Jamuna Chiarini

 

DanceWatch Weekly: Cirque city

As we note the passing of Trisha Brown, we have a lengthy menu of dance options this week, heavy on circus

On Saturday, March 18, Trisha Brown, the American postmodern choreographer and native West Coaster (Aberdeen, Washington), passed on from this earthly realm. She was one of the founders of the Judson Dance Theatre in New York, and her movement inventions and research helped shape generations of modern dancers and audiences worldwide.

Wendy Perron who danced for Brown in the 1970s wrote a beautiful piece on Brown this week for Dance Magazine. So did Alastair Macaulay for the New York Times. I recommend reading them both. This is the perfect time to settle into a deep study of Brown, if you don’t know her and her work already, and let the internet and all of its resources take you.

Performances this week

Gravity of Center ( Extended Promo ) from Quixotic on Vimeo.

Gravity of Center
Quixotic Cirque Nouveau
8 pm March 23
Revolution Hall, 1300 SE Stark St
This Kansas City Performing arts collective, known for seamlessly integrating technology, live music, contemporary dance, and cirque arts, brings us Gravity of Center, a multi-sensory performance that explores the tension between finding balance between gravity and lightness.

Quixotic, born in 2004, has toured nationally and internationally, and appeared at the Global 2012 TED conference In Edinburgh Scotland.

Skinner/Kirk Dance Ensemble. Photo by Christopher Peddecord

Burn It Backwards
Skinner/Kirk Dance Ensemble
Presented by BodyVox
March 23-April1
BodyVox Dance Center, 1201 NW 17th Ave
Burn It Backwards is a new work from BodyVox Dance company founders Eric Skinner and Daniel Kirk that combines five male dancers—Kirk, Skinner, James Healey, Chase Hamilton and Brent Luebbert, with the music of the late Portland singer, songwriter and musician Elliott Smith.

The work explores relationships: the bodies relationship to itself; to other dancers’ bodies; to the space around the body; and to the world at large. And it also looks into such concepts as ostracism and optimism through patterning, geometric shapes and physicality.

Photo courtesy of Sir Cupcake’s Queer Circus.

Sir Cupcake’s Queer Circus goes inside the body
Sir Cupcake’s Queer Circus
March 24-April 1
Echo Theater, 1515 SE 37th Ave
Sir Cupcake, a gender-bending circus performer, is stranded in the future and his magic time-traveling pocket-watch had been sabotaged. His internal organs have been all mixed up and his heart has gone missing. The Queer Circus must travel inside Sir Cupcake’s body and put his organs back together and find his missing heart, in this performance/adventure featuring rope artist Kiebpoli “Black Acrobat” Calnek, from San Francisco, DieAna Dae and Box of Clowns, contortion by Meg Russell, and duo acrobatics by Ari and Ben, and more!

Sir Cupcake’s Queer Circus celebrates queer and trans identities with storytelling and performances by queer and transgender people and their allies. The Saturday March 25 performance will be ASL interpreted and Audio Described (headsets provided). Echo Theater is wheelchair accessible and has a gender neutral bathroom.

Travis Wall’s Shaping Sound. Photo courtesy of Travis Wall.

After the Curtain
Travis Wall’s Shaping Sound
Presented by Portland’5
7:30 pm March 24
The Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway Ave
After the Curtain, a contemporary dance production created by Travis Wall, the runner-up on So You Think You Can Dance Season 2, along with co-creators Nick Lazzarini, Teddy Forance and Kyle Robinson, tells the story of a man fighting to find his creative voice after the death of a loved one.

The creation of the company was documented on the reality television series All The Right Moves on the Oxygen channel. You can view a clip of that show here.

Travis Wall will be performing in the shows throughout the tour, and will be joined in various cities by the co-founders Kyle Robinson and Nick Lazzarini.

Alembic Double Bill: Claire Barrera and Noelle Stiles. Photos by Chelsea Petrakis.

Alembic Double Bill: Claire Barrera and Noelle Stiles
Presented by Performance Works NW / Linda Austin Dance
March 24-25
Performance Works NW, 4625 SE 67th Ave
Performance Works NW presents Fifth Sun by Claire Barrera, which finds that all times are present at once, and This one is, by Noelle Stiles, which explores family intimacy, generational cycles of misogyny, and perseverance. These works were developed during the 2016 Alembic Artist Residency at Performance Works NW.

Barrera is an artist, activist, educator and writer. Her work can be found in the upcoming anthology of the zine, When Language Runs Dry, with Meredith Butner, and will be performing in an installation The Corresponding Distance, with Maya Dalinsky.

Stiles is an independent dance artist, graphic designer, and consultant. Her work has been seen at the Time-Based Art Festival, On The Boards, PWNW, and Dance New Amsterdam. She was co-instigator for the dance publication FRONT, with Tahni Holt, Danielle Ross, and Robert Tyree.

