Ballet Under the Big Top

Have you ever seen tortoises do the can-can? How about an elephant dancing in pointe shoes? Can fossilized skeletons even move? Come find out this weekend as the Theatre of Ballet Arts presents Carnival of the Animals, an original ballet with music by French composer Camille Saint-Saëns and choreography by Summer Hamille.

The Ringmaster will dazzle you with a menagerie of animals who swim, fly, hop, and kick across the stage, and in Act II the ballerinas will dance to additional Saint-Saëns compositions, including “Bacchanale” from Samson and Delilah.

Truly a community effort, the production features 34 dancers hailing from 10 cities across southwest Wisconsin and Iowa, donations from 16 local businesses along with many individual donors and those donating services, and more than two dozen parent and community volunteers.

Choreographer Summer Hamille, who is also director of Southwest Academy of Ballet Arts, reflects on the process of bringing the production to the stage.

How did you settle on the idea of bringing Camille Saint-Saens’ music to life?

Summer: In choosing a new ballet for our “off-year” Nutcracker season, I wanted something that could use area talent for both children and adults as well as untrained dancers. I knew about Saint-Saens’ composition Carnival of the Animals and the Theatre of Ballet Arts board agreed it was a good piece. So I got hold of the music and worked with a local music editor — Scott Moore — who extended some of the shorter pieces to make it work choreographically, and off we went!

Why do you think that Saint-Saens’ music, which was written more than 100 years ago, still resonates with audiences today?

Summer: The different variations Saint-Saens composed are simple and fun. In fact, he amused himself by composing them in order to feel better about a bad concert tour in Germany. It’s fairly easy for the audience to recognize what each variation is intended to portray. Although he would never allow these variations to be made public during his lifetime — except The Swan — I think it’s because of the lightheartedness of the compositions that audiences still find it appealing.

How does it feel to see the dancers progress from learning your choreography at the start of rehearsals to seeing the production on the stage during final dress rehearsals?

Summer: I am thrilled with the way this ballet is turning out! Not only were the performers able to do the choreography I envisioned, but they learned it quickly and the ballet came together much faster than I expected. The costume manager, Liz Heimerl, performed great magic and the costumes she came up with for these variations is amazing. The production is worth attending just to see her fabulous costumes! The advanced dancers for the four compositions in Act II have put in extra work to make the choreography for those pieces interesting and entertaining. Overall, I am very pleased with everyone’s work and can’t wait to just sit back and enjoy it all myself!

Now let’s all sit back with Summer and enjoy the show.

Performances are Nov. 18 at 2:30 pm and 7 pm, and Nov. 19 at 2:30 pm at the Mineral Point Opera House. Tickets are $10 for adults and $6 for kids 12 and under, and are available at Berget Jewelers,, and at the box office. The show is just over an hour long.

The Theatre of Ballet Arts is a nonprofit, charitable, volunteer organization dedicated to bringing the dance arts to Southwest Wisconsin.

-Contributed by Susan Webb, photos by Monica Dunn

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Chloe Ellefson Comes to Mineral Point

We just read this great book!  We couldn’t put it down.

The book is Mining for Justice by best-selling author Kathleen Ernst. It is a riveting mystery set in Mineral Point, WI. We encourage you to read it. Buy it as a gift. Get it signed by the author. She’ll be here all weekend as part of the 25th Annual Cornish Fest.

Kathleen will be speaking at the Opera House at 11:00am on Saturday, September 30, 2017.  She will then be meeting readers and signing books at Pendarvis from 1-5pm, and the Walker House from 5:30pm-8pm.  On Sunday, she will be making a presentation and signing more books at the Pendarvis Education Center from 11:00-12:00.

Mining for Justice is the eighth book in the popular Chloe Ellefson series. This historical fiction mystery is set in two time periods — a week in 1983, and in the early days of Mineral Point mining. The book moves seamlessly between the two time periods, and the multiple plot lines grab you from the beginning. Reading Mining for Justice is an enjoyable way to learn more about the history of our town.

We are fortunate that Kathleen chose Mineral Point as the setting for her latest book. She captures the historic charm of our town, just as she did when she wrote this blog post about the wonders of Winter in Mineral Point. During that visit, she took this haunting picture of the Gundry House and said “I am so going to write a book set in Mineral Point one day!”  Happily, that day is here.

