Sunday, March 22, 2015

Zenon Modern Dance Company Returning to the Edge

The week long dance residency for the Bigfork School in January by The Zenon Dance Company was very successful. The residency culminated in a performance for students and family. Zenon is returning for a public performance in April.  Zenon is “…One of the nation’s premier repertory dance companies. Zenon Dance Company captivates audiences with a rare and dynamic blend of modern and jazz.” This second visit will include some of the students from the January program introducing the show. It promises to be a wonderful evening of entertainment.  Friday, April 10th at 7PM.  Admission: $10 for adults and $5 for children.

Zenon Dance Company's Artistic Director Linda Andrews says Zenon is returning to The Edge, “…early enough this year so that the January student residency is still relevant to the students. The residency was a wonderful experience for Zenon. We loved the community and the venue. With our April 10th performance, we will get a chance to see ‘old friends’ again while sharing our expertise and love for American modern dance. The performance will be energetic and passionate with something for everyone.”

Following the student introduction, this public performance will include a premiere performance of a work by Minnesota choreographers Wynn Fricke (based on selected Bulgarian folk songs) and a performance of internationally known Afro-Cuban choreographer Osnel Delgado titled “Coming Home”.  It is about a journey in which the sport of baseball becomes common ground between the choreographer, dancers and the audience. Above photo from "Coming Home" by Steve Neidorf.

Zenon Dance is known for its dynamic blend of modern and jazz dance, and they work with emerging as well as internationally renowned choreographers. Awards Zenon has received includes: the 2010 Minnesota SAGE Award for Dance, the McKnight Excellence in the Arts Award and the Twin Cities Mayors' Public Arts Award. Below photo by V. Paul Virtucio.

From the Zenon site: Osnel Delgado’s work "Coming Home" is his first dance piece for a U.S. company.  The Cuban choreographer is this year’s Northrop McNight International Artist...Delgado describes "Coming Home" as "a piece about a journey in which the sport of baseball (beloved by Cubans and Americans) became common ground between the choreographer and dancers and is also a metaphor for life, confrontation and people coming together for a common goal." Fleeting gestures and abstract movements from baseball are embedded in a dynamic, contemporary dance work.”

About Wynn Fricke: “Wynn Fricke has been called a ‘choreographic shaman’ who creates ‘timeless works that comment on the human condition with muscular choreography and primordial power" (Star Tribune). Her choreography has been produced nationally, in Russia, and Micronesia, and includes commissions from Zenon Dance Company, Ragamala Dance, James Sewell Ballet…Wynn is the recipient of seven McKnight Fellowships in Choreography and Performance, and two New York State-funded grants from Arts International and Trust for Mutual Understanding….Wynn serves on the faculty at Macalester College in Saint Paul, MN.” 

The new piece titled "The Mourning Tree" is danced to traditional Bulgarian folk songs and sung by the Mila Vocal Ensemble (pictured above), an a cappella women’s choir based in St. Paul. The Bigfork performance will use a recording of these songs. "The Mourning Tree" startles with arresting rhythms and harmonies, that tell age-old stories of love and sorrow. The choreography captures their themes in a powerfully ritualistic and contemporary expression.

                                                  Photo by William Cameron

Come and enjoy this special blend of modern and jazz dance with an evening of internationally known professional dancers and some local Bigfok students. Friday, April 10th at 7PM.  Admission: $10 for adults and $5 for children.

                                Photo by Steve Niedorf

Friday, March 20, 2015

Lumpy and the Dentist

Lumpy was Bob Hope's nickname for co-star Jane Russell during the production of their top grossing 1948 movie, "The Paleface." It was screen writer Frank Tashlin's parody of practically every Western cliche. This movie has all the Western basics, from the beautiful heroine to the shootout on main street. But in this film, the gal is handy with a gun and the hero is a cowardly dentist. This is the last film of the current season of the "Classic Movie Series" in Bigfork with the popular Bob Hope as the goofball in this classic, and is our annual “April Fool” comedy.  "The Paleface" will be shown by host Jack Nachbar at the Edge Center Theater in Bigfork on Thursday, April 9 at 6:30, free of charge. Jack will introduce the movie and show a cartoon from the same era.

