Northeast spotlight :: Putting on the Ritz

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August 31, 2009 // UPDATED 8:47 am - August 31, 2009
By: Sarah McKenzie
Sarah McKenzie
The Ritz Theater is best known as the home of the dance company Ballet of the Dolls, but since its renovation it has become a community hub for all kinds of neighborhood activities.

The 238-seat Ritz, originally built as a movie theater in the mid-1920s, has once again become the focal point of 13th Avenue — one of the most artsy and eclectic streets in the city.

Donna Bachman, executive director at Ballet of the Dolls/Ritz Theater, said the theater has many potential uses.

“It’s a great community space and a great place to see theater and music,” she said. “We have an eclectic vision. We don’t want to pin ourselves into one niche.”

Upcoming events in September include “8 @ 8,” a sampling of dance from eight Twin Cities. The CIA (Choreographers in Accord) is behind the event, which will be held Sept. 10 and 11. Other performers lined up for the month include Minneapolis singer-songwriter Alicia Corbett who will play with Tea & Sympathy, Latvia’s Three Tenors, the Zorongo Flamenco Dance Theatre and the Nightinghales.

The Ballet of the Dolls, founded in 1986 by choreographer Myron Johnson, has a mission “to fearlessly create challenging and surprising dance work that brings a sense of discovery to audiences and artists alike.”

Upcoming productions include “Pas de Quatre” (Four Dancing Divas) in October. The show will be a deconstruction of four ballets made by the Ballet Russes — “Cleopatra,” “Scheherazade,” “The Firebird” and “Le Dieu Bleu.”

In December, the company will perform “Nutcracker (not so) Suite.” It’s a new take on the holiday classic that will also celebrate Barbie’s 50th birthday and explore the impact of these dismal economic times on Marie’s Mother, Flo. A show description says patrons can “expect hilarious, touching, and risqué performances, saturated with much merrymaking.”

Jennifer Markey, a local musician who will open for Alicia Corbett on Sept. 12, said she’s excited to perform at the venue and eager to see more concerts there. Both Markey and Corbett live in Northeast and Markey serves on the Sheridan Neighborhood Organization’s board of directors.

“[The Ritz] has brought people in from outside the area. I think that whole [13th Avenue] area has changed the dynamic of the neighborhood and brought a little bit more culture to the area,” she said. “It’s been a really nice anchor in the neighborhood.”

The Ritz Theater
Where: 345 13th Ave. NE