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By Linda Shapiro
Minneapolis’ storied rep company celebrates 30.
Zenon in Luciana Achugar’s Structures of Feeling. Photo by William Cameron, Courtesy Zenon.
Zenon Dance Company generates an eclectic-electric vibe that encompasses modern, postmodern, and jazz styles. Founder and artistic director Linda Z. Andrews’ catholic taste and feisty persistence have created and sustained a Minneapolis-based company of national stature for 30 years. “I wanted to bring a New York level of dance here and keep it here,” says Andrews. She has cultivated a company of buoyant athleticism and adventurous spirit.
The versatile eight-member troupe puts technical virtuosity, emotional range, and a willingness to try anything at the service of notable choreographers. Over the years Andrews has commissioned dances from more than 60 artists, including veterans Bill T. Jones, Doug Varone, Bebe Miller, and Danny Buraczeski. She has sought out new voices like Andrea Miller, Luciana Achugar, and Faye Driscoll, as well as international dancemakers Johannes Wieland and Susanna Tambutti.
Zenon also nurtures area artists by frequently commissioning works from choreographers like Wynn Fricke, a former Zenon dancer. “At the start of the rehearsal process, when I’m faced with those clear-eyed dancers, I know they’re onboard. They want to explore intellectually and emotionally. It’s part of the training, part of the Zenon culture, and part of their individual maturity,” says Fricke.
The 30th-anniversary fall and spring seasons will feature several premieres, including a tango piece by Minneapolis-based Mariusz Olsewski and works by New Yorkers Driscoll and Netta Yerushalmy, as well as repertory favorites by Daniel Charon, Fricke, and Buraczeski. Dancer Tamara Ober says of the company, “We’ve become these encyclopedias of contemporary choreography. We are collecting information in our bodies of this time in dance. It’s in our bones.” As for the future, Andrews wants to increase Zenon’s visibility. “A company like ours belongs to the world.”