Doing the dance — in 3D design and in ballet

Highlights in Yamhill County include art exhibitions focused on wood, faces, and student work, while Portland Ballet offers a glimpse of life as a dancer

When I’m paying attention, I occasionally catch word about a Yamhill County artist showing his or her stuff at the Bush Barn Art Center in Salem. So let’s kick off this week’s round-up of what’s going on arts-wise with Totem Shriver.

Shriver is an adjunct professor of 3D design at Linfield College, and he’s showing wooden relief sculptures at Bush Barn, along with pen-and-ink drawings and collages that served as the gestation phase of the ideas that found completion in 3D pieces. According to the program materials: “Totem begins each work with drawings and collages in order to discover new approaches to the carving process. His two-dimensional pieces unfold innovative ideas of positive and negative space and are featured alongside his sculptures.”

Totem Shriver's collection of drawings and wood carvings runs through April 20 at Bush Barn Art Center in Salem.

Totem Shriver’s collection of drawings and wood carvings runs through April 20 at Bush Barn Art Center in Salem.

“Every day I am an artist,” Shriver writes in his artist’s statement. “Decisions about what to make and how to make it are constantly running through my mind. Art and life are the same. Aesthetic decisions, concepts, theory all need to come together. And then there is the work. New skills, old skills, materials. It is indeed a dance of sorts.” His goal is to “do the dance, make the work and put it out into the world as much as possible.”

Also at Bush Barn, there’s time to catch Jennifer Kapnek’s images of tree branches coupled with “serene, color-drenched fields,” and the 10th annual Young Artists’ Showcase, which features work by hundreds of K-12 students from Marion, Polk and Yamhill Counties. Bush Barn is at 600 Mission St. SE in Salem.

THE PORTLAND BALLET IS REACHING OUT TO NEWBERG this Friday with a free Outreach Performance at the Chehalem Cultural Center. The ballet’s “most advanced, pre-professional dancers” will do a 45-minute show featuring a demonstration of a dancer’s daily exercise routine, an opportunity for audience involvement, and performances of various repertoire selections to give folks an idea of ballet’s stylistic possibilities. The program will include selections from Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, and Rip/Tide by Jamey Hampton and Ashley Rowland of BodyVox. Doors open at 7 p.m. March 23, the show starts at 7:30 p.m.

Dancers Maggie Rupp and Peter Deffebach perform a pas de deux from “Swan Lake,” one of several pieces that Portland Ballet dancers will perform Friday in the Chehalem Cultural Center in Newberg. Photo by: Blaine Truitt Covert

Dancers Maggie Rupp and Peter Deffebach perform a pas de deux from “Swan Lake,” one of several pieces that Portland Ballet dancers will perform Friday in the Chehalem Cultural Center in Newberg. Photo by: Blaine Truitt Covert


Celebrate St. Pat’s with music, poetry, or love gone astray

Coast calendar: Irish and Andean music in Lincoln City, PoetryFest in Manzanita, and rom-coms open in Nehalem and Cannon Beach

You don’t need to go to the local pub to get your green on this St. Patrick’s Day. Instead, you can drop in at the Lincoln City Cultural Center, where Pipedance presents St. Patrick’s Day Unplugged, a multi-cultural celebration. Nora Sherwood and Gary Burman, the duo behind Pipedance, play multiple instruments, and Sherwood is a champion stepdancer. The pair will be joined by the Andean band Chayag, led by Alex Llumiquinga, and flamenco dancer Sophia Solano.

This is a new approach to the Cultural Center’s traditional St. Pat’s celebration, said director Niki Price.

Detail from “The Irish Piper” by William Oliver Williams, 1874, oil on canvas, Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum, Quinnipiac University, Connecticut

Detail from “The Irish Piper” by William Oliver Williams, 1874, oil on canvas, Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum, Quinnipiac University, Connecticut

The celebration had grown into a nice event over the past six years, Price said, but it was time for a change. “We took it off the stage and put it on the floor of the auditorium on a raised platform. There are tables around the platform so it will feel a little more like you are in a pub. You are going to be much closer to the music.”

