What to Do in New York City in December

Looking for something to do in New York? Check out the New York debut of Henry Threadgill’s “Pathways,” or enjoy the premieres and classics on offer from Alvin Ailey Dance Theater.

ImageThe comedy writer Heben Nigatu stands behind a lectern at far right with the logo of her game show, “Heben Only Knows!,” projected onto a screen at center stage, and the D.J. Donwill and two other performers are on the other side of the stage.
Heben Nigatu, far right, hosting her game show, “Heben Only Knows!,” in May at the Bell House. The show returns on Sunday.Credit...via Bell House

Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. at the Bell House, 149 Seventh Street, Brooklyn; thebellhouseny.com.

Heben Nigatu is an Ethiopian-born writer whose first claim to fame came thanks to her Webby Award-winning BuzzFeed podcast, “Another Round,” which tackled thorny topics over drinks with the likes of Lin-Manuel Miranda, Issa Rae and Lizzo. Since it ended in 2017, Nigatu has worked on “Desus & Mero,” which earned her a Writer’s Guild Award, as well as on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.”

In May, Nigatu debuted “Heben Only Knows!,” a trivia game show in which comedians flaunt their brains and the D.J. Donwill spins tunes. On Sunday, the competitive antics return to the Bell House, with Crissle West, a writer who has appeared on Comedy Central’s “Drunk History,” and Roy Wood Jr., a correspondent on “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah.” A second show on Dec. 11, also at the Bell House, will feature Aparna Nancherla and Celeste Yim.

Tickets start at $20 and are available at Eventbrite. SEAN L. McCARTHY

Archers of Loaf performing in Atlanta in 2015. The band will play its first New York show since then on Friday at Warsaw.Credit...Mike White

Pop & Rock

Dec. 2 at 8 p.m. at Warsaw, 261 Driggs Avenue, Brooklyn; mercuryeastpresents.com.

In its 1990s heyday, Archers of Loaf burned fast and bright, releasing four albums’ worth of raucous, confrontational indie rock in six years and then calling it quits before the decade’s end. By then, the band’s withering, punkish appraisals — of paramours, poseurs and various societal ills — had cemented a lasting legacy, one carried on by younger acolytes like Oso Oso and Fiddlehead.

Meanwhile, Archers of Loaf has followed the boomerang path charted by other influential ’90s groups. In 2011, the members came together for a reunion tour, and in October of this year, they released the band’s first album in nearly a quarter-century. As its trend-spotting title, “Reason in Decline,” suggests, the record applies Archers’ typically critical lens to contemporary woes.

On Friday, the group will stop at Warsaw in Greenpoint for its first New York show since 2015. Tickets start at $30 and are available at Ticketweb. OLIVIA HORN

Henry Threadgill, above at Roulette in May, will perform his work “Pathways” with his band Zooid and the International Contemporary Ensemble on Saturday.Credit...Jeenah Moon for The New York Times


Dec. 3 at 7:30 p.m. at NYU Skirball, 566 LaGuardia Place, Manhattan; nyuskirball.org.

The Pulitzer Prize winner Henry Threadgill is a reliable force in the concert hall. That’s true when he’s playing his alto saxophone (and phalanx of flutes), or whether he’s simply providing the evening’s compositions. (His two-night residency at Roulette last May featured him conducting a large group; it was gripping.)

On Saturday at NYU Skirball, audience members will have a chance to check in on multiple sides of Threadgill’s creative practice. For “Pathways,” the man himself will play onstage along with Zooid, his core band. But this is no small-ensemble gig, since the work requires another chamber group. Before the pandemic, it had its world premiere at Oberlin’s conservatory. For the New York debut, Threadgill and Zooid will team up with the International Contemporary Ensemble, whose members are adept at exploring the languages of composers who require panache in both notated material and passages of improvisation.

Tickets start at $25 and are available at NYU Skirball’s website. SETH COLTER WALLS

A portrait of Marcel Proust, who is the subject of a weekend celebration at the Payne Whitney Mansion presented by Villa Albertine.Credit...Chen Jiang Hong

Dec. 3-4 at the Payne Whitney Mansion, 972 Fifth Avenue, Manhattan; villa-albertine.org.

How would your children like to chat with Proust? Don’t worry: They don’t have to have read “In Search of Lost Time.”

Presented by Villa Albertine, the French cultural organization, the free Proust Weekend will celebrate this author and his signature work with readings, panels, performances and children’s art-and-animation workshops.

Saturday and Sunday’s activities start with the workshops, titled “Once Upon a Time, There Was an Author Named Marcel Proust,” at 10 and 11 a.m. (All are in English except the one on Saturday at 11.) Led by the artist Amélie Gaulier, these programs for ages 6 to 12 will feature sheets with illustrations to color and information about how Proust discovered that tasting a madeleine brought on a rush of early memories that fueled his fiction. Using digital tablets and the app BlinkBook, youngsters will record their voices describing a similar experience from their own lives and photograph their art and themselves. The app will then animate the imagery, making the children appear to be conversing with Proust over tea.

All events have limited space and require registration; a full schedule is online. At least one might please even nonreaders: a tasting of madeleine-flavored macarons on Sunday at 4 p.m. LAUREL GRAEBER

A scene from Aszure Barton’s “BUSK,” which the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater performed in September at the Fall for Dance Festival and will include in the company’s current residency at New York City Center.Credit...Erin Baiano for The New York Times

Through Dec. 24 at New York City Center, 131 West 55th Street, Manhattan; nycitycenter.org.

While high-kicking Rockettes and numerous Nutcrackers command much of the attention, the start of December heralds another holiday dance tradition that’s less fanciful but no less spectacular: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s annual residency at New York City Center.

