Pangea World Theater finds its stage on Lake Street

Lue Thao of Cypher Side teaches a breakdance at Cafe con Pan on Lake Street. Submitted photo

Pangea World Theater, based on the corner of Lake & Lyndale, is on a mission to engage Lake Street through the arts.

The theater has infused artists into everything from a Lake Street taco tour to the city’s comprehensive planning process. Pangea is partnering on a new mural next spring at Plaza Centenario at Lake & 12th. Over the past month, the theater has also co-hosted dance sessions on the plaza with the group  “Don’t You Feel It Too?” where people dance to different music in their earbuds for “liberation and the common good.”

The theater is in its 17th year at 711 W. Lake St., and staff can see gentrification on Lake Street firsthand, according to Alejandra Tobar Alatriz, arts organizing and community engagement director. She said community relationships are key, which is part of the philosophy behind the multi-year Lake Street Arts! program.

“It’s the antidote to the displacement that gentrification can bring,” she said.

Lake Street Arts! includes performances at the Midtown Global Market, roundtables on topics like immigration, and Shaah Iyo Sheeko, a Somali tradition of gathering over tea hosted by Ifrah Mansour.

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One piece on display near The Rabbit Hole at the Midtown Global Market is called “Colors of Lake,” which incorporates audio interviews from community members who mixed clay to reflect their skin tones.

“It ended up involving close to 100 people,” Tobar Alatriz said.


A 10-month Arts Organizing Institute is underway with 15 artists that each have a relationship to Lake Street. Each artist is given a budget for an artistic community engagement project.

Caspian Wirth-Petrik plans to gather people at Lake & 5th on Saturday, Oct. 21, where she will hand performers about $10 to spend near Lake Street. Each purchase will include a gift to give away to a passerby, she said, and the experiences will result in one-minute performances.

“We all need to be making more art, and we don’t need a lot of time, money, studio space [or] rehearsal time,” she said.

She said the “Improvising Ourselves” event aims to help people find an expanded version of themselves, rather than feel limited by habits or typecasts.

“Since we don’t currently live in a peaceful world, you need a cooperative imagination to even start to see what that could look like,” she said.

The Arts Organizing Institute introduced Kallie Melvin to puppetry through a presentation by Monkeybear’s Harmolodic Workshop, another tenant at 711 W. Lake St.

“As a performer and a teacher, I found it to be the most freeing experience ever. … I didn’t know it was something I would fall in love with,” she said. “There are no rules to puppetry.”

Melvin plans to create puppet workshops next spring at the Midtown Global Market, inviting children to make wild puppets and imagine their personal superheroes.

Eric Tu’s father came from Vietnam, living in refugee camps for more than two years before a Lake Street church sponsored his move to Minnesota. Tu, a Judoka Poet, plans to honor his father’s story with a Lake Street-area performance that combines his passions for judo and poetry.

Tu said he appreciates Pangea’s inclusive guiding philosophy. People who can’t afford tickets can work as an usher to cover the ticket price, he said.

“I’m always so impressed that they’re so focused on people of color and artists of color, and how much they give to the community,” he said.

Julia Gay performs an excerpt from her one-woman show Motherland as part of Lake Street Arts! At The Market.
Julia Gay performs an excerpt from her one-woman show motherland as part of Lake Street Arts! At The Market.

Upcoming Pangea World Theater events

Public dancing practice

Oct. 17, 19 and 26, 5 p.m. at Plaza Centenario, 1200 E. Lake St.

“Don’t You Feel It Too?” organizes the practice of public dancing for social healing and personal liberation. Each person brings their own music and headphones. “We meet, warm up, do a brief introduction, then transcend fear as we dance in public.”

Improvising Ourselves

Oct. 21, 12 p.m.-2 p.m. at Lake Street & 5th Avenue South

Eat food, paint on rocks, watch improv and discuss how improvisation can extend to all moments of life.

Café con Pan

Oct. 21 and Nov. 18, 3 p.m. at Plaza Centenario, 1200 E. Lake St.

A monthly family-friendly event with hot coffee, breads, art and culture. Hosted by LUCA ([email protected] Unidos por la Cultura y el Arte), of which Pangea is a founding member.

Power Gathering: Sewing & Sambusas

Oct. 22, 2 p.m.-5 p.m. at Midtown Global Market, 920 E. Lake St.

Learn sewing techniques and create a banner in support of Black Lives Matter. Features free food from Safari Express.

Buffalo Show, a night of blues

Oct. 24, 7 p.m.-9 p.m. at Bryant Lake Bowl, 810 W. Lake St.

Features Corey Medina & Brothers, a blues rock band based in Minnesota, led by Corey Medina from the Navajo Nation with Eric Sundeen and Gary Broste.

Maintaining Selfhood: Voice, Choice, and Equity in Collaboration

Nov. 2, 6 p.m.-8 p.m. at Pangea World Theater, 711 W. Lake St.

The workshop covers how to create healthy boundaries in a collaboration.