Everybody knows Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon.
Millions have mispronounced his band’s name before (which comes from the French phrase bon hiver, meaning “good winter”).
The experimental multi-instrumentalist with a surprising falsetto has now teamed up with contemporary dance troupe TU Dance to present Bon Iver + TU Dance: Come Through for a limited two-evening engagement February 25 and 26 at TPAC’s Jackson Hall.
Vernon seems to have spent the past decade determined to shake off pop stardom of the conventional type since the Grammy-winning band’s breakout album, “For Emma, Forever Ago.”
Initially released in 2007 on MySpace, “For Emma, Forever Ago” painted Vernon as a pleasing and sensitive acoustic troubadour (the album’s origin story has the singer writing and recording all by himself in his father’s remote hunting cabin).
In 2012, when the musical landscape was flooded with whiny indie folk bands and Fleet Foxes copycats, Vernon always managed to stand out.
His work since has been defined more by unique collaboration, with side projects in varying styles and guest appearances on records by everyone from Eminem to the Blind Boys of Alabama.
Come Through, Bon Iver’s most recent collaboration with Saint Paul-based contemporary dance company TU Dance, is a perfect example of the genre-bending work Vernon has been up to.
The collaboration features new songs from Bon Iver and choreography from Uri Sands. Based on its performance videos, Come Through is a gorgeous, dizzying fusion of talents that closely mirrors the more experimental parts of their cryptic and critically acclaimed album 22, A Million.
And for Bon Iver, TU Dance seems to be the perfect match.
Founded in 2004 by Toni Pierce-Sands and Uri Sands in Saint Paul, Minnesota, TU Dance is a leading voice for contemporary dance. The 10-member, professional company is acclaimed for its diverse and versatile artists, performing work that draws together modern dance, classical ballet, African-based and urban vernacular movements.
“Dance creates a shared experience – a space where a diverse community of artists connect to a common power,” say TU Dance artistic directors Uri Sands and Tony Pierce-Sands. “ We founded TU Dance to create access and opportunity – a platform for performers, students and audiences to engage the remarkable art form that shaped our lives.”
2011 saw the opening of TU Dance Center, realizing a vital part of Toni and Uri’s vision to establish a welcoming hub for rehearsals, dance education and training in Saint Paul. Now in its eighth year, TU Dance Center offers year-round educational programming for dance students of various ages and levels of experience.
Premiering last year as part of The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra’s Liquid Music Series, this evening-length commission has additional support from The City of Saint Paul Cultural STAR Program and the Knight Foundation Arts Challenge – Saint Paul.
Tickets to Bon Iver + TU Dance: Come Through go on sale on Friday, Sept. 20 at 10 a.m. at TPAC.org, by phone at 615-782-4040, and at the TPAC Box Office in downtown Nashville.
Connect with Michael Aldrich on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter @michaelwaldrich.
Below, see the making of Come Through.
Below, see a clip of a performance at The Kennedy Center.