The starting lineup features dances spanning more than 60 years; the oldest is 1958’s “Blues Suite,” which introduced the formidable talents of a then-27-year-old Ailey. Two years later, he created “Revelations,” one of the most celebrated and enduring works of American dance. Both will be performed on Thursday and Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. “Revelations” also anchors performances this weekend: On Friday at 8 p.m., it’s paired with Aszure Barton’s darkly captivating “BUSK” and a new piece from Kyle Abraham. On Saturday at 8 p.m., it’s joined by Abraham’s work and a premiere from Jamar Roberts, the former Ailey dancer turned resident choreographer. The matinees, on Saturday at 2 p.m. and on Sunday at 3 p.m., offer an enticing all-Ailey program.

Tickets start at $29 and are available at New York City Center’s website. BRIAN SCHAEFER

Jaquel Spivey, center, in the musical “A Strange Loop” at the Lyceum Theater.Credit...Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Critic’s Pick

At the Lyceum Theater, Manhattan; strangeloopmusical.com. Running time: 1 hour 45 minutes.

In Michael R. Jackson’s surreal and comic Pulitzer Prize winner, which won the 2022 Tony Award for best musical, a young, Black, queer artist working as a Broadway usher wrestles with the myriad thoughts in his head — about sex and acceptance, religion and identity — as he tries to write what he calls a self-referential musical. Starring an endearing Jaquel Spivey in his Broadway debut. Read the review.

Critic’s Pick

At the Walter Kerr Theater, Manhattan; hadestown.com. Running time: 2 hrs. and 30 min.

Anaïs Mitchell’s jazz-folk musical about the mythic young lovers Eurydice and Orpheus won eight Tonys in 2019, including best musical, and picked up a cult following along the way. Rachel Chavkin’s splendidly designed production takes audiences on a glorious road to hell. Read the review.

A scene from the musical “Six” at the Brooks Atkinson Theater.Credit...Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Critic’s Pick

At the Brooks Atkinson Theater, Manhattan; sixonbroadway.com. Running time: 1 hour 20 minutes.

The half-dozen wives of Henry VIII recount their marriages pop-concert style — divorces, beheadings and all — in Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss’s upbeat musical, which has an all-female cast and an all-female band. It also now has a 2022 Tony Award for best original score, and another for Gabriella Slade’s instantly iconic costumes. Read the review.

Critic’s Pick

Through Jan. 8 at the St. James Theater, Manhattan; intothewoodsbway.com. Running time: 2 hours 45 minutes.

Lear deBessonet’s buzzy revival of James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim’s fairy-tale mash-up was a triumph at New York City Center Encores! this spring. Its cast teems with Broadway stars, including Brian d’Arcy James as the Baker, Sara Bareilles as the Baker’s Wife, Phillipa Soo as Cinderella, Patina Miller as the Witch, Gavin Creel as the Wolf and Joshua Henry as Rapunzel’s Prince. Fan favorite in the making: the winsome cow puppet Milky White. (Onstage at the St. James Theater. Limited run ends Oct. 16.) Read the review.

Nellie Mae Rowe’s “Untitled (Pig on Expressway),” 1980, crayon and colored pencil on paper.Credit...Estate of Nellie Mae Rowe/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; via High Museum of Art, Atlanta

Critic’s Pick

Through Jan. 1 at the Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Parkway; brooklynmuseum.org.

If you’ve paid any attention to that roiling mass of talent variously known over the past century as folk, naïve, primitive, Art Brut, self-taught or outsider, chances are you’ve come across the infectious creations of Nellie Mae Rowe. They rivet the eye with bright, dense colors, ingenious patterns and thickets of line and buoyant, sometimes bulbous figures and animals. The full force of her achievement is revealed as never before in “Really Free,” the most extensive survey of her work yet realized. With over 100 of her paintings on paper, several sewn dolls (and one chewing gum sculpture) as well as two amazing reimaginings (not replicas) of her home and yard recently constructed for a hybrid documentary-feature, the show fills the museum’s Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art. Altogether, it propels Rowe’s art into the upper echelons of the self-taught canon with the likes of Martín Ramírez, Bill Traylor and James Castle, where female artists are rare. Read the review.

Critic’s Pick

Through Jan. 1 at the Museum of Modern Art, 11 West 53 Street, Manhattan; moma.org.

This is one of the most anticipated exhibitions of the year. It rambles across MoMA’s sixth floor and includes more than 400 photographs, displayed in asymmetric arrays of large and small prints. The majority are affixed to the wall with Scotch tape or bulldog clips — although, as with the soft lighting and easy cropping of Wolfgang Tillmans’s photography, this ostensibly “informal” hang is actually calculated to the quarter-inch. The show is candid, unaffected, breezily intelligent; moralistic, too, in the later galleries. It is required viewing for both photography scholars and sportswear fetishists, and a worthy retrospective of one of the most significant artists to emerge at the end of the last century. Read the review.

Critic’s Pick

Through Jan. 8 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue; metmuseum.org.

Delayed two years by the pandemic, “The Tudors” is handsome, classical, full of prestigious loans, and maybe a little royalist for its own good. Portraits by mostly foreign artists, Hans Holbein first among them, chart England’s most mythologized dynasty from Henry VII, who won the crown at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, to Elizabeth I, whom we see transform from a marriageable young monarch to a white-faced virgin queen. More compelling than the paintings are the tapestries, furniture and metalwork of the same era: a massive bronze candelabrum commissioned by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, giant tapestries of religious strife that Henry VIII commissioned from Antwerp, and intricate cloaks and field armor embellished with the Tudor rose. Read the review.