DanceWatch Weekly: New Expressive Works

Subashini Ganesan's New Expressive Works project funds another round of new dance

There is just one performance offering this weekend and three chances to view it, so don’t miss out. It’s the New Expressive Works residency performance (N.E.W.), a program that takes place twice yearly, showcasing the work of four new choreographers each time.

This residency offers choreographers a chance to make a new work in a supported environment, with feedback from peers, no strings attached and no expectations of what the work should look like in the end.

The work that comes out of this residency is extremely varied, sometimes polished, sometimes not, and quite often turns into larger works that the artists produce themselves at a later date.


Enchanted Toyshop, all Gift Boxed

The Portland Ballet's holiday special features John Clifford's charming revision of a Ballets Russes original, plus a new piece by Anne Mueller

At the opening of The Portland Ballet’s annual holiday concert at PSU’s Lincoln Performance Hall on Friday afternoon I found quite a few reasons to be thankful. Many of them were kids, dancing their hearts out in John Clifford’s version of The Enchanted Toyshop.

Originally titled La Boutique Fantasque and choreographed by Leonide Massine for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes (it premiered in London in 1919), Toyshop in Clifford’s version discards most of the libretto conceived by Massine and painter André Derain, who also designed the sets and costumes.  Derain’s designs are meticulously replicated for TPB by the wonderful Mary Muhlbach, who was also responsible for new designs for added characters:  Pinocchio, who serves as master of ceremonies; Amélie, the shopkeeper’s wife; the Blue Fairy; the Giselle doll; and hordes of miscellaneous children visiting the toy shop with their parents.

Kerridwyn Schanck, Andrew Davis, Lauren Kness in "Toyshop." Photo: Blaine Truitt Covert

Kerridwyn Schanck, Andrew Davis, Lauren Kness in “Toyshop.” Photo: Blaine Truitt Covert

The Enchanted Toyshop – set to music by Gioacchino Rossini, arranged and orchestrated by Ottorino Respighi, and expanded by Clifford with more of Respighi’s music orchestrated by Benjamin Britten – offers comedy and pathos, fantasy and romance, a thoroughly satisfactory happily-ever-after-ending, and a lot of dancing, mainly by mechanical dolls who have come to life. (Think Nutcracker, think Coppélia, and sophisticates can also think Mary Oslund’s Reflex Doll.)


I love the silence that surrounds me when I stand in the middle of a heavy snowfall. It feels strange and exciting, magical and otherworldly, like time is standing still. It’s amazing to me that you can see so much movement in the falling snow, but not hear a sound. In this moment, my senses are heightened and I notice things I’ve never noticed before. The snow is beautiful and I feel happy, calm, and my mind it quiet and focused-which is difficult to do sometimes.

The only other experience that I can equate to this, for me, is dancing and watching dance. In these moments I am able to focus my mind and my body, transport myself, and block out everything that isn’t necessary for that moment. Right now I want this. I am exhausted from the election, the constant chatter on Facebook, the news, the atrocities in the world, the suffering, the anger, the fighting, everything.

I am not trying to encourage sticking your head in the sand but rather to encourage art making, doing and seeing. It seems like the best possible way to process what is going on around us, and it might even give us a feeling of empowerment over our circumstances.

In keeping with the Thanksgiving tradition of avowing what we are thankful for, I am most thankful for dance and dance makers and artists of all kinds, they transport me and help me see and feel things I might not have been able to on my own.

I am specifically thankful for the four performances that I witnessed and participated in post-election and the ideas they left behind: my own, The Kitchen Sink, Linda Austin’s The last bell rings for you, Reggie Wilson’s Moses(es), and Suspended Moment: Activating the Nuclear Past + Present by Meshi Chavez, Yukiyo Kawano, Allison Cobb and Lisa DeGrace.

The Kitchen Sink was a year-long project that I worked on with fellow dancers Celine Bouly and Abigail Nace, which culminated last weekend at BodyVox. You can read about my process creating the dance in a story I wrote for ArtsWatch.

What’s my take away from my own show? I love circles. Circles are not a choreographic trope that choreographers use when they run out of ideas.They are beautiful, timeless, natural and full of meaning. Life is circular, my joints move in circles, I will always use them.

