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Dance @ River To River Festival ~ June 18-29

Dance @ River To River Festival ~ June 18-29




Multiple locations across Downtown Manhattan
New York, NY


Tuesday, June 18, 2019 - 12:00pm daily through June 29, 2019











Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) presents the 18th annual River To River Festival, Downtown New York City’s completely free summer arts festival, June 18–29


The River To River Festival celebrates artistic and creative diversity across disciplines, presenting live art and installation in public spaces and in partnership with leading institutions in Lower Manhattan. All events are free and all are welcome.

This year’s Festival is the first to be curated by Lili Chopra, LMCC’s Executive Director, Artistic Programs. The 2019 program focuses on the theme of slowing down, reflecting and imagining.

“Our contemporary reality is rushed, and nowhere is this more apparent than in New York—the city that keeps moving,” Chopra says. “There is always somewhere to go, something to see and more to achieve, creating a frenetic energy that makes this city fabulous and exhausting in equal parts. Increasingly, external stimulation seems to be stifling internal introspection as we anxiously charge forward blinkered to our surroundings and, in this digital age, hardened towards the very people that make up our physical community. In response to this, the River To River Festival addresses the experience of the individual within the urban setting by making space for balance. Working with a number of exceptional artists, each project seeks to provide the viewer with an invitation to engage in considered and deep focus. Collectively, the Festival offers respite and encourages deceleration and stillness—a vehicle through which to pause, open our minds, reflect, connect and imagine.”

The projects presented in the Festival this year—including Ernesto Pujol’s research into active listening, Jennifer Monson’s movement-based foray into the city’s spatial rhythms and constraints, Yoko Ono’s visual invitations to think big, NIC Kay’s durational meditation on emotional labor, Black Gotham Experience’s readdressing of skewed histories or Carol Becker and Mark Epstein’s study of transformational awareness—act as reminders for New Yorkers of the importance of deep and measured thought.

Creating dynamic networks of conversation between art, the public and the city, the River To River Festival activates non-traditional spaces, bringing art and culture out from behind closed doors, creating vibrant public spaces for the unexpected to blossom. The Festival will be presented across Lower Manhattan in locations as diverse as Nelson A. Rockefeller Park in Battery Park City, Pier 35, the Seaport District, Federal Hall, inside office buildings and onpublic plazas, over screens traditionally used for advertising and on rooftops overlooking the city.

Finally, artist residency programs serve as a pillar of LMCC’s identity, alongside public programming and grant-making. This year, LMCC presents the work of four Extended Life Residency artists in the River To River Festival: Ernesto Pujol, Jennifer Monson, Pam Tanowitz and Sarah Michelson, plus NIC Kay, a current Workspace artist-in-residence.

River To River 2019 includes:

The Reflection Project with Yoko Ono features the artist’s iconic text works installed across Lower Manhattan on the screens of Fulton Transit Center, posters on bus shelters and in vacant storefront windows.

Add Color (Refugee Boat) (1960/2019) is presented by Yoko Ono in the Seaport District. The interactive installation contains a lifeboat in an empty space, inviting the public to paint their thoughts, ideas and hopes on the walls, floor and boat.

The world premiere of Pam Tanowitz’s Time is forever dividing itself toward innumerable futures takes place in Nelson A. Rockefeller Park in Battery Park City. Tanowitz partners with New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns to conceptualize a new work with an ensemble of dancers.

Jennifer Monson’s ditch is a choreographed piece developed by the rhythms, tones and spatial inflections of movement generated by flows of people, the traffic, weather and water along the river’s edge.

NIC Kay’s pushit!! is a site-responsive durational performance that starts on the street and moves indoors with the audience. Part of the getting well soon series, pushit!!meditates on emotional labor and the impossibility of the “stage” as a place of freedom for the Black performer.

Social Choreographer Ernesto Pujol’s Listening School will seek performative engagement for three days across Lower Manhattan. Thirteen artists will pursue the public’s roadside discourse on listening. Their open process will culminate in The Listeners, a performance as a formal listening vessel embodying stillness.

Mark Epstein and Carol Becker’s The Agitated Now is an invitation to explore our presence in these fast-paced contemporary realities by offering a reflection around the idea of slowing down to think and imagine.

Sarah’s Fire by Black Gotham Experience is a guided walking tour delving into a tale set on the southern tip of Manhattan, illustrating the peculiar dark universe of slavery in a port city with deep ties to the sugar plantations of the West Indies. The walking tours will be followed by a talk with BGX founder Kamau Ware.

Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH) captures the imagination and play of the gender fluidity of childhood and gives kids glamorous, positive and unabashedly queer role models. Kids are able to engage with people who defy rigid gender restrictions and imagine a world where people can present as they wish, where dress up is real.

Workspace Open Studios welcomes the public into the studios of LMCC’s artists-in- residence, bringing visitors closer to the creative process, connecting them to the artists, new ideas and perspectives, and other community members.

Night at the Museums presents its annual evening of free admission to cultural institutions and museums downtown.

Tribeca Art + Culture Night (TAC) is a downtown arts festival that celebrates culture at large in Tribeca and takes place in 30+ Lower Manhattan venues. Free and open to the public, TAC supports artists and art organizations, and connects them with the public.


Dates, times and locations subject to change—be sure to check lmcc.net/river-to-river for up-to- date information. Please note that all events are free, but due to limited capacity some require advance RSVPs. RSVPs open Friday, June 1.

June 18–June 29
Multiple locations across Downtown Manhattan including the Fulton Transit Center, 28 Liberty, the Seaport District and various storefront windows.

In keeping with LMCC’s tradition of occupying various spaces within the shifting landscape of New York City, The Reflection Project will present five text works by Yoko Ono across Downtown Manhattan in non-traditional spaces. The project seeks to counter the relentless pace of the everyday by inviting passersby to engage with a realm of expanded consciousness and personal reflection through Ono’s instructive text works. By activating mundane spaces and transforming them into vehicles of mindful communication, the project seeks to perform urban acupuncture, stimulating the city’s vast nerve network and opening channels of communication and action grounded in thought rather than impulse.

ADD COLOR (REFUGEE BOAT)June 18–June 29, 12–8 p.m.
203 Front Street, Seaport District

Add Color (Refugee Boat) (1960/2019) is an interactive installation conceived by Yoko Ono. Upon opening, the work will be comprised simply of a boat placed within an empty space. The public will then be invited to paint their thoughts, ideas and hopes on the walls, floor and boat. As the installation progresses, messages will be written in support, contrast and literal obfuscation of one another, moving the space from visual calm to a layered visual chaos—a beautiful sea of color from afar, a more restless reality upon closer inspection. Freely imbued in this way with a multiplicity of thoughts, each time Add Color (Refugee Boat) is shown it both shares in the memory of past iterations, as well as taking on a life and a meaning of its own— acutely reflecting the time, place and people that come together to create it.

June 18 & 19, 7:45–8:30 p.m.
Nelson A. Rockefeller Park in Battery Park City

In Time is forever dividing itself toward innumerable futures, Pam Tanowitz’s first outdoor site- specific work, the choreographer partners with New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns to conceptualize a new dance offering an alternative direction for the “Bessie” Award-winning dancer. Joined by an ensemble comprised of Pam Tanowitz Dance regulars and New York City Ballet guests, Tanowitz arranges the group into the tranquil landscape of Nelson A. Rockefeller Park in Battery Park City with small stages covered in artificial turf. Accompanied by an original score for French horns by Ted Hearne, Tanowitz explores the tensions between legacies of classical ballet versus modern dance; the natural versus the unnatural; the past versus the present.

Project conceived by Sara Mearns and Pam Tanowitz Choreography by Pam Tanowitz
Original score composed by Ted Hearne
Costumes by Reid Bartelme and Harriet Jung

Sound design by Garth MacAleavey

Co-commissioned by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Fisher Center at Bard College and The Joyce Theater. Produced by Fisher Center at Bard College with lead funding from Jay Franke and David Herro. Co-presented by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Battery Park City Authority and Fisher Center at Bard College as part of the 2019 River To River Festival.

Sara Mearns and Taylor Stanley, courtesy of New York City Ballet Reid Bartelme
Jason Collins
Zachary Gonder
Victor Lozano
Melissa Toogood

Musicians: Ted Hearne (voice), Taylor Levine (guitar) and horns


June 20, 6–9 p.m.
Various locations, see website in early June for details

Tribeca Art + Culture Night is a downtown festival that celebrates the arts at large in Tribeca and takes place in 30 multiple and diverse spaces. It is free and open to the public. The event presents a program of events like a festival, showcases venues/organizations like an open art fair, unlocks spaces to the public like an open house and offers curated guided tours showcasing exhibitions like an art walk.

