BEYOND THE STAGE with Heidi Latsky Dance and AXIS Dance Company

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In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Heidi Latsky Dance and AXIS Dance Company will perform together to create an unprecedented evening of innovative dance.

Heidi Latsky is known for using both conventional and unexpected performers.Somewhere is a series of intimate movement portraits that highlight the luminous appeal of a diverse unconventional cast. On Display, created for NYU Skirball, is a living gallery focusing on the themes of inclusion and diversity. Heidi Latsky will also be featured in Solo 1 as a prologue to Somewhere.

As seen on So You Think You Can Dance!, AXIS Dance Company is one of the world’s leading and most innovative ensembles of dancers with and without disabilities. AXIS will present two pieces: Divide, choreographed by Marc Brew, and to go again, a new work created by beloved choreographer Joe Goode.

Heidi Latsky Dance Website
“The mission of Heidi Latsky Dance is to redefine beauty and virtuosity through performance and discourse, using performers with unique attributes to bring rigorous, passionate and provocative contemporary dance to diverse audiences.”

AXIS Dance Company Website
“AXIS exists to change the face of dance and disability. ”

Trailer Heidi Latsky Dance “Somewhere”
Trailer AXIS Dance Company “Divide”
Interview with Marc Brew on “Divide”
Interview with Judith Smith, Artistic Director of AXIS Dance Company
Interview with Joe Goode and his new work with AXIS Dance inspired by Veterans, “to go again”
Talks at Google with Heidi Latsky and Pilobolus

Podcast: Pod de Deux “This is Art EP. 13, Heidi Latsky & Jerron Herman

Blog: AXIS Dance

Article: Redefining a Dancer’s Body (Our Town)
“A new work features disabled and other dancers who challenge the conventional images of the art.”— Gabrielle Alfiero, November 5, 2015

Article: Heidi Latsky Dance and AXIS Dance Company “DANCE SPEAKS series” (Dance Enthusiast) — November 15, 2015

Article: AXIS and Heidi Latsky Dance to Honor Americans With Disabilities & Veterans This Fall at NYU Skirball (BroadwayWorld)
“The evening is the second presentation of NYU Skirball’s new DANCE SPEAKS a new annual series showcasing dance works that explore current issues that shape our lives and reflect our times”— September 24, 2015

Article: Beauty All Around (

Post-Show Discussion and Q&A November 15
A Conversation Between AXIS Dance Company and Heidi Latsky Dance

NYU Skirball, in collaboration with Dance/NYC, presents a conversation between AXIS Dance Company and Heidi Latsky Dance. Join us for a discussion with Judith Smith, Artistic Director of AXIS Dance Company, and Heidi Latsky, Artistic Director/Choreographer/Performer of Heidi Latsky Dance, as they discuss the state and future of physically integrated dance, both locally and nationally, and offer up ways for audiences and other dance enthusiasts to get involved. Moderated by Lane Harwell, Executive Director of Dance/NYC.

 ASL interpreters will be present at the Post-Show Discussion, courtesy of NYU Henry and Lucy Moses Center for Students With Disabilities.

BEYOND THE STAGE with Balletcollective


Acclaimed New York City Ballet choreographer Troy Schumacher brings artists at the forefront of their genres together to collaborate as equals as they create new, ballet-based works. The result is a series of thrilling, inventive pieces certified “mint-fresh” and “seriously experimental” by The New York Times. BalletCollective provides audiences the rare chance to experience NYCB dancers up close in works tailor-made for them featuring live music performed by the ensemble Hotel Elefant.

This season, BalletCollective presents the world premieres of two works, both inspired by series of commissioned photographs by Paul Maffi and Dafy Hagai respectively, with commissioned scores by music director and resident composer Ellis Ludwig-Leone (San Fermin) and Mark Dancigers (NOW Ensemble). The new works will be performed alongside All That We See and Dear and Blackbirds, both of which premiered last fall at NYU Skirball, and will leave you thinking “I simply want to see these dances again” (The New York Times). BalletCollective will perform at NYU Skirball on November 4th and 5th at 7:30pm.

