Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Culture of India Through Dance and Music at the Edge in Bigfork



Internationally-acclaimed Ragamala Dance will present the culture of India through music interpreted by traditional dance on Sunday October 19th at 2 p.m., at the Edge Center in Bigfork. This Minneapolis-based professional company has recently performed in venues including the American Dance Festival, the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the National Centre for Performing Arts in Mumbai, India. The program, titled Scared Earth, brings an artistic look at a country on the other side of the earth with incredible color, music and dancing celebrating the life and history of a very different environment from Northern Minnesota. Date: Sunday, October 19; time 2PM; price $10 adults, $5 children.


Ragamala Dance was founded by Ranee Ramaswamy in 1992.  Currently, Ranee and her daughter Aparna serve as choreographers and co-artistic directors of the company. From the co-directors, “We draw from the myth and spirituality of our South Indian heritage to make dance landscapes that dwell in opposition—secular and spiritual life, inner and outer worlds, human and natural concerns, rhythm and stillness—to find the transcendence that lies in between. Together we craft every moment to create intricate and complex worlds that convey a sense of reverence, of unfolding mystery, of universal celebration”.  Above Photo Credit Jonathan Chapman.


In “Sacred Earth” Ranee and Aparna present the myth and philosophy of Indian tradition to shape incredible landscapes of color and dance with music showing the relationship of people and the environment around them. The program, accompanied by music, brings internal (akam) and external (puram) vistas to life through the creative use of kolam floor designs and Warli wall paintings. Kolams are rice flour designs made each morning by women in southern India as offerings to Mother Earth. Above photo credit Hub WIlson.


The Warli people from western India are known for their reverence of the land and live in perfect coexistence with nature. Warli paintings are inspired by everyday existence creating inspiration and beauty.  This dance discipline includes very colorful dress and sets along with the beauty and grace of Indian music and dance. Above photo credit Hub Wilson.


Starting from a very subdued meditative state and building towards the program’s crescendo, we (the audience) are meant to feel the environment’s relationship to us and our need to protect and serve it for future generations. Colorful, graceful, and musical are all good descriptions of the program, but being there is the best way to appreciate how special this mix can create the frame of mind intended by the directors. Above photo credit Sally Cohn.


“Ragamala Dance’s artistic directors Ranee Ramaswamy and Aparna Ramaswamy bring their culture’s unique sensibility of mysticism, myth and sanctity to the contemporary stage. The mother-daughter duo was named the 2011 ‘Artist of the Year’ by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, where they currently make their home. Above photo credit Ed Bock.


Ranee Ramaswamy has been a master teacher and performer of the Indian dance form Bharatanatyam since 1978. Since 1984, she has been a disciple of Alarmél Valli, one of India’s greatest living masters. Aparna Ramaswamy is also a protégé of Alarmél Valli. Described as ‘a marvel of buoyant agility and sculptural clarity’ (Dance Magazine), ‘thrillingly three-dimensional,’ and “an enchantingly beautiful dancer,” (The New York Times)”. From: http://ums.org/assets/April_2013_UMS_Performances.pdf  Above photo credit Grant Halverson.


“Ragamala Dance unfolds the beauty, elegance, poetry, and driving rhythmic complexities of Bharatanatyam, the 2,000 year-old classical dance of Southern India. With each new project…(they)… push the boundaries of Bharatanatyam and convey what it means to be 21st century choreographers working within a classical, culturally-based tradition. Their work brings to audiences the infinite scope of Bharatanatyam by showcasing its complexity and range, from the grace and power of the traditional solo form to the beauty and vitality of the company's ensemble.” Above photo credit Grant Halverson.
From:  http://www.ballet-dance.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=34497



This activity is made possible by: the voters of Minnesota through a legislative appropriation through a grant for the Minnesota State Arts Board, and the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council, and through generous funding by the Blandin Foundation. Above photo credit Ed Bock.


This program promises to be a special experience for the audience.  It certainly is a first for the Edge. Come and enjoy the songs, dance and color of this extraordinary group of performers. Date: Sunday, October 19; time 2PM; price $10 adults, $5 children. Above photo credit Hub Wilson, below Ed Bock.



Saturday, September 27, 2014

Flappers, Miners and Moonshiners at the Edge


“Flappers, Miners and Moonshiners: Minnesota in the 1920s” celebrates a time when a freewheeling popular culture changed people’s daily routine forever. Singer Prudence Johnson and pianist Dan Chouinard present songs, stories, and vintage photographs in this wonderful mix at The Edge Center for the Arts on October 5th. It will be a journey back to the Jazz Age set in cities and rural areas of Minnesota during a simpler time. The audience will be invited to sing along with some of the music that is still known almost a century later. With these artists sharing their interpretations of Jazz Age music mixed with period photos and stories of Minnesotans, the result will be a fun and enjoyable show for the whole family. On stage at The Edge Center in Bigfork Sunday October 5th at 2PM. $10 adults. $5 children.



