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Northrop season to include Cunningham celebration, 11 dance companies

ALSO: Accordo’s new season, new venue; “Wimpy Kid” extended at CTC; a Piano Concerto Festival: Celebrating Christian Zacharias; and more.

Pivot/Electric Company Theatre’s theater/dance hybrid “Betroffenheit”
Photo by Michael Slobodian

Announced last night after a riveting and gorgeous performance by the Miami City Ballet, Northrop’s 2016-17 dance season features an international parade of 11 dance companies – from Brazil, Canada, France, Israel, Russia, Scotland and South Korea, as well as the United States. More than half will be new to the Northrop stage. Three will perform to live music. Two events, including a celebration of Merce Cunningham, are collaborations with the Walker. There’s a ballet with a beast, and a ballet with a vampire. For two, Northrop asks that you not bring the kids. And if you’re under 30, they have a deal for you.

The season begins Oct. 1 with the return of a Northrop favorite, the contemporary Brazilian dance company Grupo Corpo, whose “Dança Sinfônica” will revisit the group’s repertoire from the last 40 years. On Oct. 20, just days from Halloween, Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet will dance its full-length fantasy “Dracula,” set to music by Mahler performed here by a live orchestra.

On Nov. 12, making her Twin Cities debut, Brooklyn-based Canadian choreographer Aszure Barton and her dancers present her evening-length work “Awáa.” Baryshnikov calls Barton one of the most innovative choreographers of this generation.” Jan. 24, 2017, brings Tel Aviv’s Batsheva Dance Company back to Northrop in a Walker co-presentation of the retrospective “Decadance 2017.”

For more than three months in May 2017, starting Feb. 11, the Walker will devote several galleries to a large-scale Merce Cunningham exhibition. On Feb. 16, France’s CCN-Ballet de Lorraine, making its Northrop debut, will perform Cunningham’s personal favorite “Sounddance” and the Walker-commissioned “Fabrications,” which had its world premiere at Northrop 30 years ago. “Fabrications” will use the original backdrop from the Walker’s Cunningham collection.

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Seoul, South Korea’s Bereishit Dance Company makes its Northrop debut Feb. 28 in a performance that combines traditional Korean drumming with break dancing. Live on stage: Korean drummers. The season’s only two-night engagement happens March 21-22, when the Canadian partnership Kidd Pivot/Electric Company Theatre presents the theater/dance hybrid “Betroffenheit,” a full-length drama using choreography by Crystal Pite, spoken word, elaborate costumes, make-up and special effects to tell the story of actor Jonathon Young’s journey through devastating loss, depression, addiction and recovery. One reviewer described it as “part Franz Kafka, part David Lynch.” This one’s for ages 16 and up.

France’s Malandain Ballet Biarritz makes its Minneapolis debut March 25 with the full-length fairytale ballet “La Belle et la Bête” – Beauty and the Beast – set to a romantic score drawn from Tchaikovsky’s symphonies. Scotland’s national dance company, Scottish Ballet, returns to Northrop April 8 with “Highland Fling,” Matthew Bourne’s reworking of the classic romantic ballet “La Sylphide,” set on the mean streets of Glasgow, with a live orchestra performing the classic score. Ages 12 and up.

Acclaimed young choreographer Brian Brooks and his Moving Company make their Northrop debut April 22 in “Torrent,” which will feature U of M dance students. The 2016-17 season ends with St. Petersburg’s Eifman Ballet, who were here last April dancing “Rodin” and return with “Red Giselle,” the story of a Russian prima ballerina, with music by Tchaikovsky and Bizet.

Season tickets are available now. Singles go on sale June 1. New this season: “30 Under 30.” Anyone 18-30 can buy two $30 tickets to any dance season show 30 days before the performance date. Plus there’s a free drink involved.

Accordo: New season, new venue, more concerts

After five years at the acoustically lovely, architecturally significant Christ Church Lutheran, the chamber group Accordo is moving to Plymouth Congregational Church for its eighth season.

It’s all about growth. Christ Church Lutheran seats 450, with some seats limited view. Plymouth can seat more than 800. Most Christ Church Lutheran concerts were selling out.

The 2015-16 Accordo season was three concerts; 2016-17 will be five. Four will take place at Plymouth and one at the Ordway Concert Hall. The Plymouth concerts are Nov. 7 (music by Wolf, Beethoven and Schoenberg), March 13, 2017 (Beethoven, Shostakovich, Schumann), May 15 (Schumann, Hindemuth, Brahms) and June 5 (Mozart, Bach/Sitkovetsky).

The Ordway Concert Hall event takes place Jan. 24, and it reprises (sort of) a concert Accordo performed in January of this year with pianist/composer Stephen Prutsman, where they performed Prutsman’s original scores to two silent films, which flickered on a screen at the back of the stage. (That, BTW, was a fascinating and enjoyable night.) Prutsman returns with his original music for “Sherlock, Jr.” plus a newly commissioned work.