The Saturday night show kicks off at 6 p.m. March 16 with a traditional dinner by the cultural center’s Judy Hardy, featuring corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, soda bread, and dessert. The Sunday show starts at 2 p.m. with snacks and beverages. Tickets range from $32 to $8, depending on the show.

“What you will see is a small ensemble on this platform,” Price said. “Sherwood is going to be doing some dancing as well as working on the pennywhistle. It’s not going to be this big booming electric version of a St. Patrick’s show, but rather a personal, more intimate experience.”

All ages are welcome. For ticket information, go here.


Ordinary Devotions, a new contemporary dance work by veteran Portland choreographer and performer Linda Austin, is meant to do two things: find glamour in everyday objects and honor the ordinaryand extraordinaryqualities of the aging body.

Now 65 years old, Austin has had time to consider both topics. She has been a working artist for more than 35 years; in 1999, she established the well-known Foster-Powell DIY arts space Performance Works NorthWest with her technical director and partner, Jeff Forbes, to host performances, offer residencies and workshops, and provide affordable rehearsal space for Portland artists. By the time I arrived there to talk with her about this new work, the everyday objects she spotlights in the piece had spilled out onto the performance space from her living area, which is separated from the venue by a door on the back wall. A white vinyl tarp, a twig, stones, a lamp, cassette tapes, multiple spools of thread, some shoes, and various knickknacks were carefully placed across the floor with a seemingly methodical, even devotional precision.

Linda Austin looks for the extraordinary in "Ordinary Devotions." Photo by Jeff Forbes.

Linda Austin looks for the extraordinary in “Ordinary Devotions.” Photo by Jeff Forbes.

“It was kind of organic,” mused Austin, recalling how she accumulated these particular objects. She’d started working with the spools of thread in the beginning, spurred by her desire to be slightly levitated off the earth. Throughout the work, Austin rearranges the spools to support her body as she lies on her back or walks across the floor. “I’ve always had this fascination with the extraordinary in the ordinary. I like doing something weird with a matter-of-factness,” she laughed. “I’m interested in the ‘thingness’ of the body versus the animated nature of things. Finding this commonality and endowing each [thing] with the qualities of the other intrigues me.”


“Man not by abdomen and buttock plates or vertebrae but through his currents, his weakness what recovers from shock, his startings.”

So begins a selection from surrealist French poet and artist Henri Michaux, who asserts himself in Compagnie Marie Chouinard’s current performance at the Newmark Theatre. If you’re familiar with Chouinard’s electric, transgressive, and sometimes bizarre choreography, it makes sense that she would be drawn to Michaux’s poetic transmutations of the body. If you aren’t familiar with this award-winning Québécois choreographer, this weekend’s show will serve as an excellent introduction.

The company, making its fourth Portland visit through White Bird, has brought two pieces with it. The first is 24 Preludes by Chopin, is one of the company’s best known. It premiered in Vienna in 1999 and was first performed in Portland as part of White Bird’s 2005-’06 season, Preludes displays early hallmarks of Chouinard’s unmistakable movement in a rapid succession of short, effervescent vignettes set to Chopin’s preludes, most of which run less than two minutes. The second is Henri Michaux: Mouvements, which premiered in 2011 and travels deeper into Chouinard’s corporeal experimentation. Consisting of 64 pages of simple, energetic ink drawings, a 15-page poem, and an afterword, Michaux’s 1951 book Mouvements becomes a physical score through Chouinard’s literal reading of its semi-abstract, figurative blots of ink. The dancers, dressed in black Lycra, cavort across the stage in front of giant screens onto which the drawings’ contorted shapes are projected.

Compagnie Marie Chouinard performs "Henri Michaux: Mouvements." Photo courtesy of White Bird.

Compagnie Marie Chouinard performs “Henri Michaux: Mouvements.” Photo courtesy of White Bird.

