Guide to the BAM 2019 Next Wave Festival

Brian Sloan

Every fall the BAM Next Wave Festival brings a diverse slate of boundary-pushing arts programming to the Brooklyn Academy of Music (the BAM in the event’s name). The first official installment was held in 1983 as a forum for experimental and up-and-coming artists from Europe and the downtown NYC arts scene. It has helped introduce audiences to composer Phillip Glass, performance artist Laurie Anderson, choreographer Bill T. Jones and innovative directors like Ivo van Hove (who recently helmed Network on Broadway) and Peter Sellars (who was behind the Met Opera’s Nixon in China). Here’s everything you need to know if you plan to attend this year.

When is it?

BAM Next Wave 2019 takes place October 15–December 15.

Peter Jay Sharp Building. Photo: Julienne Schaer

Where is it?

The campus of the Brooklyn Academy of Music. To get there, take the C subway line to Lafayette Avenue or the G to Fulton Street. BAM is also a short walk away from Atlantic Terminal, which includes stops for the Long Island Railroad and the 2, 3, 4, 5, B, D, N, Q and R subway lines.

Howard Gilman Opera House. Courtesy, BAM

What is BAM?

The Brooklyn Academy of Music was founded in 1861, in Brooklyn Heights. Its original purpose was to present concerts by the Philharmonic Society of Brooklyn. In 1908, BAM opened a grand opera house in the Fort Greene neighborhood. Today, that’s known at the Peter Jay Sharp Building; it contains the Howard Gilman Opera House and BAM Rose Cinemas, and also serves as the center of BAM’s multi-venue, multidisciplinary arts campus. Other nearby BAM spaces include the Harvey Theater—an 874-seat former movie palace renovated to host plays and other live events—and the Fisher Building, which has two smaller performance venues for dance and other works.

Swan Lake/Loch na hEala. Photo: Marie Laure Briane

Which shows should I see this year?

Swan Lake/Loch na hEala
October 15–20
Harvey Theater

The festival kicks off with a new version of a classic ballet from Dublin’s Teac Damsa. Using a mix of Irish and Nordic folk music, the company’s artistic director, Michael Keegan-Doyle, deconstructs the dance with elements of darkness and whimsy in this gorgeous production.

What if they went to Moscow. Photo: Melina Abreu

What if they went to Moscow
October 23–27
BAM Fisher/Rose Cinemas

This experimental production, directed by Brazil’s Christiane Jatahy, asks audiences to watch the same play twice—once live in a theater (the Fisher) and once onscreen (at the Rose) in an HD simulcast.

The Great Tamer. Courtesy, Julian Mommert

The Great Tamer
November 14–17
Howard Gilman Opera House

This striking dance piece from Greek choreographer Dimitris Papaioannou (who worked on the opening ceremony of the 2004 Olympics) takes place on an undulating stage. It’s set to the familiar strains of Strauss’ Blue Danube waltz—but the music is about the only thing that’s familiar in this riveting, sometimes-macabre meditation on human existence.

The End of Eddy. Photo: Tommy Ga Ken Wan

The End of Eddy
November 14–21
BAM Fisher

Based on Édouard Louis’ groundbreaking 2014 novel, this play is about a boy growing up gay in a rough working-class town. Directed by Stewart Laing, associate head of the National Theatre of Scotland, the show takes an unsparing look at coming-of-age in contemporary France.


32 Rue Vandenbranden. Photo: Herman Sorgeloos

32 Rue Vandenbranden
November 20–23
Harvey Theater

This contemporary dance piece, which won an Olivier Award for Best New Dance Production in 2015, follows the unusual residents of a trailer park. The work comes from Belgium’s Peeping Tom collective and features musical accompaniment that ranges from classical to K-pop.

Barber Shop Chronicles. Photo: Marc Brenner

Barber Shop Chronicles
December 3–8
Harvey Theater

Inua Ellams is a Nigerian playwright, whose celebrated show looks at barber shop culture in six cities around the world. A New York premiere of an international hit, the play looks at the friendships formed in these gathering places and the sense of community they create.

In Many Hands. Photo: Dirk Rose

In Many Hands
December 11–15
BAM Fisher

This unusual production dispenses with traditional notions of audience and performer as New Zealand–born artist Kate McIntosh creates a communal exploration of the senses with a group of strangers. The touch-based experience promises to be a revelation and a unique social gathering without words.

Photo: Magnus Hastings

A Very Meow Meow Holiday Show
December 12–14
Harvey Theater

Next Wave wraps on a festive note with a postmodern take on the Christmas show. London cabaret sensation Meow Meow brings some funky joy (and crowd-surfing) to the holiday season with her very interactive performance—so if you’re close to the stage, be prepared to participate.

Race Cards. Photo: Manuel Darcmedia 15

What else is happening at Next Wave?

In addition to the shows, there are free art installations during the festival’s two-month run; these include Selina Thompson’s Race Cards(October 29–November 10) and Glen Kaino’s When a Pot Finds Its Purpose(October 15–December 15). Next Wave also hosts conversations and seminars with some of this year’s creators, including a class with African-American choreographer Kyle Marshall (December 6) and a workshop on site-specific theater-making (November 13).

For more details on everything that’s happening at BAM’s fall festival, view the official Next Wave program.