OZ Arts Nashville Announces An Ambitious 2019-2020 Season of International, US, and Nashville-Based Contemporary Performance Events

The First Season From New Artistic Director Mark Murphy, and the 7th Groundbreaking Season by OZ Arts, Features:

International dance, theater, and multimedia artists from Japan, Brazil, and Chile (including US premieres);

Inventive artists who explore new uses of visual and sound technology to break down boundaries between art forms;

More than 150 Nashville-based artists and performers in 8 significant projects driven by local artists, and a special pre-season family event highlighting diverse local music and dance ensembles in innovative ways.

NASHVILLE, TENN. – June 14, 2018 -- OZ Arts Nashville, the city’s pioneering contemporary arts center, expands its ambition and its reach with a dynamic and diverse 7th season of “Brave New Art,” announced today by the cutting-edge organization’s President and CEO Tim Ozgener and new Artistic Director Mark Murphy. The season is made possible with generous support from season sponsor Advance Financial.

The 2019-2020 season, the first under the Murphy’s direction, features a unique blend of influential contemporary artists and ensembles from around the world, as well as groundbreaking Nashville-based artists, with a special emphasis on multidisciplinary performances, and work that highlights unique new uses of visual and audio technology.

Contemporary dance is featured prominently in the season, which includes a US premiere by Tokyo-based choreographer and video installation artist Hiroako Umeda; a special co-presentation with TPAC of a new work featuring the “greatest American contemporary Ballerina” Wendy Whelan, in a collaboration with cellist and composer Maya Beiser, famed choreographer Lucinda Childs, and composer David Lang; Brazil’s high velocity dance company Companhia Urbana de Dança, which wows audiences with their inventive blend of Hip-hop, urban and contemporary dance; Renowned African-American choreographer Ronald K. Brown and his company, EVIDENCE; and new projects featuring Nashville artists and ensembles New Dialect, Jana Harper, Shackled Feet Dance, and others. In addition, Nashville companies Grupo Blanco and Sankofa Drum and Dance are among a wide variety of local artists participating in a special pre-season Family Day event at OZ Arts August 17.

Innovative theatrical projects include an astounding multi-media take on Frankenstein by Chicago-based interdisciplinary collective Manual Cinema; a new music and theater work by Stew and Heidi, who were the Tony and Obie Award-winning writing and songwriting team behind the Broadway hit Passing Strange; breathtaking multi-media theater company TeatroCinema from Santiago, Chile; an evening of unforgettable storytelling in The Moth’s Nashville GrandSLAM; and a new immersive theatrical work inspired by Nashville history, created by a team of local collaborators with director Jessika Malone.

The season also includes hybrid music, cabaret and operatic projects instigated by Nashville artists, including a special Halloween Festival of Ghouls party and cabaret-style performance created by theatrical band Fable Cry; a fun celebration of the unusual polyphonic keyboard instrument The Mellotron, featuring the all-star quartet of Pat Sansone (Wilco), John Medeski (Medeski, Martin and Wood), Robby Grant (Big Ass Truck; Vending Machine) and Jonathan Kirkscey (Memphis Symphony Orchestra; Mouse Rocket — and composer for the Mr. Rogers movie: Won’t You Be My Neighbor); and the  premiere of a new contemporary opera project inspired by African-American spirituals, created by composer Dave Ragland with The Diaspora Orchestra and the Inversion Vocal Ensemble. In addition, OZ Arts reprises the popular Winter Solstice event The Longest Night, featuring dozens of Nashville artists and Jason Shelton’s Portara Ensemble.

Even before the start of the official season, families are welcome to spend a special day immersed in a wide range of art, performance, multi-media experiences and interactive science projects at OZ Arts. The popular annual Family Day is expanded to feature internationally acclaimed multi-media artist Miwa Matreyek, as well as local ensembles Grupo Blanco, Sankofa Drum and Dance, and a variety of local music, dance and contemporary puppetry artists.

Most visiting artists will also participate in a variety of community engagement activities, ranging from workshops and master classes to free community performances in schools, colleges or community centers.