Upcoming performances

March
March 31, Junk in da Trunk, Tempos
April
April 1, Duality: Dance Ballet of India, Presented by Rasika
April 2, Sahomi Tachibana Dancers, Portland Japanese Garden
April 4-5, Shen Yun, Presented by Oregon Falun Dafa Association
April 6, Moving History: Portland Contemporary Dance Past and Present, Eric Nordstrom
April 6-8, Ronald K. Brown/Evidence, Presented by White Bird
April 8-9, A Festival of Dance, NW Dance Theatre, choreography by Laura Haney, Maria Tucker, Leonid Shagalov, M’liss Stephenson and Erin Zintek.
April 8-9, The Snow Queen, Eugene Ballet Company
April 10, Noontime Showcase OBT2, Presented by Portland’5
April 15, Synesthesia, BodyVox, TEDx Portland
April 15, Bridge the Gap, Presented by Sepiatonic
April 13-22, Terra, Oregon Ballet Theatre
April 14-16, New work by Jin Camou, Performance Works NW Alembic Co-Production
April 21-29, X-Posed, Polaris Dance Theatre
April 22-23, Annual School Performance, The School of Oregon Ballet Theatre, choreography by George Balanchine, Nicolo Fonte, Alison Roper and Anthony Jones
April 25-26, Che Malambo, Presented by White Bird
April 27-29, Contact Dance Film Festival, Presented by BodyVox and NW Film Center
April 28-29, Appalachian Spring Break, Scotty Heron and Brendan Connelly, Presented by Performance Works NW / Linda Austin Dance
May
May 4-7, Taka Yamamoto, Produced by Portland Institute for Contemporary Art
May 5, Spring Dance Concert, The Reed College Dance Department
May 5-7, Inclusive Arts Vibe Annual Performance, Disability Arts and Culture Project
May 10, Martha Graham Dance Company, Presented by White Bird
May 26-28, N.E.W. Residency performance, Dora Gaskill, Jessica Kelley, Stephanie Schaaf, and Michael Galen
May 26 – 27, Spring Concert – Tribute to the Ballet Russes, Featuring work by Michel Fokine, Tom Gold, George Balanchine, and Lane Hunter, The Portland Ballet
June
June 2-4, Interum Echos, PDX Contemporary Ballet
June 8-10, Summer Splendors, NW Dance Project
July
July 15, Pretty Creatives Showing, NW Dance Project
August
August 24-September 6, Portland Dance Film Fest, Directed by Kailee McMurran, Tia Palomino, and Jess Evans

DanceWatch Weekly: Openings and closings

The dance weekend bubbles with new work from the likes of NW Dance Project, BodyVox, the Necessity Arts Collective and the Baroque Dance Project

This weekend is all about openings and closings, transitions, and possibly a change from winter to spring. I can already smell my neighbor’s fragrant magnolia tree beginning to bloom. I am feeling hopeful that we will see more sun soon, although I love the rain.

Opening tonight is NW Dance Project’s world premier of a modern day Carmen, choreographed by resident choreographer Ihsan Rustem, joined on the program by choreographer Patrick Delcroix’s Visible Darkness. Visible Darkness is the first piece that Delcroix has made since a harrowing fall off of a ladder two years ago that left him unconscious for several days. The dance tells that story.

ArtsWatch welcomes new civically minded dance theatre company Necessity Arts Collective, directed by Hayley Glickfeld Bielman, who will be collaborating with Ping & Woof opera company to perform Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater in a fundraiser for Ceasefire Oregon Education Foundation.

The Baroque Dance Project, a collaboration between harpsichordist Alice Sheu and baroque dancer Julie Iwasa, will take place at Performance Works NW on Friday night. Iwasa has painstakingly recreated the the dances steps to Jean-Philippe Rameau and J. S. Bach’s keyboard suites from 300-year-old dance manuals, a deep-dive into the history of dance in the West.

On Sunday BodyVox founders Jamey Hampton and Ashley Roland will don wearable Intel technology and accompany the Oregon Symphony in a composition written especially for them and their high-tech costumes by principal percussionist Niel DePonte, punningly entitled Intel-ligent Juxtapositions.

Mr. Gaga is still showing at Living Room Theaters. The film captures the life of Batsheva Dance Company’s artistic director Ohad Naharin. In April, it will also be part of the Contact Film Festival, a collaboration between BodyVox and NW Film Center.

Also closing this weekend is the musical theatre hit In The Heights by Lin-Manuel Miranda with choreography by Sara Parker. The story is a celebration of the immigrant story in America that takes place in a Dominican-American community in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan.

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DanceWatch Weekly: Dance without women

We celebrate International Women's Day with a thought experiment

Happy International Women’s Day!

Can you imagine the world of dance without women? No? I can’t either; it’s unfathomable.

It’s safe to say that the majority of the worldwide dance community—dancers, teachers, assistant directors, rehearsal directors, costume designers, and administrators—are women. Take them away and what have you got? A handful of men who, interestingly, are the ones running most of the dance companies and whose choreography is most widely seen.

