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Northrop, Emily Johnson win dance grants; Rock the Garden, Basilica lineups imminent

ALSO: Magical ‘River See’ at Pillsbury House; Doc Severinsen at the Dakota; percussionist Francisco Mela coming to town; and more.

Northrop and Emily Johnson have received both a $30,000 MAP Fund grant and a $155,000 Doris Duke Residency grant.
Courtesy of Emily Johnson/Catalyst. Photo by Cameron Wittig

Good news for dance in the Twin Cities: Northrop at the University of Minnesota and Emily Johnson have received both a $30,000 MAP Fund grant and a $155,000 Doris Duke Residency grant. The MAP grant will support the production of Johnson’s new work “Shore,” set to premiere at Northrop in June 2014. (Currently closed for renovation, the building is scheduled to reopen in spring 2014.) The Doris Duke grant, designed to build audience demand, will help Northrop increase its reach to the Native American community. You can catch Emily Johnson and her dance company Catalyst on Sunday, April 21, at the O’Shaughnessy, where they’ll present Johnson’s “Niicugni” as part of the Women of Substance series co-presented with Northrop. 7 p.m. FMI and tickets.

SPCO update: The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra has canceled two more sets of concerts: “Mozart and the Modernists (April 26-28) and “Viennese Masters” (May 2-5).

What goes around comes around. MPR reports that Cafesjian’s Carousel will open its 14th season at Como Park on May 1. (The snow will be gone by then, right?) Once slated for auction, the former State Fair attraction was saved by a nonprofit community group and has been restored to its original 1914 splendor – all 68 prancing horses and two chariots. There’s nothing as romantic as a carousel ride on a balmy evening. (We will have a balmy evening or two before the days start getting shorter, right?)

Courtesy of Cafesjian’s Carousel
Cafesjian’s Carousel will open its 14th season at Como Park on May 1.

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And the winners of this year’s Minnesota Book Awards are: David LaRochelle, Children’s Literature, for “It’s a Tiger!” (Chronicle); David Treuer, General Nonfiction, for “Rez Life: An Indian’s Journey Through Reservation Life” (Atlantic Monthly Press); David Housewright, Genre Nonfiction, for “Curse of the Jade Lily” (Minotaur /St. Martin’s); Atina Diffley, Memoir & Creative Nonfiction, for “Turn Here Sweet Corn: Organic Farming Works” (University of Minnesota Press); Gwen Westerman and Bruce White, Minnesota, for “Mni Sota Makoce: The Land of the Dakota” (Minnesota Historical Society Press); Louise Erdrich, Novel & Short Story, for “The Round House” (HarperCollins); Patricia Kirkpatrick, Poetry, for “Odessa” (Milkweed); and Geoff Herbach, Young People’s Literature, for “Nothing Special” (Sourcebooks). The Strib’s Laurie Hertzel reports that “Erdrich looked as delighted by the Minnesota Book Award as she surely did for the bigger prize” (the National Book Award she won last November). Peek into all of the winners and nominees at “32 Books in 32 Days,” a very ambitious blog that’s running a tiny bit behind. 

More on books: Hertzel credits Graywolf exec editor Jeff Shotts with the publisher’s recent successes including the Pulitzer, the Nobel, the National Book Critics Circle Award and more. A window into what makes a good editor, especially a good poetry editor.

mela portrait
Courtesy of Francisco Mela
Francisco Mela will perform at Jazz Central with area artists Tanner Taylor, Graydon Peterson and Brandon Wozniak on Thursday night.

Heads up, jazz and Afro-Cuban music fans: Percussionist Francisco Mela is coming to town. The Blue Note recording artist played with jazz giant McCoy Tyner at his sold-out show in Hopkins in March; we’ve seen him here with Joe Lovano’s Us Five at Jazz Fest and Esperanza Spalding’s Chamber Music Society at the Dakota. On Thursday and Friday he’ll work with students at South High, McNally Smith and Minnetonka High. Thursday night, he’ll give a drum clinic at Jazz Central with area artists Tanner Taylor, Graydon Peterson and Brandon Wozniak. 8 p.m. Donations accepted. At 11 a.m. Saturday, McNally Smith will host a free drum clinic, open to all, and a reception after (with snacks). Mela will be at MacPhail at 4 p.m. that day for a workshop featuring the Dakota Combo, also free and open to the public. On Saturday night, he’ll give a concert at MacPhail’s acoustically delicious Antonello Hall, once more with Taylor, Peterson and Wozniak. 8 p.m. FMI and tickets.

Who’s playing two of the summer’s biggest and best music festivals? Tune in to 89.3 The Current at 4 p.m. today to hear Mary Lucia, Jim McGuinn and the Walker’s Philip Bither reveal the lineup for Rock the Garden 2013, set for Saturday, June 15. On Thursday at the Pourhouse starting at 3:30 p.m., Cities 97 will unveil the 2013 Basilica Block Party line-up of 19 bands – one band every 15 minutes. (The Strib’s Chris Riemenschneider couldn’t wait for the announcements and lobbed some guesses ahead of time.) For both events, membership has its privileges. Rock the Garden tickets go on sale exclusively to Walker and MPR members on Friday, April 19, at 11 a.m. (Last year, tickets sold out within an hour.) A limited number of BBP presale tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 20, through the Cities 97 Frequent Listener Club. General admission sales start Saturday, May 4.

