Artists of the Year

As Larson puts it, "That's enough for me."

Steven Lang is a freelance writer and artist living in Minneapolis.

Bradley Greenwald

BY QUINTON SKINNER

Bradley Greenwald sported a lot of strange looks in 2006, including (but perhaps not limited to): a padded Grinch outfit, a sleek Satanic number, a batch of rags, and a demure lady's dress with stockings. Between performances and rehearsals, he surely spent more nights working than not. Happily enough, his toil was distinguished in quality as well as quantity, with performances that were kaleidoscopic in their variety.

February found Greenwald portraying Don Quixote in Nautilus Music-Theatre's Man of La Mancha, lending a booming voice and daft presence to a stripped-down production. The next month he took the stage in Jeune Lune's stylish opera Mefistofele, his hair dyed shield-your-eyes blond, swaggering in the title role with demonic magnetism.

While Greenwald has long established his credibility as a classical and early music vocalist, his appearance at the Jungle in I Am My Own Wife beginning in June was nothing less than a breakout acting performance. Here Greenwald took on the elderly Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, a survivor of both the Nazi and East German regimes, and a lifelong transvestite. He also tackled more than 30 other characters in the one-man show, carrying the story with a mix of delicacy and power.

In the fall, Greenwald reprised a role in Minnesota Dance Theatre's Carmina Burana, but it was December that put a bow on his gifts to Twin Cities audiences. Currently appearing as the Grinch in Children's Theatre Company's How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Greenwald slithers and snarls hilariously. And his operatic vocals fill up the big room nicely: I should know, having caught the show at the last minute and sat in the back row of the main floor, where none of Greenwald's gestures were lost.

Bradley Greenwald's better half must go to a lot of movies alone, but that's not our problem. He might be due for a break, but let's hope he doesn't take one any time soon.

Quinton Skinner is theater critic at City Pages and the author of 14 Degrees Below Zero.

Eddie Oroyan

BY CAROLINE PALMER

This year dancer Eddie Oroyan has found himself in a few hair-raising situations, including dangling by a rope from the rafters of the State Theater in the Metropolitan Ballet's Dracula: A Ballet of Passion, Life and Death. Fortunately, the 27-year-old, who just as fearlessly works as a substitute teacher by day, has the ability to jump "like a flea," according to the New York Times. This particular gift for Tigger-style bounding has helped him spring in and out of many unexpected positions.

Since arriving in the Twin Cities in 2002, Oroyan has caught the attention of the dance community for his often playful, Labrador-like approach to movement. He's not a big guy: Oroyan has the efficient build of a gymnast, muscular enough to pull off the hard work but also unfailingly agile. What really amazes is his seemingly superhuman ability to engage his muscles into acrobatic jumps that transfer him from one place to another before your brain even registers his change in location. Oroyan's performance with Carl Flink's Black Label Movement this August provided ample opportunity to showcase his athleticism, as did his wonderfully twisted turn as Renfield in Dracula. Here, Flink's choreography offered the spirited dancer a juicy opportunity to descend into full-on madness.

At the same time, Oroyan can button down his natural springiness and magnetic presence to deliver serious and tender moments. This is the mood that guided him throughout Shapiro & Smith Dance's celebration of heartland dreams, Anytown: Stories of America.

Oroyan has been fortunate to work with savvy choreographers who know how to harness his unique energy without turning him into a glorified acrobat. Which is to say that this is a dancer who is just as comfortable in flight as on terra firma. He may jump like a flea but he also knows how to soar.

Caroline Palmer is a Minneapolis-based attorney and frequent contributor to City Pages.

Ali Selim

BY ROB NELSON

"Banking and farming don't mix" becomes a gentle refrain in Ali Selim's Sweet Land, a film about independent farmers that was financed entirely through private investment and tended like a precious crop before the harvest. Banking and filmmaking mix incestuously all the time (as do banking and farming these days), but not here. The fortysomething writer-director knew what he had in his heartfelt adaptation of Will Weaver's short story "A Gravestone Made of Wheat," and he held it firm for almost 15 years before committing a single frame to old-fashioned celluloid. Even when the film was finished, after 24 days of shooting around southern Minnesota, and it had begun to garner well-deserved acclaim at festivals around the world, Selim continued to clutch his hard work as tightly as his characters Olaf and Inge hold onto their land and each other in 1920. As good fortune comes to those in Sweet Land who wait (for the honeymoon not least), the many lessons of Selim's simply profound film include these: Be patient. Don't value convenience over community. Keep going. Breathe.

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