WHILE THE TWIN CITIES have always been home to a spirited dance community, the past five years have seen a dramatic rise in the artistic population. The result has been a kind of discourse of bodies--a fast-evolving scene made up of many styles that rivals movement meccas around the country. This year variety exploded on the stage as many of the area's talents pushed expectations to new levels. Meanwhile, visiting performers gave audiences a glimpse into the globe's performance riches. Below, then, is a list of nine artists--and one critic--whose work defined the year in dance and performance--presented in chronological order.
The experimental director teamed up with actor Will Bond to create Bob, a tribute to auteur Robert Wilson, a theatrical visionary born in Waco, Texas, who plies his trade in Europe's opera houses. In this tour de force solo, Bond portrayed Wilson at his most vulnerable, revealing the cerebral and undeniably kooky man behind the self-created myth.
In Swan Lake...The Sequel, Myron Johnson combined classical culture and pop culture by infusing the original story with elements of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? The mixture inspired (even more) spectacularly over-the-top performances from his company.
Susan Scalf, Morgan Thorson, Kristen Van Loon, and Arwen Wilder transformed the Southern Theater into an apocalyptic site with Scout, a typically collective effort filled with wise humor, fearless dancing, and a bold sense of stage design.
Christopher Watson Dance Company
Watson's A Sense of Place, performed at the Southern Theater and the Fringe Festival, explored the many meanings of "home" in an exquisite and sensitive work. A personal diary brought to life.
Brazil's national heroes drum with such passion and ferocity that dancers are forever running from the wings to join the party. Audience members at the Ordway concert this fall went a merengue step further, forming impromptu conga lines in the aisles, turning the event into a mini Carnival.
"Ezekiel's Wheel," performed by Danny Buraczeski and his feisty troupe, was a revelation, filled with soul-soaring music by Philip Hamilton and an epic sweep inspired by writer James Baldwin. This was a work that moved even the most jaded dance audience to tears.
The road company repping this Broadway hit was a randy bunch, bumping and grinding in directions Bob Fosse, bad-boy choreographer and director of the film version, never thought to go. Quite possibly the first time fisting was ever simulated on the State Theater stage.
The dance and theater communities bid farewell to the retiring Strib critic who faithfully recorded every triumph and misstep on Twin Cities stages for over 30 years. The festive evening at the Guthrie included, of course, a ceremonial torching of Steele's dog-eared thesaurus.
Japan's top postmodernist performers evolved into futurists at the Guthrie Lab with [OR], a techno-rich piece contemplating the experience of death in ways only Ingmar Bergman--on a Ketamine trip--could hope to imagine.
Chris Aiken/Patrick Scully
One's short, the other's tall, and together they make up a delightful contact-improvisation duo. Drawing upon engaging humor, a contentious friendship, and intelligent observations on the state of the world (and Mars, in this case), these dancers created on-the-spot performances full of wondrous unpredictability.