- Stuart Pimsler conceived and directed, with Suzanne Costello, “Tales from the Book of Longing.” (Photo: V. Paul Virtucio)
Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater will present an evening-length piece inspired by Leonard Cohen, and Antony and the Johnsons
By MORDECAI SPECKTOR
It’s a tough economy for everybody, including arts organizations. But, keinahora, the Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater (SPDT) is as busy as they can be.
Stuart Pimsler, a Minneapolis-based choreographer, by way of the Lower East Side of New York City, recently stopped by the AJW offices to talk about his company’s new production, Tales from the Book of Longing. The evening-length dance work, which is choreographed by Pimsler and Suzanne Costello, his wife and artistic collaborator, will have its world premiere Oct. 8-18 in the Guthrie Theater’s Dowling Studio.
Tales from the Book of Longing is inspired by the poetry of Leonard Cohen and the music of Antony and the Johnsons.
Pimsler says that Cohen’s poems, from the collection titled Book of Longing, convey the writer’s “acerbic” sensibility, particularly in his failing to adjust to the rigors of life in a Zen Buddhist monastery.
The dances launched from the poetry are meant to evoke Cohen’s “longing for the women in his life… missed opportunities… also moments where he talks about the past in a very loving way,” explains Pimsler.
The unique voice of Antony Hegarty, lead vocalist for Antony and the Johnsons, is the “perfect complement to Leonard Cohen’s poetry,” according to Pimsler. Antony’s tremulous vocals express a “longing sense of another world… pining for fractured beauty.”
Tales from the Book of Longing “is fleshed out as a series of episodic tales,” Pimsler comments. His voice is heard in one section, as he narrates stage directions for the dancers. “Those stage directions are intended to have another layer of meaning about making one’s path” through life, he notes.
Also of local Jewish interest, Minneapolis native Sonya Berlovitz created the costumes for SPDT’s new show.
(Apart from updates about his busy round of dance creation, I always like to talk with Pimsler about his famous cousin, Red Buttons. A veteran of the Borscht Belt, Buttons, né Aaron Schwatt, became a famous comedian and actor in films and TV. Buttons won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1957, for his role in Sayonara. He passed away in 2006.)
Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater returns to the Guthrie’s intimate Dowling Studio following a sold-out run of The Ends of Love, during the inaugural season of the new theater on the river.
In addition to the Guthrie gig, SPDT is in the middle of a residency at the Inter-District Downtown School, a K-12 school in downtown Minneapolis. The company is creating a dance curriculum, including classes in technique, composition, dance history and performance. In addition, Pimsler Dance has begun creating a new work commissioned by the Macalester College Dance Department.
And in late January, SPDT will present People of the Book (the song, the dance and the picture) at the Sabes JCC. In March, another world premiere, My Grandmother’s Tsotchkes: Tales of a Gambling Grandma, written, directed and choreographed by Pimsler, will be staged at SteppingStone Theater in St. Paul.
“We are just incredibly busy this year,” says Pimsler. “You never know how that all happens. I just feel so lucky. Our funding has been okay; and with this residency downtown and all these other commissions that we’ve gotten this year, we’re just rockin’ and rollin’.”
Tales from the Book of Longing will run Oct. 8-18 in the Dowling Studio at the Guthrie Theater, 818 S. 2nd St., Minneapolis. Single tickets are priced from $18 to $30, with a limited number of premium tickets available for opening night. For tickets, call the Guthrie Box Office at 612-377-2224, or go to: guthrietheater.org.