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January Arts and Culture: Feet on the Ground, Eyes Toward the Sky

"Written in Water"

Batsheva Dance Company

We begin a new year with our feet on the ground, quite literally, with must-see dance performances, as well as talks by local authors on local history, and the unparalleled stargazing offered by the winter sky.

Local Authors, Local History
Various times and locations
Three Minnesota authors have published new books that examine diverse aspects of local history and are talking about their work this month. Mary Casanova will read from and sign copies of her newest young adult novel, Ice-Out at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, January 18, at Hamline Midway Library in St. Paul. In the book, Casanova returns to the Prohibition-era borderland of her novel Frozen. Inspired by real events in early 1920s Minnesota, Ice-Out blends young romance with moral and ethical questions.
Brian McMahon talks about his new book The Ford Century in Minnesota at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, January 24, at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul. In his book, McMahon documents the transformation of the Ford Motor Company’s operations in St. Paul through the Depression, the rise of the United Auto Workers Union and World War II, while integrating research on women in the workforce, competition from imported cars globalization and outsourcing, and the closing of the Twin Cities Assembly Plant.
Also on Tuesday, January 24, music journalist Jim Walsh will regale Prince fans with anecdotes from his book, Gold Experience: Following Prince in the '90s at 7 p.m. Amsterdam Bar and Hall in St. Paul. As a columnist for the Pioneer Press, Walsh saw it all: the 1994 NBA All-Star game after party and release bash for the single “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World”; after-hours parties at Erotic City, Glam Slam and Paisley Park; and Prince’s wedding to bandmate Mayte. And that’s just for starters.
Batsheva Dance Company
January 24, 7:30 p.m.
Northrop, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
Why check out this Israeli dance company? Because Batsheva has deep roots in MSP. New York choreographer Andrea Miller, a former Batsheva dancer, and her company have performed at The O’Shaughnessy in St. Paul. Zenon Dance Company, based in Minneapolis, has also twice commissioned Miller to choreograph new works for the company. The movement style that Batsheva’s founder Ohad Naharin originated, which is called gaga, is taught in the Twin Cities by Berit Ahlgren formerly of TU Dance in St. Paul. And last fall, Israeli choreographer Sharon Eyal—who originated the gaga style with Naharin—was a 2016 McKnight International Resident Choreographer and set her work “Killer Pig” on James Sewell Ballet.
Moreover, the Batsheva dancers—with their cool sensuality, lighting-flash technique, droll humor and political acuity—deliver performances that leave viewers breathless. On this program is a work titled “Decadance 2017,” a compilation of excerpts from a number of Naharin’s choreographies, including Z/na (1995), Kyr (1990), Telophaza (2006), Mabul (1992), Sadeh21 (2011), Zachacha (1998), Three (2005),and Max (2007). Woven into a seamless, coherent whole, and further seasoned with music ranging from samba to rock ‘n roll, the fast, furious, thrilling work will ground you in a blossoming trend in MSP contemporary dance. Tickets here.
Seasonal Stargazing
Tuesdays, 7-8 p.m.
Como Planetarium, St. Paul
Beat the cold with a visit to the Como Planetarium, a cheap and great date night excursion or outing for the whole family. Stars and planets during the winter night sky are brilliant and clear. Learn what can be seen during the cold, crisp winter months and enjoy a virtual trip through the solar system. More information here.
Written in Water
January 27-29
Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts
Ragamala Dance Company continues to earn national accolades for its innovative work with the classical Indian dance form Bharatanatyam—interdisciplinary work that investigates the potential and dynamism inherent to merging the ancestral and the contemporary, secular and spiritual, rhythm and stillness. The company’s new piece, “Written in Water,” is co-artistic directors’ Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy's exploration of Paramapadam (the 2nd century Indian board game upon which “Snakes and Ladders” is based), the 12th century Sufi text The Conference of the Birds, and the philosophical and spiritual underpinnings of both. The work seamlessly integrates text, live music (a commissioned score from Amir ElSaffar, known for his distinctive alchemy of contemporary jazz trumpet and Iraqi Maqam; and original Carnatic or South Indian compositions by India-based composer Prema Ramamurthy), and the sinuously poetic Bharatanatyam style of dance. Details here.
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