Chouinard’s movement is unmistakable, but more nuanced than it may seem at first. You might be tempted to write it off as grotesque or simply weird if you only experience it through internet clips. People often post gifs or videos of perhaps her most infamous work, bODYrEMIX/gOLDBERG_vARIATIONS, in the comment sections of online discussions about modern art, as knee-jerk examples of its excess or strangeness generally. I can understand that take if viewers have only seen her work online, without seeing the amount of play and esprit in the performance or understanding the company’s dedication to exploring the movements and peculiarities of the body. Chouinard’s dancers in bODY_rEMIX pull exaggerated faces and crawl, flop, and bounce across the stage in little more than gauze wraps and touches of body paint, employing canes and crutches in ways they were never intended to be used.



There has often been a social and cultural distance between an institution of higher education and the city that surrounds it. This detachment between town and gown dates back to the European Middle Ages when academic and non-academic worlds often eyed each other with some sense of conflict and mutual suspicion.

Fortunately, there is far less distance these days as more academic centers and local communities find unique opportunities to become mutually engaged in social and economic projects, research, and artistic efforts. Interplay, a collaborative project of the University of Oregon School of Music and Dance Department and the Eugene Ballet Company, provides evidence of this in a March 8-10 production.

Shannon Mockli and Suzanne Haag collaborated on "Between Your Eyes and You" Photo courtesy of UO School of Music and Dance

Shannon Mockli and Suzanne Haag collaborated on “Between Your Eyes and You” Photo courtesy of UO School of Music and Dance.

The idea behind Interplay, the way in which two or more things have an effect on each other, is to explore ways in which four choreographers from the university and three from the Eugene Ballet, along with dancers from both organizations, can become creatively engaged with one another and share the results with audiences in the intimate environment of the Soreng Theater at the Hult Center for the Performing Arts.


‘She never wanted to leave anyone out’: Bonnie Merrill, 1935-2019

Collaborators remember a Portland dance pioneer’s generous spirit

Generations of Portland dancers—with one conspicuous exception—turned out to see Minh Tran’s concert Anicca (Impermance) last weekend at Reed College. Tran’s work, inspired by the recent deaths of his parents, premiered just a week after one of his teachers, Bonnie Merrill, succumbed to leukemia on Valentine’s Day. Tran’s piece, already weighted with grief and memory, felt like a kind of elegy for Merrill, an influential Portland dancer, instructor, and choreographer, and a founding mother of the city’s contemporary dance scene.

Merrill's work We Gather was performed at the citywide Portland arts festival Artquake in 1994. Photographer unknown.

Bonnie Merrill dances a solo in Donald McKayle’s “Collage.” Photo courtesy of the Merrill family.

Merrill kept her Portland dance card full for close to 40 years. She worked with modern and ballet companies, public school students, and collegiate dancers from Portland State, Lewis and Clark, and Reed. She created more than 100 works that were performed on film, onstage, and in city streets. Along the way, she forged creative alliances with musicians and visual artists, and earned accolades including the only Oregon Governor’s Award for the Arts given to an individual dance artist.


DanceWatch: A rich cultural stew

What's happening in Oregon dance now

Welcome to DanceWatch for March, the month that enters like a lion and retreats like a lamb, or so they say. While it’s still cold and dark outside, you can think of this month’s dance offerings like a warm winter stew: hearty, rich, varied, and soul-soothing. And don’t forget that spring is a mere 22 days away!

Let’s start this month’s column with Native American dance. Last fall, the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art caught my attention with this statement in its Time-Based Art catalog: “The land now known as Portland rests on the traditional village sites of the Multnomah, Wasco, Cowlitz, Kathlamet, Clackamas, Bands of Chinook, Tualatin Kalapuya, Molalla, and many other Tribes who made their homes along the Columbia (Wimahl) and Willamette (Whilamut) rivers.”

I didn’t know this. Did you? I was struck. I rarely hear about the native tribes of Portland and the surrounding areas and I even more rarely see dance representing these cultures. I feel weird about this. I can’t go back to not knowing. In fact, this information made me want to learn more about Native American dance artists in Oregon and beyond, and recently, I did.

