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Works & Process at The Guggenheim Live Performance: New York Is Burning by Omari Wiles, performed by Les Ballet Afrik

May 4, 2021

The performing arts series, Works & Process, announces two live performances of New York Is Burning by Omari Wiles, performed by Les Ballet Afrik on May 4, 2021 at 6pm and 8pm at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum as a part of New York state’s “Safely Bringing Back the Arts” pilot program. Tickets for each evening go on sale 72 hours prior to each capacity-reduced performance, more information is available here: https://www.guggenheim.org/initiatives/works-process.

New York Is Burning by Omari Wiles, performed by Les Ballet Afrik
May 4 at 6pm and 8pm
Since its release in 1990, the documentary Paris Is Burning has received critical acclaim for its depiction of the New York drag ball scene and of voguing as a powerful expression of personal pride in the face of racism, homophobia, and the stigma of the AIDS crisis. To honor the film’s thirtieth anniversary, Works & Process commissioned Omari Wiles, founding father of the House of Oricci and a legend within the ballroom community, to produce New York Is Burning. With its premiere at the Guggenheim postponed due to the pandemic, the project was supported with a summer 2020 Works & Process bubble residency at Kaatsbaan Cultural Park, where Wiles continued to develop the commission for his company, Les Ballet Afrik. That residency culminated in a filmed performance at Lincoln Center, serving as an affirmation of love, acceptance, and joy.

Just as Paris Is Burning did for New York in 1980s, New York Is Burning reflects the aspirations, desires, and yearnings of a diverse group of dancers in a city beset by health, race, and financial crises. Wiles’s new work centers on the dancers for whom the dance company serves as a surrogate family including Kya Azeen, Eva Bust A’ Move, Algin Ford-Sterling, Alora Martinez, Shireen Rahimi, Milerka Rodriguez, Kameron N. Saunders, Karma Stylz, and Yuki Sukezane. In preparation for its official premiere, New York Is Burning will receive a second bubble residency. When it premieres, the piece will bring ballroom to the Guggenheim in a work featuring Wiles’s AfrikFusion, a style that combines traditional African dances and Afrobeat with house dance and vogue. The development of this Works & Process commission will be continued in a bubble residency at Catskill Mountain Foundation.

The Jazz Continuum with LaTasha Barnes – May 19 
Unveiling by Sonya Hashem Tayeh, with music by Moses Sumney – June 1
UnderScored by Ephrat Asherie Dance, in collaboration with New York City’s club legends – June 2
Rose: You Are Who You Eat by John Jarboe of The Bearded Ladies Cabaret – June 20

Works & Process bubble residencies and Works & Process reopening performances are made possible through the generosity of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and Stephen Kroll Reidy. Select projects will be featured in matinee performances at Restart Stages, made possible by Jody and John Arnhold, Arnhold Dance Innovation Fund and First Republic Bank. Restart Stages at Lincoln Center is made possible by Stavros Niarchos Foundation-Lincoln Center Agora Initiative. Major support provided by First Republic Bank. NY PopsUp is committed to the safe re-opening of New York venues with the protocols that have been established by the New York State Department of Health (DOH).

Digital Offerings
For those unable to attend performances in person, Works & Process is presenting free digital premieres coproduced with Lincoln Center, made possible by The Audrey and Martin Gruss Discovery Fund and The Jerome Robbins Dance Division at The New York Public Library. With Bridge Street Theatre, Catskill Mountain Foundation, and New Victory Theater. Works & Process will coproduce artists discussions and performance highlights from inside Works & Process bubble residencies. All of these offerings can be accessed on Works & Process’ YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/worksandprocess) for the public to watch from home.

Works & Process at Bridge Street Theatre digital excerpts and discussions, 7:30 pm
June 1 – UnderScored by Ephrat Asherie Dance, in collaboration with New York City’s club legends

Works & Process at Catskill Mountain Foundation digital excerpts and discussions, 7:30 pm
April 25 – Rhapsody in Blue, a kaleidoscope of New York by Caleb Teicher & Company with Conrad Tao
June 6 – New York Is Burning by Omari Wiles, performed by Les Ballet Afrik
June 27 – The Jazz Continuum with LaTasha Barnes
July 11 – Unveiling by Sonya Hashem Tayeh, with music by Moses Sumney

Works & Process at New Victory Theater digital excerpts and discussions, 7:30 pm
June 14 – Witness by Christopher Rudd, performed by RudduR Dance

Watch Isolation to Creation Docuseries on WNET’s All Arts Channel to learn more about Works & Process Bubble Residencies
In summer of 2020 Works & Process, itself facing a shuttered theater, forged a path for artists to safely gather, create, and perform together. Pioneering and producing bubble residencies that have since been widely replicated, Works & Process invited over fifty artists to enter eight bubble residencies in rural Hudson Valley after an unprecedented period of isolation. Under a health protocol developed with medical counsel Dr. Wendy Ziecheck, and ethical oversight provided by Dr. Robert Klitzman, artists isolated by the pandemic gathered in quarantine to work together. To capture this journey, Works & Process produced Isolation to Creation, a four-part docuseries by filmmaker Nic Petry of Dancing Camera, to provide audiences with a rare opportunity to look behind the scenes and experience the hope, joy, exhilarating physical struggle, and emotional challenges experienced by performers returning to the studio and stage. Watch for free on the All Arts app and allarts.org. Lead support for Isolation to Creation was provided by the Works & Process Board of Directors and Anh-Tuyet Nguyen and Robert Pollock, with additional support from Jonna Mackin. The filming of Isolation to Creation was supported in part by the Jerome Robbins Dance Division at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. 

Works & Process at the Guggenheim
Described by The New York Times as “an exceptional opportunity to understand something of the creative process,” for since 1984, New Yorkers have been able to see, hear, and meet the most acclaimed artists in the world, in an intimate setting unlike any other. Works & Process, the performing arts series at the Guggenheim, has championed new works and offered audiences unprecedented access to generations of leading creators and performers. Traditionally, most performances took place in the Guggenheim’s intimate Frank Lloyd Wright–designed 273-seat Peter B. Lewis Theater. In 2017, Works & Process established a new residency and commissioning program, inviting artists to create new works, made in and for the iconic Guggenheim rotunda. In 2020, Works & Process Artists (WPA) Virtual Commissions was created to financially support artists and nurture their creative process during the pandemic. To forge a path for artists to safely gather, create, and perform during the pandemic, in summer 2020, Works & Process pioneered and produced a series of bubble residencies that will continue into 2021. Lead funding for the 2020–21 Works & Process season is provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with additional support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Ford Foundation, the Christian Humann Foundation, Leon Levy Foundation, Mertz Gilmore Foundation, NYC COVID-19 Response and Impact Fund, Stephen Kroll Reidy, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and Evelyn Sharp Foundation, with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. Find more information at worksandprocess.org.


May 4, 2021