Thursday, October 18, 2012

God votes 'no' in Minnesota: The religious case for marriage freedom and equality

Minneapolis, Minnesota

This documentary, from longtime Twin Cities journalist Matt Peiken, highlights the religious left and the fight for marriage freedom and equality in Minnesota. Peiken spent nearly a year interviewing faith leaders across a spectrum of beliefs, along with scholars, politicians, and everyday people – all discussing how their views of religious texts and traditions support marriage among any two consenting adults.

Friday, October 5, 2012

From Duluth to Twin Cities, Minnesota's dancers have tales to tell

Minneapolis, Minnesota

A small, partial survey of Minnesota's dance events during October makes clear that the state takes a back seat to no one when upholding its position as pillar of culture and civilization. Here are some of the many productions available from north to south this month.
University of Minnesota Duluth • Oct. 6

A residency by the Stuart Pimsler Dance and Theater at the University of Minnesota Duluth will culminate in a public performance at the Cesar Pelli-designed Weber Music Hall, 7:30pm, Saturday, Oct. 6. The Minneapolis-based company, which bills itself as "theater for the heart and mind," will display its modern dance range and sensibility in solo, duet, and group works drawn from its repertoire.

The SPDT program will include "Tales From the Book of Longing," conceived and directed by Stuart Pimsler and Suzanne Costello. Inspired by the poetry of Leonard Cohen, it received its premiere at the Guthrie Theater three years ago this month. Also on tap: "Islands," Pimsler's solo created in 1987 for the Contemporary Dance Theatre of Cincinnati, "The Men From the Boys," a duet from 1988, and "Word Game," a solo choreographed in 1968 by mentor Daniel Nagrin.

The Weber Music Hall is located at 1151 University Drive. Tickets, online, are $10 adults, $5 students, and free for UMD students. The Duluth News Tribune listed the performance as a "best bet" for the weekend in a preview article.

Another company from Minneapolis, Black Label Movement, has been conducting residency activities in Duluth since early September, working with Zeitgeist Arts and Stacie Luten's Dance Center. The company's evening-length "Wreck" will be performed in The Machine Shop of the Clyde Iron Works, 7:30pm, Tuesday and Wednesday, Oct. 9-10. 
"Wreck" • Clyde Iron Works, Duluth • Oct. 9-10 • Photo William Cameron

Choreographed by Carl Flink, a 2012 McKnight Artist Fellow, with original music by Mary Ellen Childs, "Wreck" was performed for the first time in January 2008 at the Southern Theater in Minneapolis. Flink, whose father was a crewman on a Great Lakes ore boat in the 1950s, has set the work "inside the last watertight compartment of a recently sunk ore boat resting on the bottom of Lake Superior." An ensemble of five musicians will perform with the dancers.

The Clyde Iron Works is located at 2920 West Michigan. Tickets are $10 adults, $5 students. Reserve them by sending an email to

The Catalyst Series at Intermedia Arts in Minneapolis will present the work of three women whose choreography has been commissioned in the past by the Momentum Series of the Walker Art Center and Southern Theater: Maia Maiden, Ellena Schoop, and Cathy Wright. Inspired by the Maya Angelou poem "Phenomenal Woman," the program, "This Was Meant for Women's Bodies," will take the stage at 8pm, Thursday through Sunday, Oct. 11-14.
Cathy Wright • Intermedia Arts • Oct. 11-14 • Photo Crystal Liepa

Wright's work also has been performed at the Bloomington Center for the Arts, Bryant-Lake Bowl, Patrick's Cabaret, the Walker Art Center's Choreographer's Evening, and the Minnesota Fringe Festival. I saw it for the first time in 2009 at the Ritz Theater's Renovate Choreographer's Evening. 

Next week, Wright will unveil three new dances: "Catherine Binds Wite Angels," a performance art piece with angel wings, chardonnay, acrylic painting, and song; "Accepting Mother's Nature, part 1," displaying her gothic aesthetic in response to questions posed by Maiden's work about body as culture; and "Encompassed," a dance and film on media perpetuation of the female body, created and performed with Maiden.

Intermedia Arts is located at 2822 Lyndale Avenue South. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door; available online or by phone at 612.871.4444.

The Minnesota Dance Theatre will present the second weekend of its fall performances at The Cowles Center for Dance in Minneapolis, Friday through Sunday, Oct. 12-14. Based on a classic Grimm's fairy tale, the program, "The Enchantment: 12 Dancing Princesses," features choreography by Lise Houlton. Music by Leos Janácek and Tim Linker will be performed by a strings and piano quintet. The Cowles Center is located at 516 Hennepin Avenue. Tickets are $26-$30, $20 students; available online or by phone at 612.206.3600.

Ritz Theater • Oct. 18-28
The Ballet of the Dolls will present "The Peruvian Nightingale," a re-telling of a Hans Christian Andersen tale about learning the difference between real love and infatuation, Oct. 18-28, at the Ritz Theater. The Ritz is located at 345 - 13th Avenue NE in Minneapolis. Tickets available online or by phone at 612.436.1129.