Courtesy of the Schubert Club

Accordo is our own classical supergroup, formed of musicians from the Minnesota Orchestra and the SPCO including Rebecca Albers (assistant principal viola, Minnesota Orchestra), Ruggero Allifranchini (associate concertmaster, SPCO), Steven Copes (concertmaster, SPCO), Erin Keefe (concertmaster, Minnesota Orchestra), Kyu-Young Kim (principal violin, SPCO), Maiya Papach (principal viola, SPCO), Anthony Ross (principal cello, Minnesota Orchestra) and Ronald Thomas (former principal cello, SPCO). Other guests this season (besides Prutsman) include pianist Anna Polonsky and clarinetist Alexander Fiterstein.

Season tickets are available now. Singles go on sale Aug. 1.

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Accordo’s final concert for 2015-16 (and its last at Christ Church Lutheran) takes place Monday, May 9 at 7:30 p.m., with music by Dvorak and Brahms. Limited availability. They perform the following night at Icehouse, and those tickets sold out ages ago. 

Mixed Blood gala to go on at Paisley Park

While mourning the loss of Prince, like the rest of us, Mixed Blood Theatre also wondered what would happen to its 40th anniversary gala. In March, the company announced that it would take place at Paisley Park.

It still will.

Mixed Blood Managing Director Amanda White Thietje said in a statement, “Since Prince’s tragic loss, the team has struggled with how to respectfully proceed. After working closely with the team at Paisley Park, it is clear to all parties that the event supports the ideals of both Mixed Blood and Prince: a commitment to illuminating and celebrating pluralism, the pursuit of social justice and equity where it cannot be found, and the lifting up of Minnesota artists of color. Mixed Blood is honored to celebrate turning 40 at Paisley Park.”

The party is in three parts: a VIP cocktail reception from 5-6 p.m., with silent auction; Revelry: A Red-Tie Affair from 6-9 p.m., with food stations, drinks, live entertainment and silent and live auctions; and a Late Night Revel after-party from 9:30-11:30 p.m. with dancing to a DJ spinning a Prince tribute, snacks, drinks, and games. FMI and tickets ( $275/$175/$40 after party).

‘Wimpy Kid’ extended at CTC

Zoo-ey mama! Children’s Theatre Company’s “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” is such a hit (and deservedly so) that CTC is extending it by a week. Originally set to end June 5, it now runs through June 12. Six performances have been added. Catch it if you can. Here’s what your MinnPost arts columnist thought

The picks

Tonight (Thursday, April 28) at the Loft: Writers in Conversation: On Craft. Award-winning New York Times best-selling author Benjamin Percy (“The Dead Lands,” “Red Moon,” “The Wilding”) and memoirist/novelist Lidia Yuknavitch spill the beans on how they do what they do. Percy will read from his forthcoming book on craft, “Thrill Me,” which Graywolf will publish in the fall. 7-9 p.m. in the performance hall. FMI and tickets ($10).

Photo by Marc Vanappelghem
Christian Zacharias

Friday through Sunday: Piano Concerto Festival: Celebrating Christian Zacharias. The celebrated pianist and conductor has been an artistic partner of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra since 2009. As he winds down his tenure, the SPCO is holding a three-week festival in his honor. In three distinct programs, Zacharias leads the SPCO in music from the Baroque and Classical eras and works by award-winning contemporary composers. Each program ends with a piano concerto. This weekend, he plays Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4; next weekend, Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 9, “Jeunehomme”; the final weekend, Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2. This weekend’s concerts are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Ordway Concert Hall, 2 p.m. Sunday at the Ted Mann. FMI and tickets (starting at $10).

Saturday at the A-Mill Artist Lofts: Jazz Central Studios Spring Fundraiser/International Jazz Day. In 2011 UNESCO designated April 30 as International Jazz Day, acknowledging the power of jazz to unite people all over the world. A year earlier, in 2010, area jazz musicians Mac Santiago and Tanner Taylor established Jazz Central Studios in Northeast Minneapolis as a rehearsal, recording and performance space for Twin Cities jazz musicians. Taylor has since moved to Iowa and Santiago has continued to hold down the fort, running what became the only full-time, five-nights-a-week jazz club in the Twin Cities when the Artists’ Quarter closed on New Year’s Day 2014. Mac could use a little help and that’s what this benefit is for, so if you’re not going to the International Jazz Day concert at the White House, consider dropping by the A-Mill Artist Lofts to hear a full afternoon of performances by artists including Grammy winner Brian Lynch. 1-6 p.m. FMI and tickets ($25-$30, $50 VIP).

Courtesy of Union Depot
Train Days

Saturday and Sunday at Union Depot: Train Days. We went last year and still have bright orange memories of vintage trains pulling into the station. This is a jam-packed, fun event for all ages, with exhibits, activities, live music and more. Railroad equipment on display includes the Amtrak Exhibit Train, here (for the first time) for Amtrak’s 45th anniversary. Some events are ticketed, including a Friday night photo shoot on the platform and a yoga class on board the historic Golden Valley Baggage Car, but there are plenty of free things to see and do. Saturday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. FMI including advice on avoiding road-closure hell.