andrews, Pauline Kim-with an original violin homage to George Floyd entitled "8:46"-and the Company, as well as excerpts from Olivier Messiaen's wartime composition Quartet for the End of Time. Afterwardsness, which was filmed in the Drill Hall in fall 2020 for future broadcasts, makes its premiere for ticketed audiences this year.

SOCIAL! the social distance dance club

(Dates TBA), an interactive music and movement-based experience conceived by choreographer Steven Hoggett, Tony Award-winning set designer Christine Jones-both of whom are currently Armory Artists-in-Residence-and musician David Byrne . The audience is invited to dance in their own socially distanced spotlights to a specially curated playlist, all the while listening to a wonderfully idiosyncratic instructional voice over by David Byrne. Moving free-form or in sync with the spoken choreography, audience members take part in a communal moment of cathartic release in an anxiety-ridden time.

Party in the Bardo

(Dates TBA), a collaboration between jazz pianist, Oscar-nominated composer, and MacArthur "Genius" Jason Moran, who curates the Armory's Artists Studio Series, and multi-Grammy Award-winning performance artist Laurie Anderson. Anderson and Moran will perform each night, underpinned by the soundscape of Lou Reed: DRONES , a sonic installation utilizing guitars from Reed's collection and curated by his former guitar technician Stewart Hurwood. Over a series of days devoted to sonic meditations for the city of New York, Anderson and Moran will invite multiple musicians each day to create their own layer of sound over the Drones.

"Safety is our paramount concern, and after carefully choreographing every aspect of rehearsals, workshops, and a cast-audience filming of Afterwardsness , and following a review of our processes and protocols by the Department of Health, we are confident that these programs will be safe and powerful experiences for audiences hungry for the kind of connection and community that only live arts can provide. We will cancel the productions if health conditions do not permit the opening," said Rebecca Robertson, Founding President and Executive Producer of Park Avenue Armory . "Over the past months, it has been invigorating to offer employment to the artists and workforce of the cultural sector when such offers are so scarce. And it has been an honor to work with artists who have reflected this time is such varied, revelatory, and nuanced ways and with such artistry. They have pushed their practices in new directions, which will provide audiences with rare and unconventional experiences."

"As a nonprofit cultural institution, we are delighted to work in collaboration with Governor Cuomo and our fellow flexible spaces towards the reawakening and reopening of the arts in New York," continued Robertson. "We thank the Governor for his leadership in this initiative."

"The pandemic has been such a challenge for everyone, but especially performing artists who have seen their livelihoods come to an abrupt halt. The Armory is committed to supporting artists and fostering a community of creativity, so giving artists a chance to not only work but create in a way that is responsive to the situation we all find ourselves in was extremely important," said the Armory's Marina Kellen French Artistic Director, Pierre Audi. "The difficult circumstances and isolation did not hinder this brilliant group of artists' creativity; rather, it provided a canvas for them to create work of astounding beauty and depth, utilizing the Drill Hall's unconventional, wide open space as a vast canvas. The result is a set of special experiences that don't merely function despite the limitations imposed by COVID-19 but because of them-innovation sparked by challenges."

"Creating new, body-based work at a time when physical proximity is discouraged is no small feat. However, as is often the case when artists are forced to push through limitations, this is when things get really good," said Bill T. Jones. "Having the Drill Hall, this grand and glorious space to create and dance in, was quite liberating. The Armory is a space like no other in New York City-and if it's like no other in New York City, then it's pretty unique in the world."

Park Avenue Armory has developed very strict health and safety protocols that include wearing masks at all times; and rigorously enforced point-to-point choreography that ensures that no individuals are ever less than a six-foot distance from each other. The plan meets or exceeds applicable governmental standards. The protocols satisfy or exceed the recommendations of Federal, State, and City agencies overseeing the response to the health crisis. However as noted above, the Armory will only open and present programming if health conditions and governmental regulations permit.


All tickets will be electronic/mobile-only and are available for purchase for Afterwardsness at There will be no tickets available to purchase onsite. By purchasing a ticket to Afterwardsness , ticket buyers consent to being Rapid Tested for COVID-19 on site at Park Avenue Armory. For entry to the Armory, all audience members will be required to fill out a COVID questionnaire and provide contact tracing information. No exceptions will be made.

Tickets for SOCIAL! the social distance dance club and Party in the Bardo will go on sale at a later date, with additional details to be announced.

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