The Walker Art Center's 2022-23 season looks beyond the typical performance boundaries with its dance, theater, music and multimedia lineup.
The roster includes the 50th anniversary of "Choreographers' Evening" Nov. 26, curated by Minnesota-based choreographers Judith Howard and Alanna Morris, and the signature "Out There" series from Jan. 12–Feb. 25, 2003. One of the four projects will be a visual arts installation by New York–based choreographer Sarah Michelson. The Walker has long supported her choreography and now is commissioning her for an object-based work.
The Michelson installation isn't the only presentation in the performing arts season that veers from the typical performance. "32 Sounds: Film by Sam Green, Music by JD Samson" (Nov. 11-12) is a film made up of 32 audio experiences, performed live by Samson (Le Tigre) and with live narration by Green.
With partnerships with other Twin Cities groups such as Liquid Music, Northrop, Schubert Club Mix, Bell Museum, and Great Northern, the upcoming lineup boasts three Walker commissions and four world premieres.
One of the commissions went to Kurt Wagner, the central force of Lambchop. On Sept. 23-24, local and national musicians from his 2021 album, "Showtunes," and upcoming release, "The Bible." will perform. "A big part of his band are really key Minnesota movers and shakers in the music scene," Walker curator Philip Bither says.
Cécile McLorin Salvant's piece, "Ogresse," premiering Feb. 24-25, 2003, as part of "Out There," is the largest Walker commission in decades, according to Bither.
"She's composed a beautiful and eclectic song cycle for a chamber jazz orchestra of 14 players conducted by Darcy James Argue," Bither said. A Grammy-award winning vocalist and composer, Salvant has also devoted time in recent years to animation. "Her ultimate dream is to make a feature length animated film," Bither said. Rather than premiere the theatrical/digital/live music/theater work on one of the coasts, Salvant has chosen Minneapolis.
St. Paul-based choreographer Leslie Parker's "Divination Tools: Imagine Home," another Walker commission. has its world premiere May 11-13, after several years of developing the work with Pillsbury House Theatre and Pangea World Theater and partnering with groups in New York and San Francisco.
"It's all part of this very large vision around Black improvisation led by female performers and about healing and transformation in these times," Bither said.
"Honey From a Winter's Stone" by jazz trumpeter/composer Ambrose Akinmusire will have its world premiere on May 19-20, 2023. Additionally, jazz lovers will be treated to pianist Kris Davis's Minnesota debut with "Diatom Ribbons" on March 9, 2023.
Bither says in the current climate performing artists and audiences appreciating and responding to what live art can do whether it's racial justice or climate change issues, or global indigeneity.
Among the political and social justice oriented works, the Walker presents Brazilian choreographer Lia Rodrigues, who grapples with injustices. Her piece, "Fúria," on Oct. 28–29, is "explosive," Bither said.
Ghent-based theater company Ontroerend Goed takes on climate change in its palindrome, "Are We Not Drawn Onward to New Era," on Jan. 12-14, 2023, which is part of the Out There series.
On Oct. 8, visual artist Aura Satz's "Preemptive Listening" explores emergency signals with footage of sirens used around the world. Her film will screen alongside a live musical performance by Pulitzer-winning Raven Chacon.
"Love to Death (Amor a la Muerte)" features avant-garde Samoan artist Lemi Ponifasio (March 31-April 2, 2023), whose work shines light on Indigenous rights. The piece is made in collaboration with Mapuche singer and composer Elisa Avaendano Curaqueo and flamenco dancer Natalia Garcia-Huidobro, both from Chile.
The season also features several works of reflection, responding perhaps to the experience of living through COVID-19.
Andrew Schneider brings that introspection to the Midwest premiere of "Nowiswhenweare (the stars)" Jan. 26-Feb. 4, 2023, which is part of the "Out There" series. Co-presented by The Great Northern, the work that engulfs the audience in light and sound can be experienced only by eight people at a time.
Bither said groups that bring a soulful and reflective approach include the Spektral Quartet (Nov. 4-5), who will perform at Bell Museum's planetarium, and the 18-piece Ensemble Signal (March 23, 2023), who will juxtapose the music of Steve Reich with visual artist Gerhard Richter.
Other shows to note are choreographer Kyle Abraham's piece set to a score by electronic music composer Jlin, based off Mozart's "Requiem in D Minor" (Northrop auditorium, Oct. 14) and Nacera Belaza's "L'Onde," which explores Algerian ritualistic dances (April 27–29, 2023).
Bither says like in past years, this season's artists are pushing their art forms forward by having deeper connections with other artistic disciplines. "We're a home for all these different excellent contemporary disciplines," he said. "Why not support work that is combining forms and interesting new ways?"