Artist’s Website: BalletCollective

Video Clip: Invisible Divide 
Video Clip: Works & Process at the Guggenheim 

Preview Article: When Is Ballet Like a Photograph? (TDF Stages) “When Troy Schumacher discusses his five-year-old ballet company, he rarely uses the word “I” to describe its direction or approach. Instead, he chooses “we” again and again, and that’s right on target for the aptly named BalletCollective” — Lauren Kay, October 27, 2015

Preview Article: Dance This Week (The New York Times) “From that recent Guggenheim event, a solo, again for Mr. Coll, stands out hauntingly: he twisted his weight to and fro while balanced on one leg, as if racked by internal forces. This solo will be part of a longer work in the BalletCollective season at Skirball on Wednesday and Thursday; I’m impatient to discover more.” — Alastair Macaulay, November 3, 2015

Preview Article: BalletCollective to Premiere Works by Troy Schumacher at NYU Skirball, 11/4-5 (BroadwayWorld) — Dance News Desk, September 17, 2015

Past Review: Leaping From Within, Narratives of a Young Ensemble. BalletCollective Performs at the Skirball Center (The New York Times) “The worlds created by BalletCollective are mint-fresh. They feel both attuned to life outside the performing arts and to the interior lives of the performers.” — October 30, 2014

Article: A Dancer’s Creative Evolution: Troy Schumacher Prepares His First Work for City Ballet (The New York Times) “A City Ballet member since 2005, Mr. Schumacher has danced a variety of roles, from Puck in Balanchine’s Midsummer Night’s Dream to one-half of the frisky male twosome in Mr. Ratmansky’s “Concerto DSCH.” — Marina Harss, September 19, 2014

Pre-Show Lobby Talk November 4 at 6:30pm
Composing for Dance
Join us before the show for a lobby talk given by music director and resident composer Ellis Ludwig-Leone (San Fermin).

Join us after the performance for a post-show discussion and Q&A with music director and resident composer Ellis Ludwig-Leone (San Fermin), Mark Dancigers (NOW Ensemble), and Director of BalletCollective, Troy Schumacher.

BEYOND THE STAGE with Spectrum Dance Theater “The Minstrel Show Revisited”

The Minstrel Show Revisited

The Minstrel Show Revisited, which runs at NYU Skirball Center Oct. 28-30interrogates and critiques the 19th Century black-faced entertainment genre whose legacy is still felt today and continues to play a significant role in cultural stereotyping.

The work addresses current racial issues while shining the light on racist aspects of American history that are difficult to discuss. By using the conventions of the 19th Century Minstrel Show, including the once common tradition of “black face,” Byrd and his remarkable dancers confront audiences with the past and present manifestations of racism and perpetuation of stereotypes embedded in American culture and tradition.

The black-faced mask of minstrel shows is a lingering image from America’s past that still inflicts wounds today through its psychic hold…In the future if we are to be free from its terrible grip we must confront it boldly and courageously by staring back into its face and laughing at the absurdity of its representation until it no longer has the power to hurt us. Only then will it be vanquished and we are free to be. —Donald Byrd

Donald Byrd’s work as a choreographer achieved international visibility with the creation of the Harlem Nutcracker and a Tony Award nomination for his 2006 choreography of Broadway’s The Color Purple. He has created more than 80 modern dance pieces for his own groups as well as Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre and The Joffrey Ballet.  He was a fellow at The Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue at Harvard University for three years. His unbounded appetite to explore the arts has fueled his artistic vision for Spectrum Dance Theater since 2002 and has evolved the company into one of regional and national significance.

Artist’s Website: Spectrum Dance Theater
Artist’s Blog: Donald Byrd
Program Guide: The Minstrel Show Program Guide
The program guide was written for, and originally published in, the program for 1991’s The Minstrel Show. It includes an essay, Wrestling with our Responses, by Scott deLahunta.

Review: From Vaudeville to the Streets (ArtsJournal blog: DanceBeat)
“Eleven dancers take the stage at NYU Skirball Center in Donald Byrd’s The Minstrel Show Revisited.They’re strutting, prancing, raising white-gloved hands. How come I don’t recognize any faces? I can hardly tell which are women and which are men. Byrd has already made a point about racial prejudice; it may change its forms over the years, but it doesn’t vanish.”—Deborah November 2, 2015

Review: Donald Byrd: The Minstrel Show Revisited (TimeOut New York)
“In 1991, choreographer Donald Byrd’sThe Minstrel Show was daring. Is it still? Daring yes; riveting—less so.” —Helen Shaw, October 30, 2015

