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Abrons Arts Center Announces Upcoming Season

Abrons Arts Center, the Lower East Side arts institution that has long been a nexus of communities and cultures, today shares its 2019-2020 lineup, which offers an array of art experiences as well as dance, theater, and interdisciplinary performances, exploring the concepts of authorship, agency, activism, and collaboration.

Curated by Artistic Director Craig Peterson and Director of Programming Ali Rosa-Salas, along with guest artists and organizational partners, the diverse collection of events-including world premiere performances and contemporary art exhibitions-underscore the critical role the arts plays in both reflecting and challenging the social and political norms of our times.

"At Abrons Arts Center, we believe that access to the arts is essential to a free and healthy society. Through performances, presentations, exhibitions, educational programs and residencies, Abrons rallies communities to reflect upon our values, disrupt our beliefs, and inspire social change. As we embark on our 103rd year of presenting experimental performance, we aim to provide a platform for voices that might otherwise go unseen or unsung, and to offer up programs and performances to spark imagination and action," says Peterson.

Rosa-Salas adds, "This season, we are deepening our commitment to supporting artists across disciplines and to challenging aesthetic perspectives and their self-determination. Our 2019-2020 program provides a platform for dynamic storytelling in unmitigated and unfiltered ways."

The line-up is composed of an exciting breadth of programming across genres and media including:



A three-day arts festival exploring Indigenous past, present and future, curated by Abrons Arts Center 2019 AIRspace Curatorial Resident Aru Apaza. The festival will include work by Indigenous visual artists, filmmakers and musicians who utilize their own technologies, ancestral knowledge, and survival tactics to reflect on what it means to live a "balanced" life during the "unbalanced" times of late stage capitalism. (Music/Visual Art, September 5-7, 2019)


Presented in collaboration with the Performa 19 Biennial, the U.S. premiere of Sènsa is developed by Paul Maheke in collaboration with Mélika Ngombe Kolongo (aka Nkisi), DJ, electronic music producer and co-founder of the music label NON Worldwide. Combining sound, movement and light, the performance draws on research into rhythm and the realm of the invisible, taking its inspiration from the cosmologies of the Bantu-Kongo. The work is accompanied by a lighting score designed by Ariel Efraim Ashbel. (Music/Dance, November 7-9, 2019)

Young World

A three-day festival combining music, visual art, and vendors curated by MIKE and Joygill Moriah, Young World is a celebration of black artists, hip-hop culture and coming of age in New York City. Featuring performances by DJ Blackpower, Sporting Life, [sLUms], and more to be announced. (Music/Visual Art, December 13-15, 2019)


Abrons Arts Center presents the second year of AAC Sound Series, curated by Ali Rosa-Salas and Katherine Tom. The digital platform features sound-based work by New York City-based artists, and is released monthly on the AAC Sound Series Soundcloud. Fall 2019 features commissions by artists presenting during our season including Ricky (YATTA), Sporting Life, Nkisi, and more to be announced.


Let 'im Move You

A series of artistic works that reflects a 10-year artistic collaboration between jumatatu m. poe and Jermone "Donte" Beacham. This body of work was initiated by jumatatu's interest in Jermone's approach to J-Sette, which is a call-and-response dance form that developed in early 1980's by women's majorette teams at historically Black colleges in the United States. Leagues of Black Queer men, prohibited from trying out as majorettes, have since formed competitive J-Sette teams in gay clubs and pride parades across the country. At Abrons Arts Center, jumatatu and Jermone present four components of the Let 'Move You series: Intervention (October 9); This Is a Formation (October 10-12); Installation (October 10-13); and Queer Slow Jam Party (October 12). (Dance, October 9-13, 2019)

By Association

A chain curatorial platform for artists to collectively experiment with the practice of associative thinking. Across three nights of song, dance, the romantic comedy genre, and poetic performance, Ricky (YATTA), Hazel Katz and Rebecca Nieto address the interior and social worlds of depression and psychosis. (Interdisciplinary, October 17-19, 2019)

What Time Is It?

