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Laura Osnes at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre on Broadway. Photo/Renee Jones Schneider
Laura Osnes has shown that her ascendancy to Broadway was not a flukey result of some reality TV show. The Eagan musical theater actor was among the winners when the Drama Desk awards were announced on Sunday.
Osnes landed on Broadway in the 2007 production of "Grease" after competing on the NBC show "You're the One That I Want." Her arrival, however, was greeted by some New York skepticism because she was chosen by TV rather than an audition. Osnes, who had starred in Chanhassen's "Grease," began quickly to win over the nay sayers with better-than-average notices as Sandy -- the good girl who goes bad to win her dude.
Shrewdly making smart choices, Osnes has now accumulated lead roles in "South Pacific," "Anything Goes," "Bonnie and Blyde" and "Cinderella." She was nominated for a Tony for her "Bonnie" and was picked again for "Cinderella." The Tony ceremonies are June 9.
Walker Art Center's design and "New Media Initiatives" departments have produced a new website for the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden along with a free mobile app. The web app enables visitors to tour the garden using GPS location technology, to view audio and video information about the sculptures, check up on the Garden's history, and hear short interviews with artists and local luminaries including Minneapolis Mayor R. T. Rybak. The MSG, which opened 25 years ago, is a joint project of the city of Minneapolis, which owns the land, and Walker, which owns the sculpture displayed there.
Nic Lincoln in "Dressage," by choreographer Judith Howard. Photo provided by Nic Lincoln.
POST BY CAROLINE PALMER | SPECIAL TO THE STAR TRIBUNE
Nic Lincoln is known to many in the dance community as a longtime member of James Sewell Ballet but lately he's taken on another role -- muse. And he's not just providing inspiration for one choreographer but several. This weekend he will perform "YES," an evening of five solos created for him by local dance makers.
"I don't think of them as solos but as duets," said Lincoln, during a recent interview at Gigi's Cafe near Uptown Minneapolis. "I don't feel like I'm alone. It's like we're 'Thelma & Louise' -- I couldn't do it without them." Penelope Freeh, Wynn Fricke, Judith Howard, Megan Meyer and Kristin Van Loon have teamed up with Lincoln, and while some find it noteworthy that they are all women, he is quick to explain that this was not a specific choice. Instead, these are all artists he has admired and wanted to work with over the years.
And the feeling is mutual. "He has a combination of vulnerability and star power," said Howard, while Fricke "was curious about the many flavors in his body." Meyer admitted to a bit of intimidation. "At first I felt all this pressure to use all his skills as a ballet dancer and eventually I calmed down." Freeh, who performed often with Lincoln during her career at Sewell, observed that he "has really evolved as a dancer. He has a great sense of humor. There's an inner smile and knowing." And Van Loon said, "He's so smart as a dancer, he absorbs so much detail."
"YES" celebrates healing on a physical and emotional level. Lincoln has endured six ankle and foot surgeries in recent years and recovery has taken an "Olympic effort." Many months in bed provoked the Michigan native to consider his future as a dancer. "You only have so much time. With each surgery you wonder, 'Is this the last party?' Human bodies are not like clocks." But now that his strength has returned, Lincoln has other goals in mind. The evening celebrates who he is as a gay man, dancer, performance artist, visual artist, social/political activist, drag diva and so much more.
Venus DeMars, lead singer for All the Pretty Horses, will open the evening, a dramatic twist for a dance concert. Videos will fill in the spaces while Lincoln changes costumes between pieces. A portion of the proceeds will go to support OutFront MN, a cause near to Lincoln's heart for its efforts to fight homophobia, support the transgender community and, in particular, give voice to LGBT youth. "I had a tumultuous childhood," said Lincoln. He was bullied for being gay. "My universal hurt and pain come from that, it's what I want to confront the most." He is particularly thankful for being "sistered and mothered in the process of healing."
The works on the program lead Lincoln in many different directions. Freeh's "Paper Nautilus" takes inspiration from ballets like Jerome Robbins' "Fancy Free" and the 1940's film "On the Town." Lincoln, dressed in a sailor's suit, "nails the sweet sincerity of the work," she said, but there is a darker aspect to the piece, something a bit more ominous that suggests a distant war. Meyer's "You Might Be Expecting Me" draws upon Lincoln's work experience in retail to supplement his dance career.
Fricke's "Into the White" explores the process of death. Music by Ben Frost evokes the clinical atmosphere of a hospital, said Fricke, and evokes the "gritty, strange psychic space of somebody dying, the struggling of body and mind. I'm imagining a tempestuous journey." Van Loon's "More Love Hours Than Can Ever Be Repaid -- 1987" meshes several influences including 1980s pop music and the work of legendary New York Times style photographer Bill Cunningham. "Nic and I have a shared interest in fashion," she said. "I've clipped every single Cunningham column for the past two years" in service of the work, spreading them across the floor in search of ideas to fuel a piece with a unique perspective on glamor.
Finally Howard's "Dressage" plunges Lincoln into a world of sensual fantasy that combines aspects of drag with equine imagery, a fabulous headdress and extra high heels. It "was the kind of piece where he came out to the dance world," said Howard. "This concert extends that, he's making a declaration."