OZ Arts Artistic Director Mark Murphy described the new season as “a celebration of ingenuity and artistic vitality, highlighting artistic voices from around the world – and right here in Nashville – who are blazing the trail for contemporary culture. I am particularly excited that we are expanding OZ Arts’ international offerings, while also deepening the commitment to a wide range of diverse local artists in a variety of disciplines and forms – including some progressive and edgy collaborations that will ‘shake things up’ and engage a young and diverse audience.”

Murphy stressed that the number of performances at OZ Arts is increased by more than double in the new season, while the average ticket price is considerably lower in order to make the work more accessible to a wide range of Nashville audiences. “It has been great fun to develop assertive new strategies to increase the impact of OZ Arts Nashville in the community – and to collaborate with Daniel Jones (Artistic Associate) and Rosie Forrest (Director of Community Engagement), to ensure the success of the wide-ranging new season.”

The lower ticket pricing strategy also includes a variety of multi-event ticketing packages, to encourage curious audiences to attend multiple events. The revised pricing strategies are made possible in part by enhanced donor participation, including the vital support of members of the newly formed Cano Ozgener Society, a donor initiative honoring the passionate OZ Arts founder, who passed away in June 2018.

Tim Ozgener, President and CEO of OZ Arts, said “I am thrilled that Mark and our team are taking a creative, thoughtful, and entrepreneurial approach to make OZ Arts an even more significant and crucial part of the artistic ecology of Nashville, and of the country. On behalf of my family, I can say with certainty that my late father would be very happy to see the way his dream – to change lives through contemporary culture – is exemplified and brought to light by this diverse season of global and local art that matters.”

Tickets for most events -- and discounted ticket packages – go on sale this month at www.ozartsnashville.org

One-minute highlight reel of 2019-2020 Season:   https://www.dropbox.com/s/k9iy37fsze3tm77/2019-2020%20Season%20Sizzle-1.mp4?dl=0


The 2019-20 OZ Arts Season


August 17
Family Day 2019: Technology in the World
Featuring multimedia artist Miwa Matreyek, the Sankofa Drum and Dance Ensemble, Grupo Blanca, and more

OZ Arts’ annual Family Day is back and bigger than ever! Audiences of all ages are invited to experience a wide variety of diverse, Nashville-based drum, dance, and music ensembles, as well as breathtaking special guest artists. In addition to thrilling performances, children and parents alike can engage with a host of inventive technology and science-based activities that explore how we are connected across the globe.

Special guest artists include animator and performer Miwa Matreyek, who creates phantasmagorical performances mixing live performance with animation to explore environmental themes with visual splendor. Local dance and music companies Grupo Blança, Sankofa Drum and Dance, and others perform and lead workshops.


September 19 – 21
Hiroaki Umeda / S20 (Tokyo, Japan)
Holistic Strata
 and the US Premiere of Split Flow

Using multiple video projections and laser light technology in inventive new ways, choreographer and performer Hiroaki Umeda is acclaimed for his “virtuoso melding of technology and movement… tinglingly wonderful” (Scotland Herald). Umeda is a truly interdisciplinary artist: choreographer, dancer, sound, image and lighting designer. His ingenious, high-velocity multimedia works are startling events to be experienced as both immersive installations and thrilling live performances. Making his Nashville debut, OZ Arts will host the US Premiere of Umeda’s latest piece Split Flow as well as the internationally acclaimed Holistic Strata.

“Choreography on the edge between dance, science and audio-visual installation…. Hiroaki Umeda resonates with the agitation of the world, in a form of physicochemical trance.”
Paris Art

“Like a tin man with oil flowing freely through his veins...”
The New York Times


October 10
The Moth – Nashville GrandSLAM

The ultimate battle of wits and words comes to OZ Arts with The Moth’s local GrandSLAM – featuring the winners from the previous 10 months of the popular “StorySLAM” series. Each storyteller will compete for the title of “GrandSLAM Champion” with a brand new story, creating a dynamic evening of incredible tales and yarns. Since its launch in 1997, The Moth has presented thousands of stories told live and without notes. Moth shows are renowned for the great range of human experience they showcase featuring true stories from authentic voices creating a dance between documentary and theater.

