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Going ‘Solo’: McKnight dance fellows to perform in world premieres choreographed just for them

Tamara Nadel, who performs with Ragamala Music and Dance Theater, is one of the featured artists this weekend at Solo.
Photo by Ed Bock
Tamara Nadel, who performs with Ragamala Music and Dance Theater, is one of the featured artists this weekend at Solo.

For a snapshot of the diverse dance scene in the Twin Cities as well as the performance caliber of some of its artists, “Solo” is the ticket.

The biannual event, held this weekend at the Southern Theater, showcases world premieres by the recipients of the 2006 and 2007 McKnight Artist Fellowships for Dancers, whose artistry lives in styles from contemporary ballet to the South Indian classical dance form of Bharatanatyam.

As part of the fellowship, each dance artist receives funds to commission a choreographer to create a work expressly for them. “Solo,” then, is also an opportunity to discover choreographers from outside the Twin Cities, whose new works are shown to their best advantage with these dynamic performers.

Jazz dancer and tap-dancer extraordinaire Karla Grotting, a member of the Flying Foot Forum, selected Austrian tap choreographer and musician Max Pollak, who now lives in New York. Both dancer and choreographer are renowned for their tap facility, innovative body percussion and musicality.

Flamenco dancer Colette Illarde, who has her own troupe “FUEGO Flamenco,” enlisted the Cordobian gypsy Manuel Reyes Maya of Spain to make a new work for her. See Illarde performing below.

The petite ballerina Mifa Ko, formerly of Minnesota Dance Theatre, performs a solo by Jerry Opdenaker, whom she met when she joined BalletFlorida last year. Opdenaker, a native of Philadelphia, frequently choreographs for BalletFlorida, and developed and now directs STEP Ahead, Ballet Florida’s choreographic workshop.

While at MDT, Ko’s frequent partner was Abdo Sayegh, who has been with the company for 12 years and is now its artistic associate. He chose Canadian choreographer Gioconda Barbuto  (who also danced with MDT), who in 2005 made the contemporary ballet “One Fell Swoop” for MDT.

Powerhouse modern dancer Laura Selle-Virtucio, whose fearlessness and impeccable technique graces such companies as Stuart Pimsler Dance and Theater and Shapiro & Smith Dance, chose Colleen Thomas of New York. Zenon Dance Company introduced Thomas to Twin Cities audiences when it commissioned her to create the dark, mysterious “Catching her Tears (44°N, 93°W)” for the company. Bill Young/Colleen Thomas and Co. also performed at the Southern Theater last year with two works displaying an intense physicality and corporeal pleasure in movement.

Only Tamara Nadel, who performs Bharatanatyam with Ragamala Music and Dance Theater, stuck close to home, selecting her mentors and the co-artistic directors of that company — Ranee Ramaswamy and Aparna Ramaswamy — as her choreographers. Seeing as how the Ramaswamys create some of the most poetic, enlightening and culturally relevant dance work in the Twin Cities today, Nadel’s choice should prove a sound one. 

What: “Solo”
When: 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday (July 11-12), 2 p.m. Sunday (July 13)
Where: Southern Theater, 1420 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis
How much: $26
Tickets: 612-340-1725

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