Until early last week, no one knew for certain if Nimco Yasin would make it to her monthlong Midnimo residency in Minnesota. Happily, she was cleared for travel a week ago and arrived yesterday. Midnimo, the Somali word for “unity,” is a joint project of the Cedar and Augsburg College that brings leading Somali singers and musicians to Minnesota for workshops, class visits and education programs, discussions, and performances. Yasin was once a member of the Waaberi Group, Somalia’s government-sponsored music and dance troupe that toured the world multiple times. She fled Somalia to the UK in 1989 and has rebuilt her career. She’ll give her first workshop tonight. Public finale performances – collaborations with Minneapolis-based keyboardist deVon Gray and a group of jazz and pop musicians assembled by him – will take place Friday, March 31, at the Cedar; Saturday, April 9, in Mankato; and Saturday, April 15, in St. Cloud. FMI. Cali Dhaanto, a Somali artist living in Sweden who was also scheduled for the Midnimo residency, wasn’t as fortunate. His visa was denied.
Off-Leash Area has a new home
Maybe you’ve seen Paul Herwig and Jennifer Ilse’s theater company in their two-car garage in Longfellow. Or in someone else’s garage during one of their Neighborhood Garage Tours. Or at Savage Umbrella’s former SPACE in Vandalia towers. Starting in May, you can see them at the Off-Leash Art Box at 4200 54th Street East in Minneapolis, formerly Home Video Studio, between Lake Nokomis and the Mississippi. They bought it, they own it – and they’ll be renting it to other theater and dance artists. As Herwig wrote in an email, “It’s for the community as much or more than it is for Off-Leash Area.” When the renovations are done, the Art Box will be a fully equipped professional performance space with flexible seating for up to 80 people and a separate studio space for rehearsals and classes. Watch the progress on the website.
The Art Shanties will move to Lake Harriet
For the first time in the 12-year history of Art Shanty Projects, the annual free frozen arts festival will come to Minneapolis – just in time for the Super Bowl. Past Art Shanty On-Ice programs have taken place on Medicine Lake and White Bear Lake. The move makes sense for all kinds of reasons: Most of the artists and visitors come from the Cities, more people live near Lake Harriet, and public transportation to and from is easier. The Shanties will spend three winters on Harriet (Mde Unma). But will this event be part of the Great Northern?
MCAD-designed voting signage to go statewide
Remember the new voting signage we saw in Minneapolis during the November election? (We forgive you if you don’t. A lot has happened since then.) Designed by MCAD’s in-house studio DesignWorks, it did the job, people liked it, and it’s adaptable. MCAD, the City of Minneapolis (the original client) and the office of the Minnesota Secretary of State announced Monday that the system will go statewide (over 4,000 precincts) for the 2018 election cycle.
The Minnesota Opera wants you
Just the other day, a friend was saying how he used to be an extra with the Met, and we were insanely jealous. Closer to home, the Minnesota Opera is looking for supernumeraries – “supers,” for short – to perform small non-singing roles. You might interact with the artists, chorus or dancers, move props or furniture around the stage, even play a minor character. Come on, you know you want to. There���s a small stipend. This opportunity is open to men, women, boys and girls of all ages, shapes and sizes. FMI and application.
And the winners are …
Louise Erdrich has won the National Book Critics’ Circle Award for fiction for her novel “LaRose.” Hope Jahren, a Minnesota native now living in Norway, won the autobiography award for “Lab Girl.” Announced last week by the Loft Literary Center, four Minnesota creative prose writers and one children’s author have each won the 2017 McKnight Artist Fellowships for Writers: Erin Kate Ryan, Susan Follett, Heid Erdrich, Taiyon Coleman and (for children’s literature) Brian Farrey. Each will receive $25,000. Earlier this month, the Cowles Center announced that Salia Sanou of Burkina Faso will be the 2017 McKnight International Choreographer, partnering with Karen L. Charles’s Threads Dance Project as part of his residency in the Twin Cities. Sanou will be here in October to create a new work for Threads to premiere at the Cowles Nov. 3-4.
Tonight (Tuesday, March 21) at Jazz Central: The Emmet Cohen Trio: A Handful of Keys. Emmet who? we thought, then started listening to his music, including the new album he’s touring behind: “Masters Legacy Volume 1: Jimmy Cobb.” Cobb is the drummer who played on Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue.” Not content merely to salute him, Cohen features him on the album, which swings hard. Cohen turns out to be a piano beast, a formidable player still in his 20s who started piano at age three and has already played with many greats, won a bunch of awards and earned comparisons to masters like Oscar Peterson. He’s in town with his crack trio: Russell Hall, bassist for “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” and Joe Saylor, a drummer who recently toured with Wynton Marsalis. They all played Crooners on Sunday with trumpeter Brian Lynch; this is their second and final night at Jazz Central. Shows at 7 and 9 p.m. FMI and tickets
Starts tonight at the Southern: Live Action Set: “Unset.” Stay in your seat and watch, or join the company; it’s up to you. Live Action Set makes devised performances rooted in dance and physical theater. Each evening of “Unset” will be different: a series of improvised dances with live music and a self-chosen audience member as co-creator and guest star. It’s actually an amazing opportunity. 7:30 p.m. FMI and tickets ($20 advance/$24 door/$12 student with ID, free to ARTshare members). Tonight is Pick Your Price. Closes Sunday, March 26.
Wednesday at SubText Books: Iric Nathanson reads and discusses “Downtown Minneapolis.” Minneapolis seems to be changing so quickly – the Mall redo, Macy’s closing, the whole Warehouse District transformation – that by noon tomorrow we might be kind of nostalgic for today. Liberally illustrated with black-and-white photos from the Hennepin County Library Special Collections, the Minnesota Historical Society and the Hennepin History Museum, Nathanson’s latest (he’s also written books on the Minneapolis riverfront and Minnesota’s role in World War I) looks back much further to the city’s start. You won’t remember when, but it will be fun to see the way things used to be. 7 p.m. Free.
Thursday-Sunday: The Rose Ensemble: “Musique et Masqueray.” A program of contemplative Baroque music by Charpentier, Couperin, Bounonville and DuMont, sung in honor of architect Emmanuel Masqueray (1861-1917), performed in landmark buildings he designed: the Cathedral of St. Paul (Thursday at 7:30 p.m.), St. Francis Catholic Church in Benson (Friday at 7:30), the Basilica of St. Mary (Saturday at 8) and the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas (Sunday at 2 p.m.). Beautiful music + sublime surroundings = peace for the soul. This is a lovely idea for a concert, and the Rose – 12 singers, viola da gamba, theorbo and organ – will do it justice. Each concert is preceded by a talk about the history and architecture of the venue by guest lecturer and U of M professor Alan Lathrop. FMI and tickets (prices vary).