The River to River Festival will once again bring live performances to Lower Manhattan, its organizers announced on Thursday. The lineup for the 2021 edition, set to run June 10-27, includes work by Okwui Okpokwasili, Mariana Valencia, Miguel Gutierrez, Nora Chipaumire and more.
“For us, there was no option of not doing River to River,” said Lili Chopra, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s executive director of artistic programs, who curated the festival with Nanette Nelms. That’s because, Chopra said, the festival “was created in the aftermath of 9/11 as a way of really showing resiliency and the healing power of artists.”
Unlike many other arts showcases, River to River wasn’t canceled in 2020. But it didn’t present its usual mix of dance, music, performance art and film while the pandemic was still raging. Instead, it commissioned four artists — Asiya Wadud, Jean Shin, Muna Malik and Mona Chalabi — to create installations that reflected the impact of the preceding months on New York’s residents.
This year, the free festival will comprise indoor events at the Arts Center at Governors Island and the Flamboyán Theater at the Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural & Educational Center; on-demand digital offerings; and outdoor performances at Teardrop Park, Rockefeller Park and other locations downtown.
Okpokwasili will follow up her recent piece at the High Line, “On the way, undone,” with another processional performance on June 20 at Rockefeller Park in Battery Park City. The choreographer Gutierrez and the musical duo the Illustrious Blacks will also conduct processions on June 13 and June 25.
Among the indoor performances is Valencia’s “Futurity,” which will run June 25-27 on Governors Island. A version of a piece that Valencia, a choreographer and performer, debuted at the 2019 Whitney Biennial, it examines the concept of “site” and draws on social histories of queer life in New York from the ’60s to the present.
For her contribution, the choreographer Chipaumire will stage a scene from “Nehanda,” an immersive opera about a spirit venerated by the Shona people in Zimbabwe and Mozambique, in an outdoor performance in the Lower East Side on June 26.
The festival will also offer film screenings, walking tours, concerts and art installations.
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