The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago announces the 2016-17 MCA Stage season, presenting multidisciplinary theater, dance, and music by some of the most thought-provoking artists working in Chicago and around the world.
Led by Yolanda Cesta Cursach, interim director of performance programs, MCA Stage performances take place September 2016 to May 2017 and offer exciting and rare opportunities to see works by both acclaimed artists and ascendant figures in contemporary culture. This season also features a special series of performances presented in tandem with the groundbreaking MCA exhibition, Merce Cunningham: Common Time, organized by the Walker Art Center ( these projects are delineated by orange font throughout the release ).
Tickets are available for purchase beginning June 15, 2016, through the MCA Box Office at 312-397-4010 or www.mcachicago.org . Those interested may create their own package by purchasing tickets to three or more performances at a 20% discount. Performances take place in the Edlis Neeson Theater at the MCA.
Burnt Sugar Arkestra: Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song
September 17, 2016
The soul-jazz-hip hop of Burnt Sugar Arkestra is inspired by the first post-modernists of American musicDuke Ellington, Sun Ra, Parliament Funkadelic, and The Art Ensemble of Chicago. The sprawling band creates their own music and reanimates the songbooks of others. In their MCA Stage debut, they perform the soundtrack to Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, the film odyssey by actor/director/composer Melvin Van Peebles. Shot in 1971, the film grew to be one of the top-grossing releases of the year, kickstarting the 1970s genre known as Blaxploitation. The soundtrack, recorded by the then-unknown Earth, Wind & Fire, and composed by Van Peebles, alternates hymn-based vocals and jazz rhythms, creating a sound that prefigured sampling in hip hop.
Dorrance Dance: ETM Double Down
November 4-6, 2016
Co-presented with Chicago Human Rhythm Project and Chicago Humanities Festival
ETMelectronic tap musicis a nod to electronic dance music, and in this project, three musicians, the B—girl Ephrat "Bounce" Asherie, and eight tap dancers of Dorrance Dance perform on an electronic tap floor. Choreographer Michelle Dorrance has a contemporary physicality unprecedented in tap, and the sound from the electronic tap floor, which collaborator Nicholas Young created inspired by drum triggers, transforms the stage.
ONEOFUS Julie Atlas Muz and Mat Fraser: Beauty and the Beast
December 1-11, 2016
Cabaret and performance stars Julie Atlas Muz and Mat Fraser, partners in life and theater, reinvent the eighteenth-century classic fairy tale, Beauty and the Beast. Fraserwhose credits include American Horror Story: Freak Showwas born with the physical deformity phocomelia and has spent his life aware that he looks different. This explicit adult-themed work repositions the Beast as a natural born freak to the beauty queen, who grows to love him. Muz and Fraser's innocent yet raunchy coupling challenges conventional notions of beauty and sexuality. It is directed by Phelim McDermott, the co-founder of London's Improbable Theater.
Tatsu Aoki: Reduction and Tsukasa Taiko Legacy 13
December 16-18, 2016
Co-presented with Asian Improv aRts Midwest
Taiko drums link two contrasting programs directed by Tatsu Aoki, a multi-instrumentalist and media artist. Taiko Legacy 13 features three generations of Tsukasa Taiko drummers representing its vibrant pan-Asian heritage. Reduction features Sennosuke Wakatsuki, a young Kabuki artist from Tokyo who is revolutionizing the art form. Artists include grand master Shunojo Fujima performing kimono dance and contemporary dancer Ayako Kato, who appear in inventive combinations accompanied by jazz musicians Hamid Drake, Michael Zerang, Nicole Mitchell, Douglas R Ewart, electronics composer Jonathan Chen, and classical musicians Chizuru Kineya and Hyakkyo Fukuhara.
Silencio Blanco: ChiflÃ"n, El Silencio del CarbÃ"n ( Silence of the Coal )
January 19-22, 2017
Presented in association with Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival
ChiflÃ"n, El Silencio del CarbÃ"n follows a young miner to ChiflÃ"n de Diablo, known as one of the most dangerous mines in Chile. It is based in part on the story of El ChiflÃ"n del Diabloby distinguished Chilean author Baldomero Lilloand was created after the artists took extended visits to the mining town of Lota. The emotional and dramatic puppetry confronts Chile's dark mining history and is played out in silence using simple white marionettes.
