The American Ballet Theater dancer discusses the beauty of anime soundtracks, the virtue of late ’90s music videos and playing video games backstage.It is 1:30 a.m., and James Whiteside, a principal dancer with the American Ballet Theater, is curled up in an Airbnb in London watching “Clash of the Titans.”Also, he is doing this interview.“Now is good!” Whiteside, 37, who suggested the time after flying to England with his boyfriend to attend a childhood friend’s wedding.He’s on a break from American Ballet Theater rehearsals, which have begun in earnest in anticipation of a mid-October return to the stage. He also just published his first book, “Center Center,” an almost-memoir (“because I’m not old enough to write a memoir yet”), which covers his coming-out story, his ballet career and his mother’s death from cancer in 2016.“I’m absolutely still grappling with things,” he said. “But writing it was quite enjoyable — I wrote about these things to feel better.”In a late-night phone conversation, he explained why “The Legend of Zelda” would make for a perfect ballet, offered his picks for the choicest gay bars in Manhattan, and professed his undying love for Vera-Ellen‘s tap dancing skills. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.1. SpotifyI make playlists for every month — a down-tempo playlist and an up-tempo playlist. It’s been a way for me to discover a lot of new artists and music I want to choreograph to, via the little “Swipe Up” story feature.2. Post-Lunch CoffeeRehearsal days can be really taxing. There’s a certain amount of mental fatigue that goes along with physical fatigue and dancing all day, when you’re learning new choreography and you’re just having to engage with people a lot. So, after I eat lunch, I have to have a cup of coffee. It can really reinvigorate me to start dancing again and interacting with people in an artistic way.3. AnimeI love the stories — the magic and fantasy as well as what’s called “slice of life,” which are normal situations in people’s lives that are incredibly beautiful and quite peaceful, even though they can be heavy. One of my favorite series is the original “Berserk.” And “Cowboy Bebop” — the music is fabulous. One of my favorite composers is Yoko Kanno; I’d love to work with her some time.4. Old Ballet Books, Documentaries, Photos and VideosIn my mid- to late 20s, I started really taking an interest in — I don’t want to say ballet history, because it’s more visual than that for me. I’m not a person who’s gobbling up ballet biographies; I more like to see the dancers in film, photos and beautiful art books. Someone gave me a DVD at the stage door one year at the Met Opera and it was a bunch of old A.B.T. performances, like ’80s and ’90s mini documentaries. I’m into super old stuff like books on Nijinsky and the whole Ballets Russes era. The imagery and the costumes and the shapes are just so fabulous.5. Late ’90s/Early Aughts Music VideosI was born in ’84, so by the time 1999 rolled around I was fully at the age where I could appreciate T.R.L. [MTV’s Total Request Live]. I would watch T.R.L. every day while doing homework and learn the dances — Janet Jackson, ’N Sync, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Destiny’s Child, TLC. They spent time and money on these music videos because they were the best marketing for their music at the time. It isn’t quite the same now — I see so many lazy music videos.6. Video GamesI find video games to be a real way for me to calm down. If I have time to play it means I have time, which is rare. I play Super Smash Bros. at A.B.T. in the lounge a lot during our lunch break. I like video games because the structure reminds me of a classical ballet. There are a lot of similar story elements and musical structures, and the main characters tend to be similarly heroic. “The Legend of Zelda” would be such a great ballet. It’s got everything you want — magic, beauty, great music.7. Musical Numbers from the Golden Age of HollywoodI often go on YouTube and watch fabulous dance numbers from Old Hollywood. I love the “Abraham” tap number from “White Christmas,” where Vera-Ellen is in a yellow dress. She has another one called “Mandy” that’s really great. There’s one with Bob Fosse and Tommy Rall called “Alley Dance,” where they’re in an alley and it’s this virtuosic sort of “I-can-do-it-better” jazz number. And “Cabaret” is exquisite, tense, perfect.8. Gay BarsYou never know what’s going to happen, and that’s a good thing. Some of my favorites are The Phoenix in the East Village; Holiday Cocktail Lounge, which isn’t a gay bar, per se, but it’s frequented by gay people; and Julius’ in the West Village. In the U.K., The Village, G-A-Y is fun, Heaven — those are my clubs. 9. Fire Island PinesMy first time to the Pines was in 2017 for a dance festival, and every time I’m there I’m meeting people who are innovators in their field, or are freethinkers, or just fascinating people who have interesting histories. It reminds me of Andy Warhol and his clique — it has that element of all these creatives coming together.10. Clothing BasicsI moved to Boston when I was 18, and, as a young person, I was struggling to find a comfortable look for myself. I was railing against the extreme, collegiate, straight look of Bostonians, so I would buy all this garbage from H&M and just wear ridiculous, loud, obnoxious outfits. But it got to a point where I was like, “Oh my god, I’m exhausted and these clothes are all made of plastic.” So I turned to simpler clothing as a way to accept that the noise for me was on the inside. I’m not saying I don’t like to look noisy every once in a while, but I find comfort in easy, relaxed clothing like Levi’s, Converse, Adidas Sambas, plaid L.L. Bean button-downs and vintage T-shirts.Continue Reading

No one but her puppy, Alfie, was with Ayla Ciccone-Burton when she heard the good news from her agent.“I got up at the dog park in front of all these people that I don’t know,” she said. “I’m just running around, full screaming, telling my dog that I’m going to be on Broadway.”“He didn’t care,” she added, and laughed an effervescent laugh. She loves him anyway.Like most performers, Ciccone-Burton won’t be playing a starring role in her show. She’ll be singing and dancing in the ensemble — and making her Broadway debut.She and three other supporting performers, all scheduled for Broadway bows this fall, talked recently about what that means to them, and what they discovered about themselves and the industry when for such a long time it was all snatched away.Atticus WareAtticus Ware is 13 now, but he was 11 when he was cast in the new musical “Flying Over Sunset,” in 2019. Since Broadway shut down, he has done a lot of worrying that he might physically outgrow his role as the young Archie Leach, a.k.a. Cary Grant.Ware will play a young Cary Grant in the Lincoln Center Theater musical “Flying Over Sunset.”“You know, you can’t really do anything about it,” Ware said one morning in August, just back from summer camp. “So it was very stressful. But I am much more relieved now. And I’m almost certainly going to be able to do it.”Almost?“Because, I mean, you never know,” he said. “I could hit a giant growth spurt in the next few months, or my voice could drop.”Written by Tom Kitt, Michael Korie and James Lapine, who is also directing, “Flying Over Sunset” is a fantasy about Cary Grant, Clare Boothe Luce and Aldous Huxley on a 1950s Hollywood acid trip. With a cast led by Tony Yazbeck, Carmen Cusack and Harry Hadden-Paton, it was hours from its first preview when the industry froze.