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Keith Hennessy returns to Twin Cities with Zero Performance

If memory serves, it was sometime in the 1990s (late 1980s?) when Contraband, the San Francisco-based dance troupe, performed at the Ordway’s McKnight Theater. Why bring this up?

If memory serves, it was sometime in the 1990s (late 1980s?) when Contraband, the San Francisco-based dance troupe, performed at the Ordway’s McKnight Theater. Why bring this up? Because I was part of the performance and Keith Hennessey, who performs a solo work at the Southern Theater this weekend, was part of the company back then.

Toward the end of the show — after some ingenious movement integrated with refrigerators swinging from the ceiling — I was asked to come on stage. Perhaps it was even Hennessey who persuaded me (a young dance critic, but he didn’t know that) to join the dancers, who tossed me around in blanket. After some persuading, I agreed. And it was an exhilarating experience.

The dancers were gracious as they worked their magic — this blanket tossing was some sort of technique used in their workshops to bring people into their bodies and lift them into a communal, safe sort of state of being. I was breathless at first, then started laughing with a singular sense of childlike freedom. Audience members wept (so I was told). I was even invited to take bows.

Hennessey has since branched out to focus on his own work. His recent solo (take a deep breath) is “Crotch (all the Joseph Beuys references in the world cannot heal the pain, confusion, regret, cruelty, betrayal or trauma …).”

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While there aren’t any suspended refrigerators in this work, there is plastic sheeting, an abused teddy bear and other various detritus in which Hennessey — naked, or nearly so — comments kinetically on democracy, the end of a romantic relationship, and Beuys, a German performance and installation artist (among other things).

For a snippet, go here. Looks like audience participation (a chance to wander and observe on stage),  sexual language,

Keith Hennessey/Zero Performance, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Southern Theater, Minneapolis. $22. 612-340-1725.