Review: Donald Byrd and Spectrum Dance Theater – The Minstrel Show Revisited – New York (DanceTabs)
“With the onslaught of cases of unarmed black men being killed by the police, the comforting illusion that racism in America was on the wane has been shattered” —Marina Harss, November 1, 2015

Feature Article: Tap Routine: Donald Byrd Considers the Evolution of Minstrelsy (The New Yorker) “Minstrel shows seem even more deplorable in that they began as the creation of white people, performing in blackface and with big, woolly wigs. But such shows were also hugely popular with black people, who were soon producing their own versions, in which they, too, corked up and put on fuzzy wigs” —Joan Acocella, November 2, 2015

Review: Equal Opportunity Racism in The Minstrel Show Revisited (City Arts Magazine)
“Regardless of prior “exposure” to blackface—via movies, pictures, books, TV shows, or otherwise—watching a group of performers painted and costumed to emulate a horrific, archaic form of racism is unsettling, emotional and thought–provoking. The Minstrel Show Revisited (a restaged version of choreographer and Spectrum Dance Theater artistic director Donald Byrd’s Bessie Award-winning 1991 work The Minstrel Show) does just that, and more.” —Rachel Gallaher, February 24, 2014

Review: Spectrum Unpacks Racism ( SeattleDances)
“…despite the “riskiness” of this topic, Donald Byrd and Spectrum Dance Theater boldly unpacked the history and the current state of race relations in America with poignant poeticism in The Minstrel Show Revisited” —Imana Gunawan, February 26, 2014

Preview Article: How Trayvon Martin brought a dance work back to new life in Seattle (Crosscut)
“I think people who come are the ones who want to be challenged. They want to be shaped a bit.” —Donald Byrd in an interview by Florangela Davila, February  20, 2014

Preview Article: Choreographer Uses Blackface To Confront Racial Attitudes Past And Present (KUOW)
February 20, 2014

Preview Article: Minstrel Show Update Revisits Race Conversation (SeattleDances)
“Byrd is an artist who thrives on opening dialogue about difficult, uncomfortable topics. Race is a prime example.” —Anna Waller February 19, 2014

Preview Article: Spring Arts: The Button-Pusher, Donald Byrd (Seattle Weekly)
The Minstrel Show Revisited takes an unflinching view of a difficult part of our performance history, making us squirm and smile at the same time.” —Sandra Kurtz February 11, 2014

Review: A Message For Today In Blackface (New York Times)
“Donald Byrd choreographically examined this theatrical form in The Minstrel Show, the witty and provocative new work that Donald Byrd/ The Group presented on Wednesday night at the Bessie Schonberg Theater” —Jack Anderson November 9, 1991

Review: A ‘Hot Time’ at Intriguing Minstrel Show : Dance: Choreographer Donald Byrd and The Group remind a sometimes uneasy audience that the tradition of racism through entertainment is alive and well. (L.A Times) —Frankie Wright January 27, 1992

Article: Stomping on Eggshells: An Honest Discussion of Race, Identity, and Intent in the American Theater
Spurred by the controversies over the new adaptation of The Jungle Book that opened this summer in Chicago, this series of articles explores who is allowed to tell whose stories onstage. This series is curated by Rebecca Stevens, the Chicago Commons Producer for HowlRound.

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Pre- and Post-Show Talks on NYU Skirball YouTube

Pre-Show Lobby Talk October 28 at 6:30pm
From Representation to Reality: Blackface Minstrelsy in Past and Present: Join us before the performance for a pre-show lobby talk and Q&A with Matthew Morrison, Assistant Professor and Faculty Fellow at Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music in Tisch School of the Arts at NYU.

This pre-show discussion will give a brief history of the first original form of popular entertainment in the U.S., Blackface Minstrelsy, and how this performance style  has continued to impact American popular entertainment, identity, and culture into the present day.

Join us directly after performance for a post-show discussion and Q&A with Arielle Andrews, President of the Black Student Union at NYU, in conversation with Donald Byrd.

Pre-Show Lobby Talk October 29 at 6:30pm

From Minstrelsy to Miley Cyrus: A Round Trip: Join us before the performance for a pre-show lobby talk and Q&A with Daniel Charnas, Associate Arts Professor at Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music in Tisch School of the Arts at NYU.

