DANCE

Rejoice! finds community in ‘A Midsummer Night at the Savoy’

Rejoice! Diaspora Dance Theater melds Shakespeare and the Harlem Renaissance to show us a way forward

With the premiere of A Midsummer Night at the Savoy, Rejoice! Diaspora Dance Theater has created something that feels both timely—touching on race and migration, two issues at the forefront of America’s collective consciousness—and timeless, in that it hopscotches across countries and eras.

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

Don’t go expecting an African dance concert per se: despite what you might think from the name, Rejoice! is primarily a contemporary dance company. “Our goal is to broaden people’s idea of contemporary dance,” artistic director Oluyinka Akinjiola told me last week. “We reference African dance traditions but put them in a contemporary context. Contemporary dance doesn’t always mean Euro aesthetics.” That said, you will find a trajectory of African influence across the Caribbean, South America, and the U.S. in You. Me. World, a kind of prelude incorporating West African, capoeira, street- and club-dance styles. Pay attention, because they’ll all reappear in the main event.

Continues…

Dance takes some unexpected twists and turns this week. It bounces off the wall at Night Lights: Windows 11, a meta multimedia experience.  It pairs ballet stars with Hollywood royalty in Disney’s phantasmagorical new vision of The Nutcracker, and Shakespeare with the Harlem Renaissance in A Midsummer Night at the Savoy. You can walk around it, cocktail in hand, at civilized-Happy Hour, or catch its infectious joy from happy-footed toddlers at FLOOR’s grand opening party. A little strange? Yes, in a good way.

Performances this week

“Windows 11” by Beth Whelan and Roesing Ape. Photo by Beth Whelan.

Night Lights: Windows 11
Beth Whelan and Roesing Ape
6:00 pm-8:00 pm November 1
Live performances at 6:30 pm and 7:20 pm
Regional Arts & Culture Council, 411 NW Park Ave, on the corner of NW Glisan St and NW Park Ave
FREE
As part of the Regional Arts & Culture Council’s outdoor public art series Night Lights, movement artist Beth Whelan and multidisciplinary artist Roesing Ape present Windows 11, which juxtaposes live dance performance with pre-recorded dance performance filmed in front of RACC’s building. The dance on film, projected on RACC’s north wall, will occasionally align with the live dance, all set to Ape’s recorded musical collage of noise art, banjo, and guitar.

Misty Copeland in “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.” Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures.

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms
Walt Disney Pictures
Featuring Misty Copeland, Sergei Polunin, and Lil Buck
Opens in theaters November 2
Click here for movie times and locations
Warning: this is not a dance-centric film and it is not The Nutcracker as you know it. But it does feature choreography by Royal Ballet resident choreographer Liam Scarlett. and spectacular dancing by American Ballet Theatre principal Misty Copeland (here dubbed Ballerina Princess), Ukrainian ballet dancer Sergei Polunin (as the Cavalier), and street dancer Lil Buck as the Mouse King. Loosely based on Marius Petipa’s The Nutcracker Ballet (which, in turn, is based on E. T. A. Hoffmann’s story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King), this is a Narnia-meets-Harry Potter-meets-Alice in Wonderland-style fantasy adventure tale. Morgan Freeman is Drosselmeyer, Helen Mirren is Mother Ginger, and actress Mackenzie Foy is Clara, who travels to the so-called Fourth Realm to retrieve a key that will unlock a box containing a precious gift and restore harmony to an unstable land.

A Midsummer Night at the Savoy” by Rejoice! Diaspora Dance Theatre. Photo courtesy of Rejoice! Diaspora Dance Theatre.

A Midsummer Night at the Savoy
Rejoice! Diaspora Dance Theatre
7:30 pm November 2-3, 5:00 pm, November 4
Portland Playhouse, 602 NE Prescott St.
Set in Harlem’s historic Savoy Ballroom, but using A Midsummer Night’s Dream as the dramatic framework, Rejoice! Diaspora Dance Theatre weaves together four contemporary choreographers’ work 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.

Tongue Dance Project dancers Lauren Smith and Adrianna Audoma. Photo by Elliot C. Petenbrink.

