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Zenon celebrates 30th year with new works; new app for museums month

Photo by Steve Niedorf
Zenon's Mary Ann Bradley, Leslie O'Neill, Tamara Ober and Laura Selle Virtuci perform Wynn Fricke's 'Wine Dark Sea'

How do you keep a dance company fresh and exciting for 30 years? By commissioning new works from both emerging and established choreographers, treating them equally, and taking chances while always keeping the audience in mind. Founded in 1982 and still led today by artistic director Linda Z. Andrews, Zenon Dance Company celebrates its 30th anniversary starting tonight with two weekends of signature pieces and cutting-edge world premieres.

Each weekend features a different program, and each program includes one dance with original live music. Tonight through Sunday (May 3-5), drummer JT Bates accompanies the world premiere of Brooklyn-based Uruguayan choreographer luciana achugar’s “Molten Substance,” in which four dancers put on blue jeans without using their hands. Next weekend (May 10–12), percussionist Peter O’Gorman reprises his score for Macalester dance program director Wynn Fricke’s “Wine Dark Sea,” which Zenon premiered last year to raves. Have you ever wondered how musicians work with choreographers? We did, so we asked Bates and O’Gorman to talk about their experience, process, and instrumentation. You can read our conversations here. Admittedly it’s all kind of nerdy, but we learned a lot.

This weekend’s program also includes works by Sean Curran (“Hard Bargain”), Mariusz Olszewski (“Hotel Tango, para Sharon”), and Netta Yerushalmy (“Hello, My Name Is Catherine”). Next weekend brings the world premiere of a new dance by Faye Driscoll (Mariana) and works by Olszewski (“Hotel Tango”) and Daniel Charon (“Storm”). FMI and tickets for all.  The spring season is dedicated to veteran dancer Greg Waletski, who is retiring after 22 years with the company. He’s the wiry bald guy you can’t take your eyes off of. Actually, most Zenon dancers fit that description, except for the wiry bald part.

May is Minnesota Museums Month. Our fair state has hundreds of museums, and Explore Minnesota has an inviting, well-organized website with a Museum Finder that can help you locate them. (The site plays fast-and-loose with the definition of “art museums” by including commercial galleries, but that’s a minor quibble.) New for your smartphone: a free MN Museums app, developed by the Minnesota Association of Museums and the Minnesota Historical Society, available in the iTunes store and at Google Play. We spent about two seconds on it and found a ton of historic houses in and around Minneapolis. Cool! And a great use of Legacy funds. Thank you, Minnesota voters. 

matisse painting
Courtesy of the MIA
80 Matisse works are coming to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts next February.

We now know more about the Matisse exhibit coming to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts in February 2014. It opens February 23 and closes May 18. It will feature approximately 80 works spanning six decades of the artist’s career. The Strib’s Mary Abbe gets down to details: we’ll see 32 paintings, 16 sculptures, and more than 30 works on paper including drawings, original prints and books. A complementary exhibit will feature selections from the 40 Matisses in the MIA.  

Get in on the ground floor of a museum in the making. This month the Minnesota Museum of American Art hosts a series of “Talk Back” dialogues on the new MMAA. What should a museum do? How can it best serve the needs of its community? How will it use its space? How can it make people feel welcome? On Thursday, May 16, museum innovator Nina Simon (“The Participatory Museum”) explores how MMAA can use the diverse artistic tastes of our community to inspire activities and programs that deliver unique arts experiences. Thursday, May 23: VJAArchitects principals Vincent James and Jennifer Yoos lead a conversation about the impact of architectural design idea. Thursday, May 30: Visual artist Seitu Jones introduces the topic of openness and diversity. All dialogues take place from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the MMAA Project Space, 332 N. Robert St., St. Paul. All are free. HuffPost once called the Rubin Museum of Art in New York “a museum that is interested in much more than itself.” Sounds like MMAA is heading in that direction.

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, the Walker will install a new work there in late June. Belgian artist Kris Martin’s “For Whom” (2012) will be dedicated to Martin Friedman, the former Walker director (1961-1990) who spearheaded the creation of the Garden, whose “Spoonbridge and Cherry” is now pretty much the symbol of Minneapolis.

