With more than 90 years of presenting history, Northrop has continued to provide cultural experiences that make an impact and connect with the human spirit. Known as one of the first performing arts destinations in the state with decades of hosting world-class dance and music performances, annual holiday dance traditions, popular pipe organ music concerts, legendary speakers and leaders, a robust McKnight Artist Fellowships for Dancers and Choreographers and International Choreographers program, and once home to the Minnesota Orchestra, Northrop has played a vital role in connecting the community with arts and artists to make a lasting impact.
As a way to honor this rich history and also look forward to a vibrant future, a new Northrop Centennial Commissions program has been announced. At the start of the decade before Northrop celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2029, this program will provide support for new dance works, elevate artists across the country, and work collaboratively with companies and artists to amplify their work this season and for years to come. The inception of the program started as a way to support artists whose Northrop performances were postponed and canceled due to COVID-19, while its culmination will occur during Northrop’s centennial anniversary.
The inaugural slate of projects includes seven special artists and companies, most of whom had performances delayed from the 2019-20 or 2020-21 Seasons. The commissions include:
Martha Graham Dance Company will create a new piece, currently titled Canticle 22, based on the 1951 Graham work Canticle for Innocent Comedians. The original Canticle consisted of eight vignettes dedicated to nature: sun, earth, wind, water, fire, moon, stars, and death. This piece will follow that same structure and include Martha Graham’s original choreography for Moon. The new piece will have a new score, and is slated to premiere in the spring of 2022.
Paul Taylor Dance Company was working with choreographer Peter Chu on a piece titled COMMON ground when they were forced to suspend their operations as a result of COVID-19. Northrop is providing commissioning support for the company to continue this work, which will be featured in the 2021-22 season.
Acclaimed choreographer and rising star Caleb Teicher and friends Eyal Vilner (composer), Evita Arce, Nathan Bugh, LaTasha Barnes, and Macy Sullivan are creating Swing Out to bring the best of swing dance and Lindy Hop to the stage. Northrop will be hosting a series of online workshops and conversations with the artists this October, with a performance in the 2021-22 Season.
Dance Theatre of Harlem was scheduled to return to Northrop in October, but instead they will be returning to rehearsals during that time. One of the pieces they’ll be working on is the new ballet Higher Ground by Robert Garland, with music by Stevie Wonder. It will appear at Northrop in the Fall of 2021.
The Joffrey Ballet is creating a new ballet, with choreography by Cathy Marston and music by Thomas Newman, based on the Steinbeck novel Of Mice and Men. The Joffrey will premiere the ballet in Chicago in the first half of 2021, with a staging at Northrop that Fall.
GALLIM created a film version of their stage work BOAT to premiere online via Northrop in November 2020. The film's soundtrack features University Organist Dean Billmeyer playing Northrop's Aeolian-Skinner Organ as well as Twin Cities' own PopUp choir in two compositions by Arvo Paert. BOAT explores what it looks like, feels like, and means to be searching for home, taking viewers on a journey of people becoming undone, floating adrift, holding each other, building bonds, and allowing hope and dignity to grow anew.
Finally, Northrop is offering a Ragamala Rooted residency with Ragamala Dance Company that culminates with the premiere performances of Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy’s Fires of Varanasi in May. The residency includes campus and community engagement activities every month September through May. Those activities, including a conversation with travel and culture writer Pico Iyer and a cook-along event with chef Raghavan Iyer will be online in the fall, with online and in-person activities in the spring.