'Summer Sound Garden'
Step into an interactive sound and movement experience on the banks of the Mississippi when Wavelets Creative presents the "Summer Sound Garden."
The self-guided pop-up event features a nature-inspired sound score by composer and director JG Everest. Live musicians and singers accompany a site-specific installation of recorded music, as well as a movement score collaboratively designed by dancers Leslie O'Neill, Erika Hansen, Sarah Baumert and Megan Mayer.
Everest uses remote speakers and a special sound design, something he has been exploring since 2012, when he was music director and lead collaborator for Catalyst, a dance company featuring dancer and choreographer Emily Johnson. In the Catalyst piece, "Niicugni," Everest housed speakers in fish skin lanterns and in small wooden boxes that were handed out to audience members.
Everest began experimenting with the Sound Garden model in 2016 at different spaces in the Twin Cities. In 2018, inspired by the Native American-led water protector movement aimed at halting oil pipelines from being built, he composed his four-part "Water Suite."
"I picked four outdoor locations around the state of Minnesota that each were on a significant body of water and one for each season of the year," Everest said.
He brought in visual artists, poets and storytellers to create a unique experience for each location. Sites included Lake Nokomis when it was frozen over, Grand Marais on Lake Superior, an island in the middle of Silverwood Lake in St. Anthony, and the spot where Rice Creek flows into the Mississippi at Manomin Park in Fridley.
Last summer, Everest's plans to present new work in collaboration with a group of dancers got nixed by the pandemic.
But with the way "Sound Garden" is set up totally distanced outdoors, he found that he and his team could develop the scores safely during the pandemic.
The group began rehearsing in local parks.
"It was just a real form of medicine for all of us to be able to be creative, to be within community and to do it in a safe way, and to kind of get our creative juices flowing," Everest said.
"The dancers were able to really develop a strong intuitive sense of how to create a movement score spontaneously, in a really site-specific way," he said.
That score, which reacts to the natural surroundings as well as the people wandering through, will be on display for the pop-up event. Audience members can walk through the sound and movement design at their own pace, absorbing the nature and art that have been assembled.
(Noon-4 p.m., West River Parkway, Mpls. Free, but reservations required by 10:30 a.m. Saturday, waveletscreative.org.)
Candy Box Festival
Arena Dances' Candy Box Festival returns for the fifth year featuring a week full of Happy Hour works-in-progress showings, master dance classes and feature performances by local dancers at St. Paul's Paikka. Since its debut in 2017, the festival has showcased a wide range of dances.
"What I find really fun about it is how to get audiences to see how much more is out there," said Mathew Janczewski, Arena Dances' artistic director. "I get the fun job of figuring out the right order of what I think the audience is going to be able to enjoy and take in, and what they're ready for. I love doing that."
As a presenter, Janczewski works to give artists the space and platform to display their creativity.
"I'm trying to really embrace them and encourage them to do what they're able to," he says.
This year, Candy Box features works in progress showing Monday through Friday from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Among the Happy Hour artists are: Palestinian American dancer, choreographer and filmmaker Leila Awadallah, who recently received the Spring 2021 Creation Fund award from the National Performance Network. A solo version of Awadallah's work premiered at the Arab American National Museum in 2020, and the new collaborative version of the piece is still in process.
Later in the week, three local groups make up the featured performances. Among them is Judith Holo Shu Xiān, who impressed Janczewski the first time he saw her perform.
"It's just amazing to see how she fully embodies the work that she's sharing," he said.
She'll share a bill with a Twin Cities dance community staple, Hijack, made up of Kristin Van Loon and Arwen Wilder, as well as Pedro Pablo, whose queer performance collective, "Viva La Pepa," leaves no prisoners with its dramatic subversiveness.
"It's just nice to have them on the same stage together," Janczewski said of the featured dance groups. "There's this really nice through line of investigation with improvisation and how that works as a choreographic tool, and/or score into the work."
A dancer and choreographer, Janczewski has long wanted to step into the role of presenter and curator.
"For me, it's been many years of wanting to uplift and embrace the community more. It's kind of always been my dream of doing that," he said.
(Happy Hour showings 5:30 p.m. Mon.-Fri., $12 or $25 for 5. Feature performances 7 p.m. Thu. & Fri., $24. Paikka, 550 Vandalia St., St. Paul. arena-dances.org.)
Sheila Regan is a Minneapolis arts journalist and critic.