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Weekend picks: Jim Denomie’s Sweet Dreams, Cyrille Aimée at the Dakota, and Black Violin at the Ordway

Denomie, a beloved fixture in the Twin Cities arts community, died of cancer on March 1. 

“Four Days and Four Nights, Blue Green River” by Jim Denomie
“Four Days and Four Nights, Blue Green River” by Jim Denomie
Courtesy of the Jim Denomie Estate and Bockley Gallery ©2021

On March 1, the world lost a great one when artist Jim Denomie died. The painter and sculptor was a beloved fixture in the Twin Cities arts community, and had made waves both nationally and internationally for his cutting humor about current events and Native American issues, as well as beautiful works filled with dreams, whimsy as well as everyday life. If you were touched by Denomie’s art, or if you want to see the work of an incredible Minnesota artist, consider heading out to ArtReach St. Croix for an upcoming exhibition. You can read more about it below, as well as my other picks, including the return of international performance to the Walker, and an adaptation of Benjamin Britten’s “The Rape of Lucretia,” finally coming to fruition after pandemic delays. There’s also a combined performance with the Minnesota Chorale and Border CrosSing; a Sondheim concert by French jazz singer Cyrille Aimée at the Dakota; and hip hop violin/viola duo Black Violin, making their triumphant return to the Ordway. 

Jim Denomie: Sweet Dreams
Jim Denomie’s death from cancer happened just as his career was blossoming. In the past few years, his work was shown in Europe and Latin America, had a gallery exhibition in Portland, and was preparing for a large solo exhibition at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. He was also preparing for an exhibition of his work at the ArtReach St. Croix gallery in Stillwater as part of an NEA Big Reads initiative. Before he died, he asked gallerist Todd Bockley, from Bockley Gallery, to bring the exhibition to fruition with works he had selected that centered around themes based on “An American Sunrise” by poet Joy Harjo. Bockley worked with Emily Marsolek, also from Bockley Gallery, to put together, “Jim Denomie, Sweet Dreams.” The opening reception takes place 6 p.m. – p.m. Thursday, March 31 at ArtReach St. Croix and runs through May 7 (free). More information here. 

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Radouan Mriziga: Akal
The audience will take a seat on stage for the return of international performance at the Walker Art Center’s McGuire Theater. “Akal,” is named after the word for Earth spoken in the Indigenous Tamazight language of Northern Africa. Rwandan dancer/singer Dorothée Munyaneza brings to life the of ancient Egypt goddess Neith, in a piece conceived by Moroccan-born, Brussels-based choreographer Radouan Mriziga. In past work, Mriziga has taken an architectural approach to his performance work, creating movement that is integrated into the space around it. With this latest piece, the choreographer finds inspiration from myth, memory, and suppressed stories as part of his artistic vision. 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 30 through Saturday, April 2 at the Walker Art Center ($28.50). More information here.

An Opera Theatre returns to live theater with their postponed production from March 2020: “The Rape of Lucretia.”
An Opera Theatre
An Opera Theatre returns to live theater with their postponed production from March 2020: “The Rape of Lucretia.”
The Rape of Lucretia
An Opera Theatre takes on the challenging subject matter of sexual violence and patriarchal structures with its production of Benjamin Britten’s chamber opera, “The Rape of Lucretia.” The company is working in partnership with four different community groups focused on advocating for victims of domestic and sexual violence as well as human rights, and there will be trained therapists on hand for anyone that needs it. Directed by Teresa Mock, with music direction by Lara Bolton and choreography by Jennifer Mack, the performance gets realized in the disheveled beauty of the Southern Theater, with both singers and dancers telling the story. 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 1 and Saturday, April 2, 4 p.m. April 3 at the Southern Theater ($20, pay as able $5-35). More information here.

Puentes : Creer / Bridges : Believe

Anaida Carquez
Anaida Carquez
The Minnesota Chorale teams up with Border CrosSing, for a concert featuring choral works by composers from Cuba, Brazil, Venezuela and Ecuador. The title takes the Spanish word “Creemos,” meaning “We believe,” and references the concept of syncretism, meaning when different religions and cultures get amalgamated together. The second in a series of collaborative concerts between the two groups, the program will be conducted by  Venezuelan conductor Anaida Carquez, who is currently based in Miami and directs Amazonia Vocal Ensemble. 7 p.m. Saturday, April 2 at Ascension Church (free). More information here

Cyrille Aimée
With her easy, flowing voice and her scatting skills, New Orleans-based singer Cyrille Aimée is accomplished in the jazz manouche style. She was even born to a French father and Dominican mother in the same town as Django Reinhardt, who brought that style of music to the world. She’s won the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Competition and Montreux Jazz Fest Competition, been nominated for a Grammy, and performed in the 2013 New York City Center Production of “A Bed and a Chair: A New York Love Story,” along with Broadway stars like Bernadette Peters, Jeremy Jordan, Norm Lewis. And on Friday, she stops at the Dakota. 7 p.m. ($30-40). More information here. 

Viola and violin duo Wil Baptiste and Kev Marcus
Courtesy of the Ordway
Viola and violin duo Wil Baptiste and Kev Marcus
Black Violin
Viola and violin duo Wil Baptiste and Kev Marcus layer hip hop beats into classical repertoire for a mashup that’s at once virtuosic and contemporary. The two met at a performing arts high school in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, then after attending separate colleges, shot to fame soon after they began playing together. Alicia Keys discovered them and asked them to play with her at the Billboard Awards. Since then, the two have played with Wu-Tang Clan, and appeared on the Tonight Show in addition to touring widely (breaking for the pandemic) and doing educational outreach. You can catch the family friendly, high energy show at the Ordway at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, April 3 at the Ordway ($55-75). More information here.