Musicians Johnson and Chouinard share a passion for history, music and producing shows. Their newest collaboration is an entertaining look at a decade called “roaring” because of the exuberant, footloose culture it introduced.  About this multimedia visit to early Minnesota, Prudence Johnson says, "The 20’s in this state was a special and unique time in our history. We will celebrate this period with our show. Dan and I have done major research to produce archival photos and stories examining life on the farm and reservation, in the nightclubs of St. Paul, and mining towns of the Iron Range. The results provide for a visual connection to the stories and music. Typically our shows include dozens of songs and possibly a hundred or more archival photographs. This will be fun event that everyone in the family can enjoy. We want everyone to leave smiling and entertained.”



Prudence Johnson’s musical roots are in folk and country, but her passion is Jazz. She grew up in a musical family in Moose Lake, MN and went on to a worldwide performing career that includes Carnegie Hall. Prudence has recorded 12 albums and her movie credits include Robert Redford’s “A River Runs Though It” and Robert Altman’s “A Prairie Home Companion," in which she played herself.  She is a regular guest on Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion,” and was a 2006 recipient of the McKnight Fellowship award.  With this award she was able to record Moon Country, a collection of Hoagy Carmichael songs. From her web site, with an “…appreciation for the Great American Songbook, she found an ideal collaborator in pianist Dan Chouinard. They released Gershwin in 2004 and have appeared together on concert stages across the country, performing the music of Carmichael, Gershwin and other greats. Their concerts often have them taking side trips to the café music of France and Italy with Dan on accordion. They co-wrote and performed together Another Song About Paris, a loving look at the City of Light through stories and songs.”



Dan Chouinard grew up in a large family in Richfield and Lindstrom, MN learning music in a house full of brothers and sisters. Now a pianist and accordionist living in St. Paul, he regularly creates live programs for Minnesota Public Radio and the Minnesota Historical Society.  Most recently, Dan and Prudence were on Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion.”  The Roaring 20's show coming to The Edge Center is part of their fall and winter tour with this, their latest collaboration.  As a musician, Dan works “for a diverse and distinguished roster of artists in the Twin Cities and beyond, appearing most recently in performances and recordings by Prudence Johnson, Maria Jette, Peter Ostroushko, Kevin Kling, James Sewell Ballet and Vocalessence”.   His productions include:  Bootleg Valentine, Steerage Song, Cafe Europa, and Rondo '56. He has released two CDs and is currently at work with Prudence on a collection of George and Ira Gershwin songs.


When people think of the 1920's, it is often the iconic image of the flapper girl who comes to mind.   Made up of typically northern, urban, single and middle-class women, they were ready for the new jobs available in a dynamic new American economy. They held steady jobs by day and loved the nighttime city life. The “flapper look” was unmistakable. Shoulder length hair, higher hemline, lots of cosmetics, and wild jewelry…and, of all things, high heels! More at: http://www.ushistory.org/us/46d.asp




The cover of Life Magazine, The New Yorker and other publications often featured these care-free spirits and none better than an artist John Held Jr. could visualize them better. His illustrations of the flappers (above) won him fame, publicity, and a place in history.  His later work is not that well known but was good enough to support him through the depression and beyond. More at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Held,_Jr. and  http://www.tfaoi.com/aa/3aa/3aa364.htm 


Prohibition, new styles of music called Jazz, women’s liberation, along with a new dancing and dress were all part of the culture across the nation. Along with all this “new” came for some the rejection of many traditions and moral standards.  As far as Prohibition was concerned, it was practically ignored by a large segment of the public. After all, it was not against the law to drink, just to make and transport it. What were the politicians thinking? This strange arrangement invited the rise of gangs who transported, distributed, and sold the illegal liquors. Adding to the frenzy was an overly optimistic view of the economy which led to unrealistic spending. 



