Read about NYC's best theatre and dance productions and watch video interviews with innovative artists
Where to see shows, dance performances, concerts and family entertainment in the borough
The boogie down borough is well-known for the Yankees and the Zoo, but it's live arts scene deserves attention, too. From venerable Latinx companies, to youth troupes, to two colleges with robust performing arts programming, the offerings at these Bronx venues are as diverse as the communities they serve.
1. The Bronx Academy of Arts & Dance (BAAD!)
2474 Westchester Avenue near St. Peters Avenue in Parkchester
Founded in 1998 by dancer-choreographer Arthur Aviles and writer-LGBTQ activist Charles Rice-Gonzalez in Hunts Point, BAAD! moved to its current site in 2013, a striking neo-gothic structure on the grounds of St. Peter's Episcopal Church. Programming is eclectic, multidisciplinary and often political, with an emphasis on spotlighting women, people of color and queer performers. BAAD! is a haven for artists, both newbies and vets (Marga Gomez, Elizabeth "Macha" Marrero), looking to push the envelope; it also serves as the permanent home of the contemporary dance troupe Arthur Aviles Typical Theatre. In addition to offering dance classes and shows such as Los Nutcrackers: A Christmas Carajo, a gay Latino twist on the holiday staple, BAAD! hosts a number of annual festivals, including the BlakTinX Performance Series, spotlighting African-American, Latinx and other artists of color; BAAD!Ass Women and Out Like That!
What's next? Get Tough! Get BAAD! is coming up in February, a series of films and live performances celebrating queer culture. The exact dates and lineup are still being finalized, so check baadbronx.org for further info.
2. Pregones / Puerto Rican Traveling Theater
571-575 Walton Avenue between East 149th and East 150th Streets in the South Bronx
In 1967, the late actress Míriam Colón founded the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater, which grew out of her involvement in NYC's burgeoning Hispanic theatre scene. The troupe's first show, an English-language production of René Marqués' classic La carreta/The Ox Cart, starred Colón and Raul Julia. Twelve years later, Rosalba Rolón started Pregones to create new works in the style of Latinx colectivos (ensembles). The companies joined forces in 2014 and currently present performances out of a pair of shared spaces: Midtown Manhattan's 47th Street Theatre, and Pregones in the South Bronx, a complex featuring a 130-seat theatre, a gallery and an adjacent garden. With an emphasis on collaborative play-making and bilingual productions, Pregones/PRTT is a vibrant part of Latinx life in NYC, frequently working with other cultural organizations including the Center for Puerto Rican Studies and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.
What's next? From January 23 to 26, Pregones is presenting the NYC premiere of We Have IRÉ, a multidisciplinary work by performer-playwright Paul S. Flores inspired by real-life tales of Cuban immigrant artists.
3. Open Hydrant Theater Company
The Point Theatre, 940 Garrison Avenue between Barretto and Manida Streets in Hunts Point
While the Bronx is home to multiple youth companies, including Riverdale Children's Theatre and Riverdale Rising Stars, the Open Hydrant Theater Company is the only professional ensemble mounting work for family audiences in the borough. Founded in 2013 by Luis Reyes Cardenas, Deborah Pautler and Sarah Rosenberg, the theatre presents innovative takes on classics, particularly Shakespeare, as well as musicals such as In the Heights starring kids, teens and young performers, most of whom live in the borough. These tykes are pretty impressive: for example, Bronx native and sitcom scene-stealer Devin Trey Campbell from Single Parents starred in two Open Hydrant productions last year. The company also offers acting classes for all ages.
What's next? The company is presenting Annie Jr. January 18 and 19, and the streamlined school edition of Les Misérables April 10 to 20.
4. Lehman Center for the Performing Arts and Lehman Stages
250 Bedford Park Boulevard West near Paul Avenue in Kingsbridge Heights
Founded in 1980 on the campus of CUNY's Lehman College, the Lehman Center for the Performing Arts recently unveiled a $15 million-plus upgrade, with an inviting glass façade that's prompted comparisons to Lincoln Center. Its 40th anniversary season is a mix of concerts (Elvis Crespo, the Siberian State Symphony), theatre (Ain't Misbehavin', Mummenschanz) and dance (Pilobolus), all touring events making a stop in the Bronx. If you're looking for more homegrown entertainment, Lehman Stages—founded in 2003 and also located on the college's grounds—presents original performances featuring students as well as local arts organizations. With four stages including the 500-seat Lovinger Theatre, the complex is home to the Bronx Repertory Company and the Herbert H. Dance Company, and spotlights local musicians and storytellers in its The Bronx Music Project and Bronx Tales series.
What's next? Next up at the Lehman Center for the Performing Arts is Westchester Broadway Theatre's revival of Ain't Misbehavin' on January 18; you can peruse the full season on the website. At Lehman Stages, The Bronx Opera Company presents Mozart's Don Giovanni on January 11 to 18 (at press time, discount tickets were available); and Riverdale Children's Theatre mounts Frozen Jr. January 24 to February 2.
5. Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture
450 Grand Concourse between East 144th and East 149th Streets in the South Bronx
Located within Hostos Community College, this arts complex opened in 1994 and includes a gallery and two theatres: one with 367 seats, the other with 884. Throughout the season, the center presents shows, film screenings, concerts and seasonal exhibits, usually with a Latinx bent.
What's next? Spring programming kicks off on March 7 with Momma's Hip Hop Kitchen, a free showcase of music, dance and spoken word. Later in the season you can catch Repertorio Español's stage adaptation of Junot Díaz's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao on April 22, and the Hostos Repertory Company in The Hispanick Zone April 22 to May 1.
Jose Solís is a NY-based writer and editor who's been covering theatre and film professionally since 2003. He is a member of the Drama Desk. Follow him at @josesolismayen. Follow TDF at @TDFNYC.
Top image: William Robinson and jumatatu m. poe in Let 'im Move You - This Is a Success at La Mama Moves! Dance Festival at BAAD! Photo by Theo Cote.
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