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Since 1981, the Next Wave Festival has been the vehicle for BAM’s most daring programming. This year’s festival — running from September 9 through December 20 — will feature 30 theater, music, dance, and film productions, plus 15 concert engagements celebrating the 50th anniversary of the groundbreaking Nonesuch Records.
That’s a lot for one person to see, so here’s a quick guide to what you’re absolutely not going to want to miss.
Elektra Records founder Jac Holzman founded Nonesuch Records in 1964 as a budget classical music label, but it grew over the decades to bring us everything from Philip Glass to the Gypsy Kings to Buena Vista Social Club to Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. To celebrate the 50th birthday of the influential label, BAM is presenting a series of concerts that include such diverse performers as Laurie Anderson, Kronos Quartet, Stephin Merritt, Alarm Will Sound, Dawn Upshaw, Caetano Veloso, and Senegalese superstar Youssou NDOUR.
To open the festival, experimental composers Steve Reich and Philip Glass will be performing together marking the 30th anniversary of the company performing at BAM, presenting along with their respective ensembles, three retrospective programs curated from their decades of experimentation with bringing non-Western approaches to rhythm and harmony into Western music.
BAM Howard Gilman Opera House and BAM Harvey Theater; Sep 9—28; Times vary
This dance-theater work by modern dance pioneer Pina Bausch, subject of the 2011 Wim Wenders documentary Pina, makes its return to BAM 30 years after its NYC premiere. This witty and seductive piece, performed by Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, features two dozen men and women awkwardly courting and flirting with each other in a 1930s dance hall, to music by artists as different Jean Sibelius and Charlie Chaplin.
BAM Howard Gilman Opera House; Oct 23—25, 28, 29, 31, & Nov 1 at 7:30pm; Oct 26 & Nov 2 at 3pm
Shakespeare’s Sonnets (US Premiere)
Director/stage designer Robert Wilson has a long history of bringing provocative works to BAM’s Next Wave Festivals, many of them collaborations with musicians as varied as Philip Glass (Einstein on the Beach), Tom Waits (Black Rider, Woyzeck), and Lou Reed (Time Rocker, POEtry, The Temptation of St. Anthony). In his latest collaboration, with the songwriter Rufus Wainwright and Bertolt Brecht’s Berliner Ensemble, he adapts for the stage the Bard’s non-theatrical creations, his sonnets. Wainwright’s dramatic score spans genres from classical to rock to medieval German Minnesang, as Wilson offers a vividly subversive take on the role gender plays in Shakespeare’s love poems.
BAM Howard Gilman Opera House; Oct 7—11 at 7:30pm; Oct 12 at 3pm
Sadeh21 (US Premiere)
The Batsheva Dance Company, Israel’s largest, celebrates its 50th anniversary by returning to BAM for the US Premiere of this passionate work by artistic director Ohad Naharin. The challenging movement studies of Sadeh21 push the dancers to emotional and physical extremes, to music by Brian Eno, Angelo Badalamenti, Autechre and more.
BAM Howard Gilman Opera House; Nov 12—15 at 7:30pm
Not I, Footfalls, Rockaby (US Premiere)
For her performance in these three one-woman plays by the Nobel Prize–winning playwright Samuel Beckett, Irish actor Lisa Dwan has at least three secret weapons at her disposal. One is director Walter Asmus, a longtime friend and collaborator of Beckett’s and the director of the “definitive production” of Waiting for Godot in 2008. The second is the preparation she did with the legendary Billie Whitelaw, the actress who originated all three roles. The third is, well, Dwan herself. Ben Brantley of The New York Times called her “astounding,” adding that she “doesn’t just uncover layers; she digs all the way to the void beneath them.”
BAM Harvey Theater; Oct 7—11 at 7:30pm; Oct 12 at 3pm
Exposed: Songs for Unseen Warhol Films (NY Premiere)
Andy Warhol’s art films of the 1960s were provocative statements on the nature of cinema, but many of them have yet to be exhibited. In Exposed, BAM will be showing 15 never-before-shown, digitally restored short films from the 1960s — chosen by The Andy Warhol Museum and featuring everyone from Marcel Duchamp to Edie Sedgwick to Warhol himself. Better yet, these silent films will be given a live soundtrack, performed by such underground rock heroes as Dean Wareham (Galaxie 500, Luna), Tom Verlaine (Television), Martin Rev (Suicide), Eleanor Friedberger (The Fiery Furnaces), and Bradford Cox (Deerhunter, Atlas Sound).
BAM Howard Gilman Opera House; Nov 6—8 at 7:30pm