The Culture Lover’s October Guide

Alison S. Cohn and Ariana Marsh
·7 mins read
Photo credit: Courtesy American Ballet Theatre; Casey Kelbaugh; David Tayar
Photo credit: Courtesy American Ballet Theatre; Casey Kelbaugh; David Tayar

From Harper's BAZAAR

Somehow, October has arrived, and with it, a slew of exciting cultural events and activities that will jam-pack your fall calendar. Two of the country’s most prominent ballet companies are premiering exciting new choreography via YouTube, while Playbill and The Broadway League are teaming up for a streaming concert celebrating Latinx performers.

Art-wise, an outdoor exhibition in the Berkshires rolls sculpture installations and fall foliage into one, while a DIY book featuring a range of contemporary artists (Marina Abramović, Maya Lin, and KAWS, to name a few) provides ample projects to undertake indoors.

As we continue to adjust to a strange new way of life, creative solutions to cultural programming prove that we will come out of this moment stronger and more innovative than ever.

1. Moving Stories: American Ballet Theatre’s Virtual Film Festival
(Through October 1)

Lincoln Center may be dark, but as they say, the show must go. American Ballet Theatre’s dancers made an agile pivot and are putting on Moving Stories, a two-day virtual film festival that ends tonight. This evening’s hour-long program, premiering at 7 p.m. ET on ABT’s YouTube channel, is hosted by ABT principal dancer Misty Copeland and Emmy Award–winning producer Leyla Fayyaz, and features four shorts danced and filmed by company members in the many places they have dispersed to. Principal dancers Isabella Boylston and James Whiteside’s Swan Lake shot on a lakeside dock is sure to be a highlight.

Viewers are asked to donate to the ABT Crisis Relief Fund, which provides ongoing assistance to dancers, production crew, rehearsal pianists, artistic staff, and education faculty during the COVID-19 crisis.

Photo credit: Courtesy American Ballet Theatre
Photo credit: Courtesy American Ballet Theatre

Stream the Dance Festival

2. ¡VIVA Broadway! Hear Our Voices Digital Concert
(October 1)

In celebration of Latinx Heritage Month, Playbill and The Broadway League are presenting a digital concert starring a stacked lineup of award-winning Latinx performers. Hosted by Andréa Burns (In the Heights, On Your Feet!), the production will include an excerpt from the first Spanish-language production of A Chorus Line, starring Antonio Banderas, as well a special performance by selected original Broadway cast members of In the Heights and Anthony Ramos, who stars in the upcoming film adaptation.

Also featuring appearances from Moisés Kaufman (The Laramie Project), Matthew López (The Inheritance), Josh Segarra (On Your Feet!), Benjamin Velez (Kiss My Aztec!), and the inimitable Lin-Manuel Miranda, the show is a true testament to the incredible contributions that Latinx artists have made to musical theater. To watch, head to Playbill.com, Playbill’s YouTube channel or Viva.Broadway at 8 p.m. ET.

Photo credit: Miquel Benitez/Getty
Photo credit: Miquel Benitez/Getty

Listen to the Concert

3. New York City Ballet Digital Season
(October 2–31)

In lieu of its traditional fall performance season, New York City Ballet will be streaming prerecorded repertory performances on its YouTube channel throughout the month. The shows will air on the first three Tuesdays in October at 8 p.m. ET, and there will also be two Saturday matinees on October 10 and 24, at 2 p.m. ET.

The month of dance will culminate with streamable performances of new choreography by Pam Tanowitz, Jamar Roberts, Justin Peck, Sidra Bell, and Andrea Miller. Each ballet will be filmed in locations throughout the company’s Lincoln Center campus and the streets of New York City, and will premiere online—one each night—from the 27th to the 31st at 8 p.m. E.T.

Photo credit: Paul Kolnik
Photo credit: Paul Kolnik

Watch the Ballets

4. “Ground/work” Outdoor Art Exhibition
(Opening October 6)

If you like your art with a side of fall foliage, put Ground/work at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts, on your list. Located in the Berkshires, less than three hours from New York City, it features a series of site-responsive sculpture installations by six female contemporary artists—Nairy Baghramian, Haegue Yang, Kelly Akashi, Jennie C. Jones, Eva LeWitt, Analia Saban—spread out across 140 acres of woodland trails and open meadows.

While you’re in the area, the Northern Berkshires Art Outside Tour —a self-led biking/walking trail that includes some 30 works of art across 10 miles of winding country roads—is also worth a meander.