Join us directly after performance for a post-show discussion and Q&A with Deborah Jowitt, Master Teacher in Dance at Tisch School of the Arts at NYU, in conversation with Donald Byrd.

Pre-Show Lobby Talk October 30 at 7:00pm

Join us before the performance for a pre-show lobby talk and Q&A with Awam Amkpa, Associate Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis at NYU.

Join us directly after performance for a post-show discussion and Q&A with Kwami Coleman, Assistant Professor and Faculty Fellow in Gallatin School at NYU, in conversation with Donald Byrd

BEYOND THE STAGE with Gare St Lazare Ireland: “Waiting for Godot”


Gary Lydon (Vladimir) and Conor Lovett (Estragon).

On a country road, two friends wait for a man named Godot to arrive. Their comical efforts to pass the time parody the human condition, and the everyday language of their exchanges takes on a universal significance.

Gare St Lazare Ireland ranks among the foremost interpreters of Beckett’s work and will be performing Waiting for Godot at NYU Skirball October 13-17. The company consists of joint artistic directors Judy Hegarty Lovett and Conor Lovett (who also plays Estragon in this production), and associate producer Maura O’Keeffe. They have produced over 17 Beckett titles for the stage and performed in over 25 countries across six continents to great international acclaim. 

Artist’s Website: Gare St Lazare Ireland

Playwright’s Website: Samuel Beckett

Review: Waiting For Godot (Total Theatre Magazine)
“Director Judy Hegarty Lovett has many productions of Beckett under her belt with this company, and it bears their trademark purity of vision and economy of movement.” — Lisa Wolfe, Dublin Theatre Festival 2013

Review: There’s Hope and Futility in Waiting For Godot (Broadway World/Boston)
“The wonderful trick of the Gare St Lazare Players of Ireland’s mesmerizing production of Samuel Beckett’s classic Waiting for Godot is that it inspires hope even as it suggests life is hopeless.” — November 10, 2013

Review: Waiting for Godot — Dramatizing the Residue of Resilience (The Arts Fuse)
“What the Gare St Lazare Players Ireland bring to the work is its distinct connection to Ireland, Beckett’s ancestral home, which he abandoned…Thanks to this production, moving glimpses of the Old Sod itself flicker through the emptiness.” — Robert Israel, November 3, 2013

Article: Celebrating 60 years of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot
Godot highlights what French novelist Alain Robbe-Grillet called ‘being there’. It has little plot beyond the fact of waiting for Godot, and little on stage to distract the two tramps, Estragon and Vladimir (or the audience) from their waiting.” — Anna McMullan January 4, 2013

Article: When Beckett wrote Waiting for Godot he really didn’t know a lot about theatre
“As Waiting for Godot turns 60, Beckett expert Anna McMullan explains why the play still appeals” — Interview by Daisy Bowie-Sell January 5, 2013

Article: ‘Very Unpromising Material’: A Review for Beckett’s Waiting For Godot, From 1955. A review for Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot from when the play first opened in England, at the Arts Theater Club, London, in August 1955.

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Post-Show Discussion and Q&A October 13th
Join us directly after performance for a post-show discussion and Q&A with Tom Bishop, Professor of French and Comparative Literature and Director, Center for French Civilization and Culture at NYU, in conversation with artists from Gare St Lazare Ireland.

Post-Show Discussion and Q&A October 15th
Join us directly after performance for a post-show discussion and Q&A with Belinda McKeon, Irish novelist and playwright, in conversation with artists from Gare St Lazare Ireland.

Symposium October 16th, 2:00-6:00pm
Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot”: A Symposium

Co-presented by NYU Skirball Center, Glucksman Ireland House at NYU, and Gare St Lazare Ireland. Free to the public. Please RSVP by emailing

Join us for a discussion with guests including Walter Asmus, Will Eno, Jonathan Kalb, Tom Cousineau, Conor Lovett and Judy Hegarty Lovett of Gare St Lazare Ireland, and more celebrated scholars in conversation about Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot in performance, politics, and the classroom.

Post-Show Discussion and Q&A October 16th
Join us directly after performance for a post-show discussion and Q&A with John Waters, Clinical Assistant Professor of Irish Studies; Director of Graduate and Undergraduate Irish Studies at NYU, in conversation with artists from Gare St Lazare Ireland.

