Georgia Tech performance series brings science, art, digital magic

The Georgia Institute of Technology announces its 2017-2018 performance season Tuesday, a roster of acts that take science and creativity on a double date.

The season, presented at the Robert Ferst Center for the Arts, features a robot-human interactive jazz ensemble; a live “video,” edited and projected in real time; shadows that step away from their human companions and many other clever examples of futuristic ideas expanding classic art forms.

Madison Cario, director of the Georgia Tech Office of the Arts, said the Arts@Tech series puts the artist first, and the technology second. “I look first and foremost for spectacular artistry,” she said. The science and digital magic must be integral to the creation, she said, rejecting “technology put on as an applique.”

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Most of the programming will take place at the 1,155-seat auditorium Ferst Center on the Georgia Tech campus, but some visual art installations will “flow through the campus,” Cario said.

The schedule is as follows, subject to change:

Upright Citizens Brigade, Sept. 16, 2017: This sketch comedy outfit co-founded by Amy Poehler of “Parks and Recreation” will present a night of “absurd improv.”

Spencer Ludwig, Sept. 29, 2017: Trumpeter and singer Spencer Ludwig saw his catchy hit “Diggy” picked up for a Target commercial; he appears in support of his debut solo album.

Spanish Harlem Orchestra, Oct. 13, 2017: Expect swing and salsa from this two-time Grammy-winning Latin jazz band.

Japanese performance art group Siro-A brings visual magic to its gigs, with digital mapping and wild lighting effects. CONTRIBUTED BY GEORGIA TECH (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Siro-A, Oct. 27, 2017: Mime, dance, comedy, puppetry and mind-blowing visual effects are the hallmarks of this Japanese performance troupe.

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, which had a ’90s hit with “Zoot Suit Riot,” will join forces with a marimba-playing robot in their appearance at Georgia Tech’s Ferst Center during the school’s 2017-2018 performance series. CONTRIBUTED BY GEORGIA TECH (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Nov. 4, 2017: The swing revival of the 1990s was pushed by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, their appearance in “Swingers” and their hit “Zoot Suit Riot.” In addition to bringing big beats, they will perform with an artificially intelligent robot marimba player named Shimon.

Adam Ben Ezra, Nov. 16, 2017: This double-bass phenomenon, jazz musician and YouTube presence brings his usually understated instrument to the foreground.

RAIIN Dance Theater“In Human,” Nov. 17, 2017: RAIIN performs on a set engineered by the Georgia Tech School of Industrial Design in an evening of high-energy dance, combined with spoken word, trap music, jazz and hip-hop.

A Kissy Doll dances in Moscow Ballet’s “The Great Russian Nutcracker,” which is celebrating its 25th season. It comes to the Ferst Center Nov. 26. CONTRIBUTED BY MOSCOW BALLET (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Moscow Ballet: “The Great Russian Nutcracker,” Nov. 26, 2017: In time for the Christmas season, spectacular sets complement Russian dancers celebrating their 25th anniversary tour.

Miguel Zenón Quartet, Jan. 27, 2018: Saxophonist, composer and multi-Grammy nominee Miguel Zenón is a Guggenheim and MacArthur Fellow, and combines Latin American folkloric music and jazz.

“Nufonia Must Fall” by Kid Koala, Feb. 12-13, 2018: Kid Koala’s live performance mixes puppet theater and video as footage is edited in real time to create a live silent film, backed by electronic instrumentation and a string quartet.

The updated traditional New Orleans music of the Rebirth Brass Band will be on tap during the 2017-2018 season at the Ferst Center on the Georgia Tech campus. CONTRIBUTED BY GEORGIA TECH (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

New Orleans Jazz with Rebirth Brass Band, Feb. 24, 2018: A New Orleans institution, Rebirth is known for augmenting traditional brass band music with funk, jazz, soul and hip-hop.

Thaddeus Phillips and Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental present “17 Border Crossings,” March 3, 2018: A one-man show by Thaddeus Phillips takes viewers on a sojourn to Hungary, Serbia, Morocco, Colombia, Holland, Mexico and more.

Kaki King presents “The Neck Is a Bridge to the Body,” March 10, 2018: Co-composer of the score to “Into the Wild,” this former Atlantan has expanded the role of the solo virtuoso artist and the possibilities of the acoustic guitar.

Atlanta’s Dance Canvas — 10 Years of World Premieres, March 24-25, 2018: For its 10th anniversary, Atlanta’s Dance Canvas brings 10 choreographers to the Ferst stage with a mix of dancers and dance styles.

An Evening of SEAD (Science and Engineering with Art and Design) Projects, April 21, 2018: Including a concert by Georgia Tech Women in Music Technology, this performance will offer works that integrate dance, music and the spoken word.

In addition to the performance series at the Ferst Center, Georgia Tech will host four visual art installations by local and national artists, and will participate in a creativity festival at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. Public programming details for all events will be announced in August at

Arts director Cario has visions of future expansions of the technology side of Arts@Tech to include ideas still waiting to be born. One possibility: a virtual-reality tea with the Sugar Plum Fairy as a “Nutcracker” add-on. She’d also like to see an arts “commentator,” providing play-by-play as an extra audio channel for dance attendees.

“To use technology the way sports uses technology — that is one of my dreams,” she said.

Stay tuned.

Arts@Tech takes place at the Ferst Center, 349 Ferst Drive NW, Atlanta. Discounted ticket packages go on sale May 8 and may be ordered from the Ferst Center Box Office at 404-894-9600. Individual tickets will go on sale in August. For ticket prices and other information:

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