Oz Arts Nashville announced an ambitious of international, US, and Nashville-based contemporary performance events at a special event at their amazing facility on Thursday evening, June 13. The first season from new artistic director Mark Murphy, and the 7th groundbreaking season by OZ Arts features International dance, theater and multimedia artists from Japan, Brazil and Chile (including US premieres); inventive artists who explore new uses of visual and sound technology to break down boundaries between art forms; and more than 150 Nashville-based artists in 8 significant projects driven by local artists, and a special pre-season family event highlighting diverse local music and dance ensembles.
OZ Arts Nashville, the city’s pioneering contemporary arts center, is expanding its ambition and its reach with a dynamic and diverse 7th season of “Brave New Art.” The 2019-2020 season, the first under the direction of new OZ Arts Artistic Director Mark Murphy, features a unique blend of renowned performers from around the world, as well as up-and-coming artists, with a special emphasis on multidisciplinary performances that highlight new uses of technology.
Contemporary dance is featured prominently in the season, which includes a US premiere by Tokyo-based choreographer and video installation artist Hiroako Umeda; a special co-presentation with TPAC of a new work featuring the “greatest American contemporary Ballerina” Wendy Whelan, in a collaboration with cellist/ composer Maya Beiser, famed choreographer Lucinda Childs, and composer David Lang; Brazil’s high velocity dance company Companhia Urbana de Dança, which wows audiences with their inventive blend of Hip-hop, urban and contemporary dance; Renowned African-American choreographer Ronald K. Brown and his company, EVIDENCE; and new projects featuring Nashville artists and ensembles New Dialect, Jana Harper, and Shackled Feet Dance. In addition, Nashville companies Grupo Blanco and Sankofa Drum and Dance are among a variety of local artists participating in a special pre-season Family Day on August 17.
Innovative theatrical projects include an astounding, multi-media take on Frankenstein by Chicago-based interdisciplinary collective Manual Cinema; a new music and theater work by Stew and Heidi, who were the Tony and Obie Award-winning writing and songwriting team behind the Broadway hit Passing Strange; breathtaking multi-media theater company TeatroCinema from Santiago, Chile; an evening of unforgettable storytelling in The Moth’s Nashville GrandSLAM; and a new immersive theatrical work inspired by Nashville history, created by a team of local collaborators and director Jessika Malone.
The season also includes hybrid music, cabaret and operatic projects instigated by Nashville artists, including a special Halloween Festival of Ghouls party and cabaret-style performance created by theatrical band Fable Cry; a fun celebration of the unusual polyphonic keyboard instrument The Mellotron, featuring the all-star quartet of Pat Sansone (Wilco), John Medeski (Medeski, Martin and Wood), Robby Grant (Big Ass Truck; Vending Machine) and Jonathan Kirkscey (Memphis Symphony Orchestra; Mouse Rocket — and composer for the Mr. Rogers movie: Won’t You Be My Neighbor); and the premiere of a new contemporary opera project inspired by African-American spirituals, created by composer Dave Ragland with The Diaspora Orchestra and the Inversion Vocal Ensemble. In addition, OZ Arts reprises the popular Winter Solstice event The Longest Night, featuring dozens of Nashville artists and Jason Shelton’s Portara Ensemble.
Even before the start of the official season, families are welcome to spend a special day immersed in a wide-range of art, performance, multi-media experiences and interactive science projects at OZ Arts. The popular annual Family Day is expanded to feature internationally acclaimed multi-media artist Miwa Matreyek, as well as local ensembles Grupo Blanco, Sankofa Drum and Dance, and a variety of local music, dance and contemporary puppetry artists. Most visiting artists will also participate in a variety of community engagement activities, ranging from workshops and master classes to free community performances in schools, colleges or community centers.
