Spring Arts Preview: 21 Can’t-Miss Events

By Laura Dannen, Clancey Denis, and Sarah Hirsch January 14, 2011 Published in the February 2011 issue of Seattle Met


Mezzo Lunatico

Things are getting naughty under the spiegeltent. Local burlesque star the Swedish Housewife hosts and curates Teatro ZinZanni’s late-night cabaret—expect to see some skin with a side of juggling. Fresh Factor This new spin on ZinZanni’s cirque du supper costs one-fifth the dinner-theater price, and boasts music by Posies drummer Michael Musburger. Visit website for dates, Teatro ZinZanni, 222 Mercer St, 206-802-0015;

Billy Elliot

All he wanted to do was dance… The hopelessly endearing story of a preteen boxer–turned–ballet dancer has been the ticket on Broadway since 2008, and now—finally!—the Tony-winning musical travels to Seattle. Fresh Factor A boy braves ridicule and dances classical ballet to an Elton John score. Mar 22–Apr 3, Paramount Theatre, 911 Pine St, 877-784-4849;

The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs

Mike Daisey loves the 11-inch MacBook Air—and hates himself for it. In his new solo show, the former Seattleite delivers an unscripted monologue on the good, bad, and ugly of Apple: including devastating details from his trip inside the tech giant’s manufacturing plant in China. Fresh Factor Invite your Facebook friends to attend at a discounted rate using the Rep’s Ticket Discount Generator. Apr 22–May 22, Seattle Repertory Theatre, 155 Mercer St, Seattle Center, 206-443-2222;


Chop Shop Dance Festival

Ten of the area’s leading modern dance companies—including the visually stunning Zoe Juniper and emotionally charged Stone Dance Collective—head East(side) for this fourth annual weekend of new work, classes, and lectures. Fresh Factor Learn to make sense of abstract movement by observing a master class taught by company directors. Feb 12 & 13, Theatre at Meydenbauer Center, 11100 NE Sixth St, Bellevue, 206-799-6004;

The Mother of Us All

Choreographer Donald Byrd is no stranger to politically charged performances—his Spectrum Dance Theatre’s “Beyond Dance” initiative tackled U.S.–China relations and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For the third and final installment, he explores the rising relevance of Africa in the international economy. Fresh Factor World politics interpreted through choreography makes dance a watercooler topic. Mar 3–5, Moore Theatre, 1932 Second Ave, 877-784-4849;

Contemporary 4

Tucked in between cozy classics Cinderella and Pinocchio at Pacific Northwest Ballet is this showcase of four modern works, including a world premiere by Marco Goecke of Mopey fame and the PNB debut of Concerto DSCH by former Bolshoi director and balletic wunderkind Alexei Ratmansky (whose new Nutcracker for American Ballet Theatre earned raves over the holidays). Fresh Factor Watch a video preview of PNB’s Giselle on Mar 18–27, McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer St, Seattle Center, 206-441-2424,

Into the Void

Artist Yves Klein used naked women as living paintbrushes, so it’s no surprise that Catherine Cabeen’s dance-theater performance Into the Void, inspired by his work, drips with sexuality. Fresh Factor A digital media artist, installation artist, and kora player collaborate on this world premiere. Apr 28–30 at 8, On the Boards, 100 W Roy St, 206-217-9888;


Shabazz Palaces and TheeSatisfaction

Could this be the year Seattle hip-hop goes global? Newly minted Sub Pop artist Shabazz Palaces already has fans at and Rolling Stone, but sassy duo TheeSatisfaction also deserves critical love for their politically charged space rap. Fresh Factor TheeSatisfaction features prominently in Lynn Shelton’s MTV web series $5 Cover: Seattle. Feb 17, Neumos, 925 E Pike St, 206-709-9467;

Seattle Rock Orchestra Performs Radiohead

Fresh from covering Arcade Fire and the Beach Boys, Seattle’s coolest orchestra reworks Radiohead’s The Bends and OK Computer in full instrumental glory. Ellensburg rockers Star Anna and the Laughing Dogs open; Rachel Flotard of Visqueen and Kaylee Cole join. Fresh Factor The city’s top young talent collaborates—plus proof that you can rock with an upright bass. Feb 19, Moore Theatre, 1932 Second Ave, 877-784-4849;


Don Quixote

Jules Massenet’s tragicomedy makes its Seattle Opera debut. “The opera does not attempt to tell all of Cervantes’s famous novel,” says general director Speight Jenkins. “Instead there’s a kind of sweetness to the story—a tale of an older man falling in love with a younger woman.” Fresh Factor Twenty- and thirtysomethings can bond over drinks, appetizers, and reduced ticket prices, and fall in love with opera at special Bravo! Club nights. Feb 26–Mar 12, McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer St, Seattle Center, 206-389-7676;

Seattle Symphony Orchestra: Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 3