Skirball Student Insiders Get Physical with an Interactive Workshop with Magmanus


Skirball Student Insiders with Magmanus

A bunch of bright-eyed and eager Skirball Student Insiders joined contemporary circus performers, Magmanus, on a Saturday morning to learn what it really takes to make it in the circus.

Strength. It takes a great deal of strength in order to perform the stunts required in a typical show of ATTACHED. From lifting to squatting, Manu Tiger and Magnus Bjøru, the duo behind Magmanus, train smart in the gym in order to be in tip-top shape for performance. Circus demands a ton of upper body strength especially when Magnus has to balance Manu on his head time after time. Students took part in a fun and heart-pounding warm-up before having to carry each other across the room as quick as possible while being as quiet as possible.


Teamwork. There is definitely no I in TEAM when it comes to being a circus performer. Magnus and Manu work together and rely on one another in training and in performance. If one person for one second is out of sync then the whole act will suffer, and so does their safety. There are so many instances where something can go wrong or a trick may not land perfectly but as long as the performers are focused and working together they know they will be safe. Students here worked to lift and move each other around the space in a protected and safe way. This exercise allowed students to feel weightless in the air as they put their trust in the rest of the ensemble to safely move around.


Students work together to lift and move one another safely.


Trust. One of the most important lessons of the day was to build trust in the ensemble. Students were asked to engage in exercises that required them to place a lot of trust in the rest of the group. When Magmanus is doing high-risk tricks, such as when Magnus jumps onto a Teeterboard and sends Manu flying high in the sky and landing on a Velcro mat, they must trust in each other, their rehearsal, and that the equipment is set up properly in order for the trick to go smoothly. Students worked together to create a net formation as their peers were called one-by-one to fall backwards. First, off of a small step of stairs.


Then on a higher platform, a 2-foot box.


And finally the highest level, a 4-foot box.


Oh, we almost forgot! The most fundamental skill required of all circus performers, both novice and highly experienced, is…FUN! In order to make a circus performance truly enjoyable for both the artists and the audience the secret ingredient is to have fun. Strength, teamwork, trust, and fun. All in a days work of the dynamic due Magmanus and their fearless participants, the Skirball Student Insiders.


Take risks, be safe, and join the circus!


A circus show about holding on and letting go.

Attached-21 Alex Hinchcliffe

Contemporary circus performers Magnus Bjøru and Manu Tiger take flight in this thrilling, new, experimental indoor show. Magmanus explore new techniques, constructions, and the laws of gravity.

ATTACHED is a show that will stick with you – it premiered in April 2013 in Stockholm, Sweden and since then it has traveled all over the world. The artists have performed in 21 countries and on three continents; Europe, Africa and Asia, and in all different kinds of venues (theatres, traditional circus tents, in the streets, at festivals and more).

Attached-11 Alex Hinchcliffe

A domino effect, or chain reaction is the cumulative effect produced when one event sets off a chain of similar events. ATTACHED can be seen as a sort of human domino effect where one person’s actions directly effects the other. These two artists are hopelessly connected – when one falls, the other flies! Their separate actions create a single rhythm, and the audience shares the responsibility for what happens next, uniting total strangers in a unique experience. Everything and everyone are attached in this circus performance – and there is no escape!

Artist’s Website: Magmanus
Magmanus Company is a Swedish circus company founded in 2009 by the Franco-Norwegian duo Manu Tiger and Magnus Bjøru. “Our vision of the company is to spread happiness and inspire our audience to follow their dreams. We know this is a very big challenge to accomplish by performing artists, but we believe it´s important to set our goals high. We think the combination of impressive circus skills, humor and the intensive interaction with the audience on stage is a very good toolbox to deliver the message we believe in.” – Magmanus

“The contrast of our physical appearance ‘the tall and the small’ emphasizes the different nature of our personalities, which we found actually complement each other both on the professional and personal level. It has created a very strong bond between us, and it gives us the possibility to play with this contrast to express our visions. Our big difference turned out to be our best strength.” – Magmanus

Interview: Circus Duo Magmanus on their Gravity-Defying Show ATTACHED (StageBuddy)

Review: ATTACHED by Magmanus (The Circus Diaries)
“The theme that runs through each element of the show is that of contact.  The human contact between the performers and the audience as we assist in the onstage demonstrations. The contact between bodies as they fly and fall away from each other. The contact between surfaces that creates splendid rhythms of sound and visuals.” -November 23, 2014

Article: The Psychology of Performance in Sport and Other Domains by Kate F. Hays
Abstract: This chapter addresses the psychology of performance in domains including sports, the performing arts, business/executive coaching, and high-risk professions. Performance psychology and sport psychology are described as interrelated fields. At the same time, with its long history of research as well as practice, sport psychology holds a particular, privileged position within the broader field of performance psychology.

