Dance, theater and music will return to the Walker Art Center’s McGuire Theater this fall after what feels like an interminable absence. COVID forced the Walker to shift as many in-person programs online as it could. Among the events we lost was the Walker’s co-presentation with MPR of the trailblazing Kronos Quartet with minimalist master Terry Riley. In April 2020, it was rescheduled for October 2020, but we know how that went. Kronos will be here (at the Fitzgerald Theater) in March 2022, with a different program but without Riley.
This summer, the Walker presented live concerts on the center’s lush green hillside. Some had been planned as ticketed events in the McGuire, but performing arts curator Philip Bither put them outdoors for free. Crowds gathered for avant-garde and modern jazz by Irreversible Entanglements, Jaimie Branch’s Fly or Die and Joel Ross’s Good Vibes.
Late October will find us indoors again, fingers crossed. Although the Walker has so far announced only its fall 2021 plans, with winter and spring still to come, it’s enough of a start to make us think, “They’re back! Let’s go!”
Here’s what we know. (And here’s a trailer, if you want a quick glance at each.)
Oct. 22-23 in the McGuire: The Era Footwork Crew: “In the Wurkz.” Footwork is a music-and-dance form based in Chicago. The Era is a company of fast-footed dancers and 160 BPM DJs rooted on Chicago’s Southside. “In the Wurkz” combines frenetic, rhythmically complex movement and music with video art and poetry to tell the dancers’’ personal histories. This will get the season off to a hot start. FMI and tickets ($28.50, $22.50 Walker members). See a free pop-up performance on Thursday, Oct. 21.
Oct. 29 in the McGuire: Kayhan Kalhor and Brooklyn Rider. Kalhor plays the kamancheh, aka spiked fiddle, a Persian bowed string instrument. As one writer noted, “It plays on the knee and looks like a bone.” Brooklyn Rider is a Brooklyn-based contemporary string quartet. Contemporary and classical music will meet in this co-presentation with the Schubert Club’s Mix series, rescheduled from 2020-21. FMI and tickets ($35.50, $28.50 Walker members and Schubert Club subscribers).
Nov. 10-14 at Northrop: Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company: “Afterwardsness.” Jones has had long relationships with both the Walker and Northrop, co-presenters of this engagement. His new work addresses the isolation and trauma of the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and ongoing violence against Black bodies. The audience of 180 will be seated on the Northrop stage, and the entire company will perform among them. The music will include a violin solo for George Floyd by Pauline Kim Harris, a new vocal composition by Holland Andrews and excerpts from Messiaen’s “Quartet for the End of Time.” Bring Kleenex. FMI and tickets ($60; $45 Walker members and Northrop subscribers).
Nov. 27 in the McGuire: Choreographers’ Evening 2021: Curated by Valerie Oliveiro. A post-Thanksgiving tradition since the early 1970s (except for last year, when it took place this year in June), the Choreographer’s Evening is always unique and never predictable. There will be two performances, at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. The 7 p.m. performance will also be livestreamed. Born in Singapore, based in Minneapolis, Oliveiro is a queer transdisciplinary performance maker and a co-artistic director of Red Eye Theater. FMI and tickets ($28.50, $22.50 Walker members).
Again, this isn’t the whole 2021-22 Performing Arts season; not yet. But what a great start.
For all indoor (and some outdoor) events now and into the future, unless a miracle occurs, expect to follow the most current COVID-19-related requirements and guidelines, which you’ll find on the presenters’ websites.
V is for virtual, L is for live and in person.
V and L Now at Northern Clay Center: American Pottery Festival 2021. Northern Clay calls its annual American Pottery Festival (this will be the 23rd) a “fundraising benefit,” but it’s really shopping nirvana for anyone who appreciates studio pottery. Plus workshops and artist talks, social hours, demonstrations, and a focus on why clay matters within the context of this year’s challenges. All 29 invited guest artists from across the country have work available for purchase. You can shop online anytime, download a catalog to peruse and page through, make a gallery appointment to shop in person ($5-35) or sign up for the personal shopping service (it may be a little late for that, but worth a try). Through Sept. 5. FMI.