A multi-disciplinary performance presented by It's Showtime NYC! (ISNYC!) that invites audiences to learn more about New York City through the embodiment of our city's own street dance culture. In this work, ISNYC! dancers collaborate with videographer Kash Gaines and MC Osyris Antham to share the voices and aesthetic innovations of New York City underground dancers in contemporary performance. (Dance, November 14-16, 2019)


A duet dance performance presented by dancer/choreographer Csaba Molnar with dancer/performer/maker Marcio Canabarro, TROPICAL ESCAPE is a study of queer eroticism, escapism as resistance, and the labor involved in the pursuit of pleasure and fantasy. (Dance, February 20-22, 2020)

No one likes an ugly revolutionary

An interdisciplinary solo performance, created and performed by Mette Loulou von Kohl, No one likes an ugly revolutionary explores the complex divide and connections that shape armed resistance, terrorism, fetish, reverence, internalized orientalism, and diasporic longing. This work explores the historic figure Leila Khaled, a resistance fighter for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and international icon of armed struggle. Locating herself within a lineage of resistance, von Kohl explores her relationship with Khaled and her role in the struggle for Palestinian liberation. (Dance, March 5-7, 2019)

El Pueblo de los Olvidados (The Village of the Forgotten) Part 2

A performance in the genre of science-fiction, choreographed and performed by Antonio Ramos, and prompted by his research about Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria. In this work, the protagonist, Tony Tacon, returns to his native planet to discover the country's devastation under the colonization by the alien species, FIMA. Co-commissioned and co-presented with the Chocolate Factory Theater. (Dance, April 23-25, 2020)

Get Low (Black Square)

Created and performed by New York- based artist composer and performer Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste, this work is both a chorus and solo dance which complicates notions of visibility and performativity. The work is a continuation of Toussaint-Baptiste's research of "hyper audible" object-environments, in which inaudible tones are physically felt within the body using ultra low-frequency subwoofers and darkness. Get Low (Black Square) is presented as events in Abrons' Playhouse utilizing the stage and underground spaces simultaneously. (Interdisciplinary, May 28- 30, 2020)

Created by performer, teacher and dance maker Molly Poerstel, Bottom feeder (Working Title) is a testament to the skill of the dancer, the unraveling of choreographic meaning-making and a covenant to the moving body, performed by an all-women, mixed-generation cast. This work is limited to the confines of an audience in the round, exposing witnesses to the proximity and effort of the laboring body. What results is a structurally complex performance practice and a courageous dive into the darkness of dancing a dance that is made in the moment. (Dance, June 25-27, 2020)


jazz singer

A theatrical exhumation of the first feature-length "sound film" The Jazz Singer, reinterpreted by Joshua William Gelb and Nehemiah Luckett. Set on the Lower East Side, the 1927 film tells the story of a "jazz crooner" forced to choose between his immigrant Jewish heritage and his aspirations to become a Broadway star. Though the film is historically significant for its integration of synchronized sound, it is also remembered for its controversial use of blackface. Gelb and Luckett's musical rendering offers a contemporary take on a distinctly U.S. American story, one that interrogates appropriation, assimilation, atonement, and whether escape from the specter of blackface is possible. (Music/Theater, September 24-October 12, 2019)

Distances Smaller Than This Are Not Confirmed

Co-creators David Neumann and Marcella Murray create a staged conversation of intimate scale on the set of a TV talk show. Together, they unpack their several-years-long dialogue about race alongside astronomical questions of scale and time. Posing the questions, "How can a White person and a Black person talk constructively about race? Will a conversation about race between a Black person and a white person always be inherently imbalanced - always? What might we be able to see on the other side of "complicated" and "scary"?", this work weaves personal stories in among historical events, scientific uncertainties, live video, and periodic mesmerizing dances. Co-commissioned and co-presented with the Chocolate Factory Theater. (Dance/Theater, January 16-25, 2020)

M _ _ _ ER

A solo work by interdisciplinary artist Autumn Knight that considers how the concepts of "mother," "murder," and "matter" shape experiences of intimacy, utilizing non linear improvisation, sculpture, and manipulation of scenic elements like light and sound as tools for deeper inquiry. (Theater, March 26-28, 2020).

