SPA Brings in Men Wearing Tutus, Anthony Bourdain, Itzhak Perlman, Lily Tomlin and More in a Something for Everyone Season

Motionhouse, a U.K. Dance company performing Splash in Scattered, will be in Houston in February 2013.
Motionhouse, a U.K. Dance company performing Splash in Scattered, will be in Houston in February 2013.
Photo by Chris Nash

One of those scavenger hunt competitions ought to set as a challenge the goal of attendance at all of the Houston Society for the Performing Arts' offerings in one year.

As its lineup for the 2012-13 season, released today, shows, SPA is wide-ranging in its approach, profound one moment and at the heighth of pop culture the next, beginning with the Aspen Sante Fe Ballet this September and tossing in comedian Lily Tomlin, violinist Itzhak Perlman, United Kingdom dance company Motionhouse, food adventurer and authority Anthony Bourdain and sitar icon Ravi Shankar before concluding with the ever-popular Blue Man Group in early June 2013.

Here's the lineup:

Aspen Santa Fe Ballet 8 p.m., Saturday, September 29, 2012 Cullen Theater, Wortham Center Dance Series

Upcoming Events

The 12 young dancers of the classically -trained Aspen Santa Fe Ballet will perform works such as Over Glow by Jorma Elo and Where We Left Off by Nicolo Fonte. The troupe is known for developing new dance repertory and commissioning new works by choreographers.including Dwight Rhoden, Dominique Dumais, Moses Pendleton, and Trey McIntyre.

Companhia de Danca Deborah Colker Mix 8 p.m., Friday, October 12, 2012 Jones Hall Dance Series

Choreographer Deborah Colker is the first Brazilian to win London's prestigious Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance. Known for pairing "daring feats with visually striking design," according to the SPA, she makes her first appearance in Houston with Mix a seven-movement work complete with a stage-wide climbing wall. She used a similar wall to choreograph Cirque du Soleil's Ovo in 2009.

Ravi Shankar 8 p.m., Saturday, October 13, 2012 Jones Hall International Series

Ravi Shankar will be in Houston for one night only. The master of Indian music came to international attention in the 1960s. Shankar has written three concertos for sitar and orchestra, and has collaborated with such American musicians as George Harrison and Philip Glass.

Shaolin Warriors: Voices of the Masters 3 & 7:30 p.m., Saturday, October 27, 2012 Cullen Theater, Wortham Center Family Fun Series

It's another one-nighter when the Shoalin Warriors return to Houston in Voices of the Masters. "Featuring Buddhist monks of the Shaolin Temple, a sect that has become known throughout the world for its disciplined spiritualism and deadly martial-arts prowess, the production includes many forms of Shaolin kung fu, as well as a look at the daily temple life of the monks and their Zen Buddhist philosophy," SPA says.

David Sedaris 8 p.m., Friday, November 2, 2012 Cullen Theater, Wortham Center New Now

Back in Houston for the umpteenth time, David Sedaris, whose books have been translated into 25 languages -- there are seven million in print -- will riff once more on his life and times as he reads from new and unpublished works. Check out the author of Barrel Fever and Holidays on Ice, as well as collections of personal essays, Naked, Me Talk Pretty One Day, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, and When You Are Engulfed in Flames, each of which became a bestseller. His latest book, a collection of fables entitled Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary (with illustrations by Ian Falconer), was published in September 2010 and immediately hit The New York Times Bestseller Fiction List.

 

Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano 8 p.m., Thursday, November 8, 2012 Jones Hall Music Series

French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet is famous for his red socks while seated at the keyboard and well, his piano playing. Thibaudet's return to Houston will feature an all-Debussy program including: Preludes: Deuxieme Livre, Edition Originale (Book 2); Suite Bergamasque; Estampes; and L'isle joyeuse.

The Royal Drummers and Dancers of Burundi 8 p.m., Friday, November 9, 2012 Jones Hall International Series The Royal Drummers and Dancers of Burundi (Africa) are a percussion ensemble that has performed in the same way for centuries. Their performances were usually a part of particular social ceremonies, such as births, funerals and the enthronement of kings. In Burundi, drums are sacred and represent, along with the king, the powers of fertility and regeneration.