This past Sunday, I attended the Alembic artist performance at Performance Works NorthWest, where choreographer Olivia Camfield, a resident artists and a Muscogee Creek Tribal member from Texas Hill Country, choreographed and performed a powerful contemporary piece about indigenous people reclaiming their narratives. She welcomed everyone with this statement, a reminder to be respectful when we’re visiting someone else’s territory.

“Hensci (hello), estonko (how are you), Olivia Cvhocefkv Tos (my name is Olivia). I come from the Muscogee Creek nation of Oklahoma. Originally we come from the southeastern region of this continent. I would like to acknowledge that I am a visitor here today and in the spirit of reciprocity, I would like to bring medicine and movement prayer to this land and the people of it. These nations include the Multnomah, Kathlamet, Clackamas, Tumwater, Watlala Bands of the Chinook, the Tualatin Kalapuya, and many other indigenous nations of the Columbia River valley region. I would like y’all to acknowledge whether you are a settler occupier of this stolen land, an indigenous visitor, or you are of this land and this is your ancestral territory. I would like to ask to come here and be in a good way and walk this land as a caretaker and a medicine giver. I would like y’all to do the same, be here in a way that is respectful and honorable to the people and spirits who have taken care of this land since time immemorial. Mvto (thank you).”

Camfield is also a member of Dancing Earth, a Bay Area company that focuses on indigenous dance. It’s represented by my friend and Portland resident Andre Bouchard, who’s a good source of information on Native American dance and culture. Born and raised on Montana’s Flathead Reservation, of Kootenai and Ojibwe descent, Bouchard is nationally recognized for his work in Native American contemporary performing arts. In 2001, he founded Walrus Performance Productions, a nonprofit dedicated to providing opportunities to choreographers, playwrights, and multi-disciplinary performing artists in the Pacific Northwest.

Bouchard told me that there are 573 federally recognized tribes in the U.S., that they are not necessarily similar, and that their members prefer to be recognized by their tribe name of origin rather than by the general term Native Americans. He also said that because of changes in laws, policy, and funding, these artists are thriving and their work is enjoying a resurgence and being recognized nationally and internationally today. This August, Bouchard will be a keynote speaker at the Asia Pacific Dance Festival Conference at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa, where he will present a paper on contemporary Native American dance.

Also last week, ahead of their company’s performance in Hillsboro (see below), I had a wonderfully engaging phone conversation with Painted Sky Northstar Dance Company executive producer Mary Hager and dance director Damon Keller. The company, established in Portland in 2005 and composed of 12 or so dancers, is an intertribal organization that honors Native American culture by building awareness through performance and education. The company has taught and performed nationally and internationally; its repertoire includes traditional dance forms as well as blended contemporary styles. Its goal is to break down stereotypes, myths, and urban legends about Native American people, and to build bridges and create friendships. I am looking forward to seeing this performance, meeting Hager and Keller in person, and seeing how these ideas translate onstage.

As I work to de-colonize my own dancer body (and this column) of Western ideology, I’m excited to learn more about Native American culture and dance, and will continue to share what I discover along the way.

Indigenous and international dance styles

Painted Sky Northstar Dance Company (pictured: Aiyanna Bennett) performs traditional and blended contemporary dance styles. Photo courtesy of Mary Hager.

Painted Sky Northstar Dance Company
2 pm March 9
Walters Cultural Arts Center, 527 East Main St., Hillsboro
See above.

Sankalpa Dance Ensemble members Sweta Ravisankar, Sridharini Sridharan, and Yashaswini Raghuram embody feminine power. Photo by Gidu Sriram.

Sankalpa Dance Ensemble, Sweta Ravishankar, Sridharini Sridharan, and Yashaswini Raghuram
5:30 pm March 9
Hindu Education and Cultural Society of America, Portland Balaji Temple, 2092 NW Aloclek Dr., Suite 522, Hillsboro
Bharatanatyam dance company the Sankalpa Dance Ensemble presents Shakti, an evening of five dances created around the theme of feminine energy and power, The company is directed by, and features, dancers Sweta Ravishankar, Sridharini Sridharan, and Yashaswini Raghuram performing to live music.

