Rogovoy Report 8/16/19

Aug 16, 2019

The highlights of the cultural weekend in our region include cutting-edge dance; 19th century music; folk-blues; Shakespeare … plus a whole lot more.

A couple of weeks ago, Jacob’s Pillow in Becket, Mass., featured an innovative multimedia program starring former New York City Ballet principal dancer Wendy Whelan in a very un-ballet-like performance. This weekend, the Pillow once again features a ballet dancer gone rogue. This time out it is Sara Mearns and the program, which takes place tonight through Sunday, is called, aptly, “Beyond Ballet.” This Pillow-exclusive production features the New York City Ballet Principal dancer performing No. 1 with Honji Wang of the French hip-hop duo Wang Ramirez; the world premiere of Opulence, choreographed by and danced with Jodi Melnick; a new solo by Christopher Williams from the developing ballet Daphnis & Chloé; Liz Gerring’s Duet, danced alongside fellow NYC Ballet principal Ashley Bouder; and a reimagining of Martha Graham’s monumental solo from 1933, Ekstasis.

Dance fans also take note: tonight and tomorrow night at PS21 in Chatham, N.Y., dance meets film meets virtual reality when Bridgman|Packer Dance presents their highly acclaimed, Bessie Award-winning program, “Voyeur.” Featuring choreographer/performers Art Bridgman and Myrna Packer’s innovative work in “Video Partnering” — the integration of live performance and video technology — Voyeur is inspired by artist Edward Hopper’s world of color, light, perspective, and under-the-surface eroticism.

If a dance party is what you’re looking for this weekend, take heart: on Saturday at 8 p.m. at MASS MoCA in North Adams, Jupiter & Okwess mix traditional Congolese rhythms with Western rock and pop styles to create “vigorous, inventive variations on funk” that add up to pure dance-floor bliss.

Or maybe you just want to sit back, listen, be entertained and even amazed. If that’s the case, I’ve got your ticket. Folk-blues singer-songwriter Chris Smither holds forth for a two-night residency at the Guthrie Center in Great Barrington, Mass., tonight and Saturday night at 8 o’clock. Smither’s New Orleans roots, his enduring love of blues progenitors Mississippi John Hurt and Lightin’ Hopkins, and his time in the 1960s absorbing the Boston-area folk scene, have conjured a voice and fingerpicking style both rich in tradition and unlike any others. It’s also why artists ranging from Bonnie Raitt to Diana Krall have recorded Smither compositions such as “Love You Like a Man.” Smither is the real deal.

Also on tap this weekend: Williamstown author Jim Shepard talks about the movies over dinner at Hancock Shaker Village on Saturday night; Yo-Yo Ma plays Schumann’s Cello Concerto, backed up ably by his band of all-stars, also known as the Boston Symphony Orchestra, at Tanglewood on Sunday afternoon; and two Shakespearean one-person shows run back to back at Bridge Street Theater in Catskill, NY.

Seth Rogovoy is editor of Berkishire Daily and the Rogovoy Report, available at rogovoyreport.com