Article: Performance Psychology in the Performing Arts by Sanna M. Nordin-Bates
Abstract: In this chapter, a wide range of performance psychology–related topics are considered in relation to the performing arts. Existing research with musicians, dancers and, to a smaller extent, actors is reviewed and contrasted with sport research within a tripartite structure.

Panel Discussion September 24th, 6:30-8:00pm
Extreme Performance: The Psychology of Circus
FREE to the public with RSVP
Co-presented by NYU Psychology Department

The Circus: thrilling, dangerous, extreme, challenging. What drives someone to be a circus performer? How do circus athletes stay in the zone during high pressure situations? Are the juggler, aerialist, and acrobat extreme risk-takers? And what makes an audience keep coming back for more?

NYU Skirball Center, in collaboration with the NYU Psychology Department, presents a panel discussion given by scholars and experts in the fields of psychology and the performing arts. Join us as they share their perspectives and insights into the world of performance and sports psychology and learn how they help extreme performers stay on top of their game.

Ted Coons (Moderator): Professor of Psychology, NYU
Andrea Jones-Rooy: Circus performer and Assistant Professor of Global China Studies at NYU
Shane Murphy: Professor of Psychology at Western Connecticut State University and former Head of Sport Psychology for the United States Olympic Committee
Linda Hamilton: Clinical Performance Psychologist and Wellness Consultant to New York City Ballet
Jean François Ménard: Mental Performance Specialist at Kambio Perofrmance, Consultant & Speaker, and former Cirque du Soleil Performance Psychologist

Post-Show Discussion Friday, September 25th
Join us directly after the performance for a post-show discussion and Q&A with artists from ATTACHED.

TheaterMania Block Party to Kick Off National Arts in Education Week!

You wouldn’t believe how into theatre kids get.

On Sunday September 13th, NYU Skirball participated in the annual TheaterMania Block Party as part of the larger Third Avenue Street Fair. In case you missed it, this year TheaterMania had a ton of amazing performances and a lot of the arts organizations that participated gave out some fantastic prizes, like tickets to Broadway shows, T-shirts, and other gifts. The theme was “Carnival of Theatre” and NYU Skirball went all out!

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NYU Skirball student staff members Nicole D’Alessio and Ashley Miskoff showing of some of the activities in the Skirball booth.

Across the street, a very tall man in a feathered pirate costume played the accordion. Musical theatre casts sang on a platform-stage. And kids and their families flocked to NYU Skirball’s table for a chance to win prizes in our game of chance. We set up a hula-hoop and bean bag toss competition for those brave enough to participate.


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Everyone who stopped by had a blast and even won some Skirball prizes like this awesome Frisbee!

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Our kid-friendly theatrics are not only present during street fairs—NYU Skirball offers a host of events that entertain children and adults alike, year round, during our Big Red Chair Family Series.

Enthralling interpretations of classic books like Where the Wild Things Are and Goodnight Moon are sure to excite your family. Before each performance there is lobby activity planned with families in mind. All are invited to participate in our educational and creative projects an hour before the show to get a sneak peak into some of the themes that appear in the performance.

Our Big Red Chair Family Series is even suitable for the youngest of audience members!


By the end of the day, even NYC’s finest were excited about theatre…and not too shabby at the hula-hoop competition.


Thanks to all the folks who were a part of our party at the TheaterMania Block Party this weekend–shout out to all our winners!

