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 The New York Times called Mark Morris' Mozart Dances "a masterpiece ... and one of Mr. Morris's grandest achievements." (Stephanie Berger photo)

Dance takes center stage in 2007-08 Cal Performances season

18 April 2007

Cal Performances Director Robert Cole has announced plans for the 2007-08 season, with dance featured prominently among the 72 programs that will comprise the organization's 102nd year of presenting performing-arts programs. The season will showcase well-established, distinguished performers, talented emerging artists, and newly commissioned work in 10 series - Classical and Modern Dance, Theater, Recital, Opera, Chamber Music and Orchestra, Music Before 1850, World Stage, Jazz, 20th Century Music and Beyond, and Strictly Speaking.

"With each new season Cal Performances challenges itself to create a series more artistically significant than the last. 2007-08 is particularly important because we will be marking the 40th anniversary of Zellerbach Hall," says Cole. "With that in mind, we have assembled one of the largest, most exciting dance seasons yet, beginning with the West Coast premiere of Mark Morris' acclaimed Mozart Dances (2006) Sept. 20-23, followed by our monthlong tribute to Twyla Tharp."

Twyla Tharp (Greg Gorman photo)

Beginning in October, Cal Performances presents the focus on Tharp, "one of the bona fide, boundary-stretching geniuses of modern dance" (according to The New York Times), with three major American ballet companies performing six of her best-loved works. The Joffrey Ballet (Oct. 4-6) will perform the Tharp classic Deuce Coupe (1973), set to music by the Beach Boys. Also on the program are Laura Dean's Sometimes It Snows in April (1993), an excerpt from Billboards, set to music by Prince; and Joffrey's Pas des Deesses danced to a solo piano piece by John Field performed live.

Miami City Ballet (October 26-28) will perform Tharp's Sinatra Songs (1982), set in the 1950s with costumes by Oscar de la Renta; and In the Upper Room (1986) with music by Philip Glass.

The tribute to Tharp concludes with American Ballet Theatre (Nov. 7-8). The first program includes Stanton Welch's Clear, set to music by Bach; Balanchine's Ballo della Regina, with music by Verdi; Jerome Robbins' Fancy Free, music by Leonard Bernstein; and two pas de deux, to be announced. The second program features two Tharp works: the ballroom showpiece Sinatra Suite (1983), a companion to Nine Sinatra Songs, set to favorites sung by Frank Sinatra; and Baker's Dozen (1979), with music by Willie "The Lion" Smith. New works by Jorma Elo (Glow-Stop, with music by Philip Glass) and Benjamin Millepied (untitled) will also be presented (Nov. 9-11).

Continuing Cal Performances' commitment to presenting exciting new companies from China, Guangzhou Ballet will perform the American premiere of a new work based on the life of legendary Peking Opera artist Mei Lanfang (Oct. 19-21). The following month, Pina Bausch, a seminal figure in expressive dance, brings her Tanztheater Wuppertal in a recent work Ten Chi (2004) to Zellerbach Hall (Nov. 16-18). Bausch, who created the piece during a residency in Japan, explores the sounds, sights, joys, and paradoxes of modern Japanese culture.

Special events aplenty

In addition to a full dance card, Cal Performances will present several special events, beginning with Mexico's Rolando Villazón, a tenor who has gained a passionate following for his opera and recital appearances (Sept. 27). Cellist Yo-Yo Ma returns on Nov. 15 with a recital program with pianist Kathryn Stott. Bryn Terfel, a bass-baritone who is the opera world's preeminent Figaro and Falstaff, appears on April 17. The season's final special event is the West Coast premiere of Rachel Portman's The Little Prince (May 2-4 and 9-11). Cal Performances and the San Francisco Opera have teamed up to present this production directed by Francesca Zambello, which Cole predicts "will delight longtime opera lovers as well as first-timers."

Other highlights

This year Bunraku National Puppet Theatre of Japan will tour the U.S. for the first time since 1983. (Yaoya Oshichi photo)

The Bunraku National Puppet Theatre of Japan will bring its ancient art of music, poetry, and puppetry to Zellerbach Hall on Oct. 13-14. Canadian director-auteur Robert Lepage will present his newest work, a one-man production, The Andersen Project, based on two stories by Hans Christian Andersen on May 28-June 1.

Cal Performances always presents heavy hitters in its Recitals series. The 2007-08 season is no exception: Reigning Russian mezzo-soprano Olga Borodina (Sept. 30), Polish baritone Mariusz Kwiecien (Dec. 9), American counter-tenor David Daniels (Jan. 13), and English soprano Kate Reynolds (April 13) are the vocalists on the roster. International instrumentalists include young violinist Hilary Hahn (Oct. 16); pianist Richard Goode (Feb. 3); violinist Joshua Bell (Feb. 24); pianist Rudolph Buchbinder (March 22-23); and a new star on the piano, Paul Lewis (May 4).

On the schedule for Chamber Music and Orchestra are baritone Dmitiri Hvorostovsky with the Moscow Chamber Orchestra and Academy of Choral Art (Nov. 4); the Zehetmair Quartet (Nov.11); the Tokyo String Quartet (Feb. 17); and the Swedish Chamber Orchestra (April 6). The Takács Quartet will perform twice next season: a Schumann program on Dec. 2 and part of the Beethoven quartet cycle on March 16.

The San Francisco Opera will perform the classic children's story The Little Prince. (Carol Rosegg photo)

The Music Before 1850 series offers a three-concert Bach Festival featuring pianist Angela Hewitt and cellist Daniel Müller-Schott (Oct. 10-12) and the award-winning Akademie für Alte Music Berlin (April 12).

On a more contemporary front, Berkeley professor of music Jorge Liderman will get a special 50th-birthday present from Cal Performances, which celebrates his work with a Composer Portrait on Nov. 18. Argentine-American composer Osvaldo Golijov's opus Ayre will also be featured in the Composer Portrait series; soprano Dawn Upshaw, her new-music ensemble eighth blackbird, and Latin guitarist Gustavo Santaolalla will perform the work March 1.

All the world's a stage

Cal Performances' World Stage series kicks off with Mickey Hart's Planet Drum Tour (Sept. 28), then continues with fado singer Mariza (Oct. 23) and Brazilian vocalist Gal Costa (Nov. 1). Hugh Masekela plays his signature blend of Afropop, jazz, R&B, and blues on Feb. 6, followed by the Brazilian Guitar Festival featuring brothers Sergio and Odair Assad on Feb. 7. West African singer Angélique Kidjo (March 14), Sweet Honey in the Rock (April 5), and Arlo Guthrie's Solo Reunion Tour: Together at Last (April 10) are other crowd-pleasers in the series.

Cal Performances has expanded its Jazz Series this year. Highlights include pianist and rising star Taylor Eigsti (Oct. 13), Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (Jan. 26), SFJAZZ Collective (March 15), and the "last jazz immortal" (Village Voice), saxophonist Sonny Rollins (April 3).

In its fifth year, the Strictly Speaking series features Garry Wills, who won the Pulitzer Prize for Lincoln at Gettysburg (Sept. 26); Iranian-born Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Loilita in Tehran (Dec. 5); A Prairie Home Companion radio maestro Garrison Keillor (Feb. 12); and another radio original, Ira Glass of This American Life, with program contributor David Rakoff (Feb. 23).

For complete information on Cal Performances' 2007-08 season, visit calperformances.net.