“Quirky, passionate…brilliant, and quietly addictive.”
The Guardian, London


October 24 – 26
Manual Cinema (Chicago)

Internationally renowned multimedia company Manual Cinema stitches together the classic story of Frankenstein with brilliant author Mary Shelley’s own biography to create a visually stunning theatrical epic about the beauty and horror of creation. Featuring a spellbinding chamber orchestra, Manual Cinema’s Frankenstein combines handmade shadow puppetry, cinematic techniques, and innovative sound and music to create immersive visual stories for stage and screen.

“Endlessly imaginative and exquisitely beautiful”
– The New Yorker


November 2
Festival of Ghouls
Fable Cry

Put on a costume and bring your ghoulish best to this immersive Halloween party and over-the-top cabaret created by Nashville-based rock wonders Fable Cry. The local legends enlist the talents of artists from the worlds of burlesque, cabaret, spectacle, and the visual arts to conjure an unpredictable and extravagant community event that you won’t be able to forget – even if you try… 

“They create a wildly unique experience and one that is not to be missed! One part Gogol Bordello style folk-rock, one part Foxy Shazam orchestration, and one part Tim Burton and Danny Elfman”


November 14 – 17
Na Pistaand a US Premiere
Companhia Urbana de Dança (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

The audacious, vigorous, and highly inventive Brazilian dance ensemble Companhia Urbana de Dança is famed for burning up the stage in an irresistible explosion of breakneck bravado, exuberant, high-speed energy, and powerhouse athleticism. Choreographer Sonia Destri Lie and 9 performers deconstruct the thrilling kinetics of Rio de Janeiro street dance, seamlessly fusing together Hip-Hop, samba, capoeira, and contemporary forms.

“So wonderful that it seems miraculous...promised a blend of hip-hop, urban and contemporary dance and knocked the ball out of the park.”
— The New York Times

"Tour de force of hip-hop dance-theatre."
Financial Times


December 7
Mellotron Variations

Mellotron Variations is a retro-cool and immersive celebration of the electro-mechanical plastic instrument that is as fun to play as it is to listen to — with an amazing creative quartet of Pat Sansone (Wilco), John Medeski (Medeski, Martin and Wood), Robby Grant (Big Ass Truck; Vending Machine) and Jonathan Kirkscey (Memphis Symphony Orchestra; Mouse Rocket — and composer for the Mr. Rogers movie: Won’t You Be My Neighbor). Join these influential and Mellotron-obsessed musicians in a visual installation that evokes beautifully trippy light shows, as they make musical magic with four Mellotrons -- polyphonic tape replay keyboards originally developed and built in 1963.


December 20-21
The Longest Night
Portara Ensemble, Jason Shelton, Jeff Coffin, Ciona Rouse, and Epiphany Dance Partners

Mark the Winter Solstice with Jason Shelton’s The Longest Night, a multidisciplinary, multi-community celebration blending original music and spoken word with traditional songs and carols, storytelling, and dance. The mighty Portara Ensemble once again joins forces with some of Nashville’s most influential artists including saxophonist Jeff Coffin, premier poet Ciona Rouse, and Lisa Spradley’s Epiphany Dance Partners, to explore the richness of the dark and celebrate as we call the light back together.

“One of Nashville’s premier vocal ensembles”


January 18
The Day
Maya Beiser, Wendy Whelan, Lucinda Childs, David Lang
Co-Presented with Tennessee Performing Arts Center in association with Nashville Ballet, before its long-awaited European premiere in Paris.

THE DAY is new music/dance work by cellist Maya Beiser, dancer Wendy Whelan, choreographer Lucinda Childs, with music by David Lang. A collaboration among legends from the worlds of ballet and contemporary dance and music, THE DAY is an evening-long sensory exploration of two journeys—life and the eternal, post-mortal voyage of the soul. This bold, highly collaborative work explores universal themes through the shared language of music and dance.

