Edison announces 2011-12 Ovations Series

Highlights include Soweto Gospel Choir, Ballet Hispanico and Brooklyn Rundfunk Orkestrata

South Africa’s acclaimed Soweto Gospel Choir is one of 12 new and returning artists to perform as part of Edison’s 2011-12 Ovations and ovations for young people series. Download hires image.

From the land down under to the top of the world to the dusty streets of Soweto, the Edison Ovations Series presents groundbreaking performances by critically acclaimed artists from around the globe.

For its 2011-12 season, Edison will host a dozen events by returning favorites and fascinating new artists, visiting modern India (by way of New Zealand) with The Guru of Chai, revisiting The Sound of Music with Brooklyn Rundfunk Orkestrata and welcoming back South Africa’s inspirational Soweto Gospel Choir.

“This is a season of both the familiar and the utterly new — sometimes in the same show,” says Charlie Robin, director of Edison. “What could be more familiar than The Sound of Music? What could be more unique than its genre-bending reinterpretation by Brooklyn Rundfunk Orkestrata?

“The Ovations Series is committed to artists who are entertaining and inspiring, but also challenging and sometimes even demanding,” Robin adds. “These are artists with strong points of view — artists who really have something to say.”

The Ovations Series will open Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 with Lucy Guerin Inc., one of Australia’s premier young dance companies. Inspired by the 1970 collapse of Melbourne’s West Gate Bridge, Structure and Sadness grounds its movement vocabulary in the principles of engineering — compression, suspension, torsion and failure — while testifying to the resiliency of the human spirit.

The series will continue Oct. 28 with Brooklyn Rundfunk Orkestrata, the latest project from East Village Opera Company founder Peter Kiesewalter, in The Hills Are Alive, its high-octane adaptation of songs from the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical.

Next up, on Nov. 4 and 5, will be Guru of Chai from New Zealand’s Indian Ink Theatre Company. Starring cofounder Jacob Rajan, this intimate epic explores the contradictions of modern India, with its iPhones and ancient gods, through a series of indelible portraits: the poor chaiwallah (tea seller), the lovelorn policeman, the abandoned girl whose singing stops crowds in their tracks.

Rounding out the fall, Nov. 18 and 19, will be The Intergalactic Nemesis: Live-Action Graphic Novel. Part comic book, part old-time radio play — complete with projected artwork and live sound effects — this sci-fi extravaganza centers on an intrepid reporter, her trusty assistant and a mysterious librarian as they race to save humanity from invasion.

Ballet Hispanico. Download hires image.

The spring semester will begin Jan. 20 and 21 with the Brian Brooks Moving Company in Motor. Boasting cheeky wit and mathematical intricacy, this evening-length dance concert features a large tunnel-like installation, constructed from three miles of blue cord, that encompasses both dancers and audience.

Canadian sensations Dala — aka Amanda Walther and Sheila Carabine — will showcase lush acoustic folk-pop Feb. 18. On Feb. 25, New York-based musical comedy troupe The Water Coolers will pay satirical homage to life, work, kids, snarky IT support and other targets of office banter. March 2 and 3 will see the return of Edison favorites Ballet Hispanico, arguably the foremost dance representative of Hispanic culture in the United States.

The Ovations season will conclude March 23 with the world-renowned Soweto Gospel Choir. Drawn from some of South Africa’s finest choirs, this all-star 52-member “super group” — the first South African artists to perform at the Academy Awards — mixes popular songs and African gospel with traditional Zulu, Xhosa and Sotho spirituals.

ovations for young people

Meanwhile, on Sept. 17, juggler extraordinaire Mark Nizer will launch the popular ovations for young people series with 3-D, a one-man-show that incorporates cutting-edge imaging technology alongside robots, carving knives, flying lasers and a 16-pound bowling ball.

The series will continue Feb. 11 with master puppeteer Joseph Cashore and his Cashore Marionettes in Simple Gifts, a series of touching vignettes set to the music of Vivaldi, Strauss, Beethoven and Copland.

On March 3, Ballet Hispanico will present ¡Viajes!, an all-ages exploration of Latin American and Caribbean dance forms. Concluding the series, on May 5, will be Montreal’s Dynamo Theatre with Mur-Mur (The Wall), an acrobatic exploration of friendship and young love.

Tickets and information

Performances by Brooklyn Rundfunk Orkestrata and Soweto Gospel Choir will take place in Washington University’s 560 Music Building, 560 Trinity Ave. All other events will take place in Edison Theatre, located in the Mallinckrodt Center, 6445 Forsyth Blvd.

Tickets to Ovations events are $35, or $30 for seniors; $25 for Washington University faculty and staff; and $20 for students and children. Subscriptions are available at the basic level (three, four or five events at $30 per ticket) and at the premier level (six or more events at $25 per ticket).

Ovations for young people events are $12. Subscriptions are available at $8 per ticket for any three or four events. Subscriptions for Washington University faculty and staff are available at $7 per ticket for any three or four events.

For more information or to order tickets, call the Edison Theatre Box Office at (314) 935-6543, or email edison@wustl.edu.

Edison Theatre

Founded in 1973, the Edison Ovations Series serves both Washington University and the St. Louis community by providing the highest caliber national and international artists in music, dance and theater, performing new works as well as innovative interpretations of classical material not otherwise seen in St. Louis.

Edison programs are made possible with support from the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency; the Regional Arts Commission, St. Louis; and private contributors. The Ovations season is supported by The Mid-America Arts Alliance with generous underwriting by the National Endowment for the Arts and foundations, corporations and individuals throughout Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas.

In addition, performances by Ballet Hispanico are funded in part by the National Dance Project of the New England Foundation for the Arts, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and additional funding from the Ford Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Community Connections Fund of the MetLife Foundation.

Additional artists’ background