Attendees can choose their own adventure mixing exhibitions with workshops, talks, demonstrations and performances. In just three hours, visitors can join together to attend a curator-led tour, learn a new skill in a creative workshop, watch a live dance performance and discover the unexpected in a contemporary gallery they may have never found otherwise. TAC Night is an adventurous playground showcasing artists, performers, curators, scientists, chefs, wellness experts, musicians, designers, authors, thought leaders and makers.

Participants for the summer edition include: AIM—Bronx Museum of the Arts, Anita Rogers Gallery, apexart, Barney Savage Gallery, BM Franklin, Cheryl Hazan, Church Street School for Music and Art, Double Knot, Leslie-Lohman Museum, New York Academy of Art, Pearl River Mart, Postmasters Gallery, R & Company, SAPAR Contemporary, Shirley Fiterman Art Center, Soho Photo Gallery, The Drawing Center, The Untitled Space, Twenty First Gallery / White Space, White Street Studio, Y2K group.

June 20 at 7 p.m.
Starting location in Tribeca TBA

A site-responsive performance, pushit!! is a meditation on emotional labor and the impossibility of the “stage” as a place of freedom for the Black performer. The work is choreographed and/or sculpted around the social/political landscapes of the city/space/present-ing body and the unique architecture of the building/private space.

This work is the first in a series of the exercises in getting well soon, a project/meditation based on the loose and often used phrase indicating a hope of recovery. The exercises in getting well soon have been articulated as movement, installation, theater, games, endurance and collective action. If “Hope is a Discipline” as the activist Mariame Kaba writes, what are the methods of hope in a performance practice? Or does hope have to be abandoned in order to get well, as Calvin Warren proposes in his essay “Black Nihilism and the Politics of Hope”?


June 21, 6–9 p.m.
June 22, 1–8 p.m.
LMCC’s Workspace Studios, 101 Greenwich Street, 15th Floor

As part of the River To River Festival, LMCC invites the public to go behind the scenes and meet its artists-in-residence in their studios at 101 Greenwich Street. Over the course of two days, audiences learn about the practices and processes of multi-disciplinary artists working in the transformed office spaces of 101 Greenwich, and experience a wide range of artwork from live performance and theater to poetry and fiction to painting and sculpture.

Artists-in-residence: Golnar Adili, Jennifer Bartlett, Eliza Bent, Keisha Bush, André Daughtry,Jonathan González, Zac Hacmon, Terrance James Jr., NIC Kay, Ying Liu, Asif Mian, KennethPietrobono, Orlando Tirado, Zhiyuan Yang


LMCC is proud to be a quiet champion of NY-based artists, providing critical space and resources to artists throughout their careers to ensure that they are able to create and present work in the city they call their home. Our Workspace artist residency program seeks to catalyze the practices and careers of emerging artists of all disciplines. Having administered this linchpin program for almost 20 years, LMCC celebrates all of the artists who have come through it and continue to bring their forward-thinking practices and perspectives to the world. During Open Studios, LMCC is pleased to highlight two Workspace alumni contributing to the vibrancy of Lower Manhattan with large-scale exhibitions of their work in public spaces:


NY DOT Art Display Cases on Water Street between Wall Street and Maiden Lane and on Gouverneur Lane between Water Street and Front Street Internationally acclaimed, New York-born artist Elia Alba’s The Supper Club is a multifaceted art project comprising an ongoing series of dinners in which artists engage in meaningful conversation about art, pop culture, socio-political events and race; photographic portraits of nearly 60 artists of color; and a recently published book featuring the portraits and text related to the dinners/conversations. Inspired by Vanity Fair’s annual Hollywood Issue, Alba’s photographs frame her circle of artists and friends as celebrities, transforming their identities into iconic images while evoking influences that span art history and Afrofuturism, fashion photography and classical mythology. Elia, an alumna of LMCC’s Workspace and Process Space residency programs, developed this project during her Process Space residency, and LMCC is proud to partner with NYC Department of Transportation to continue to display a large-format selection of the portraits to energize and transform the streets of Lower Manhattan throughout the River To River Festival.


Fulton Street MTA Station
On view the first two minutes of the hour, every hour, on screens throughout Fulton Street MTA Station

Fulton Flow is a stop-motion animation in the Fulton Street MTA Station by Brooklyn- based artist and former LMCC artist-in-residence Ezra Wube. Dynamic, vivacious and colorful videos throughout the station trace the original path of the IRT Lexington line extension from Brooklyn Bridge–City Hall to the Wall Street station.

