How does a dancemaker create intimate, body-based work during a pandemic when physical closeness can endanger one's life? That was the challenge renowned choreographer Bill T. Jones confronted when he approached "Afterwardness," a commissioned piece that premiered this spring in New York.
Jones and his team came together with copious safety protocols, even if they didn't always prevent the coronavirus transmission.
Six months after premiering the show in New York in a 55,000-square-foot hall at the New York Armory — the only venue where it has played — the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company is bringing "Afterwardness" to Minneapolis as part of Northrop's flagship dance season.
"Afterwardness," co-presented with Walker Art Center and also informed by the social justice reckoning, is one of the major titles in the University of Minnesota's concert hall lineup that includes works by the Martha Graham Dance Company, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Ragamala Dance Company and Alanna Morris-Van Tassel.
"I like to think of this season as a collage pulled from three different seasons' worth of works," said Kristen Brogdon, Northrop's director of programming. "There are these beautiful pieces pulled together from different artistic inspirations and stages of planning."
As shows were canceled because of the pandemic, Northrop commissioned choreographers. Some of those commissions are on tap for the just-announced season.
The season kicks off with the premiere of "Swing Out," choreographer Caleb Teicher's celebration of tap, lindy hop and swing to live accompaniment by the Eyal Vilner Big Band. "Swing Out" is both an indoor concert onstage followed by an outdoor dance jam on Northrop plaza (Oct. 2).
Northrop teams up with the Cowles Center to present the Twin Cities Tap Festival Concerts, available both live and livestream (Oct. 22-23).
Because "Afterwardness" was originally an immersive, site-specific piece, it will be presented with an audience limited to 180, seated onstage at Northrop. (Nov. 10-14).
The Dance Theatre of Harlem's return to Northrop on Jan. 28, 2022, includes choreographer Robert Garland's "Higher Ground," set to the music of Stevie Wonder from the late '60s to early '70s.
Choreographer and dancer Morris-Van Tassel brings in collaborators for "Black Light, a re:Search performance." The Feb. 4-6 show is presented in partnership with the Great Northern and the Cowles Center, where it will take place; it also will be livestreamed.
The Paul Taylor Dance Company is one of those whose cancellation led to a commission: choreographer Peter Chu's "Common Ground" is set for a Twin Cities premiere Feb. 12.
Although Northrop commissioned Ragamala's "Fires of Varanasi," it will premiere at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and play at New York's Joyce Theater before a homecoming performance Feb. 26 by the internationally celebrated Minneapolis troupe.
The Martha Graham Dance Company's show on April 2 includes a piece inspired by the company's founder about the relationship between humans and the natural world.
In addition to its dance programming, Northrop is known for its musical fare and for its growing film series.
Organist Hector Olivera will play "Tantalizing Transcriptions and Tangos" on Oct. 17, and organist Cameron Carpenter, whose engagement with the Minnesota Orchestra was canceled because of the pandemic, will appear solo (Feb. 22).
Film screenings include "Hubbard Street Dance" (Sept. 10); "Dastak: The Film" by Ananya Dance Theatre (Oct. 8); and GALLIM Dance Films (Nov. 5). "They're the best of the screen dances I saw during the time I was only watching dance at home," Brogdon said.
Northrop also teams with the Walker to present Grammy winners Third Coast Percussion with Movement Art Is, the inventive troupe founded by Lil Buck and Jon Boogz (April 30).
Single tickets to Northrop season events go on sale Sept. 7 online or at the box office, 612-624-2345.
@rohanpreston • 612-673-4390