Beginning with the rescheduled Imperial Silence: Una Ópera Muerta — originally slated for the spring season now ending — the Museum of Contemporary Art presents an impressive array of contemporary music and performance between this September and next June. Probable dancerly highlights include the returns of Compagnie Marie Chouinard and Young Jean Lee’s Theater Company; a cocommission by the MCA Stage of Miguel Gutierrez and the Powerful People; a choreography by artist Martin Creed for members of the Joffrey Ballet’s Academy of Dance; and second helpings of ventures launched this spring by Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and Luna Negra Dance Theater.
The MCA also recently announced its Teen Creative Agency, a two-year program for creatives ages 15 to 19. Applications are being accepted for the fall, when current TCA participants continue honing their skills at contextualizing and interpreting art.
Although director John Jota Leaños hails from San Francisco, Imperial Silence enlists Chicago choreographer Joel Valentín-Martinez. On its music end, New Mexican DJ Cristóbal Martinez joins Tucson Mariachis Los Cuatro Vientos. You can watch here the production’s “Lamento Desaparecido” sequence and here a five-minute trailer for the show, which runs September 14–16.
South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company relocates Georg Büchner’s play Woyzeck from 19th-century Leipzig to the time and place of its director’s birth: Johannesburg in the mid-1950s. Artist and filmmaker William Kentridge’s Woyzeck on the Highveld has played stages around the world since its premiere in 1992; performances September 27–30 coincide with an exhibition of Kentridge’s work, part of the “MCA DNA” series, which spotlights “building blocks” from the museum’s collection.
The International Contemporary Ensemble presents one program for each of three years it’s been in residence at the MCA. October 6, ICE devotes an evening to Pierre Boulez and John Cage. It’ll be one month and one day past Cage’s 100th birthday; “MCA DNA: John Cage” will also be on display. February 16, the ensemble plays works by two artists from its ICElab young-composers program, Phyllis Chen and Carla Kihlstedt. The museum and New York’s Baryshnikov Arts Center are that program’s residency partners. And May 31 through June 2, things get intimate with The Whisper Opera. Composer David Lang’s world premiere work, inspired by little opera houses in Italy, happens in an onstage set containing the audience, ICE musicians and singers.
October 20 and 21, musician-playwright Mark “Stew” Stewart and his Passing Strange collaborator, composer-singer-instrumentalist Heidi Rodewald, present a new song cycle inspired by Chicago along with their group, The Negro Problem. (The songs take shape this summer during a residency at the MCA.) And November 1–11, MCA Stage and the Chicago Humanities Festival copresent
tech journalist monologist Mike Daisey’s American Utopias. Closing out 2012 are Creed’s Work No. 1020 (Ballet), November 15 and 16; and family-friendly holiday alternative Tsukasa Taiko’s Taiko Legacy, December 21 and 22.
January 31 through February 3, 2013, Brooklyn’s Miguel Gutierrez and the Powerful People present and lose the name of action. The work “focuses on improvisation to explore body and mind consciousness in both the performers and the audience, who are seated onstage.” Unless I’m forgetting something, it’ll be the Chicago debut of the Powerful People, unless you count (and you certainly could) Marissa Perel’s local participation in Freedom of Information, during the first 24 hours of 2009. Click here and read the fine print to get a load of the slew of commissioning and funding partners for action. Is anyone not on that list?
Baroque Band, the Chicago-based period-instrument ensemble in residence at WFMT, presents a cool concept in its “21st Century Brandenburg Project.” Six contemporary composers paired off with Bach’s famous six-pack of concertos and each wrote an original piece of music for their concerto’s same combination of instruments. Recitals February 21, 23 and 24 will feature the old along with the new. The music continues March 9, when locals Fifth House Ensemble play a new song cycle by Caleb Burhans, “Excelsior,” inspired by a world-record skydive that might soon be broken; and another new work, Abramelin, commissioned by 5HE from the prolific John Zorn, founder of the Tzadik label.
When her Montréal-based group last visited the MCA Stage in spring 2009, choreographer Marie Chouinard left us memorable images such as a parade of men in silhouette wearing platform stiletto heels and sporting priapic strap-ons at attention. An anticipated encore March 21–23 features Chouinard’s Henri Michaux: Mouvements (2011), inspired by the writer, alongside her 1993 take on Stravinsky’s Le sacre du printemps. Probably not for the kids.
Also adult-oriented, I’ll wager, is Young Jean Lee’s Untitled Feminist Show, made in collaboration with Morgan Gould and Faye Driscoll as well as six performers including World Famous *BOB*. “The nearly wordless work,” performed fully nude, “uses dance, music, and video to express ideas about conventional and unconventional female roles and expectations.”
April 30 through May 1 drips with hip: The National’s Bryce Dessner and fun tweeter Nico Muhly join forces with eighth blackbird, to perform compositions by both musicians plus some works that inspired them. Following May 16–19, performers with disabilities from Back to Back Theatre based in Geelong, Australia present its Ganesh Versus the Third Reich. The production “begins with the elephant-headed god Ganesh traveling through Nazi Germany to reclaim the swastika, an ancient Hindu symbol,” and promises to ask its audience “who has the right to tell a story and who has the right to be heard.” Here’s a trailer.
Hubbard Street’s “danc(e)volve: New Works Festival,” which debuted in the MCA’s Edlis Neeson Theater last January, remains a two-weekend affair but moves to early summer, June 6–16. And Luna Negra Dance Theater’s similarly focused-on-new-choreography “Luna Nueva” plays June 20–23, 2013. (“Luna Nueva” 1.0 takes the stage this week, June 7–10.)