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Lincoln Center Out of Doors: Must-see dance performances, music and more

The three-week-long free annual event returns to the Upper West Side for its 48th year.

This year's edition of the free Lincoln Center

This year's edition of the free Lincoln Center Out of Doors festival celebrates diversity across multiple art forms. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Lincoln Center

Every summer, the city’s premier cultural mecca celebrates the season with Lincoln Center Out of Doors. This three-week free festival brings phenomenal music, dance and spoken word performances to the Upper West Side. Now in its 48th year, the alfresco extravaganza promises a diverse lineup that you won’t want to miss. Here’s just a few of those must-see events.

RZA: Live from ‘The 36th Chamber of Shaolin’

Wu-Tang Clan legend RZA kicks off the festival with his rescore of the Shaw Brothers’ 1978 Kung Fu film classic “The 36th Chamber of Shaolin.” The movie was incredibly influential to the Wu-Tang Clan, and the new score only amplifies the movie’s thrilling, powerful narrative. Space is limited, so come early for this epic audiovisual experience. Damrosch Park, Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.

Raphael Saadiq

The Grammy-award winning R&B icon Saadiq, who rose to fame with his group Tony! Toni! Toné!, plays music from his three decade-spanning career. He’s joined on stage with Brooklyn artist Tamar-kali, who was recently recognized for her phenomenal work on the soundtrack for “Mudbound.” Damrosch Park, Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

Family Day

Bring the whole squad, young and old, for a dance workshop with the celebrated contemporary dance company Mark Morris Dance Group; check out the phenomenal 60-member drum line and dance team Marching Cobras; and bop your head and sing along to Soul Science Lab, a duo that uses its music to fuse hip-hop, jazz, funk, soul, and Afrobeat rhythms. Hearst Plaza and Josie Robertson Plaza. Saturday at various times.

NPR Music’s Turning the Tables Live: 21st-Century Edition

After NPR and Lincoln Center teamed up last year to produce the public radio network’s groundbreaking list of the 150 Greatest Albums Made by Women, the two forces are reuniting this summer to continue celebrating great women artists. This event includes appearances from chart-topper Carly Rae Jepsen, Chicago R&B artist and poet Jamila Woods, and supergroup I’m With Her (Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz, and Aoife O’Donovan). Damrosch Park, Aug. 1 at 7:30 p.m.

Peter Wolf

The former lead singer and songwriter of the J. Geils Band (“Love Stinks,” “Centerfold”), brings his charismatic showmanship to the stage for an evening of blues, pop, funk, soul, bluegrass, country and rock. Damrosch Park, Aug. 3 at 7:30 p.m.

Heritage Sunday

The Center for Traditional Music and Dance celebrates its 50th anniversary with sets from klezmer musician Andy Statman, Irish-American supergroup Cherish the Ladies, Afro-Colombian band Grupo Rebolu, and Guinean dancer, drummer, and singer Sidiki Conde with his group Tokounou. The fantastic afternoon lineup is followed by a dance party with tunes from DJ Rekha, a visionary for New York’s Basement Bhangra parties. Hearst Plaza and Josie Robertson Plaza, Aug. 5 at various times.

West Side Story Reimagined

In honor of Leonard Bernstein’s centennial, the Grammy-nominated Bobby Sanabria Multiverse Big Band is re-imagining the composer’s revolutionary “West Side Story” score. Poets La Bruja and Rich Villar start off the evening with spoken word performances before the band plays a concert full of traditional Afro-Puerto Rican, Cuban, Dominican, Brazilian, Venezuelan and Mexican rhythms. Damrosch Park, Aug. 10 at 7:30 p.m.

In the Name of Earth

Hundreds of experienced and amateur singers gather together at the north end of Central Park to perform the world premiere of Pulitzer Prize–winning composer John Luther Adams’ new choral work “In the Name of Earth.” Harlem Meer, Central Park, Aug. 11 at 3 p.m.

Lincoln Center Out of Doors takes place Tuesday through Aug. 12. For the full schedule of events visit lincolncenter.org

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