The BodyCartography Project
October 25–27 • Walker Art Center McGuire Theater

Gene Pittman, courtesy Walker Art Center

Part dance, part installation, Super Nature juxtaposes the primal and the civilized, the raw and the cooked. The Minneapolis-based, globetrotting duo of Olive Bieranga and Otto Ramstad create a rad dialectic between nature, red in tooth and claw, and the veneer of social interaction we so assiduously cultivate. You never know what these earnestly ecological, aesthetically freewheeling, thoroughly original artists will come up with, but some of the area's most consistently fascinating performers will be there, including Ramstad, Justin Jones, Emily Johnson, and Anna Shogren. Special guests from the Lyon Opera Ballet, where Ramstad and Bieranga created a work in 2010, should make for a wildly engaging evening of dance theater. With an original score by Bessie Award-winning composer Zeena Parkins, who will be performing live in an elaborate scenic installation by Emmett Ramstad. Oct. 25-27. $15-$22. 1750 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.375.7600. —Linda Shapiro

Emory Allen

Miguel Gutierrez and the Powerful People
September 19–22 • Walker Art Center McGuire Theater

courtesy of Walker Art Center

The audience surrounds the action in Miguel Gutierrez's And lose the name of action. Seated on the stage of the Walker Art Center's McGuire Theater, they get an up-close and personal experience of this many-sided New York dance artist. His adrenaline-junkie tendencies feed into work that is all heart, heralded by the New York Times as "smart and moving and full of questions." Gutierrez's company, the Powerful People, incorporates both young and mature dancers who often look a lot like the rest of us, including revered New York performers K.J. Holmes and Ishmael Houston-Jones. Commissioned by WAC, the work explores some heady ideas, including how we experience consciousness through séances, neurological processes, and the mysterious logic of improvisation. No matter what the underlying themes, Gutierrez's dances are always about bodies moving with the intensity and zeal of true believers. $15-$22. 1750 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.375.7600. —Linda Shapiro

Voices of Strength: Contemporary Dance and Theater by Women from Africa
October 10–13 • Walker Art Center McGuire Theater

Nadia Beugre in Quartiers Libres courtesy of the artist

This ambitious mini-festival brings two programs focusing on dance theater by five fierce female director-choreographers from Africa. Program I features Kettly Noël (Mali and Haiti) and Nelisiwe Xaba (South Africa) in Correspondences, a duet that takes familiar themes (race, culture, gender) in raucous directions. In Sombra, Maria Helena Pinto of Mozambique explores the lives of "invisible" women with a bucket over her head. Program II presents Bouchra Quizguen's (Morocco) Madame Plaza, replete with guttural wailing and incantations by three Aïta vocalists, and Quartiers Libre by Nadia Beugré (Ivory Coast), a solo that illuminates the struggle between cultural boundaries and personal freedom. A great chance to witness the drive and diversity of contemporary African dance. Program I: Oct. 10 & 12. Program II: Oct. 11 & 13. $18-$22, or both for $30. 1750 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.375.7600. —Linda Shapiro


Sherman Alexie
November 12 • Plymouth Congregational Church

photo: Chase Jarvis

Outspoken indigenous poet, novelist, and short-story writer Sherman Alexie has won a host of awards, including the National Book Award for Young People's Literature. Last year he defended young people and their literature when the Wall Street Journal complained that kids' books had become far too "dark." His response: "As a child, I read because books — violent and not, blasphemous and not, terrifying and not — were the most loving and trustworthy things in my life. And now I write books for teenagers.... I don't write to protect them. It's far too late for that. I write to give them weapons — in the form of words and ideas — that will help them fight their monsters. I write in blood because I remember what it felt like to bleed." He'll be reading from his newest book, Blasphemy: New and Selected Stories. Plymouth Congregational Church, 1900 Nicollet Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.871.7400. —William Alexander

Erin Morgenstern
November 9 • Fitzgerald Theater

photo: Kelly Davidson

MPR's Talking Volumes series presents Erin Morgenstern, author of The Night Circus. Pretty much everyone has gushed about this debut novel. Writer Audrey Niffenegger says: "Playful and intensely imaginative, Erin Morgenstern has created the circus I have always longed for, and she has populated it with dueling love-struck magicians, precocious kittens, hyper-elegant displays of beauty, and complicated clocks. This is a marvelous book." Morgenstern studied theater and studio art at Smith College. Both her stories and her paintings are usually fairy tales. She read Stephen King novels at 12 and J.K. Rowling at 21, and speculates that this speaks volumes about her own literary development. $25 ($23 for MPR members). Fitzgerald Theater, 10 E. Exchange St., St. Paul; 651.290.1200. —William Alexander

Zadie Smith
October 23 • Coffman Memorial Union Theater

photo: Dominique Nabokob

Zadie Smith is widely praised as one of the most intelligent, insightful, and incisive voices in contemporary fiction. She's also funny. Her wit can disarm dearly held weapons of prejudice and pretension. Most famous for her debut novel, White Teeth, Smith has since published The Autograph Man, On Beauty, the essay collection Changing My Mind, and most recently NW, praised by the Boston Globe for the rich immediacy of its characters and their London neighborhood. She'll be giving the Esther Freier Endowed Lecture at the U of M. A signing and public reception will follow. Free. Coffman Memorial Union Theater, 300 Washington Ave. SE, Minneapolis; 612.626.1528. —William Alexander

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