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Fisher Center at Bard Announces 2020-21 Programming

The virtual season will feature digital dance performances, a multidisciplinary project inspired by James Baldwin, and a community engagement project.

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.: The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College has announced its 2020-21 season, which will feature digital programming on the Center’s online venue Upstreaming.

“The season was born from a number of urgent questions,” said artistic director Gideon Lester in a statement. “How can we continue to support artists in this time when gathering in person is impossible? What kind of artistic interventions and offerings might offer healing and hope to communities around the world in this time of turmoil and strife? What might artists teach us about new forms and ways of working that we might carry forward from the shutdown into the future? In these projects, brilliant artists from across genres are exploring entirely contemporary forms to show us paths of hope and transformation.”

The season began on Sept. 5 with “Out of the Silence: A Celebration of Music,” presented as part of the Bard Music Festival and the Orchestra Now. The music series will pair works by Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky, Dvořák and Bartók with 10 prominent Black composers, including Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, Alvin Singleton, Adolphus Hailstork, and Jessie Montgomery, among others. The concerts, which will also be held Sept. 12, 19, and 26, will be performed on campus without an audience. Leon Botstein will serve as music director.

Theatre performance offerings will include commissions by Live Arts Bard (LAB), including Meshell Ndegeocello’s Chapter & Verse: The Gospel of James Baldwin (begins Sept. 15), co-commissioned UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre, and Festival de Marseilles. Made in collaboration with director Charlotte Brathwaite, the performance is an episodic, multimedia “ritual toolkit for justice” with new music, text, interviews, printed materials, and calls to action inspired by the work of James Baldwin.

Also part of the season will be The Future Is Present: A Casting the Vote Project (Oct.), developed by Brathwaite, June Cross, Sunder Ganglani, Janani Balasubramanian, and Justin Hicks. The project will engage a core group of Black and Indigenous youth from the Hudson Valley and New York City to collaborate with Bard students and professional artist/activists. The partnership will culminate in a series of performances, visual outputs, and actions this fall.

Following will be choreographer in residence Pam Tanowitz’s dance theatre piece Four Quartets, which premiered in 2018 at Bard SummerScape. The project will include a limited stream of an archival recording of the dance, a new documentary about its creation, and an audio recording of Kathleen Chalfant reading T.S. Eliot’s “Four Quartets.”

Next, Tania El Khoury, Bard College’s Distinguished Artist in Residence of Theater and Performance, will work with Zaid Abu-Rish on As Far as Isolation Goes, a companion piece to their project As Far as My Fingertips Take Me. This U.S. premiere, presented as a one-on-one live Zoom performance, reflects on the mental and physical turmoil experienced by migrants and refugees.

The season will continue with a film commission from Peter Sellars made in isolation that incorporates text, song, movement, and calligraphy using the teachings of an ancient Buddhist sutra on illness and the impermanent material body. The artists will include South Indian singer Ganavya Doraiswamy, improvisatory dancer Michael Schumacher, calligrapher Wang Dongling, and  cinematographer Yu Lik-wai.

The season will conclude with two new dance for camera works from Tanowitz, including Past Present Future, commissioned by PBS/All Arts and co-produced by the Fisher Center and Cyprian Films, and Finally Unfinished, a co-commission from the Fisher Center and Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Exact release dates and details for how to access each project will be announced here.

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