“I first heard about the pandemic like a week before that,” recalled Ware, who since being cast has split his time between North Carolina, where his mother and siblings live, and New Jersey, where his father lives. “When it hit, I cried. I cried a lot. It was rough.”The youngest of three children in a family of vegans, Ware started dancing at 4 and doing musical theater at 6. His brief bio is filled with credits from Charlotte, N.C., stages. He has been home-schooled for most of his life, and some of that education has always been online, but when things shut down, his dance classes went virtual, too.“It really lifted my spirits when I started to be able to do in-person dance classes again,” he said. “That was just really helpful with my mental state.”“Flying Over Sunset” is choreographed by the tap sensation Michelle Dorrance, and she has taught him a lot, including how to combine speed with precision. But there is also this, he said: “She’s very kind.”The company, now slated to start performances in November, spent some of its limbo time gathering on Zoom for themed parties with games and cocktails. Ware occasionally had a mocktail to match.“My mom, I honestly don’t know how she did it, but she made like nonalcoholic gin,” he said, and laughed. “I usually just grab LaCroix.”Ayla Ciccone-BurtonOn the August day when her pandemic-paused career revived at last, Ayla Ciccone-Burton called her mother twice in tears.In the morning, she wept because after a year of working as a nanny, she really, really didn’t want to do it anymore.Ciccone-Burton was on tour in New Zealand when the musicals stopped. She was recently cast as an Ikette in “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical.”By midday, though, she was sobbing with joy, because she’d just been cast in the ensemble of her first Broadway show. When “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical” opens back up in October, she will play an Ikette.“It means everything,” said Ciccone-Burton, 26, a bubbly and thoughtful actor-singer-dancer who was in Auckland, New Zealand, on tour with “The Book of Mormon,” when live performances stopped.In her dreams of Broadway’s comeback, she had envisioned herself as an eager audience member, and hoped she would have the money to catch an opening night.“And now I’m going to be onstage for one of those opening nights? Like, reopenings?” she said. “I just don’t even have the words.”Growing up in Niagara Falls, N.Y., Ciccone-Burton threw herself into theater, singing and competitive dance. When her high school did “Willy Wonka,” she played Violet Beauregarde.But by the time graduation came, in 2013, the future in performance that she had aimed for as a child seemed impractical, especially since the B.F.A. programs she auditioned for turned her down.Taking a cue from her mother, a high school science teacher, she became a biology major at SUNY Fredonia and went on hiatus from performing.“I would say my freshman year of college was one of my saddest years,” she said.It took a while — and ditching that major — before she found her way back. But in 2017, her professional career began when she was cast as a dancer and understudy in a nonunion national tour of “Dirty Dancing.” Just before it ended, she got the job in “The Book of Mormon.”She spent the first months of the pandemic back in Niagara Falls, where she streamed videos of Tony Awards shows from her childhood bedroom. When the Broadway Advocacy Coalition held online discussions of racism in the industry, she tuned in to those, too.So it is particularly meaningful to her to join a mostly Black show led by Adrienne Warren, a founder of the coalition. Ciccone-Burton said that growing up, and before “The Book of Mormon,” she was often a production’s “token Black artist.”“To be in this show where it’s the majority, and the people in that majority are trying to actively make change in the Broadway world, in the community?” she said. “Yeah, that feels really good.”Tomás Matos“Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” whisked Tomás Matos off to Europe in 2016. Matos, who is nonbinary, was just out of Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School — known as the “Fame” school — when they were cast in the musical for Norwegian Cruise Line.Setting out on Sundays from Barcelona, the ship sailed around the Mediterranean. Matos shopped for months in Italian, French and Spanish ports.As a member of the ensemble in “Diana: The Musical,” Matos has a featured duet with the actress playing the princess.“I left with one paycheck,” they said, “but I also came back with an entire European wardrobe. The clothes there are iconic.”Cheeky and funny and full of their own glamour, Matos was in previews with “Diana: The Musical” when Broadway went dark. Since the production won’t officially open until Nov. 17 — after a filmed version, shot during the shutdown, makes its premiere on Netflix on Oct. 1 — Matos’s official Broadway debut is on hold until then, too.Cast in the show in 2018, when it was en route to Broadway, Matos is part of the ensemble and has a small featured role, doing a duet with Diana.“There is a lot of dancing and singing and going full-out, and then standing in the back as palace staff right after,” Matos said. “And letting the sweat drip down my face while Queen Elizabeth is singing a ballad.”At 23, they have been dancing since sixth grade at I.S. 61 on Staten Island, where the teacher — Danielle McNally, who gets a thank you in Matos’s Playbill bio — said that whoever did the best plié would get a lollipop.“I damn well got that damn lollipop,” Matos said.Matos, who for a while during the pandemic was making and selling empanadas from home with their grandmother, considers shooting the film “Fire Island” this summer a personal pandemic highlight. Its stars include Bowen Yang of “Saturday Night Live,” where Matos was a backup dancer for Lil Nas X in May.“Another highlight, I became sober,” said Matos, who now uses both he and they as pronouns, having also embraced a nonbinary identity in the pandemic.“It’s something that took a lot of thought and a lot of panic attacks, trying to really come to terms with my gender identity and how nonconforming it is,” they said. “And I feel really, really happy that I can kind of put a pronoun to how I’ve always felt.”Yael “YaYa” ReichAt midnight on Jan. 1, 2020, Yael “YaYa” Reich was onstage in the Phish show at Madison Square Garden, one of a few dozen dancers costumed like clones of the band. It was a crazy-perfect start to what so many people knew in their bones was going to be a stupendous year.Reich was three days into rehearsals when “Hadestown” stopped. The musical is slated to reopen on Sept. 2.For Reich, 28, it certainly looked that way. In February, she successfully auditioned for “Hadestown,” the reigning Tony Award winner for best musical. Cast as a swing — a performer who learns multiple ensemble roles and must be ready to leap in as the understudy for any of them — she was just three days into rehearsals, with one other person who was joining the show, when Broadway suspended operations.Last month, as the production geared up for its Sept. 2 return, rehearsals involved the whole company: a bit of a shock to Reich’s system after a long stretch of introspection and solitude.“I’ve been on my own for most of the pandemic,” she said. “I actually drove out West and did a whole solo van trip. It was incredibly soul-searching and beautiful and expansive and difficult. But it has been a lot, coming back into a room full of people.”“The fact that it’s these people,” she added, “is kind of the only way I would want to do this right now.”Reich, who is nonbinary, grew up in Seminole, Fla., doing children’s theater with her younger sister from the time they were small.“I basically flew out of the womb singing and dancing,” she said.In high school at the Pinellas County Center for the Arts, and later at the University of Florida, she majored in musical theater. After graduating college in 2015, she toured with “Mamma Mia!” for two years, then with “Rent” and “Evita.”The shutdown gave her the chance to slow down and step back. While she has dreamed her whole life of being on Broadway, she sees it as “a huge milestone” along the journey, not the destination.“If I’ve learned anything from the pandemic,” she said, “it’s that my dreams expand further and wider and deeper than one entity, one institution, one industry.”Continue Reading