Cellist Maya Beiser, who conceived the piece, has been described by the Boston Globe as “a force of nature” and by Rolling Stone as a “cello rock star," and is a veteran of the world’s most revered stages. Wendy Whelan, widely considered one of the world’s leading dancers, spent 30 years as a principal dancer with New York City Ballet and originated numerous roles in new works by the world's most esteemed choreographers. The two will be onstage all evening, embodying the iconic choreography of Lucinda Childs (a Commandeur in France’s Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and 2018 inductee in Hall of Fame at the National Museum of Dance) to the original music of Pulitzer Prize-winner David Lang.

"A gut punch . . . nothing short of life itself: by turns hopeful, funny, surprising and tragic."
The New York Times

“America’s greatest contemporary ballerina.”
– The New York Times on Wendy Whelan


January 31 – February 1
Stew and Heidi
Notes of a Native Song

The Tony and Obie Award-winning creators of the Spike Lee-filmed Broadway hit Passing Strange collaborate again on this acclaimed theatrical music event Notes of a Native Song. Named for James Baldwin's 1955 collection of essays on being Black in America, Notes of a Native Son, this show imagines Baldwin as a rock star hero -- a flawed essential visionary who transforms how we see ourselves. Stew, Heidi, and their mighty band The Negro Problem use Baldwin's work to examine lingering civil rights hardships through a rapturous mix of rock, jazz, and soul. 

"I was blown away by what I saw."
- Spike Lee on Passing Strange 

"A tour-de-force of the why-didn't-anyone-think-of-this-before? variety.”
The Village Voice


February 20 – 22
New Dialect

Following its stunning world premiere at OZ Arts last season, New Dialect returns with The Triangle, an outstanding work of contemporary dance helmed by acclaimed choreographer Banning Bouldin. A surrealistic combination of conceptual fashion, sculpture, and powerful imagery, this deeply personal work challenges us to re-envision limitations as opportunities to uncover new strengths. The Triangle makes its triumphant return in celebration of the company’s preparation for a US Tour through South Arts’ “Momentum” initiative.

“Banning Bouldin’s choreography, both technically complex and emotionally resonant, packs a universal punch.”


March 5-7
TeatroCinema (Chile)
Plata Quemada (Burnt Money)

With breathtaking stagecraft and multimedia innovation, cutting-edge ensemble TEATROCINEMA pulls out all the stops to deliver a heart-pounding noir tale of bandits, betrayals, and blowouts in Plata Quemada (Burnt Money). Their groundbreaking visual storytelling intertwines live-action performances with eye-popping video and animation, creating a hyper-stylized graphic novel that comes to life before your eyes. This thrilling new work is based on an infamous 1965 bank heist in Argentina.

"A provocative, digital mash-up of live art and cinematic storytelling”
– Los Angeles Times


April 17 – 18
Dave Ragland
Steal Away

A dynamic collaboration between Inversion Vocal Ensemble, Diaspora Orchestra, and shackled feet DANCE, Steal Away is a new contemporary music-theater-opera hybrid inspired by traditional spirituals. Emmy-nominated Nashville composer, arranger, and director Dave Ragland leads the piece with new arrangements, orchestrations, and original music to tell a story of hardship, redemption, and spiritual renewal. Ragland’s acclaimed work was featured as part of Nick Cave: Feat. Nashville in addition to his previous work with Nashville Ballet, the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, and many others.


May 7-9
Grace and Mercy
Ronald K. Brown / EVIDENCE

Award-winning choreographer Ronald K. Brown and his company, EVIDENCE, are highly acclaimed for a “sophisticated amalgam of Afrocentric movement and modern dance” that often makes “spirituality…something vibrant and transformative” (Los Angeles Times). This electrifying double bill includes Brown’s newest work, Mercy, as well as a newly conceived, 20th-anniversary presentation of Brown’s soulful masterpiece Grace, originally created for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

“His dances, earthy and subtly rapturous, tell stories of spirituality by weaving a tapestry of modern dance and West African forms.”
The New York Times

"Astounding, something to be sensed as well as seen."
The New York Times 


May 29 – 30
This Holding
Jana Harper

Celebrated Nashville-based visual artist Jana Harper joins forces with choreographer Rebecca Steinberg and musician Moksha Sommer for This Holding, a physical exploration of personal empathy. The premiere at OZ Arts is the culmination of months of workshops with a diverse cross-section of community partners. The collaborative team presents an entirely unique experience that is part art installation and part contemporary dance, underscored by soaring original music.

Supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.

“Harper treats her subject matter with a light but reverent touch”
- The Nashville Scene


June 10 – 21
Grand Magnolia
Jessika Malone and Collaborators

From the creative minds behind Haunted (named 2017's "Theatrical Event of the Year") comes Grand Magnolia, an all-new, immersive performance event exploring our city's nearly forgotten history. Discover the Nashville you never knew as actors, dancers, musicians, and visual artists activate uniquely intimate environments and transport audiences across generations, culminating in an unforgettable live experience that will shake the way we see the “It City” forever. 

“Unique immersive work that has pulled together some of Nashville’s most notable artists.”
- The Tennessean


Programming Highlights Include:

  • Family Day at OZ (Aug. 17, 2019)
  • Split Flow and Holistic Strata by Hiroaki Umeda / S20 – Japan (Sept. 19 – 21, 2019)
  • The Moth – Nashville GrandSLAM (Oct. 10, 2019)
  • Frankenstein by Manual Cinema (Oct. 24-26, 2019)
  • Festival of Ghouls by Fable Cry (Nov. 2, 2019)
  • Na Pista and a US Premiere by Companhia Urbana de DançaBrazil (Nov. 14 – 17, 2019)
  • Mellotron Variations featuring Medeski/Sansone/Kirkscey/Grant (Dec. 7, 2019)
  • The Longest Night by Portara Ensemble, Jeff Coffin, and Ciona Rouse (Dec. 20-21, 2019)
  • The Day featuring Wendy Whelan and Maya Beiser (Jan. 18, 2020)
  • Notes of a Native Song by Stew & Heidi with The Negro Problem (Jan. 31 – Feb. 1, 2020)
  • The Triangle by New Dialect (Feb. 20-22, 2020)
  •  Plata Quemada (Burnt Money) by TeatroCinema – Chile (March 5-7, 2020)
  • Steal Away by Dave Ragland with Inversion Vocal Ensemble (April 17-18, 2020)
  • Grace and Mercy by Ronald K. Brown / EVIDENCE (May 8-10, 2020)
  • This Holding by Jana Harper (May 29-30, 2020)
  • Grand Magnolia by Jessika Malone and Collaborators (June 10-21, 2020)


About OZ Arts Nashville

Since opening in 2014, OZ Arts Nashville, a 501(c)(3) contemporary arts center, has changed the cultural landscape of the city. Housed in the former C.A.O. cigar warehouse owned by Nashville’s Ozgener family, OZ Arts, under the artistic leadership of Mark Murphy, brings world-class performances and art installations to the city and gives ambitious local artists opportunities to work on a grand scale. The flexible 10,000 square-foot, column-free venue, nestled amidst five acres of artfully landscaped grounds, is continually reconfigured to serve artists’ imaginations and to challenge and inspire a diverse range of curious audiences.

OZ Arts regularly engages the community for participation with visiting artists and artworks – either directly, through school visits, workshops, master classes, school performances and/or curated programs led by local teaching artists. In addition, OZ Arts founded a program called OZ School Days, a daylong, multi-arts program presented in partnership with Centennial Performing Arts Studios that aims to engage students aged 5 – 15 years old on days when Metro Nashville Public Schools are out of session (ex: Columbus Day, Presidents Day).

For more information, please visit http://www.ozartsnashville.org/.

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Media Contact
Amy A. Atkinson
Amy Atkinson Communications on behalf of OZ Arts Nashville
Cell – (615) 305-8118
Email: amy@amyacommunications.com
Photos and interviews available upon request