The program opens with a dance dedicated to the goddess Parvati, wife of the Hindu god Shiva; she is the goddess of fertility, love, beauty, marriage, children, and devotion, and represents divine strength and power. The second dance is a varnam, the main dance in a typical Bharatanatyam concert, which emphasizes nritta (footwork) and abhinaya (expressions). This varnam praises the beautiful fish-eyed goddess Meenakshi. The third dance is dedicated to Devi, the Mother Goddess who speaks beautifully, walks majestically, and epitomizes music and the arts. She takes care of the afflicted, rids people of sin, and is a delight to all. The program also features a dance depicting pure love and compassion, a humble prayer to the mother as goddess. The finale is set to a collection of verses written by Tamil poet and Indian independence activist Mahakavi Subramania Bharati, also known as Bharathiyar, who was a vocal supporter of women’s rights in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Bharathiyar envisioned feminine power transforming the earth into a better place and uplifting mankind.

Modern and contemporary: local

NW Dance Project celebrates 15 years of working with dancers (pictured here: Julia Radick) in “Trip the Light Fantastic.” Photo by Michael Slobodian.

Trip The Light Fantastic
NW Dance Project
February 28-March 1
Gala and performance March 2
Expensify, 401 SW 5th Ave.
Limited capacity
In this 15th anniversary event, NW Dance Project performs pieces by artistic director Sarah Slipper, resident choreographer Ihsan Rustem, and Oregon Ballet Theatre founding artistic director James Canfield in and around the 40,000-square-foot former First National Bank building, now the headquarters of tech company Expensify. The event celebrates the company’s artistic achievements: work with more than 1200 professional and pre-professional dancers (including four Princess Grace Award winners) and the performance of more than 280 original pieces by nationally and internationally known choreographers. The evening will include a dance-cooking skit between Portland actor Susannah Mars and company dancer Andrea Parson, music by Pink Martini pianist Hunter Noack, and a post-performance dance party in the basement vault, hosted by former NW Dance Project star Viktor Usov.

Sisters Willow and Marley Swanson pair contemporary dance and martial arts at A Taste of Dance: A Wine and Dance Pairing. Photo courtesy of Willow Swanson.

A Taste of Dance: A Wine and Dance Pairing Performance
Produced by Chapel Theatre
6 pm March 10
Chapel Theatre, 4107 SE Harrison St., Milwaukie
As part of Chapel Theatre’s Second Sundays Winter Performance Series, choreographers whose work spans flamenco to tap will describe their artistic processes and Wine:30 wine steward Lenny Bennett will pair wine with each of the dances on the program, explaining how they relate to, and enhance, one another. Featured choreographers include Stephanie Seaman, Willow Swanson, Jessica Zoller, and Elena Villa.

See why Anya Pearson’s “Made to Dance in Burning Buildings” earned her a $10,000 grant. Photo courtesy of Shaking The Tree Theatre.

Made to Dance in Burning Buildings
Written by Portland playwright Anya Pearson
Directed by Jamie Rea with choreography by Jeff George
February 15-March 16
Shaking The Tree Theatre, 823 SE Grant St.
Made to Dance in Burning Buildings is a fusion of poetry, theater, and violent-visceral contemporary dance that poses this question: How do we heal from trauma? The story, performed by a multi-ethnic cast of 10, follows a young black woman who is raped, develops PTSD, and metaphorically fractures into five different women as a result. It’s from these five points of view that the story is told. Based on a true story, and inspired Ntozake Shange’s choreopoem For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf, the work earned Pearson the inaugural $10,000 Voice is a Muscle Grant from the Corporeal Voices Foundation.

Linda Austin explores the life of the aging body in her solo “Ordinary Devotions.” Photo by Ian Douglas

Ordinary Devotions (premiere)
Linda Austin
March 14-23
Performance Works NorthWest, 4625 SE 67th Ave.
With her solo Ordinary Devotions, award-winning Performance Works NorthWest founder, director and choreographer Linda Austin has created what she is calling “a meditation-in-action on the ordinary/extraordinary life of the aging body and a tactile apprehension of the world to hand.”

