Walker Art Center's performing-arts season is always filled with shows that challenge, amuse and occasionally disturb audiences. The 2014-15 season announced Monday brings more of the same, maybe even upping the ante.
It will be a season of "healthy provocation," said Philip Bither, senior curator.
The roster includes artists from 16 countries, a handful of new commissions and local talent. Minneapolis native Ralph Lemon's "Scaffold Room" opens the season Sept. 26. The artist's new work combines dance, video and an electronic score to explore archetypes of black women in American culture.
In October, Chilean hip-hop sensation Ana Tijoux will bring her social-justice rap to Cedar Cultural Center, one of four concerts the Cedar will copresent.
Also that month, queen of indie quirk Miranda July will premiere a piece that involves the audience in creating a new utopia. "At some point, at least half the audience might be up on stage," Bither said.
A dance-heavy November includes a weekend celebrating the career of avant-garde choreographer Steve Paxton. The annual Choreographers' Evening spotlighting Minnesota dance artists will be curated by Kenna-Camara Cottman.
In December at the Cedar comes "the closest thing to a straight-out dance party we've ever had," Bither said, featuring "Syrian-folk techno banger" Omar Souleyman.
The Out There series, the Walker's cure for bleak Januarys, includes "Red-Eye to Havre de Grace," an imagining of the last five days of Edgar Allan Poe's life in the form of an action-opera, with sound by the Minneapolis-based Wilhelm Bros. But the furthest "out there" will no doubt be "Still Standing You," a furious, humorous contemporary dance piece involving wrestling, nudity and belt-whipping by a Portuguese-Belgian duo known as Campo.
The show is so physically taxing that Bither had to promise Pieter Ampe and Guilherme Garrido free massages to get a three-performance commitment, he said.
In April, composer/guitarist Bryce Dessner, classically trained frontman for the popular rock band The National, will preside over a weekend of his music, performed by members of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and others.
Other musical highlights include an evening of dueling jazz piano with Jason Moran and Robert Glasper in May, and Jack DeJohnette's "Made in Chicago," a reunion of five avant-jazz greats in March.
The season closes with a virtuosic display of artistic-discipline melding. Former Hüsker Dü member Grant Hart will play Hazel Motes in an adaptation of Flannery O'Connor's southern-Gothic novel "Wise Blood," to be staged at co-presenter The Soap Factory amid giant sculptures by local artist Chris Larson, accompanied by brass bands, percussion lines and operatic singers.
See www.walkerart.org for further details on the 2014-15 season.