FLOOR Center for Dance Grand Opening!
Stephanie Gilliland, owner and artistic director of Tongue Dance Project
9:00 am – 9:00 pm November 3
Cathedral Park Place, 6635 N. Baltimore Ave. #271
Please RSVP by emailing floorcenterfordance@gmail.com
FREE classes and performance by Tongue Dance Project in the evening
Celebrate the grand opening of Portland’s newest dance studio, FLOOR Center for Dance, owned by artist/arts educator Stephanie Gilliland. The party includes a full day of FREE dance classes for kids and adults, and a family-friendly open house from 6:00 – 9:00 pm, with an auction, raffle, refreshments and a performance by Gilliland’s company, Tongue Dance Project.

“civilized” by Catherine Egan features Celine Bouly (left) and Egan.
Photo by Chelsea Petrakis.

civilized-Happy Hour
Catherine Egan
PWNW Alembic Co-Production
4:00-10:00 pm November 3
Performance Works NorthWest, 4625 SE 67th Ave.
Guests are invited to attend anytime during the performance
From 4:00-10:00 pm, viewers can come and go as they like from this performance installation, a visual and sonic exploration on the temporal nature of ice. Created by Portland choreographer Catherine Egan, with music from composer Doug Theriault, the piece uses ice as a metaphor to explore changing dynamics. Egan performs with Celine Bouly and special guest Kyle Delamarter of Imago Theatre.

Upcoming Performances

November
November 8-17, Future Voices, Willamette University Theatre Department, Artistic Director Michele Ainza
November 9, ¿LISTEN?, ELa FaLa Collective and Polaris Dance Theatre
November 9-11, Cloth, PDX Contemporary Ballet
November 11, Unfolding, a dance film premiere by Muddy Feet Contemporary Dance, SubRosa Dance Collective, and director Dylan Wilbur
November 11, La Sylphide, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema-Live from Moscow, presented by Fathom Events, BY Experience, and Pathe Live
November 13-14, The Hip Hop Nutcracker, Jennifer Weber
November 14, Tangueros del Sur, Presented by White Bird
November 16-18, Perceiving The Constant, Jessica Hightower
November 17, The Nutcracker, Oregon International Ballet Academy, Choreography by Xuan Cheng / Ye Li after Marius Petipa / Lev Ivanov
November 23-25, A Midsummer Night’s Dream with PSU Orchestra, The Portland Ballet

December
December 2, Don Quixote, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema, presented by Fathom Events, BY Experience, and Pathe Live
December 6-8, Winter Performance, NW Dance Project
December 8, So You Think You Can Dance Live! 2018, Eugene
December 8-25, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker®, Oregon Ballet Theatre
December 14-16, Babes in Toyland (World Premiere), Ballet Fantastique, Eugene
December 16, Fiesta Flamenca Navideña, Presented by Espacio Flamenco
December 21-23, The Nutcracker, Eugene Ballet, Eugene
December 23, The Nutcracker, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema-Live from Moscow, presented by Fathom Events, BY Experience, and Pathe Live

January 2019
January 9-20, The Lion King, Eugene
January 20, La Bayadère, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema-Live from Moscow, presented by Fathom Events, BY Experience, and Pathe Live
January 24-February 3, Fertile Ground Festival of New Work/Groovin Greenhouse
January 24-February 2, The Cutting Room, BodyVox
January 31-February 2, Shay Kuebler/Radical System Art, Presented by White Bird

February
February 9-10, Romeo and Juliet, Eugene Ballet, Eugene
February 13, Les Ballets Trockadero De Monte Carlo, Presented by White Bird
February 16-23, Cinderella, Oregon Ballet Theatre
February 20, Beijing Dance Theater, Presented by White Bird
February 28-March 2, Compagnie Hervé Koubi, Presented by White Bird
February 29-March 2, Trip The Light Fantastic, NW Dance Project

