April Arts and Entertainment Picks


4/2–5/3 The Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts

There’s more dance programming at the Cowles Center in April than any one person can reasonably be expected to take in—though it’s worth contemplating giving it a go. I was scandalously well into my adulthood before I learned to truly appreciate the world of dance—in my case, by finally letting go of over-thinking things and surrendering to the rich vocabulary of human movement and what it expresses. April at the Cowles includes Tu Dance, with a new work by choreographer Uri Sands; Shapiro & Smith’s Tableau Vivant, riffing on bygone visual art that paradoxically emphasized no movement; and works by Minnesota Dance Theatre and James Sewell Ballet. thecowlescenter.org

Photo by Erik Saulitis



4/9 The Song of the Earth

The galactic, dynamic, and achingly evocative soundscapes of Gustav Mahler’s orchestral works stand, in my estimation, as one of the last great pinnacles of the classical music tradition as we typically think of it—maybe even the conceptual forerunners of the decades of apocalypse and reinvention that followed his death in 1911 (I’ve long thought he created the soundtrack for a century he never saw). Das Lied von der Erde is a symphony for two singers and was composed in 1908 after Mahler lost his leadership post in the Vienna Court Opera due to anti-Semitism, experienced the death of his beloved oldest daughter, and was diagnosed with a fatal heart condition. It’s about youth, beauty, loss, nature, and drinking—the stuff of our fragile and fleeting lives. minnesotaorchestra.org

4/9–27 The Dinkytown Uprising

Nonagenarian Al Milgrom arrived in Dinkytown in 1940 as a student at the U of M and went on to leave a permanent mark on the arts in Minnesota as founder of what later became the Film Society of Minneapolis St. Paul. Now, Milgrom screens his first feature-length documentary at the society’s International Film Festival. It’s a fascinating window into local history centered around the efforts of the community to repel the advances of a fast-food joint by occupying buildings and rallying against the sort of corporatization that we now take for granted. It feels like handmade cultural history, with tons of vintage footage and follow-up interviews with those still alive today. While it sometimes feels like mere nostalgia, more importantly, it’s illustrative of how much can change, and in another sense how little. mspfilm.org

Neil Diamond4/12 Neil Diamond

I remember a moonlit sidewalk conversation in California during my college years, when a friend was trying to convince me of the virtues of Neil Diamond. I wasn’t having it—for me there was no place for great pop tunesmiths in the same pantheon as the unflinching Leonard Cohen and Lou Reed. That sort of thinking was, frankly, my loss. The now-74-year-old Diamond keeps exploring the byways of his one-of-a-kind vision: Tin Pan Alley meets arena pop meets Americana (in the chandeliered old-movie palace of his mind). The stubborn old Brooklyn–born troubadour never seems to rest, popping out a new album as recently as last year. He’s indefatigable, and his best works are epic, glorious fromage that never bow to the snobbery of critics (my friend was right).  xcelenergycenter.com

Photo by Ari Michelson


David Hidalgo4/18 Border Music: David Hidalgo and Marc Ribot

Here’s a thrilling collaboration between two guitarists and performers better known for their various bands and collaborations than as soloists. Hidalgo has been the engine behind East L.A.’s Los Lobos since they were playing weddings in the early 1970s, also fronting the Latin Playboys and their infectious roots music shoved into a conceptual Cuisinart. Ribot has put distinctive six-string fairy dust on works by Tom Waits and NYC eclectic treasure John Zorn. This co-presentation between the Walker and the Cedar is billed as a stew of much of the above and more, with two fantastic players meshing and colliding as circumstances might warrant.  walkerart.org

Photo by Michel Kneffel


Quinton Skinner is a writer and editor based in the Twin Cities. A former senior editor of Minnesota Monthly, he held the same post at Twin Cities METRO and 
has written for major national and local publications. He is the co-founder of Logosphere Storysmiths and author of several novels, including his latest, Odd One Out.