Good vs. Evil: An Evening with Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert Two chefs. Two unlikely friends. Two very different careers and philosophies sharing one stage. 8 p.m., Saturday, November 10, 2012 Jones Hall New Now

Anthony Bourdain, chef, author of Medium Raw and host of The Travel's Channel's "No Reservations," and Eric Ripert, renowned chef of Le Bernardin, author and regular guest on Bravo's "Top Chef," tell war stories and talk about food. A must for the foodaphiles of Houston.

The Rat Pack is Back! 8 p.m., Friday, December 7, 2012 Jones Hall Special

It's a nostalgia trip with The Rat Pack is Back! as it recreates the sounds of Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Dean Martin and Joey Bishop, backed up by a 12-piece orchestra. Close your eyes and take the time trip. or open them and see how close they get to the real thing.

 

Stephen Petronio Company* Underland 8 p.m., Friday, January 11, 2013 Cullen Theater, Wortham Center Dance Series

This one is for mature audiences. For its Houston debut, Stephen Petronio Company will perform Underland, a fusion of dance, music and visual imagery inspired by the songs of pop balladeer Nick Cave. "The performance, originally created for the Sydney Dance Company in 2002, features Petronio's signature style of fast, daring movement - dancers hurl through space with razor sharp precision; fiercely energized one moment, sensually lyrical the next," SPA says.

STOMP Friday, January 25 - Sunday, January 27 2013 (four performances at various times) Family Fun Series

You may have seen it on TV, but here's your chance to feel the beat in person. STOMP returns for four performances and its eight-member troupe uses everything but conventional percussion instruments - matchboxes, wooden poles, brooms, garbage cans, Zippo lighters, hubcaps - to fill the stage with rhythm.

Itzhak Perlman, violin 8 p.m., Thursday, February 7, 2013 Jones Hall Music Series

Undeniably the reigning virtuoso of the violin, superstar Itzhak Perlman returns to Houston for a recital concert alongside pianist Rohan DeSilva. Perlman He's received four Emmy Awards and 15 Grammy awards, performed at the 2006 Academy Awards and at the Juilliard School Centennial gala, broadcast nationally on Live from Lincoln Center, and tossed in the violin solos for the movie Schindler's List.

Lily Tomlin 8 p.m., Saturday, February 9 Jones Hall Special

Lily Tomlin continues to be everywhere --television, theater, film, and animation. She returns to Houston for one night's trip back in time to recreate Ernestine the telephone operator and 6-year-old Edith Ann. Proving she does pretty much everything well, she's got six Emmys; two Tonys for her one-woman Broadway shows Appearing Nitely and The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe; a Grammy for her comedy album This is a Recording; and two Peabody Awards.

Benjamin Grosvenor, piano 8 p.m., Wednesday, February 13, 2013 Cullen Theater, Wortham Center Music Series - Young Concert Artists

The 19-year-old, British pianist Benjamin Grosvenor is internationally recognized for his performance technique and flair. He first came to prominence as the winner of the Keyboard Final of the 2004 BBC Young Musician Competition at the age of 11. Since then, he has become an internationally regarded pianist performing with orchestras including the London Philharmonic, Tokyo Symphony, and BBC Symphony Orchestra.

The Knights with Wu Man 8 p.m., Wednesday, February 20, 2013 Cullen Theater, Wortham Center Music Series - Young Concert Artists

"Founded by brothers Colin and Eric Jacobsen (also members of the genre-defying string quartet Brooklyn Rider), The Knights are an orchestra of friends from a broad spectrum of the New York music world who cultivate collaborative music-making and creatively engage audiences in the shared joy of musical performance," the SPA says. Composers, arrangers, singer-songwriters and improvisers bring a range of cultural influences to the group Subject of a PBS documentary last fall titled "We Are The Knights," The Knights also partnered with New York's classical music radio station, WQXR, for the launch of the station's new Ensemble-in-Residence program. The musicians appeared across all platforms: on air, online and on stage before live audiences.

Motionhouse Scattered: A Meteor Shower of Unlikely Moments 8 p.m., Friday, February. 22, 2013 Cullen Theater, Wortham Center New Now

The U.K. dance company Motionhouse draws on theater, circus, acrobatics and film in its performances. The Company will perform Scattered, which combines Motionhouse's highly physical dance theater and aerial imagery. Performed on a giant curved floor like a snowboard half-pipe, Scattered explores humans' relationship with water.

