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The Mixed Tape Dedications of Choreographers’ Evening

Have you ever made the perfect mixed tape, CD, or playlist, carefully selected with just the right feel, for a special someone?  This year’s curators of Choreographers’ Evening, Taryn Griggs and Chris Yon, aim to do just that this Saturday.  Their mixed tape (which as a whole is dedicated to their long time friend and supporter, Nicki Paraiso) takes form through a group […]


Photo by Gene Pittman

Have you ever made the perfect mixed tape, CD, or playlist, carefully selected with just the right feel, for a special someone?  This year’s curators of Choreographers’ Evening, Taryn Griggs and Chris Yon, aim to do just that this Saturday.  Their mixed tape (which as a whole is dedicated to their long time friend and supporter, Nicki Paraiso) takes form through a group of carefully selected choreographers and performers, who in turn will dedicate their own original performances. Below is a selection of 5 such dedications; you’ll have to attend on Saturday to hear about the rest!

Sugar Babies by Jes Nelson


Photo by Gene Pittman

Jes Nelson: Ballerina by day, punk-rocker by night, I dedicate the Choreographers’ Evening installation of Sugar Babies to my first ballet instructor Rachel Perry.

Void of the typical body motions and sound associated with tap dance, Sugar Babies is filled with language and the physical communication of movement.

Jes Nelson studied at the New York Studio Program in Brooklyn, NY, and received her BFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 2010. She has exhibited work at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Rochester Art Center, Ritz Theater, Southern Theater, and the 2013 Minneapolis Biennial at the Soap Factory. She has published work with Pentagram, the New York Times Magazine and most recently Minneapolis’ contemporary artist publication Location Books.

Cacartels, Cacaffeine and Cucumbia by Juan M Aldape

Juan Aldape

Photo taken from rehearsal video by Juan M Aldape

Juan M AldapeThis particular performance is dedicated to one organization and two people. The organization is Walking Theory (TkH), based in Belgrade, Serbia. The manner in which they foster and encourage independent dance artists is encouraging and contagious. As for the people, one is Svetlana Boym.  Her contribution of the off modern concept is reassuring; we don’t all have to jump on the modern dance legacy. Lastly, I dedicate this to my cousin, Juanito, in Mexico. He, after struggling many years with drugs and its culture, committed suicide in July of last year. He died the night before my arrival to work on my last project in Mexico.

This is a fragmented dance-theatre solo performance. In the first half, I experiment by breaking down Mexican social dance idioms and music.  The second half is a fast-paced, lamenting monolog about the intimate aspects of the Mexico-US relationship.

Juan Aldape recently moved to the Twin Cities after living abroad. He received an MA in International Performance Research from the University of Warwick, in England. His inspiration is the migrant worker who risks everything by leaving behind family and friends, all in hopes of a better future.

Still Too Long by Joanne Spencer


Photo by Sean Smuda

Joanne SpencerThe dedication for the piece became a collaborative one.  While we mined material from some deeply personal events in each of our lives, we feel grateful just to have come together to rediscover rhythm, music, weight changes, guts, and each other.  Our program dedication reads as this: This piece is dedicated to Sunday mornings in the studio, friendship, being moved by music and moving to music.

This piece for me was borne out of a kind of obsession with the musical musings of the local hip-hop songstress Dessa.  Her use of rhythm and lyricism, imagery and metaphor got under my skin.  I created a ton of movement and realized that I needed more bodies to inhabit it all.  Dana and Judith agreed to meet me in the studio on Sunday mornings for coffee and conversation and that eventually led to sweat filled hours of collaboration and creation.   We have enough movement for 4 sections of Dessa’s music that we love, but we are presenting the strongest two sections at the Walker.

This is Joanne Spencer’s second year involved in Choreographer’s Evening.  Last year, she presented a solo and this year she ventured out with her two dearest friends into the world of trios.  Judith James Ries, Dana Kassel, and Joanne Spencer danced together for a good share of the 1990’s with the modern jazz company JAZZDANCE! by Danny Buraczeski.  Together they toured the country, taught at dance festivals and colleges, and explored the music and movement that Danny exposed to their9 member troupe.  After many years of raising children and exploring career paths (Judith a dance teacher, Dana an Arts Administrator, and Joanne, advocacy and politics), they found their way back to the studio and to familiar movement.

For Cody by Theresa Madaus

Theresa M

Photo by Theresa Madaus

Theresa Madaus: This piece is called For Cody and that pretty much says it all. It’s dedicated to my hometown and the handful of queers who live there.

My piece is a brief character-driven dance involving a cartoonish cowboy, hints of drag, and a gentle mixture of frustration and nostalgia. I made it as a study for a Mad King Thomas project called The Narrator is Suspect that investigates home, among other things. Then instead of cannibalizing it for Mad King Thomas, I developed it further, and it became its own piece. The character may still show up in The Narrator is Suspect, which will premiere in Minneapolis.

Theresa Madaus is a performer and creator. She primarily makes dances as one-third of the choreographic collaboration Mad King Thomas, but she occasionally makes dances by herself and sometimes moonlights as drag persona Rock Scissors. Born in Milwuakee WI, raised in Cody, Wyoming, she has made the Twin Cities home for the last 11ish years.  Her inspirations include: Mad King Thomas, Judith Howard, Hijack, Emily Johnson, drag, home, Western mythos, genderqueers everywhere, and Smokey Robinson and the Miracles.

THROB by Angharad Davies


Photo by Sharyn Morrow

Angharad DaviesMy personal dedication goes out to both the sculptor Richard Serra and the now-deceased choreographer Michael Bennett.

The concept for THROB arose from a study of sculptor Richard Serra’s “Investigation of Forms” — in my case, the forms of 16 women and the basement of Los Amigos Supermercado in Minneapolis. It is a piece for a multitude that was further inspired by misogyny, prison showers, marching bands, soccer hooliganism, and A Chorus Line.

Angharad Davies‘s choreography has been presented at venues including Danspace Project (NYC), Radialsystem (Berlin), Bryant Lake Bowl, Red Eye Theater, & Ted Mann Concert Hall (MPLS), and ODC (San Francisco). Outside of Minneapolis, she has performed with Gibney Dance (NYC), Hanna Hegenscheidt (Berlin), and Mariano Pensotti (Buenos Aires), among others. Angharad is a lecturer at the University of Minnesota and is on faculty at the Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists.


Other choreographers/performers include Laurie Van Wieren, Kaleena Miller, Otto Ramstad, Morgan Thorson, and Yeniel “Chini” Perez.

Choreographers’ Evening, curated by Chris Yon and Taryn Griggs, takes place on Saturday, November 30th, at 7 pm and 9:30 pm at the Walker’s McGuire Theater.

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