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Weekend picks: It’s hip-hop x 2 with Herb Johnson III at the Southern and BRKFST Dance + the Minnesota Orchestra

Plus: The Northside Art Crawl kicks off Thursday, Lynn Nottage’s “Sweat” is on stage at the Guthrie, Pao Houa Her exhibits photographs at the Walker and Margot Bassett Silver has a Silversmith album release show.

The cast of “Sweat,” currently playing at the Guthrie Theater’s proscenium stage.
The cast of “Sweat,” currently playing at the Guthrie Theater’s proscenium stage.
Photo by Dan Norman

There’s not one but two hip-hop related dance picks for you this weekend. Herb Johnson III presents “Static” at the Southern Theater, bringing his street dance aesthetic and artistry together for a new piece, while BRKFST Dance Company teams up with Orchestra Hall for breaking to Beethoven. For gritty realism from the not-too-distant past, the Guthrie presents Lynn Nottage’s “Sweat,” set in Reading, Pennsylvania. Meanwhile photographer Pao Houa Her also draws on recent history and current events for her solo show at the Walker, “Paj quam ntuj / Flowers of the Sky.” Also this week, north Minneapolis flows with art for the Northside Arts Crawl. Finally, Margot Bassett Silver brings together dancers, musicians, singers and visual artists for the release of her new album at Red Eye Theater.

‘Sweat’

Way back during the 2016 presidential race, you started hearing a lot about white working-class voters: folks who felt disenfranchised by their lot in life, especially in former industrial towns that used to have good factory jobs that had been dried up. These voters, it was said, found appeal in candidate Bernie Sanders, and also Donald Trump. After Trump won, and many were scratching their heads about how that could have happened, you started to see media coverage about America outside of cities. Why were people angry? What did they want? Lynn Nottage’s “Sweat,” currently playing at the Guthrie Theater’s proscenium stage, delves into this topic. The play takes place in Reading, Pennsylvania, in 2000 and 2008. In the earlier setting, factory workers, including a Black woman named Cynthia (Lynnette R. Freeman), who has just been promoted, converge at a local bar as a plant readies to reduce pay and benefits and/or make layoffs. In 2008, you see how the characters have fared since those events and the plant’s closing. It’s not good, and all are broken in some way.

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Like her Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Ruined,” Nottage’s “Sweat” is a mastery of building tensions and explosive, gutting violence. Aaron Preusse’s fight choreography adds a gruesome punch. The play, directed by Tamilla Woodard, investigates white male rage in ways that go beyond just disenfranchised voters to illuminate how incidents like the 2016 white supremacist riots in Charlottesville and the recent shopping center shooting in Buffalo, New York, might have happened. Terry Bell is particularly impactful as Cynthia’s son, Chris, and Twin Cities-based Antonio Rios-Luna also stands out as the Latino bar worker who becomes the focus of the factory workers’ anger when he crosses the picket line. Through Aug. 21 ($15-$80). More information here.

Flow: Northside Arts Crawl
West Broadway Coalition
Flow: Northside Arts Crawl

Flow: Northside Arts Crawl

The annual “Flow: Northside Arts Crawl” hits the West Broadway corridor and other north Minneapolis locations this weekend, for a weekend of studio tours, gallery openings, readings, discussions, films, gatherings and roller skating. Curated by choreographer/community organizer Kenna Cottman, the fest is hosted by the West Broadway Coalition. It lets north Minneapolis shine with all its creative abundance. Events take place both inside and outside of the Capri Theater and JXTA, including the JXTA Skate Plaza, as well as UROC, Emerge, Freedom Square, Farwell Park, Homewood Studios, and the Minnesota African American Heritage Museum and Gallery, and more. The kickoff party is Thursday, July 28, at the 4th Street Saloon from 7 to 10 p.m., sponsored by KFAI, where there will be DJs, MCs, fire dancers and comics, plus free tacos and vendors. The fun continues Friday and Saturday, so check the website for where to find African drumming, dance parties, mural making and more (free). More information here.

Untitled, Mt Shasta series 2
Photo by Pao Houa Her
Untitled, Mt Shasta series 2

Pao Houa Her: Paj quam ntuj / Flowers of the Sky

Artist Pao Houa Her takes viewers to the Mount Shasta region of Northern California, where culture and politics collide. A professor at the University of Minnesota, Pao often brings together the political, the cultural and the personal with subtle provocation and luminous artistry. In these works, Her uses large-format photographs to tell the story of Hmong farmers who have taken up subsistence farming and cannabis cultivation in the area, facing resistance by law enforcement and neighbors alike. Previously shown at the Walker, this is Her’s first solo exhibition at the museum. There will be an artist talk at 6 p.m. Thursday, July 28, in the Walker Cinema with chief curator Henriette Huldisch and public engagement, learning and impact head Amanda Hunt. The exhibition runs through Jan. 22, 2023. More information here.

Two dance picks

Two nights, two different shows. First up is “Herb Johnson III: Static.” Krump master and choreographer Herb Johnson III tries his hand at lighting design and music production as part of his presentation at the Southern Theater. Johnson’s work was seen most recently at the Cowles Center, and he’s also been a regular force in the hip-hop and contemporary dance scene, including Rooted: Hip Hop Choreographer’s Evening. Working with movement artists from around the country, Johnson has choreographed a piece about habits and the power of community. 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday at the Southern Theater ($17.40). More information here.

BRKFST Dance Company
Courtesy of BRKFST Dance Company
BRKFST Dance Company
Meanwhile, at Orchestra Hall BRKFST Dance Company performs to Beethoven’s “Grosse fuge,” performed by the Minnesota Orchestra. The break dancing group finds inspiration from Beethoven’s “fugue state” for a piece that uses chaos, fear and confusion as part of the choreography. The orchestra will also play Richard Strauss’ Four Last Songs and Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Before the show, head to the atrium as BRKFST performs Yaz Lancaster’s Potential Utility for two violins and fixed media with violinists Rebecca Corruccini and Milana Elise Reiche. 7:40 p.m. pre-show, 8 p.m. performance ($45-$95). More information here.

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Silversmith album release show

Vocalist and interdisciplinary artist Margot Bassett Silver brings together a full band, multiple vocalists, video projection and dancers for the release party for “soft skills,” her latest album. Bassett’s ethereal voice and vulnerable lyrics ponder love, life and tenderness. A graduate of South High School in Minneapolis, Bassett Silver had a stint in New York, and has performed with Meredith Monk and has toured internationally with artist/choreographer Emily Johnson/Catalyst. She’s spent the last 20 years here in Minneapolis performing in the experimental performance scene. The show features  Crystal Brinkman (drums), Crystal Myslajek (bass), and Gary Grundei (keys). Singers Autumn Brown, Dani Hans and Rachel Jendrzejewski also perform, along with dancers 2 dancers Anna Marie Shogren and Miré Regulus. Also watch out for video projection by Cully Gallagher and paintings by Owen Marciano. 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Red Eye Theater ($14-$44). More information here.