The last bell rings for you seemed to say that every “body” is sacred with the ringing of bells by performers (as well as audience members) as a variety of bodies moved as humans do throughout the performance space at Shaking the Tree Theatre, creating a sacred, church like atmosphere. These 28 bodies explored the space and each other, sometimes moving together, and sometimes not, and often were moved by unseen forces. That made me think about what is in our control and what is not.

Moses(es), which was created across the country in Brooklyn, New York, was similar in structure in so many ways to The last bell rings for you, which is amazing to me given the distance between the two companies. It made me wonder about the power of collective thinking, the evolution of post-modern dance, cultural expectations and that maybe we are more similar than dissimilar.

Suspended Moment: Activating the Nuclear Past + Present, which was performed in the Littman Gallery at Portland State University this past Tuesday, was a scary and timely reminder of what can happen to power when it’s left unchecked. Visual artist Yukiyo Kawano decorated the gallery space with two hanging replicas of the A-bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 fabricated from her grandmother’s kimonos, stitched together with strands of her own hair. In addition she added hanging paper lanterns for the dead, a calligraphic tapestry on the wall with the famous work of Japanese poet Matsuo Basho’s Narrow Road to a Far Province, and a river of rice paper flowing down from the ceiling meandering through the space with the same writing on it.

Butoh dancer Chavez—dancing to Cobb’s poetry recited live by Kawano and Cobb, with music by Lisa DeGrace—animated the space, invoking the spirits of the dead and creating indelible images of death and suffering and remembrance as a reminder to us not to change the narrative.

This weekend offers us three wonderfully different respites from the world.

Opening Friday is The Portland Ballet’s (TPB) Thanksgiving holiday show which includes The Enchanted Toyshop, choreographed by TBP artistic advisor John Clifford to Gioacchino Rossini piano pieces, and The Gift Box, a world premiere by The Portland Ballet co-artistic director Anne Mueller to a score by Georges Bizet. Both dances will be accompanied live by the Portland State University orchestra, directed by Ken Selden.

On the opposite end of the performance spectrum is Spectacle Garden 7: feels edition happening Saturday night This monthly, open invitation, community-oriented performance series is curated by musician and butoh dancer Ben Martens. Spectacle Garden is a platform for Portland performers of all kinds to express, express, express, and includes physical comedy, dance of all kinds, film, music and poetry and many other undefined mediums of expression. Check out the Facebook event page for the full lineup of participating artists. All proceeds will go to the water protectors at Standing Rock.

Also happening this weekend is Polyphonic: A Series of Interdisciplinary Performances presented by The Creative Music Guild that includes dancers Danielle Ross and Claire Barrera in collaboration with sound artist Jean-Paul Jenkins, guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Mike Gamble and video artist DB Amorin.

Performances this week!

The Portland Ballet,Dress rehearsal

The Portland Ballet’s The Magic Toyshop. Dancers Nick Jurica and Medea Cullumbine Robertson. Photo by Blaine Truitt.

The Portland Ballet
Gift Box (Anne Mueller) & The Enchanted Toyshop (John Clifford)
November 25-27
Portland State University, Lincoln Performance Hall, 1620 SW Park at Market

The Enchanted Toyshop, adapted by Clifford in 2003 for The Portland Ballet, was originally known as La Boutique Fantasque, and was choreographed by Léonide Massine for the Ballets Russes who debuted it in Paris on Christmas Eve, 1919. This adapted version tells the story of two children who accidentally get locked up overnight in a magical toyshop and witness all the toys coming to life. The characters include Pinocchio, playing cards, poodles, Pierrots, Russian nesting dolls and a cast of more than 90 dancers.

The original cast of La Boutique Fantasque included Italian dancer and founder of the Cecchetti method of ballet, Enrico Cecchetti ,who played the shopkeeper. Pablo Picasso was on hand to sketch dancers in their final poses.

The Gift Box by Mueller is likened to the anticipation of slowly and sweetly unwrapping a highly desired gift and will be performed by 20 dancers from the school’s pre-professionals to TPB’s year-old Career Track program as well as advanced students in the Academy’s Youth Company. The ballet includes sweeping grand gestures as well as smaller, articulate detailed movement.

Mueller is a former principal dancer, director of artistic operations and interim artistic director at Oregon Ballet Theatre, and was co-founder of Trey McIntyre Project.

I interviewed Mueller last year on her work for last year’s holiday show and three years ago when she created a new work for BodyVox 2. You can read those interviews here and here.