The movement, A Day Without A Woman, which is happening today (Wednesday), seeks to show the importance of women in domestic and global economies by asking women to strike. The intention is to bring attention to issues that continually plague women, including lower wages, sexual harassment, discrimination, and job insecurity—all of which pertain to women in the dance world as well.

So, when you are deciding on what dance performances to see this weekend, imagine them without the women involved, because the harder our society and government makes it to survive as an artist, the harder it will be for women artists to continue. DanceWatch urges you to consider if that feels right to you, and what you can do to affect the change towards equality.

Performances this week

Companhia Urbana De Danca. Photo courtesy of Companhia Urbana De Danca.

ID:ENTIDADES and NA PISTA
Companhia Urbana De Danca
Presented by White Bird
March 9-11
The Newmark Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway
With a background in ballet and psychology, artistic director Sonia Destri Lie, in collaboration with her company dancers, creates dances that mix her place, the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, with the dancers personal life experiences, hip-hop and B-boy techniques.

Companhia Urbana De Danca brings two dances to Portland: ID:ENTIDADES explores the ongoing dialogue between person and place, set to music by Rodrigo Marçal; and Na Pista is a throw-down, rhythmic feast, that expresses individuality within community.

Spectacle Garden 10: Dance Party
Hosted by Ben Martens
8 pm March 10
The Headwaters Theatre, 55 NE Farragut St
This monthly, community-oriented performance series, curated by musician and butoh dancer Ben Martens, includes physical comedy, dance, film, music, poetry as well as many other undefined mediums of expression. This month’s theme is a giant dance party that may or may not include a Trump Piñata to pummel. Check out the Facebook event page for the full lineup of participating artists.

The Portland Ballet Studio Company and Kúkátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe.

The Portland Ballet Studio Company
Directed by founder/artistic director Nancy Davis and artistic director Anne Mueller
March 10-12
The Portland Ballet Studio Theatre, 6250 SW Capitol Hwy Road
This pre-professional company made up of nine dancers ranging in ages 12-19, will perform a variety of work from the past to the present from choreographers Marius Petipa, John Clifford, Anne Mueller, Jamey Hampton and Ashley Roland, with a guest performance by Kúkátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe.

Mr. Gaga-a film capturing the life of Batsheva Dance Company’s artistic director, Ohad Naharin.

Mr. Gaga—a film
Directed by Tomer Heymann
March 10-16
Living Room Theaters, 341 SW 10th Ave
Eight years in the making, the film, Mr. Gaga captures the life of Batsheva Dance Company’s artistic director, Ohad Naharin.

Naharin has been at the helm of this Israeli dance company since 1990, has created over 20 works for the company, and is the creator of a movement form called Gaga—a guided improvisational class that is available to all ages and helps facilitate new pathways into movement.

In The Heights: music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, directed by Julianne Johnson-Weiss, and choreographed by Sarah Parker.

In The Heights
Music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, directed by Julianne Johnson-Weiss, and
choreographed by Sarah Parker
Portland Community College
March 10-19
PCC Sylvania Performing Arts Center, 12000 SW 49th Ave
In a Dominican-American community in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, life is bubbling on a hot summer day in this tale of a neighborhood’s struggles and sacrifices in search of identity and place by Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda. Originally premiered in 1999, this reproduction, set on the students of Portland Community College, is choreographed by Portland dance artists Sara Parker.

Parker serves as the Interim Dance Chair at Portland Community College, holds a B.S. in Dance from the University of Oregon, and an MFA in Modern Dance from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. She can also be found teaching dance at BodyVox Dance Center, and has recently performed with Tere Mathern in Edge Effects.

Performances next week

March 10-16, Mr. Gaga, Living Room Theaters
March 10-19, In The Heights, Portland Community College, choreography by Sara Parker
March 15, Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, a co-production with Ping & Woof Opera and Necessity Arts Collective
March 16-18, Carmen, NW Dance Project
March 17, Dancing with Rameau and J.S. Bach, The Baroque Dance Project, Alice Sheu and Julie Iwasa
March 19, Castles and Wizards, a collaboration between The Oregon Symphony, Intel and BodyVox’s Jamey Hampton and Ashley Roland.