The Jungle’s Bain Boehlke will direct a new play – at the Bryant Lake Bowl Theater. Thomas Ward’s “International Falls” is the story of a burned-out stand-up comedian and a hotel desk clerk trying to enjoy a one-night stand after a comedy show. It’s basically a tragic play full of jokes. Ward, who works as an actor and a playwright, claims it isn’t autobiographical, but it is personal. When he brought the script to Boehlke for an initial read, Boehlke thought it was so exciting that “it merited an immediate production.” We’d call that a thumbs-up. May 31-June 9. FMI and tickets ($12/$10).

Gerald Charles Dickens will play the role of his great-great-grandfather, the novelist Charles Dickens, in stage readings of a new play by Jeffrey Hatcher. The play is based on a simple retelling of the life of Christ that Dickens wrote for his children; he asked that it not be published while any of them were still living. Hatcher is calling his new play “Faith.” 7:30 p.m. Friday-Sunday, May 17-19, at the Music Box Theatre in Minneapolis. Tickets here, by phone at 612-874-1100, or at the door ($12/$10). 

Pillsbury House Theatre has announced its Naked Stages Fellows for 2013. Emily Zimmer, Moheb Soliman and Zainab Musa will take part in a seven-month development program that provides time, financial support and mentoring. In Zimmer’s “Three Figure$,” three women explore the poetics and problems of the financial crisis. Moheb Soliman’s project circumnavigates the Great Lakes by land. In “Enough,” Zaineb Musa examines her own current ethnic identity as a woman of African descent and challenges the audiences’ ideas of  “Black enough.” Each fellow receives $3,000, an additional $2,000 for other artists (directors, performers) and materials, and technical support in the theater. Performances take place in December. In April, Pillsbury House Theatre won the 2013 Sally Award for Initiative.

For actors, musicians, dancers, ensembles, street performers and stage combat performers: the Minnesota Renaissance Festival is holding auditions for the 2013 season on May 11 and 18 (Saturdays) from 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. at HUGE Theater (3037 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis). Callbacks will take place on Saturday, May 25. Email Renfest FMI and to schedule an audition time. The festival opens Saturday, Aug. 17 and ends Sunday, Sept. 29.

zenon photo
Photo by Jimmy Katz
Miguel Zenón will play with JazzMN next year.

The JazzMN Orchestra, Minnesota’s premier professional jazz ensemble, has announced its 2013–14 season of four concerts, each spotlighting a different aspect of room-filling big-band jazz. On Saturday evening, Oct. 5, the guest artist will be jazz (and classical) pianist Kenny Drew Jr. On Saturday, Nov. 9, JazzMN’s percussionist Rey Rivera will lead a tribute to Tito Puente, the “King of Latin Jazz,” with performances of Puente’s original transcripts. Sunday afternoon, March 16, 2014, will feature the Grammy-winning vocal ensemble New York Voices. The season will close on Saturday, April 26, with alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón, a MacArthur and Guggenheim fellow whose original compositions frequently draw from the music of his native Puerto Rico. JazzMN was formed in 1998 by jazz educator and trumpeter Douglas Snapp; he still runs the joint. All concerts take place in the auditorium at Hopkins High School in Minnetonka. Season tickets are on sale now through May 31 at early bird prices. Visit the website or call 612-242-4791. Single tickets go on sale this summer.

Saturday (May 4) is International Star Wars Day (born, it’s said, because someone quipped “May the Fourth Be With You” and it stuck). Who’s doing what for this intergalactic occasion? Leave a comment here or on our facebook page.

On sale today: Patty Griffin at the Pantages (June 13), Paula Poundstone at the Guthrie (Oct. 14), Peter Frampton at the State (July 21), the 11-piece Tedeschi Trucks Band at the Fitz (June 19), and single tix to Cameron Mackintosh’s new 25th Anniversary production of “Les Mis” (July 30-Aug. 4) at the Orpheum. Single tickets to Music in the Zoo concerts went on sale April 27 at the Electric Fetus and all Ticketmaster locations.

