Downtown Art

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May 30, 2005 // UPDATED 1:55 pm - April 26, 2007
By: Loon lake
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My fourth-grade stint with classical ballet was a disaster. Mind you, there are baby-name books that claim that my name, "Anna," signifies "grace." My gracefulness was trumped by my arthritis. After all, it's Anna Pratt, not Anna Pirouette. Can't you just see it? While attempting to do the splits, I would split tragically - and let out a sharp howl in the middle of some lovely Russian piece wherein everyone else seemed to float oh-so-delicately?

Maybe I'd luck out and my glaring lack of flexibility would be hailed as a "controversial" move instead of an affront. Perhaps my awkwardness could redefine ballet. I could offer up the impression of an agile rose-spirit plunging out of a window during a girl's dream, as in the dance, "Le Spectre de la Rose."

Although that scenario is theoretically possible, I settled instead for everything danceable from a distance, like a repressed window shopper. Back in grade school, I watched dance classes rehearse and collected calendars with pictures of ballet performances. I was totally jealous of all of those who didn't suffer from mild paralysis, who didn't sometimes limp during rainy weather (I do, depending on the pressure change) or get stuck in their chairs.

For book reports I checked out titles from the library about people whose last names ended with shka/kov/iev/lova/aya/oi and other Russian suffixes. I wasn't fanatical, but I did feel a little slighted by the gene pool that had placed the athletic by Swan Lake and deposited klutzy me near some 10,000 Loon Lakes.

Although I've stopped feeling sorry for myself (I do still walk stiffly or get stuck in chairs during big pressure changes), I definitely appreciate the agility of these athletes and the abstract images they convey and live.

Anyway, the Metropolitan Ballet's Classic Gala epitomizes what comes to mind when I think of ballet. Performing famous pieces such as "The Dying Swan," "Le Spectre de la Rose," "Afternoon of a Faun" and "The Carnival of the Animals," they showcase award-winning talent whose emotive and fluid steps capture the otherworldly seemingly effortlessly.

F-Su May 27-29; F 8 p.m., Sa 8 p.m., Su 3 p.m. Pantages Theatre, 710 Hennepin Ave. S., $22.50-$42.50. 651-989-5151, www.hennepintheatredistrict.org.

Tony toasts Jeune Lune

Champagne is flowing and bouquets are aplenty at Theatre de la Jeune Lune, broadly known for its spectacle and physical comedy. The theater scored a coveted Tony Award for best regional theater. The five artistic directors will claim the $25,000 prize that comes along with it at the New York City ceremony on June 5.

The Jeune Lune won one of three esteemed badges the Tony Awards Administration, which has been up-and-running for 59 years, gives out to individuals or institutions yearly in addition to the 25 competitive categories. It recognizes the company's artistry and accomplishments infusing all of its productions.

The Jeune Lune is one of three significant local theaters to attain Tony status, including the Guthrie and the Children's Theatre Company.

What makes the Jeune Lune special? Heralded for its poetic texts, painterly use of light and timely physical gags, the Jeune Lune concept varies widely from the rest. Besides the fact that they're so much smaller than most of the others in the lineup (they have a staff of 12), they draw from a French brand of theater, that of Jacques Lecoq and work from a model that includes five artistic directors: Vincent Gracieux, Robert Rosen, Steven Epp, Dominique Serrand and Barbra Berlovitz. All together, they produce a style of entertainment that is sometimes sophisticated and other times lowbrow and irreverent; that is, it's always rich and colorful.

Some artists try to make us uncomfortable, choosing to depict subjects that make us question what's really happening in the picture plane. Others draw from exotic places, giving us an idea of places we may or not see in real life. Still other artists, such as Fred Anderson, illustrate the landscape we pass daily. His oil-painted excursions through the eastern central portion of the state are calm and comfortable. Anderson drives around a lot, hunting for the perfect perch.

Anderson does look suspicious as he carefully eyes yards and homes. However, with a paintbrush and canvas out, he can't be mistaken as an intruder. Same thing goes for his work. Articulating subtle lighting in people-less settings, the spirit of his oils is like Monet's "Haystacks," with a quiet understanding of how values change according to time of day.

Tu-Sa thru June 4, Tu-F noon-5 p.m., Sa noon-4 p.m. Groveland Gallery, 25 Groveland Terrace, Free. 377-7800, www.grovelandgallery.com.