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POST BY CAROLINE PALMER, SPECIAL TO THE STAR TRIBUNE
Childhood dreams can come true. Just ask Alexa Maxwell. While growing up in Minnetonka she 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.
But dreams do differ from reality. Maxwell wasn’t just handed this big gig. It’s the result of years filled with body-busting effort and personal sacrifice. After studying locally at small dance schools as well as Minnesota Dance Theatre she left home at age 14 to join the prestigious Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet where she worked on her skills intensively and graduated from high school through online courses.
In June 2012 Maxwell traveled to Manhattan for the summer program at The School of American Ballet, NYCB’s official training program founded by the legendary choreographer George Balanchine. She was asked to stay on and by December earned a coveted apprenticeship plus an opportunity to prove herself worthy of a spot with the company. “They see how you perform, your work ethic,” Maxwell said by phone. “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.”
So now the newest member of NYCB will be performing in the “Waltz of the Snowflakes” and the “Waltz of the Flowers” sections of Balanchine’s “The Nutcracker” with other exceptionally talented young dancers throughout this month at Lincoln Center. “It’s really exciting, almost all of the shows are sold out,” she said, adding some awe at the large audience she sees when sneaking a peek from backstage.
After “The Nutcracker” Maxwell will prepare for NYCB’s 2014 winter season by learning the “Diamonds” section of Balanchine’s “Jewels” among other signature repertory works. And while Maxwell is thrilled with her new role in the corps she still has goals, including one day ascending to the level of soloist or even principal dancer. But in the meantime, she said, “I’m just going to keep working hard. I’m so happy to be here and I’m feeling very grateful.”
The website complex.com has come up with a ranking of the 50 states “based on their contribution to popular music.” For each state, complex.com lists “artists born there” and “bands formed there.”
Minnesota is ranked No. 10, with New York first, California second, Louisiana third, Georgia fourth and Tennessee fifth.
You can debate all you want about the order. In fact, Dave Bry of complex.com – one of three guys who helped compile the list and alerted me to it – suggested he might rank Minnesota higher himself. But what you can’t debate is the inadequate research of the complex.com staff.
Here is whom complex.com cites in their Minnesota write-up:
Artists Who Were Born There: Bob Dylan, Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, Paul Westerberg, Prince, Slug
Bands Formed There: Atmosphere, Eyedea & Abilities, Hüsker Dü, Low, Information Society, The Replacements, Soul Asylum, The Time, Vanity 6
That's all. Really?
Here is a quickie list of some acts that were overlooked:
Not mentioned in born here: Andrews Sisters (right), Judy Garland, Rock Hall of Famer Eddie Cochran (above, right), Gary Puckett,
Not mentioned in Bands Formed Here: Koerner Ray & Glover, Trashmen, Castaways, Vixen, the Suburbs, Lipps, Inc. (“Funkytown” was bigger than all of Information Society’s singles combined), the Jets, Babes in Toyland (lead singer Kat Bjelland is listed under born in Oregon); Sounds of Blackness, Mint Condition, Semisonic, Next, Bad Plus, Doomtree, Owl City.
Here is the link to complex.com’s rankings:
The Trashmen doing "Surfin' Bird" on "American Bandstand":
Prince/ Photo by Kevin Mazur/ Wire Image
Prince is No. 2 again. Rolling Stone named Bruce Springsteen the king of current live concert performers, with Prince second and the Rolling Stones third.
You’ll recall this summer Entertainment Weekly cited Prince’s “Purple Rain” as the second greatest album of all time. But we digress.
Entertainment Weekly has published the list to end all lists: The 100 All-Time Greatest – movies, TV shows, albums, novels, plays, etc.
Prince’s “Purple Rain” is ranked No. 2, behind only the Beatles’ “Revolver.” Debate amongst yourselves. We’re just delivering the information. EW asks if “Purple Rain” is the “sexiest album ever”? You might ask where is “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” ? Not on the EW list.
As for other Minnesotans, Bob Dylan checks in at No. 6 with “Blood on the Tracks” and at 27 with “Highway 61 Revisited” while the Replacements’ “Let It Be” lands at No. 62.
On the sidebar chart of 10 Biggest Heartbreaker songs, two were penned by Minnesotans: Dan Wilson co-wrote No. 5 “Someone Like You” with Adele, and Prince penned “Nothing Compares 2 U,” rated No. 9 as sung by Sinead O’Connor. On the 10 Greatest Dance Jam list, Prince's "Kiss" is No. 2, behind Beyonce's "Crazy in Love."
On the greatest plays of past 100 years list, August Wilson’s “Fences” rated No. 5 and his “Piano Lesson” placed 48. “Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller was No. 1.
In TV, the Minneapolis-based “Mary Tyler Moore Show” shows up at No. 4, with “The Wire” topping the list.
In a list of 10 Greatest Graphic Novels, Neil Gaiman's "Sandman" ranks No. 4.
I think it’s safe to speculate that Gen X critics, for better or worse, dominated the judging.
Star Tribune photo by Rich Tsong-Taatarri
Many Minnesotans whined when Rolling Stone’s recent list of the 20 best clubs in America did not include Minneapolis’ revered First Avenue.
Turns out that our favorite club apparently is considered a “big room” by the big magazine, which lists First Ave at No. 3 on its new list of 20 best big rooms.
Somehow our iconic 1,600-person nightclub is on the same list with New York’s redoubtable 6,000-seat Radio City Music Hall, Atlanta’s renowned 4,700-seat Fox Theatre, Nashville’s landmark 1,300-seat Ryman Auditorium and the 2,100-capacity Surf Ballroom in Buddy Holly, Iowa, er, Clear Lake.
Topping First Avenue are the 1,200-capacity 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C., and San Francisco’s legendary 1,100-capacity Fillmore.
To our way of thinking, the "best clubs" list probably should have been labeled "best bars." This is all part of Rolling Stone's series on "Venues That Rock." Amphitheaters, stadiums/arenas/ dance clubs and "readers choice" lists are yet to come.
But what does Rolling Stone know?
As a “fun fact,” it mentions that Prince reunited with his “Purple Rain”-era band, the Revolution, at First Avenue last year.
Fact: The Revolution went on without Prince.