June 23 at Sunrise
Pier 35

June 26 & June 28 at 7 p.m.
Melville Gallery, South Street Seaport Museum

ditch explores the interactions among the forces of gentrification; the history of community activism, especially in response to Hurricane Sandy; the current pressure of development that exacerbates income inequality; as well as the ecological interactions between the life at the edge of the island in the Lower East Side. The choreography is developed from the rhythms, tones and spatial inflections of movement generated by flows of people, the traffic, weather and water along the river’s edge. ditch accesses and creatively explores the embodied knowledge that signals both danger and safety. How do we sense impending disasters? How do we seek safe havens?

Exploring the possibilities of signaling through murky territory and dense movement, the choreography asks questions such as: What appears as a beacon? What is an orienting feature in an unstable system? The piece investigates squeezing and tightening as both a generator of movement and as choreographic strategy. The work aims to emanate an urgency and disquiet that drives the performer and viewer towards unexpected openings.

Composer and sound artist: Jeff Kolar
Costume designer: Susan Becker
Performers/dancers: Evie Allison, Madeline Mellinger, Kaitlin Fox


iLANDing: Researching Urban Ecologies with movement based scores.

June 23, 11 a.m.–1 p.m. Pier 35

In this workshop Monson and iLANDing (interdisciplinary Laboratory of Art Nature and Dance) will practice movement-based scores designed to explore particular areas of our local urban ecologies specifically at Pier 35. Participants will have a chance to dance, draw and map based on their observations of the movement and living ecologies of the pier, including birds, mussels, fish, plants, humans and other creatures. The workshop will celebrate the living forces at work here, noting weather, human activity and the constant flow of the river and traffic on the FDR drive.

iLANDing is a practice developed over the past 15 years of iLAB residencies hosted by iLAND—interdisciplinary Laboratory of Art Nature and Dance. The workshops will be accompanied by A Field Guide to iLANDing: Scores for Researching Urban Ecologies, a new publication that compiles 75 scores based on interdisciplinary collaboration.

June 24, 11:30 a.m–2:30 p.m.
Anderson Contemporary in the Plaza at 180 Maiden Lane & the Plaza at 88 Pine St.

June 25, 11:30 a.m–2:30 p.m. Liberty Park & another location TBA

June 26, 11:30 a.m–2:30 p.m.
28 Liberty: Fosun Plaza & MarketPlace 28 Amphitheater

Social Choreographer Ernesto Pujol brings his multi-year Listening School project to the festival in the form of a public performative research process and a silent durational performance: The Listeners. The project was created in response to the urgent need to listen empathically in order to support democracy in America and abroad.

Pujol’s Listening School will seek performative engagement for three days across Lower Manhattan’s urban riverbeds of listening flow. Dressed in Indigo Blues, thirteen artists will pursue the public’s roadside discourse on listening. Their open process will culminate in The Listeners, a performance as a formal listening vessel embodying stillness in the midst of flow (see below).

JUNE 2019/
June 24 at 1:30 p.m., 4 p.m. & 7 p.m. June 26 at 1:30 p.m. & 4 p.m.

Location and details to be announced at a later date.

June 25
Tours hourly: 4–5:30 p.m., 5–6:30 p.m., 6–7:30 p.m. Tours begin at 192 Front Street

Black Gotham Experience was founded in 2010 by artist/historian Kamau Ware in New York City. This project celebrates the impact of the African Diaspora with historic walks, media and signature events.

Sarah’s Fire is the second of five core stories that make up the Black Gotham Experience. The tale takes place on day two of British New York in 1664 on the southern tip of the island of Manhattan (a place home to both free and enslaved Black people), in the small town known as Land of the Blacks. This walking tour illustrates the peculiar universe of urban slavery in a port city with deep ties to the sugar plantations of the West Indies. A key persona in this story is an enslaved woman named Sarah who is one of 29 people that participate in the first militarized Black rebellion on the island of Manhattan that took place April 6, 1712.