New OZ Arts Artistic Director Mark Murphy describes the new season as “a celebration of ingenuity and artistic vitality, highlighting artistic voices from around the world – and right here in Nashville – who are blazing the trail for contemporary culture. I am particularly excited that we are expanding OZ Arts’ international offerings, while also deepening the commitment to a wide range of diverse local artists in a variety of disciplines and forms – including some progressive and edgy collaborations that will ‘shake things up a bit’ and interest a young and diverse audience.”
Murphy also stressed that the number of performances at OZ Arts is significantly increased, while the average ticket price is considerably lower to make the work more accessible to a wide range of Nashville audiences. “It has been great fun to develop assertive new strategies to increase the impact of OZ Arts Nashville in the community – and to work closely with Artistic Associate Daniel Jones and Director of Community Engagement Rosie Forrest, to make it a success. A new lower ticket pricing strategy also includes a variety of multi-event ticketing packages, to encourage curious audiences to attend multiple events. The revised pricing strategies are partly made possible by increased fundraising, including the vital support of members of the newly formed Cano Ozgener Society, a donor initiative honoring OZ Arts’ founder, who passed away in June, 2018.
Tim Ozgener, President and CEO of OZ Arts, said “On behalf of my family, and my late father Cano Ozgener, I am thrilled that our team has taken a creative, thoughtful, and entrepreneurial approach to making OZ Arts an even more significant and crucial part of the artistic ecology of Nashville, and of the country. I think my father would be very very happy to see his dream – to change lives through contemporary culture – becoming fully manifested.” Tickets for many events and ticket packages are on sale now at www.ozartsnashville.org
The 2019-20 OZ Arts Season
Family Day 2019: Technology in the World
Featuring multimedia artist Miwa Matreyek
OZ Arts’ annual Family Day is back and bigger than ever! Audiences of all ages are invited to engage with an expanded program including a wide variety of diverse, Nashville-based drum, dance, and music ensembles, as well as breathtaking special-guest artists who are changing our view of the world and our future. In addition to thrilling performances, children and parents alike can engage with a host of inventive technology and science based activities that explore how we are connected across the globe.
Special guest artists include animator and performer Miwa Matreyek, who creates phantasmagorical performances mixing live performance with animation to explore environmental themes with visual splendor. Local dance and music companies, including Groupo Blanca, Sankofa Drum and Dance, and others, offer performances as well as workshops for children.
September 19 – 21
Holistic Strata and the US Premiere of Split Flow
Hiroaki Umeda / S20 (Tokyo, Japan)
Using multiple video projections and laser light technology in inventive new ways, choreographer and performer Hiroaki Umeda is known for his “virtuoso melding of technology and movement… tinglingly wonderful” (Scotland Herald). Umeda is a truly interdisciplinary artist: choreographer, dancer, sound, image and lighting designer. His ingenious multimedia works are startling events to be “experienced” as both immersive installations and thrilling live performances. Making his Nashville debut, OZ Arts will host the US Premiere of Umeda’s latest piece Split Flow as well as the internationally acclaimed Holistic Strata.
The Moth – Nashville GrandSLAM
The ultimate battle of wits and words comes to OZ Arts with The Moth’s local GrandSLAM – featuring the winners from the previous 10 months of the popular “StorySLAM” series., Each storyteller will compete for the title of “GrandSLAM Champion” with a brand new story, creating a dynamic evening of incredible tales and yarns. Since its launch in 1997, The Moth has presented thousands of stories told live and without notes. Moth shows are renowned for the great range of human experience they showcase featuring true stories from authentic voices creating a dance between documentary and theater.
October 24 – 26
Manual Cinema (Chicago)
Internationally renowned multimedia company Manual Cinema stitches together the classic story of Frankenstein with brilliant author Mary Shelley’s own biography to create a visually stunning theatrical epic about the beauty and horror of creation. Featuring a spellbinding chamber orchestra, Manual Cinema’s Frankenstein combines handmade shadow puppetry, cinematic techniques, and innovative sound and music to create immersive visual stories for stage and screen.
