The always adventurous Peak Performance series — offering shows in the fields of dance, music, theater, visual art, acrobatics and film, often with elements of two or more of these — moved its ambitious programming online during the pandemic. But it will return to live performances, at the Kasser Theater at Montclair State University, in October, and present a combination of live and online offerings for its 2021-22 season.
Here are the live shows, with quotes taken from the Peak Performances web site, peakperfs.org:
Oct. 14-17: “The Eye Is the First Circle,” conceived, directed and performed by Simone Dinnerstein. World premiere. The pianist, whose father Simon Dinnerstein is a painter, “deconstructs and collages” elements of her father’s acclaimed “The Fulbright Triptych” and Charles Ives’ Piano Sonata No. 2 (Concord Sonata).
Nov. 4-7: “Look Who’s Coming to Dinner,” by Stefanie Batten Bland/Company SBB. United States premiere. Inspired by the 1967 film of the same name, this work represents “performance at the intersection of dance-theater and installation, questioning contemporary and historical cultural symbolism and the complexities of human relationships.”
Dec. 16-19: “Fractales,” by Cie Libertivore, written and choreographed by Fanny Soriano. “The language of the circus and dance movement highlight the physical potential of the acrobatic body as performers are confronted by a landscape in transformation.”
February (dates TBA): “Strange Fruit,” by Donald Byrd/Spectrum Dance Theater. This dance/theater work draws its title from the classic song written by Abel Meeropol and made into a Civil Rights anthem by Billie Holiday. In it, “the facts of lynching act as springboards into a highly personal interior space and state of mind.”
March (dates TBA): “Movement,” by Netta Yerushalmy. World premiere. As in “Paramodernities,” one of Yerushalmy’s previous works, “existing dances are again quoted (this time from a vast array of sources) and pieced together into an intricate and elaborate quilt with radical and surprising results.”
April (dates TBA): “Smashed2,” by Gandini Juggling. A sequel to “Smashed,” which Peak Performances presented in its United States premiere in 2018. “Director Sean Gandini and Kati Ylä-Hokkala borrow elements of Pina Bausch’s gestural choreography and combine them with the intricate patterns and cascades of solo and ensemble juggling.” (see video below)
May (dates TBA): “Hotel Paradiso,” by Familie Flöz. United States premiere. “Using clowning, acrobatics, magic, and improvisation, Familie Flöz makes its highly anticipated U.S. debut after delighting European audiences for more than 20 years with captivating theatrical experiences.”
June (dates TBA): “Curriculum II,” by Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company. World premiere. Originally commissioned as a film project but reimaged as a live performance, with the focal point coming “from Louis Chude-Sokei’s treatise ‘The Sound of Culture: Diaspora and Black Technopoetics,’ which explores the connection between race and technology from minstrelsy, music production, cybernetics, to artificial intelligence and posthumanism.”
Peak Performances’ online series, Peak Plus, is currently offering free streams of works by the Heidi Latsky Dance Company, the Richard Alston Dance Company, Gandini Juggling, Double Edge Theatre and more, and additional streams will be added during the season, starting with Elevator Repair Service’s “Baldwin and Buckley at Cambridge,” a play based on a debate on “The American Dream” that took place at Cambridge University Union in 1965 between novelist and activist James Baldwin and writer and pundit William F. Buckley Jr.
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