• Performing Arts and Music Preview

    May 26 – June 1

    With spring awakening ancient feelings, Milwaukee's fine arts scene turns to a celebration of the spirit. We suspect many artists, actors, and musicians are oiling up their bikes for next weekend's Miller Lite Ride for the Arts (more on that in a feature article for TCD next week). But there are several programs for kids, by kids, and by up-and-comers featured this week.

  • Dancing with Common People

    Milwaukee Ballet does “Live and Kicking”

    While the Milwaukee Ballet takes its act on the road in St. Louis this weekend for a kind of lollapalooza of dance companies called "Spring to Dance Festival", we look at the final 2008-09 season performance featuring the return of a popular but strange William Shatner-inspired piece.

  • Performing, Music and Visual Arts Preview

    May 12-18

    This week in Performance and Visual Arts: live improv comedy, Ko-Thi's 40th anniversary, "Common People" (yep, the Shatner ballet) at Milwaukee Ballet, Paul Cebar and David Greenberger at the Pabst, pajama jamborees, a "no instrument spared" musical event at the WCM, True Skool (sic) at MAM and much, much more.

  • Performance, Music, and Visual Arts Preview

    May 4-12, 2009

    It's a splashy week in Milwaukee performing and visual arts: Marvin Hamlisch, old-time radio, The Great Divorce, Beauty and the Beast, 42nd Street, Willy Wonka, Mad Hot Ballroom, Cirque du Soleil and more.

  • Review

    Wild Space Dance’s ‘Map of Memories’ sheds light on a disbanded Milwaukee community

    Map of Memories is not only an enthralling 90-minute kinetic display of beautiful sinewy human motion but also a local history lesson. A performance event features a fascinating pre-show talk by Milwaukee Historian John Gurda about the origins of Jones Island, its inhabitants, and its eventual change into its support for modern industry.

  • Performance and Visual Arts Preview

    April 29 to May 4

    We’re adjusting the timing of this weekly preview to give you a better jump on planning your outings. As a result what you see here are the events going on just through this weekend (and one event beyond). Check back Monday, May 4 for a new selection of performing, musical, and visual arts happening in Milwaukee and the surrounding areas. The first days of May (May Day! May Day!) presents new offerings from a wild farce from Windfall Theater (I had seven margaritas!), a Wild Space Dance performance about Jones Island (Kaszubes in ballet shoes!), and a standout from Alverno Presents (Inyembezi Zam!). Comedy Headline Comedian Mike Kosta, JD’s Comedy Café, 4/30-5/2 Also Featuring Josh Alton, Steve Hartman, Geoff LaFleur. Contact: 414.271.5653 or JD’s. The Midnight Show, ComedySportz, 5/2 at 12:00 a.m. (naturally) The hardest working day of the week for this venue is Saturdays, when they regularly host a 3:00 p.m. matinee for kids and then two more shows at 7:30 and 10:00 p.m. But it’s the adults only, must be 18 or older show that takes place late which has the most ribald sass. Contact: 866.512.5233 or ComedySportz. Headlining Comedian Billy Gardell, Jokerz Comedy Club, 4/30-5/2, 8 p.m. Star of Hit TV Series such as Heist, Yes Dear, and the King of Queens, Billy Gardell is the kind of comedian that makes you laugh your ass off. Sort of a mix of a New Jersey guy doing the Redneck Comedy Tour material as Jackie Gleason. See here: _ Dance Map of Memories, Wild Space Dance Company at Studio 1661, 5/1. Back by overwhelming public demand, Map of Memories will return for an encore performance, telling the story of Milwaukee’s Jones Island. Inspired by the lives of Polish, Kaszubian, and Eastern European immigrants who founded the Island’s fishing village in the 1870s, Map of Memories merges expressive contemporary dance with historic images and text. Prior to the evening performances, Milwaukee historian and author John Gurda will discuss the island’s journey from thriving fishing village to harbor hub. Contact: 414.271.0712 or Wild Space. Rhapsody in Blue, Cashiel Dennehy School of Irish Dance at South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center, 5/2 A high-flying, powerful performance that combines the traditional, innovative and unique. Rhapsody showcases all that Irish dancing has to offer – there is truly something for everyone in this show. The event features dancers of all ages shining on stage, a raffle, a silent auction and much more. Contact: 414.766.5049 or SMPAC. _ Theater Stations Of The Cross, Boulevard Ensemble Studio Theater, 4/29 Boulevard closes its 23rd season by staging the premiere of local Milwaukee playwright and actress Beth Monhollen’s comedy of waitressing. As an actress, Monhollen has appeared with many companies in Milwaukee (Late-Night Theatre X, Inertia Ensemble) and has consistently won accolades for her work. A founding member of Milwaukee’s WIND-UP DOLLS THEATRE (an all-women improvisational-based theatre company), Monhollen has performed countless times with the feminist ensemble as well as creating many of its pieces.  This production marks Ms. […]

  • Performance and Visual Art Openings April 22-29

    This Spring week's new offerings include a night of comedy and trivia at the Cedarburg Cultural Center, a play offering an unusual look at waitressing, the return of Insurgent, . Here are some openings and highlights.....

