Author Archive
Sod House Theater and the Chmielewski Funtime Polka Band in "Hoopla Train"

Sod House Theater and the Chmielewski Funtime Polka Band in “Hoopla Train”

A blonde-haired boy of about nine sat in a dimly lit room, waiting for his guardian to finish up work in the kitchen. A half-finished beverage–red, in a hurricane glass, and garnished with a celery stalk–sat next to him. He was absorbed in a game on his phone in this sleepy dance hall with very tired looking...
Alarmél Valli Celebrates Ragamala Dance Company's 25th Anniversary

Alarmél Valli Celebrates Ragamala Dance Company’s 25th Anniversary

Ragamala Dance Company marked its 25th Anniversary at the Cowles Center in Minneapolis on September 14th and 16th. I attended the Saturday night concert featuring Bharatanatyam dancer and choreographer Alarmél Valli, with musicians C.K. Vasudevan (nattuvangam), Vasuda Ravi (vocal), M. Dhananjayan (mridangam), G.Raghuraman (flute), and Akkari Swarnalatha (violin). Valli is a legendary figure in Bharatanatyam dance;...
Donald Byrd on Disruption and Using Dance as a Social Civic Instrument in (Im)Pulse

Donald Byrd on Disruption and Using Dance as a Social Civic Instrument in (Im)Pulse

Donald Byrd of Spectrum Dance Theater gives insight on theater of disruption and his new work (Im)Pulse, which is inspired by two artists’ works: David Wojnarowicz, a painter, photographer, writer, filmmaker, performance artist, and AIDS activist and playwright Brian Quirk. (Im)Pulse is a two-part dance theater work made in response to the Orlando Pulse Nightclub tragedy and the ongoing aggression towards LGBTQ people....
{ Dd } Response: MIXTAPE at the Cowles

{ Dd } Response: MIXTAPE at the Cowles

On May 19, 2017, a collective of Twin Cities dance artists who range in upbringing, generation, and relationship to dance genres took to the Cowles Center stage for the opening night performance of MIXTAPE. Their goal? To ask and answer the question, “What is Hip Hop?” The cast was lead by a team of seven...
{ Dd } Response: "Titicut Follies" is Literal, Limited

{ Dd } Response: “Titicut Follies” is Literal, Limited

Earlier this spring, I spoke with three of the four-man team responsible for Titicut Follies: The Ballet. These artist shared thoughts on the Frederick Wiseman film that inspired their project – a film that was banned until the late 80s – and the facility that inspired that film – the Bridgewater Institute for the Criminally Insane. The infamous...
A Conversation with the Creators of "Titicut Follies: the Ballet"

A Conversation with the Creators of “Titicut Follies: the Ballet”

Frederick Wiseman’s film Titicut Follies (1967)–shot in the Bridgewater Institute for the Criminally Insane– inspired a new, full-length dance work choreographed by James Sewell to an original score composed by Lenny Pickett. The project was made possible after Wiseman received a Fellowship from The Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University, an organization that aims to...
{ Dd } Response: "Oyate Okodakiciyapi" at The Ordway

{ Dd } Response: “Oyate Okodakiciyapi” at The Ordway

In May 2016, I had the pleasure of attending a free master class with Indigenous choreographer Rulan Tangen. The class kicked off a multi-year Ordway Center for Performing Arts community engagement series, guided by an advisory council and curatorial team led by Native and Indigenous community leaders with the goal of promoting and practicing cultural artistic...
Shifting Between Worlds: An Interview with Cherice Barton

Shifting Between Worlds: An Interview with Cherice Barton

Dance – in particular, ballet –  is what Cherice Barton calls “church.”  One of 3 sisters- all of whom are professional dance artists- Barton attended tap, jazz, and ballet classes from a very young age. But early in life, she dreamed of being an actress, taking acting lessons as a child and even participating in some plays. “Aside...
{ Dd } Response: Dancers Shine in "The Hip Hop Nutcracker"

{ Dd } Response: Dancers Shine in “The Hip Hop Nutcracker”

I love a good remix. So, I jumped at the chance to see The Hip Hop Nutcracker at the Ordway Center for Performing Arts on Tuesday, November 22, 2016. As I walked through the lobby doors that evening, hip-hop songs from the 1980s through modern day reverberated throughout the space. Curious to see where the...
Settling In and Opening Up: Excerpts of an Interview with Deborah Jowitt

Settling In and Opening Up: Excerpts of an Interview with Deborah Jowitt

Alejandra Iannone catches up with the legendary critic, dancer, choreographer, author, and teacher upon the occasion of her receiving the 2016 “Educational Visionary” Lifetime Achievement Award from Mark DeGarmo Dance. The following are excerpts of a longer conversation about her career, writing process, and advice for younger artists and writers.
Combustible Company's "Bluebeard's Dollhouse" is Brave, Though Busy

Combustible Company’s “Bluebeard’s Dollhouse” is Brave, Though Busy

The power of secrets. Violence. Marriage. What scarier ways could there be to usher in Halloween?   I started my October off with the world premiere of “Bluebeard’s Dollhouse,” a new, promenade-style production that merges theater, dance, puppetry and live music, and takes place throughout St. Paul’s historic James J. Hill House. In this work, Combustible...
{ Dd } Response: Pilobolus' Minnesota Marathon

{ Dd } Response: Pilobolus’ Minnesota Marathon

Pilobolus makes me wonder: Is that dancer being lifted by the neck, or is it just a clever illusion? Have I ever seen someone’s spine move like that? How strong am I? The company, dating from 1971, mixes theatricality with Herculean strength and a surgeon’s precision to create spectacular moving images that soothe and startle. Their May 20th...
{ Dd } Response: TAIKO Project is Powerful, Precise

{ Dd } Response: TAIKO Project is Powerful, Precise

The Ordway Center for Performing Arts shook with the sounds of Los Angeles’ TAIKO Project— a contemporary look at the sights and sounds of traditional Taiko drumming— on Saturday, April 23rd. TAIKO Project ‘s choreographed, rhythmic performance sent through the seats, walls, and floors vibrations so strong that I wondered how things were going for...
{ Dd } Response:  Crude and Classic Mix in "Bullets"

{ Dd } Response: Crude and Classic Mix in “Bullets”

As I left the Ordway Center for Performing Arts on April 14th, yellow streamers caught onto my boots and dragged along the floor behind me, like toilet paper stuck to a shoe. It was a fitting end to my experience at the Minnesota premiere of Bullets Over Broadway, an audacious, raunchy musical set in the 1920s and...
Mark Morris at Northrop: A Trip to the Museum

Mark Morris at Northrop: A Trip to the Museum

Mark Morris’s Dido and Aeneas was created in 1989, in Belgium. I saw it for the first time on March 30, 2016, in Minneapolis. In this work, Morris’ once-irreverent movement style intersects with ancient Greek mythology and English composer Henry Purcell’s 17th century opera to tell the tragic story of two doomed lovers. Onstage, the mood...