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Big grants for Ananya and Rosy Simas Danse; classical music blooms in August

ALSO: Ordway debuts new family series; The Cedar names new class of Commissions Artists; Benjamin Percy and Marlon James at Common Good Books; and more.

Ananya Dance Theatre will receive $40,000 to $45,000 for the creation of the work, plus $10,000 in unrestricted general operating support.
Courtesy of Ananya Dance Theatre

Ananya Dance Theatre and Rosy Simas Danse, both of Minneapolis, have been awarded National Dance Project (NDP) production grants to support new dance works that will tour the United States. Each will receive $40,000 to $45,000 for the creation of the work, plus $10,000 in unrestricted general operating support.

One of the major sources of funding for dance in the United States, NDP to date has given more than $36 million to artists and organizations so they can bring dance into communities across the country. The grants are awarded by the New England Foundation for the Arts, Boston.

The Cedar names new class of Commissions Artists

Six emerging artists based in Minnesota are the latest Cedar Commissions Artists. Each will receive $4,500 to compose at least 30 minutes of new music, to debut at the Cedar in February.

Vocalist/songwriter Elizabeth Ashantiva and her band, Psychic Revival, will perform “The Book of L,” songs from a feminist perspective inspired by Ashantiva’s journals and the diaries of Anaïs Nin, Virginia Woolf and Anne Frank. Singer/songwriter Julia Hobart’s “To Spill My Husband’s Blood” will re-image traditional murder ballads, expanding the roles of women characters. Vocalist/poet/songwriter Leah Lemm will compose and perform “Ruins,” exploring themes like reconciliation and assimilation through vocally-driven composition, electronic instruments and poetry.

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Guitarist/composer Julian Manzara will present “Lineage: Two Generations of Midwestern Blues,” a set of original, blues-based music performed by an eight-piece band including his father. Composer/drummer, Shawn Mouacheupao will fuse his Hmong culture with his American Indie pop culture in a new series of songs. City Counselor (Nicky Steves), a community organizer and artist, will present “Scream & Cry,” a collection of avant-pop songs on political themes based on the events of the next six months.

Funded by the Jerome Foundation, the Cedar’s commissioning program has supported the creation of new music by more than three dozen artists.

Ordway debuts new family series

There’s a new mini-series at the Ordway, especially for families with kids.

On Saturday, Sept. 30, David Gonzalez will share colorful songs and stories from the Caribbean, South America and the Bronx in “Cuentos: Tales from the Latino World,” with Spanish language words sprinkled throughout. On Saturday, March 3, 2018, the hugely popular Grammy-winning Okee Dokee Brothers will sing about their passion for the outdoors. On Saturday, April 14, Nova Scotia’s Mermaid Theatre will bring “Goodnight Moon” and “The Runaway Bunny” to life with puppetry and black light.

“Goodnight Moon”
Courtesy of the Ordway
On Saturday, April 14, Nova Scotia’s Mermaid Theatre will bring “Goodnight Moon” to life with puppetry and black light.

The Ordway’s new Family Series will be in addition to its Flint Hills International Children’s Festival, offered each year during the summer. FMI and tickets ($16-20).

TC Book Fest featured authors are announced

Rain Taxi has announced the featured authors for the 2017 Twin Cities Book Festival, and it’s a stellar bunch.

New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast will be here with her new book, “Going Into Town: A Love Letter to New York.” And Cory Doctorow with his latest science fiction novel, “Walkaway.” U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera will make an appearance; so will poet, actor and model Yrsa Daley-Ward, with her upcoming book “Bone.” Daniel Handler, a.k.a. Lemony Snicket of “A Series of Unfortunate Events” fame, will present his new novel, “All the Dirty Parts,” about high school sexuality, specifically the sexuality of adolescent boys. Donna Seaman will talk about her acclaimed new book, “Identity Unknown: Rediscovering Seven American Women Artists,” about artists (including Louise Nevelson) who were celebrated during their lifetimes and have now been largely forgotten.

Also on the program: Charlie Jane Anders (“All the Birds in the Sky”), Kenny Fries (“In the Province of the Gods”), Ray Gonzalez and Alex Lemon (“Feverland”). Still to be announced: authors appearing on the Children’s and Youth stages and local authors.

