This month’s must-see shows

Not sure you care for modern dance? Or any dance performance short of your own, in the living room, with sunglasses and…never mind. Just check out Black Label Movement, whose show about sailors about to expire in Lake Superior, called Wreck, runs tonight through January 20 at the Southern Theater. These guys reportedly sold out every show of their inaugural season last year, and I’m not surprised–I realized there was hope for me as a dance fan when their refreshing leader, choreographer/attorney Carl Flink, told me, “You know those newspaper photographs of football players stretched out parallel to the ground to catch the ball? That’s how I want my dancers to be.” Fearless, even reckless. Throwing their bodies with athletic abandon.

It’s not surprising from a guy who was a good enough soccer player to expect tryouts for top British teams, but instead studied dance. Then law. Then moved to Minnesota to work for the Farmers Legal Action Group, all the while essentially hiding a dance outfit beneath his suit. He finally busted out a few years ago, quickly rising to the top of the U of M’s dance department. “Wreck” is arguably his, and the local dance community’s, most ambitious project to date and he hopes to stage it more or less onsite in the Duluth area soon, making dance truly a spectator sport.

Next week, check out the great Stacia Rice alongside her Jane Eyre co-star Ron Menzel in this winter’s feel-good show, The Poetry of Pizza, at Mixed Blood Theatre starting January 18. It sounds a little like Moonstruck meets the Middle East–a romance between an Iraqi-Kurdish pizza maker and an American scholar, billed as a heart-warming comedy that corrects false depictions of Muslims. And I’m assured the didactism isn’t the point so much as a fine, uplifting night at the theater, which is exactly what I’m hungry for at this time of year. It’s directed by the Guthrie’s John Miller-Stephany, which couldn’t be more promising–he recently worked with Rice in Jane Eyre at the Guthrie, which went over so well the show is returning this March already.

Speaking of Muslims (and I can’t think of a worse transition), Rep. Keith Ellison is joining singer J.D. Steele at the History Theatre in St. Paul on opening night of The Meeting, a provocative play about an imagined encounter between Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcom X. That’s Monday, January 21 (MLK day, folks).

This might be your best chance to get on record: Jazz chanteuse Christine Rosholt, whose retro-ish trips through the Great American Songbook culminated in sharing the bill with Tony Bennett at the MN Orchestra’s Symphony Ball, is recording a live CD at the Dakota Jazz Club on January 30 and 31. And she wants you to be there. Her crackerjack quarter includes Dave Karr on sax, Jay Epstein on drums, Graydon Peterson on bass, and Tanner Taylor on piano. And everyone knows performers always take it up a notch for live recordings.

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