The “Dance Moms” alum and TikTok personality will join the ABC show as the first contestant to compete in a same-sex pairing.On Thursday, “Dancing With the Stars” history was made with the announcement that the dancer and social media personality JoJo Siwa would be the first contestant on the ABC program to compete with a same-sex partner.The executive producer Andrew Llinares shared the milestone during a “Dancing With the Stars” Television Critics Association panel.IM SO EXCITED— JoJo Siwa!🌈❤️🎀 (@itsjojosiwa) August 26, 2021
(The show also announced that the gymnast and Olympic gold medalist Suni Lee would be featured in its 30th season, and that other celebrity competitors would be revealed on Sept. 8 on “Good Morning America.” The season begins Sept. 20.)“I have a girlfriend who is the love of my life and who is everything to me,” Siwa told USA Today in an article published Thursday. “My journey of coming out and having a girlfriend has inspired so many people around the world.”“I thought that if I chose to dance with a girl on this show, it would break the stereotypical thing,” she said, adding that it would be “new, different” and a “change for the better.”Siwa came out as part of the L.G.B.T.Q. community earlier this year, when she posted a photo of herself wearing a T-shirt that read “Best Gay Cousin Ever” on Instagram. In April, she told People that “technically I would say that I am pansexual.”At the critics’ association panel, the model and TV personality Tyra Banks — who hosts and executive produces “Dancing With the Stars” — said that she supported the move.“You’re making history, JoJo,” she said. “This is life-changing for so many people. Particularly because you are so young doing this. For you to say this is who you are and it’s beautiful, I’m so proud of you.”Siwa, known for her sparkling hair accessories and bubbly personality, met her girlfriend, Kylie Prew, on a cruise. They began dating in January, and in June, the L.G.B.T.Q. advocacy organization Glaad had named her in their 20 Under 20 List.Glaad’s head of talent, Anthony Allen Ramos, lauded the show’s move in a statement on Thursday. “At 18, JoJo Siwa is once again using her platform to inspire and uplift the L.G.B.T.Q. community,” he said. “As one of today’s most watched and celebrated programs on television, ‘Dancing With the Stars’ and Tyra Banks are making the right decision to feature JoJo Siwa competing alongside a female professional dancer.”“The show has such a wide, far-reaching audience,” he said, “and there is a real opportunity here for people to celebrate the same-sex pairing and root for JoJo and all L.G.B.T.Q. young people.”Continue Reading

“The beach is a moody place, you know?” the choreographer Moriah Evans said.Rockaway Beach, stretched under a sky of filmy clouds, was certainly in a mood last Friday as waves sprouted higher and higher and the squawks of sea gulls were interrupted by the alarming beeps of a weather alert. “Whoa, what is that?” Evans asked before muttering under her breath, “Get out now.”A storm was brewing, but Evans was only mildly agitated. It is what it is. The backdrop of her newest work, a one-off, is the ocean. She’s giving spontaneity a serious whirl.In the aptly named “Repose,” 21 dancers will progress from Beach 86th to Beach 110th Streets in Queens on Sunday starting at 1 p.m. Performing several movement scores drawn from everyday actions and responses to nature at the beach, the dancers will travel 1.4 miles over the course of six hours. Evans would agree that this is unusual for her: “I’m not some outdoor performance aficionado,” she said.And to pull it off, she realized she can’t count on anything, from the weather to the beachgoers. “If it’s a cold day and rainy, the relationship to the public is going to be entirely different,” she said. “But conceptually, for me, we’re not performing this to be seen. I say this as a kind of wish for the work: We’re actually doing this for the waves, for the horizon, for the sky, for the sand, for the birds that pass by.”Moriah Evans, the choreographer of “Repose.”Angelo Silvio Vasta for The New York TimesKota Yamazaki.Angelo Silvio Vasta for The New York TimesToni Carlson.Angelo Silvio Vasta for The New York TimesYamazaki.Angelo Silvio Vasta for The New York TimesThroughout August, Evans has held rehearsals with her stellar, multigenerational cast, but never with more than two dancers at the same time. The process is “very go and do,” she said, as the performance will be. “It’s not like I’m rehearsing it again and again. I’m also excited because I don’t know what this piece is going to be really. We’ll see what happens. I don’t know what’s going to happen!”That’s all for the better. Aren’t you in the mood for something fresh? This won’t be another one of those mixed bills of dancers displaying how happy they are to be dancing again. “Repose,” commissioned by Sasha Okshteyn for her Beach Sessions Dance Series, isn’t just another site-specific work. It’s a vital, visceral response to our current moment that looks at the ways in which the body — whether dancing, moving or in repose — can energize an outdoor space. And outdoor spaces are all the more important during the pandemic.Okshteyn said that after the past year and a half she wanted to produce something “a little bit more investigative, that’s not so like in your face dancing, but that’s more meditative and accessible.”The communal aspect of the beach is part of it, too. “I’ll be interested to see how accessible it is,” Okshteyn said. “It’s called ‘Repose’ — she’s looking at the leisurely positions of the beachgoers, so it is very accessible because it’s kind of pedestrian movement — but it will be interesting to see what people think of it. Is it too abstract?”Evans’s work — internal and probing, with movement emanating from deep in the body — possesses a rawness that fits in nature. It also has a way of being both solemn and lushly free. To Evans, the beach is a theater of the flesh. Her method of framing everyday actions and amplifying them is emotional, joyful, earthy and even humorous. “Repose” is about giving into feeling and the elements; in doing so, Evans takes dance to a different place.From left, Carlson, Yamazaki and Crousillat.Angelo Silvio Vasta for The New York TimesHer magnetic cast — full of stars of downtown dance — is an important part of the journey and includes Iréne Hultman, Marc Crousillat, Shayla-Vie Jenkins, Niall Jones, Jess Pretty and Antonio Ramos. What Hultman, a choreographer and former member of the Trisha Brown Dance Company, appreciates most about Evans’s work is that she goes into the unknown. “I’m looking forward to being in between land and water and then to have the air,” she said, “and to to be almost like a herd of animals.”Evans’s evolving movement scores feature “mirroring,” or copying the acts of people on the beach; and “crawl rock roll position,” in which the performers crawl like an insect or an animal; become as inanimate as a stone; and roll into the ocean as taut as a log or as stretched and supple as a highly trained dancer.The “rock” moment from “crawl rock roll” — each component can be separated to be its own score — is one of those actions that sometimes leads to a parks department employee pausing to ask if everything is OK. It has a lifeless quality and sometimes the look of child’s pose in yoga, with the arms pinned to the sides. It happens in the sand.During one rehearsal, Evans explained to the dancer Daria Faïn that she was looking for containment — to think about a contraction.