Kathleen is a two-time winner of a Shake Rag Alley Winter Writers Residency. The residency program, which is still going strong, is designed to provide writers with a peaceful retreat in an inspiring setting. As you read Kathleen”s book we think you’ll see that our lovely little town provided some inspiration for a great novel.

Contributed by Don and Lisa Hay

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Taste of Mineral Point 2017

The annual Mineral Point Cornish Festival celebrates its 25th year this weekend. Myriad events will be held over three days from September 29th to October 1st, and the town will be filled with the sights, sounds, and stories of Cornwall.

One of the festival highlights is the Taste of Mineral Point. Lynnea Lauffer from Gray Dog Deli has organized a group of local restaurateurs and café owners to come together and showcase some of their finest fare. She says, “The Cornish Festival is such a well loved and attended event – people come from all over the country. It’s the perfect opportunity, for us, as restaurateurs, to connect one-on-one with our customers – and have lots of fun at the same time.”

Essentially, a great big picnic in the park, festival goers can buy tickets, exchanging them for food and beverages from the vendors. Participating cafes and restaurants include Gray Dog Deli, Popolo, Red Rooster Café, Suzy’s Pointer Café, and Tequila Point.

In keeping with the Cornish theme, Red Rooster will be serving their famous pasties and soup. The Pointer Café has chosen pies, pies, and more pies.
Gray Dog Deli will dish up two of their signature sandwiches: Curried Chicken Salad and The Original Opera Club, slaw, chips, luscious Buttercream Cup Cakes, and Blumers sodas. Popolo will provide Sausage and Peppers with a Garlic Bread Knot, Caprese Skewers, and Tiramisu. Tequila Point is selling Mexican sodas, street tacos, burritos and New Zealand Meat Pies, as well as hosting the Cornish Festival Cornhole Tournament. (Get a team together and compete).

Held at Library Park on High Street, this outdoor event also features local rock band and crowd favorite, Better Daze, who will be performing live. The City is providing picnic tables, and Karen Wells will be handing out quilts for people to borrow and use. Ginger Brand Biere will be roaming about face painting. Crazy fun food games including Cake in the Face, Egg Toss, Rotten Bananas (drop it, you lose), and, Name the Celebrity Food Heads will top off what promises to be a splendid day of entertainment, games, and delicious food.

Taste of Mineral Point: Saturday, September 30th, from 11 am-2 pm at Library Park. 137 High Street.

To see the full list of events and activities happening at the 2017 Mineral Point Cornish Festival, go to:

Contributed by Lily Bragge

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Carole Spelic’s Big, Beautiful Wall

Carole Spelic’s ‘Estoy Construyendo un Muro’ (I Am Building A Wall) is currently on display at Cafe 43, but will be moving this weekend to 203 High Street (the Old Bank Building on the corner of High and Chestnut) as part of Shake Rag Alley Center for the Arts‘s Art Adventure Mixed Media Exhibit.

At the exhibit you can view Carole’s wall as well as artwork created by Shake Rag students and instructors, as part of the second annual Art Adventure.  The exhibit will take place Thursday, August 24th through Sunday, August 27th (Fri-Sun, Noon-1pm and Thur-Sat, 4:30-6:30pm).

Read below for more information about Carole Spelic’s artwork, ‘Estoy Construyendo un Muro.’

HSB: Tell me about the Wall:
Carole Spelic: First, let’s be sure people know what it’s called: Estoy Construyendo un Muro (I am Building a Wall). I don’t really speak Spanish. I had to ask Google to translate, but it was important to me that the title be in Spanish.

HSB: What inspired the artwork?
Carole: The idea for the wall came from Donald Trump. His proposal that a wall should be built along the US/Mexico border – and that Mexico would be paying for its construction – struck me as quite ridiculous, yet intriguing. There are portions of his vision that did resonate for me. He said he was going to build a “big, beautiful wall” and that was my goal too. Current specifications call for the border wall to be 18 to 30 feet tall so I guess I have a way to go yet. The specs also mention reinforced solid concrete, or “other materials”, so from a practical standpoint I’m glad I opted for “other materials”. Reinforced solid concrete would be a bear to transport. Another amusing part of the federal specifications is that the wall must be “aesthetically pleasing” on the north-facing side! I guess mine is overkill, since it looks nice on all sides, right?