March
March 1-3, The Odyssey, Ballet Fantastique, Eugene
March 1-3, Materialize, PDX Contemporary Ballet
March 7-9, Compagnie Marie Chouinard, Presented by White Bird
March 8-10, Interplay, Eugene Ballet, Eugene
March 9, Painted Sky Northstar Dance Company, Walters Cultural Arts Center
March 10, The Sleeping Beauty, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema-Live from Moscow, presented by Fathom Events, BY Experience, and Pathe Live
March 29-31, New Expressive Works Residency Performance

April
April 4-6, Parsons Dance, Presented by White Bird
April 4-13, The Pearl Dive Project, BodyVox
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 13-14, The Firebird, Eugene Ballet, Eugene
April 24, Philadanco, Presented by White Bird
April 25-27, Spring Performance, NW Dance Project

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

Have an old-fashioned Dia de Muertos — with Aztec dancing

In Newberg, the Mexican holiday is greeted with dance and a memorial offering. Meanwhile, Linfield College welcomes two authors and "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"

When Jose Carlos came to Oregon in the mid-1990s, he didn’t see much of his own Mexican culture in the community. Other Latinos attended his Woodburn high school, but public displays of culture from south of the border? No. “I didn’t see those things here,” Carlos told me recently. “I didn’t see celebrations of Day of the Dead, I didn’t see marches or Mexican celebrations, and now I see a lot. A lot of people are learning, sharing, teaching, and doing.”

Carlos and his wife, Kelly, are doing all four of those things with their Woodburn-based Aztec dance group, which increasingly finds itself in demand around Mexican holidays, particularly the annual Day of the Dead celebration. They’ve been regulars for the Chehalem Cultural Center’s Dia de Muertos celebration in Newberg the past few years, although they missed 2017 because they were in The Dalles with their company of more than a dozen dancers, helping with that community’s first public celebration.

Jose and Kelly Carlos of Woodburn will bring Aztec dancing to the Chehalem Cultural Center in Newberg for a free performance at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2.

They return Friday, Nov. 2, for a 5:30 p.m. performance that’s free and open to the public.

Jose started the group and is lead dance captain, while Kelly is executive director for Ritual Azteca Huitzilopochtli (pronounced wee-chee-zo-polsh-tlee), which does educational outreach and performances around the Willamette Valley and Southwest Washington. Jose credits Rigoberto Hernandez, a Chemeketa Community College teacher whom he met when Jose was a Woodburn High School junior yearning both for his own culture and fellowship. He and Hernandez started doing Chicano theater and Aztec dancing.

“In the beginning, I was shy,” he said. “I was like, ‘I don’t want to wear those kinds of clothes, I don’t want people to see my stomach.’” Today, Jose is the teacher. While you probably wouldn’t have found Aztec dancing in Oregon when he started learning it in the 1990s, now, at pow-wows, he’s accustomed to seeing nearly a hundred participants, including his group of about 17.

“Every dance we do has a meaning for the time,” he said. “We have dances that are only for the Day of the Dead, and we have dances for other holidays. These dances have been passed on to us from teachers who learned from their families.” Who, he added, have been passing dances and other traditions down through hundreds of years.

Continues…

It’s almost Halloween, which means it’s time to dress up like a zombie and join Thrill the World, in which thousands of people gather in cities worldwide to dance the choreography from Michael Jackson’s famous 1983 music video Thriller.

Thrill The World was created by Canadian Ines Markeljevic in 2005 with the goal to unite the world through dance. The event happens on the Saturday before Halloween. You don’t need to be a professional dancer or even have a zombie costume: just learn the dance in one of the group lessons, or online, and get out there and dance.

Portland’s Thrill The World takes place at 3 pm; registration begins at 2:40 pm Saturday, October 27 at Irving Park’s covered basketball court. The event will be emceed by Portland Bollywood dancer extraordinaire DJ Prashant and radio host Contessa de la Luna; Prashant’s Jai Ho! Dance Troupe will perform a Bollywood version of Thriller at 2:45 pm.

Performances this week

Thrill The World Portland 2018
3 pm October 27
Hosted by Thrill the World Portland
Irving Park, Covered basketball court, 707 NE Fremont St.
See above.

Complexions Contemporary Ballet in “Star Dust” mode. Photo courtesy of White Bird.

