Spoleto Festival USA announces 2017 Program

Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company perform at City Hall in CharlestonSpoleto Festival USA has announced the program for its 41st annual event, taking place May 26-June 11, 2017, in Charleston, South Carolina.


“On the heels of a hugely exciting 40th season, this year’s Festival promises to build on that momentum, with even more dance and theater performances than in previous years,” stated General Director Nigel Redden. “Charleston’s rich history in the arts comes alive during each Festival, and we will explore that history and add to it again in 2017.”


The 2017 Festival features more than 160 ticketed events, held in 12 venues around Charleston that reflect the city’s past and present—including the raw, intimate Woolfe Street Playhouse, the historic Dock Street Theatre, the versatile Memminger Auditorium, and the recently renovated Charleston Gaillard Center. Again in 2017, the Gaillard will host the Festival’s capstone opera, this year a lavish production of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin. In addition to housing the U.S. premiere of Vivaldi’s celebrated opera Farnace, the Dock Street Theatre will also be home to acclaimed Irish theater company Druid’s production of Waiting for Godot. Award-winning Garry Hynes, Druid’s artistic director, will direct both Dock Street performances. A few blocks uptown, three other internationally acclaimed theater productions will be held in College of Charleston’s Emmett Robinson Theatre: Blind Summit Theatre’s The Table, Aurélia Thierrée’s Murmurs, and Rezo Gabriadze’s Ramona.


Other College of Charleston venues will again set the stage for Spoleto Festival USA: Jazz Master Dee Dee Bridgewater will light up the College’s picturesque Cistern Yard with Festival-eve and opening-night concerts as part of the Wells Fargo Jazz series, while the Sottile Theatre welcomes a range of innovative contemporary dance companies from around the globe, including France’s ballet-meets-hip-hop duo Wang Ramirez, Israel’s L-E-V, and the New York-based Gallim Dance.


The American Express Woolfe Street Series will send audiences to the Upper King-area industrial building-turned-playhouse for a wide array of events, including a world premiere from tap choreographer and performer Ayodele Casel, three programs of Spoleto Festival USA Director of Orchestral Activities John Kennedy’s contemporary Music in Time series, and the world premiere of Cinema and Sound, featuring Festival-favorite pianist Stephen Prutsman.


And finally, the spectacular Wells Fargo Festival Finale will take place across the Ashley River at historic Middleton Place, giving ticket holders access to not only a full lineup of local and regional bands headlined by The Revivalists, but also the opportunity to explore the estate’s lush grounds and scenic gardens.


The 2017 program and an event calendar can be found at www.spoletousa.org. Tickets are now on sale to the general public online. Tickets can be purchased in person through the Spoleto Festival USA Box Office at the Charleston Gaillard Center (95 Calhoun Street) beginning Monday, May 1.


Spoleto Festival USA’s 2017 Dance Highlights:


– Ballet- and martial arts-trained Honji Wang and gifted former B-boy Sébastien Ramirez transcend boundaries with their duet Monchichi, drawing on their own backstories to develop a new language. In addition to its three performances on May 26-28, Company Wang Ramirez will also lead a master class on Thursday, May 25.


– Returning to the Festival after celebrated performances in 2003 is the passionate flamenco artist María Pagés, who will embody the legendary character of Carmen in her vibrant ode to femininity entitled Yo, Carmen, staged at the Charleston Gaillard Center on May 27 and 28.


– In a world premiere presented as part of the American Express Woolfe Street Series, tap dancer and choreographer Ayodele Casel will create a virtuosic piece exploring language, communication, identity, and legacy. A native New Yorker, Casel will perform five shows at the Woolfe Street Playhouse beginning Thursday, June 1.


– Israeli choreographers Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar bring their celebrated work OCD Love to the Festival’s 2017 dance series on June 2, 3, and 4 at the College of Charleston Sottile Theatre. Performed by dancers of Eyal and Behar’s ensemble, L-E-V, the work is set to deep, pulsing grooves created live by DJ Ori Lichtik and explores themes of the heart through the lens of obsessive compulsion. The choreographers’ focus on repetition and frustration create a mesmerizing movement vocabulary in this work. Members of L-E-V will lead a master class in the company’s unique style on June 3.


– In a Festival debut on June 5 at the College of Charleston Emmett Robinson Theatre, performer and choreographer Hillel Kogan’s We Love Arabs will examine the Arab-Israeli conflict with humor and subtlety. Earning the “Outstanding Creator of 2013” award from the Israeli Dance Critics Circle for this piece, Kogan performs with Adi Boutrous, speaking as well as moving through space, seeking a way to break through prejudices. Kogan will also lead a master class on Saturday, June 10.


– The 2014 Guggenheim Fellow and Princess Grace Awardee Andrea Miller returns when her New York-based Gallim Dance presents W H A L E at the College of Charleston Sottile Theatre June 8, 9, and 10. (The company performed her I Can See Myself in Your Pupil in 2010.) A full-length work that uses radical physical language and an impulsive narrative pace to juxtapose love, sex, and domesticity, W H A L E is both intimate and cinematic, guided by Miller’s virtuosic and fresh choreography. Audiences will have the opportunity to attend a Gallim Dance master class on Saturday, June 10.


– It’s also worth noting that Compagnie XY will bring a new piece of French circus after a triumphant Festival debut in 2013. This time the troupe considers a metaphor for the ways in which humanity faces instability and imbalance. Il n’est pas encore minuit hits Charleston’s Memminger Auditorium for six performances beginning June 6.


Photo: Spoleto Festival USA’s 2016 Opening Ceremonies. Dancers from Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company perform at City Hall in Charleston. Photo by Julia Lynn Photography.