“Like Martha à la New Age,” she said with enthusiasm, referring to Martha Graham, whose deep pelvic contractions were a hallmark of her dances. “Like contraction into inanimate matter!”For another score, the cast members have the option of performing something entirely personal. In that same rehearsal session, Evans asked Faïn, “Do you have a beach dance fantasy?” Her first wish was to be able to swim into the sea — really far. Alas, lifeguards at Rockaway don’t go for that sort of thing.Faïn paused while scooping wet sand onto her legs. “I would like to be buried,” she said. “That is a huge fantasy.”Sorted. As for some others? Anh Vo will wail at the ocean’s edge. Alex Rodabaugh will perform cartwheels in the water. This fantasy score was inspired by Evans’s original idea for the work: “It was to have 100 naked bodies on the beach kind of hanging out the way sea lions hang out on the cove,” she said. “Just being in a state of repose.”It gives you a window into her agile imagination. “That didn’t happen,” she added. “So now this is happening.”During rehearsals, beachgoers stared and sometimes laughed. Many drifted away, but a few asked what was going on. Evans would tell them, “I’m just reframing your actions as a dance” or talk about how they are engaging with “the dance of the everyday.” She tells her performers — if they are questioned — to make eye contact and to be open. “Like spread joy,” Evans said. “But don’t get distracted or start into what you’re doing, why you’re doing it and talking about is it art or not art? Let the people have that conversation. It’s not our job.”From left, Yamazaki, Carlson and Marc Crousillat.Angelo Silvio Vasta for The New York TimesYamazaki and Carlson.Angelo Silvio Vasta for The New York TimesCarlson.Angelo Silvio Vasta for The New York TimesCrousillat.Angelo Silvio Vasta for The New York TimesBut for the performance itself, the dancers won’t fade into the seascape so easily: They will be wearing green bathing suits in the same Pantone shade (PMS 368) of those who work in the parks department. The costumes are credited to the Bureau for the Future of Choreography and Amber Evans (Moriah’s sister), and they pop. Eric Peterson, the parks administrator for Rockaway, appreciates the homage.“It’s picking up the elements, the flavors of the beach and of the parks department — of what we do,” Peterson said. “And it’s picking up those elements while not usurping — they’re not dancing in staff uniforms, they’re incorporating elements of the color palette.”All the while, Evans is aware of the invisible choreography of the beach. When the lifeguards blow their whistles at 6 p.m. to leave, it’s a signal for everyone to get out of the water. It’s also when the sea gulls know it’s prime time to hunt for trash. In that final hour — because the lifeguards have gone off-duty, amplified sound is permitted — the musician and composer David Watson will present a sonic sunset score with live performance as well as prerecorded audio and field recordings.When Evans thinks about “Repose” she is considering everything — nature, park workers and beach behavior with its small, group arrangements and configurations — as a horizontal mass. “What is the purpose of the theater?” she said. “Sometimes I think it’s just a frame to hold people together in an experience. And in that way, I find the beach is also doing that: We’re in a shared framework.”Fittingly, audience members are invited to follow the performers as they progress or even to create their own movement experiences. Evans has created a comic strip that shows 16 actions for “Repose.” There are instructions for small events, like: “Recline at the shoreline, relax into a position, stay there until the waves crash and move your body into a new position.”There’s a reason the comic, featuring illustrations by Jeffrey Lewis, ends with a line that reads, “A performance by Moriah Evans and you and them and us and many people for Beach Seasons 2021.” It’s inclusive because to Evans, art is made by people as well as artists.“People attending a performance make the performance happen or contribute to it what is,” she said. “I think it will happen inevitably in a public space like this. And you really can’t control the conditions. We cannot control the weather or the lights or the behavior of the public in relationship to it. Giving up control in that way is a good thing.”Continue Reading

Calls for change in this lucrative dance subculture have become broader and deeper, encompassing issues of race, gender and predatory behavior.In spring, Siara Fuller, the artistic director of Charlotte Performing Arts Academy in North Carolina, brought a group of students to a dance competition in Fort Mill, S.C. It was, in many ways, an ordinary weekend within the extraordinary world of competitive dance: Hundreds of young dancers assembled at a convention center, donned glittery costumes and giant false lashes, and presented spit-polished routines for a panel of judges. (Because of Covid-19, the dancers accessorized with face masks.)But a moment from that weekend nags at Fuller, who is Black, as are most of her students. Nine of her dancers performed a jazz piece set to Beyoncé’s “Crazy in Love,” which featured fan kicks and pirouettes — hallmarks of competitive jazz — while also, as Fuller described it, “getting a little funky.” The number had scored well at other events. But this time, one white judge gave it a low score, citing a lack of “technical” elements.“We had every element you could need,” Fuller said. “But because we were more groovy with it, in the judge’s mind I think it became something more like hip-hop. And I thought: If we’d had nine white girls on that stage, doing the same thing, would we have gotten the same comment?”Fuller grew up attending dance competitions. Like many “comp kids,” she enjoyed the experience, and now brings her students to several competitive events a year. But she also recognizes the need for change in this lucrative, influential industry, whose bright lights can conceal discrimination, exclusivity and even abuse.“I see how much my kids benefit from these events,” Fuller said. “But some competitions haven’t evolved at all in 15, 20 years.”Dance competitions — and conventions, which offer workshop classes with prominent teachers, often in conjunction with competitive events — first emerged in the 1970s. Since then, they have spawned a distinctive, seductive subculture, mixing the hard-driving athleticism of organized sports with the presentational flair of performance art.Scenes from the New York City Dance Alliance competition in Orlando, Fla., in JulySlide 1 of 5 1/5The Talent Factory in Rhode Island perform “Heroes.” Zack Wittman for The New York TimesSlide 1 of 5 1/5The Talent Factory in Rhode Island perform “Heroes.” Zack Wittman for The New York TimesSlide 2 of 5 2/5Mary Alice’s Dance Studio in New York perform “When My Time Comes Around.”Zack Wittman for The New York TimesSlide 3 of 5 3/5Dancemakers of Atlanta perform “Nonstop.”Zack Wittman for The New York TimesSlide 4 of 5 4/5Competitors cheer for their fellow dancers from the audience.Zack Wittman for The New York TimesSlide 5 of 5 5/5Dancers from the Dance Depot in Idaho react to winning the Teen Critics Choice award.Zack Wittman for The New York Times“Think of your son’s football league, including the full-body impact, sometimes,” said Jason Williams, an entertainment-industry dancer who attended competitions as a student and frequently returns to teach and choreograph. “Pair that with a beauty pageant. Go!”For decades, the industry has attracted criticism for its exclusionary costs, high-pressure environments and sexualization of children. Recently, however, the calls for change have become broader and deeper, encompassing issues of race, gender and predatory behavior. And many of today’s critics are young studio directors and convention faculty members — artists who grew up in this world, have witnessed both its power and its problems, and understand how to use social media to sound the alarm.