These performers will take their work to the grave.
Musicians, dancers, and performance artists will take over Green-Wood Cemetery every weekend in June as part of “Dark Wonderland,” an installation of outlandish works celebrating the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland.” The twilight performances are not directly inspired by the surreal children’s story, but the organizers chose esoteric acts to highlight the otherworldly atmosphere of the 177-year-old cemetery.
“It is the idea of using Green-Wood as a wonderland and surreal landscape,” said Chelsea Dowell, manager of programs and membership at the cemetery. “It is such a robust experience and something you do not get sitting in a theater.”
Audiences will travel around the cemetery during the show, but the performers will not actually be dancing on graves. The action takes place in groves between the tombstones, while the audience watches from the cemetery’s many paved surfaces.
Two productions during this week’s installment are particularly appropriate for the graveyard location. One is a musical piece composed in remembrance of Eric Garner, who suffocated to death while being arrested by police in Staten Island last year. The guitar solo requiem will be performed by Vernon Reid, founder of the band Living Colour. Organizers of the event say that Reid and other artists were chosen not only because of their ability, but because their work intersects with the real world.
“They are the cutting edge of the cutting edge,” said Brian Tate, executive producer of MAPP International Productions, which curated the shows. “They are not just bold creators but empathetic people who care about social issues.”
The second scene at home among the tombs is “The Little Vamp,” an undead character created by performance artist Sacha Yanow. Her performance of the vampiric character draws on the traditions of silent film, as well as feminist and queer history.
Three different artists will perform each weekend, so visitors can return for a different experience throughout the month. Other acts will include burlesque star and queen of the 2015 Coney Island Mermaid Parade Julie Atlas Muz, improvisational big band orchestra Burnt Sugar, and electro-pop band SLV, among many others.
“Dark Wonderland” at the Green-Wood Cemetery [500 25th St. at Fifth Avenue in Greenwood Heights, (718) 210–3080, www.green