Art work by Jacob Yona Art for Ben Martens Spectacle Garden 7: feels edition.

Spectacle Garden 7: feels edition
Hosted by Ben Martens
7 pm November 26
The Headwaters Theatre, 55 NE Farragut St
Participating artists include: Brandon Fisette, Stefano Iaboni, Natasha Kotey and Benja, Ian Lucero and Etsuko Ichikawa, Hank Logan Peterson, Nevada Harris, Emily Jones, Demian DinéYazhi, TRASH MOUTH DANCE CO, Elzza Doll, Elana Brody and Jennifer Gwirtz.


Danielle Ross Dance. Photo courtesy of Danielle Ross.

Polyphonic: A Series of Interdisciplinary Performances
Presented by The Creative Music Guild
7 pm November 26
Compliance Division, 625 NW Everett St

See Above.

Nutcracker Remixed
All That! Dance Company, Eugene
6:30 pm November 25
Hult Center for the Performing Arts, Silva Concert Hall, 1 Eugene Center, Eugene
This modern day, remixed Nutcracker includes music by Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Norah Jones, and follows Clara as she dances her way to the Land of the Sweets in the dance styles of jazz, tap, hip-hop, ballroom, classical ballet.

Next Week

December 2-4, N.E.W. Expressive Works Residency Performance, Dana Detweiler, James Healey, Jessica Hightower, and Renee Sills

Upcoming Performances

December 8-10, In Good Company, NW Dance Project
December 8-10, ARCANE COLLECTIVE, Presented by BodyVox
December 9-11, The Book of Esther — A Rock Gospel Ballet, Ballet Fantastique, Eugene
December 10-26, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker®, Oregon Ballet Theatre
December 15-17, Complicated Woman, Katie Scherman/2016 Performance Works NW Alembic Resident Artist
December 16-18, The Nutcracker, Eugene Ballet Company, Eugene
December 18, Gifts, a film by Clare Whistler/2015 Performance Works NW visiting artist
December 19, Dancing with the Stars: Live! – We Came to Dance, AEG Live NW, Eugene
December 20, Dancing with the Stars: Live!, Presented by Showbox
December 22-24, Cirque Dreams Holidaze, Presented by U.S. Bank Broadway in Portland

Out There: Holiday Edition

Circus Christmas, cash-and-carry paintings, Post5 expats, and a belly dance potluck. For yuletide thrills, get out there!

While families may prefer to play it safe with their holiday celebrations, sometimes wise ones wander farther, guided by more distant stars. It was ever so.

Welcome to the winter edition of Out There, a semi-regular roundup of special, surprising, or lesser-known arts events. This December, ditch Bing Crosby’s White Christmas in favor of braver fare! Pluck fresh paintings right off a gallery wall and pay for them on the spot! Potluck with belly dancers! And give displaced Post5ers a Christmas to remember.

Wanderlust's Circus Carol features a ringmaster Scrooge haunted by circus-act spirits.

Wanderlust’s Circus Carol features a ringmaster Scrooge haunted by circus-act spirits.

The Big 500

Want to shop for original art the same way you’d load up a cart at the Cash ‘n’ Carry? Then hit the 9th annual Big 500. As its name suggests, this show/sale will unveil 500 paintings by various local artists, available for purchase on the spot. The works are as diverse as you might imagine, yet conveniently uniform in size and price: each 8″ x 8,” and $40. Curated by Chris Haberman (the artist behind the Eagles Lodge mural at 50th and Hawthorne and the now-closed People’s Gallery) this show may have moved from its former home at The Goodfoot Gallery to the Ford Gallery, but it still offers the same unbeatable deal as ever to gift-buyers and decorators on the prowl for original paintings.

Scary Puppet Film Night

Has anticipating the debut of Imago’s puppet masterpiece La Belle put you in the mood for more puppet magic? Then you may want to check out the significantly-more-sinister Scary Puppet Film Night. Beady Little Eyes will show rare and new puppet movies at The Steep and Thorny Way To Heaven. (Make reservations as this is technically a private club.)

