When lawnmowers fly (and a singing dog)

What does a video I made last year of some guys in Hugo hurling running lawnmowers with a trebuchet have to do with a snowblower ballet?

Nothing, except somehow I wish I could find a way to get these guys involved in our performance. Plus trebuchet rhymes with ballet. But I doubt that hurling a snowblower with a siege engine would help us get a sponsorship from Toro. Maybe we’d click if we threw an Ariens.

Speaking of sponsors, we’re still looking for an angelic corporate sponsor or individual donations to make this thing happen next winter. Just click on the GiveMN button on our home page. Or give me a call at 651-336-6975 if you know of a company that would like to be involved as in, “The St. Paul Snowblower Ballet presented by _____.”

Also, I realize that an operatic dog has nothing to do with a snowblower ballet either. I just think it’s awesome.

Finally, the students from our artistic partner, the St. Paul Ballet, are performing this weekend at Macalester College at the ballet’s spring showcase. Check it out if you have a chance.

Thanks for reading!

St. Paul Ballet has a knockout show

Saw a preview sample of St. Paul Ballet’s “The Art of Boxing. The Sport of Ballet.” performance at Lake Como Saturday evening. The full Knight Arts Challenge-funded show combining boxers and ballet dancers coming up on June 17 in St. Paul by our artistic partner the St. Paul Ballet and  Zoé Emilie Henrot should pack a real artistic punch. Be sure to catch it.

And if you want something to do on Mother’s Day, catch our other artistic partner, the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, at 4 p.m. at the Roseville Lutheran Church, 1215 Roselawn Ave. West. They’ll be presenting a free performance of  Benjamin Britten’s  Russian Funeral (1936) for Brass & Percussion and Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 4 in C minor, op. 43. Rush over to see this Russian-themed program.

Free outdoor ballet!

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We’re looking forward to a free evening of dance this Saturday, May 13, 7 p.m., at Como Dockside in St. Paul presented by our artistic partner and fellow Knight Arts Challenge winner, St. Paul Ballet.

The performance will feature a sneak peak of St. Paul Ballet’s unique, Knight Foundation-funded show called “The Art of Boxing. The Sport of Ballet,” which will have its full performance June 17 at the High School for the Recording Arts, 1166 University Ave. W. in St. Paul.

The boxing/ballet show is the result of a partnership between the St. Paul Ballet and its neighbor in the Hamline-Midway neighborhood, Element Boxing & Fitness, featuring professionals from both the dance stage and the boxing ring exploring the discipline, athleticism and art in both worlds.

A boxing/ballet mashup? We’re expecting something creative, surprising, dynamic and beautiful. Like what you might get if you combined ballet and snow removal.

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.

 

 

Did Balanchine ever have to shovel snow into the back of a pickup truck?

Fortunately for him, he never tried to put on a snowblower ballet. First warm weather forced our performance off White Bear Lake for the Art Shanty Projects. Then the snowstorm projected for the Twin Cities this weekend never materialized.

What do you do when you’re scheduled to do a performance at Can Can Wonderland on Saturday? You drive to Northfield and fill up a pickup truck bed with snow and hope it doesn’t melt by show time, 3 p.m., Saturday, in the parking lot just north of the giant smokestack, 755 Prior Ave. N.

Come see the only snowblower ballet in town!

It’s a free preview performance of a bigger, longer snowblower ballet with a live orchestra planned in January 2018. Assuming winter comes back to the Twin Cities. Like the old song goes, there’s no business like snow business.

Thanks, Bethany Gladhill, for the loan of the truck.