Star Dust
Complexions Contemporary Ballet
Presented by Eugene Ballet
8 pm October 26
Hult Center for the Performing Arts, 1 Eugene Center, Eugene
7:30 pm October 27
Craterian Theater, 23 S Central Ave, Medford
In this tribute to David Bowie, New York’s Complexions Contemporary Ballet (co-directed by former Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater dancers Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson) thoughtfully explore new layers to Bowie and his music. Star Dust, choreographed by Rhoden, features dances to nine well-known Bowie songs: Lazarus, Changes, Life on Mars, Space Oddity, 1984, Heroes, Modern Love, Rock and Roll Suicide, and Young Americans.

Flamenco Pacifico dancer Elena Villa. Photo by Mary Landberg.

Flamenco Pacifico
Presented by Berto Boyd
7:30 pm October 26
Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 SE 39th Ave.
In the spirit of convivencia (“coexistence” in Spanish), Flamenco Pacifico’s acclaimed guitarist and composer Berto Boyd integrates Brazilian samba and American jazz with traditional Spanish flamenco in this one-night-only performance. Boyd, with guitarist/singer Grant Ruiz, percussionist Terry Longshore, and bassist Randy Tico, will accompany dancers Elena Villa and Melissa Cruz.

Young Peruvian dancers. Photo courtesy of the Peruvian Cultural Festival.

Matices Criollos
Peruvian Cultural Festival
3 pm October 28
Multnomah Arts Center, 7688 SW Capitol Hwy.
This first-time festival celebrates the kaleidoscope of influences on coastal Peruvian culture with dance and music performances by an array of Portland artists.

Dancers Adrianna Audoma and Nicole Osbon of Tongue Dance Project. Tongue Dance Project will be teaching a modern contemporary dance class as part of Steps PDX’s one-year anniversary celebration. Photo by Elliot Petenbrink.

Full Circle
Steps PDX
9 am- 9 pm October 28
Troy Laundry Building, 221 SE 11th Ave. Suite 220
Celebrate the one-year anniversary of Portland’s newest dance studio, Steps PDX, with a full day of FREE dance classes, snacks, raffles, and giveaways (admission is by donation). The studio, owned and directed by Kathryn Harden, kicks off the event at 9 am with an open ballet class taught by Harden herself, and winds it down with the all-abilities movement class Dance Church at 5:45 pm, taught by Allison Jacks. The anniversary event concludes with party.

Harden trained with Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Professional Division, performed with Ballet Idaho, and received a degree in Exercise Science for Kinesiology and Dance Performance from Towson University. With Steps PDX, her goal has been to create a safe, comfortable space for students of all skill levels and ages to experience professional-quality training.

Upcoming Performances

November
November 1, Windows 11, Beth Whelan and Roesing Ape, Night Lights-Regional Arts & Culture Council
November 2-4, A Midsummer Night at the Savoy, Rejoice! Diaspora Dance Theatre
November 4, civilized-Happy Hour, Catherine Egan
November 8-17, Future Voices, Willamette University Theatre Department, Artistic Director Michele Ainza
November 9, ¿LISTEN?, ELa FaLa Collective and Polaris Dance Theatre
November 9-11, Cloth, PDX Contemporary Ballet
November 11, Unfolding, a dance film premiere by Muddy Feet Contemporary Dance, SubRosa Dance Collective, and director Dylan Wilbur
November 11, La Sylphide, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema-Live from Moscow, presented by Fathom Events, BY Experience, and Pathe Live
November 13-14, The Hip Hop Nutcracker, Jennifer Weber
November 14, Tangueros del Sur, Presented by White Bird
November 16-18, Perceiving The Constant, Jessica Hightower
November 17, The Nutcracker, Oregon International Ballet Academy, Choreography by Xuan Cheng / Ye Li after Marius Petipa / Lev Ivanov
November 23-25, A Midsummer Night’s Dream with PSU Orchestra, The Portland Ballet

