Radio, Television and Performance Arts
Garrison Keillor was hired by Marvin Granger to work at KUOM, the campus radio station, while he was attending the University of Minnesota. Keillor went on to write stories for the New Yorker; host his own radio show on National Public Radio, A Prairie Home Companion, which just celebrated its 40th anniversary this summer; write books, and become almost as well-known as Bob Dylan.
“Dinkytown was a small fragile neighborhood when I arrived there in 1960 as a freshman at the U, locked in by the train tracks, the Como rail yard, and the campus, but it was important as an independent community, tied to the University, serving it, but free and entrepreneurial, and its bookstores—Perine's, Heddan's, McCosh's—its coffee house The Ten O’clock Scholar—it's odd little shops like The Podium and Al's Breakfast Nook—were adjuncts of the school and places where students freely mingled with interesting characters, unrecognized intellectuals, free spirits.
"You might sit down at the lunch counter in Gray's Drugs or Mama D's and run into Maury Bernstein the folk music scholar or Jon Pankake or Melvin McCosh the anarchist/bookseller or Marvin Davidoff the civil rights activist or John Koerner the songwriter, all of them pursuing their individual passion. What you learned in Dinkytown is that it is possible to be true to your own passion even after college…
Maury Bernstein, ethnomusicologist, folk music expert, and national radio program host, was “…an eccentric fixture, first in Dinkytown, then the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood near the University of Minnesota’s West Bank campus.”
He lived at the College Inn, now Dinkydale. He taught classes on musicology, hosted a National Public Radio program called “Folk Music and Bernstein,” and hosted “The Jewish Program,” featuring news and commentary. In the 1970s Bernstein organized the Snoose Boulevard Festival celebrating Scandinavian heritage in the Cedar-Riverside community.
“The main thing I remember about Dinktyown is that whenever I was there, MauryBernstein was always crossing the street.” - Anonymous
The Cedar Social TV Show
“The Cedar Social” was a televison show produced by Adam Granger and Pop Wagner for SPNN Metro Cable Saint Paul between 1990 and 1996.
Granger and Wagner collaborated in the curation of local and folk musical acts for performances during two-hour segments of televised broadcasts. Many Dinkytown performers with national reputations and strong local followings were featured on the programs, including performances from artists such as John Koerner, Tony Glover, and Dave Ray, Stoney Lonesome, Peter Ostroushko and Dean Magraw, Dick Kimmel, and Trova (Eric Petoniemi, Ruth MacKenzie, and Jeffrey Willkomm.
Minnesota Dance Theatre
Loyce Houlton was an American dancer and choreographer, who was the founder the Minnesota Dance Theater (MDT). Houlton studied with George Balanchine and Martha Graham.
In 1962 she founded the Contemporary Dance Playhouse in Dinkytown on the corner of 4th Street and 14th Avenue. Two years later the company performed its first Nutcracker Fantasy, Houlton's adaptation of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's ballet The Nutcracker.
The continuing performances of this dance work remain the longest-running annual fine arts event in the state of Minnesota. The company was renamed the Minnesota Dance Theatre in 1969.
In the early ‘70s the young actress Jessica Lange returned from a Parisian stint to perform mime at the MDT building in Dinkytown.
Houlton was acknowledged to be one of the most significant American choreographers of the 20th century and one of the first American women to gain national and international recognition as a choreographer, teacher, and producer.
She produced many important dance works until her death, in all over 90 of them. Among the best-known are Earthsong and Tactus (1969), Wingborne (1971), The Killing of Suzie Creamcheese (1971), Song of the Earth (1977), and The Rite of Spring (1985). She worked with the composer Carl Orff on her danced realization of his cantata Carmina Burana and also collaborated with Yanni, George Crumb, and Philip Glass for various dance works.
Houlton helped to train thousands of dance students at the Minnesota Dance Theatre, of which the most significant are Charles Askegard and her daughter Lise Houlton, who performed with the American Ballet Theater for eight years.
MDT remains one of Minnesota’s cultural treasures with an eclectic international voice. From its roots in Dinkytown, MDT fostered a critically important contemporary dance scene in the Midwest—introducing children to dance, producing the beloved Nutcracker every year for five decades, sending dancers to perform all over the world, fostering a unique dance culture in the Twin Cities that flourishes today and is recognized as exceptional.
At Loyce’s death in 1995, Bruce Marks, at the time artistic director of the Boston Ballet, asserted, "She belongs to that group of tenacious American women artists that includes Martha Graham and Agnes DeMille."
Lise Houlton succeeded her mother as artistic director in 1995. In 2006 MDT merged with Ballet Arts Minnesota. Lisa Houlton continues to carry on Loyce Houlton’s legacy.
Founded by Michael Robins in 1974, the Illusion Theater got its start with its first rehearsal at Dome City in Dinkytown.
The Illusion became an early leader in educational and training theater. Michael Robins and Bonnie Morris, who have led Illusion Theater for 40 years, have commissioned or developed more than 350 plays in the theater’s tenure.
“Fresh Ink,” now in its 28th year, was one of the first script development festivals in the Twin Cities. Robins and Morris received an Ivey Award for lifetime achievement in the fall of 2014.