“We want to hold these businesses accountable for the harm that they are consciously or unconsciously causing,” said Cat Cogliandro, a dancer and choreographer who teaches at multiple conventions. “We want them to put the money to the side, and the humanity at the front.”If you know the competitive dance world only through “Dance Moms” — Lifetime’s reality show, now a decade old, which favored sequin-spangled drama over sportsmanship — it might feel easy to dismiss. Until recently, many members of the academic and concert dance worlds viewed the big-smile theatricality of competition dancers with a mixture of confusion and derision. “Ten or 15 years ago, there used to be this sense of: ‘You come from where? You did what?’” said Karen Schupp, a former competitive dancer who is now an associate professor of dance at Arizona State University.But as competitive events have grown in size and reach, they’ve become an important part of the dance ecosystem. They can forge dancers of great versatility and virtuosity, and today, alumni dot the ranks of elite college dance programs, renowned dance companies and buzzy Hollywood projects. The New York City Ballet principal Tiler Peck, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater star Jamar Roberts, and nearly every winner of Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance” came up through dance competitions. So did Britney Spears and Beyoncé.Many competitions and conventions tour to small cities across the country, helping introduce dance to young people who might otherwise have little exposure to it. And they offer ways for students to find community and make professional connections.“We come from a pro-educational place,” says Joe Lanteri, the founder of New York City Dance Alliance, shown here at a competition in Florida in July. Zack Wittman for The New York Times“We come from a pro-educational place,” said Joe Lanteri, the founder of New York City Dance Alliance, which runs a respected convention and a foundation offering college scholarships. “Dancers have the opportunity to hone their craft, perform, get to know the peers who will end up auditioning alongside them, and meet the working professionals on faculty.”Money, however, is a driving factor. Dance competitions and conventions are largely for-profit entities, and entry fees and related costs can run each participant thousands of dollars a year. Though reliable information about this diffuse and unregulated industry is hard to come by, a report by the research firm IBISWorld found that in 2012, dance competitions alone generated nearly $500 million in revenue. With new events debuting frequently that figure has almost certainly grown.During the pandemic, those numbers took a nosedive. Lanteri estimates some 20,000 dancers attend New York City Dance Alliance events in a typical year; in the 2020-21 season, he saw 50 percent attrition, despite a partial pivot to virtual events. (At least one Covid-19 outbreak was linked to an in-person dance competition.)This moment of financial vulnerability coincided with a wave of self-reflection in the larger dance community, prompted by swelling social justice movements. As the competition and convention industry searches for a path back to full operation, and profitability, after pandemic shutdowns, its critics see an opportune moment for change.Cogliandro, who uses they/she pronouns, is one of the leaders of the Dance Safe, an organization that supports survivors of abuse in dance. They said they frequently hear accounts of grooming and sexual exploitation of students in competition and convention settings, where teachers and judges wield outsize power, and very young dancers are often asked to perform provocative choreography.Even after a 2010 incident in which viral footage of prepubescent girls performing a suggestive competition routine led to public outcry, you can still find 8-year-olds in bikinis on competitive stages. And the scene’s high-stakes, few-rules environments can foster inappropriate interactions between students and older authority figures. A recent lawsuit accusing a former convention teacher, Mitchell Taylor Button, of abusing young dancers has brought renewed attention to the issue.“In elementary school, a teacher would never text a child from their class, so why is it OK for a convention teacher to do that?” Cogliandro said. “The lines are so blurred.”Critics also question the beauty pageant-like way competitions and conventions approach gender. At most events, competitors are divided into male and female categories, and convention classes often split students into groups by gender. Though not unique to competition and convention settings, these are nevertheless complicated scenarios for nonbinary and transgender students.Breanna Myers, left, a dance artist and therapist; and Hayden J Frederick, a dancer and choreographer, are on the faculty of the Embody Dance Conference, which aims to create a safer and more inclusive dance community.Lila Barth for The New York Times“They gender everything,” said Hayden J Frederick, a transgender dancer, choreographer and teacher. “The choreography, the costuming, the award titles, even in class — ‘boys do it this way, girls do it that way’ — it’s all binary thinking.”Some of the most urgent reform campaigns concern the overwhelming whiteness of the industry. Williams, who is Black, has become a leader in efforts to address racial inequities at competitions and conventions. “You go to these events, and most have almost no Black kids,” he said, “and zero Black teachers.”For students of color, that lack of diversity can be alienating. Christian Burse, a gifted 17-year-old Black dancer who will become an apprentice with Complexions Contemporary Ballet this fall, said she values the skills and connections she has built at competitions and conventions. But she remembers the disorientation she felt at her first convention class: “I was 9, walking into that big room, and I was like, ‘Why am I the only person that looks like me in here? Am I allowed to even be in this space?’”Faculty and staff members at these events have become more vocal about issues like implicit bias in judging and cultural appropriation in competition choreography. (In Dance Teacher magazine, the Broadway dancer and competition judge Richard Riaz Yoder described one hip-hop routine performed by white dancers as “modern-day blackface.”) But voicing their concerns often means risking their jobs.One of the only people of color in an industry leadership role is Sonia James Pennington, a founder of the National Dance Showcase competition. “I watch studio directors of color come into one of our events, and see that I am African-American, and there’s a sense of: ‘I can exhale,’” she said. “If we could normalize