Item World: Minnetonka dancer lands at New York City Ballet, Ian Leonard returns to Ch. 9, Replacements tribute

  • Updated: December 5, 2013 - 1:52 PM
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Alexa Maxwell, who grew up in Minnetonka, has joined the New York City Ballet.

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‘Nutcracker’ dreams

While growing up in Minnetonka, Alexa Maxwell wore out a VHS tape of New York City Ballet’s “The Nutcracker,” determined that someday she would dance with the world-class troupe. Last week, the 19-year-old signed a contract to join the NYCB corps de ballet. After studying at Minnesota Dance Theatre, she left home at 14 to join the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. In 2012, Maxwell attended the summer program at the School of American Ballet, NYCB’s official training program, where she earned an apprenticeship. “You have one year to try out and then [Ballet Master in Chief] Peter Martins either decides to take you on or you find another job,” Maxwell told I.W. She will be performing in two sections of “The Nutcracker” this month at Lincoln Center.

Caroline Palmer

Dark forecast

Fox 9’s chief meteorologist Ian Leonard’s absence from the air for nearly nine weeks was due to post-concussion syndrome, which forced him to spend almost the entire day in a dark room. Leonard was playing soccer goalie at the Minnesota United fantasy camp in October when his nose ran into another player’s fist. He thought he had simply broken his nose and continued to play. But a few days later, the bright lights of the Ch. 9 TV studio were bothering him. He felt dizzy. Doctors diagnosed post-concussion syndrome, which can haunt you anywhere from five days to five years. The prescription: Complete relaxation of the brain, with little stimulation. For weeks, Leonard sat alone in the dark, sucking on hard candy and listening to iRadio. Anything else triggered massive headaches and ringing ears. Then on Saturday, he awoke feeling 100 percent better. He will return to work Monday.

Neal Justin

All over but the laughing

Last weekend’s sixth annual Replacements tribute at First Avenue took an appropriately oddball turn. After Arzu Gokcen of Pink Mink and Curtiss A tore through “Run It” and “Color Me Impressed,” respectively, Minneapolis comedian Fancy Ray McCloney yelled the lyrics of “Buck Hill” — yep, “Buck Hill” are it — like a rabid cheerleader. For “Lovelines,” Mark Mallman unveiled a poster board featuring the original City Pages personal ads used for the lyrics. Communist Daughter’s Johnny Solomon — a recovering addict — ended it by offering “Treatment Bound” with an unflappably wicked grin. In introducing the tune, he quipped: “Everybody who’s gone through treatment, raise your drinks.”

CHRIS RIEMENSCHNEIDER

The detective loves jazz

At the final Talking Volumes event of the 2013 season Tuesday at the Fitzgerald, bestselling crime novelist Michael Connelly said he was co-producing a documentary about Minneapolis-born jazz saxophonist Frank Morgan, who died in 2007. Connelly said he often listens to jazz when he writes, especially when he’s writing about his jazz-loving detective hero, Harry Bosch. After drug addiction led to an adult life spent in and out of prison, Morgan launched a comeback in the mid-1980s. He played occasional gigs at the Dakota in Minneapolis, to which he moved back in 2005. The documentary, “Sound of Redemption,” is likely to be released next spring.

Claude Peck

Biennial numbers

Two Minnesotans have been picked for the 2014 Whitney Biennial: Wadena native Valerie Snobeck, 33, who now lives in New York City, and Chris Larson, 47, who hangs in his hometown of St. Paul. Of the 112 named artists and anonymous collectives, 47 live and work in the New York City area.

Mary Abbe

Sound off

With the Minnesota Orchestral Association’s annual meeting set for Wednesday, the locked-out musicians are holding their own such confab Monday. The Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra’s public meeting is set for 10:30 a.m. at the downtown Hilton, across from Orchestra Hall. They promise to offer a new mission statement “that they will work to fulfill in the years going forward, with or without the Minnesota Orchestral Association.” The musicians have formed a nonprofit organization that has raised more than $300,000 since August.

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