Art Hounds: Relax and enjoy the show

A ballet dancer performs.
Continental Ballet Co. member Michaela Macauley. “Beer & Ballet” is Friday evening in Bloomington.
Thomas McCartney | Courtesy of Continental Ballet Co.

Ann Etter of Northfield, Minn., recommends her favorite way to relax after a hard day of work: watching a performance by Northfield-based jazz ensemble Sweet Jazz. True to their name, the four-piece (sometimes five-piece) ensemble plays jazz standards, B-side jazz tunes that might be new for listeners and originals by pianist Peter Webb.

Etter loves the way the ensemble matches their set to the seasons: “You see them in the spring, and it’s going to feel more peppy. You see them in the fall, and it’s going to feel more crisp. It’s just an immersive experience.”

Sweet Jazz’s next live, outdoor performance is Saturday from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Contented Cow, overlooking the Cannon River in downtown Northfield.

Kasey Southwick danced ballet for years with Continental Ballet Co. in Bloomington, and now she’s looking forward to relaxing in the audience for its “Beer & Ballet” performance on Friday at 7 p.m. in the Schneider Theater at the Bloomington Center for the Arts.

Southwick says the one-night event is a chill atmosphere that makes for an excellent introduction for adults who are new to ballet. The evening features a mix of short dance numbers choreographed by the director and by members of the company, set to a mix of classical and contemporary music. And, yes, the ticket price includes one beer. 

Masks are recommended by the ballet company, which has this COVID-19 protocol: “We request that if you are not vaccinated you test negative before attending the theater in consideration for the safety of those around you.” 

Novelist and playwright Kathleen Anne Kenny shared about a fellow Winona artist who’s written for page and stage.

Margaret Shaw Johnson’s pandemic project was to transform her previous play “The Haunting of Potter’s Field” into an illustrated book of narrative poems by the same name. The inspiration arose from Johnson’s walks through Winona’s historic Woodlawn Cemetery and its potter’s field, where those who could not afford a burial plot were laid to rest. Based on historical research and supplemented with imagination, the poems tell a selection of stories about those whose lives ended in Winona.

There will be a book launch on Friday from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Winona History Center, including a gallery show of the book’s illustrations by Twin Cities artist Jared Tuttle and a performance of some of the original music that was composed for the theatrical production.

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