Performing a full evening of solo works is a challenge but Lincoln is up for the task. "It's given me permission to differentiate between pieces, to honor the intention of the work and the trust involved with the choreographers." He added that he is also "conquering fear, my fear of the characters bleeding together and self-doubt" not to mention all the long hours that go into self-producing a show
"It's a lot to take on physically, you're holding everything up," said Fricke. "I appreciate his courage."
"It's the right thing to do," said Howard. "He's versatile, he's a beautiful performer, he took on different choreographers, and when I saw it all together, I thought this is correct, this is him."
8 p.m. Thu.-Sat. 2 p.m. Sun. JSB TEK BOX, 528 Hennepin Av., Mpls. $20. (612) 206-3600. www.thecowlescenter.org. For more information go to www.niclincoln.com/yes.
Here's a review of a recent performance by Sewell Ballet that featured Lincoln in a solo piece by choreographer Larry Keigwin.
Hundreds partied at the American Swedish Institute this spring. Star Tribune photo by Jeff Wheeler.
Everyone loves a party, especially arty types eager to celebrate in style. Three of Minneapolis' leading arts organizations are staging galas this summer either as fund-raisers or to celebrate their heritage.
The Minneapolis Institute of Arts leads off June 1 with a simple "summer party" theme to raise money. It promises "sunset cocktails" followed by a "celebration of the Minneapolis music scene" with Doomtree and Morris Day and the Time. Pick your price range: General tickets: $85 per person for nibbles, 1 drink, 2 tickets to the special exhibition "More Real? Art in the Age of Truthiness." VIP tickets: $175 per person including all of the above plus valet parking and more drinks. Gala tickets: $750 and up for 6 p.m. dinner, etc. (8:30 p.m. to midnight, June 1. Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 2400 3rd Av. S., Mpls. 612-870-6323 or www.artsmia.org)
Next up on June 15 is the American Swedish Institute with a traditional, day-long Swedish Midsommar Festival. The family-friendly event includes singing, dancing, fiddling, "flower head-wreath making," glass-blowing, a flea market and a mini-golf course. Yep, just when Walker Art Center seemed to have a lock on mini-golf with its artist-designed course, the Swedes try to muscle in. The glass blowers will be giving demos in conjunction with the opening of ASI's new "Kingdom of Crystal," exhibition of Swedish glass art. Be advised that the festival food will include pickled herring as well as the usual hot dogs, ice cream and lemonade. (10 a.m. to 5 p.m., June 15, $7 adults. American Swedish Institute, 2600 Park Av. S., Mpls. www.ASImn.org)
Walker Art Center will round out the season September 21 with its annual fund raising gala in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Dubbed "Avant Garden," the event promises music, art, gourmet food, specialty cocktails, an auction and dancing. How long you can stay depends on what you pay: Silver Key, 8:30 to 11 p.m., $100. Gold Key, 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., $500. (6 p.m. or 8:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Walker Art Center, 175 Hennepin Av., Mpls. 612-375-7600 or www.walkerart.org)
Zenon dancers in a scene from "Mariana," by Faye Driscoll. Photo by Steve Niedorf.
POST BY CAROLINE PALMER
SPECIAL TO THE STAR TRIBUNE
“You’re gonna see a lot of love onstage tonight,” Zenon Dance Company artistic director Linda Andrews promised at the top of the show Sunday night at the Cowles Center. And she was right. Much of the affection was directed toward Greg Waletski, who was marking his last performance with the troupe after a 22-year career.
The Zenon dancers, Waletski among them, are a versatile bunch, and the 30th Spring Season program, which included Wynn Fricke’s dream-like “Wine Dark Sea” and Mariusz Olszewski’s sensually charged “Hotel Tango (para Sharon)” showed off their many moods and skills.
The world premiere of “Mariana” by Bessie award-winning New York choreographer Faye Driscoll proved a particularly worthy vehicle for Zenon. The work explores the awkwardness, petty violence, false confidence, damaging group think and occasional tenderness of social interactions. The dancers roiled, pushed, pulled and tumbled through the potent piece, not only showing how the bullying tactics of childhood continue into adulthood but also focusing on the freedom that comes from the triumph of the assertive individual spirit.
But the emotional highlight of the evening arrived when Waletski soared through a solo moment in the finale, Danial Charon’s heroic “Storm.” There were loud cheers and shouts of “Bravo!” from the audience. Fellow performers Mary Ann Bradley, Tamara Ober, Leslie O’Neill, Stephen Schroeder and Laura Selle Virtucio exchanged warm smiles with their departing colleague throughout the leave-it-all-on-the-stage work.
As the lights came up Andrews emerged, tears filling her eyes, while dancers Tristan Koepke and Scott Metille presented Waletski with a pink sash and a tiara. The man of the hour – now appropriately outfitted for the honor – held onto a bouquet of flowers and stepped forward, arms raised in triumph, to soak up the standing ovation, one meant not just for him but for all the Zenon dancers. They poured their hearts into the performance.
The word on Waletski’s sash? “Fabulous.” And what a fabulous way, indeed, to celebrate a bittersweet ending and a fresh beginning. Coming up, look for Waletski in the works of local choreographers such as Megan Mayer. He’ll also return to Zenon for guest performances and is launching a new career as an American Sign Language interpreter.
Go here for a review of the first-weekend program by Zenon.