You may have heard of the reopened alleged Speakeasy tunnel in Bovey, located in Annabella's Antique Mall. Once a hardware store, stories tell that partygoers would escape to the tunnel during raids. Adventures on the Range! More at: www.gemsofistasca.com  Above images from:


We invite you to a truly entertaining event of song, history, and vintage photos from the bygone era of the 20's with Minnesota musicians, Prudence Johnson and Dan Chouinard on October 5th at 2p.m. at the Edge Center for the Arts in Bigfork. Price $10 adults, $5 children

Friday, September 26, 2014

“Possibly Best Horror Movie Ever Made” in Bigfork



A claim like this is always open to challenge, but Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 98% rating and it’s being shown in Bigfork just in time for Halloween this year.  It is a 1968 movie that won an Academy Award for acting by Ruth Gorden. It is about a young New York couple expecting their first child with the future father making a very unwise contract to help his failing acting career. Roman Polanski directs an outstanding cast with outstanding performances. See what all the fuss was about when the Classic Movie Series has this “R rated” film to give you some chills and get you ready for the Halloween season. Shown by Jack Nachbar at The Edge Center in Bigfork on October 9th at 6:30 PM free of charge.  Jack’s presentation will give you a better understanding of the film and the film industry at the time period of the picture.  Of course there will be a cartoon of the same period to lighten you up a bit at first.


What an extraordinary impression this movie left on the industry and public. Roman Polanski selected a story in a book not yet a hit for his first American made movie, gathered an all-start cast which no director could afford these days, got his leading lady divorced just because she was not being a stay-at-home wife, received two Academy Awards and at least 15 other industry accolades, and is ranked ninth in The American Film Institute’s “100 years…100 thriller”list. And if that is not enough, an Oscar for a leading actor in a horror film was only repeated in 1991 with “Silence of the lambs”.  The plot holds your attention probably leaving you with the chills without any explicit violence or gore.



Mia Farrow (1945) already had a reputation from the TV series “Peyton Place” before this role came about. She was not yet a box-office star, but the potential was there.  The role cost her dearly with a divorce by Frank Sinatra.  Mia kept trying to get out of the role of Rosemary Woodhouse in the film, but Polanski convinced her otherwise using a rough cut of  film showing what the resulting movie could be like. It ended up being a good role for her career, but not the Oscar nomination Polanski said she would get. She did get BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations for best actress. She was in 12 of Woody Allans 13 films from 1883 to 1992. With 50 films to her credit, Mia has awards from Golden Globe, BAFTA, and best actress award at the San Sebastian International Film Festival. In 2008, Time magazine named her one of the most influential people in the world due to her humanitarian work.


Ruth Gordon (1896-1985) plays Minnie Castevet  (center above), a seemingly caring neighbor who befriends the Woodhouses and really dominates them and the movie. She won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as this over zealous neighbor in “Rosemary’s Baby”.  In her career, Ruth was not only an accomplished film, stage and TV actress, but also screen writer and playwright.   She started her career on the stage at 19 years old, had roles in Harold and Maude (1971), and the Clint Eastwood films “Every Which Way but Loose” (1978) and “Any Which Way You Can” (1980). She wrote plays, film scripts and books, including co-writing the screenplay for the 1949 film “Adam's Rib”. Her awards include the Oscar, an Emmy, two acting Golden Globe awards, and three Academy Award writing nominations..



John Cassavetes (1929-1989) plays the husband and struggling actor Guy Woodhouse in “Rosemary’s Baby.” He forms a bond with the Castevets (Minnie and Roman) and shortly after gets a starring role of an actor who suddenly turns blind.  John was a film director, and screen writer besides an actor. Credited with being a pioneer of American independent film, John wrote, directed, and partially self-financed over a dozen movies. Many say these movies introduced the use of improvisation and a realistic cinéma vérité style.



Those are three of the stars in “Rosemary’s Baby”, but with many others you will probably recognize, this is a well done movie and well worth a trip to Bigfork to possibly be chilled a bit and better prepared for the Halloween season. So for an early chiller-start to this season’s Halloween chills and thrills, come to Bigfork and get scared by an all-star cast in “Rosemary’s Baby”. Plus add a great explanation of the film and industry by Jack Nachbar.  This movie is presented free of charge and some appropriate snacks courtesy of Jack and his wife/projectionist Lynn.  Place: The Edge Center for the Arts, Bigfork. Date and time: Thursday, October 9th at 6:30 PM. Price of admission: free.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Furniture and Watercolors: Don and Helen Taylor at the Edge Center Gallery


Inlaid wood-worked art rooted in personal experiences of Korean War contrasted by watercolor paintings with a cheerful, colorful, and humorous look. What a sharp contrast visually and emotionally. This is what two area artists present in the Bigfork Edge Center Art Gallery starting September 25th. Husband and wife team Helen and Don Taylor from Deer River provide impressive reflections of their different personalities within this single show. The exhibit presents wonderful watercolor art and impressive craftsmanship in wall hangings and furniture. The exhibit begins on September 25 and continues through October 25.  Join the artists at the Opening Reception on Friday, September 26 from 5:00 to 7:00.  Edge Center Gallery is next to the Bigfork School and is open from 10:00 to 4:00 on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. There is no charge for the gallery or reception.


