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Cowles’ rich season: From tap to ballet and flamenco

James Sewell Ballet
Photo by Erik Saulitis
James Sewell Ballet will present two new works by Jennifer Hart and Eve Schulte and remount Sewell’s “Opera Moves.”

Tap and hip-hop, flamenco and ballet, new companies and pairings make the Cowles Center’s 2019-20 performance season one to mark your calendar for. And remind us that the Cowles was meant to be a flagship for dance since the old Shubert Theater was rolled from Block E to Hennepin Ave. on rubber tires. Joined to Hennepin Center for the Arts with a new lobby, the Cowles opened in 2011, an instant city landmark and premiere destination for dance.

The ninth performance season starts with the fifth annual Twin Cities Tap Festival (Oct. 16-20), where this year’s Festival Concert will include members of New York City’s Dorrance Dance in collaboration with Northrop. It ends with the fourth annual MIXTAPE (May 15-17, 2020), a celebration of urban and street dance styles that’s always a joyous evening, with young and seasoned dancers sharing the stage and the audience cheering everyone on.

In between, James Sewell Ballet will present two new works by Jennifer Hart and Eve Schulte and remount Sewell’s “Opera Moves” (Oct. 25-27). Contemporary dance company Crash Dance Productions will perform “Proxy” (Nov. 22-24), inspired by the “brain in a vat” thought experiment. Following sold-out shows last year at the Lab, Ricci Milan & Rhythm Street Movement will bring their holiday-themed “Who Brought the Humbug?” to Hennepin Ave. (Dec. 5-15).

Who Brought the Humbug
Photo by Travis Anderson
Ricci Milan & Rhythm Street Movement will bring their holiday-themed “Who Brought the Humbug?” to Hennepin Ave.
A perennial audience favorite (but not part of the subscription season), Minnesota Dance Theatre’s “Carmina Burana” was controversial in 1978, when Loyce Houlton choreographed it. More than 50 years on, it’s still hot and performed to live music (Jan. 17-19, 2020).

Collide Theatrical will bring its reimagined “Romeo & Juliet” to the Goodale stage (Feb. 14-15, 21-23), with tap choreography by Kaleena Miller and music by Nirvana, the White Stripes, Lady Gaga and more, performed by vocalist Katy Gearty and members of the Minnesota Orchestra.

The Cowles’ MERGE performances, which pair two local dance companies/artists on the same bill, have now become a series. “MERGES in March” will feature Berit Ahlgren and Nathan Keepers (March 13-14), Penelope Freeh and Alanna Morris Van Tassel (March 20-21) and Hatch Dance (Helen Hatch) and STRONGmovement (Darrius Strong) presenting “Hybrid” (March 27-28).


Minnesota Dance Theatre will return with “The Enchantment,” based on the fairy tale “Twelve Dancing Princesses,” performed to live music (April 3-5). Ballet Co.Laboratory, which formed last fall when Zoé Emilie Henrot was fired as artistic director of St. Paul Ballet and all 10 company dancers followed her out the door, will present “Freddie – Break Free,” a contemporary ballet exploring Freddie Mercury’s life, set to music by Queen tribute band Ready Freddie with frontman Michael Hanna.

Zorongo Flamenco Dance Theatre will light up the stage with “Duende,” a program of live traditional flamenco music, song and dance (April 24-26). And TU Dance will bring its 16th season spring concert to the Cowles, with the world premiere of “Vanity Fare” by choreographer Marcus Jarrell Willis (May 1-3).

It’s a rich and varied season, diverse in many ways, and intriguing. Subscriptions are available now.

The picks

Tonight (Thursday, June 27) at Mia: Artist Talk: Julie Buffalohead. An enrolled member of the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma, Minneapolis-based Buffalohead makes narrative works on paper about the Indian cultural experience, her own life, nature, animals, and the commercialization of Native culture. They’re tender and biting at the same time. One of her recent works, “The Garden,” a commentary on the Walker’s “Scaffold” snafu, is included in “Hearts of Our People: Native Women Artists,” the life-changing show now at Mia. 6:30 p.m. FMI and tickets ($20/16/free to investor level members). Mia is open until 9 p.m. on Thursdays, and your ticket to the talk also gets you into the exhibit.

Lisa Fischer and Grand Baton perform Thursday night at the Dakota.
Photo by Djeneba Aduayom
Lisa Fischer and Grand Baton perform Thursday night at the Dakota.
Tonight at the Dakota: Lisa Fischer and Grand Baton. The 2013 documentary “20 Feet From Stardom” made Fischer famous. It opened the door to her own career as an artist fronting her own excellent band. Not that there’s anything wrong with being a background singer for the Stones, but Fischer is so much more than that– as a singer of astonishing range, a brilliant interpreter of all kinds of songs, a huge talent and a woman of great charisma. If you’ve seen her, you know all this and you probably have your tickets already. 7 and 9:30 p.m. FMI and tickets ($35-65).


Friday at Studio Z: Scott L. Miller: Ecosystemic Music for Kyma. Hear something ulra-new. Kyma is a visual programming language for sound design. Taavi Kerikmäe is an Estonian pianist, improviser, composer and electroacoustic musician. During a weeklong residency at Studio Z, Miller worked with both to create a new work of environmental sound art – or ecosystemic music – to be performed on electromagnetically prepared piano. The Kyma processes the sounds coming from Taavi’s piano, then returns them to the piano, and that’s what we hear. Miller and Kerikmäe will start the evening with a hands-on demonstration of the Kyma and piano system, with time for a Q&A. 6 p.m. demonstration, 7:30 p.m. concert. FMI and tickets ($15/10 students and seniors). Listen to some sample tracks.

Daisy Ridley as "Ophelia."
Courtesy of the Film Society of Minneapolis St. Paul
Daisy Ridley as "Ophelia."
Opens Friday at the Film Society’s St. Anthony Main Theatre: “Ophelia.” Do you love Daisey Ridley in “Star Wars”? And Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”? Worlds collide in Claire McCarthy’s retelling of the play, which shifts the focus away from Hamlet to Ophelia (Ridley) and boasts a dream cast: Naomi Watts as Gertrude, Clive Owen as Claudius, George MacKay as Hamlet. FMI including trailer, times and tickets. Don’t forget $5 Tuesdays.

Saturday and Sunday at the Ordway: One Voice Mixed Chorus: “Resistance and Resilience: Voices of the People.” Pride month continues with voices raised in songs of the African-American movement and the LGBT movement, both key to human rights still being hard fought. The program will include spirituals, blues, hip hop and songs from the civil rights movement, along with the Midwest premiere of “Quiet No More,” which tells the story of Stonewall. The marvelous Tesfa Wondemagegnehu will lead one of North America’s largest LGBT and straight allies community choruses. Saturday at 7:30 pm., Sunday at 2 p.m. FMI and tickets ($30-50).

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