 

Grupo Corpo 8 p.m. Thursday & Friday, March 14 & 15 Cullen Theater, Wortham Center International Series

Brazil's contemporary dance company Grupo Corpo makes its Houston debut. The Company mixes traditional ballet, modern dance, and cultural flair. Directed by members of the Pederneiras family for 36 years, Grupo Corpo's 22 dancers are grounded in percussive Afro-Brazilian footwork.

Voca People 7:30 p.m., Saturday, March 16 Cullen Theater, Wortham Center Family Fun Series

The Voca People who perform a cappella and beat box versions of favorites "from Madonna, Queen and even Mozart!" use noinstruments, no sound effects--just eight people making noise. To get an idea of what they do, check them out on YouTube where they already have 20 million hits.

Lila Downs 8 p.m., Friday, April 5, 2013 Cullen Theater, Wortham Center International Series

Mexican-born singer and composer Lila Downs explores Mexican roots music on both sides of the border. For more than a decade, she has performed all over the world, bringing to the stage her dramatic and highly unique reinvention of traditional Mexican music and original compositions fused with blues, jazz, soul, African root, and even klezmer music. Her latest album, Pecados Y Milagros, hit number one on the Billboard Top Latin Albums Chart.

Cameron Carpenter, Organ 8 p.m., Wednesday, April 10, 2013 Christ Church Cathedral Music Series - Young Concert Artists

SPA promises that Cameron Carpenter's approach to the organ "is smashing the stereotypes of organists." He composes as well as plays and spends his time as a concert hall artists as well as a guest soloist with international symphony orchestras. In the last three years he's been to Royal Albert Hall (London), Melbourne Town Hall (Australia), Tchaikovsky Hall (Moscow), Capella (St. Petersburg), Kimmel Center (Philadelphia), Disney Hall (Los Angeles), Davies Hall (San Francisco), Gewandhaus (Leipzig), Philharmonic Hall (Cologne), and Philharmonic Hall (Berlin). And now he's coming to Houston.

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo Wednesday, April 17, 2013 Jones Hall Special

These men wear tights (and they're not sword fighters in old Hollywood movies) don tutus and get up on their tippy topes (en pointe). Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, or the "Trocks" return to Houston for one night only. They're both funny and serious, high camp and high art. Their stage names alone should give some clue as to their approach: Minnie Van Driver, Irina Kolesterolikova and Ida Nevasayveva,

Philip Glass and the Philip Glass Ensemble DRACULA: The Music and Film Friday, May 10, 2013 Jones Hall New Now

Philip Glass was asked to create the first original musical score for the re-release of the 1931 Dracula movie starring Bela Lugosi on video.Glass originally composed the Dracula score for the Kronos Quartet and later made a new arrangement for his own ensemble. "Appearing live along with the original 1931 film shown in its entirety, the Philip Glass Ensemble performs a concert of one of the most intense and atmospheric scores Philip Glass has ever written for film," SPA says.

Béjart Ballet Lausanne Rite of Spring 8 p.m., Saturday, May 18, 2013 Jones Hall Dance Series

The late French choreographer Maurice Béjart's legacy continues with his company, Béjart Ballet Lausanne,performing in the Company's home city of Lausanne, Switzerland, and all over the world. Béjart Ballet Lausanne will return to Houston performing Béjarts' interpretation of the Rite of Spring.The ballet, set to Igor Stravinsky's score of the same name, was originally performed by Ballets Russes in May 1913. Bejart's choreographed his Rite of Spring in 1959 after meeting Stravinsky.

Blue Man Group Tuesday, June 4 - Sunday, June 9, 2013 (eight performances at various times) Jones Hall Family Fun

Blue Man Group returns to Houston for eight performances. Combining comedy, music and technology to produce a unique and highly theatrical form of entertainment. They don't speak which means there's never a language barrier for any culture.

SPA 2012-2013 season subscriptions are on sale now. Renewing subscribers will be seated first; all other orders will be accepted on a first come, first serve basis. For more information regarding performance dates, times and details, call 713-227-4772 or visit www.spahouston.org.


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