Martha Graham Dance Company Revisits Revolutionary Works

Categories: Dance

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Hibbard Nash Photography
Martha Graham Dance Company, "The Rite of Spring"
For the last three weeks, students from the University of Minnesota's dance program have been working hard to animate a work created 80 years ago by Martha Graham. This weekend, they will perform "Panorama" with the Martha Graham Dance Company at Northrop.

"'Panorama' is partly about a consciousness of injustice that caused people to collectively unite and make change," says Susan Kikuchi, a former Graham dancer who is working with the students. Graham was certainly committed to social justice; she protested anti-Semitism by refusing to go the Berlin Olympics in 1936 because she had Jewish dancers in her troupe. Graham was also one of the first choreographers to invite Asians and African Americans into her company.

These are values millennial students can certainly relate to, along with the idea of artists as rebels and visionaries.


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Shapiro & Smith Dance Explores Tableaux Vivants, Female Identities

Categories: Dance

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V. Paul Virtucio
When asked about the inspiration for her latest dance, "Tableau Vivant," Joanie Smith replies: "Whatever stops women in their tracks." Smith has been exploring the history of late 19th- and early 20th-century women who posed as living pictures on floats, in drawing rooms, and at patriotic celebrations around the country.

To Smith, these tableaux depicting allegorical or historical scenes were much more than theatrical forms. They became ways to explore newly emerging identities for women concerned with health, bodily freedom, political and social equality, and artistic expression.


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Tere O'Connor's BLEED Turns Crowds into Protagonists

Categories: Dance

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Paul Court
The cave of Pech-Merle in France contains ancient paintings of spotted horses, woolly mammoths, and wounded warriors overlapping and interspersed with imprints of hands and abstract lines and dots. Working periodically between 25,000 and 13,000 BCE, artists created three-dimensional moving friezes by flickering torchlight, using the contours of the cave walls to give their images depth and motion.

I viewed the partially eroded figures by flickering flashlight. It made for a richly kinetic conflation of mystery, history, and our own contemporary presence as tourists altering the fragile ecosystem of the cave. How modern those images looked to us! How ancient!

O'Connor's latest dance, BLEED, presented by Walker Art Center this weekend, braids chronology and superimposes images in similar ways. Over the two-year process of creation, movement material was generated and sometimes partially erased only to resurface in different contexts and locations within the work. Historical and contemporary references bled into one another, reconfigured.


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2014 Year in Review: Dance and Performance Art

Categories: Dance
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Photo by Bruce Silcox
Eric Avery
With its rich catalog of independent choreographers, innovative companies, grand theaters, and intimate spaces, in 2014 the Twin Cities proved itself once again to be a fabulous place to experience dance and performance. Here are a few of our favorites in a year that outdid itself. 


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Choreographer Megan Mayer Orbits Around Soft Fences at Red Eye

Categories: Dance
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Megan Mayer, Soft Fences
This weekend, choreographer Megan Mayer will present a new work at Red Eye Theater that draws inspiration from astronauts, and uses outer space as a metaphor for life's transitions. Incorporating video created by Mayer and Kevin Obsatz, Soft Fences centers on the idea of not being here nor there. It also explores the idea of an object in orbit, exquisitely balanced between gravity and momentum -- until something comes in its path.

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Kenna-Camara Cottman Takes Reins at Choreographers' Evening

Categories: Dance
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Photo by Gene Pittman
From left, Wealthy Phonseya (INC), Travis Johnson (INC), Blake Nellis, Deneane Richburg, Lisa Berman (INC), Madeline Howie (INC), Taja Will, Darrius Strong (STRONGmovement).

The annual Choreographers' Evening at the Walker Art Center is back once again for a post-Thanksgiving celebration of local dancers and makers. This year features a lineup of artists chosen by local choreographer Kenna-Camara Cottman. Cottman, who has performed in Choreographers' Evening in the past and was presented by the Walker and the Southern Theater in Momentum in 2011, has chosen a diverse collection of artists, and is especially showcasing artists of color in the Twin Cities. 


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TU Dance Premieres Work by Icelandic Choreographer Katrin Hall

Categories: Dance
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Photo by Brandon Stengel
Dancer: Alanna Morris-Van Tassel
This weekend, TU Dance premieres a new work by Icelandic choreographer Katrin Hall for a commission by the O'Shaughnessy. The evening will also include a work about Henrietta Lacks and the HeLa cell, choreographed by TU's co-artistic director Uri Sands; a duet by Sands, called High Heel Blues; and a full-company contemporary ballet piece, titled If and Or, choreographed by Dwight Rhoden.

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Right Here Showcase Highlights Minnesota-Based Performers

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Gadu
Paul Herwig, co-artistic director of Off-Leash Area, presents a brand-new showcase of local performing talent at the JSB Tek Box this weekend and next. The artists, who come from various disciplines within the performing arts, were given a stipend to create new works or re-envision current works. This weekend's The Right Here Showcase features performances by puppet theater artist Bart Buch, Butoh dance performance artist Gadu DouShin, and contemporary dance artist Deborah Jinza Thayer. The following week's show will offer contemporary dance with Rosy Simas, and Vanessa Voskuil will present alongside multidisciplinary theater artist Kym Longhi. We talked to Paul Herwig over email about the new project. 


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Faustin Linyekula and Panaibra Gabriel Canda Perform at the Walker

Categories: Dance
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Photo by Agathe Poupeny
Faustin Linyekula
This Friday and Saturday, the Walker Art Center presents two solo dance pieces created by choreographers from the continent of Africa: Faustin Linyekula, from Congo, and Panaibra Gabriel Canda, from Mozambique. The works, which will be performed on different nights, are billed together as "Tales of Home: Congo/Mozambique." Both pieces examine each artist's personal journeys within the context of colonialism and post-colonialism in their respective countries.

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The Jennifer Easton Community Spirit Awards Honors Native Artists This Weekend

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Photo courtesy First Peoples Fund
Jody Naranjo Folwell-Turip
The Twin Cities award season continues this weekend at the Cowles Center with the Jennifer Easton Community Spirit Awards, featuring a diverse range of American Indian artists practicing poetry, traditional dancing, music, hip hop, and more. Held at the Cowles Center for the second time, the celebration, presented by the First Peoples Fund has been going strong for 15 years, honoring Native artists, leaders, and teachers who work in their communities to preserve tradition. 


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