I Went to Heidi Latsky’s Auditions for “ON DISPLAY” and They Changed Everything

Heidi Latsky Dance

Photo by Mark Shelby Perry

Female. Mid-thirties. Short, dark hair. Average build. Large nose. Thin legs. Pierced lip. Right arm amputated at the elbow. Male. Dark eyes. Late fifties. Spindly frame. Short, quick steps. Wears Orthodox Jewish garb. Female, forties…This soundtrack, which is a spewing of societal labels by an automated voice, plays on repeat as a room full of men and women face right, and then left, front, and back. Heidi Latsky and her associates, Tiffany Geigel and Jerron Herman, watch silently as they follow her instructions to slowly move into a sculpture pose. The woman directly in front of me extends her right arm at a striking angle upwards, as she bends her legs at the knees and crosses them over each other—she looks just like discobolus, the ancient sculpture of Myron throwing a discus (British Museum, c. 460 BCE). A seven foot tall man spreads his legs and reaches toward the sky, spraying his fingers. “Slower,” Heidi says, “when this works is when I can barely even see you moving.” The sight is striking: a room of thirty people tensed in absurd positions, the silence is dense. She silently gestures to her company and then they begin to move through the throng of frozen people. Jerron and Tiffany inspect the dancers’ unmoving frames, coming, at times, to less than three inches away from them at eye level. Their stares are deliberately strong and unyielding—testing the artists’ ability to remain fearless under a scorching gaze. Can they hold the pose while “on display”?

Since 2001, Heidi Latsky has explored what it means to be a visibly disabled person performing in artwork as visually dependent as dance, producing works with names like GIMP, BOUND, and DISJOINTED. When a museum curator approached her with a confession: that he finds sculptures with missing limbs aesthetically pleasing and beautiful, but is repulsed by people with the same deformities, Heidi began to wonder how voyeurs might react to living sculptures with visible deformities. Like the Venus DeMilo or the Winged Victory of Samothrace (The Louvre, to name a few) many of Heidi’s dancers do not have four limbs or are visibly disabled and constantly offer themselves up to be visually examined by just doing what they love, and subsequently risk subjection to judgement or pigeonholing.

Lined up for inspection, the dancers stand unperturbed in striking poses—they radiate the same sense of tranquility and timeless beauty of the statue gardens of the Italian Renaissance, despite the spew of an automated voice’s crude words and the hot gaze of the dance company—still as stone, the only movement being the silent roll of tears down some performers’ cheeks.

When the audition finishes, Heidi asks if anyone has questions, and every hand in the room rises.

Movement installments like these are what Heidi calls the “sculpture court” and they have been cropping up all over New York—Latsky “holds court” on the High Line, in Times Square, on Broadway, in China Town, as well as Lincoln Center, and of course, NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts. This interactive theatre experience is in honor of the 25th Anniversary of The Americans with Disabilities Act.

What does it mean to offer oneself up for inspection? Is it a humbling act or one that exudes self-confidence? What is the strength in vulnerability, and does offering ourselves up to be labeled it imply ascension from labeling?

-Nicole D’Alessio
New York University’s B.A. Comparative Literature Class of ’17

“Recovered Treasures” Panelists Weigh in on Audience Questions


Panelists David Rowland and Lauren Fogle continue the conversation from the recent panel discussion Recovered Treasures: Rescuing Europe’s Stolen Artworks, answering questions from audience participants. This event took place on Friday, March 27, 2015 at Deutsches Haus at New York University. This event was co-produced by The American Friends of Bucerius, Deutsches Haus at New York University, and NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts. 

Do you see any progress in the way Nazi-looted art is handled in Germany?

David: Yes, the Gurlitt affair has shined a light on this and there is general recognition there that this topic must be treated seriously. But there is still much work to do. A change eliminating the statute of limitations in Nazi-looted art cases would be helpful.

What current laws are in place in the U.S. to help heirs of Jewish art collectors who suspect they may be missing pieces from their collections? What areas in the law still need work on this topic?

David: With the exception of California which has passed laws extending the statute of limitation to sue in Nazi looted art cases, the US has no specific law which helps Jewish victims obtain their artworks back. So US law does not take into account that this happened over 70 years ago and this means that in most cases it is impossible to bring viable law suits to obtain back Nazi-looted art in the United States. The US also does not have a national art commission as many countries in Europe have. A federal law eliminating the statute of limitations in Nazi-era art cases would be very helpful in terms of giving Nazi victims a chance to obtain back their artworks looted, stolen or sold under duress in the Nazi era.

What is your personal view on the statute of limitations issue in regards to stolen art? What do you think is a reasonable time frame to allow for people to file a claim?

David: As stated above, statutes of limitation and other technical defenses should be eliminated entirely with respect to Nazi era art claims.

