Art Condition

Calling all nutcrackers

Children ages 8-12 are welcome to attend dance classes for a $10 fee at Martin Luther King Park, 4055 Nicollet Ave. S., July 28-Aug. 1.

The Monday- thrrough Friday class scheduled for 2:30 p.m. each day is part of the annual City Children's Nutcracker Project, taking place in nine city parks and taught by professional dance instructors from Ballet Arts Minnesota. Children with little or no dance experience can sign up to learn ballet, modern, folk and creative dance moves.

"It gives kids a chance to receive dance experience that so many never would have had," said Mitzi Patterson of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.

Due to budget constraints, this is the first year in the project's 12-year history that it has had to charge fees, Patterson said. Still, attendance has been high, and the fee can be waived for children unable to pay. Patterson said the project is in need of additional sponsors. Children who take up a fall class can also perform in the holiday production of the City Children's Nutcracker at the State Theatre downtown. To register, call Mitzi Patterson at 661-4819 or visit www.minneapolisparks.org.

Thinking outside the whale

How to adapt Herman Melville's book "Moby Dick" for the stage drives Orson Welles to Ahab-like obsession. That's the focus of Southwest playwright Kent Stephens' "Orson Welles Rehearses Moby Dick," premiering Friday, July 11, at Lyndale's Jungle Theater.

Stephens' inspiration came from Welles' 1955 play "Moby Dick Rehearsed," which astonished theater patrons and critics during its four-week run. In the play-within-a-play format, the actors assumed dual roles as theater company members and as Melville's characters.

Welles, a legendary actor, director and filmmaker, starred as a tyrannical manager who leads his crew in re-creating "Moby Dick's" ocean context on an empty stage with no costumes and few props. Stephens' play gives an imaginative, behind-the-scenes look at what went into this wild production.

The play will feature several Southwest residents: playwright Kent Stephens of Kingfield, director Bain Boehlke, who lives across the street from the Jungle, and actors Ron Menzel of Lyndale, Michael Ritchie of CARAG and Beth Gilleland of Kenwood.

"Orson Welles Rehearses Moby Dick" runs Friday-Sunday, July 11-Aug. 24. Tickets cost $19-$30, showing Wednesdays-Sundays in the evenings with a matinee on Sundays. Opening weekend tickets cost extra but include a post-show party with the cast. Seniors and students can get $2 off their tickets, and $12 student rush tickets are sold 30 minutes prior to curtain. Call the Jungle Theater box office at 822-7063 for tickets. The theater is located at 2951 Lyndale Ave. S.

Dance on the edge

Southwest choreographer Karis Sloss' Eclectic Edge Ensemble will perform a wide range of dances in a program called "Ella Suena" at Intermedia Arts, Thursday-Saturday, July 24-26, at 8 p.m.

The three-part dance performance combined with theatrical elements features Latin, jazz, tap and much more. One section called "Fragile Dreams" premiered in last year's Fringe Festival and follows a man haunted by visions of what his mundane life could have been.

A resident of Linden Hills, Sloss is a recent graduate of the University of Minnesota whose choreography has been seen at several Twin Cities theaters. Intermedia Arts is located at 2822 Lyndale Ave. S. Admission is $12. For reservations call 929-0238.

Veena delights

Carnatic music, the classical music of southern India, will be explored through lecture and musical demonstration Monday, July 21, 7 p.m. at Geesu art + design gallery, 2720 W. 43rd St.

India native and composer Nirmala Rajasekar will sing and play the veena, a seven-stringed instrument with a long neck and a resonating bowl. Rajasekar won a "Best Concert" award from KFAI Radio and has performed in cities such as London, New York, Zurich and Bombay. Srinivasan in Mridangam will join her on south Indian drum.

Carnatic music incorporates a single-channel sound with improvisation. It is one of the world's oldest musical forms. The event will last 60 minutes, and donations are recommended. For more information, call 253-0021.

Botanical art combines science with aesthetics

Four Southwest artists will showcase their botanical art in the "New Blooms" exhibition of works by Minnesota School of Botanical Art students. Paintings, pen and ink, and pencil illustrations of plants will be on display July 12-Sept. 13 at The Bakken Museum, 3537 Zenith Ave. S. on the west short of Lake Calhoun.

MSBA was established in 2001 to combine the scientific with the aesthetic in teaching courses on drawing and painting. The "New Blooms" exhibition will be the first showing of MSBA students' work. Included in the exhibit are Victoria Barth from the ECCO, Susan Carlson from Linden Hills, Debra Greenblatt from Cedar-Isles-Dean and Jane Hancock from Kenny.

On the exhibition's opening day, July 12, a lecture, "Botanical Art: A Continuing Tradition," will be held at 2 p.m. Artists will be present at a reception Saturday, July 19, 2-4 p.m. MSBA's director will lead a tour of the exhibition Saturday, July 26, 2 p.m.

Museum entry is $5 for adults, $3 for students and seniors and free for children under 6 as well as museum members. The Bakken is open Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. For more information, call 926-3878 or visit www.thebakken.org.