Upcoming performance

March
March 23-April1, Skinner/Kirk Dance Ensemble, Presented by BodyVox
March 24, Shaping Sound, Travis Wall, Presented by Portland’5
March 24-25, Alembic Double Bill: Claire Barrera and Noelle Stiles, Presented by Performance Works NW / Linda Austin Dance
March 31, Junk in da Trunk, Tempos
April
April 1, Duality: Dance Ballet of India, Presented by Rasika
April 2, Sahomi Tachibana Dancers, Portland Japanese Garden
April 4-5, Shen Yun, Presented by Oregon Falun Dafa Association
April 6-8, Ronald K. Brown/Evidence, Presented by White Bird
April 8-9, The Snow Queen, Eugene Ballet Company
April 10, Noontime Showcase OBT2, Presented by Portland’5
April 15, Synesthesia, BodyVox, TEDx Portland
April 15, Bridge the Gap, Presented by Sepiatonic
April 13-22, Terra, Oregon Ballet Theatre
April 14-16, New work by Jin Camou, Performance Works NW Alembic Co-Production
April 25-26, Che Malambo, Presented by White Bird
April 27-29, Contact Dance Film Festival, Presented by BodyVox and NW Film Center
April 28-29, Appalachian Spring Break, Scotty Heron and Brendan Connelly, Presented by Performance Works NW / Linda Austin Dance
May
May 4-7, Taka Yamamoto, Produced by Portland Institute for Contemporary Art
May 5, Spring Dance Concert, The Reed College Dance Department
May 5-7, Inclusive Arts Vibe Annual Performance, Disability Arts and Culture Project
May 10, Martha Graham Dance Company, Presented by White Bird
May 26-28, N.E.W. Residency performance, Dora Gaskill, Jessica Kelley, Stephanie Schaaf, and Kumari Suraj
May 26 – 27, Spring Concert – Tribute to the Ballet Russes, Featuring work by Michel Fokine, Tom Gold, George Balanchine, and Lane Hunter, The Portland Ballet
June
June 2-4, Interum Echos, PDX Contemporary Ballet
June 8-10, Summer Splendors, NW Dance Project
July
July 15, Pretty Creatives Showing, NW Dance Project
August
August 24-September 6, Portland Dance Film Fest, Directed by Kailee McMurran, Tia Palomino, and Jess Evans

DanceWatch Weekly: Dance that travels

This week's performances move back in time, into our minds, to alternate states of reality, and to different countries around the world

This weekend’s performances offer us a chance to travel—back in time, into our minds, to alternate states of reality, and to different countries around the world. It’s a chance to experience the world through others’ lived experiences.

Beginning this weekend’s journey will be the The Bacchae, performed by the Portland State University School of Theater and Film with choreography by Tere Mathern. Next up on the itinerary will be White Bird’s performance of Cuisine & Confessions, during which the 7 Fingers Creation Collective from Quebec will cook and dance for us in real time. Then we will meet Iris Erez from Israel, who will dance about identity and place. Portland choreographer and scholar Eliza Larson’s caste of seven dancers will take us to dreamland in her new work In Circadia. We will dance battle with Bang Bang Boogie Vol. 5 at Center Space. Next, travel on to India/Portland with the Nritya Shubha Dance Festival, which will debut five styles of classical Indian dance at the Alberta Rose Theatre.

All of this traveling right here at your fingertips, and you didn’t even have to leave your own city, pack a bag, or renew your passport. You’re welcome. Enjoy!

Performances this week

Cuisine & Confessions. Photo courtesy of White Bird.

Cuisine & Confessions
The 7 Fingers Creation Collective, Montreal, Quebec
Presented by White Bird
March 2-4
The Newmark Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway
This nine-member ensemble will cook live on stage while dancing, performing acrobatic feats, and telling tales of family and food. Cuisine & Confessions draws on the idea that food, like DNA, contains our memories of family and place. Those memories are evoked through the tastes, smells, and textures of the food we eat, and that life, like cooking, is inherently messy.

Three interesting things to know about the show: all of the stories told during the performance are true, the set is inspired by the cast’s own home kitchens, and the cast members take turns washing the dishes after each show.

The Bacchae
Written by Euripides, translated by William Arrowsmith
Portland State University School of Theater and Film
Choreography by Tere Mathern
Music composed by Matthew Andrews
March 2-11
Low cost preview March 2
Portland State University, Lincoln Performance Hall, 1620 SW Park Ave
The Bacchae, an ancient Greek tragedy written almost 2500 year ago, is still strangely relevant today, as it grapples with the opposing sides of human nature—the rational, civilized side and the instinctive, animalistic side. With choreography by Portland choreographer Tere Mathern and original music composed by Matthew Andrews, this play promises to shed new light on ancient topics through a modern-day lens.

Local (not easy) by Iris Erez. Photo courtesy of Reed College Dance Department.

Local (not easy)
Iris Erez
Presented by Reed College Dance Department
March 3-4
Reed College, Massee Performance Lab, 3203 SE Woodstock Blvd
Israeli dance artist Iris Erez, a former dancer with Inbal Pinto and Yasmeen Godder, will perform Local (not easy), a solo study on how space constructs the activity of body within it. Erez says, “As one who moved from the city to the village, from the beach to the mountain, from the bubble to the borderline, from singlehood to motherhood—I wish to discover how does space influence me and how does it make me who I am.”