Lauren: I think that statutes of limitations can be helpful in some cases, but what is more important is the availability of evidence. In some cases, there is information that is de-classified many years after an event (like a war). If this information comes to light, and a claimant is not able to use it because of a statute of limitations, I think that is unfair. So I think we need to pay attention to how evidence is unveiled and take into account the fact that governments keep information away from the public sometimes for reasons of security.

Do movies like The Monuments Men and Woman in Gold and other media attention this topic receives play any role in helping restitution cases? How important is public support on the issue to helping families retrieve stolen art?

David: Events such as the discovery of the Gurlitt hoard and books and movies about this topic are extremely important in raising public awareness regarding this issue. Since the Gurlitt hoard became known to the public, interest in this area has increased dramatically and that is good and important.

Lauren: I think that movies and books are great ways to bring this issue out to the public and start discussions. I don’t think they should have any real bearing in a court of law. I don’t think public opinion should affect court cases, but it can affect the laws we enact. If most people feel that it’s been too easy, or too hard, for previous owners (or their relatives) to get stolen art returned to them, then that should be reflected in the actions of elected officials

What more can museums do to ensure they don’t own looted art?  Or if they do, what procedures are or should be in place to help them return it to the rightful owner?

David: Many museums want to do the right thing and return Nazi era art to its rightful owners. However, many other museums do not want to return such art and would prefer to keep it using all possible arguments. The Swedish museum which refused initially to return the stolen Nolde painting is a perfect example of this. The root of the problem is that museums which hold this art cannot also be the judge and jury, because they of course have a self-interest in keeping the art. So there must be a way to send the case to an independent third party decision maker, either to a court, which can decide the case on the merits without the possibility of dismissal based on technical defenses, or by creating a tribunal or art commission with specific powers to hear these cases and render binding decisions on the merits. Perhaps, with all of the publicity now surrounding these cases, legislation may be enacted to permit decisions on the merits in these important cases.

Lauren: Museums need to be ahead of the issue and not behind. The MFA in Boston has a full time provenance researcher, a full page dedicated to Nazi art looting on their website, and has clearly identified all the works (that they currently know of) which may have been looted or sold under duress during the Nazi period. Other museums, like the Art Institute in Chicago, have done similar things. It is often extremely hard to prove if a piece of art was looted and there will no doubt be false claims. Art museums can’t give away their collections without clear proof and nobody should expect them to do so. What we should expect is transparency and an effort to find the truth.

Panel Discussion: Recovered Treasures: Rescuing Europe’s Stolen Artworks

Group Photo

Photo by John Harris. Left to right: David Rowland, Kimberly Olstad, Eric Banks, Sharon Flescher, Juliane Camfield, Lauren Boyd, Melis Tusiray, Ashley Miskoff, Sarah Girner.

NYU Skirball, in collaboration with the American Friends of Bucerius and Deutsches Haus at New York University, presented a panel discussion given by scholars and experts in the field of Art, Law, and History. They shared their perspectives and insights into the world of stolen art in Europe during the two World Wars, and the continuing efforts of lawyers and preservationists to recover and repatriate missing works. This event took place on Friday, March 27, 2015.

Thank you to our moderator Eric Banks and our panelists David Rowland, Sharon Flescher, and Lauren Fogle Boyd

Panel Photos

Article: Much Unfinished Business: When it comes to Nazi looted art, there are still many works in dispute. (Wall Street Journal) by Ronald S. Lauder, published online April 9, 2015

Article: After Nazi Plunder, A Quest To Bring The ‘Woman In Gold’ Home (NPR)
by Nina Totenberg, published online April 2, 2015

Article: Vienna museum director calls for time limit on Nazi-loot restitution claims (The Art Newspaper)
by Flavia Fordani, published online March 30, 2015

Article: Dutch Royals to Return Painting Looted by Nazis to Former Owners (The Wall Street Journal)
by Mary M. Lane, published online March 31, 2015

Article: Helen Mirren fights to rescue stolen art in ‘Woman in Gold’ (Reuters)
by Patricia Reaney, March 30, 2015

Article: Germany Is Sued In U.S. Court Over Medieval Treasure Acquired by Nazis (The Wall Street Journal)
by Mary M. Lane, published online February 24, 2015

Article: For Son of a Nazi-Era Dealer, a Private Life Amid a Tainted Trove of Art (The New York Times)
by Andrew Higgins and Katrin Bennhold, November 17, 2013