Minnesota Dance Theatre: Carmina Burana

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Turning 50 years old can be a sobering milestone, triggering fears that past abilities will inevitably ossify with the march of time. The Minnesota Dance Theatre, however, is observing its mid-centennial birthday with a defiantly energetic revival of Carmina Burana, a work that signifies the group's storied history as one of the region's leading innovators of modern dance. As adapted by Loyce Houlton, the theater's founder, Carmina Burana is centered on the famed cantata of the same name by composer Carl Orff. Combining the mesmerizing, lithe movements of the MDT dancers with the vocal dynamics of Bradley Greenwald, Jennifer Baldwin Peden, and Justin Madel, the work conjures an enveloping atmosphere of enchantment inspired from the writings of 13th-century poets. Far from pious mediators, however, these bards were known for risqué verses devoted to the irreverent and incorrigible, leaning more toward licentious lust than spiritual chastity. This latest production is guided by the collaboration of MDT's artistic director (and daughter of Loyce) Lise Houlton along with acclaimed performance artist Dominique Serrand. Saturday's Golden Gala offers an evening of added festivities, including a three-course dinner and cocktails to celebrate the occasion, while performances are offered throughout the weekend. After a half-century, it would appear Minnesota Dance Theatre is now hitting its stride. (Image by Tim Boatman)
Thu., April 26, 8 p.m.; April 27-28, 6 p.m.; Sun., April 29, 2 p.m., 2012