Dance duo Hijack performed Thursday on an escalator in Mayo Clinic Square in downtown Minneapolis. (photo courtesy Hennepin Theatre Trust)

By Caroline Palmer, Special to the Star Tribune

On Thursday evening a group of spectators gathered at the foot of the escalators in the Mayo Clinic Square in downtown Minneapolis. They sipped wine and nibbled on appetizers while watching Kristen Van Loon and Arwen Wilder of the choreographic duo Hijack go up and down the moving staircases, posing, pacing, jumping, shimmying.

Some commuters on the escalators averted their eyes from the dancing as they followed their typically art-free path down to Hennepin Avenue or up into the skyway. But others cracked a smile at the unusual scene.

The mischievous Hijack performance, which continued in the atrium along with the hauntingly beautiful duet from “Wreck” by Black Label Movement, kicked off the “Radical Recess” dance series, presented as part of the Made Here Project led by the Hennepin Theatre Trust and curated by Joan Vorderbruggen. Over the past two years Made Here has filled empty storefronts around Block E with visual art, giving the otherwise dreary streetscape a sense of vibrancy.

Thursday marked the opening of its newest exhibition, “Reflection: Made Here,” which features 45 window displays by various artists in Mayo Clinic Square.

Choreographers April Sellers and Laurie Van Wieren are the curators for “Radical Recess,” a project supported by a Great Streets grant from the City of Minneapolis.  Over the next few months the longtime collaborators have planned three lunchtime performances by local choreographers in the City Center Atrium, IDS Crystal Court and Loring Park.

For Van Wieren the sites offer a chance to surprise people with dance where they least expect it, in settings that are compatible to the work.

“I can’t imagine not approaching any performance without paying attention to the architecture and the liminal space between artist and audience,” Van Wieren said in a recent interview. “I want the artists to think about how anything can happen in the space.”

Sellers is looking forward to showcasing the broad range of dance perspectives in the Twin Cities.

“It can be really hard to get people to take a risk at $25 a ticket,” Sellers said. “I’m hoping for a sense of ‘Oh wow, this is going on here and I didn’t know about it.’ They can see what’s great and large and bodacious about our dance community.”

Both Sellers and Van Wieren are excited about focusing on the juxtapositions in styles among the artists performing. For example, the Feb. 5 show in the IDS Crystal Court will feature the fiery social justice-inspired Ananya Dance Theatre, pop-locker-turned-businessman Robert Keo, and Anna Shogren, whose approach is more intimate.

The Jan. 8 performance in the City Center Atrium features the April Sellers Dance Collective, Taja Will and Dustin Maxwell, with the latter planning a 90-minute butoh piece. Loring Park will be the scene for the March 4 show featuring Pramila Vasudevan and Rosy Simas Dance, both of whom create potent and memorable imagery through their works.

All shows are at 12:30 p.m. and are free. For further information visit http://madeheremn.org/showcases/reflection/radical-recess

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