Photo credit: Courtesy of the artist and The Clark Art Institute
Photo credit: Courtesy of the artist and The Clark Art Institute

Book Tickets

5. Theaster Gates’s “Black Vessel” at Gagosian
(Opening October 10)

While most artists stick to creating art for gallery walls, Theaster Gates’s involved multidisciplinary work twists space theory and land development, sculptural installation, and performance art all into one. In one of his most ambitious exhibitions to date, “Black Vessel,” Gates will transform Gagosian’s 24th Street galleries inside and out. The installation will explore the concept of the vessel both as a metaphor for Black-embodied existence and as a means of gathering artworks and communities in time and space. It features several new bodies of work that Gates produced in his Chicago studio during 2020, including caged hoses, tar paintings, and ceramic vessels, as well as poem works.

Photo credit: Courtesy the artist and Gagosian, New York
Photo credit: Courtesy the artist and Gagosian, New York

Schedule an Appointment

6. Bushwick Film Festival
(October 21–25)

For its 13th edition, the Bushwick Film Festival will be presenting a selection of shorts, documentaries, and feature films available to view via its streaming platform. Chosen from more than 1,500 submissions from 60 countries, the movies spotlight underrepresented storytellers and champions diversity in film. Each selection will be available to view on your own time, although the festival has arranged suggested daily watch schedules to coincide with evening Q&As with the filmmakers.

From 2 Black Boys, an experimental short by Rachel S. Myers inspired by lead actor Giovanni Adams’s poetry about being Black and queer (Joshua Abston also stars), to Milkwater, a feature comedy directed by Morgan Ingari about a surrogate (Molly Bernard) who embeds herself within the baby’s father’s life, there is something for every taste. Single films can be rented for as little as $7 each, or you can choose from a range of package deals that allow you to watch multiple.

Photo credit: David Tayar
Photo credit: David Tayar

Buy a Festival Pass

7. Met Stars Live
(October 24)

Continuing its series of live vocal performances filmed at scenic locations across the United States and Europe, the Metropolitan Opera presents Diana Damrau and Joseph Calleja, who will sing a selection of popular arias and duets from operas by Puccini, Donizetti, and Rossini from a 16th-century cathedral on Malta.

Damrau, who made her Met debut in 2005, has starred as Violetta in La Traviata, Elvira in I Puritani, Juliette in Roméo et Juliette, and much more. Calleja, a Malta native, made his Met debut in 2006 and is known for his roles as Cavaradossi in Tosca, Gabriele Adorno in Simon Boccanegra, and Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor, to name a few.

Tickets are $20, and the performance will remain available on demand for 12 days after purchase.

Photo credit: Ken Howard
Photo credit: Ken Howard

Book Tickets

8. Julie Mehretu at the High Museum of Art
(Opening October 24)

Julie Mehretu’s richly layered paintings, often formed through the accretion of colorful lines and brushstrokes over architectural plans and drawings, have explored themes such as race, history, migration, revolution, global capitalism, and technology for more than two decades.

Now, the Ethiopian-American artist’s first career survey arrives at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art this month, before traveling to the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York next year. It showcases the evolution of Mehretu’s abstract style through a selection of works, including a reunited cycle of monumental ink-and-acrylic canvases from 2012 called “Mogamma (A Painting in Four Parts),” each of which stands 15 feet tall.

Photo credit: © Julie Mehretu, photograph by Ryszard Kasiewicz, courtesy of the artist, Marian Goodman Gallery, New York, and White Cube.
Photo credit: © Julie Mehretu, photograph by Ryszard Kasiewicz, courtesy of the artist, Marian Goodman Gallery, New York, and White Cube.

Make a Reservation

9. Asia Society Triennial
(Opening October 27)

Titled We Do Not Dream Alone, the Asia Society Triennial takes its name from the Yoko Ono maxim, “A dream you dream alone may be a dream, but a dream two people dream together is a reality.” This historic first festival in the United States devoted to contemporary art from and about Asia and Asian diasporas will span venues across New York City, including the Asia Society Museum, New-York Historical Society, and Times Square. Addressing themes such as gender roles and colonial histories, it features the work of 40 artists and collectives from 21 countries, serving as a testament to art’s ability to resist isolation and connect us in our shared humanity.

Photo credit: Courtesy of the artist
Photo credit: Courtesy of the artist

Book Tickets

10. Open Studio: Do-It-Yourself Projects by Contemporary Artists
(October 28)

Tired of quarantine baking? Why not try your hand at fine art. Open Studio: Do-it-Yourself Art Projects by Contemporary Artists (Phaidon), written by independent curator Sharon Coplan Hurowitz and journalist Amanda Benchley, offers step-by-step instructions for DIY projects you can make with things you may already have around the house, specially created by 17 world-renowned artists including Marina Abramović, Maya Lin, and KAWS. Make a collage from old photos with Mickalene Thomas or a wood block print using sweet potatoes with Julie Mehretu—each project comes complete with a handy tear-out insert.

Photo credit: Casey Kelbaugh
Photo credit: Casey Kelbaugh

Preorder the Book

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