  • Milwaukee Ballet Announces 40th Anniversary Season

    The Milwaukee Ballet announced its 40th anniversary season in style with a lovely early-evening soiree at the Iron Horse Hotel on March 12. It promises to be an exciting and innovative season, with something for every taste. The Nutcracker  will (as usual) be the longest-running show of the season, taking over the Marcus Center for most of the month of December (the 11th through the 27th, to be precise). The Company will continue to present artistic director Michael Pink’s vision of this classic holiday favorite. In addition, Milwaukee Ballet will present two other family-friendly, traditional ballets: Cinderella in October of 2009 and Peter Pan in May of 2010. The production of Peter Pan will feature the Mr. Pink’s choreography set to an original score by Philip Feeney composed for the Milwaukee Ballet. Cinderella will enthrall young audience members with lavish period costumes and a pumpkin carriage. Both Peter Pan and Cinderella will feature not only Company members but also performers from the Milwaukee Ballet School, expanding the scope of the School beyond the traditional Nutcracker roles. However, as Mr. Pink noted in his remarks at the announcement party, the Milwaukee Ballet may be turning 40 this year, but it will not use that as an excuse to rest on its laurels or start to look exclusively to the past for its productions. The Company has developed a reputation, both in Milwaukee and across the country, for innovative and inventive productions, and that will not change. In addition to the three traditional ballets, the 2009-2010 season will offer two additional ballets as well as a collaboration with UWM’s Peck School. Innovative Motion (February 11-14, 2010) brings back the winner of the 2009 Genesis international choreography competition, in addition to a world premiere work by Luc Vanier and a piece entitled “Clowns and Others” by Salvatore Aiello. All three will be abstract works showcasing the movement and physicality of dance. In late March, Pure Dance will bring a slate of works that draw not only from classical ballet but from all forms of movement, from Hispanic and Arabic culture to gypsy sensibility to contemporary dance. Jerry Opdenaker and Val Caniparoli will contribute pieces, and Milwaukee’s own Petr Zahradnicek will create another world premiere for the Milwaukee Ballet. In collaboration with the Peck School, the Milwaukee Ballet School, and the Milwaukee Ballet II program, a one-night performance of Ma Maison  will be offered on March 9 as part of the Trey McIntyre project. This performance is not included in any of the Ballet’s regular season packages, but tickets can be purchased through the Ballet. In addition to the season, Milwaukee Ballet also announced the launching of their new website. Found here, it features more in-depth information about every aspect of the Company and School. The Milwaukee Ballet also has a new friends group, Balletomane, which will provide support to both the Company and the School. The Milwaukee Ballet’s next performance is the choreographic competition Genesis, March 26-29, 2009 at the Pabst Theater. Tickets […]

  • Behind the curtain

    This month, to an even greater extent than usual, you can leaf through the pages of VITAL and find calendar listings, phone numbers, websites and profiles of the people that power the ships, as well as evidence, photographic and otherwise, of creative output. With a little imagination you can envision a setting: a proscenium stage, a row of footlights, dusty makeup rooms and wardrobes stuffed with spangled costumes. You might think about musical instruments or ballet shoes, or you might imagine the barely-controlled chaos of ticket offices and sales departments. But what else happens inside a performance company? And how wide of an audience do arts groups reach? What is their relevance or value to the wider world? The truth is, with public schools more strapped for cash than ever and cultural resources dwindling, arts organizations are sometimes a community’s most powerful force for education, outreach and enrichment resources. Members and affiliates of the United Performing Arts Fund alone touch over a million people every year, including more than 400,000 area children, according to UPAF Vice President of Community Relations and Marketing Linda Edelstein. Here, four major Milwaukee arts institutions share their most compelling initiatives for the coming season and the value they’ve brought to the city. Training and growth It’s a big year for the Milwaukee Ballet, whose acclaimed Ballet School is rated among the very best in the nation. In late August the School opened its largest branch at the Sendik’s Towne Centre in Brookfield, and this fall, the ink should be dry on the accreditation forms sent in to the National Association of Schools for Dance. If accredited, the Milwaukee Ballet School – established in 1975 – will be the only dance institution in the region that has met the NASD’s standards. But the Ballet’s outreach programming extends beyond sprung dance floors, lofty studios and kids in tutus. Their education programs alone reach over 20,000 kids a year through in-school performances, workshops and collaborations with other arts organizations. Merging training, performance, enrichment and the continuity that a successful arts education program requires, Relevé, an inner city youth dance program, provides ballet training to over 175 students at four MPS elementary schools: Allen-Field, Dover, Maple Tree and Vieau. Children start small with once-a-week, in-school ballet classes in 3rd grade and advance through 4th and 5th grade with training at the Milwaukee Ballet studios in the Peck Center. All of their dancewear is provided for free, and their study is enriched with free tickets to shows at the Ballet, in-school performances, meeting with company dancers and end-of-the-year recitals. “Relevé allows us to work with girls – and boys – who wouldn’t otherwise see these same kinds of opportunities,” says Alyson Vivar, Director of Education at the Ballet. “They really learn so much more than ballet – they learn discipline and self-confidence, and they have fun.” Training young people doesn’t have to stop with school kids. Art depends on fresh faces and the collision of new ideas with established practices […]