HSB: What materials are used and where did they come from?
Carole: The units each have an understructure made of household insulation – extruded polystyrene sheet – joined with drywall screws. Both of those materials are actually reused from a sculpture I made a couple years ago. The coverings are cut from textiles I purchased. They are woven in Mexico and are mostly made from recycled fibers. It was pretty funny, I kept coming across bits of elastic while I was working with the fabric. Obviously someone is shredding panties to make blankets out of! How’s that for recycling?

HSB: How big is the completed wall?
Carole: Well, the dimensions are variable. Each unit is the size of a standard cinder block – 8″ x 8″ x 16″. I currently have enough units to build a wall that is 8′ tall and 10′ long, but it can be reworked in various configurations.

HSB: How can community members get involved?
Carole: I’m willing to add to the wall or subtract from it. One unit costs me about $3.50 in materials, so folks could pay me that much to build more units or remove them. Megan, you paid to add to the wall! Does that mean you like the idea of a wall…or just my wall? Also, if anyone has Mexican textiles they would like to donate, I’ll incorporate them into the next units I construct.

HSB: Where can we view the wall and how long will it be on display?
Carole: I’m pleased to have the opportunity to exhibit the sculpture in the “Old Bank Building” at 203 High Street in Mineral Point during Shake Rag Alley’s Art Adventure weekend. This is a group show that will be up August 24-27. Friday, Saturday and Sunday the doors will be open from noon until 1:00 and on Thursday,Friday and Saturday, there will be a wine and cheese reception from 4:30 to 6:30 each day. I look forward to interacting with everyone in discussing the wall, but there will also be lots of other exciting artworks on hand, made by participants in the Art Adventure retreat.

HSB: Anything else you’d like to share about the project?
Carole: Yes. When my sculpture has run its course, I’m going to disassemble it and sew the fabric coverings back into blankets. I’ll donate them to a charity that will get them to needy immigrants. Reduce, re-use, recycle! Also, if people (especially knitters!) are interested in a related project they might want to visit I’m making one of those welcome blankets right now.

Contributed by Megan Kulick, Executive Director, Shake Rag Alley Center for the Arts

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2016 is in the history books and the New Year is already three weeks old. This is the time of year that many people set goals, make resolutions and vow to make changes to improve their lives. The tradition of resolutions goes back a few years – 4000 according to some sources! We all have made them – and we all have broken more than a few as well.

In addition to making the personal improvement resolutions this year, how about making a resolution to take a personal stake in making an improvement in our community? There are a number of ways to do this. Here are just a few suggestions that I am challenging everyone reading this to make.

Bring a friend to take a tour at Pendarvis

Take a kid to see the Mineral Point Depot

Become a member of the Mineral Point Historical Society

Pledge to attend more shows at the Mineral Point Opera House

Create a costume for the Art in Motion Parade – It’s June 3!

Bring a friend to lunch in Mineral Point

Join a local service organization

Take a class at Shake Rag

Hike up Merry Christmas Mine Hill

Visit a shop you have never checked out

Spend more locally

Attend a school board meeting

Stock your car with Mineral Point Visitor guides and share them on your out of town travels

Come out for Gallery Nights – April 1, June 3, August 5, December 2

Enjoy a Jammin on the Porch concert at Orchard – June 9, July 14, August 11, Sept 8

Sign up for the Chamber newsletter – email

Enter something in the Iowa County Fair

Take a child to a City Park

Attend a community event that you have never gone to

Go to the Mineral Point Market on Saturdays – starting May 6

Attend a ballgame

Learn a new fact about Mineral Point

Thank a City worker – and your Council representative

Go to the Library

Keep your gift buying in Mineral Point – or buy Mineral Point Gift Certificates

Donate to a food pantry or contribute to Pointer Panty

Join the Mineral Point Chamber of Commerce (personal memberships are welcome)

Talk to a stranger

Invite a neighbor to dinner

Challenge someone else to these resolutions!

These are some really simple ideas … that can turn into habits. If all of us strive to do as many as we can, it will make a big impact on our community. Let’s make these resolutions the ones we keep all year long. I welcome other ideas too – stop in to the Chamber office and share them.


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