Friday, May 18, 2012 at 10:48 a.m.
Photo courtesy of the artist
Yesterday, the Walker Art Center announced its 2012-2013 performing arts season. It looks like it's going to be a fantastic year filled with a number of powerhouse women performers, political work, a number of festivals, and, as usual, a continued search for new forms. Icons such as performance artist Laurie Anderson and Judson Dance Theater founder Deborah Hay are scheduled to perform, and there will also be a festival of contemporary dance featuring African women choreographers. There is much to be excited about.
While Philip Bither, the Walker's senior curator of performing arts, says there wasn't a specific intention to showcase women this season (the Walker has a long tradition of choosing an equal balance), the decision to feature African women artists in "Voices of Strength: New Dance and Theater" was intentional. For over a decade, the Africa Contemporary Arts Consortium (made up of the Walker, the Kennedy Center, and eight other organizations) have brought African performers on tour to the United States. This year, Bither says the consortium made the decision to feature women in part because it is much more difficult for women artists to gain recognition in the region.
Photo courtesy of the artist
There will be four companies and five choreographers in the festival, who Bither says show the "incredible blossoming of contemporary dance" in many African countries. The two programs include work from women from Mali, Haiti, Mozambique, Côte d'Ivoire, South Africa, and Morrocco.
In a video clip of Nadia Beugré's work, the artist is seen dancing against a mass of plastic bottles hanging from strings, later dancing, flinging herself, and collapsing as she herself is wrapped in plastic. Maria Helena Pinto (from Mozambique), another featured artist, performs a piece with a bucket on top of her head. Bither says their work relates oppression and a lack of freedom. Also performing will be Kettly Noël (from Mali and Haiti) and Nelisiwe Xaba (from South Africa), as well as Bouchra Ouizguen, from Morocco, whose interactive work will include a cabaret ritualistic performance style.
by Rino Pizzi
Another festival presented by the Walker will celebrate choreographer Deborah Hay, who has been a major force in the contemporary dance scene, dancing with Merce Cunningham Dance Company on their legendary tour to Europe and Asia in 1964, and later developing and perfecting her own voice as an artist, creating circle dances and other experimental works. Hay will give a lecture on her practice, and will perform "No Time to Fly" and present "As Holy Sites Go," a duet performed by New York-based dancer/choreographer Jeanine Durning and Australian dancer Ros Warby.
The other big news of the season is that the extraordinary performance artist Laurie Anderson is returning to the Walker for the first time in 10 years. Originally trained as a sculptor, Anderson's practice involves visual art, media, performance, and "pulls all of those things together," Bither says. She'll be performing just a few days before the national elections, and the piece will reflect and challenge the nature of our culture.
Indeed, there are numerous examples of politically-infused artists that populate the season. For example, in September So Percussion will be performing "Where We Live," featuring local choreographer Emily Johnson and a Twin Cities guest artist each night. The piece centers on concepts of home, inspired by the experience of seeing their neighborhood being completely gentrified. A week after the elections, Hofesh Shector, who Bither calls "an exploding nova star" will perform "Political Mother," a critique of power and militarism.
Another politically charged work comes from Cynthia Hopkins, performing "This Clement World" in March. The work compares her own struggle with addiction to our modern world's addiction to fossil fuels. Also in March, Kyle Abraham/Abrah.In.Motion performs "Live!The Reast MC," which explores race and gender.
The Walker also celebrates the 40th Anniversary of the Choreographers' Evening next year, which will be curated by Patrick Scully and Aparna Ramaswamy, and the 25th anniversary of the Out There series, featuring Rude Rechs, She She Pop, Trajal Harrel, Cecilia Bengolea, Francois Chaignaud, and Marlene Monteiro Freitas. The evening will also include Back to Back Theatre performing "Ganesh Versus the Third Reich."
Other dance and theater highlights of the season include Miguel Gutierrez and the Powerful People, the Body Cartography Project, and Elevator Repair Service, which presents a play written by Sybil Kempson. There will also be lots of music to look forward to, including two engagements that include Wilco band members Dirty Baby, conceived by Nels Cline and poet/producer David Breskin, and an evening with Glenn Kotche, who will perform a solo opera as well as a collaboration with Martin Dosh.