In Circadia
Eliza Larson/Fault Line Dance
March 3-5
BodyVox Dance Center, 1201 NW 17th Ave
Originally inspired by her own insomnia and her out-of-step circadian rhythm, Portland choreographer and scholar Eliza Larson (recently seen in Tahni Holt’s Sensation/Disorientation), explores the dream state—where reality and fiction are intertwined, and the impossibilities become possible—in a new work for seven dancers (Katie Burks, Taylor Eggan, Sara Himmelman, Erin Kraemer, Eliza Larson, Ella Matweyou, and Ruth Nelson). The work shifts between improvisation and choreographic design tapping into the body’s innate, fluid ability to move between different states of being.

 

Bang Bang Boogie Vol. 5
Dance Battle Produced by Donna Mation
March 4
Doors open 5pm, prelims start at 6pm
Center Space Studio, 420 SE 6th Ave
Donna Mation, owner of Center Space Studio, artistic director of Axé Didé Music and Dance Company, and dancer extraordinaire in a multitude of styles, is uniting the NW street-dance community through regular, themed, dance battles. This month’s battle theme is Bonnie and Clyde—dancers partner up and battle against other dynamic duos for cash prizes. The magic is in the moment in this evening of improvised performances.

Dancers Maya Dhananjay and Mudra Dhananjay. Photo courtesy of Nritya Shubha Dance Festival.

Nritya Shubha Dance Festival
A Unique Confluence Of Indian Classical Dance
Presented by Yashaswini Yaghuram and Alberta Rose Theatre
5 pm March 5
Alberta Rose Theatre, 3000 NE Alberta St
India’s history goes back thousands of years and its keepers of cultural history were the Brahmins (a station in the Hindu caste system whose job it is to perform religious rituals and to act as an intermediary between God and the people) and the artists. Before there was written language, the Brahmins spoke the religious stories and the dancers danced them.

Like its variety of languages, India also has many dance styles, but the most popular and widely known are Bharatnatyam, Odissi, Kathak, Mohiniyattam, and Kuchipudi. Each are from a different region of Indian and each tells the scriptural stories in slightly different ways, utilizing every moving part of the body, from the eyebrows, to the tips of the fingers, to the bend in the waist and the knees.

Luckily for us, each of these dance styles will be represented in this evening of dance performed by Portland dancers, alongside visiting professionals dancers from India.

Performances next week

March 9-11, Companhia Urbana De Danca, Presented by White Bird
March 10, Spectacle Garden 10: Dance Party, Hosted by Ben Martens
March 10-12, TPB Studio Company Performance-Featuring dances by Anne Mueller, Jamey Hampton and Ashley Roland, John Clifford and guest artists from Kukátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe, The Portland Ballet
March 10-16, Mr. Gaga, Living Room Theatres
March 10-19, In The Heights, Portland Community College

Upcoming performance

March
March 16-18, Carmen, NW Dance Project
March 17, The Baroque Dance Project, Alice Sheu and Julie Iwasa
March 19, Duality: Dance Ballet of India, Presented by Rasika
March 19, BodyVox and Oregon Symphony collaboration performance
March 23-April1, Skinner/Kirk Dance Ensemble, Presented by BodyVox
March 24, Shaping Sound, Travis Wall, Presented by Portland’5
March 24-25, Alembic Double Bill: Claire Barrera and Noelle Stiles, Presented by Performance Works NW / Linda Austin Dance
March 31, Junk in da Trunk, Tempos
April
April 2, Sahomi Tachibana Dancers, Portland Japanese Garden
April 4-5, Shen Yun, Presented by Oregon Falun Dafa Association
April 6-8, Ronald K. Brown/Evidence, Presented by White Bird
April 8-9, The Snow Queen, Eugene Ballet Company
April 10, Noontime Showcase OBT2, Presented by Portland’5
April 15, Synesthesia, BodyVox, TEDx Portland
April 15, Bridge the Gap, Presented by Sepiatonic
April 13-22, Terra, Oregon Ballet Theatre
April 14-16, New work by Jin Camou, Performance Works NW Alembic Co-Production
April 25-26, Che Malambo, Presented by White Bird
April 27-29, Contact Dance Film Festival, Presented by BodyVox and NW Film Center
April 28-29, Appalachian Spring Break, Scotty Heron and Brendan Connelly, Presented by Performance Works NW / Linda Austin Dance
May
May 4-7, Taka Yamamoto, Produced by Portland Institute for Contemporary Art
May 5, Spring Dance Concert, The Reed College Dance Department
May 5-7, Inclusive Arts Vibe Annual Performance, Disability Arts and Culture Project
May 10, Martha Graham Dance Company, Presented by White Bird
May 26-28, N.E.W. Residency performance, Dora Gaskill, Jessica Kelley, Stephanie Schaaf, and Kumari Suraj
May 26 – 27, Spring Concert – Tribute to the Ballet Russes, Featuring work by Michel Fokine, Tom Gold, George Balanchine, and Lane Hunter, The Portland Ballet
June
June 2-4, Interum Echos, PDX Contemporary Ballet
June 8-10, Summer Splendors, NW Dance Project
July
July 15, Pretty Creatives Showing, NW Dance Project
August
August 24-September 6, Portland Dance Film Fest, Directed by Kailee McMurran, Tia Palomino, and Jess Evans

DanceWatch Weekly: We’ve got dance news

A busy week in performance plus a new dance space, a new dance film festival, and a new platform for choreographers

Before we dive into this week’s dance performances, we have some Portland dance news to report. Specifically, the city has added a dance-centric film festival to its movie festival mix, a new performance space has popped up in Milwaukie, and Dance Out Loud is looking for choreographers who havenew work to showcase.

