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  11 December 2017  |  Vol: 4 facebooktwitterrss  
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Seasoning Up the Arts

One of my favorite Public Service Announcements was one that KGLT used to run. It was made to encourage people to support the arts in Bozeman. A lazy yet penetrating voice would ask the simple question, “What would Montana be like without the arts?” And then, depending on what spot you were hearing (there were two) there would be the sound of cows mooing or a video arcade. Since I grew up in a small town surrounded by dairy farms and am of an age to remember when pinball became one of the first victims of the video era, I found the PSA to be a poignant representation of the pastoral nature and/or suburban complacency of small towns across the U.S. in a simple, 30-second spot.

It’s hard to believe now that Bozeman could have once been that small town depicted as a rural cul-de-sac. With an approximate population of 37,000, this city is now the home of a huge number of didactic non-profits and a sizable amount of arts organizations. It is no longer considered socially obligatory to go cow tipping. Rather, a night at the theater or the symphony has become de rigueur (or at least possible.) From the well-endowed Museum of the Rockies to the small, non-profit theater hanging on by its threadbare curtain, Bozeman has something for everyone (like it or not, even the people from NY and LA.) Jake Scott, Board Member of the Bozeman Film Festival, says it this way, “This town has small groups of intensely focused individuals who sustain diverse artistic opportunities. The talent and energy that this community nurtures offers something for everyone. It’s an egalitarian approach to the arts.” That point seems unassailable when one begins to list the extensive “artistic opportunities” that Jake suggests.

The current Season of the Arts is well under way. Just three weeks past found the Hatch Experience permeating, almost sensorially, our daily lives for four days. An annual Bozeman event, Hatch, as their website states, has a very specific goal, “ bring together global thought leaders and the Montana community to increase the quality of creative work.” The fact that that particular sentence exists as a reference to anywhere in Montana at all is quite telling.

Two weekends ago Intermountain Opera Bozeman threw open the gingerbread house doors to young and old alike with its production of Hansel and Gretel. If you missed the production you should probably faint in an extravagantly theatrical way because you’re next opportunity for an IOB event is Madama Butterfly in May 2012. Break out your classical CDs because that’s a long, cold winter without opera.

Just kidding, just kidding. Don’t despair, because the Bozeman Symphony season is in full swing! That’s probably not the best metaphor for the symphony, but then again, under the flamboyant direction of Matthew Savery, we are consistently surprised and impressed, jumping to our feet and dancing due to his excellent choices. So swing through the Willson Auditorium doors for the upcoming concerts of Bozeman’s incredibly talented symphony. Rhapsody: Oct.29th and 30th, Gloria: Dec. 10th and 11th.

And since you’re now off the couch dancing, perhaps you should watch how it’s really done. The Montana Ballet Company’s annual performances of The Nutcracker are on Dec. 3rd and 4th. As Soren Kisiel, who has played the part of the mysterious godfather Drosselmeyer for 16 years, describes it, “This is such a wonderful community tradition. Watching it artistically grow and change every year while maintaining its place amongst Bozeman holiday events like the Christmas Stroll and the lighting of the holiday lights, I couldn’t imagine Christmas without it.”

Speaking of Xmas, Main Street Dance Theatre's new resident performance company, Big Sky Dance Ensemble, in partnership with the Lion’s Club of Bozeman, will introduce the all-original, holiday production “T'was the Night Before Christmas” to the Willson Auditorium on December 17 at 2pm & 6:30. Dana Sorg, owner of Main Street Dance Theatre, along with her staff, brings an extensive knowledge of classical ballet and other dance forms to Bozeman. This production was conceptualized and written by local artists and uses the talents of 70 of Main Street Dance Theatre students (ages 4 and up) in ballet, modern, tap, and jazz. The story begins with a young child's wish to receive Christmas gifts for her family from around the world and is an international extravaganza of dance featuring traditional, classic and contemporary styles that showcase the celebrations of the season.

While you’re celebrating, make sure to catch The Ellen Theatre production of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, opening on Dec. 2nd and playing weekends through the 23rd. There are somespecial shows involved as well, so be sure to check their website for times and dates. Shayna Gibson, who will be singing in the chorus for the show, also sang the praises of having a theater in downtown Bozeman. “This is becoming more rare in America, to have an actual working theater in such a spectacular environment. I hop onto the stage every chance I get and start singing for the sheer joy of singing in such an amazing place.”

Other events happening through the New Year: The Broads are back with their “Broad Comedy Annual All New Show” on November 17th, 18th & 19th at The Emerson. The homegrown Broad Comedy is now performing nationally, but they always open a newly written show in Bozeman first. The Equinox Theatre (where the Broads got their start) will attack Christmas in their own irreverent way with “Every Christmas Story Ever Told” running weekends from Dec. 9th through the 17th. And on The Equinox Kid’s stage on Saturdays from Nov. 26th-Dec.17th will be a locally written puppet show called “Bert and Charlie’s Unconventional Christmas Carol.” The Bozeman Film Festival brings the most interesting films you thought you’d never see in Montana. The next three months will show “Beginners” on October 26th, “The Guard” on Nov. 30th and “Project Nim” on Dec. 14th.  And of course, let’s not forget MSU! The Black Box Theater, in the VCB on the corner of 11th and Grant, will play host to a student production of “The Dead Guy.” This send up of our reality TV generation will run Oct. 21st, 22nd, 28th & 29th.

Of course I’m sure to be missing some of the happenings in Bozeman in the upcoming months. There is always a ton of live music at The Zebra and The Filler and The Emerson, etc. The point is that in this small town there are plenty of opportunities out there, earnestly waiting to be discovered. If you can’t find something of interest in the above list, you probably should move back to NY.  -TBM

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