Don’s woodworking and Helen’s watercolors have some things in common.  Both are colorful, expressive and high quality.  From there they start to diverge.


Don Taylor works in wood in a controlled way, inlaying small pieces of various kinds of colored wood into tables and wall pieces in linear patterns.  The meaning of the work becomes clearer when you know Don’s background.  He spent 4 months on the front lines in Korea with months of treatment in a military hospital. In 2001, his wood panel “Blood, Death, Electroshock and Confinement” (above) took First Place in the Korean War Experience category and Best of Show at the 2001 National Veterans Creative Arts Festival in Prescott, Arizona.

He said, explaining this piece, ”The three black panels and the single red panel represent the four months I was on the front lines in Korea, as well as a lot of death and blood.  The four panels and five white bars represent nine months in military hospitals with the two colored panels representing the two months of being subjected to electroshock therapy resulting in severe brain damage.  The multicolor pieces of wood used to make the panels represent the physical brutality of the ECT treatments.  The five wood bars also represent the five years of memory loss I experienced because of ECT brain damage.”


Taylor began woodworking in 1980 but it wasn’t until 1996 that he began to use woodworking as a therapeutic form of self-expression. “Creative woodworking gives me a reason to look forward to getting up every morning knowing something good will probably happen that day- either by design or accident,” said Taylor,  “Woodworking has increased my sense of self-worth by at least ten fold.”


Four pieces that have won gold metals over the years will be part of the exhibit of his work at the Edge.  He is now a successful cabinetmaker in Deer River.  His work still contains the symbolism that is based on his war experiences.


While Don’s work explores an emotional side, Helen’s lively, charming watercolors are full of color, cheerfulness and some humor.  They are realistic, but loosely painted in bright colors, capturing the essence of the subject matter.  Helen has done her expressionistic paintings on site around the globe, documenting the couple’s world travels.  There are paintings of the Taj Mahal, Thailand and Hawaii as well as paintings of northern Minnesota where she has lived most of her life.




Helen was born and raised in Eveleth, studied art at St. Cloud State College and taught art from Fargo to Edina, before settling in Deer River.  She continued her education with painters Don Kingman in New York and Mexico, Milford Zomes and Robert E Wood.  Helen was part of the early Itasca Art Association.  She became president of the group helping Ruth MacRostie found an art center in a theater building in Grand Rapids. Her work has been in juried exhibits at the Minnesota State Fair and the Minnetonka Art Center, and won first place in a Minnesota Artists Association exhibit.  Her work has been exhibited in Japan, Minnetonka Art Association, MacRostie Art Center and Rutgers Lodge on Sugar Lake.


Meet this talented couple and see their work at the free Opening Reception on Friday, September 26th from 5:00 to 7:00.  The exhibit continues through October 25th.  Edge Center Gallery is next to the Bigfork School and is open from 10:00 to 4:00 on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.  For more Gallery information and updates, see www.the-edge-center.org.



Friday, September 19, 2014

Piatigorsky Tenor and Pianist in Bigfork


On October 3rd the Edge Center in Bigfork will enjoy the captivating presence of two very talented Piatigorsky Foundation artists: Mexican tenor Rodrigo Garciarryo and piano accompanist Mario Alberto Hernandez. Mr. Garciarryo’s combination of powerful voice, acting skills and stage presence keeps him in demand in the United States and Latin America. Mr. Hernandez has strong musical credentials as a pianist, conductor and teacher.  There will be two performances on Friday: one for elders of Bigfork Valley’s assisted living and long term care departments; and a second, open to the public, at 7PM at The Edge Center for the Arts in Bigfork. Prices for the public performance are $10 for adults – children will be admitted free of charge.

Since Rodrigo Garciarroyo’s debut in 2008 with the Mexican Compañía de Ópera de Bellas Artes in the role of Spoleta in Puccini’s Tosca, conducted by Enrique Patrón de Rueda, he has been performing at the country’s most important theatres. This is in addition to performing leading roles in opera houses and concerts around the United States and Latin America.  He is an audience favorite and has a history of positive reviews.  Described as “…charming.  An experienced, secure and refined professional, combining a rich timbre and a smooth legato with secure and heroic high notes; simply first class singing”  (J. Bills, Revista ProÓpera). Mr. Garciarroyo also has many awards to his credit, and a repertoire that includes opera, romanzas, along with chamber and symphonic music. 