The rather clueless dentist Painless Peter Potter, played by Bob Hope, was a rather cowardly character, who often "fanaticized" that he was a crack shot and fearless Indian fighter. Calamity Jane was a fearless undercover government agent needing a cover story. The Bob and Jane characters filled the bill perfectly, and she even got Potter to marry her. How he got to be sheriff and ended up in a main street shootout is the rest of the story.

“I discovered that my role was...dry and flat. When the critics later said I was ‘expressionless,’ I knew I managed to hit it: a stone face”.

Born Ernestine Jane Geraldine Russell (1921 – 2011), Jane Russell was one of Hollywood's leading sex symbols in the 1940s and 1950s. She was a Minnesota native born in Bemidji and her stage/singing tradition came from her mom who was an actress with a road troupe. Relocated to California, Jane got her first film role in 1943 in “The Outlaw.” Her career included music and film work appearing in over 20 films. Off stage she founded the World Adoption International Fund.  Her accomplishments were recognized with Grauman’s Chinese restaurant hand and foot prints plus a star on the Hollywood walk of fame.

Jane’s favorite co-star was Bob Hope.  They had an amazing “chemistry” on screen that made her the perfect foil for Bob’s humor. Bob once introduced her as “the two and only Jane Russell” and once quipped, “Culture is the ability to describe Jane Russell without moving your hands.”

Once Jane said she was disappointed in most of her films but she liked making “The Paleface.” "This picture was a complete package," she said, "No lines were changed, one director, always on schedule, and no sweat. What a pleasure! I thought, 'So this is how movies are made? I can't believe it.' It was fun from morning till night." and

Jane thought “Bob Hope was a ball...He's even funnier off screen than on, and everything's relaxed except his chocolate eyes, which never stop darting, never missing a thing.”

Leslie Townes "Bob" Hope, (1903 – 2003) is an American legend.  In his career he was a vaudevillian, actor, singer, dancer, athlete, and author with a career spanning nearly 80 years. And off-screen, sharing his talents with troops around the world makes him personally memorable to millions and an icon to the public. He was in over 70 films and shorts, including the "Road" movies co-starring Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour. He hosted the Academy Awards fourteen times (more than any other host) and authored fourteen books. He was married for 69 years.

Many feel his long career serving the United Service Organizations (USO) to entertain active service American military personnel was his most endearing legacy. He made 57 tours for the USO between 1941 and 1991 being declared an honorary veteran of the United States Armed Forces in 1997 by act of the U.S. Congress. Above is Bob entertaining military in 1944.

He was willing to go anywhere to entertain the military.  The list includes WW11, Korean War, the Vietnam War, the third phase of the Lebanon Civil War, the latter years of the Iran–Iraq War, and the 1990–1991 Persian Gulf War. Above is Bob entertaining military at the Lackland Air Force Base in 1990.

"The Paleface" won an Oscar for "Best Song," "Buttons and Bows". The picture got mixed critical reviews when it was released, but the public had the last word. "The Paleface" was one of the top five top grossing movies of the year, and proved to be Bob Hope's most popular film. Come and see for yourself if the 1948 public was right. "The Paleface" will be shown FREE at the Edge Center Theater on April 9 at 6:30. Everyone who enjoys a good laugh is cordially invited.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Edge Center Gallery in Bigfork Exhibits “Why Treaties Matter”

The “Why Treaties Matter” exhibit in the Edge Center Gallery is especially designed to facilitate learning for Bigfork School students. It will be open to the public on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 9:00-1:00 from March 2 until March 27.  On March 11 at 1:30 pm an Opening Ceremony will officially open the exhibit and be followed by a reception.  The public is welcome.

“Why Treaties Matter: Self-Government in the Dakota and Ojibwe Nations,” is a traveling exhibit that explores the Native nations in Minnesota and their history of treaty making with the United States.  The exhibition is part of a statewide tour that began in 2011. It will be both fascinating and very informative to anyone with an interest in history and how it affects current daily life.