Festival of Ghouls
Put on a costume and bring your ghoulish best to this immersive Halloween party and over-the-top cabaret, created by Nashville-based rock wonders Fable Cry. The local legends enlist the talents of artists from the worlds of burlesque, cabaret, spectacle, and the visual arts to create an unpredictable and extravagant community event that you won’t be able to forget – even if you try…
November 14 – 17
Na Pista and a US Premiere
Companhia Urbana de Dança (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
The audacious, vigorous, and highly inventive Brazilian dance ensemble Companhia Urbana de Dança is renowned for burning up the stage in an irresistible explosion of breakneck bravado, exuberant, high-speed energy, and powerhouse athleticism. Choreographer Sonia Destri Lie and 9 performers deconstruct the thrilling kinetics of Rio de Janeiro street dance, seamlessly fusing together hip-hop, samba, capoeira, and contemporary forms.
Mellotron Variations is an immersive and retrocool celebration of the electro-mechanical plastic instrument that is as fun to play as it is to listen to — with an amazing creative quartet of Pat Sansone (Wilco), John Medeski (Medeski, Martin and Wood), Robby Grant (Big Ass Truck; Vending Machine) and Jonathan Kirkscey (Memphis Symphony Orchestra; Mouse Rocket — and composer for the Mr. Rogers movie: Won’t You Be My Neighbor). Join these influential and Mellotron-Obsessed musicians in a visual installation that evokes beautifully trippy light shows, as they make musical magic with four Mellotrons – polyphonic tape replay keyboards originally developed and built in 1963.
The Longest Night
Portara Ensemble, Jason Shelton, Jeff Coffin, Ciona Rouse, and Epiphany Dance Partners
Mark the Winter Solstice with Jason Shelton’s The Longest Night, a multidisciplinary, multi-community celebration blending original music and spoken word with traditional songs and carols, storytelling, and dance. The mighty Portara Ensemble once again joins forces with some of Nashville’s most influential artists including saxophonist Jeff Coffin, premier poet Ciona Rouse, and Lisa Spradley’s Epiphany Dance Partners, to explore the richness of the dark around us and celebrate as we call the light back together.
Maya Beiser, Wendy Whelan, Lucinda Childs, David Lang
Co-Presented with Tennessee Performing Arts Center in association with Nashville Ballet, before its long-awaited European premiere in Paris.
THE DAY is new music/dance work by cellist Maya Beiser, dancer Wendy Whelan, choreographer Lucinda Childs, with music by David Lang. A collaboration among legends from the worlds of ballet and contemporary dance and music, THE DAY is an evening-long sensory exploration of two journeys—life and the eternal, post-mortal voyage of the soul. This bold, highly collaborative work explores universal themes through the shared language of music and dance.
Cellist Maya Beiser, who conceived the piece, has been described by the Boston Globe as “a force of nature” and by Rolling Stone as a “cello rock star,” and is a veteran of the world’s most revered stages. Wendy Whelan, widely considered one of the world’s leading dancers, spent 30 years as a principal dancer with New York City Ballet and originated numerous roles in new works by the world’s most esteemed choreographers. The two will be onstage all evening, embodying the iconic choreography of Lucinda Childs (a Commandeur in France’s Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and 2018 inductee in Hall of Fame at the National Museum of Dance) to the original music of Pulitzer Prize-winner David Lang.
January 31 – February 1
Stew and Heidi
Notes of a Native Song
The Tony and Obie Award-winning creators of the Spike Lee-filmed Broadway hit Passing Strange collaborate again on this acclaimed theatrical music event Notes of a Native Song —named for James Baldwin’s 1955 collection of essays on being Black in America – Notes of a Native Son. Stew, Heidi, and their mighty band The Negro Problem use Baldwin’s work to examine our lingering civil rights woes through a rapturous mix of rock, jazz, and soul. The show turns Baldwin into a sort of rock star — a flawed, essential visionary who transforms how we see ourselves.