SubRosa dancers/choreographers, Kailee McMurran, Tia Palomino, and Jess Evans, have created Portland Dance Film Fest, and they are inviting filmmakers from around the world to submit minis, shorts, and long dance films, to be screened here in Portland August 24-September 6. Details and the screening location will follow.

SubRosa is a Portland modern dance collective established in 2011: The collective’s Living The Room has screened in dance film festivals around the world, for example. For anyone who has a film to screen in the festival, the submission deadline for is April 2.

The new performance space comes courtesy of Corinn DeWaard (the artistic director of Tripthedark dance company and a Dance Wire board member) along with her two business partners. They have have bought a Milwaukie church built in 1940 and plan on turning it into multi-use space called Chapel Theatre.

The two-story building—a total of 4,554 sq feet at 4107 SE Harrison St in Milwaukie—will serve the arts communities of both Milwaukie and Portland. Right now DeWaard and her partners are in the planning and demo stages, and DanceWatch will keep you posted on the theater’s progress and events as it moves forward. If you would like to see the space, click here for a video tour.

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DanceWatch Weekly: Inside and outside the bubble

The Oregon dance scene extends beyond Portland, we are happy to report, and a ton's happening in town, too

When I lived on the East Coast, New Jersey specifically, it took about an hour-and-a-half of driving to get anywhere—to New York, Philadelphia, even to southern New Jersey. That was the norm, it was accepted, and we did it obediently, with occasional grumbling here and there. But I’m glad I did it because New Jersey did not offer the artistic communities, resources and variety that I craved. Don’t get me wrong, Jersey isn’t ALL bad, it does have the best pizza and bagels in the land, and it’s home to a magical place called Grounds For Sculpture, a 45-acre outdoor sculpture park, inhabited by a pride of peacocks.

Because of this experience, I was relieved when I arrived in Portland five years ago to discover that everything I wanted and needed was just 10-15 minutes away from home. But now, in the process of scouring the internet for dance performances, I am learning a lot about dance communities outside of Portland, and my original concept of Portland’s community has broadened to include them. I see these communities as opportunities for exchange and partnership, and a way to break out of the Portland bubble and connect to other dance communities. It’s time to get back in my car.

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DanceWatch Weekly: Tech and the beauty of dance

The tech savvy Rainbow Dance Theatre and a great performance by Butoh artist Teresa Vanderkin lead to speculations about what makes great dance

It’s raining here in Portland, a steady stream of tiny droplets creating vertical lines over a backdrop of lush green trees, waving gently in the wind against the dark gray sky. It’s a beautiful, peaceful moment. I love how Portland’s gray skies, combined with the humidity, make colors pop. People who don’t know Portland winters think it’s ALL gray and dark, but they don’t realize that without the background gray, you wouldn’t see/appreciate the color.

Right now, because of the constant bombardment of bad news from the Trump administration, I am fatigued, full of feelings, and I am actively seeking out moments of beauty and connectivity as a salve.

Last weekend I found a few of those moments when I went to see Selfie by Rainbow Dance Theatre and Timsila & the Cypress Tree by Butoh choreographer Meshi Chavez, performed by the students of his nine-week Butoh Performance intensive, Being Moved.

Selfie by Rainbow Dance Theatre. Photo courtesy of Rainbow Dance Theatre.

Selfie was choreographed by former Pilobolus dancer Darryl Thomas and former Merce Cunningham dancer Valerie Bergman for their company Rainbow Dance Theatre, which is based in Monmouth, Oregon. The dance explores the idea of self through the platform of technology and social media. They ask: Which part of us is the actually the self? The outer part, the inner part or the part we share with the world on social media?

As we entered the lobby at Portland State University’s Lincoln Hall, we were instructed by posters on the wall and the Rainbow Dance Theatre staff, to take photos of ourselves and text them to dancetext@wou.edu. Once we got into the theatre, we could see our photos projected onto the scrim at the front of the stage along with hundreds of other selfies, in an orderly, side by side mosaic of multi-colored faces.

The dancing began behind this scrim, and as the dancers moved, the photos fell away, creating small frames, revealing more and more of the dancing bodies behind it.

In Selfie, an hour-long series of vignettes, the performers, through motion tracking technology, interacted with abstract, vibrantly colored, computerized images projected on the same scrim. The images included wavy red lines, circles, a giant head, and raining letters, to name a few.

