Yesterday, the Walker Art Center unveiled its 2015-16 season, and it is rock solid with the usual mélange of music, dance, and theater. At what has become an eagerly anticipated yearly tradition, Philip Bither, the Walker's senior curator for the performing arts, gave a presentation on what's to expect.
"The 24 distinct performance projects in the Walker's 2015-16 season represent some of the most compelling, provocative, and engaging performance events anywhere," he said.
It's quite evident the institution, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary, shows no sign of shortening its programming or condensing the breadth of artists and performances presented. With a diverse lineup of dance, performance, new music works, and new commissions, it's also expanding its reach in reuniting partnerships with other venues throughout the Twin Cities, most notably its continued collaborations with the Cedar Cultural Center and the O'Shaughnessy in St. Paul.
Here are some of the highlights of the Walker's upcoming performing arts season:
World Premiere: Tournament September 24-27
Commissioned by the Walker, one of the most in-demand choreographers, New York-based Sarah Michelson, debuts her latest work, filled with "conceptual mystery, high design, and music."
Midwest Premiere: The Gloaming October 9
For a rare Midwest appearance, the Walker will team up with the Cedar to bring five-piece Irish-infused New York combo the Gloaming to the museum in October.
Wye Oak and William Brittelle: Spiritual America, with Special Guest Michi Wiancko October 14
Baltimore, Maryland, duo Wye Oak will step out of their comfort zone for a new collaboration with electro-acoustic Brooklynite William Brittelle and violinist Wiancko for re-workings of their Shriek record.
Johnbrown by Dean Moss October 15-17
In this dense and precisely executed work, Dean Moss creates a performative meditation on the complicated, controversial legacy of 19th century abolitionist John Brown.
The Object Lesson by Geoff Sobelle November 4-8
Dubbed "a meditation on objects that surround us that we that hold us down" by Bither, Sobelle's performance works involves the audience right onstage to search for the meaning of life in a lifetime's collection of junk.
Tanya Tagaq in concert with a screening of Nanook of the North November 19-20
Reclaiming the controversial 1922 silent film, Tagaq will provide improvisational accompaniment to the cliché images. Focusing on her Inuit roots with a traditional throat singing style, Tagaq will be joined by percussionist Jean Martin.
Choreographers' Evening, curated by Justin Jones November 28
An annual tradition during the Thanksgiving weekend, Choreographers' Evening turns to "local dancer/choreographer/sound designer/teacher and all-around innovator" Justin Jones who will be putting together a mix of established dancemakers and the scene's youngest and brightest.
OOIOO December 3
Led by Boredoms member Yoshimi P-We, OOIOO are female, Japanese noise and experimental outfit who are making a rare appearance at the Walker. Known primarily for battling pink robots and P-We's signature screams with the Flaming Lips, OOIOO are bringing their ephemeral sound at the dawn of the winter.
Out There 2016: A Festival of Performance Alternatives January 7-30
The year kicks off with the Walker's Out There series featuring the Team and their "RoosevElvis" piece, as well as an ambitious new works from Daniel Fish and Rabih Mroué, plus Halory Goerger and Antoine Defoort's "Germinal."
Sound Horizon 2016 February 11, March 24 and April 28
"Exploring the interstitial spaces between live sound and visual art," the Walker once again presents totally free music among its gallery spaces, creating an atmosphere that combines mediums, making for wonderful interactions. Performers include Mary Halvorson in February, duo Vicky Chow and Tristan Perich, and avant-garde musician C. Spencer Yeh.
Thank You for Coming: Attendance by Faye Driscoll February 17-21
As part of Immerse Yourself: an onstage performance installation series, New York-based choreographer Faye Driscoll takes audiences on a joyous and wild ride in the first work of her new trilogy that the Walker will present over the next three years.
Noura Mint Seymali February 19
Making her Twin Cities debut at the Cedar Cultural Center in February, Seymali mixes modern sounds of funk and psychedelic music with traditional Griot motifs as well as reggae, flamenco, and the blues. Part of the Walker's continued explorations of African sounds, this is a performance not to be missed.
Rez Abbasi's Invocation Quintet Music with Rudresh Mahanthappa's Indo-Pak Coalition February 25
It's been a long ambition of Bither to get Mahanthappa's Indo-Pak Coalition into the Walker Art Center, and it seems that 2016 is the year. It will be worth the wait as Abbasi and company bring their South Indian jazz sound to the Walker in February.
Aging Magician, co-created by composer Paolo Prestini, writer/performer Rinde Eckert, and director Julian Crouch March 5-6
In March, the Walker will be playing host to the premiere of a theater work it commissioned, mining a longstanding relationship with Crouch and Eckert. Sonically and visually the work promises a 40-piece choir, full-throttle percussion from Bang on a Can member Mark Stewart, and elaborate lighting and video work from Josh Higgason.
The Ghost of Montpellier Meets the Samurai by Trajal Harrell Dance March 11-13
Last appearing at the Walker in 2013's Out There series, Harrell channels passion through the mediums of pop culture, ballet, and modern jazz.
The Language of the Future with Laurie Anderson March 19
Returning to the Twin Cities for the first time in a few years, Laurie Anderson brings her signature sound and style of performance back, this time to the Fitzgerald Theater. Anderson plans to explore the relationship of new media and American culture in the present in a manner that utilizes her penchant for combining personal experience with pop-culture sensibilities.
Nufonia must Fall with Kid Koala April 1-2
Truly the musical highlight of the Walker's new performing arts season, this seemingly impossible piece, to be executed by turntablist and graphic novelist Eric San (a.k.a. Kid Koala) with help of director K.K. Barrett, features a live manipulation of miniature characters that are then live edited to accompany a live musical mix. It definitely sounds like something that need be experienced. Mark our words, this will sell out.
Meredith Monk and Vocal Ensemble April 15
The groundbreaking Monk returns to the Twin Cities via the O'Shaughnessey in St. Paul in the spring. Celebrating 50 years in music, Monk brings her latest vocal work to life, exhibiting her exploration of the voice as an instrument. Monk will also be having a live conversation with Walker's Bither on April 14.
Maneries by Luis Garay April 21-23
Threatening to turn the entire McGuire Theater to jet black, Garay promises: "No changing rooms, no objects, no text, no videos. Now I only need a body..." This should be an innovative dance performance.
Steve Lehman Octet Music May 7
Keeping modern jazz at the forefront of its music season, the Walker welcomes New York saxophone composer and performer Lehman for his Twin Cities debut. Having collaborated with veterans Anthony Braxton, Jason Moran, and Meshell Ndegeocello, Steve brings his own Octet in May.
Music Wind Grove Mind Alone: Devendra Banhart & Friends May 13-14
Taking over the McGuire Theater at the Walker for two nights, freak-folk pioneer Banhart returns to the Twin Cities with a generous helping his favorite artists, including Helado Negro and Michael Gira of the Swans. It will be a welcome addition to springtime in the city to host Banhart and his musical world.