The work—which explores beauty, humor, rebelliousness, and awkwardness—pairs task-like movement with the unorthodox use of objects including a vinyl tarp, a twig, stones, a lamp worn on the body, cassette tapes, and multiple spools of thread. The piece, Austin says, will “yield to poetically and emotionally charged movements, text, and images—evoking vulnerability and hints of mortality.” The piece will be framed by field recordings by Juniana Lanning and video by Kelly Rauer.

Austin has been making dance and performance works since 1983. She was active in the dance and performance communities in New York City during the 1980s, lived and worked in Mexico during the mid-1990s, and relocated to Portland, Oregon, in 1998, where she established PWNW and Linda Austin Dance. I interviewed her in 2015 when PWNW turned 15. You can read our conversation here.

Oluyinka Akinjiola, Decimus Yarbrough, Michael Galen, Bethany Harvey, and Jamie Minkus revisit “A Midsummer Night at the Savoy.” Photo by Andy Batt.

A Midsummer Night at the Savoy
Rejoice! Diaspora Dance Theater
March 16-17
Self Enhancement, Inc., 3920 N. Kirby Ave.
Set in Harlem’s historic Savoy Ballroom, but using Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream as the dramatic framework, Rejoice! Diaspora Dance Theater weaves together four contemporary choreographers’ work (Oluyinka Akinjiola, Decimus Yarbrough, Michael Galen, and Jamie Minkus) into one piece that highlights the massive contributions African-American artists have made to the American cultural landscape. Actor Kevin Jones narrates as Langston Hughes.

Send in the clowns! Imago Theatre remounts “To Fly Again.” Photo courtesy of Imago Theatre.

To Fly Again
Imago, Jerry Mouawad
March 22-April 6
Imago Theatre, 17 SE 8th Ave.
As part of its Next Wave Festival this spring, Imago stages three original works: Leonard Cohen is Dead (March 1-16), Pebble (May 10-25), and, sandwiched between the two, Jerry Mouawad’s movement-heavy To Fly Again (March 22-April 6). ArtsWatch’s Bob Hicks reviewed To Fly Again last year and says that “Mouawad’s own description, from the show’s press release, perhaps explains the simple mystery of the thing as well as it can be explained: ‘A zany group of clown musicians and a clan of clay-tossed dancers roam a barren land … The clowns’ thoughts arise and pass like clouds, the dating game appears out of nowhere in clashes of absurdity, while joy and pathos skim their nonsensical wordplay as the clowns search for a suitable place to make camp. Psychedelic and existential humor pervades; the clowns are constantly interrupted by a clan of dusty dancers who live in a world beyond speech. Tater, the most vulnerable of the clowns, yearns to fly again. Questions open up to further questioning, and talk of sadness is eclipsed by looking at the stars.’”

Queer burlesque performer and voguer Bouton Volonté shares new work at the N.E.W. residency show.  Photo by Ms. Lopez.

New Expressive Works Residency Performance
March 29-31
New Expressive Works, 810 SE Belmont St. (in the Wyse Bldg.)
The 11th New Expressive Works residency performance will showcase work by its newest resident choreographers, Bouton Volonté, Sarah-Luella Baker, Kayla Banks, and Hannah Krafcik with Emily Jones.

Volonté, a queer burlesque performer and voguer, will perform LABOR,, a love letter. In Without a Map, Baker, a multi-disciplinary artist, combines original music and movement with theatricality to create non-linear storylines where the personal and political intersect. Banks, a Colorado native who danced professionally with Impact Dance Company and trained with NW Dance Project, will present the contemporary dance work Mixology. Krafcik and Jones, who met three years ago and began combining their interests in writing, somatics, bodywork, and a variety of dance practices into a practice in Krafcik’s living room, present their work switch.

The residency program, which N.E.W. founder Subashini Ganeshan began in 2012, supports the making of dance in all genres. The program offers four choreographers per session 144 hours of free rehearsal space over six months; “fieldwork,” or peer-to-peer feedback sessions facilitated by dance artist Katherine Longstreth; and a fully produced, ticketed performance at the end.

