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Emily Johnson performs "The Thank You Bar," for which she won a Bessie last year. Photo provided by Cameron Wittig Dance
Choreographer/dancer Emily Johnson and visual artist Seitu Jones, both prominent fixtures on the Twin Cities arts scene, have each won a $50,000 grant from the Joyce Foundation, two of four 2013 recipients of the annual award. Johnson, who won a high-profile Bessie Award in 2012, will present SHORE, the third installment of a trilogy, with Northrop Auditorium at the University of Minnesota, which commissioned it. The work, a multi-day event integrating dance, storytelling, volunteerism and a shared feast, coincides with the Dance/USA conference and re-opening of the auditorium in June 2014.
Jones is collaborating with Public Art St. Paul to present The Community Meal, a Septemeber 2014 dinner stretching a half-mile-long across the city of St.Paul with 2,000 participants. The event explores consumption, marketing and food production, and features performances of spoken-word artists This is the first year that the Joyce Foundation has expanded the award parameters to allow art that takes place anywhere, using any media.
Jones is collaborating with Public Art St. Paul to present The Community Meal, a Septemeber 2014 dinner stretching a half-mile-long across the city of St.Paul with 2,000 participants. The event explores consumption, marketing and food production, and features performances of spoken-word artists
This is the first year that the Joyce Foundation has expanded the award parameters to allow art that takes place anywhere, using any media.
POSTED BY CAROLINE PALMER -- Special to the Star Tribune
On May 22, 2011 a tornado tore through north Minneapolis, demolishing homes, scattering belongings and changing the lives of all who were affected in an area that had already seen more than its fair share of challenges. While many of the stories of that day and its aftermath have been told through the media, there is still more to know about what happened – and what came next – for those in the storm’s path.
Choreographer Stuart Pimsler, who lives near the edge of the destruction (his house escaped damage) said by phone that it “was incredible to see how the neighborhood was visibly changed, there were mature old trees ripped out of the ground, every roof had a blue tarp on it. Some stayed on houses for over a year.” He talked with the members of his company, Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater (SPDT), about creating a project in response. The result is a book, “Temporary Shelter: Tales from the Minneapolis Tornado,” which will be released this Saturday, January 26 at 3 p.m. during a free event at the Capri Theater.
Pimsler’s impulse was natural given SPDT’s “Community Connections” program. Over its 34-year history the troupe has developed a “parallel track” to its performance work, he said, involving “different populations and different subject matter inquiries” in workshops and related activities. While much of this work never goes onstage, it often involves opportunities for individuals to express themselves in ways they might not have before. Health care providers and educators, for example, have been among the program’s participants.
The idea for a book about the tornado and its impact came from the desire to “create a permanent record,” said the choreographer, who was joined in the effort by photographer V. Paul Virtucio. Pimsler started by reaching out to local nonprofits like the North Point Health and Wellness Center, Northside YMCA, the Urban League, Urban Homeworks and Pillsbury United. After talking with staff he received referrals to clients. “By the time we were all done we had talked to in excess of 100 people in the neighborhood and more than 30 organizations,” said Pimsler. Homeowners, renters, small business owners, a landlord, recovery helpers – many voices were heard.
As to be expected, there were a variety of perspectives. Some people had positive experiences with the recovery and received the help they needed to get back on their feet; others felt abandoned by the government, insurance companies and landlords. But instead of bringing a particular political bent to the project, said Pimsler, “We soon found out that everybody had really different experiences. It was really important to be hands-off on having an agenda, to let the cross-section of humanity have time to speak and to allow readers to draw their own conclusions.”
For Saturday’s event at the Capri, Pimsler has asked each SPDT member “to select a person whose story they were drawn to and to do an homage to that story. So everybody will be doing a solo.” In addition to the performance there will be a buffet meal.
The following weekend, February 2 at 7 p.m., marks the opening of “Art in the Everyday: Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater Retrospective,” an exhibition at the Anita Sue Kolman Gallery of “artifacts” from the company’s history including sets, costumes and other design elements. The exhibit will include the work of the late Ronald Aiji Kajiwara, a former design director for Vogue magazine who collaborated with SPDT during its early years. Opening night will include interactive performances and a discussion with Pimsler and Artistic Co-Director Suzanne Costello. The show will run through March 5.
As if a book release and exhibition were not enough to keep SPDT busy in the coming weeks, the troupe will also perform a world premiere, “Walking, Singing and Other Habits,” and two repertory works at the Cowles Center February 15-17.
Photo by Andrea Mohin
Emily Johnson pauses during rehearsal for her upcoming performance at PS 122's Coil Festival in New York.
Emily Johnson can add another bit of prestigious recognition to the stack -- a write-up in the New York Times' Sunday Arts section. Johnson will stage and perform her new work "Niicugni (Listen)" at the O'Shaughnessy April 21, but New York dance fans will get to see it this week at the Baryshnikov Ars Center. The piece is a follow-up to "The Thank-You Bar" and the second in a planned trilogy exploring the former Alaskan's Yupik roots, wrote Gia Kourlas in Times. Working at Birchbark Books, Louise Erdrich's Kenwood bookstore featuring American Indian writers, Johnson researched her own heritage and the new work was inspired by what she found. The music for "Niicugni" was composed by Johnson's husband, James Everest, and she'll perform it with Aretha Aoki. A review is scheduled to run Friday in the Times. And if you're wondering, it's pronounced nee-CHOOG-nee.
The Jerome Foundation has awarded 10 grants to Minnesota arts organizations, with the largest going to Northern Lights.MN and The Loft Literary Center. The St. Paul-based foundation announced 24 grants totalling more than $790,000 Thursday, with the rest going to New York groups. Northern Lights.MN, which mixes various disciplines and technology to create art in public spaces, got $130,000 for Art(ists) on theVerge, a fellowship program for emerging talents. The Loft received $104,000 for its Mentor Series, which connects acclaimed writers with promising Minnesota writers for intensive study. Other Minnesota groups receiving grants between $68,000 and $9,000 are Forecast Public Art, The Givens Foundation for African American Literature, Pillsbury House + Theatre, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Playwrights’ Center, Tofte Lake Center in Ely, Zenon Dance Company, and Mu Performing Arts.
One of the charms of the New Standards' ever-charming holiday shows -- being staged for the sixth year Friday through Sunday at the Fitzgerald Theater -- is their potluck quality. The trio of Twin Cities music vets tap a host of other local talents, who always bring something special to share.
That's also true of the band's new video, directed by Minnesota-bred filmmaker Wyatt McDill (currently working in L.A.) and featuring choreography by Joe Chvala, a regular at TNS's holiday galas. The band takes alterna-dance diva Robyn's song "Call Your Girlfriend," and flips it to a boy's P.O.V. -- all beautifully staged at the Woman's Club of Minneapolis on one of the hottest days of last summer. (Judging from John Munson's I-Am-the-Walrus moustache, he must've confused July with Movember.)