Sad Boys in Harpy Land

An improvisational coming-of-age tale that is part sad clown, part Dada poetry, and part extended quarter-life crisis, Sad Boys in Harpy Land collapses various narratives of art-making and despair into a meditation on derangement. Anchored by a savagely humorous revisiting of Dante's epic poem, Inferno, the piece asks how splintered thoughts might yield insights and what we might learn from our own monstrosity. Created and performed by Alexandra Tatarsky, with direction by Eva Steinmetz, this performance comprises one moment in a life-long pseudo-autobiography, cutting up known texts, entities, and images to create previously unimaginable hybrid creatures and worlds. (Theater, April 30-May 2, 2020)


Wellcome to the idiot world: A Shanzhai Lyric

Bringing together for the first time the complete archive of shanzhai (i.e. counterfeit) garments, Wellcome to the idiot world imagines bootleg t-shirt text as an embodied poem to consider models of collective creation and shared authorship. Shanzhai garments, created largely by Chinese manufacturers, feature phrases that offer profound, nonsensical, and humorous reflections on contemporary life. The installation includes an experimental reading apparatus and meeting place, designed in collaboration with neighboring architecture studio common room, where visitors are invited to try on shanzhai shirts and look through related reading materials. Wellcome to the idiot world considers how nonsense and poetic estrangement make space for hybridity, liminality, and illegibility. Curated by Ming Lin and Alexandra Tatarsky. (Visual Art, October 24-November 24, 2019)

As part of the Young World festival (see Abrons' music presentations), a celebration of black artists, hip-hop culture, and coming of age in New York City-- an exhibition, curated by Joygill Moriah, will also be on view. Centered around the concept of "world-building," Moriah brings together artists who are asking questions about how creativity can exist not just for personal expression but as a form of social engagement and problem solving. (Visual Art, December 12, 2019-January 12, 2020)

Rainbow Shoe Repair: An Unexpected Theater of Flyness

Presented during New York Fashion Week, this series of events and an exhibition curated by Kimberly Jenkins and Ali Rosa-Salas reveal the enduring legacy of how people of color have harnessed the photographic lens to document a sense of resilience and unity through self-fashioning.


This exhibition uncovers a collection of photographs taken of people of color on the Lower East Side from the early 1980s to the early 1990s at the photo studio of the Rainbow Shoe Shop on Delancey Street. Black and brown members of the community adopted this photo studio for vibrant portraits that showcased the family unit, devoted friendships and audacious style. (Visual Art, February- March 2020)


Fashion scholar Kimberly Jenkins shares reflections on her research about the Rainbow Shoe Repair shop portraits, speaking to the Lower East Side's role in the garment industry, the politics of self-representation, and the contributions of communities of color to contemporary urban fashion. (Lecture, February 7, 2020)

2019-2020 AIRspace Visual Artists in Residence will share the work they have developed during their residency period in a culminating exhibition, curated by Abrons Programming team Ali Rosa-Salas and Katherine Tom. (Exhibition, June 2020)


Emily Johnson's Kinstillatory Mappings in Light and Dark Matter

Returns to the Abrons, a ceremonial fire outdoors in the amphitheater at Abrons Arts Center that centers Indigenous protocol and knowledge through performance, story telling, and food. (Performance/Event, September 6, 2019).


Artist/activist George Emilio Sanchez returns to Abrons Arts Center for a third year with Bang Bang Gun Amok III, a 24-hour performance "filibuster" that addresses how gun culture is historically embedded in the United States. Co-presented by Henry Street Settlement and University Settlement Artists in partnership with the District Attorney's Office of New York, the event unites activists, scholars, Lower East Side youth, and gun violence survivors in a spirit of solidarity to call for an end to a culture of violence. (Interdisciplinary, December 6-7, 2019)

Abrons Arts Center partners with Wing on Wo's The W.O.W Project- a local Chinatown porcelain shop/arts center and residency space-and Yellow Jackets Collective- an intersectional collective of Queer Yellow American Femmes collaborating towards futures that center on marginalized bodies, to ring in their second annual Lunar New Year Celebration with a "Year of the Metal Rat." The event will feature live performances, cooking classes, art activities, karaoke, a photobooth, DJ sets and refreshments from local restaurants. (Family Friendly, January 25, 2020)

LES GET IT Pop Up Shop

Coinciding with New York Fashion Week and Rainbow Shoe Repair: An Unexpected Theater of Flyness, Abrons Arts Center's Underground Theater transforms into a day-long pop up shop, featuring Lower East Side apparel, shoe and jewelry vendors. (Family Friendly, February 8, 2020)


New York City-based creative agency CENO NYC curates a weekend of performances, conversations, and workshops that bring together the most exciting artists emerging from New York City's youth and DIY communities. Full schedule to be announced. (Family Friendly, July 2020)

The full 2019-2020 line-up is included below and posted online at Tickets will go on sale in Summer 2019.

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