The raining letters really grabbed me. From the top of the scrim, white letters cascaded down against a black background in five columns as a male dancer walked through them, carrying a push broom over his shoulder. As he “bumped” into the letters, they bounced off of him, spilling onto the floor, collecting into piles. Once he got to the other side of the stage, he turned around and swept the letters off, causing the letters to billow up into the air and float down like feathers.

There were several striking moments just like this throughout, but I didn’t feel like they were developed this well. It also wasn’t always clear to me what effect the dancers were having on the screen images and what the overall story was. The dancing, which was performed by a mix of professional dancers and dance students from Western Oregon University, combined acrobatics, contemporary dance and simple ballet steps overlaid with a circus-like performative attitude. Given the level of experimentation that the technology brought to the performance, the choreography seemed too simple and underdeveloped. Technology won the creativity challenge.

Selfie brought up a lot of questions for me around what makes “good” dancing and “good” performing. What is that thing that some performers and choreographers have that affects audiences so personally? How do they get it? Is circus and aerial work dance? Does all movement theatre fall under the category of dance? Is it just a range, a spectrum?

I polled my FaceBook friends this past week looking for the words to describe that intangible thing that we all feel when we see a special performance, but can’t easily describe.

Here’s the list of qualities that were described: heart, energetic presence, commitment, tension, awareness, authenticity, a relaxed and confident demeanor, grace, the ability to transport an audience beyond the immediate awareness of the body and present moment, the ability to transcend, to reveal and to show risk.

This leads me to Timsila & the Cypress Tree by Butoh choreographer Meshi Chavez.

Timsila & the Cypress Tree, performed at The Headwaters theatre, was also a series of small, interconnected stories with many beautiful tableaux moments. Its student performers cannot be looked at in the same light as a professional work, although Chavez makes lots of professional work as well. (For Suspended Moment, a Butoh work about the atrocities of atomic warfare coming this summer, Chavez is collaborating with visual artist Yukiyo Kawano, musician Lisa DeGrace and poet Allison Cobb.)

Teresa Vanderkin as the “Blue Woman” in Timsila & the Cypress Tree by Meshi Chavez. Photo by Greg Walters.

I can, though, talk about the performance of Teresa Vanderkin, who performed with the group and has been studying Butoh with Chavez for about seven years, and occasionally teaches for him when he is away. Vanderkin has that “thing,” that performance quality that is so hard to put into words. Her movement is never big or performative in anyway; she is relaxed onstage, deeply focused; she projects an emotional range, and she possesses an awareness and knowledge of her body that is sensitive, feeling, and porous. She can access any of these possibilities within her body at any time, to tell us a story and cause us to feel something. She is a captivating performer and deeply interesting to watch, for me.

In Timsila & the Cypress Tree she is the “Blue Woman,” a universal spirit character who breaks up the chaotic space with her directional, slow-moving walking, establishing order on the stage. When she performs, I watch her face, her hands, and her feet. All the parts are telling me something.

It isn’t enough to just be an empty moving body onstage, you have to fill it with something deep and knowing, about the body, life and the world—it’s a deep depth of body knowledge and experience performing, that makes a performance special.

This weekend, more rain, and more study on beauty of all kinds in performance.

Performances this week

Cuba Infused: Featuring Stories of Ochun the Goddess of Love
Donna Oefinger, Axé Didé music and Dance Company
February 10-12
Center Space, 420 SE 6th Ave
Directed by Donna Oefinger, owner of Center Space Studio in SE Portland, director of Axé Didé music and Dance Company, and teacher of dances from the African Diaspora, brings together dance and live music in this celebration of Cuban culture. This group of 20 performers, including Oluyinka Akinjiola, artistic director of Rejoice! Diaspora Dance Theatre, Cuban master percussionist and singer Isidro Valor Perez, and Portland funk and soul musician Jans Ingber, from the band Motet, will perform an array of dances from Cuba, including the dance of Ochún, the powerful Orisha of love, guardian of fertility, and ruler of fresh waters-she is irresistible, her laughter is seductive, her dancing graceful, and her lips are sweet like honey.

Syniva Whitney/Gender Tender and Will Courtney from Seattle, will perform GUT, as part of Linda Austin’s Cabaret Boris & Natasha. Photo courtesy of Linda Austin.

Cabaret Boris & Natasha
Presented by Performance Works NW / Linda Austin Dance
February 10-11
Performance Works NW, 4625 SE 67th Ave
Performance Works NW/Linda Austin Dance presents, an eclectic, cabaret-style evening of imaginative, unconventional entertainment, featuring dancers Mike Barber and Subashini Ganesan, Seattle’s Syniva Whitney/Gender Tender, oboist Catherine Lee, actor/performer Amber Whitehall, dancer Button Will, and a short piece by the famous The Boris & Natasha Dancers, all emceed by “The Greatest Entertainers Ever,” Reid Urban and David Weinberg.