Modern and contemporary: imported

Fierce and fabulous: Compagnie Hervé Koubi returns with “The Barbarian Nights or The First Dawns of the World.” Photo courtesy of White Bird.

Compagnie Hervé Koubi
Presented by White Bird
February 28-March 2
Newmark Theatre, 111 SW Broadway
French-Algerian choreographer Hervé Koubi and his company of 13 male street dancers from Algeria and Morocco present The Barbarian Nights or The First Dawns of the World. Set against the musical backdrop of Wagner, Mozart, French composer Gabriel Fauré, and traditional Algerian melodies, the dancers, dressed in Swarovski crystal masks and long dark skirts, use capoeira, martial arts, and urban and contemporary dance to explore the idea of otherness. The barbarians of the title come from the term that Greeks and Romans used to describe foreigners who did not speak their languages or understand their customs.

Compagnie Marie Chouinard draws from the poetry and paintings of Belgian artist Henri Michaux in “Henri Michaux: Mouvements.” Photo courtesy of White Bird.

Compagnie Marie Chouinard
Presented by White Bird
March 7-9
Newmark Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway
“My source has always been the body itself,” Montreal-based choreographer Marie Chouinard notes on her company’s website, “and especially the silence and the breath which make up the ‘invisible’ stuff of life. At the root of each new work there is always what I call the ‘mystery,’ an unknown wavelength that calls out to me in an almost obsessive manner. My work consists of capturing this primordial wavelength, of ‘tuning’ it in a sense, and of arranging it in space and time with a structure and form proper to it.”

Chouinard makes a fourth visit to Portland through White Bird with a two-part program. One part is Henri Michaux: Mouvements, a 35-minute one-act ballet that she choreographed between 2005 and 2011, inspired by the India ink drawings and poetry of Belgian artist Henri Michaux. The other part is 24 Preludes by Chopin, a work she created in 1999, inspired by Chopin’s 24 Preludes, Op. 28. She has fashioned, she says in her description, “ a composite dance consisting of solos, duos, trios, and group movements that marry gentleness with strength, and subtlety with rawness.” Portland State University music professor and pianist Susan Chan will play the preludes live.

Send in the clowns, part 2: Cirque du Soleil returns with “Corteo.” Image courtesy of Cirque du Soleil.

Cirque du Soleil
Written and directed by Daniele Finzi Pasca
March 14-17
Moda Center, 1 N. Center Ct. St.
In the mysterious space between heaven and earth, a clown imagines his own funeral taking place in a carnival-like atmosphere, guided by a benevolent group of angels. Steeped in Old World circus charm, Corteo (the Italian word for a joyous procession), combines theatricality, acrobatics, comedy, and wit. As the company describes it, “The story juxtaposes the large with the small, the ridiculous with the tragic, and the magic of perfection with the charm of imperfection. Corteo highlights the strength and fragility of the clown, as well as his wisdom and kindness, illustrating the humanity in all of us.”

Ballet: local and imported

PDX Contemporary Ballet dancers find symbolism in a white dress this season. Photo by Andy Batt.

PDX Contemporary Ballet
March 1-3
New Expressive Works, 810 SE Belmont St.
PDX Contemporary Ballet’s artistic director Briley Neugebauer chose the image of a white dress as an overarching theme for the company’s 2018-2019 season. To Neugebauer, the dress, which appears onstage, symbolizes womanhood, tradition, potential, and the passage of time. In Materialize, the season’s second installment, company dancers Muriel Capdepon, Victoria Lauder (who also sewed the dress), Tessa Salomone, and Katherine Evans have created four new works based on their own interpretations of what the white dress symbolizes, from virgin bride to rampant consumerism.

Ballet Fantastique goes adventuring in “The Odyssey.” Photo courtesy of Ballet Fantastique.

The Odyssey
Ballet Fantastique, Donna Marisa and Hannah Bontrager
March 1-3
Hult Center, 1 Eugene Center, Eugene
Choreographers Donna Marisa and Hannah Bontrager retell Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey using the language of contemporary ballet. Featuring music from Lyre ‘n’ Rhapsody and Audiomachine, and live looping from electric violinist Cullen Vance, the ballet chronicles a great warrior hero’s journey home and the trials and tribulations that journey entailed.