Portland Bellydance Guild’s Winter Hafla+ The Art of Bellydance

Mourning the hidden midriffs of bleak midwinter? Then you may enjoy Portland Bellydance Guild’s Winter Hafla. What’s that, you ask? A free, family-friendly party and potluck with a few pro and student performances, plus open dancing and drumming. Feel free to “BYO” any of the following: food, non-alcohol drinks, percussion instruments (drums, tambourines, etc), and of course donations to buoy PBG’s general effort. Or if you’d prefer a more formal sitdown show, head to the Clinton Street Theater for The Art of Bellydance, a lineup of solo and group performers that, unfortunately, happens to be the swan song of four-year belly dance presenter From the Hip.

Viva’s Holiday

This gloriously notorious Portland-made “stripper opera” retells a true tale from Magic Gardens, the memoir of legendary local stripper Viva Las Vegas. Chris Corbell (formerly of Classical Revolution PDX and Muse:forward) conceived of the project, composed the opera and debuted it last season with support from members of Opera Theater Oregon and the blessing of Viva herself. With a twelve-piece orchestra, four singers, and a bit of tasteful nudity, it’s the only Christmas show of its kind.

White Album Christmas

Do you tire of the usual Christmas carols and winking 1950’s fireside kitsch? Have you ever yelled at Bing Crosby, “You’re no Beatles!”? Then Wanderlust Circus has a treat for you. This production is just what it says on the tin: a show set to the Beatles’ White Album, only “Christmas” to the extent that it happens in winter and it’s family-friendly. While The Nowhere Band plays the whole double album—horns, roars, refrains and all—cirque-bohemian dancers, aerialists, jugglers and clowns run helter skelter, embodying the psychedelic spirit of each song and together celebrating the album’s halcyon splendor.

A Circus Carol

Wanderlust’s other holiday tradition is much more in the Christmas-y canon, but still pretty full of surprises. Ringmaster Noah Mickens plays Scrooge, and each “spirit” that visits him is a different style of circus performer. Gypsy-jazz Christmas covers played by the brilliant Three Leg Torso and sung by various characters propel the storytelling and give each act something to swing to.

N.E.W. Residency Performance

There’s no telling what to expect from this culminative dance showcase by the participants of New Expressive Works’ 8th 6-month residency: Dana Detweiler, James Healey, Jessica Hightower, and Renee Sills. Well, maybe there’s some telling. Though soundscape maestro Jay Clarke humbly downplays his contribution of new music to the show, claiming “The music is fine but the dancers are the main attraction,” audiophiles and film buffs who remember Clarke’s gorgeous score from the  2010 documentary Marwencol  will be resoundingly sold.

Spectravagasm: Holidazed

Spectravagasm, the twisted brainchild of brilliant comic actor Sam Dinkowitz and a handful of Post5 Theatre clowns, is a long-running sketch comedy series that’s already covered many themes including Camp, Love, Art, Death, and Drugs. Bum luck that as Dinkowitz emerged from three winters in PCS’s Twist Your Dickens to prep a Holiday ‘gasm, he learned Post5 was losing their proverbial room at the inn. With Post5 closing their Sellwood location, Shaking The Tree has now agreed to host Spectravagasm‘s wayfaring players. Anyone who’s wistful for Twist can count on similar irreverence from Dink in his new digs.

A Christmas Carol: A One-Man Ghost Story

Another orphaned show from Post5’s sudden closure is Phillip Berns’ solo version of A Christmas Carol. Even if you’ve seen the Christmas classic performed solo elsewhere before, this rendition is a rare treat because the spry, youthful actor playing all the roles is much more of a Tiny Tim/Cratchitt/Nephew type than a Scrooge sort. The planned full run has been compressed into three dates of dinner theater at Picnic House. Go partake in this comfort and joy.


These events occur at various venues throughout the month of December. For further details, click directly on event titles.




White Bird: Reggie Wilson considers Moses(es)

Although you won't see a burning bush, choreographer Reggie Wilson manages to convey the Moses story in dance and music

When I saw the parenthetical plural attached to the title of the dance on Reggie Wilson’s first program in Portland, “Moses(es),” I was pretty excited. A dance that features multiple interpretations of the mythic Moses sounded right up this former Baptist’s alley. And when I read that Wilson had drawn on Zora Neale Hurston’s novel, “Moses, Man on the Mountain,” for his dance, my excitement seemed justified. Hurston’s Moses is a sort of shaman, medicine man or voodoo master: “He knows the ways and meaning of Light and he heard the voice of Darkness and knew its thoughts.” Take me to that river!

