Fret not Frodo, now there’s a way you can see the Lord of the Rings Trilogy in 8 minutes. In fact, numerous types of dance and theater were fast-tracked in shortened performances at the Cowles Center Grand Opening Weekend, September 9 – 11, to give the community teasers of what the Minnesota dance community has to offer. Impressive!
Our family ventured downtown on Sunday the 11th for community day at the new center to see what the hype was all about. We saw two performances, participated in two workshops and ate our share of cupcakes. Patrons of the arts in this community might have been on day three as performances were held both Friday and Saturdays nights. There was buzz and excitement to experience the new Cowles Center, a merger of three buildings to create a unified space for dance. Its long-awaited opening now pairs top dance companies in the state including Zenon, Minnesota Dance Theatre (MDT), and Illusion Theater with a state-of-the-art venue for performances.
My daughter, Ava, now eight, had taken classes recently at both MDT and Zenon. The entrance off of 6th and Hennepin was just a way to get from A to B. Now as you enter The Hennepin Center for the Arts, home to 20 leading dance and performing arts organizations and one of the three buildings in the new Cowles mix, you feel as if new life has been breathed into the old space. And although nothing structural has changed for that building, you could simply attribute its revitalization to the connections and the energy that the new USBank Atrium, Target Education Studio and new Goodale Theater (formerly the Shubert) have created.
At the Grand Opening, James Sewell Ballet gave the audience some insight on the making the difficulty of dance look effortless in Body Mind Wellness. We tried to mimic the performer’s moves and make a smooth circle outline with our left hand and a straight line stop and go movements with our right hand (which no one could do). We got a taste of the mind and body connection of dance. Next LiveActionSet performed The Lord of the Rings Trilogy in 8 Minutes. Even though the kids – ages six and eight – had never seen the movie trilogy, the performance held their attention, all the while LAS stayed within their blue masking-taped box on the stage.
We then exited and found Studio 5B where all four of us did the Cupid Shuffle workshop with Colleen Euland, followed by the kids joining LiveActionSet performers and the director in a theater workshop. This was really cool. They thrive on improv and took three ideas from the group of 12 or so and loosely directed them with ideas from (1) forming a tree with birds, (2) enacting the aging process and (3) going on a journey from sand to sea to forest and mountain. I captured a bit on video of what I’m calling Tree Bark, based on the coming together to form a tree, additive chirping birds followed by an encroaching wolf (aka Calvin, my son) that scatters the birds with his bark.
We arrive home and practice a little improv of our own, inspired by the community of dance we have access to in Minneapolis. We’ll be taking Zenon up on their hip hop class one comp workshop offer and perusing the inaugural season catalog, knowing that whatever you choose to see, these companies can deliver dance.