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TU Dance founders and artist Frank Big Bear named USA Fellows; New Music Cabaret at Studio Z

Photo by Ingrid Werthmann
TU Dance founders Uri Sands and Toni Pierce-Sands

Just 10 days before the opening of their 12th performance season, TU Dance founders Toni Pierce-Sands and Uri Sands have been named USA Knight Foundation Fellows for 2015 by United States Artists, a prestigious honor that includes $50,000 in unrestricted funds.

Minnesota can claim another new USA Knight Foundation Fellow: Duluth visual artist Frank Big Bear. Born in Detroit Lakes, mentored by George Morrison, Big Bear drove cab in the Twin Cities for 31 years to support his family and his career as an artist, moving to Duluth in 2010.

Past Minnesota USA Fellows include theater and performance artist Michael Sommers, founder and artistic director of Open Eye Figure Theatre; dancer and choreographer Morgan Thorson; and author Sandra Benitez.

This year’s 37 winners were chosen from more than 400 nominated artists living in the United States and U.S. territories. Since its inception in 2006, United States Artists has awarded almost 450 artists with over $21 million in support.

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There will be something … different … about next year’s Fringe Festival.

No more Fringe buttons.

Buttons, single tickets and punch cards will all be replaced with day passes: $16 for weekdays (good for up to four shows), $22 on weekends (up to seven shows). Say goodbye to the Ultra Pass, hello to wristbands. You’ll still be able to make advance reservations online to guarantee a seat at any show.

The Fringe is calling this their biggest change since they started picking shows by lottery.

Some people loved the buttons. Some people hated them. Buy the button, remember the button, oops I forgot my button, I lost my button, which line do I stand in if I have my button, the show starts in two minutes and I’m still in this stupid line – some of you will remember moments like those.

You can still buy a 2016 Fringe button. Except it won’t be for the Fringe, but for discounts to other performing arts events and attractions year-round. So kind of like a Blue Ribbon Bargain book, but without the coupons and not for the State Fair.

If this sounds a hair confusing, keep in mind that the Fringe is a Gigantor of festivals. Last year it issued 50,338 tickets to 909 performances of 174 shows by 1,100 artists in 20 venues over 11 days. Nobody died. Simply thinking about ways to make it all run more smoothly must take a Stephen Hawkings-like brain. If you want to know more, or you still have questions, there’s a town hall meeting at the Fringe office (713 13th Ave. NE, Suite 112, Minneapolis) on Monday, Nov. 23 at 7 p.m. 

The picks

Courtesy of the artist
Gao Hong

Starts tonight (Thursday, Nov. 12) at Studio Z: Zeitgeist’s 7th Annual New Music Cabaret. With three days of new music from multiple genres – jazz, world music, improvisation and more – this smart, fun, envelope-pushing festival features performances by the new music ensemble Zeitgeist (Heather Barringer, Pat O’Keefe, Patti Cudd, Nicola Melville), the Marimba Bullies, Steve Kenny’s Wise Quartet, Solomon Parham, Chinese pipa player Gao Hong and more. Here’s an audio preview with Barringer. 6:30 p.m. tonight, 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. FMI and tickets ($15 each night). Bonus: It all takes place in Zeitgeist’s intimate, custom-designed listening room in Lowertown.

Saturday at the Grain Belt Bottling House: Minneapolis Craft’za. Year Four of the annual juried market of handmade goods of all kinds: glass and jewelry, candles and cutting boards, soaps and skateboards, even (for real) fantastic handmade crayons. 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Free. Food trucks outside.

Saturday at the Nicollet: Minnesota Pickle Party. Did you know that the average American eats almost nine pounds of pickles each year? (Honestly, we thought it was a lot more.) And that it takes almost 4 billion pickles to reach the moon? (We’re not talking those silly French cornichons, but real American pickles.) This is a real thing. There will be live music, a short film (“The Pickle Jar”), games, prizes, tastings and a pickle competition. 7 p.m. $5 at the door.

Opens Saturday at the Ordway Theater: “The Magic Flute.” If you missed this when it closed the Minnesota Opera’s 2013-14 season (and broke all attendance and revenue records), here’s your final chance to see the most wild and crazy “Flute” ever, a marriage of Mozart’s glorious music with live action and animation. Presented in coproduction with LA Opera, produced by Komische Oper Berlin and the British theater group 1927. 7:30 p.m. FMI and tickets ($25-$200). Six performances; ends Nov. 22. Tickets are still available to the “Taste of Opera” special event: a pre-show three-course dinner with wine at chef David Fhima’s Faces Mears Park, with guests from the opera, plus transportation to and from the Ordway and great seats at the show. A bargain at $89. FMI. Order by 5 p.m. today. Call Brian Johnson-Weyl at 612-342-9563.

Saturday at the Cedar: Maryan Mursal. The legendary Somali singer, here for a two-week residency as part of Midnimo (a program of the Cedar and Augsburg College, Somali for “unity”), has a hair-raising personal story. The first Somali female singer to be featured on Radio Mogadishu (at age 14), she was later banned from singing by government censorship, forced to flee with her five children to a refugee camp in Kenya, and bribed her way out to asylum in Denmark. Today she’s revered as “the mother of Somalia.” Twin Cities-based jazz/funk/R&B band New Sound Overground opens this standing show. Doors at 7 p.m., music at 8. FMI and tickets ($20 advance, $25 day-of).

Photo by David Katzenstein
Regina Carter

Monday at the Dakota: Regina Carter: Southern Comfort. The great jazz violinist and MacArthur Fellow doesn’t just make albums. She embarks on personally meaningful projects and quests: playing Paganini’s violin (“Paganini: After a Dream”), paying tribute to her late mother with standards from the American songbook (“I’ll Be Seeing You: A Sentimental Journey”), researching African folk tunes (“Reverse Thread”), and now, in “Southern Comfort,” exploring the folk tunes her paternal grandfather, an Alabama coal miner, would have heard, and from there the roots of American music. Here’s a video on the making of “Southern Comfort.” Carter brings her own band to the Dakota: Will Holshouser on accordion, Marvin Sewell on guitar, Chris Lightcap on bass and Alvester Garnett on drums. If her past performances are any clue, this will be wonderful. 7 and 9 p.m. FMI and tickets ($40/$30).

Monday at Penumbra: “Nat Turner: A Troublesome Property.” Filmmaker and MacArthur Fellow Charles Burnett revisit a watershed event in America’s history of slavery and racial conflict, and the ways the story has been retold since 1831, in an award-winning documentary seen on PBS’s “Independent Lens.” Part of Penumbra’s “Reel Talk” series, the film will be followed by a discussion led by John Wright, professor of English, African American and African Studies at the U. Doors at 6 p.m., film at 7. Free, but reservations are required

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