A moment in Reggie Wilson's "Moses(es)"/Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes

A moment in Reggie Wilson’s “Moses(es)”/Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes

But though Hurston’s version of Moses appears in “Moses(es)” in the person of Wilson himself, Wilson doesn’t choreograph narrative dances. So, no burning bush or parting of the Red Sea, no delivery of the Ten Commandments or turning a rod into a serpent (serpent cults abounded in the Middle East), at least not that I could tell from watching.
Multiple Moses(es) do show up, but they were in the songs, the spirituals, that figure prominently in the soundscape, especially “Go Down Moses.”

“Go down Moses,
way down in Egypt Land,
Tell old Pharaoh,
Let my people go.”

This is God talking to Moses, and when the right baritone lays into that spiritual, it does indeed sound like the voice of God, if not like James Earl Jones. And honestly, “Let my people go” never fails to send a shiver down my spine.
The spirituals tell the familiar Moses story, and the sonic context is provided by African musicians, such as the Ngqoko Women’s Ensemble, or Middle Eastern groups, such as Mazaher from Egypt, among the last practitioners of Zar, a healing drum ritual. And maybe the historical context for Moses, insofar as you believe he was an historical character, not a myth.

Wilson’s Fist and Heel Performance Group dances to this music, and if you’re in the right frame of mind, maybe you can catch glimpses of Israelites laboring in slavery in Egypt in their dancing. I thought I could, but I’m pretty suggestible.


This weekend features two dance performances that might offer some solace and solutions in these post-election times: The last bell rings for you by Portland choreographer Linda Austin and Moses(es) by Reggie Wilson/Fist and Heel Performance Group, presented by White Bird.

Also, happening next Tuesday night is the opening of Suspended Movement: Activating the Nuclear Past + Present by Yukio Kawano with an accompanying performance by butoh choreographer Meshi Chavez, composer Lisa DeGrace and poet Allison Cobb.

Kawano’s work is of two hanging, life-size replicas of the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, made from her grandmother’s kimono, stitched together with strands of her own hair.

The last bell rings for you is a collaborative, large ensemble score (a structured framework for improvisation) created by Austin, that features movement artists Claire Barrera, Jin Camou, Nancy Ellis, Jen Hackworth, Allie Hankins, Keyon Gaskin, Danielle Ross, Noelle Stiles and Takahiro Yamamoto, as well as a diverse group of 18 community participants who learned the material in a series of rehearsals just two weeks ago.

The performers will be discovering pleasure in such group behaviors as singing, walking, bell-ringing, and dancing.

The last bell rings for you is the second part in a three-part series that began with (Un)Made, a solo relay series, that began in March 2015 with a solo created and performed by Linda Austin, who then passed it down, like a game of telephone in relay fashion, to eight other performers: Jin Camou, Keyon Gaskin, Matthew Shyka, Linda K. Johnson, Nancy Ellis, Robert Tyree, Tahni Holt and Jen Hackworth. These performers then in turn passed it down to a group called the Dream Team—Claire Barrera, Danielle Ross, Noelle Stiles, and Takahiro Yamamoto— before it was finally performed again by Linda Austin herself.

We the audience tracked the details from Austin’s original performance through to each one of the performers, observing what was lost, what remained and what was changed. The entire process was chronicled on the (Un)Made website and includes performance and rehearsal photos as well as writing by Linda Austin and Allie Hankins, who acted as the dramaturg for the project.

I interviewed Austin in 2015 in celebration of Performance Works NW anniversary. To learn more about Austin and Performance Works NW, you can read that interview here.

Reggie Wilson/Fist and Heel Performance Group, is a Brooklyn-based performance group founded in 1989 that draws on the traditions of the African diaspora, combining that movement with post-modern dance to make what Wilson himself calls “post-African/Neo-HooDoo Modern dances.”

The company will perform Moses(es), a work that examines the many representations of Moses in religious texts asking: how do we lead and why do we follow? Inspired by Zora Neale Hurston’s Moses, Man of the Mountain, Wilson traveled to Israel, Egypt, Turkey, and Mali to consider the migration of African people throughout the world. The results of his research was Moses(es), an evening-length work for nine performers set to live vocalizations from the African diaspora and recorded music by Louis Armstrong, The Klezmatics, Amahlokohlo, Ngqoko Women’s Ensemble, Mazaher, Aly Us, The Growling Tiger, Bi Kidude, Southern Sons and The Blind Boys of Alabama.