L Starts Friday, Sept. 3, at the Trylon: Buster and Jackie. What a thoughtful and unusual pairing: Buster Keaton silents, screened to live musical accompaniment, paired with Jackie Chan films, because Chan loved silents and modeled many of his stunts after those he had seen Keaton do. You can see just the Keatons, just the Chans, or both, which is obviously the way to take in this monthlong residency of two masters. The music for the Keatons will be performed by Karen Majewicz and Andy McCormick, known as Dreamland Faces, who write and perform original scores for silent films. (The StarTribune’s Jenna Ross wrote a good story about them.)
Each film will be shown on all three days. Here’s the schedule: Friday-Sunday, Sept. 3-5: “Three Ages” (Buster Keaton, 1923) and “Project A” (Jackie Chan, 1983). Friday-Sunday, Sept. 10-12: “Spite Marriage” (Buster Keaton, 1929) and “Drunken Master II” (Jackie Chan, 1994). Friday-Sunday, Sept. 17-19: “Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow” (Jackie Chan, 1978), preceded by “The Scarecrow” (a short by Keaton, 1920). Friday-Sunday, Sept. 24-26: “Sherlock Jr.” (Buster Keaton, 1924) and “Rumble in the Bronx” (Jackie Chan, 1995). FMI, times and tickets ($12 for the Keatons with live music; $8 for the Chans without). P.S. If you enjoy Stephen Prutsman’s performances with Accordo (“Accordo with Silent Film”), you’ll probably like the Keaton films with Dreamland Faces.
L Saturday, Sept. 4, 8 p.m. at Mears Park: 7th Annual Film Score Fest. Formerly the MNKINO Film Score Fest, formerly held indoors at the Science Museum, this event has been moved outdoors for COVID safety and because Mears Park is cool. Eighteen new Minnesota-made short films will be screened to original scores performed live by the 16-musician Film Score Fest Orchestra. The filmmakers and composers were randomly paired at the start; the theme this year was “adapt.” Films were made at home or outdoors during quarantine. $15 suggested donation via Kickstarter or in person at the event, to cover the costs of moving the festival outdoors. Bring a lawn chair. FMI. Facebook event page (with map).
L Starts Saturday, Sept. 4, at Frogtown Park & Farm: Wonderlust Productions: “Hopscotch: Pop-Up Plays about the Future.” Wonderlust always thinks big. Instead of just sitting down to write a play, co-artistic directors Alan Berks and Leah Cooper convene groups of people to talk, share their own stories, and throw out ideas for what Wonderlust calls “projects”: the Capitol Play Project (set and produced in the Minnesota State Capitol), the Adoption Play Project, the Veterans Play Project. (Wonderlust recently created and published a graphic novel based on the Adoption Play Project.)
The latest? An outdoor series of 10-minute science-fiction plays prompted by the question, “What would the future look like if we actually applied what we have been learning about ourselves and society?” The playwrights: Alayna Jacqueline, Alan Berks, Leah Cooper, Becky Dale, Antonio Duke, John Heimbuch, JuCoby Johnson, Kira Obolensky, Oogie Push and Katie Ka Vang. The actors: Laurel Armstrong, Nathan Barlow, Jennifer Blagen, Katie Bradley, Ernest Briggs, Javari Horne, Dominique Jones, George Keller, Megan Kim, Kurt Kwan, Ian McCarthy, Ariel Pinkerton, Siddeeqah Shabazz, Julia Valen, Adam Whisner and Payton Woodson. The 10 plays are divided into two sets, A and B, each presenting five short plays in one hour. Reserve/see one or both. Sept. 4-5 at Frogtown Park & Farm, Sept. 11-12 at Newell Park. FMI, times and tickets (pick-your-price, suggested $15 for one show, $25 for both). Want to get a sense of what this is like before you commit? Here’s a preview audio play by Berks featuring Tracey Maloney and Randy Reyes.