Weekend Picks: an uplifting Christmas concert at the Dakota; Hanukkah burlesque; Monster Drawing Rally


We all kind of carve out our own traditions this time of year. Maybe it’s a holiday show, or a certain recipe you make every year, or it’s getting together with folks you might not see regularly. A holiday tradition doesn’t even need to be holiday-related. Take Midway Contemporary Art’s Monster Drawing Rally. It has nothing to do with the holidays, and yet it’s a chance for the arts community to get together and visit and support a long-standing institution. If you want more of a holiday-holiday show, lift your spirits when Bruce Henry comes to the Dakota, or get a little naughty at “Cabaret of Lights: A Hanukkah Burlesque Show.” A few other events to catch your interest: works in progress in Frogtown, The Big Wu at the Fitzgerald, and classical music at The Museum of Russian Art.

Minnie Tonka

Photo by Ben Trivett

Minnie Tonka

“Cabaret of Lights: A Hanukkah Burlesque Show”

Have yourself a salacious Hanukkah celebration as Jewish burlesque performers from Minnesota and around the country titillate and amuse you. Headlining the evening is New York-based Minnie Tonka, with Twin Cities favorite Queenie von Curves serving as featured performer. Sparkles Du Jour, also based in the Twin Cities, hosts the extravaganza. Also watch out for Hollidazzle and VaVa Vashti, from Minneapolis, Blue Jean from Philadelphia, Tovah Oz from Washington D.C., and Will X. Uly from Madison. Thursday, Dec. 15 at the Capri ($36 in advance, $40 door). More information here.

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Shared Evening of Choreography at Frogtown Rec Center

If you’re suffering a bit of holiday show fatigue, hit refresh with a program of contemporary dance and performance works from an intriguing mix of performance makers in the Twin Cities. Well respected independent dancer/choreographer, D. Jinza Thayer initiated the event through connections with the community center. Thayer’s company, Movement Architecture, will perform excerpts from a forthcoming piece, “From Tokyo to Brooklyn: A Jagged Journey,” which explores the choreographer’s Japanese-American identity and the impact of culture on the body. Minnesota experimental performance mainstay Laurie Van Wieren, hot off the heels of a residency at the prestigious Maggie Allesee National Center For Choreography earlier this year, has been cooking up a new piece with longtime collaborator, cellist Michelle Kinney. Also on the program is BRKFST Dance Company, which won a National Dance Project grant in September. Hmong-led Asian dance group INY Asian Dance Theater also will present. Friday, Dec. 16 at 5:30 p.m. at Frogtown Rec Center (free). More information here.

The Big Wu

Jason Fladager, founding member of the homegrown jam band The Big Wu joins the band for its 30th anniversary concert at the Fitzgerald Theater this weekend. Begun as a Grateful Dead cover band at St. Olaf College, The Big Wu has gone on to carve out their own songwriting style, with improvisation infused into their feel-good performance style. Friday, Dec. 16 at 8 p.m. at The Fitzgerald Theater, $25. More Information here.

An image from the 10th Monster Drawing Rally in 2019.

Courtesy of Midway Contemporary Art/Photo by Keelie Ritter

An image from the 10th Monster Drawing Rally in 2019.

Monster Drawing Rally

Support Midway Contemporary Art, a gem in the Twin Cities. Not only a gallery, Midway supports artists through its Visual Arts Fund grants and also has a library. The Monster Drawing Rally features artists drawn live in three one-hour rounds. Once completed, each drawing goes on sale immediately for a flat price of $35. You can watch some terrific artists at work and possibly add to your collection. Saturday, Dec. 17, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Midway Contemporary Art Gallery (free). More information here.

Bruce A. Henry: I’ll Be Home For Christmas

Bruce A. Henry’s silky baritone voice offers a Christmas treat when the Chicago-based (with strong ties to the Twin Cities) singer, composer, educator, and bandleader makes a stop at the Dakota, sharing tunes from his latest recording “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” With jazz, gospel, and soul music in the mix, Henry will uplift your spirits as the holidays approach. Saturday, Dec. 17 at 7 p.m. at the Dakota ($30, 35). More information here.

Anthony Ross

Photo by Joel Larson

Anthony Ross

Anthony Ross and Denis Evstuhin in Concert

Anthony Ross, principal cellist for the Minnesota Orchestra, performs with Russian pianist Denis Evstuhin, who curates classical music at the Museum of Russian Art. The program starts out with Sonata No. 1 for cello and piano, op. 72, by Mieczyslaw Weinberg, who was born to a Jewish family in Poland and fled to Russia at the outset of World War II. Also on the programs is Elegy for cello and piano by Ukrainian composer Mykola Lysenko and Cello Sonata in A minor, Op. 36 by, Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg. Saturday, Dec. 17 and Sunday, Dec. 18 at 7 p.m. at the Museum of Russian Art ($30). More information here.


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