In August 2010, a unique partnership of the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council, the Minnesota Humanities Center, and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. made it possible for the exhibition to be developed as an educational tool for Minnesota audiences.

                                Above is Exhibit at Christian College Bethel University

"Why Treaties Matter: Self-Government in the Dakota and Ojibwe Nation is a nationally recognized, award-winning, traveling exhibit made in partnership with the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.

The exhibit has expanded to include seven educator guides of innovative classroom material and an enhanced virtual exhibit available at"  Read more at:

The exhibition includes 20 free standing banners with evocative text, historical and
contemporary photographs and maps, and a 10-minute video titled, “A Day in the Life of the Minnesota Tribal Nations.” A touch screen TV that allows viewers to chose short stories about topics that interest them is also part of the exhibit.

This exhibit reveals how Dakota and Ojibwe treaties with the U.S. government affected the lands and lifeways of the Indigenous peoples of the place we now call Minnesota, and explains why these binding agreements between nations still matter today. It is meant to share important cultural information with all Minnesotans, that they may better understand the true circumstances surrounding Minnesota land, its use, and the treatment of the land’s Indigenous peoples today.

                                         Above shows the Exhibit at the MN Sate capitol

“In order to create the vibrant Minnesota of the future we need to understand the importance of the agreements—the treaties—between the sovereign Indian nations and the United States,” says Minnesota Humanities Center President David O’Fallon. “Understanding these treaties is important now—it affects how we live—and will shape the future. The Minnesota Humanities Center is honored and excited to be a partner in this important program.”

"The history of Indian treaties is the history of all Minnesotans and all Americans," says Kevin Gover (Pawnee), director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian. "Even now, states, Native nations, and the federal government continue to engage on a government-to- government basis every day, making in effect new treaties, building upon those made many years ago. We cannot have a complete understanding of what it means to be Americans without knowing about these relationships, whether we are Native Americans or not."

Note the wall title on the above Edge Gallery photo announcing the Edge Center's Tenth Anniversary year. The past ten years have been made possible because of the generosity of the community. The volunteers have been our only way of providing every aspect of the Edge experience for the community. And without the generosity of our all our supporters with financial, volunteer time, and innumerable kinds of materials, The Edge Center would simply not exist. Thank you so very much. Below are two volunteers setting up this exhibit.

Monday, March 2, 2015

John Wayne’s Breakout Movie Role


Seeing the movie “Stagecoach” gives the viewer a chance to see John Wayne in the role the made him a star. It also provides an excellent example of director John Ford’s style of westerns that made him one of the best. Besides the “Duke,” add eight others to the stagecoach and you have a classic.  The seven passengers plus a driver and one riding shotgun are trying to get through dangerous Apache territory.  The story has lots of twists and turns besides the rough trail. The other star is Claire Trevor, who will not disappoint viewers delivering a great performance and maybe more. Is the story about more than a thrilling ride through Geronimo country?  Will they all make it?  Will love conquer all? These questions are just the tip of the iceberg. Shown by Jack Nachbar at the Edge Center in Bigfork on Thursday March 12th at 6:30 PM free of charge accompanied by Jack’s presentation providing a better understanding of the film and the film industry at the time period of the picture.  Of course there will be a cartoon of the same period to start out the fun.

In 1880, the Lordsburg stage heads east from Tonto, Arizona Territory to Lordsburg, New Mexico Territory. It has a mixed bag of passengers to be sure and their stories definitely cover the bases of the old west.  There is a crooked banker, whiskey salesman, woman of dubious background, pregnant wife, sheriff and the Ringo Kid. Lots of action and great scenery that can only be best viewed on the “big screen.” The movie had seven Oscar nominations and won two. In 1995, “Stagecoach” was selected by the National Film Registry for preservation being picked by the United States Library of Congress as "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” In June 2008, The American Film Institute acknowledged the movie as the ninth best film in the Western genre. Orson Welles believed that this movie was a perfect textbook of film making. He said he watched it more than 40 times in preparation for the making of Citizen Kane.