  • “The LEGS are the wheels of creativity” — Albert Einstein

    In tribute to their strength and versatility, legs are used metaphorically in a variety of different cultures all over the world to indicate strength or mobility. Consisting of thousands of flexible muscle fibers grouped into numerous muscles, the legs are capable of impressive range of motion and are used for a wide array of different movements from walking to running to jumping to dancing. In any given performing arts season, local dance groups celebrate dances from cultures all over the world. In September, Madison’s Kanopy Dance Company hosts Riad Middle Eastern Dance Company to blend disparate movements from two sides of the world. From further south, Ko-Thi performs its annual African-styled harvest show at Alverno. The bite of December’s cold blows in the Russian heat of not one, but THREE productions of Tchaikovski’s The Nutcracker. The month opens up with The Minnesota Ballet at the Schauer Center. The next day, the Moscow Ballet comes to the Riverside Theatre while later on in the month The Milwaukee Ballet brings Michael Pink’s vision to the Marcus Center. Things continue to heat up in January as the fleet-footed and colorful Ballet Folklorico Mexico comes to the Waukesha Civic Theatre. In March, legends from Russia mix with puppets and contemporary choreography as Kanopy Dance presents Dark Nights: Baba Yaga and Other Dreams – a collaboration with mask and puppet artist Heidi Cooper. The range of motion broadens even further in February as Alverno Presents the return of David Nieman’s Advanced Beginner Group in a show featuring dance inspired by the rules and tactics of sports. In April, Alverno Presents also welcomes the work of highly accomplished choreographer Karole Armitage and her Armitage Gone! Dance Company. Also in April, Danceworks presents a fusion of dance and new musical compositions as it collaborates with fresh art music gurus Present Music in what should be an extremely refreshing evening of dance and music. Milwaukee Ballet also has a few premiers coming up, including its annual trip to the Pabst Theatre for a concert featuring new work and the season-closing La Bayadere, featuring new work by Artistic Director Michael Pink.

  • Found in translation

    By Evan Solochek With so many misconceptions, half-truths and flat-out ignorance surrounding the Middle East, immersing yourself in its diverse culture and rich history for a weekend seems a good first step to enlightenment. In a time where stories of bombings and body counts are a nightly fixture on local and national news, it’s easy to overlook the positive and encouraging aspects of one of the oldest and most influential cultures in history. During Europe’s Dark Ages, Arab nations took in its “heretical” scholars, especially those practicing science and medicine, fostering their work and saving the world from losing invaluable knowledge. They gave us our system of numbering and have produced some of the finest architecture, artistic artifacts and textiles known to man. This month, Milwaukeeans can witness first-hand what we won’t be likely to see on television. Now in its ninth year, Arab World Fest is a multi-cultural celebration loosely grouped under the label “Arab World,” which is itself one of the biggest confusions. Much greater than just the Arabian Peninsula, the Arab world spreads across 22 countries in the Middle East and Northern Africa, and while most Arabs are Muslims, the Arab world also includes significant Christian and Jewish communities. Yes, there will be falafel and belly dancing and camel rides. But more importantly, there will be the opportunity to foster a better understanding of and appreciation for Arabian cultural heritage and the political awareness and sentiments of its citizens. To that end, one of the Fest’s newest and most highly anticipated attractions will be its film festival, highlighted by Occupation 101. “We brought this last year and were showing it in a small tent and there was standing room only,” says Ihsan Atta, President of Arab World Fest. “We were surprised at the overwhelming positive response, which led us to have a film festival this year.” A powerful and moving documentary, Occupation 101 details the current state and the historical roots of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. From the first massive Jewish immigration from Europe in the 1880s and the 1948, 1967 and Yom Kippur wars to the Oslo Peace Process and Intifadas of 1987 and 2000, this film offers one of the most comprehensive analyses – along with first person testimonials – of this seemingly unending conflict. Other entries of note include Paradise Now, which was released in 2005 by Warner Independent. The harrowing story of two Palestinian childhood friends who are recruited for a suicide strike on Tel Aviv, Paradise Now chronicles their last two days together as they say goodbye to loved ones and family and prepare for their mission. While en route to meet a driver who will take them to Tel Aviv, the two young men are separated from their handlers and intercepted at the Israeli border by a young woman who, after discovering their plan, tries to make them reconsider their path. It’s a first-hand look at the lives and motivations of two would-be faceless martyrs. Most Westerners don’t really understand what the […]