The Walker Art Center has unveiled a new performance season, one that boasts an incredible range of dance, theater and music — from choreographer Ralph Lemon to jazz drummer Jack DeJohnette.
“It’s really about bringing international visionaries to the Twin Cities,” Performing Arts Curator Philip Bither said of the season he is announcing today.
The season, which this year stretches from September to July 2015, boasts an incredible range of dance, theater, and music. Planned as part of the Walker’s 75th anniversary celebrations, it looks back, and forward, Bither said.
Given Bither’s reputation, more often than not, that likely means looking forward into a world where the boundaries between art forms are constantly being challenged and manipulated.
“The standard notions of music, dance, theater, that we have become accustomed to are challenged,” he said. “They don’t quite sound or look like what we might imagine. They don’t quite behave the way we sometimes think set theater and dance should, or music should sound like.”
Thus we have the return of Lemon, a Twin Cities native who is now recognized for his groundbreaking choreography in New York and beyond. He’ll be at the Walker to present his latest piece “Scaffold Room” and a new film “Meditation.”
“So that will be shown in the theater,” Bither said. “And his performance will be in the galleries. We’re really flipping things around, just the way Ralph Lemon likes it. He’s, I think, one of our most profound creators in any form or live performing arts these days.”
There will also be the visit of performer, writer, and director Miranda July in October. Bither said while July is now perhaps best known for her films, she began in performance.
“She really wanted to jump back in between films and make theater again,” he said.
She’ll present the world premiere of a piece called “New Society.”
“Really this is a work about devising a utopian society,” Bither said. “And by the end, more than half the audience is involved and on stage and she is clearly directing it all, constructing new ways of humans living together. And she almost pretends, what if the theater doors closed and the rest of our lives we were all living together, how would we move forward?”
Music is a huge part of the season too.
“We have a mini-festival focused on the work of Bryce Dessner who is one of the co-lead guitarists of The National, but is also a classically trained composer, and so we are showing all sides of him over a two-day festival,” Bither said.
Jazz is represented well too with an appearance by drummer Jack DeJohnette’s Made in Chicago, which pays tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Chicago-based Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM.) He’s assembled a super group: pianist Muhal Richard Abrams, and reedists Henry Threadgill and Roscoe Mitchell. They will play on March 12, 2015.
A fascinating mixture of jazz and gospel appears in February when the Campbell Brothers, a gospel band featuring the Sacred Steel style using steel string guitars.
“And they are going to celebrate the 50th anniversary of John Coltrane’s ‘A Love Supreme’ played all on these sacred steel string guitars,” Bither said. “So that’s the actual month that Coltrane released that record on Impulse Records, but done in this beautiful ‘other’ way.”
The Walker also will present Omar Souleyman in early December. He’s a Syrian musician raised in the folk traditions of his country, who has bent his music to a techno beat. He’ll be performing at the Cedar Cultural Center as part of the Walker season.
“It will be one wild dance party!” Bither said.
Another high point of the Walker season is always “Out There” — the month long exploration of avant garde theater the Walker mounts each January.
This season features the return of Richard Maxwell from New York to do “Custodian of a man,” a piece based on Dante’s Inferno, and Milton’s “Paradise Lost.” This is followed by what Bither calls “the most out there ‘Out There’ ever,” a piece called “Still Standing You.” Performed by a Belgian and Portuguese performer, the two “explore the boundaries between play, tenderness, slapstick, and violence,” in a performance art/dance work, which Bither said involves the pair wrestling for much of the performance.
That will be followed by “Cineastas,” by South American director Mariano Pensotti, which is about four film directors from Buenos Aires each starting a new project. “Out There will wrap up with “Red Eye to Havre de Grace” a collaboration between the magician Thaddeus Phillips and Minneapolis musical duo Wilhelm Bros. and Co, in a piece examining the last few days in the life of Edgar Allan Poe.
You can find details of the entire season here.