MCA Cunningham Event
February 11-12, 2017
To celebrate the opening weekend of the exhibition Merce Cunningham: Common Time, former dancers of the company, Dylan Crossman, Silas Riener, Jamie Scott, and Melissa Toogood, perform Cunningham's signature approach to dance in non-conventional spaces. The original project was invented out of necessity. Event Number 1 was Cunningham's devised solution to an invitation from Vienna's Museum of the Twentieth Century to perform in a galleryan unencumbered space without the aid of theatrical illusion. The result was that the extraordinary visual concentration it required created in the audience a heightened awareness that was as powerful as anything obtainable under regular theater conditions. The Event features key works drawn from six decades of original choreography, each lasting about 30 minutes, and is performed twice daily during gallery hours. Presented with the MCA exhibition, Merce Cunningham: Common Time.
Ballet de Lorraine: Works by Merce Cunningham and Others
February 18-19, 2017
Presented by MCA with the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago
This project features seminal works by Merce Cunninghamhis beloved Sounddance, which he created in part as a reaction to the unison of classical ballet, and the highly dramatic Fabrications, based on sixty-four short dance phrases. They are balanced with Untitled Partner #3, a work by Ballet de Lorraine's artistic leaders Petter Jacobsson and rehearsal director Thomas Caley, who danced for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. With this program, the MCA and Dance Center present the Chicago debut of Ballet de Lorraine, one of the most important European companies performing contemporary works in balance with an extensive repertory of modern dance by leading choreographers. Presented with the MCA exhibition, Merce Cunningham: Common Time
Music for Merce
February 25-26, 2017
This two-evening festival gathers a veritable all-star group of key composers and musicians who collaborated with Merce Cunningham across different periods of his career. The groupJoan La Barbara, David Behrman, John King, George Lewis, Ikue Mori, Gordon Mumma, Zeena Perkins, Phil Selway, and Christian Wolffincludes major innovators in electronic and improvised music, as well as jazz and rock. This historic convening features a different program on each of the two days. Both concert programs present significant historical works from the varied composers' collaborations with Cunningham and John Cage, as well as new compositions, improvisations, and musical events involving the full group. Presented with the MCA exhibition, Merce Cunningham: Common Time
Spektral Quartet, Morton Feldman: String Quartet No. 2
March 11, 2017
The Spektral Quartet is known for immersive and adventurous concerts often performed in unconventional settings. This project marks the Chicago debut of Morton Feldman's monumental six-hour-long project. Feldman, recognized for acclaimed works he composed for Cunningham, wrote his String Quartet No. 2 as a durational piece to explore the limits of physical and non-narrative music. Rarely heard and an epic achievement, the music creates a trance-like focus. Due to the quiet nature of this concert, it is performed after regular gallery hours, but the Spektral Quartet also rehearses the music during regular museum hours. Presented with the MCA exhibition, Merce Cunningham: Common Time.
Rashaun Mitchell + Silas Riener + Charles Atlas
March 23-25, 2017
This new dance and video work combines abstraction and representation, and it is presented in two sections: the first section is by Charles Atlas and is a 3D video of dances choreographed for the camera by Mitchell + Riener; the second is live dance with projected video. Rashaun Mitchell + Silas Riener danced together in the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, and since 2009 have created site-specific installations, improvisational dances, traditional proscenium pieces, and highly crafted immersive experiences. Charles Atlas is a filmmaker and video artist who has created numerous works for stage, screen, museum, and television; he was filmmaker-in-residence with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company for ten years. Presented with the MCA exhibition Merce Cunningham: Common Time
Peter Brook, Marie-Hélène Estienne: Battlefield
April 5-8, 2017
Co-presented with Chicago Shakespeare Theater
Thirty years after Peter Brookwho is widely-heralded for his work in theater, opera, and literatureperformed the now-legendary production of The Mahabharata, he now performs Battlefield, a play by Jean-Claude Carrière based on the same book. The language of this timeless story focuses on the past but also reflects the harsh conflicts of today, and while the original staging was a nine-hour production, Battlefield is a refined telling and lasts just over an hour
Matthew Duvall: Whisper( s )
April 23, 2017
Co-presented with Contempo / UChicago Presents
Whisper( s} is an experiential concert exploring sound and volume led by percussionist Matthew Duvall of Eighth Blackbird. The program begins with a seated program in the MCA Edlis Neeson Theater of works by Cunningham collaborator Morton Feldman and John Luther Adams. The audience then moves to the fourth floor of the MCA, where Duvall and 99 other percussionists perform Voice of the Winds, a new ambient soundscape by composer-percussionist Marta Ptaszynska. Influenced by John Cage's fascination with silence, this project explores the sound of 100 of the loudest instruments at their most ethereal levels. Presented with the MCA exhibition, Merce Cunningham: Common Time.