2014 Year in Review: Dance and Performance Art

Categories: Dance
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
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
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
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

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
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

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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Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker Brings Historic Work to the Walker

Categories: Dance
Jean-Luc Tanghe
Rosas danst Rosas, 1983
As part of Walktoberfest festivities celebrating the Walker Art Center's 75th anniversary, acclaimed Belgian choreographer Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker brings her groundbreaking dance Rosas danst Rosas to the museum this week. As an added bonus, de Keersmaeker will be performing in tonight's sold-out show.

The work, which blends rigid structure and repetition with extreme physicality and achingly personal gestures, has brought many a journalist to ask the choreographer if she views it as feminist piece, which she fiercely denied in the early days. Thirty-one years later, Keersmaeker says her views on whether she's a feminist have shifted.

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Minnesota Dance Theatre's Edifice Wrecks (Unabridged) at the Lab [REVIEW]

Categories: Dance
Photo by Jeff Pedersen
Architecture becomes an integral character in Edifice Wrecks, an evening of work that explores how we move through the world we live in, and what lies behind and underneath the artifices that are built around us. The Minnesota Dance Theatre production opened last weekend at the Lab Theater, and continues this weekend. The unabridged version of the piece, which debuted at the Cowles Center last year, was choreographed by Lise Houlton in collaboration with Dane Stauffer. MDT's performance showcases a talented young group of dancers, with some breathtaking lighting design by Marcus Dillard. 

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April Sellers's Girlywood Comes to Intermedia Arts

Categories: Dance
Photo by Jennifer Glaws
Who says feminism is dead? The F-word rises from the ashes like the phoenix, as evidenced by a new evening of work coming from choreographer April Sellers, hitting the Intermedia Arts stage this weekend as part of the Catalyst Series. Sellers hopes the works will entertain and engage audiences in a dialogue about different perspectives of feminism across generations. Along with her two pieces, the evening of work, titled Girlywood, also includes dances created by Laurie Van Wieren and Kenna Cottman, two women choreographers whose work, while not explicitly propagating a feminist perspective, offers a diversity of viewpoints that Sellers hopes to include in the dialogue. 

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