Art Hounds®

Arts recommendations: Dance theater, Rasputin and an arts extravaganza

A group of people dance
"And yet here we are" by choreographer Nia-Amina Minor, part of Minnesota Dance Theater’s spring production.
Courtesy of Paul Schmidt

From MPR News, Art Hounds are members of the Minnesota arts community who look beyond their own work to highlight what’s exciting in local art. Their recommendations are lightly edited from the audio heard in the player above.

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Alanna Morris is a professional dancer-choreographer in St. Paul. She saw Minnesota Dance Theatre’s spring production, and she wants everyone to know about the Ensemble’s final weekend. Shows are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at The Southern Theater in Minneapolis. 

Alanna says: Minnesota Dance Theatre are a legacy intuition. Going back to its founder, Loyce Houlton, who in 1962 made innovative contributions to the performance of classical ballet and the Graham technique, which still sets the company’s dancers apart today, not only locally but nationally.

The company has undergone a lot of administrative changes in recent years, and yet the love of dance and performance is still so strong. They are presenting three world premieres.

They are actually closing their doors and celebrating this legacy this weekend.

They’ve had such a rich history of performance for decades, then carried through by Houlton’s daughter, Lise, and now directed by Elayna Waxse, who is the interim artistic director.

They are actually closing their doors and celebrating this legacy this weekend. This is the performing ensemble’s farewell concert and celebration concert. Minnesota Dance Theatre’s school will remain open and continue to thrive with training young students and young dancers. 

This performance features four choreographers. Three of them are local to the Minnesota dance community, and one of them (Nia-Amina Minor) is an artist that’s been commissioned; she’s a Black and female choreographer from Seattle.

And you’re going to see a range of works in the classical ballet idiom, also traversing into contemporary ballet. You’re gonna hear classics like Frederick Chopin to contemporary and experimental jazz music from Makaya McCraven. 

I went to the performance and I was amazed by the diversity of the musical selections there. It’s really worth seeing.

Over these long years, some of our most amazing dancers and teachers and arts leaders have come out of the Minnesota Dance school and company here. The Ensemble is taking their last bow this weekend, but the school will continue to thrive and train young students and young dancers.

— Alanna Morris

A black and white photo
Matt Spring plays the title character in "Rasputin" by Four Humors.
Courtesy photo

Rasputin: There lived a certain man, in Russia long ago

Theater maker Shanan Custer of White Bear Lake saw Four Humors Theater’s play “Rasputin” at the Twin Cities Horror Festival last fall, and she’s thrilled that the show is getting a second run at Open Eye Figure Theatre in Minneapolis.

“Rasputin” opens tonight and runs through May 18. The show runs 70 minutes without intermission. The May 12 matinee requires masks for all audience members. (All other shows are mask-optional.) 

Shanan says: The play is a dark comedy created by Four Humors Theater. It’s a very deeply hilarious investigation of all of the versions of Rasputin’s gruesome death. It’s brilliantly conceived, the actors are so strong and there are so many incredible physical comedy moments.

A very deeply hilarious investigation.

And yet while that’s happening, the play is dealing with this political nightmare: this greedy, horrifying zealot who’s getting all the attention.

It plays really well in 2024. It hit me so hard last year, and I’m really excited that they’re bringing it back.

— Shanan Custer

Check out Mankato’s arts scene 

Dana Sikkila, director of the 410 Project Community Art Space in Mankato, is looking forward to the second annual Manifest event this Saturday. The free, all-day event (11 a.m. to 10 p.m.) celebrates the local arts scene and its vibrant history.

Put on by the Midwest Arts Catalyst and River Valley Makers, Manifest is a new, larger iteration of its (pre-COVID) Post-Holiday Extravaganza. Location: Kato Ballroom. 

Dana says: It’s our time in Mankato here — and really truly for anyone who wants to join us — to celebrate arts and culture. It also celebrates the history of the arts in the Mankato area, to reflect on the importance of keeping these things alive in our cities.  

It’s going to be an all-day event. There are art vendors. There’s going to be art raffles, a silent auction and food trucks. We have a huge community mural project that’s going to be happening on a building outside next door to the Kato Ballroom.

We’re going to have our Mankato community collage photo shoot happening 11 to 5 p.m., too.

And that’s where people can come to get a photo taken of themselves with their friends with their families. And that photo gets put into our big community collage that happens yearly. And then starting at 7 p.m., we’re having live music.

It is free to attend and everyone’s welcome. They are asking for a $20 suggested donation at the door. Any of the proceeds that come in at the door go back into the arts in our community throughout the year. It’s a great event all the way around.

— Dana Sikkila

This activity is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment's Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.
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