The Skylark Opera’s sixth Summer Festival looks promising, provocative and fun. Running in repertory: the Broadway hit “The Fantasticks” directed by Robert Neu, and a new production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic opera “The Mikado” directed by Rick Shiomi, artistic director of Mu Performing Arts. About “The Mikado,” Shiomi hints, “It will be a topsy-turvy re-imagination set in Edwardian England with updated names.” Randy Reyes will star as Co-Co, the tailor who becomes Lord High Executioner. FMI and tickets.

Courtesy of Skylark Opera/John Engtrom
Fantasticks: Quinn Shadko, Gabriel Preisser, Matt Berdahl

For artists: Do you have an art, performance or site-specific project ready to go? Need someplace to put it? Tonight at Dreamland Arts, a panel of experts including real estate professionals, attorneys and artists will walk you through the processes of looking, leasing, buying, and dealing with landlords, the city and lending institutions. Springboard for the Arts’ Andy Sturdevant, who writes “The Stroll” for MinnPost, will moderate. 6:30 p.m. – 9:30, 677 Hamline Ave. N., St. Paul. Pay-what-you-can; FMI and registration.

Playing now at the Pillsbury House Theatre, “River See” is challenging and magical. Challenging because playwright Sharon Bridgforth doesn’t spell out everything for you (and, in fact, changes things up during each performance). Magical because if you let that go, you’ll be caught up in the stories, the blues, the dance and the flow. Sonja Parks is See, a young woman coming of age in the rural South, deciding whether to join her mother in the North as part of the Great Migration. The ensemble – dancers Kenna Cottman and Leah Nelson, singers Aimee Bryant and Mankwe Ndosi, and musician/poet Truth Maze – move fluidly around and across the stage, up and into the audience. Most playwrights stay behind the scenes; Bridgforth is on stage the whole time as participant, singer, and on-the-spot director, guiding the cast through scripted parts and improvisations and also cueing the audience (volunteers only) through its roles: gesturing, quietly reading brief passages and prayers, speaking in different languages. It’s part theater, part jazz, part dreamy dream, lovely to watch and often funny. Through April 21. FMI and tickets (pay-what-you-want).

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Our picks for the week

Doc Severinsen
Photo by John Whiting
Doc Severinsen

Tonight (Tuesday, Apr. 16) at the Dakota: Doc Severinsen and His Big Band. Much has been made of the fact that Doc is 85 and still playing, still touring, still dressing in red leather, satin and sequins. Let’s focus on the fact that he’s still really good. Johnny Carson’s former bandleader is a lesson to us all in finding something we love and sticking with it. Shows at 7 p.m. and 9. FMI and tickets.

Wednesday at Macalester: “Art by a Thousand Cuts.” French-born artist Béatrice Coron has worked in many mediums, but her specialty is cutting elaborate stories from paper. Her work includes illustrations, fine art, public art, and fashion; her creations are in major museum collections around the world. She’ll explore the many facets of contemporary paper cutting and their historical roots, and demonstrate the endless possibilities and applications of this simple media. Room 401 of the Humanities building, 1600 Grand Ave., St. Paul. 7 p.m., free.

Wednesday at the Walker: “United in Anger: A History of ACT UP.” The first cases of AIDS appeared in the U.S. nearly 40 years ago. As AIDS spread and became a pandemic, mostly among homosexual men, it was met with stigma, discrimination and government inaction. In 1987, a group of activists formed ACT UP, the Aids Coalition to Unleash Power, which changed everything – even as many of its own members were dying. Jim Hubbard’s documentary traces ACT UP’s history in archival footage and interviews from the ACT UP Oral History Project. Hubbard will be present for a post-screening discussion. 7:30 p.m., Walker Cinema. FMI and tickets.

Wednesday at the Film Festival: MN Made Shorts: Narrative 2. Five short films from Minnesota-based and Minnesota-native filmmakers include “The Defector,” in which a young American intelligence analyst has a heated encounter with an older North Korean defector. Talk about timely. Writer, director and executive producer Lit Kilpatrick worked as an intelligence analyst for five years at the UN Command Headquarters in Seoul. Here’s the trailer. Showing with “Fray,” “Golden,” “Alma,” and “Undying Love.” The filmmakers will be attending. 7 p.m. FMI and tickets.

Thursday at Common Good Books: poets Louis Jenkins, Connie Wanek, and Freya Manfred gather for an evening of verse. (Remember, it’s National Poetry Month.) FMI. 7 p.m. Free. Jenkins’ play “Nice Fish,” written with two-time Tony-winning actor Mark Rylance, is currently at the Guthrie (through May 18). FMI and tickets.

Thursday at the Mill City Museum: author Neal Karlen talks about his book “Augie’s Secrets: The Minneapolis Mob and the King of the Hennepin Strip,” just out from the Minnesota Historical Society Press. Augie Ratner, proprietor of Augie’s Theater Lounge and Bar on Hennepin Ave., was the unofficial mayor of Minneapolis’s downtown strip in the 1940s and ’50s. Karlen is his great-nephew. Cash bar at 6 p.m., program at 7, strippers at 10 (ok, no strippers). Free.