In Duluth, the Minnesota Ballet will reprise its 2011 production of "Dracula," at 7pm, Friday and Saturday, Oct. 19-20, at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center. The work "follows the grand tradition of Bram Stoker's Gothic tale of compulsion, suspense, seduction, and love." 

"Dracula" • Duluth • Oct. 19-20 • Photo Jeff Frey and Associates
The DECC is located at 350 Harbor Drive. Tickets are $10-$42. In a "Blood Drive for Dracula," one can donate blood to the Memorial Blood Centers and receive a voucher for buy-one, get-one free tickets. Call the Minnesota Ballet for more information, 218.529.3742.

Works of Edgar Allan Poe will animate James Sewell Ballet's fall performances at The Cowles Center in Minneapolis, Oct. 26-Nov. 4. The fall program also will be presented at the University of Minnesota Morris, Oct. 19.

For other performance offerings, check out DanceMN, The O'Shaughnessy, Ordway, Walker Art Center, Northrop Dance Series, Southern Theater, Red Eye Theater, and The Lab Theater, among many others. 

Updated Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012, 08:33am.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Works of Edgar Allan Poe animate James Sewell Ballet's fall performances, Oct. 26-Nov. 4

Minneapolis, Minnesota

The poetry and short stories of Edgar Allan Poe, a literary icon of American Romanticism, provide the grist for James Sewell’s choreographic mill and his company's new ballet, “Takes On Poe.” James Sewell Ballet will present the new work as part of a dance macabre-themed fall program at The Cowles Center for Dance in Minneapolis, Oct. 26-Nov. 4.

James Sewell Ballet • Oct. 26-Nov. 4 • Photo Erik Saulitis

For "Takes On Poe," Sewell draws animation from Poe’s poems “The Raven,” “Annabel Lee,” and “The Bells,” and the short stories “The Tell Tale Heart” and “The Cask of Amontillado,” all published in the 1840s. 

Born in Boston in 1809, Poe grew up in Richmond, Virginia, and gained renown as author, poet, editor, and literary critic before his death in Baltimore in 1849. He has been tagged as the “inventor of the modern detective story.”

The fall program also will include the classical “Giselle Pas De Deux,” and the revival of Sewell's “Grave Matters” (2011). Kathy Staszak designed costumes and Kevin A. Jones designed lighting for the program.

“An Autumn Scare,” a 60-minute matinee for families, Saturday, Oct. 27, will feature excerpts from the fall program and a costume parade across the stage for young audience members “as they are or will be” for Halloween.

Tickets are available on-line at, and by phone at 612.206.3600.

James Sewell Ballet's fall season follows on its performance, Oct. 12, at the Tuacahn Center for the Arts in St. George, Utah.

Updated: Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012, 08:37am: The company's fall program also will be presented at Edson Auditorium, University of Minnesota Morris, 7:30pm, Friday, Oct. 19. For tickets call 320.589.6077. A ballet master class, free and open to the public, will be offered in the Humanities Fine Arts building, Thursday, Oct. 18, 4pm-5:30pm.

Monday, October 1, 2012

48% of applicants receive grants for 2013 activities from Metropolitan Regional Arts Council

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Public funding for small arts organizations in the Twin Cities took a giant leap in 2010 when Arts and Cultural Heritage Funds became available after voters amended Minnesota's constitution to tax themselves for the arts and other purposes. Requests for 2013 arts funding continue to outpace available dollars, however, at least in one program administered by the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council. Overall in 2012, half of the organizations applying for all programs received grants.

Jeff Prauer, MRAC's executive director, reported in the agency's October newsletter that the board of directors approved 56 grants in September for the first round of the 2013 Arts Activities Support grant program. Those grants totaled $544,706, or an average of $9,726 each. According to Prauer, another 60 applications in that program round could not be funded. 

The $544,706, Prauer continued, "is just 18% of MRAC's total grants budget for the fiscal year. But it is also almost $50,000 more than MRAC awarded in BOTH rounds of the same program in fiscal year 2009, the last year before Arts and Cultural Heritage Funds became available."

There is no grant allocation formula among artistic disciplines. In a competitive process, review panels are convened to discuss applications in open meetings and make recommendations to the board of directors. Regular readers of Minnesota Mist will be interested to know that eight dance producing organizations received $79,500, or 14.6%, of September's Arts Activities grants. 

MRAC is one of 11 regional arts councils in Minnesota; it serves the seven counties of Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott, and Washington. MRAC receives its funding from three sources: an appropriation by the Minnesota Legislature from the state's general fund; the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund approved by voters; and designated funds from the McKnight Foundation.

According to MRAC's website, it received 840 grant applications from organizations in fiscal 2012 and awarded 419 grants totaling $2,738,936. It received 366 applications from individual artists to the Next Step Fund, supported by McKnight, and awarded 32 grants totaling $155,900. 

Updated October 2, 2012, 06:46am.