The Arts

The Sky’s the Limit

There’s prairie photography, and then there’s Jim Brandenburg. The Minnesota-based National Geographic photographer has a masterful and painterly touch, whether shooting dove eggs in a tuft of grass or snow drifting across the landscape. The Bell Museum of Natural History opens the exhibit “Touch the Sky: Prairie Photographs by Jim Brandenburg” on October 1, offering more than 43 photographs of open spaces in Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa, and the Dakotas—remnants of an ecosystem as exotic as it is endangered.
Bell Museum of Natural History, University of Minnesota’s East Bank campus, 10 Church St. SE, Mpls., 612-624-4112

Black-Light Special

Climbing the walls in tattoos and tights—no, it’s not a hipster party gone wrong, it’s Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy, the latest acrobatic extravaganza from the Cirque du Soleil folks. Only this time, the big top has been left behind: the troupe will swarm the stage of the State Theatre from October 6 to 8, with acrobats and contortionists traipsing and trapezing in a spangled, sparklinga Cirque du Soleil performance wonderland that would have set Alice’s head spinning—dreams that go
better with a black light than a nightlight.
State Theatre, 805 Hennepin Ave., Mpls., 612-673-0404
(Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy photo by Carol Rosegg)

Bop Chops

The Vijay Iyer Quartet, which hits the Walker Art Center on October 19, performs post-bop jazz, post-everything-you’ve-heard-before. Iyer’s work blends contemporary sounds with white-hot solos, complex polyrhythms, and touches of his Indian musical heritage, leading the Village Voice to call him “the most commanding pianist and composer to emerge in recent years.” Groovy. • Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Ave., Mpls., 612-375-7600.

I Vant To Dance

The physicality of the Dracula myth is obvious, what with all the blood-sucking. So dance would seem a natural medium for telling the story. The Metropolitan Ballet’s Dracula, to be performed at the State Theatre October 27 and 28, involves the work of several accomplished local choreographers, including up-and-coming University of Minnesota dance-department head Carl Flink. And with such appropriate concurrent events as a Red Cross blood drive and a pumpkin-carving contest, there’s no way it could suck. • State Theatre, 805 Hennepin Ave., Mpls., 612-673-0404.

Enter the Arena

Since graduating from the University of Minnesota in 1994, choreographer Mathew Janczewski has been shaking up the Twin Cities dance scene while earning several honors and awards, including a McKnight Artist Fellowship. His 10-year-old troupe, Arena Dances, celebrates its run with Ten at the Southern Theater from October 19 to 22. The bill includes world premieres and live music in performances guaranteed to rate a perfect 10 for sheer physical energy. • Southern Theater, 1420 Washington Ave. S., Mpls., 612-340-1725.

Simply Jazz

The young French singing star Mina Agossi, who performs at the Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant on October 29 and 30, has a complex background and broad talents. Born to French and West African parents, she incorporates hip-hop, blues, jazz, and world beats into her music and imitates free-jazz solos with her voice. But her performance style is sleek and simple—she is accompanied only by bass, drums, and percussion—and mesmerizing. “You can’t take your eyes off her,” said The Guardian of London. Though it’s the music, of course, that matters. • Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant, 1010 Nicollet Mall, Mpls., 612-332-1010.

Halloween Companions

Seeing radio personalities in the flesh is mildly spooky, but Garrison Keillor’s
Halloween-inspired monologue and tales should be the real spine-tingling entertainment when he appears with the
VocalEssence choir and fellow cast members of A Prairie Home Companion on October 29 at Orchestra Hall. As an added treat (or is it a trick?), the choir will premiere Ghost Towns of the American West, a commission from British composer Judith Bingham, who has penned works for the likes of the BBC Philharmonic and Westminster Abbey. • Orchestra Hall, 1111 Nicollet Mall, Mpls., 612-371-5656.

The Art of Being Rochester

You may have heard of the Mayo Clinic’s terrific art collection (on view throughout its Rochester headquarters), but how about the city’s Avenue of the Arts? Actually the title was only recently conceived to designate a strip of downtown Rochester as the city’s arts district. But ARTStober Fest should help the cause, as it features various visual, musical, and otherwise arts-related events throughout the month, intended to draw attention to the district anchored by the striking Rochester Art Center. • Visit for details.

Middle-Earth Music

Ditch the suit for your traveling cloak when the Minnesota Orchestra, Minnesota Chorale, and Minnesota Boychoir perform The Lord of the Rings Symphony at Orchestra Hall on October 13 and 14 (costumes are encouraged). According to a poll by Classic FM, England’s classical mega-radio station, the Rings symphony, by London Philharmonic conductor Howard Shore, was ranked the ninth-best piece of classical music in history. Purists may disagree; others deem it magical. • Orchestra Hall, 1111 Nicollet Mall, Mpls., 612-371-5656.

Depths of Darkness

How dark is the heart of man? The Walker Art Center offers a few clues in the exhibition “Heart of Darkness,” opening October 21, in which artists Kai Althoff, Ellen Gallagher, and Thomas Hirschhorn use three large-scale installations to explore darkness as a place within the human experience. The works, which draw on the themes of Joseph Conrad’s 1899 novella about madness and chaos in the Congo, utilize imagery from science fiction and fairy tales. • Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Ave., Mpls., 612-375-7600.

War, What Is It Gut For?

Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage was one of many plays the German genius wrote in objection to the rise of fascism. An anti-war story, it follows the fate of a colorful canteen owner who vows to profit from war only to lose all three of her children in the conflict. Produced by the edgy and acclaimed Frank Theatre from October 19 to November 12, in a venue yet to be determined at press time, the show is less didactic than it sounds, an unsentimental epic. • Call Frank Theatre at 612-724-3760 for venue location.