Reggie Wilson along with White Bird co-founders Walter Jaffe and Paul King, spoke with Dmae Roberts at KBOO radio about the origin of the company name, the company and the work. You can listen to that full interview here.

Reggie Wilson will be leading a public conversation from 1-2:30 pm on November 19th at PCC Cascade Campus, Moriarty Arts & Humanities Building,
705 NE Killingsworth St.

Performances this week!


The last bell rings for you-Linda Austin Dance. Photo by Jeff Forbes.

The last bell rings for you
Linda Austin Dance
November 12-20
7 pm November 16, video installation + karaoke party
Shaking the Tree Warehouse, 823 SE Grant St
The last bell rings for you is the second chapter in Linda Austin’s (Un)Made dance triptych which began in 2015 with the (Un)Made Solo Relay Series, and will culminate in 2017 with an ensemble work called world, a world.

Linda Austin, is the co-founder and director of Performance Works NW along with her husband, the veteran lighting designer Jeff Forbes. She has been making dances and performing since 1983 with a focus on visual elements and commissioned music. Her work is playful, intimate, soulful and witty.

See above.

Reggie Wilson/Fist and Heel Performance Group. Photo: Julieta Cervantes

Reggie Wilson/Fist and Heel Performance Group. Photo: Julieta Cervantes

Reggie Wilson / Fist and Heel Performance Group
November 17-19
Portland State University, Lincoln Performance Hall, 1620 SW Park Ave

Ring Shout: A Moving Conversation with Reggie Wilson
1-2:30 pm November 19
PCC Cascade Campus, Moriarty Arts & Humanities Building,
705 NE Killingsworth St

See above.

(Im)Partial Articulations
Rachel Carrico and Shannon Mockli
7 pm November 18
Gerlinger Annex, University of Oregon campus, Dougherty Dance Theatre
1484 University St, Eugene
University of Oregon dance faculty members, Rachel Carrico and Shannon Mockli present Dear Monica and Finding a Way of Being—new works featuring dancers from the Eugene community.

Carrico’s work, Dear Monica, is structured as an open letter to Monica Lewinsky, weaving personal stories, political issues and popular culture, to create a space in which the audience can engage with such charged issues as female sexuality, rape and bullying.

Mockli’s Finding a Way of Being brings process and performance together while paying homage to awkwardness, vulnerability, and the power of allowing ourselves these real experiences while exploring the continuous process of positioning ourselves in the world.

Jazz Throughout the Ages
Wild Rumpus Jazz Co.
6 pm November 19
New Expressive Works, 810 SE Belmont St
Wild Rumpus Jazz Co., co-founded by Kelsey Adams and Lucy Brush, is bringing back their debut show, Jazz Throughout the Ages for one night only as a fundraiser for the company and will include a new work. The performance will be followed by a social hour and silent auction.

The history of jazz dance is rooted in African American vernacular dance, and over time branched out into many different styles including tap, Broadway, funk, hip-hop, Afro-Caribbean, Latin, Pop, club jazz, popping, B-boying, party dances and many more. A few notable jazz choreographers were Katherine Dunham, Jack Cole, Lester Horton and Bob Fosse. But there were many many more. Well known Portland jazz teachers and choreographers include Tracey Durbin and Mary Hunt.

3rd Annual Glow Variety Show
Trauma Healing Project
November 19-20
Hult Center for the Performing Arts, 1 Eugene Center, Eugene
Glow Variety Show, a benefit for the Trauma Healing Art Project, is a multicultural performance that includes music, dance, acrobatics and comedy curated by choreographer Anna Miller. The Trauma Healing Project is a 501C3 Non-Profit working to improve the health and wellbeing of individuals and groups negatively impacted by violence, abuse, and other forms of trauma.


Suspended Movement: Activating the Nuclear Past + Present. Yukiyo Kawano, Meshi Chavez, Lisa DeGrace, and Allison Cobb. Photo by Stephan A. Miller.