Pianist Mario Alberto Hernández was born in Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico.  He has performed at festivals such as the Cervantino, the Sinaloa Festival and the Ciudad de México, and with the concert opera of the orchestras Filarmónica de la Ciudad de México, the OFUNAM and the Sinfónica de Minería.  He studied conducting at South Mississippi University and made his debut as a conductor in 1993 with an orchestra formed by musicians of the Sinfónica del Estado de México and the Sinfónica de la Universidad de Guanajuato orchestras.  


Mr. Hernández has collaborated with the OFUNAM, the Filarmónica de la Ciudad de México, with the Coordinación Nacional de Música del INBA and several embassies. Mr. Hernández also has been a professor of vocal repertoire and vocal ensembles at the Escuela Superior de Música of Bellas Artes in Mexico City. Because of his teaching background, he has become an enthusiastic promoter of young Mexican musicians.


 For an enjoyable and personal look at Rodrigo Garciarroyo, in his own words, there is an article in the publication Diario de Morelos where Rodrigo answers a number of questions about his background. He explains that he started out studying architecture. His future wife gave him a 25th birthday party after a particularly difficult time at work. That event was that start of his musical career. He already played the guitar and sang informally, but now he took singing lessons and after four months quit his job and started studying 12 hours a day at la Nacional de Música. Rodrigo says, “I received a scholarship from the Placido Domingo to study at the International Society of Mexican Art Exchange from 2003 to 2006. Then I was awarded a scholarship by the International Vocal Arts Institute to study in Puerto Rico and Israel”. 


Rodrigo, explains that he gave a series of concerts at the Jaffa Music Center in Tel Aviv and the Israeli Opera. Then, with a grant from the Martina Arroyo Foundation and Olga Forrai foundation, he went to New York.  In 2009 he made his debut at Lincoln Center in New York in the opera of "Requiem" by Verdi, then participated in "Carmen" by Bizet at the Argentine Consulate General, and then "La Bohème" by Puccini. 


As far as what it meant to his career, Rodrigo says, "It was an unforgettable experience, it is something that can not be described, it is something that you are working very hard for, and to be in those cities, meeting other cultures and people, it opens the mind. "


 When asked about the joys he had in his work, he says “…the real joy for a singer personally is when people say that they feel what you sing. Someone once told me I'm going to tell my grandchildren that I heard you sing. "  As far as his favorite operas, “I have several, "La Bohème" by Puccini, for singing and listening; "La Traviata”…Verdi's "A Masked Ball", is great; "Carmen" is beautiful…”
 For those blog visitors who would like to read the original interview in Spanish, here is a link to the article.:



The Program

The Edge Center program listed below will be varied so that the audience may enjoy and recognize a variety of the music.  There will be opera, piano solos and some selections from a more popular side of musical world:
 Core N’Grato, S. Cardillo
 La Danza, G. Rossini
 Vesti la Giubba I Pagliacci, R. Leoncavallo 
 Intermezzo  (piano solo), Manon Lescaut, G. Puccini
 Be my love,  N. Brodszky
 Love is a many splendored thing, S. Fain
 Maria West Side Story, L. Bernstein
 3 Interludes (piano solo) G. Gershwin
            Allegro ben rimato e deciso
            Andante con moto e poco rubato
            Agitato
 Te Quiero, Dijiste M. Grever
 Mujer,  A. Lara
 Júrame,  M. Grever
 Intermezzo (piano solo) M. M. Ponce
 Jota Te Quiero,  El Trust de los Tenorios J. Serrano
 No Puede Ser, La Tabernera del Puerto P. Sorozábal


The non-profit Piatigorsky Foundation's mission is to make live classical music part of the fabric of everyday life for communities throughout the United States, with concert tours bringing top-quality musicians to audiences who often would not have the opportunity to hear them. The Foundation was established in 1990 by cellist Evan Drachman, grandson of the great Russian cellist Gregor Piatigorsky (1903-1976), The Foundation carries on his legacy in the belief that, as Piatigorsky said, "Music makes life better. Music is neither a luxury nor a frill. It is a necessity! It is rich. It is imaginative. And it is for everyone."


This promises to be a very special event for the Edge Center, and, as said earlier, it will have a variety of music for the whole audience to enjoy. If you are a regular visitor to the Edge for Piatigorsky events, please mark this one on your calendar.  If you are not a regular, consider this one for your first try.  You certainly will hear a program that will fully utilize the acoustics of the theater, and qualities of the Yamaha grand piano.  It should be very interesting. Time 7PM. Place The Edge Center for the Arts in Bigfork.  Prices $10 for adults, children will be admitted at no charge.