diversity at all levels, everyone would benefit.”Recently, a few established competitions and conventions have taken small steps forward. Break the Floor Productions, which runs some of the industry’s biggest events, started an educational YouTube series highlighting Black dance artists. The trophies for New York City Dance Alliance’s national competition winners no longer mention gender. Large-scale reform, though, feels a long way off.That slow pace of change pushed Olivia Zimmerman, 23, to develop Embody Dance Conference. Beginning this weekend, the new dance convention — its competition debuts next year — aims to create “a safer and more inclusive dance community.”Zimmerman grew up in competitions and conventions and worked as a competition director for a dance studio. Embody, which began as her college thesis, is thoroughly ambitious. This weekend’s event at Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut will feature seminars for dancers on antiracism, mental health and gender. (The TikTok dance star Charli D’Amelio will discuss social media’s impact on mental health.) Cogliandro’s the Dance Safe will lead workshops. Classes will not divide students by gender, and participants will specify their pronouns. Accommodations will be made for dancers with disabilities.The faculty will include transgender artists, Frederick among them; several people of color; and mental health professionals, including the dance artist and therapist Breanna Myers. And — perhaps most revolutionary of all — though Embody is currently a corporation with a nonprofit arm, Zimmerman plans to eventually run the whole endeavor as a nonprofit.Only a few hundred people have registered for Embody’s first convention. But Zimmerman hopes to pilot a model other events can then adapt. “This isn’t proprietary,” she said. “We’re not trying to make money off ‘being the change.’ I want everyone to follow suit, so that in five years, we’re just another convention.”That evolution might take more than five years, and will require the continued efforts of a coalition of reformers. Jason Williams believes it’s worth it.“I’ve had a lot of people say to me, ‘Are you mad at the dance competition world?’” he said. “I’m not mad at it. I love it. I love all these creative people making this big gumbo of dance and sports and art. And it’s my duty, as someone who loves it, to let it know that it needs to change.”Continue Reading

Our critics and writers have selected noteworthy cultural events to experience virtually and in person in New York City.KIDSWhere Fun Always FlowsA child enjoying one of the exhibits at “Dynamic H2O,” on view through mid-October at the Sussman Environmental Center at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan.via Children’s Museum of ManhattanChildren may not immediately understand the title “Dynamic H2O,” but they don’t need to have studied chemistry to warm to this exhibition’s cool topic.A seasonal installation at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, this show teaches all about water: its critical role in human life and, more specifically, how it gets from the Catskill Mountains to New York City homes. On view through mid-October in the Sussman Environmental Center, a multilevel outdoor space, “Dynamic H2O” is open whenever the museum is, as long as the exhibition’s subject is not falling from the sky. (Families must buy timed tickets in advance.)The installation has interactive exhibits, as well as diagrams, illustrations and charts. But the real star is the substance itself: A new 22-foot-long water table provides a continuously cleaned and flowing supply. After donning museum-supplied smocks, children can use small tools and toy building materials to redirect this stream, block it or send it coursing down chutes, through pipes and around artificial land masses. A second water table offers pretend sailing and fishing — no immersion, but lots of splashy fun.LAUREL GRAEBERPop & RockKnockdown Festival ReturnsPink Siifu will be among the performers at Outline, a musical festival at the Knockdown Center in Queens on Saturday and Sunday.Schaun Champion for The New York TimesThe interdisciplinary arts space Knockdown Center, which occupies a former factory in the Maspeth section of Queens, inaugurated its seasonal music festival, Outline, in February 2020. But it was a hapless start: The next five editions were canceled because of the pandemic.This weekend, Outline makes its comeback in the center’s backyard with an eclectic lineup that ranges from underrecognized elders to buzzy up-and-comers. Saturday’s headliner is ESG, the dance-punk group from the Bronx whose track “UFO,” from 1981, permeates decades of music history, having been sampled by numerous artists, including N.W.A. and Nine Inch Nails. They’re joined by Magdalena Bay, a duo from Los Angeles who make sparkling, maximalist synth-pop (and delightfully weird TikToks); the experimental rapper and producer Pink Siifu, whose recent album “Gumbo’!” reflects his Southern rap influences; and others.Sunday’s bill includes the club-pop singer Jessy Lanza and the house producer Galcher Lustwerk. Performances run each day from 3 to 10 p.m.; single-day tickets are available for $30 in advance, or $35 on the day of, at HORNDanceFlamenco in the ParkMembers of Ballet Hispanco in “Línea Recta,” among the works it will perform at Bryant Park on Friday.Paula LoboThe annual Bryant Park Picnic Performances series was presenting dance shows outdoors before that was considered a safety measure. This summer, the series has been similar to those of previous years in that it’s still free and first come first to enter, with food vendors and a relaxed vibe. The difference: the option of staying home and watching the livestream on the Bryant Park website.On Friday at 7 p.m., this year’s dance offerings come to a close with the sleekly contemporary entertainment of Ballet Hispánico. The repertory is bright and stylish: “Línea Recta,” Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s chic deconstruction of flamenco fashion and traditions, and “18+1,” a Gustavo Ramírez Sansano romp to Perez Prado mambos. Sharing the bill is Jamel Gaines Creative Outlet, whose selections include “Waiting,” which uses John Mayer tracks to move from anguish and struggle to playful celebration.BRIAN SEIBERTClassical MusicSchubert Goes ElectricJudith Berkson, whose new album, “Liederkreis II,” leans more heavily on electronic instrumentation.Yuan LiuThe discography of the vocalist, pianist and composer Judith Berkson gives a hint to her range. Her 2010 album, “Oylam,” on ECM Records, featured Yiddish folk songs and excerpts from Schubert’s “Winterreise,” as well as original pieces. Since then, she has also contributed vocals to some searing and complex albums by the drummer Dan Weiss.Berkson’s latest album — “Liederkreis II,” released by the Notice imprint in May — provides another look at her adaptive intelligence, as she leans more aggressively into electronic instrumentation (and manipulation).Schubert’s influence is felt, once again. Though this time, with “Der Doppelgänger,” Berkson grafts some moody synths to her beaming, trancelike vocal performance. The result hits as if it were a rendition of the canonical track reconfigured for some club in a David Lynch film. The rest of the album balances that songful quality with edgier, percussive experiments (as on pieces like “NeuDeux” and “Bundt”).SETH COLTER WALLSTheaterA Panaroma’s Graceful EndJay O. Sanders and Maryann Plunkett watching Charlotte Bydwell dancing during a rehearsal of “What Happened?: The Michaels Abroad,” which starts in previews on Saturday.Sara Krulwich/The New York TimesThe dozen plays in Richard Nelson’s Rhinebeck Panorama have always been about Americans reacting with indoor voices to whichever rancorous cultural moment they find themselves in. With their slow-paced naturalism and domestic intimacy, these spare dramas are peopled with families — the Apples, the Gabriels, the Michaels — that have been entwined, one way or another, for years.“What Happened?: The Michaels Abroad,” which starts previews on Saturday at Hunter College’s Frederick Loewe Theater, is the final installment in the series, Nelson says. It is also a return to gathering in person — albeit not at the Public Theater, where most of the cycle was first staged — after Nelson, who is his own director, took it online with three Zoom plays.In “What Happened?,” Rose Michael, a choreographer, is dead, a loss that ripples among those who love her, including her wife (Maryann Plunkett), her ex-husband (Jay O. Sanders) and her former dancers. Expect interludes, then, of terpsichorean grace.LAURA COLLINS-HUGHESContinue Reading

