Thursday, February 13, 2014

Valentine's Weekend: Ballet, Pops/Danceworks, Gigante, Early Music Now, Florentine, Alchemist, Off-the-Wall

The biennial Genesis Choreography Competition brings the thrill of victory to alternate Milwaukee Ballet seasons. In between, Genesis keeps on giving.

Gabrielle Lamb
In the off years, the winner returns to stage a second work on the company for it's annual run at the dance-intimate Pabst Theater. To refresh your memory, Gabrielle Lamb won with Manifold, a relatively gentle odd-dance-out next to more edgier works by Lauren Edson and James Gregg. Lamb was my choice in a close contest. I'm glad she's back.

Timothy O'Donnell is like the Genesis Man Who Came to Dinner. The Austrailian dancer-choreographer won the 2009 competition, returned to create a new alternate-year work, and shortly thereafter joined the company. O'Donnell, too, will introduce a new dance tonight.

Luca Veggetti, 50, a well-established international choreographer, will make his Milwaukee debut on this program.

The ballet Winter Series runs through Sunday, Feb. 16; tickets and details here or call the Milwaukee Ballet ticket line, 414 902-2103. The Milwaukee Ballet concert is my Thursday-night review event.

I'll get some more dance Friday night, when the Danceworks Performance Company appears with the Milwaukee Symphony for the first time.

You might find it hard to imagine what a serious modern dance company might be doing on a Valentine Pops program, but remember that these dancers are deeply involved with the Mad Hot Ballroom program. They also know how to entertain. And they can be sexy when they want to be. So, Milwaukee, are you ready for some Tango?

John Russell Morris will conduct and guest Jane Vroman will sing. 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Sunday (Feb. 15-16), Marcus Center Uihlein Hall. More info at the MSO site; call the Marcus Center box office, 414 273-7206, for tickets.

One more thing: Frank Almond and the Lipinski Stradivarius will be back in that MSO first chair for the first time since the unfortunate incident.

I plan to write both reviews right after the shows, so set your alarms for about 1:30 a.m. and keep that iPad next to the bed.

Aside from these two events, I'm taking the rest of the weekend off, for a brief Valentine's getaway. So I have to send regrets for missing some potentially great stuff:

I like Alchemist Theatre and Off-the-Wall Theatre a lot, and both have intriguing plays up just now. I still might get to Alchemist's production of Ionesco's The Chairs, which runs through Feb. 22. But I'm afraid I've let OTW's Glengarry Glen Ross slip through my fingers; it closes Sunday, Feb. 16.

Theatre Gigante's  Screwball Love, an evening of songs, music and dialog delivered by some of my favorite people in the business. Their names are right there on the poster. Runs tonight through Saturday at UWM Kenilworth Building. But that's on the poster, too.

Early Music Now is having an outstanding season, and I have every reason to think that the Orlando Consort will extend EMN's winning streak. The British consort will sing Medieval and Renaissance polyphony of the most sophisticated sort at 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 15, at St. Paul's Episcopal Church. Tickets and details here.

I'm fond of this year's Florentine Opera Studio Artists, as both singers and as people, and I hate to miss their Fiesta Fiorentina program at Marcus Center Vogel Hall Friday through Sunday. At least I got to hear soprano Julie Tabash, mezzo Erin Gonzalez, tenor Aaron Short and baritone Pablo Siquieros Feb. 1, when they put on a wonderful show at the Florentine's Riverwest facility. Tickets and further info at the Florentine website.

Florentine Studio Artists: Tabash, Siqueiros, Short, Gonzalez.
Kayla Bruss photo for the Florentine Opera.
And then there's L'Infant, from Milwaukee Opera Theatre.

Test your Milwaukee arts knowledge. Do the striniwrites interactive crossword.