June 25 at 8 p.m.
192 Front Street

Following the walking tours, Black Gotham Experience invites everyone into their space at 192 Front Street, where they’ve had a physical presence for their research, operations and public programming for the past two years. The founder of Black Gotham Experience, Kamau Ware, will hold a fireside chat with Danielle King, Director of Cultural Programs at LMCC, about the role space plays in the Black Gotham Experience, the evolution of the project and why artists need spaces for a variety of purposes.


June 25, 4–8 p.m.
Various locations, see website in early June for details

Night at the Museums showcases Lower Manhattan’s wide range of cultural institutions and historic landmarks. This year 14 dynamic museums, historic sites and tours will be participating in the River to River Festival’s Night at the Museums by offering free admission. All museums and historical sites are within walking distance from one another in one of the most diverse and concentrated groups of museums in the world.

Participating museums and historic sites include the African Burial Ground National Monument, China Institute, Federal Hall National Memorial, Fraunces Tavern Museum, Lower Manhattan Tours, Museum of Jewish Heritage—A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, National Archives at New York City, National Museum of the American Indian—Smithsonian Institution, National September 11 Memorial Museum, NYC Municipal Archives Visitor Center, 9/11 Tribute Museum, Poets House, The Skyscraper Museum and the South Street Seaport Museum.

June 27, 7–8:30 p.m.
Federal Hall

The Agitated Now is an invitation to explore our presence in these fast-paced contemporary realities. Carol Becker, Dean of Faculty and Professor of the Arts at Columbia University School of the Arts, and Mark Epstein, renowned author and psychotherapist, offer an evening of reflection around the idea of slowing down to reflect and imagine.

The Agitated Now is borrowed from Carol Becker’s text of the same title in which she explores 

the many complexities of TIME that exist in consciousness, often simultaneously. Mark Epstein will speak on the way in which artist and musician John Cage has inspired him, drawing one’s attention to overlooked aspects of our experience in order to arrive at a place of acceptance, faith and trust in the boundless unknown. The evening will lead to an understanding that awareness is transformational, affording an empowerment, acceptance and surrender that opens space for calm, reflection, rational thought and effective action.

ERNESTO PUJOL THE LISTENERSJune 27, 9–11:30 p.m. Federal Hall

In culmination of Ernesto Pujol’s Listening School (see above), artists trained in the art of listening will sit in a circle as public servants providing individualized silent listening to visitors all evening at the birthplace of Democracy, historic Federal Hall Memorial.


June 28 at 8–11 p.m. New Design High School

In partnership with Rooftop Films, a film (to be announced at a later date) will be screened on the rooftop of New Design High School in the Lower East Side.

Rooftop Films is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to engage and inspire diverse communities by showcasing the work of emerging filmmakers in outdoor locations, helping filmmakers to produce new films and renting equipment and supporting film screenings citywide at low cost to artists, nonprofits and community groups. Founded in 1997 when filmmaker Mark Elijah Rosenberg invited friends to watch movies on the roof above his apartment, it has become one of the premier venues in the country for new independent short and feature films.

Highlighting innovative work from first-time filmmakers, outsider artists, seasoned film professionals and underrepresented directors, Rooftop Films brings together filmmakers and festivals, audiences and artists, venues and neighborhoods, presenting film not only as a powerful creative medium, but also as a vehicle for engaging audiences in a valuable dialogue about the issues facing their communities.


Presented in celebration of WorldPride NYC June 29, 11–12 p.m. & 3:30–4:30 p.m. NYPL | Seward Park Library

Presented as part of River To River 2019 in celebration of WorldPride NYC, Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH) captures the imagination and play of the gender fluidity of childhood and gives kids glamorous, positive and unabashedly queer role models. In spaces like this, kids are able to see people who defy rigid gender restrictions and imagine a world where people can present as they wish, where dress up is real.

Created by Michelle Tea and RADAR Productions in San Francisco, DQSH started out as drag queens reading stories to children in libraries and has grown into a global phenomenon. DQSH now offers literary and creative programming for kids and teens of all ages led by drag queens, kings and creatures all over the world. From their headquarters in New York City, they create programming curriculum, produce over a hundred events a year and provide resources, training and support to build a growing network of DQSH chapters all over the world.


Top row L to R: DREAM courtesy of Yoko Ono; Yoko Ono’s Add Color (Refugee Boat), photo courtesy of Yoko Ono; Bottom row L to R: Jennifer Monson and Mauriah Kraker, photo credit: Ryutaro Ishikane; NIC Kay, photo credit: Sarah-Ji Rhee courtesy of loveandstrugglephotos.


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