Ms. Baker will be the first Black woman to be entombed in the Panthéon in Paris, a symbolic move amid racial tensions in France.PARIS — Josephine Baker, an American-born Black dancer and civil rights activist who in the early 20th century became one of France’s great music-hall stars, will be laid to rest in the Panthéon, France’s storied tomb of heroes, a close adviser to President Emmanuel Macron said on Sunday.The honor will make Ms. Baker — who became a French citizen in 1937 and died in Paris in 1975 — the first Black woman and one of very few foreign-born figures to be interred there. The Panthéon houses the remains of some of France’s most revered, including Victor Hugo, Marie Curie and Jean-Jacques Rousseau.The decision to transfer Ms. Baker’s remains, which are buried in Monaco, comes after a petition calling for the move, started by the writer Laurent Kupferman, caught the attention of Mr. Macron. The petition has garnered nearly 40,000 signatures over the past two years.Mr. Kupferman suggested that Mr. Macron approved the reinterment “because, probably, Josephine Baker embodies the Republic of possibilities.”“How could a woman who came from a discriminated and very poor background achieve her destiny and become a world star?” Mr. Kupferman said. “That was possible in France at a time when it was not in the United States.”Entombment at the Panthéon can be approved only by a president, and Ms. Baker’s reinterment is highly symbolic, coming as France has been convulsed by heated culture wars over its model of social integration, and as gender and race issues have fractured the country around new political front lines.The news was first reported by Le Parisien newspaper. The funeral will take place on Nov. 30.Ms. Baker, born Freda Josephine McDonald in 1906 in St. Louis, started her career as a dancer in New York in the early 1920s before heading to France, where she quickly became a sensation.She said that she had been motivated to move abroad because of discrimination that she had endured in the United States. “I just couldn’t stand America, and I was one of the first colored Americans to move to Paris,” she told The Guardian newspaper in 1974.Along with other Black American artists — including the writers Richard Wright and James Baldwin — Ms. Baker said she found in France a freedom that she felt denied in the United States.Ms. Baker in 1961. During World War II, she served as an ambulance driver and an intelligence agent, earning her medals of honor. Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesIn Paris, Ms. Baker quickly rose to fame and became a fixture in shows at Les Folies Bergères, a famous music hall, dominating France’s cabarets with her sense of humor, her frantic dancing and her iconic songs, like “J’ai Deux Amours,” or “I Have Two Loves.”But part of her artistic career was also built around stereotyped and erotic dances, like the so-called banana dance. The dances were riddled with racist tropes once associated with Black women and their bodies in a colonial France then fascinated with Black and African arts, prompting some activists at the time to denounce her for fueling those caricatures.But Pap Ndiaye, a historian who specializes in Black studies, said in 2019 on France Culture radio that Ms. Baker had specifically used the stereotypes in her acts, deriding them as much as she exaggerated them.“It is this French colonial imaginary world which she will capture and which she will play with, obviously with many nods and much distance, because Josephine Baker is not fooled,” Mr. Ndiaye said.Ms. Baker later became a passionate civil rights advocate in the United States. She wrote about racial equality, refused to perform in segregated venues and, in 1963, joined the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. onstage to speak during the March on Washington.In recent years, French authorities have responded to growing calls to inter more women in the Panthéon, where the vast majority of those buried are men. In 2014, Germaine Tillion and Geneviève de Gaulle-Anthonioz, who fought in the French Resistance to the Nazis, were awarded the honor, and Simone Veil, a health minister who championed France’s legalization of abortion, was laid to rest there in 2018.Ms. Baker’s burial at the Panthéon, by nature of it being the first awarded to a Black woman, could prove politically beneficial for Mr. Macron as debates over racial discrimination are raging in France less than a year before the 2022 presidential elections. But Sunday’s announcement may also give fuel to the animosity over France’s model of integration, which Mr. Macron’s government has heated up recently.Supporters of moving Ms. Baker’s remains to the Panthéon have said that it was France’s so-called universalist model — purportedly secular, colorblind and of equal opportunity — that allowed her to perform in France when she could not in the United States. But this model has also come under severe criticism recently, with some critics, especially among young minorities, accusing it of masking widespread racism and of comprising unfulfilled ideals.The reinterment will also afford France the chance to celebrate Ms. Baker’s life outside the arts. During World War II, she served as an ambulance driver and an intelligence agent, earning her medals of honor. And in the 1950s, Ms. Baker adopted a dozen orphans of various nationalities, races and religions, with whom she lived in a chateau in southwestern France.Continue Reading

The digital season will include the premieres of four commissioned pieces and new duets by Kyle Abraham and Liz Gerring.Baryshnikov Arts Center will hold another free online season before welcoming audiences back to its theaters in spring. Mikhail Baryshnikov, who founded the institution in 2005, said the main reason for remaining virtual was a long-planned replacement of its building’s heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system, which is to get underway in fall.The coming season will include the premieres of commissioned pieces by River L. Ramirez, a comedian and musician (Oct. 18 to Nov. 1); the dancer Sooraj Subramaniam (Nov. 1-15); Jordan Demetrius Lloyd, a New York City dance artist (Nov. 29 to Dec. 13); and the dance duo Molly Lieber and Eleanor Smith (Jan. 10-24).This is the second round of new work that the center has supported during the pandemic. The first was streamed during its spring 2021 season, and featured pieces by Stefanie Batten Bland, Mariana Valencia and Bijayini Satpathy.