Carnival of the Animals
A Political Jungle
Friday, August 18 · 7:30 PM
The Baker-Baum Concert Hall
Special preview performance of a new work co-commissioned by La Jolla Music Society for SummerFest’s Synergy Initiative
Prelude Interview with Francesca Harper and Hosted by Molly Puryear
6:30 PM in The JAI
Carnival of the Animals — A Political Jungle is one man’s response to witnessing in person the insurrection of January 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C. His words combined with movement and music guide us on a journey through the political landscape. Poetry steeped in the world of hip-hop finds synergy in dance, exploring questions of democracy, truth, and the promise of freedom.
An evening-length interdisciplinary work of dance, spoken word and music, this reimagining of Carnival of the Animals is a contemporary take on the Saint-Saëns masterpiece, featuring the words of Marc Bamuthi Joseph (Vice President and Artistic Director of Social Impact at The Kennedy Center), choreography and direction by Francesca Harper (Associate Artistic Director, Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre), and dance performance by Wendy Whelan (Artistic Director, New York City Ballet), with musical accompaniment by SummerFest artists Inon Barnatan, Joyce Yang, Geneva Lewis, and Gabriel Martins.
Intended for mature audiences only, this new piece utilizes the metaphor of the jungle to vividly describe and comment on the conditions in American politics and society that led us to this point, and where we might go from here.
Carnival of the Animals reimagines Saint-Saëns’ original animals and creates new animals in the political ecosystem, locating the classical in the present context. Each animal is tethered between order and disorder across a landscape of natural and socio-political arrangement. Weaving Harper’s choreography and Joseph’s text is a dynamic music and sound world created by composer Sugar Vendil, animating new animals including butterflies, free birds, goat, and elephant. This reimagined Carnival reworks Saint-Saëns’ zoological fantasy to create a composition that is both familiar and undeniably fresh, twisting, quoting, and at times, disregarding the original work while extracting new meaning through the lens of Bamuthi’s poetry and Harper’s dance. It offers breadth to the dynamic visions for hope, examples of resiliency as well as the polarizing experiences of race and gender, and different takes on political people and moments in our recent history.
Commissioned by Seattle’s Meany Center for the Performing Arts, and co-commissioned by the Synergy Initiative, New York’s Lincoln Center, Chicago’s Harris Theater and Stanford University, with support from MAPFund and SOZO Impact.
Additional funding for Synergy provided by
SummerFest 2023 sees the return of the Synergy Initiative, a series co-produced by Inon Barnatan and Clara Wu Tsai, which invites top creators of music, dance, spoken word and visual arts to work together and create exciting projects that amplify one another’s vision and reach, expanding the audience’s horizons.