Zenon presents new and favorite pieces at the Cowles this weekend

Zenon Dance Company opens its spring concert at the Cowles Center for Dance and Performing Arts this weekend with an evening of work that artistic director Linda Andrews says is extremely physical for the top-notch group of dancers. The performance features two world premieres, "Folktale Zero" by Minnesota-based choreographer Daniel Stark, and a new piece by Netta Yerushalvy, who is based in New York City and has worked extensively in Israel. Also on the docket will be a reprise of "My Quarrelling Heart," choreographed by 2013 MacArthur Genius Fellow Kyle Abraham, and Danny Buraczeski's epic "Ezekiel's Wheel," which was previously presented last fall. 

Stark's "Folktale Zero" looks at the influence of folk tales in the age of the internet, with its deluge of downloads and tweets. Drawing inspiration from the Icelandic story of Grýla, about a giantess who lives in the mountains and devours children (played by Mary Anne Bradley, whose red hair fits well with the roll), the piece asks if the young generation even has use for these types of stories, or if rather we are approaching the death of the folktale. 

Andrews says she chose to bring on Stark, who is an assistant professor in dance at Mankato State, for this season in part because she's interested in supporting Minnesota-based choreographers as well as guest artists from New York. She had seen Stark's work previously, and wanted him to work with the Zenon dancers. "Some of the strongest moments are the duets," she says of the piece, with changing partners flipping in and out of coupled moments. 

The other premiere is choreographed by Yerushalmy, whose work "Hello My Name is Catherine" was presented in 2012. According to Andrews, the new piece is completely different from her earlier pieces. Working with seven dancers, Yerushalmy wanted to deconstruct and delve into abstract movement. The piece finds inspiration from artist Piet Mondrian, whose paintings are characterized by a white background and three primary colors. "It looks like a Mondrian painting in motion," Andrews says. "It's very stark and modern looking." 

Abraham's "My Quarreling Heart" will also be shown on the program, which was created collaboratively with the company in 2011. Abraham has "hit the big time all of a sudden," says Andrews, especially with his recent MacArthur award. The piece, which like the other work in the program is very difficult and challenging, includes a lot of quick movement and is "extremely physical," she says. 


The second half of the evening is devoted to Buraczeski's masterwork "Ezekiel's Wheel," which was also presented at Zenon's fall concert, but Andrews felt she wanted to show it again to give more people a chance to see it. Created in 1999, the masterwork utilizes text from James Baldwin and a jazz score. 


Zenon's Spring Concert

8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 7 p.m. Sundays

May 9-May 18

Cowles Center for Dance and Performing Arts