“Instead of doing virtual galas, we decided to celebrate artists and their creativity,” Baryshnikov said of the choice to focus on commissioning. This emphasis, he added, is in keeping with the center’s primary mission, which is to help artists develop and experiment “without commercial pressure.”The choreographers Kyle Abraham and Liz Gerring will also present new dances through the center this fall. Each has made a duet in response to Merce Cunningham’s “Landrover” (1972). Their contributions, commissioned by the center and the Merce Cunningham Trust, will stream Sept. 20-30 in an online program alongside solos and duets from Cunningham’s work performed by Jacquelin Harris and Chalvar Monteiro of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.Two filmed solos by the Swedish choreographer Mats Ek (streaming Oct. 4-14); and “Pigulim,” a filmed dance-theater work by Ella Rothschild, an Israeli choreographer and former Batsheva Dance Company performer (available Dec. 13-23), round out the announced slate.For Baryshnikov, it has been “a pleasant surprise” to see that the performing arts can be successfully created, shared and enjoyed in digital forms. “Thousands of people have been watching the online programming and we got so many responses from all over the world,” he said.There are creative benefits to filming work that would otherwise be presented live onstage as well. “We gave artists the opportunity to really be in charge of their own presentation,” he said. “It’s a new medium — you have to be a cameraman or a director besides being a choreographer or a composer or an instrumentalist or a singer.”Continue Reading

“The Other Shore,” by the Seattle-based dance and visual art team Zoe Juniper, features an experience with a Google Cardboard VR viewer.Last week, I received a package in the mail. Among the contents: pieces of thick, copper-colored foil; vials of water, air and gold paint; a booklet with photos of gold-painted dancers amid giant, crumpled pieces of the same foil; and a Google Cardboard viewer to turn my smartphone into virtual-reality goggles.This was all equipment for the “at-home experience” of “The Other Shore,” by the Seattle-based dance and visual art team Zoe Juniper (led by the choreographer Zoe Scofield and the visual artist Juniper Shuey).The booklet turned out to be the essential item, for it contains QR codes that link to performance videos. On Tuesday night, after a Zoom presentation given by the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival (which commissioned the project with Carolina Performing Arts and sent the boxes), some of the links became active, and some of “The Other Shore” could be explored. (For now, if you haven’t already purchased a box, you’ll have to settle for my report.)Virtual-reality experiments are still rare in dance, and for me, parts of “The Other Shore” experience were excitingly novel. The work is divided into two sections — Books 1 and 2 — but all that is available so far are segments of Book 1. These are a series of 25-minute solos filmed with a 360-degree camera. Watching them in VR gives a new meaning to in-your-face dance.The instructions recommend a swivel chair — a good idea, since your perspective is centered, and you often have to continue rotating to keep in view a dancer who circles around you. It really does feel as if you and the dancer were in the same room, almost touching. The intimacy is intense.An image from the art book with “The Other Shore,” which is best experienced on a swivel chair.Zoe Scofield and Juniper ShueyThat room is a bit odd, though, strewn with giant pieces of the crumpled golden foil (a Zoe Juniper trademark). The three solos that have been released follow the same basic sequence. The dancer hatches from beneath the foil, arranges it, uses a bowl of water to get wet and then pulls a pot of golden paint from a hole in the floor and smears it all over his or her body.As this structure is repeated, using the same music, each dancer is differentiated, undergoing a distinct transformation that is manifested physically. To further distinguish each performer, we are also given a separate audio track, in which the story of that dancer’s birth is recounted by members of his or her family.There’s some tension between the ordinariness of these stories and the work’s mythical aspirations, between the mundane materials sent to viewers (to help make the virtual experience more tactile) and the numinous intent (the title, the mystery of birth, the suggestion of extracting the divine essence from the navel of the world).Another image from the art book for “The Other Shore.” For each dancer, there is a separate audio track, in which the story of the performer’s birth is recounted by members of his or her family.Zoe Scofield and Juniper ShueySo far, all the golden packaging promises more than it contains, though the technology definitely shows potential for ritual magic. When I tried watching without the VR goggles, I was much further from enchanted.The preceding Zoom presentation of various clips and montages was flatter still, almost a disservice to the project. But it did give a glimpse of Book 2, a series of group pieces in which the viewer’s perspective is underneath the dance, lying on the floor, looking up. Even without VR goggles, the footage flashed some thrilling fun-house-mirror effects.So there’s more to look forward to, as more videos are released in coming months. A live version will debut in Seattle next year, but Zoe Juniper has already shown that there are other shores of at-home dance experience worth exploring further.Continue Reading

The fall season also includes appearances by a Supreme Court justice, Broadway actress and presidential biographer.For what is planned as its first in-person season since March 2020, the 92nd Street Y is bringing in a bevy of stage and screen stars, and a robust slate of authors, which will include Susan Orlean, Colm Toibin and Colson Whitehead.Whitehead, whose 2016 novel “The Underground Railroad” won a Pulitzer Prize and was adapted into an Amazon series this year, will kick off the season with the first public reading from his new novel, “Harlem Shuffle,” on Sept. 14. He’ll be followed by the Irish novelist Colm Toibin, who on Sept. 17 will read from his new novel, “The Magician,” a portrait of Thomas Mann and the times in which he lived.Also in the lineup are Susan Orlean, who will read from her new book, “On Animals” (Oct. 25); Louise Erdrich, reading from her new novel, “The Sentence” (Nov. 11); and Rita Dove (Nov. 15), the former U.S. poet laureate, who wrote about living with multiple sclerosis in her new book, “Playlist for the Apocalypse: Poems.”The season also includes political players: The Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer will appear with the investor David Rubenstein (Sept. 13); and Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California, will discuss his new book, “Midnight in Washington,” with the Pulitzer-winning biographer Ron Chernow (Oct. 12).Stage and screen personalities will also be represented: The CNN anchor Anderson Cooper (Sept. 21), the E Street Band member Steven Van Zandt (Sept. 29), and the Broadway and TV actress Sutton Foster (Oct. 13) will stop by to discuss their new books.For the first time in nearly 50 years, the 92nd Street Y said, it will also present a full season of dance performances at Kaufmann Concert Hall. Performers include Hope Boykin (Oct. 21) and the tap dancers Michelle Dorrance and Dormeshia (Dec. 16).Under the protocols in place now, adults must show proof of vaccination to attend any live event (most events will also include an option to watch online), and masks will be required for everyone over age 2, regardless of vaccination status. A full lineup, including some virtual-only events, can be found at Reading