Our picks for the weekend

No snow. We pick no snow

Opens tonight at the Southern: The Moving Company’s “Out of the Pan Into the Fire.” A fairy tale about two children found in the garbage by an angel (or a bird? Or a liar?), written by and starring Jeune Lune alumns. With Steven Epp, Christina Baldwin, Nathan Keepers and Sam Kruger, directed by Dominique Serrand. Through May 26. FMI and tickets.

Opens tonight at the Gremlin: Mission Theatre Company’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” With an original score by local indie rockers Joe Gamble (Enemy Planes) and Al Church (Clustercuss & Al Church and State), this is not your high-school English teacher’s Shakespeare. May 3-6, 8-10. 8 p.m. FMI and tickets ($30-$15).

Tonight and tomorrow: Lyra Baroque Orchestra performs Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons.” Are there really four? With Brazilian violin virtuoso Luís Otávio Santos, who was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in Brazil in 2011. Tonight at 7:30: Zumbro Lutheran Church, Rochester. Tomorrow night at 8: Sundin Music Hall, Hamline University. FMI and tickets ($23/$6).

Tonight and tomorrow at the Artists’ Quarter: Pianist Bill Carrothers, with Billy Peterson on bass and Kenny Horst on drums. Carrothers will take the front off the AQ’s Yamaha, exchange the piano bench for a chair, kick off his shoes, and deliver two nights of profoundly intelligent and beautiful music. FMI. 9 p.m., tickets at the door ($12).

Tomorrow (Saturday) at the Loft“Motherhood and Words: Reading with Kate Hopper.” An annual reading of literary nonfiction, in which women write about motherhood. If you are a mom, if you have a mom, and (maybe) if you want to bring your mom to something besides Mother’s Day brunch, check it out. 7 p.m., free.

Sunday: the 39th Annual MayDay Parade. After two years of bad weather and decreased contributions, Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre had to struggle to keep this annual tradition alive. Cuts were made and the show will go on, but if MayDay matters to you, it’s especially important to support it this year. The parade begins at 1 p.m. at the corner of 25th St. East and Bloomington Ave. South in Minneapolis, travels south on Bloomington to 34th, and turns west towards Powderhorn Park, where it ends. The parade is followed by the MayDay Ceremony and Festival. FMI.

Sunday at Colonial Church in Edina: Before embarking on their 11-city 2013 Centennial Tour of Norway, the St. Olaf Choir will perform the tour program here: music by Bach, de Llenas and Grieg and works by composers with Minnesota connections. 4 p.m. FMI and tickets ($20/$10).

Opens Monday at the Soap Factory: “Art(ists) on the Verge 2012–2013.” The annual show of Jerome Emerging Artists Commissions, presented by Northern Lights. Four artists and one collective – Chris Houltberg, Sarah Julson, Asia Ward, Anthony Warnick, and the Mad King Thomas Collective –working experimentally at the intersection of art, technology, and digital culture, with a focus on interactive and/or participatory practices. Opening reception at 7 p.m. Monday. Through May 26, with artist talks on May 18 and 25 at 2 p.m. both days.

Monday at Icehouse: Peter Kogan “Cornucopia” CD release. Principal Timpani of the Minnesota Orchestra, Peter Kogan spent six years in New York City as a jazz drummer. You might have seen him perform at Vincent with Le Jazz Cool All Stars back when the orchestra wasn’t locked out. He has recorded a CD of all originals with friends including trumpeter Charles Lazarus and bassist David Williamson, also orchestra musicians, and area jazzers Brian Grivna, Tom Ashworth, Mary Louise Knutson, Tommy Barbarella, Kenni Holman and Cory Wong. Someday we’ll write a real review, but for now – wow. 7 p.m. Free or small cover (sorry, we’re not sure which).

Monday at Christ Church Lutheran: “Intimate Voices.” Accordo’s season finale includes works by Sibelius, Kodaly and Dvorak. What a splendid season Accordo’s fourth has been, under challenging circumstances; the members are Minnesota Orchestra and SPCO principal players (and a former SPCO player).  7:30 p.m. FMI and tickets ($24/$12).

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