Suspended Movement: Activating the Nuclear Past + Present
Yukiyo Kawano, Meshi Chavez, Lisa DeGrace, and Allison Cobb
6 pm November 22
Littman Gallery, 1825 SW Broadway
Exhibition Run: 11/21–11/30
Opening Reception: Tuesday 11/22, 6–8 pm

Reception Itinerary:
6:05 – 6:15 pm Artist talk
6:20 – 6:40 pm performance
6:45 – 6:55 pm Q & A

Suspended Moment: Activating the Nuclear Past + Present is an exhibition by visual artist Yukiyo Kawano. It is a life-size sculpture, of the pair of A-bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. The sculptures were created from her grandmother’s kimono, stitched together with strands of her own hair, intentionally melding the DNA of multiple generations of atomic bomb survivors into the work.

Included in this presentations will be a butoh performance by choreographer Meshi Chavez with music by Lisa DeGrace, and poetry by Allison Cobb. Butoh is a Japanese dance tradition that rejects Western influence and traditional Japanese form.

Yukiyo Kawano, currently living in Portland, Oregon, is a third generation hibakusha (nuclear bomb survivor) who grew up decades after the bombing of Hiroshima. Her work is personal, reflecting lasting attitudes towards the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Kawano’s main focus is her/our forgetfulness, her/our dialectics of memory, issues around cultural politics, and historical politics.

Next Week

November 25-27, The Enchanted Toyshop (John Clifford & Anne Mueller), The Portland Ballet
November 26, Nutcracker Remixed, All That! Dance Company, Eugene
November 26, Spectacle Garden 7: feels edition, hosted by Ben Martens

Upcoming Performances

December 2-4, N.E.W. Expressive Works Residency Performance, Dana Detweiler, James Healey, Jessica Hightower, and Renee Sills
December 8-10, In Good Company, NW Dance Project
December 8-10, ARCANE COLLECTIVE, Presented by BodyVox
December 9-11, The Book of Esther — A Rock Gospel Ballet, Ballet Fantastique, Eugene
December 10-26, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker®, Oregon Ballet Theatre
December 15-17, Complicated Woman, Katie Scherman/2016 Performance Works NW Alembic Resident Artist
December 16-18, The Nutcracker, Eugene Ballet Company, Eugene
December 18, Gifts, a film by Clare Whistler/2015 Performance Works NW visiting artist
December 19, Dancing with the Stars: Live! – We Came to Dance, AEG Live NW, Eugene
December 22-24, Cirque Dreams Holidaze, Presented by U.S. Bank Broadway in Portland

Hi there. My name is Jamuna Chiarini. I am a writer here at ArtsWatch and a dancer, choreographer, producer, and arts administrator. Did I leave anything out? Oh yes, I am also a stay-at-home mom, chauffeur, cook, chief pot washer, therapist, motivational speaker, etc., etc. My work as a dancer/choreographer and writer is as a freelancer, which means that all of my creative work is mixed in with everything else in my life, which makes it all kind of messy on a daily basis. This is what I want my art to reflect, my real life. I want my art to meet me where I am, in this very moment in time, not a fantasy of what I wish my life looked like.

I didn’t get to this “everything is one” zen moment alone, mind you. The last five years involved a lot of kicking and screaming and crying on my part, coaching from my mentor and dance teacher Linda K. Johnson, support from friends and family, a lot of watching and writing about dance, watching other people dance around me and seeing how they adapt, and thinking about the form, along with some plain old personal growth/investigation.

The Kitchen Sink choreographed by Jamuna Chiarini. Photo by Chelsea Petrakis.

The Kitchen Sink choreographed by Jamuna Chiarini. Photo by Chelsea Petrakis.

When I first got to Portland I was really frustrated because I couldn’t find like-minded dancers and choreographers to work with or take classes to from. I moved here five years ago from New Jersey (for the record I am from Berkeley, CA). My training was in ballet, Graham and Limón technique, all pretty traditional, which I didn’t see represented here (except for choreographer Josie Moseley who wasn’t making work anymore). This sent me into a panic as I really felt like I was coming to the end of this career that had never really flourished. I had had so many deeply bitter dance teachers in the past who were forced to stop dancing because of their age and injury, and this idea/image was alway looming over me.

To top it off, I was also in a lot of pain. Every time I danced I hurt from head to toe the next day. It was a really confusing and frustrating experience that I put off dealing with for a long time. It got to the point where I wasn’t dancing or moving at all, just a lot of sitting and feeling really really sad.


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