February 20 – 22
Following it’s stunning world premiere at OZ Arts last season, New Dialect returns with The Triangle, an outstanding work of contemporary dance helmed by acclaimed choreographer Banning Bouldin. A surrealistic combination of conceptual fashion, sculpture, and powerful imagery, this deeply personal work challenges us to re-envision limitations as opportunities to uncover new strengths. The Triangle makes its triumphant return in celebration of the company’s preparation for a US Tour through South Arts’ “Momentum” initiative.
Plata Quemada (Burnt Money)
With breathtaking stagecraft and multimedia innovation, multi-media ensemble TeatroCinema pulls out all the stops to deliver a heart-pounding noir tale of bandits, betrayals and blowouts in Plata Quemada (Burnt Money). Their groundbreaking storytelling intertwines live-action performances with eye-popping illustration and animation, creating a hyper-stylized graphic novel that comes to life right in front of audiences’ eyes. The work is based on a 1965 bank heist in Argentina that became a bloody saga that is infamous to this day.
April 17 – 18
A dynamic collaboration between Inversion Vocal Ensemble, Diaspora Orchestra, and shackled feet DANCE, Steal Away is a new contemporary music-theater-opera hybrid inspired by traditional spirituals. Emmy-nominated Nashville composer, arranger, and director Dave Ragland leads the piece with new arrangements, orchestrations, and original music to tell a story of hardship, redemption, and spiritual renewal. Ragland’s acclaimed work was featured as part of Nick Cave: Feat. Nashville in addition to his previous work with Nashville Ballet, the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, and many others.
Grace and Mercy
Ronald K. Brown / EVIDENCE
Award-winning choreographer Ronald K. Brown and his company, EVIDENCE, are highly acclaimed for a “sophisticated amalgam of Afrocentric movement and modern dance” that often makes “spirituality…something vibrant and transformative” (Los Angeles Times). This electrifying double bill includes Brown’s newest work, Mercy, as well as a newly conceived, 20th-anniversary presentation of Brown’s soulful masterpiece Grace, originally created for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
May 29 – 30
Renowned Nashville-based visual artist Jana Harper joins forces with choreographer Rebecca Steinberg and musician Moksha Sommer for This Holding, an exploration of the sensation of weight, how it permeates our experiences, and defines us. The premiere at OZ Arts is the culmination of months of workshops with a diverse cross-section of community partners. The collaborative team presents an entirely unique experience that is part art installation and part contemporary dance underscored by original music.
June 10 – 21
Jessika Malone and Collaborators
From the creative minds behind Haunted (named 2017’s “Theatrical Event of the Year”) comes Grand Magnolia, an all-new, immersive performance event exploring our city’s nearly forgotten history. Discover the Nashville you never knew as actors, dancers, musicians, and visual artists activate uniquely intimate environments and transport audiences across generations, culminating in an unforgettable live experience that will shake the way we see the “It City” forever.
Since opening in 2014, OZ Arts Nashville, a 501(c)(3) contemporary arts center, has changed the cultural landscape of the city. Housed in the former C.A.O. cigar warehouse owned by Nashville’s Ozgener family, OZ Arts, under the artistic leadership of Mark Murphy, brings world-class performances and art installations to the city, and gives ambitious local artists opportunities to work on a grand scale. The flexible 10,000 square-foot, column-free venue, nestled amidst five acres of artfully landscaped grounds, is continually reconfigured to serve artists’ imaginations, and to challenge and inspire a diverse range of curious audiences.
OZ Arts regularly engages the community for participation with visiting artists and artworks – either directly, through school visits, workshops, master classes, school performances and/or curated programs led by local teaching artists. In addition, OZ Arts founded a program called OZ School Days, a daylong, multi-arts program presented in partnership with Centennial Performing Arts Studios that aims to engage students aged 5 – 15 years old on days when Metro Nashville Public Schools are out of session (ex: Columbus Day, Presidents Day).
For more information, please visit http://www.ozartsnashville.org/.