In a new exhibit at the Presbytere called “They Call Me Baby Doll: A Mardi Gras Tradition,” the Louisiana State Museum explores the 100-year historical and cultural significance of black women in New Orleans who mask as “Baby Dolls.” Dating back to the early 1900s, the tradition both embraces and mocks stereotypes of women as “babies” or “dolls” in popular culture. Early groups like the Million Dollar Baby Dolls paraded in scandalously short dresses, stockings with garters and frilly baby bonnets. The tradition has passed to a new generation of African-American women and is still a highlight of the city’s Carnival culture. The exhibit features photographs, costumes and artifacts, including many items on loan by baby doll members. Guest curators are Kim Marie Vaz, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Xavier University, and Millisia White, founder and artistic director of the Baby Doll Ladies. The show will run through 2013 with the permanent exhibition “Mardi Gras: It’s Carnival Time in Louisiana!” Information, crt.state.la.us/museum
Celebrating 200 Years
Through Feb. 17, the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts Scholarship Art Contest exhibition will be on display at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. All works are by high school juniors and seniors who participated in the Foundation’s visual arts contest, themed “Louisiana’s Bicentennial,” which celebrates 200 years of statehood. Katie Atkins won the contest. Information, OgdenMuseum.org
Celebrating women in jazz music and dance, a three-day festival called NOLA Girl Jam takes place March 1-3, with highlights including community activities that explore the history of the female voice in American jazz culture. Several local dance troupes will perform, and concerts, costume contests, cocktail parties, classes and seminars will be held. Information, NolaGirlJam.com
Interview with Tom Mossbrucker,
Artistic Director of Aspen Santa Fe Ballet
This month, as we all know, is filled with performances of all kinds – Carnival parades will entertain the masses until Fat Tuesday, on Feb. 12, and there are a variety of concerts going on. Toward the end of the month, another notable cultural event to check out is the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, hosted by the New Orleans Ballet Association on Feb. 23 at the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts. Artistic Director Tom Mossbrucker has been with the company since 1996 and answers a few questions about the troupe’s upcoming performances, “Return to a Strange Land”; “OVERGLOW” and “Square None.” “We are very excited about the performance. [New Orleans] is one of our favorite tour stops, not only because of the obvious charms of the city, but also because of our long relationship with NOBA,” he says. Information, NobaDance.com
What kind of dance will it be? Everything we do is contemporary ballet. All of our dancers are classically trained, but the repertoire is all by living choreographers who are very forward-thinking. It’s innovative and really reflects today’s aesthetic.
Who choreographed it? Like a museum, we curate the works we present. The existing choreographers are at three different stages in their careers: [“Square None” is by] Norbert De La Cruz. He recently graduated from Juilliard, and we commissioned him to do this ballet. The piece that he did for us is gaining lots of attention, and he just won the Princess Grace Award. Jiri Kylián (“Return to a Strange Land”) is one of the greatest choreographers of the century, so we are very excited to have his work on our program. Virtually every dancer wants to dance his work. This is the oldest work in the program, from 1975. It’s still considered new and fresh and will be danced en pointe. Jorma Elo (“OVERGLOW”) is at the height of his career as a choreographer.
How many dancers are in this and how experienced are they? We have 11 dancers. We’re in our 17th season, and one of the things that’s helped define the company is that we’ve had dancers who’ve been with us for a long time. We have some newer dancers as well.
What do you hope the audience gains from this? When you come to see us, you’re seeing works you can’t see anywhere else. We’ve commissioned about 25 ballets. We’re crafting new works all the time. I hope the audience leaves feeling inspired. Visually, the performance is very beautiful. It’s very abstract – so I don’t want anyone to come in and figure out what the ‘story’ is. It’s much like an abstract painting, you don’t know what [the choreographers] were thinking, but you’re moved by what you see. Additionally, we’ve known Jenny [Hamilton, executive director of NOBA] for many years and we’ve always felt like it was a really good match … it’s always great to come to New Orleans.
Through Feb. 20. “Better Dead than Red”; Jonathan Ferrara Gallery. Information, JonathanFerraraGallery.com
Through Feb. 24. “Jim Richard: Make Yourself at Home”; New Orleans Museum of Art. Information, noma.org
Feb. 2. Annual Radical Faerie Ball; AllWays Lounge. Information, TheAllWaysLounge.net
Feb. 2, 16. The New Megaphone Show; New Movement Theater. Information NewMovementTheater.com
Feb. 3. Super Bowl XLVII; Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Information, nfl.com
Feb. 6, 13, 19, 22, 24, 26. New Orleans Hornets home games; New Orleans Arena. Information, NewOrleansArena.com
Feb. 8. Krewe de Lune Space Ball; Café Istanbul. Information, facebook.com/krewedelune
Krewe of Rocckus with Better than Ezra and Sister Hazel; The Joy Theater. Information, TheJoyTheater.com
Morning 40 Federation concert; One Eyed Jack’s. Information, OneEyedJacks.net
Not So Super Super Hero party; AllWays Lounge. Information, NotSoSuperSuperHeros.com, TheAllWaysLounge.net
The xx featuring Austra; House of Blues. Information, HouseOfBlues.com
Feb. 11. Galactic feat. Corey Glover of Living Color plus Red Baraat; Tipitina’s Uptown. Information, tipitinas.com
Feb. 21. Kid Rock in concert; New Orleans Arena. Information, NewOrleansArena.com
Feb. 26-March 3. Flashdance; Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts. Information, MahaliaJacksonTheater.com