We got an MRAC grant!

The Metropolitan Regional Arts Council just announced that we’re a recipient of a $5,000 FY2017 Community Arts grant. It’s a great start to helping to match the $34,000 Knight Foundation Arts Challenge grant that will make the St. Paul Snowblower Ballet happen January 2018. But we still need your help. If you’re interested in donating to the project, click on the GiveMN logo on our home page. Or email us at info@snowblowerballet.com if you’re a company interested in a unique sponsorship opportunity of a free, fun, family-friendly dance event.

The video gives you a taste of what we’re talking about doing, only bigger:

Our first performance

In the shadow of a giant smokestack, on snow trucked to St. Paul from Northfield, we had our first performance of a snowblower ballet. It was a smaller scale, proof-of-concept version of the full event we plan to produce in January 2018 with more dancers, more snowblowers, more snow and a live symphony orchestra.

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But first there were a few obstacles we had to overcome.

Warm weather forced us off the ice at our original planned venue on White Bear Lake as part of the Art Shanty Projects. Happily, Can Can Wonderland generously offered us the use of their parking lot.

But a snowstorm that was supposed to hit the Twin Cities never materialized. So at the last minute, we jumped into a borrowed Dodge pickup truck and drove to Northfield where we shoveled the truck bed full of snow from a farm field, trucked it back and carefully spread it out on a patch of pavement at the Can Can location in St. Paul.

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Then we worried about whether the snow would melt before show time. Whether anyone would show up. Whether the snowblower would start. Whether Tchaikovsky intended his music to be heard above the sound of a two-stroke engine.

Applications for arts grants often ask applicants to define what will amount to a successful performance. Before the performance, I told dancers Anna Roehr and Jarod Boltjes to just be careful. I told them I would consider the performance a success as long as this didn’t happen:

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But people came, there was snow to throw, everyone seemed to enjoy Zoé Henrot’s choreography, no one was injured. It worked. If we can raise the money to match our Knight Foundation Arts Challenge grant, we’re on to a bigger, better version of the performance in January 2018 on Harriet Island. Contact us at info@snowblowerballet.com if you’d like to help, or see our GiveMN link on our homepage.

Thanks again to Anna, Jarod, Zoé, Heidi Schmidt, Amanda Schroder, Chris Pennington at Can Can Wonderland, Molly Weibel and 1000 Words Photography for the photographs, Bethany Gladhill for the loan of the truck and the Awesome Foundation and the Knight Foundation for financial support.

Song and dance

There are a couple of opportunities to see and hear our artistic partners in the next couple of days. Zoé Henrot and the Saint Paul Ballet will debut their boxing-inspired ballet, “To Billy” at the Cowles Center Friday and Saturday.

And on Tuesday, the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra plays in the “Welcome to Minneapolis” concert for the American Choral Directors Association national conference at the Minneapolis Convention Center Auditorium, with singing by VocalEssence and the Singers, music by composer Dominick Argento and a singalong led by Garrison Keillor.