It’s not too late to schedule in a Day of the Dead date for yourself as the Festival de las Calaveras returns to the Cedar Cultural Center for an evening of Latin-focused music and culture. Also this week, Theon Cross transfixes with his next-level Tuba playing, Huge Improv Theater shows off its new digs, and composer Emily Boyajian shares her 30-song cycle about the transgender experience at the Hook & Ladder. Also this week, Dreamsong opens “Tide / Pool,” featuring artist Kristen Sanders, and a new exhibit highlights Minnesota dance history.
‘Dance Roots: Minnesota’s Movers and Shakers’
Since 1971, the Performing Arts Archives at the University of Minnesota has been a place to preserve records related to the history of theater, music and dance here in Minnesota. Located in the Andersen Library, the archives are a treasure trove of historical materials, photographs, programs and more from the companies and artists that have entrusted their legacy to the archive for safekeeping. An exhibition now on view at the Andersen Center culls from that archive (and also features loaned items), offering a window into the folks that have built Minnesota’s thriving dance community of today. There’s a wealth of content from the past, like a poster of The Andahazy Ballet Company, which formed in 1952, and a photograph of Zoe Sealy of Minnesota Jazz Dance Company in 1972. Wander through the displays and you peek back into the era of the Minnesota Dance Alliance, formed in 1979, and the precursor to Zenon Dance Company, Ozone Dance. The exhibition has a few costumes on display as well, and a bench used by Black Label Movement for their seminal work “Wreck.”
There’s a richly detailed focus on ballet and modern dance in Minnesota, with additional nods to tap, performance-art leaning contemporary dance and non-western dance traditions. In general, dance presented in the last 10 to 15 years is a bit more sparse than the older material, with a number of important artists and companies making work not included (perhaps because that material hasn’t been archived yet). Still, the exhibition is worth experiencing to see the wealth of dance history here in Minnesota. The exhibition runs through Jan. 24 at the Andersen Library. More information here.
Theon Cross w/ special guest Dosh: Expansive Tuba Grooves
British Tuba player Theon Cross pushes the instrument into new territory with his exquisite playing that blurs genres, drawing from jazz, funk and Afro-Caribbean music in what he calls “Afro-Diaspora Music.” A master of breath control, his songs will help you find your groove. Multi-instrumentalist Dosh joins him for the show. Thursday, Nov. 2, at 7 p.m. ($35). More information here.
Huge’s grand opening
After holding a soft opening last weekend, the comic wizards at Huge Improv Theater are hosting a Grand Opening Celebration after moving into their new location on Lyndale Avenue. You may recall the company announced plans to move a number of years back after finding out the landlord of their former space donated to noted white supremacist and anti-semitic politician David Duke. They’ve finally ready to settle into their new home in a building the organization owns. This week, they’re hosting a two-part celebration, featuring improvisers past and present. It all takes place Friday, Nov. 3, with the first half at 7:30 p.m. and the second half at 8:30 p.m. at Huge. ($10-20) More information here.
Transition: A concert of queer and trans Pride and Wrath
Composer Emily Boyajian’s 30-song cycle for 2 voices and 11 instruments comes to the Hook & Ladder, traversing both the joys and difficulties of the transgender experience. Boyajian composed the work for the Cedar Commissions, premiering it last February. Now she shares the operatic medley as part of an evening of music that also features queer-themed songs by Kay Jay Olson and a performance by Emily Kastrul of Sister Species and Lisa Harrigan, who along with Kastrul performs with Betazoid. Friday, Nov. 3, at 7:30 p.m. at the Hook & Ladder ($10-15). More information here.
Día de los Muertos Concert + Fandango
Deborah Ramos, local Latinx artist, organized a new Día de los Muertos called Festival de las Calaveras, bringing together musicians, artists, community organizations and families together for a celebration of Latin identity and culture. The festival has flourished over the years, welcoming international artists based around the U.S. This year’s festival culminates with a concert featuring Cuban singer and multi-instrumentalist Yaite Ramos Rodriguez, aka La Dame Blanche, who mixes hip-hop, cumbia, dancehall and reggae in her danceable music. Also performing are Jarana Beat from New York City, Chicha Roots from Chicago, and a number of Twin Cities-based groups. Outside at Cedar Plaza, there’ll be live art, folkloric dance, spoken word, face painting, food and more. Saturday, Nov. 4, at 6 p.m. at The Cedar Cultural Center ($15 advance, $20 day of show). More information here.
‘Tide / Pool’
A curious seascape unfolds at Dreamsong gallery, when St. Paul-based artist Kristen Sanders returns for her second solo exhibition. In “Tide / Pool,” Sanders presents a series of what she calls portraits, but the works might challenge your assumptions about what a portrait looks like as she culls imagery from a fantastical beach. In a painting called ““Mega,” (2023), a giant seashell rests on a cliff — or perhaps the shoulders of a particularly craggy person. Another piece, “Body Thing” (2023), shows a hand holding what could be a fragment of a shell, with an ominous eye gazing out of it. Sanders’ eerie creations ponder notions of the self, and upend distinctions between the mind and the body. Come take a look at the opening reception on Saturday, Nov. 4, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Dreamsong (free). More information here.