The annual Twin Cities Book Festival is the largest literary gathering in the Upper Midwest. Set for Saturday, Oct. 14, at the Fairgrounds, it’s free. FMI.

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The picks

Tonight (Tuesday, Aug. 8) at Common Good Books: Benjamin Percy and Marlon James. A heavy hitter double header with Minnesota authors. Percy reads from his latest horror novel, “The Dark Net.” Then Man Booker Prize winner Marlon James joins Percy to talk about writing outside the literary fiction mainstream. (James is currently writing a trilogy of novels inspired by “Lord of the Rings,” except they’re full of African mythology.) The two together – whoa. 7 p.m. Free.

Tonight at the Film Society’s St. Anthony Main Theater: “Sold Out: Affordable Housing at Risk.” It seems like every day we read or hear about families being evicted from apartments where they’ve lived for years, pushed out by developers and new owners wanting more upscale renters. Come for the documentary, produced by Twin Cities PBS with the Minnesota Housing Partnership, and stay for the post-show discussion with representatives from the Housing Justice Center, the Met Council, the NAACP and National Coalition for the Homeless. 7 p.m. FMI. Free, but get tickets anyway; seating is limited.

Tonight at Crooners: Kevin Mahogany Quartet. It will be a thrill to hear Mahogany’s deep, rich baritone in the intimate setting of Crooners’ Dunsmore listening room. Born in Kansas City (he made an appearance in Robert Altman’s 1996 film of that name, as a Big Joe Turner-type character), Mahogany is equally at home fronting a big band or a quartet. He swings, he belts, and he’s a masterful improviser. With Mary Louise Knutson at the Steinway. 7 p.m. FMI and tickets ($25 show, $50 prix fixe dinner show).

Under way: Lakes Area Music Festival, Early Music Festival, Source Song Festival. Remember when classical music in Minnesota fell silent after Sommerfest? Today we have not one but three classical music festivals to choose from. Co-founded by cellist Scott Lykins and colleagues from the Eastern School of Music, the Lakes Area Music Festival in Brainerd (July 30-Aug. 20) features musicians from the Minnesota Orchestra, SPCO, New World Symphony and other ensembles in a series of concerts including chamber music, symphonies and opera, all free and open to the public. This weekend (Aug. 12 and 13), LAMF presents Bizet’s “Carmen,” with Metropolitan Opera mezzo Carolyn Sproule in the title role. FMI. The Twin Cities Early Music Festival (Aug. 4-19), run by musician Donald Livingston and now in its fourth year, is offering 20 concerts in 7 venues in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Coming up Thursday: “Traversing the Baroque,” a program of Baroque flutes in conjunction with the National Flute Association Convention now in town. FMI including complete schedule; tickets ($20/10/5) at the door. The Source Song Festival (Aug. 7-12), also in its fourth year, began as a brainstorm among pianist Mark Bilyeu and mezzo-soprano Clara Osowski. This year’s theme: “At the Headwaters,” because headwaters are where things begin. Last night’s opener featured three world premieres – by Libby Larsen, David Evan Thomas and Jonathan Posthuma – and a surprise fourth by Dominick Argento. Friday’s concert is a performance of Schubert’s “Die schöne Müllerin” song cycle with tenor Evan LeRoy Johnson and accompanist Julius Drake. FMI and tickets. Along with public concerts, Source also features masterclasses and workshops for musicians.

Herbie Hancock
Photo by Kwaku Alston
Herbie Hancock’s quintet makes a stop at the Minnesota Zoo this Friday, Aug. 11.

Friday at the Minnesota Zoo: An Evening With Herbie Hancock. One of the most famous, successful, influential and forward-thinking jazz artists on the planet will touch down at the Weesner Family Amphitheater, near the tigers, on Friday night. Hancock first made a splash as a member of the Miles Davis Quintet; ever since, he’s been out in front of music trends and technologies, playing with everyone, trying everything, endlessly curious. His creds include 17 Grammys and Kennedy Center honors, but on some nights he’s just a genius with a keytar. He’s touring with his quintet: Vinnie Colaiuta (drums), James Genus (bass), Lionel Loueke (guitar), and rapper/saxophonist/producer Terrace Martin, who recently formed a new band with Kamasi Washington and Robert Glasper. 7:30 p.m. FMI and tickets (start at $81).