Art Hounds: Theater and Dance Highlights of 2009

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Image courtesy TU Dance

This week, our Art Hounds look back at their theater and dance highlights of the year.

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Kathleen Peterson, Winona

The Kushner ‘immersion’ at the Guthrie, with all 3 stages filled with his work, was a bold, risky move that paid off beautifully. It definitely paid off artistically because it showed Minnesota’s theater-going public that the Guthrie really can put the work first and just do real theater as well as any other theater in the U.S.

Lucie Amundsen, Duluth

The Woman in Black at Teatro Zuccone. This two-person play was mesmerizing and honestly scared the pants off me. I screamed at one tense point of the play and didn’t think a live production, without the benefit of movie special effects, could do that. Also, the actors had pages and pages of lines and they just hit them all.

Kristin Van Loon, Minneapolis

Demolition Boy, choreographed and performed by Karen Sherman. I saw it at a party at a fancy corporate office in downtown Minneapolis. Her dance was abrasively at home in this corporate environment. Her chunky fluidity was flattered by two ghosts that worked their way through this piece. One was Tyra Banks who appeared in the form of a magic trick – after bumping her butt against the wall for two minutes, Karen backed away and Tyra’s name was magically written across her rear.

Penelope Freeh, Minneapolis

The most memorable for me were the two dance concerts by TU Dance at O’Shaughnessy Auditorium. The last work was especially moving. It was a section of what will become an evening-length work called Sensibility. The end was like an ancient tribal celebration, sweaty bodies kept the beat as snow began to fall. It was pure joy.

David Evan Thomas, Minneapolis

Minnesota Opera’s production of Dominick Argento’s opera Casanova’s Homecoming. The production was beautifully conceived and executed, but the sheer wit and brilliance of the opera itself — libretto and music both — made wonderful and insightful entertainment. This revival of an opera that opened the Ordway 25 years ago celebrated both the work of Minnesota’s finest composer and a venue that has added immeasurably to our cultural life.

Heather Meyer, Minneapolis

Flight by Kevin Kling with Open Eye Figure Theatre. Watching Kevin Kling tell stories is pure joy both in his spirit and in the audience’s The piece was touching, funny and insightful; songs, puppets, music. Micheal Sommers’ puppetry is always alive and delicate and causes pause in our thoughts.

Janis Lane-Ewart, Minneapolis

The content of Ruined at Mixed Blood Theatre was important to the current war-torn atmosphere across the world. The character portrayal was gripping and believable and the set and direction was so intense I thought I was in the Congo experiencing war and its immediate affect.

Ben Chadwick, Crystal

Corialanus at Intermedia Arts by Classical Actors Ensemble. The talent of this powerhouse acting ensemble brought the text to life and created one of the most powerful and cohesive Shakespeare plays I have seen — and this was a staged reading! I was enthralled from start to finish.

Amanda Hunter, Minneapolis

Heart of the Beast Puppet Theatre’s “A Path Home: A Story of Thich Nhat Hanh” was a beautiful and meaningful visual story. Timely in its description of the tragic costs of war, inspiring in its documentation of TNH’s perseverance in living as an “engaged Buddhist” monk and activist, and full of the promise of reconciliation that comes from a life lived with joy, compassion, action and presence.

Billie Jo Konze, St. Paul

My highlight was the Fringe Festival. I saw my favorite shows of the year there: Four Humors’ inventive “Sideways Stories from Wayside School,” the amazingly funny “Jurassic Dork,” and Walking Shadow’s absurdly hilarious play about a penguin in the military. I saw 29 shows and I enjoyed nearly all of them. What better place to sample everything the Twin Cities theater scene has to offer?

What were your theater and dance highlights of the year? Tell us in the comments!

And next week come on back to the blog to share your favorite visual art, film and music happenings of 2009.

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