To close its inaugural run of “Rush Hour” performances, Seattle Symphony plays a 75-minute, no-intermission after-work concert featuring the Russian composer’s soaring score. Enjoy tapas and drinks by Wolfgang Puck Catering before the show. Fresh Factor Downtown wage slaves can get cultured while everyone else is sitting in rush hour traffic. Apr 8, Benaroya Hall, 200 University St, 206-215-4747;

Seattle Modern Orchestra

This newborn ensemble is dedicated to demystifying twentieth- and twenty-first-century chamber music, like this performance’s NoaNoa for flute and electronics, by Kaija Saariaho. Fresh Factor Before each concert, the artistic directors will lead a 15-minute discussion about the pieces they’re about to play. May 13, Meany Hall, 3901 University Way NE, UW campus, 206-226-6500;


American Heart: The Films of Jeff Bridges

Jeff Bridges may have won an Oscar last year for his broken-down country singer in Crazy Heart, but to Seattleites, he’ll always be the Dude. For eight weeks Seattle Art Museum screens some of Bridges’s best movies, including The Last Picture Show, Starman and, of course, The Big Lebowski. Fresh Factor Jeff’s been asked to attend the series—fingers crossed. Apr 7–June 2, Seattle Art Museum, 1300 First Ave, 206-344-5275;

Seattle International Film Festival

Last year’s 36th annual festival was its biggest yet: More than 400 features, animated shorts, and documentaries screened over 25 days, with appearances by Get Low director Aaron Schneider and actor Edward Norton. With a new SIFF venue slated to open this year, the fest can only get bigger. Fresh Factor The SIFFter app for the iPhone lets you sort films by genre, country, venue, day, and time. May 19–June 12, various venues, 206-324-9996;


Nick Cave

Not everyone gets to step inside Nick Cave’s (the artist, not the Bad Seed) “soundsuits”—eclectic costumes-as-sculpture, some so embellished they make noise when they move. But you can look all you want: Brand new work will be on display for Meet Me at the Center of the Earth. Fresh Factor Dancers donning soundsuits turn up around town for impromptu performances. Mar 10–June 5, Seattle Art Museum, 1300 First Ave, 206-654-3100;

Nick Cave’s Soundsuit Invasion No. 1 in LA, courtesy Fowler Museum at UCLA from Fowler Museum on Vimeo.

Degenerate Art Ensemble

Hans Christian Andersen’s The Red Shoes isn’t exactly cheerful—a vain young girl is doomed to dance forever—which makes it the perfect springboard for DAE’s latest performance piece, presented in conjunction with an exhibit featuring costumes, props, and clips from their past works. Fresh Factor For select performances, The Red Shoes Project—complete with a marching band and 60-member choir—will start in the Frye and spill out into the streets. Mar 19–June 19, Frye Art Museum, 704 Terry Ave, 206-622-9250;

Degenerate Art Ensemble’s Excerpts from Sonic Tales from Ian Lucero on Vimeo.

New Mystics/Dan Hawkins Street Art

Celebrated street artists the New Mystics (aka NKO and NTG) take their vibrant work indoors, but don’t expect them to lose their edge just because they’re tagging gallery walls. Dan Hawkins’s documentary photographs accompany the installation. Fresh Factor First Bumbershoot, now the city-sponsored Gallery4Culture: The city’s officially embraced graffiti as art. Apr 7–29, Gallery4Culture, 101 Prefontaine Pl S, 206-296-8674;

Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses

While last year’s Kurt exhibit at SAM focused on the legend of grunge’s lost son, EMP | SFM’s Nirvana exhibit is like a private tour through Krist Novoselic’s basement: hundreds of candid band photos, handwritten lyrics, and old guitars from the local boys who changed the face of music—and Seattle. Fresh Factor Historic merit elevates an exhibit of pop culture. Apr 16, 2011–Apr 22, 2013, EMP | SFM, 325 Fifth Ave N, Seattle Center, 206-770-2702;

The Talent Show

The Henry examines conflicting notions of privacy and fame in a culture dominated by reality television and social media. Its new exhibit features nearly 20 artists, including the man who had plenty to say about fleeting fame, Andy Warhol. Fresh Factor View more than 14,000 objects at the Henry through its Digital Interactive Galleries (DIG). May 7–Aug 21, Henry Art Gallery, 15th Ave NE & NE 41st St, UW campus, 206-543-2280;


Hugo Literary Series: Brief Encounters

A passing glance on a bus, a shared joke in line at the bank: Could these moments lead to romance? Robbery? Three local musicians—Maldives front man Jason Dodson, folk singer Laura Love, and hip-hop artist Macklemore—perform new work based on their own significant brief encounters, while author Matthew Simmons reads short selections. Fresh Factor It’s Hugo House: The Musical! The popular literary series branches out. Feb 18, Richard Hugo House, 1634 11th Ave, 206-322-7030;

David Sedaris

Staking a claim to Aesop’s territory, our favorite humorist and author of Me Talk Pretty One Day reads from his new book of twisted fables, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk. Fresh Factor He’s hilarious. Sedaris also previews his work on This American Life, which listeners can download as a podcast. May 1, Benaroya Hall, 200 University St, 206-215-4747;

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