Ringo Kid: "I got a ranch across the border. There's a nice place--a real nice place... trees... grass... water. There's a cabin half built. A man could live there... and a woman. Will you go?"
Dallas: "But you don't know me--you don't know who I am."
Ringo Kid: "I know all I wanna know."

That is classic John Wayne and comes from “Stagecoach.” The Duke, as he was known, was in many movies before this one, but this was his first staring role under director John Ford, and it made him a star. Wayne’s character, the Ringo kid, was not a good guy by any means, but had the compassion and sense of duty not to abandon the rest of the travelers in their time of need. You gotta love him.

Born Marion Mitchell Morrison in Iowa (1907-1979), John Wayne’s family relocated to Los Angeles when he was nine and that is where his life’s work was centered. With “Stagecoach” making him a star he ended up being the star in 142 films, became the symbol of the American hero on-screen. He won an Oscar, a Golden Globe, and a Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement. But the Duke’s lasting film achievement, was the persona he portrayed on-screen.  It has been copied by countless actors whether they would admit it or not. He was among the top box office draws for three decades which made him very special to studios. “An enduring American icon, he epitomized rugged masculinity and is famous for his demeanor, including his distinctive calm voice, walk, and height,” from Wiki at

Claire Trevor was nicknamed the "Queen of Film Noir" because she so often was the “bad girl” in film noir and other black and white suspense movies. By the time of “Stagecoach,” Clair was a star. Clarie Trevor (1920 –2000) was born in Brooklyn, grew up in Larchmont, New York, and according to her biography on the website of Claire Trevor School of the Arts, "Trevor's acting career spanned more than seven decades and included successes in stage, radio, television and film. . . .often played the hard-boiled blonde.” Schooled in the performing arts, by 1932 she was starring on Broadway and began appearing in Brooklyn produced Vitaphone shorts. She starred in 29 films from 1933 to 1938 and by 1939 was an established leading lady actress. Some of her most memorable movies were with John Wayne including “Stagecoach.” Clare’s final Oscar nomination was co-staring with  John Wayne in “The High and the Mighty.” She had three Oscar nominations winning one, two Prime Time Emmy nominations winning one, won a Golden Boot award and nominated for a Laurel Award. More at:

John Ford (1894 – 1973) directed “Stagecoach” and was the pioneer of location shooting and the “long shot” done against a background of roughed terrain vistas in remote areas.  Stagecoach was the first of many Westerns that Ford shot using Monument Valley on the Arizona–Utah border.  Location shooting like this meant that the stars, used to opulence of Hollywood living, had to “camp out” in tents.  This atmosphere added a touch of personal reality to the actors about the times and life styles in which their characters lived.

Ford started his directing career in 1914. He was famous for both his Westerns such as "Stagecoach," "The Searchers," and "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance," plus adaptations of such classic 20th-century American novels as "The Grapes of Wrath." His four Academy Awards for Best Director (1935, 1940, 1941, 1952) are a record, and one of those films, "How Green Was My Valley," also won Best Picture.

Nearly all of the silent films he directed are lost.  They made up the majority of Ford’s 140 directed movies. Now he is widely regarded as one of the most important and influential film-makers of his generation.

In the case of “Stagecoach” Ford shot much of it in the cramped stage passenger compartment with seven passengers. This being against the grandeur of the scenery outside emphasized the tight “community” and their vulnerability. To some viewers, Ringo Kid’s decisions to stay and help out instead of escaping when he could seemed more logical because of the cramped conditions.  This is classic Ford using everything possible for effect. Above is set shot of "Stagecoach" filming. Ref

When watching “Stagecoach” you might think that it is a bit “canned” with so many western genre characters and situations in place.  You have seen much of it before.  Well, that’s because this movie created them. Remember this is back in 1939 and it was so good that it did set the stage for lots of imitations, and imitation is the best for of flattery possible. John Ford was not only one of the best directors, but this movies set the tone for generations of Westerns to come.

Come to Bigfork and find out yourself. This movie is presented free of charge and with some appropriate snacks courtesy of Jack and his wife/projectionist Lynn.  Place: The Edge Center for the Arts, Bigfork. Date and time: Thursday March 12th  6:30 PM. Price of admission: free.