Pina Bausch’s Enduring “The Rite of Spring”

In “Alaska Is the Center of the Universe,” a new six-part series on Audible, the Anchorage-based drummer, voice-over actor, and Inupiat storyteller James Dommek, Jr., journeys across his home state to gather traditional tales from fellow Alaska Natives. He visits Utqiagvik, the northernmost city in the U.S., to hear about a murderous cryptid; Juneau, for a story about a clever, shape-shifting otter; Athabascan territory, to learn about a girl who turned into a salmon. “There’s not always going to be a hero’s journey—most traditional Native stories are much weirder than that,” Dommek says. They are—and they’re also a means for cultures to connect. Dommek, eager to engage with the ancient and the modern at once, makes for an appealing bridge between worlds. “In order to get this story, I had to give Nick dried seal meat and unhack his Facebook,” he says in one episode. “That’s like two cultural trains colliding at full speed.”—Sarah Larson


Art

If you ask someone who doesn’t enjoy going to museums to imagine an abstract work of art, he might come up with something along the lines of the paintings in “Robert Ryman: 1961-1964.” They demand a lot. Thick, scabby strokes of white cover bright fields of color or patches of brown canvas. Viewers, in return for their attention, get a double scoop of frosty beauty, plus some hard questions: Is abstraction the purest kind of art or the earthiest? Is it meant for all humankind or for only a sliver of us? To which Ryman’s paintings reply with a charismatic “yep.”—Jackson Arn (Zwirner; through Feb. 3.)


Folk

Photograph by Dana Trippe

In 2021, after many stints with various bands, the Canadian singer-songwriter and roots-music specialist Allison Russell released her début solo album, “Outside Child,” a poignant collection of confessional songs that build on the advocacy of her previous music, including her work with the supergroup Our Native Daughters. In the two years since that release, Russell has become a guiding light in Americana, her soulful folk nearly as powerful as her efforts to embolden Black women in an artistic scene that they pioneered but have since been pushed out of. Russell’s follow-up, “The Returner,” from September, demonstrates her multidimensional artistry at its full force, with tunes that split the difference between pop and hymn.—Sheldon Pearce (Music Hall of Williamsburg; Nov. 30.)


Podcast

Hart Island, the public cemetery and potter’s field in the Bronx, has been a place of enduring mystery. Since 1869, more than a million people, many unknown, have been buried there. The eight episodes of “The Unmarked Graveyard: Stories from Hart Island”—part of Joe Richman’s “Radio Diaries,” a venerable and remarkable audio-documentary project that gives people recorders and helps them document their experiences—tell the stories of seven people who are buried on Hart Island, narrated by their loved ones. Some of the dead are long-lost relatives; one was a beloved resident of a Manhattan hotel, another was a composer, another a famous writer. Sensitively edited and beautifully sound-designed, the series imbues its subjects and its setting with a quiet, respectful poetry: in the words of the composer’s widower, it was “the simplicity, the anonymity, the humility” of Hart Island that appealed to his egalitarian husband. “And it was on the water, which he loved.”—Sarah Larson


Broadway

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