In 2019, New York City will have a glittering new hub for young artists from dancers to musicians to painters and beyond to hone their craft called The Shed.
We won’t have to wait that long to see what will come out of its studios though. To introduce itself to the city, The Shed will host a free 12-day festival this spring, appropriately titled Prelude to The Shed.
Headlining the music and arts festival will be New York City’s own Azealia Banks, with additional concerts by R&B singer ABRA and EDM DJ/producer Arca.
Among the many performances will be a new piece by premier ballet choreographer William Forsythe, a radical reimagining of his renowned “In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated” (1987). And prepare to be enchanted by choreographer Tino Sehgal's immersive dance/sound piece, “This Variation.”
“I was very keen to not wait three years and then open and expect everyone to come as if by magic,” says Alex Poots, founding artistic director and CEO of The Shed, which is already two years in the making and will open as part of the massive Hudson Yards development underway on Manhattan’s west side.
“We wanted to introduce what we’re doing on a smaller scale. Also, I am building a team from scratch, so it’s a tryout for us working as a team.”
Prelude to The Shed will show off the kind of innovative programming and range of artistic disciplines that will be developed at The Shed, which aims to work with established as well as new artists on radically new ideas.
“We might reimagine a classic, but our focus is on new work and across all art forms: from visual to pop,” says Poots. “People will see a convergence of art forms in a space that can adapt itself to that.”
Already lined up for commissions at The Shed are A-listers like Steve McQueen, Quincy Jones, Sia, opera star Renee Fleming and British actor Ben Whishaw.
Poots previously served as art director of the Park Avenue Armory, and before that at the U.K.’s Manchester International Festival, where he gained a reputation for bold artistic pairings and was awarded a CBE, Britain’s highest honor contributions to the arts and sciences.
The Edinburgh native emphasizes that The Shed is about art for the masses, not the elite, so among his first steps was offering free city-wide dance classes to schoolchildren through a program called FlexNYC. There will be a FlexNYC performance at Prelude under the direction of choreographer Reggie "Regg Roc" Gray and his D.R.E.A.M Ring dancers (Dance Rules Everything Around Me).
As New York City is well served with artistic institutions, bolstering young talent is a major part of The Shed’s focus.
“There’s a range of centers of excellence in New York, and we met with leaders from many of them,” says Poots. “They feel very comfortable with what we’re doing because we’re doing something they don't do.
“There are things we can do that they can’t; and there are things that they can do that we can’t. We don't have the same endgame. That’s where The Shed offers something unique. We exist in the spaces between art forms.”
Prelude to The Shed runs May 1-13 at 10th Avenue and 30th Street. Tickets are free and available starting in early April. For more information, visit theshed.org.