Thursday, April 16, 2009

Spring vignettes

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Absent spring and summer foliage, the water level on the shores of Pelican Lake in central Minnesota's Monticello Township appears high and gray against the contrasting brown shadings of the surrounding landscape. Adjacent farmland that has been plowed and disked needs rain while awaiting spring planting. A drive through the area in today's balmy 65º under mostly sunny skies provided metaphorical optimism about the prospects of all who use this time to prepare and position themselves to harvest the fruits of the economic recovery!

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Zenon Dance Company
's 26th spring season, inaugurated at the Ritz Theater in Minneapolis tonight, features a varied program that highlights the formidable strengths of the company's four male dancers. Gregory Waletski's accomplished solo in Seán Curran's 2008 quartet, "Hard Bargain," set to Handel opera arias, is worth the price of admission by itself. Mary Ann Bradley excels as the dancing master of ceremonies in "Elegant Echoes," Danny Buraczeski's distinctive jazz work from 2007 to music by Jelly Roll Morton. The premiere of "Not From Texas" by Megan McClellan and Brian Sostek offers a gloriously upbeat but annoyingly one-note paean to the whimsical virtues of cowboys – and so many virtues! Andrea Miller's "Picnic, Lightning" may become an acquired taste with repeated servings; the Chopin-flavored portions tickled my palate the most. The season continues through Apr. 26. Tickets at 612.436.1129.

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"If you remember the 60s, you weren't there. …When I moved to New York City in my 20s and lived in the Village, I went to therapy because it was in the lease." So said folk music legend Judy Collins while holding court for four, standing room performances at the Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapolis, Apr. 6-7, accompanied by Russell Walden on piano and herself on 12-string guitar. The gig was a ramp-up to her engagement at Café Carlyle in Manhattan's Carlyle Hotel, Apr. 21-May 30. The year 2009 is one of milestones for the Seattle-born Collins: she turns 70 on May 1; celebrates 50 years of paid singing since her start at Michael's Pub in Boulder, Colorado; and marks 40 years since her appearance on the cover of Life magazine, May 2, 1969. The chanteuse also is an author ("Sanity and Grace, A Journey of Suicide, Survival and Strength"). Her Apr. 7 interview on the Midmorning program of Minnesota Public Radio can be heard here.

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The opening of the 2009 Minnesota Twins Season, Apr. 6, a joint production with the visiting Seattle Mariners ensemble, lacked inspiration and dramatic arc. Most of the performers from both groups were not of the first rank. Joe Mauer, a star on the Twins' roster, was sidelined for the evening by injuries. Promising but disjointed high points during the performance neither satisfied nor went anywhere, and Minnesota's personnel missed several opportunities for showmanship.
Minnesota's ensemble sported new ensembles that included white costumes trimmed in red, accented with fire-red caps. Judges statistics: No errors; Minnesota performers 6 hits, 1 run, 7 left on; Seattle performers 6 hits, 6 runs, 1 left on. Audience: Sold out for ninth consecutive year at 48,514. Those seated in the cheaper sections behaved with manners and sat still to watch the program, while better-heeled patrons moved about with restless moodiness. The season continues with 181 performances through Oct. 4.

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