Interlude
PDX Contemporary Ballet, directed by Briley Neugebauer
February 10-12
CoHo Theater, 2257 NW Raleigh St
Portland’s contemporary ballet company is back with Interlude, a program of six new dance works, by six women choreographers, for six dancers. The works explore dance’s relationship to science, politics, visual art, language, comedy, and more, and will include a musical interlude by Japanese violinist Tomoki Martens.

Participating Interlude choreographers are: Hayley Glickfeld Bielman, artistic director of Necessity Arts Collective; Briley Neugebauer, Artistic Director of PDX Contemporary Ballet; Eva Stone, producer and curator of Chop Shop: Bodies of Work, an annual contemporary dance festival in Bellevue, Washington, and the Artistic Director of Stone Dance Collective; Emily Running, founder of Portland’s Dance Wire and former performer/choreographer/administrator for the aerial troupe, A.W.O.L.; M’Liss Stephenson Quinnly, founding member of Polaris Dance Theatre and current director of Polaris Junior Company and Neo Company; and Margaret Wiss, a Boston choreographer interested in the interaction between dance and science.

3 Trips: guided experiences with Keith Hennessy
A workshop
February 11, 14, and 18
New Expressive Works
810 SE Belmont Street
Exploring playing, meditating, feeling, being, and dancing, Bay Area dance artist Keith Hennessy, along with co-directors Jodi Darby, Julie Perini and Erin Yanke will facilitate a three part, guided experience—Practicing Death & Dying (workshop-experience-practice), Arresting Power (film screening and discussion), and Oil Action (creative, naked experiment in solidarity and intimacy).

For more info go to the Facebook event page. Please RSVPs to keith@circozero.org to participate. No drop-ins.

Upcoming performance

February
February 19, Early bird submission deadline, Portland Dance Film Fest
February 25, Civilized, Catherine Egan
February 23-26, Attention Everyone!, A-WOL Dance Collective
March
March 2-4, Cuisine & Confessions, Presented by White Bird
March 3, Local (not easy), Iris Erez, Presented by Reed College Dance Department
March 3-5, In Circadia, Eliza Larson
March 5, Nritya Shubha Dance Festival, Guru Smt Shubha Dhananjay, Maya Dhananjay and Mudra Dhananjay.
March 3-11, The Bacchae, PSU School of Theater + Film, choreography by Tere Mathern
March 9-11, Companhia Urbana De Danca, Presented by White Bird
March 10 – 12, TPB Studio Company Performance-Featuring dances by Anne Mueller, Jamey Hampton and Ashley Roland, John Clifford and guest artists from Kukátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe, The Portland Ballet
March 10-19, In The Heights, Portland Community College
March 16-18, Carmen, NW Dance Project
March 17, The Baroque Dance Project, Alice Sheu and Julie Iwasa
March 19, Duality: Dance Ballet of India, Presented by Rasika
March 19, BodyVox and Oregon Symphony collaboration performance
March 24, Shaping Sound, Travis Wall, Presented by Portland’5
March 24-25, New works by Alembic Artists Claire Barrera and Noelle Stiles, Presented by Performance Works NW / Linda Austin Dance
March 23-April1, Skinner/Kirk Dance Ensemble, Presented by BodyVox
April
April 4-5, Shen Yun, Presented by Oregon Falun Dafa Association
April 6-8, Ronald K. Brown/Evidence, Presented by White Bird
April 10, Noontime Showcase OBT2, Oregon Ballet Theatre
April 15, Synesthesia, BodyVox, TEDx Portland
April 15, Bridge the Gap, Presented by Sepiatonic
April 13-22, Terra, Oregon Ballet Theatre
April 14-16, New work by Jin Camou, Performance Works NW Alembic Co-Production
April 25-26, Che Malambo, Presented by White Bird
April 27-29, Contact Dance Film Festival, Presented by BodyVox and NW Film Center
April 28-29, Appalachian Spring Break, Scotty Heron and Brendan Connelly, Presented by Performance Works NW / Linda Austin Dance
May
May 5-7, Inclusive Arts Vibe Annual Performance, Disability Arts and Culture Project
May 10, Martha Graham Dance Company, Presented by White Bird
May 26-28, N.E.W. Residency performance, Dora Gaskill, Jessica Kelley, Stephanie Schaaf, and Kumari Suraj
May 26 – 27, Spring Concert – Tribute to the Ballet Russes, Featuring work by Michel Fokine, Tom Gold, George Balanchine, and Lane Hunter, The Portland Ballet
June
June 2-4, Interum Echos, PDX Contemporary Ballet
June 8-10, Summer Splendors, NW Dance Project
July
July 15, Pretty Creatives Showing, NW Dance Project
August
August 24-September 6, Portland Dance Film Fest, Directed by Kailee McMurran, Tia Palomino, and Jess Evans