If this were a typical August, dance fans would be heading to the southern tip of Manhattan right about now for the annual Battery Dance Festival, an eclectic collection of local and international dance companies performing on an outdoor stage against a sunset-streaked harbor.
This year, however, the festival’s 39th iteration occurs on Battery Dance’s YouTube channel, starting on Friday at 7 p.m. Eastern time. The silver lining of this virtual format is that while some of the 52 performances were recently shot in Battery Park, others take viewers to stunning global locations — from beaches to mountaintops to city streets.
On Saturday, the focus is on India, which includes the artist Sreelakshmy Govardhanan performing Kuchipudi, a form of classical Indian dance, in a forest. During Sunday’s Middle East program, Tanin Torabi moves through a Tehran bazaar while the Lebanese choreographer and voguer Hoedy Saad performs a new work called “TBD.” Monday’s lineup features artists from Europe and Japan, including a work by TranzDanz that follows young Hungarian dancers through Budapest. Wednesday puts a spotlight on Africa; on Aug. 20, it turns toward North America.
Other themed evenings include “Black Voices in Dance” on Friday and a celebration of the centennial of women’s suffrage in the United States on Aug. 18. The festival concludes on Aug. 22 with a tribute to New York City.
Despite the claim made by the title of Steve Martin’s 2007 memoir, “Born Standing Up,” he wasn’t. That book chronicles how he went from an employee at the magic shop at Disneyland to America’s first rock-star comedian, sporting a white suit so his arena-size audiences could see him, whether he was singing “King Tut” or bellowing “Excuuuuuuuse me!”
Martin turns 75 on Friday, and it’s both wild and crazy that subscription streaming platforms don’t currently have some of his most memorable performances, including his big-screen breakthrough, “The Jerk.” His first HBO special from 1976 isn’t even on HBO Max (you can rent or buy it at Amazon, Apple and Vudu).
Still, you can stream his Grammy-winning albums “Let’s Get Small” and “A Wild and Crazy Guy” (available on Spotify, Apple, Amazon and Google Play), as well as many of the movies he has made over more than four decades. Head to HBO Max for “All of Me,” “Little Shop of Horrors” and “Planes, Trains and Automobiles”; to Starz for “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”; to Showtime for “Parenthood”; and to Amazon Prime Video for his turn as “The Pink Panther.” And though Netflix doesn’t offer “The Three Amigos,” it does feature two of them with “Steve Martin and Martin Short: An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life.”
SEAN L. McCARTHY
Most summer camps, virtual and otherwise, are winding down now. But children who never enrolled — or just want an encore — can attend “Camp TV.”
Before you recoil at those last two letters, let me cite three more: PBS. This television series has not only public broadcasting’s bona fides, but also a mission to help prepare campers ages 5-10 for school. Originally shown from July 13 to Aug. 7, “Camp TV” is still airing weekdays on some PBS stations. (Check local listings.) And you can stream all 20 episodes free on the show’s website.
Hosted by the actor Zachary Noah Piser (“Dear Evan Hansen”), who plays the head counselor, the hourlong installments needn’t be viewed in order. With a theme like “Crazy Hats Day” or “Pets Day,” each offers movement, performance, whimsical math exercises (e.g., making a graph of your stuffed animals), a storybook reading, science projects and crafts.
The WNET Group, the parent company of several New York and New Jersey PBS stations, created “Camp TV,” which includes appearances by artists and teachers from institutions like Lincoln Center, the New Victory Theater and Liberty Science Center. It also features the Memphis Zoo in its “Going Wild” segments, which highlight live animals. Who knew that female rose-hair tarantulas could live into their 20s? (Sorry, Charlotte, you were just the wrong species.)
A Streamlined ‘El Niño’
When the soprano Julia Bullock was planning her 2018-19 season as an artist in residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, she knew she wanted to perform “El Niño” — a Nativity oratorio by the composer John Adams and the director and librettist Peter Sellars. But Bullock knew she would run into one major obstacle: the budget.
In its original incarnation, “El Niño” was a two-hour work that blended “prophetic utterances of Haggai and Isaiah” alongside poetry by Rosario Castellanos. It was also richly scored for a potent orchestra. Bullock thought a rearrangement for more slender forces might work. And she drew on her record of collaboration with Adams and Sellars when making her case.