Eugene Ballet and the University of Oregon School of Music and Dance play well together in Interplay. Photo by Aran Denison.

Eugene Ballet
March 8-10
Hult Center, Soreng Theater, 1 Eugene Center, Eugene
Interplay, the way two or more things have an effect on each other, is both the title and the subject of a new collaboration between Eugene Ballet and the University of Oregon School of Music and Dance.

The program includes choreographic work from University of Oregon associate professor of dance Walter Kennedy, dance professor Steven J. Chatfield, associate professor of dance Shannon Mockli, and dance instructor Sarah Ebert. Eugene Ballet is represented be resident choreographer Suzanne Haag, associate artistic director Jennifer Martin (staging Marius Petipa), and artistic director Toni Pimble.

Eugene Ballet and UO dancers will share the stage in Kennedy’s Whorl, Ebert’s The Exchange and Haag and Mockli’s Between Your Eyes and You, which they created using music from Maurice Ravel’s Miroirs and spoken word read by actors Craig Phillips and Milagro Vargas. UO dancers will perform Chatfield’s Bach to Bach, while Eugene Ballet dancers will perform Petipa’s Don Quixote Grand Pas de Deux and a pas de deux from Common Ground, a sensual contemporary ballet Pimble choreographed for Atlanta Ballet in 1991.

Wake up! The Bolshoi Ballet brings “The Sleeping Beauty” to the big screen. Photo courtesy of Pathe Live.

The Sleeping Beauty
Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema
Presented by Fathom Events, BY Experience, and Pathe Live
12:55 pm March 10
Check local theater listings for more information
The Bolshoi Ballet presents The Sleeping Beauty, filmed live Jan. 22, 2017, and screening at a movie theater near you. Choreographed in 2011 by Bolshoi Ballet ballet master and choreographer Yuri Grigorovich after Petipa, the ballet tells of the evil fairy Carabosse (played by Alexei Loparevich), who curses Princess Aurora (played by prima ballerina Olga Smirnova) to a 100-year sleep, from which she is awakened by a magical kiss. Performed to Tchaikovsky’s score, the ballet features dancing by memorable characters including fairies, Little Red Riding Hood, and Puss in Boots.

Upcoming Performances

April 5, Lecture Demonstration with Rosie Herrera and Company, Reed College
April 4-6, Parsons Dance, presented by White Bird
April 4-13, The Pearl Dive Project, BodyVox
April 5-13, Prism, A Mixd Dance Company Production
April 7, The Golden Age, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema, presented by Fathom Events, BY Experience, and Pathe Live
April 9-10, Savion Glover, presented by White Bird
April 11-14, Director’s Choice, Oregon Ballet Theatre
April 12-14, Shen Yun, Presented by the Oregon Falun Dafa Association
April 12-27, A Little Less Human: A Ghost Story, Trip The Dark
April 13, Koichi and Hiroko Tamano, Butoh College 2019
April 13-14, The Firebird, Eugene Ballet, Eugene
April 20, Kudo Taketeru, Butoh College 2019
April 24, Philadanco, presented by White Bird
April 25-27, Encores, NW Dance Project
April 26-May 4, Pathways, works by Kelly Koltiska and Amelia Unsicker

May 9-11, Contact Dance Film Festival, BodyVox and NW Film Center
May 10-12, Shaun Keylock Company
May 10-12, Current/Classic, The Portland Ballet
May 10-12, Cleopatra (world premiere), Ballet Fantastique, Eugene
May 17-19, Undone, PDX Contemporary Ballet
May 19, Carmen Suite / Petrushka, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema-Live from Moscow, presented by Fathom Events, BY Experience, and Pathe Live
May 26, Derek Hough: Live! The Tour, Eugene

June 7-15, The Americans, Oregon Ballet Theatre
June 7-9, Up Close, The Portland Ballet
June 13-15, Summer Performances, NW Dance Project