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PEAK Performances in High Def

Filmed pre-pandemic, PEAK HD broadcasts Kasser Theater performances online at the right moment

Posted in: Arts

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The 2019 production “FALLING & LOVING,” directed by Anne Bogart and Elizabeth Streb, based on the works of Charles Mee, premieres October 11, 2020, on PEAK HD.

Lights flash, bodies twist, pianos sound, voices rise, blood rushes and minds engage – all upon a stage brought to viewers virtually.

A genius move begun two years ago by Montclair State University is providing arts lovers with free, world-class PEAK Performances this fall – at a time when most arts organizations have canceled their seasons.

“With the Alexander Kasser Theater now equipped as a first-class broadcast venue for the performing arts, we’re sending the message that the performing arts will overcome the COVID-19 pandemic as they have all other obstacles,” says Arts and Cultural Programming Executive Director Jedediah Wheeler. “The doors that are open are the doors of our ideas. Everybody is welcome. All seats are available. There is no social distancing to the imagination.”

Beginning in 2018, the installation of multiple 4K robotic video cameras linked to control studios in Montclair State’s School of Communication and Media transformed the Alexander Kasser Theater into a state-of-the-art live performance broadcast venue. In 2019, Peak Performances, in conjunction with WNET’s ALL ARTS, began filming bold works in dance, music, theater, opera and circus.

Now, the newly minted PEAK HD series will be broadcast for free to audiences across the country and around the world.

The first performance debuts on Sunday, October 11, 2020: FALLING & LOVING, co-directed by Anne Bogart and Elizabeth Streb, based on the works of Charles Mee, the 2019 production involves six actors from SITI Company and six “daredevils” from Streb Extreme Action contending with swinging bowling balls and buckets of water, flour and confetti.

The broadcasts, which will be available to stream on, will continue with Martha Graham Dance Company and the International Contemporary Ensemble, the Richard Alston Dance Company, Gandini Juggling and Alexander Whitley, and the Grand Band piano ensemble.

“PEAK HD reaches back to the Golden Age of Television when broadcasts of live symphonies, operas, and plays were fundamental to the newly invented craft of TV,” says ALL ARTS Artistic Director Jörn Weisbrodt. “PEAK Performances is one of the very few arts presenters on the East Coast commissioning new productions. I am proud that in our first year of collaboration we can bring an entire season of programming to our audiences during times when the live experience is sadly not available to us.”

Even after the pandemic recedes, PEAK HD and PEAK Performances will continue to “widen and deepen tastes for highly inexplicable works” to a local and global audience, says Wheeler, while phasing audiences back in and assiduously assessing the safety needs of the moment.

“These performances will live forever, and be open to anyone who wishes to discover them as exhilarating filmed works.”


Co-directed by Anne Bogart and Elizabeth Streb
Adapted from the plays of Charles Mee
Created and Performed by SITI Company & STREB Extreme Action

October 11, 2020, at 8 p.m.

World Premiere Performances Took Place at The Alexander Kasser Theater September 24-30, 2019

Two titans of the avant-garde – director Anne Bogart and choreographer Elizabeth Streb – join forces with the playwright Charles Mee in an original production at the Alexander Kasser Theater. Actors and dancers slam the stage to tell intimate tales while being slimed by a merciless Guck Machine and dodging life-threatening projectiles. Artists, ideas and objects collide in this radical lovefest.

Martha Graham Dance Company

Janet Eilber, Artistic Director

Sunday, November 8, 2020, at 8 p.m.

Appalachian Spring
Music by Aaron Copland
Set by Isamu Noguchi
Choreography by Martha Graham

The Auditions
Music by Augusta Read Thomas
Choreography by Troy Schumacher

Music performed by International Contemporary Ensemble Conducted by Vimbayi Kaziboni

Performances (surrounding the 75th Anniversary of Appalachian Spring and marking the World Premiere of The Auditions, commissioned by PEAK Performances) took place November 14-17, 2019 at The Alexander Kasser Theater.

Martha Graham Dance Company performs the iconic dance maker’s most celebrated work, Appalachian Spring, music by Aaron Copland, with the world premiere of PEAK Performances’ commission The Auditions, choreographed by Troy Schumacher and composed by Augusta Read Thomas. Music performed by the International Contemporary Ensemble, conducted by Vimbayi Kaziboni.


Gandini Juggling and Alexander Whitley
Director: Sean Gandini
Choreographer: Alexander Whitley

Sunday, December 13, 2020, at 8 p.m.

U.S. Premiere performances took place at The Alexander Kasser Theater December 12-15, 2019

The seismic juggling virtuoso Sean Gandini collaborates with visionary choreographer Alexander Whitley to create Spring. This production mixes mind-bending juggling and dance into a kaleidoscopic dreamscape propelled by an immersive score by Gabriel Prokofiev. This performance is a refreshing and entertaining production at the vanguard of contemporary circus.

Grand Band

Performed by: Erika Dohl, David Friend, Paul Kerekes, Blair McMillen, Lisa Moore and Isabelle O’Connell

Sunday, January 10, 2021, at 8 p.m.

Performances, marking Grand Band’s PEAK debut, took place at The Alexander Kasser Theater February 14 & 15, 2020

Sensitive Spot
Kate Moore

my lips from speaking
Julia Wolfe

Three Fragile Systems
Missy Mazzoli with Joshua Frankel’s Emergent System, an animated film in collaboration with Faye Driscoll

Gay Guerrilla
Julius Eastman

Grand Band is a six-piano musical ensemble composed of the finest contemporary-classical pianists. The sextet envelopes the audience in the sonic euphoria of contemporary compositions by Kate Moore, Julia Wolfe, Missy Mazzoli and Julius Eastman, in a tour de force combination of sight and sound. Three Fragile Systems is complemented by the debut of an animated film by Joshua Frankel.

Richard Alston Dance Company

Sunday, February 14, 2021, at 8 p.m.

Voices and Light Footsteps
Choreography Richard Alston
Music Claudio Monteverdi

Detour (U.S. Premiere)
Choreography Martin Lawrance
Music Michael Gordon from the album Timer Remixed

Shine On (U.S. Premiere)
Choreography Richard Alston
Music Benjamin Britten
Performed live by pianist Jason Ridgway
Featuring soprano Gelsey Bell

Brahms Hungarian (U.S. Premiere)
Choreography Richard Alston
Music Johannes Brahms, Hungarian Dances for solo piano
Performed live by pianist Jason Ridgway

Performances, which included the U.S. Premieres of Detour, Shine On, and Brahms Hungarian, took place February 20-24, 2020 at The Alexander Kasser Theater

Boasting a “rich, pliant, full-bodied” style that transports audiences “to the heart of dance itself” Richard Alston Dance Company returned to the Alexander Kasser Theater for its final American engagement before the company closed its doors after more than 25 years. A selection of signature works including Brahms Hungarian, highlights the unflagging invention of this beloved group, led by Sir Richard Alston, one of the world’s finest choreographers celebrating his 50th year of making dances.