Adams and Sellars agreed to a one-hour sequence of adapted selections, which played at the Cloisters in 2018, and is now available to stream on the Met’s YouTube channel. Bullock and her creative team — including instrumentalists from the American Modern Opera Company and singers like J’Nai Bridges and Davóne Tines — bring the intensity and referential breadth of “El Niño” to life. Things start more quietly, compared with the original version. But by the time of “Shake the Heavens” (here, a showcase for Tines’s bass-baritone), the unique power of this reimagined version resounds clearly.
SETH COLTER WALLS
Art & Museums
Let’s Talk About Artists
Interrogating the disorienting space between truth, illusion and the unknown is the artist Tony Oursler’s specialty. This quest continues in the deft blend of technology and traditional media of his new work, which he will discuss on Friday at 1 p.m. Eastern time for a conversation series that the journal The Brooklyn Rail streams on its website.
The American Impressionist Mary Cassatt was far less ambiguous in her observations of the world. Her work is part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exhibition “Selections From the Department of Drawings and Prints: Collectors’ Collections.” Cassatt’s naturalistic aquatints depicting the lives of women, and linocuts by early-20th-century British artists from this show, will be the topic of a virtual discussion between the curators Constance McPhee and Jennifer Farrell. It will take place on the museum’s YouTube channel and Facebook page on Saturday at 10 a.m.
For her recent “Gymnasium” series, Thenjiwe Niki Nkosi depicted the penetrating moments before and after gymnasts’ routines. Her examination of the physical and psychological demands tied to performance is not limited to gymnasts: On Sunday at noon, for an Instagram Live series hosted by Black Lunch Table, a collective that builds support networks for cultural producers of color, Nkosi will discuss and demonstrate, along with her brother, Mandla Ares Nkosi, an exercise practice specific to the challenges artists face.
Star power has fueled HeadCount’s get-out-the-vote efforts since the organization was founded in 2004. The group’s strategy is simple: With the cooperation of artists like Ariana Grande and Harry Styles, it sends its volunteers to arenas and clubs to help music fans register to vote.
While in-person events are off the table, HeadCount is pursuing other ways of engaging would-be voters. To that end, it has organized Vote Ready Live, a virtual music festival planned for Friday. The program will be a strong showing for 2000s indie rock, with performances by the War on Drugs, the Fleet Foxes’ frontman, Robin Pecknold, and members of Grizzly Bear. Waxahatchee’s Katie Crutchfield, a livestream veteran who recently completed a virtual “tour” of all her albums, will also play, as will her partner, the singer-songwriter Kevin Morby; Tarriona Ball of the New Orleans R&B group Tank and the Bangas; and more.
The livestream is slated to begin at 7 p.m. Eastern time. Those who want to attend can secure a free ticket by verifying their voter registration status — or, for those unable to vote in the United States, pledging to participate in the next election for which they’re eligible — on HeadCount’s website before 6 p.m. on Thursday. Those who miss the cutoff can buy a ticket for $20; the proceeds will benefit HeadCount.
For Latinx People, by Latinx People
Despite the amount of great political satire on television from comics like Samantha Bee, John Oliver and Trevor Noah, Latinx people in the United States lack similar representation. Accordingly, they suffer an endless barrage of news stories about anti-immigration, crime, drug trafficking and discrimination without any comedians to provide much-needed levity from a Latin American perspective.
Enter “The Totally Fake Latino News,” a video series currently streaming free on the La Jolla Playhouse’s website, Facebook page and YouTube channel at least through September. The shows are the creation of Culture Clash, led by Richard Montoya, Ric Salinas and Herbert Siguenza. Specializing in theater, the performance troupe has risen to the challenge of finding new ways to deliver insightful commentary during the pandemic.
“It’s a humbling lesson,” Montoya said in a phone interview. “Covid-19 and the Confederacy caught up to each other and forced our hand as satirists and citizens.”
“Fake Latino News” highlights Culture Clash’s sophisticated approach to satire, for which the troupe uses multiple genres and styles to tell compelling stories in 10- to 12-minute installments. The first episode features a Barney-like dinosaur singing to kids about deportation and a Bob Ross-inspired figure painting a barrio. So far, the series has amassed almost a half-million views, proving cultural specificity can turn even politics into a must-see event.