December
December 2, Don Quixote, Bolshoi Ballet in cinema, presented by Fathom Events, BY Experience, and Pathe Live
December 6-8, Winter Performance, NW Dance Project
December 8, So You Think You Can Dance Live! 2018, Eugene
December 8-25, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker®, Oregon Ballet Theatre
December 14-16, Babes in Toyland (World Premiere), Ballet Fantastique, Eugene
December 16, Fiesta Flamenca Navideña, Presented by Espacio Flamenco
December 21-23, The Nutcracker, Eugene Ballet, Eugene
December 23, The Nutcracker, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema-Live from Moscow, presented by Fathom Events, BY Experience, and Pathe Live

January 2019
January 9-20, The Lion King, Eugene
January 20, La Bayadère, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema-Live from Moscow, presented by Fathom Events, BY Experience, and Pathe Live
January 24-February 3, Fertile Ground Festival of New Work/Groovin Greenhouse
January 24-February 2, The Cutting Room, BodyVox
January 31-February 2, Shay Kuebler/Radical System Art, Presented by White Bird

February
February 9-10, Romeo and Juliet, Eugene Ballet, Eugene
February 13, Les Ballets Trockadero De Monte Carlo, Presented by White Bird
February 16-23, Cinderella, Oregon Ballet Theatre
February 20, Beijing Dance Theater, Presented by White Bird
February 28-March 2, Compagnie Hervé Koubi, Presented by White Bird
February 29-March 2, Trip The Light Fantastic, NW Dance Project

March
March 1-3, The Odyssey, Ballet Fantastique, Eugene
March 1-3, Materialize, PDX Contemporary Ballet
March 7-9, Compagnie Marie Chouinard, Presented by White Bird
March 8-10, Interplay, Eugene Ballet, Eugene
March 9, Painted Sky Northstar Dance Company, Walters Cultural Arts Center
March 10, The Sleeping Beauty, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema, presented by Fathom Events, BY Experience, and Pathe Live
March 29-31, New Expressive Works Residency Performance

April
April 4-6, Parsons Dance, Presented by White Bird
April 4-13, The Pearl Dive Project, BodyVox
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 13-14, The Firebird, Eugene Ballet, Eugene
April 24, Philadanco, Presented by White Bird
April 25-27, Spring Performance, NW Dance Project

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

Acclaimed Australian choreographer Lucy Guerin has returned to Portland for the West Coast debut of her award-winning minimalist new duet, Split. Considering how often White Bird has featured projects involving Guerin over the years, the work she brings to our city still continues to surprise. In some ways, Split is unlike anything Guerin has done, but it bears the intense clarity of gesture, deep directorial collaboration, and carefully considered structure that viewers who were fortunate enough to catch her previous projects should expect.

Guerin was last in Portland in 2017 as part of the stunning collaborative production Attractor. This knockout of a show was one of Guerin’s rare collaborations with her partner, Gideon Obarzanek, the founding director of dance company Chunky Move. In the spirit of both companies, they shared directorial and choreographic duties with two more collaborators: the dancers of Dancenorth Australia and Senyawa, an intense, experimental two-person band from Java. The show was loud and intense. An imposing column of cables hung from the ceiling, powering Senyawa’s instruments as if from some energy source in the sky. The dancers managed to match the tempo and tone oSenyawa’s vocal acrobatics, giving the impression that they were linked to the musicians by the same arcane electricity.

Prior to that show, in 2012, Lucy Guerin Inc. came to Portland with Weather, in which elaborate set design and prop work were integral to the choreography. Using simple materials such as plastic bags and strips of paper, Guerin and her collaborators created a miniature weather system onstage for her dancers to inhabit. More than gimmicks or set dressing, the objects came to life and integrated sublimely with the movement of the piece.

Lilian Steiner and Melanie Lane grapple in Lucy Guerin’s “Split.” Photo by Gregory Lorenzutti

Using these shows as reference points for Split might seem to highlight the differences in tone, scope, and structure among Guerin’s various projects. However, if we look more deeply, we can see a few conceptual threads running through the fabric of her choreography. Each piece is grown rather than planned, created collaboratively with every member of the production—the dancers, the musicians, the lighting and stage designers. Each show manages to feel dense yet highly considered—every component serves its role and seems to be there for a reason. The complex and intense symmetry and synchronization seem to serve that purpose directly. What does and does not happen at the same time, or what does or does not have the same tone, are fundamental to each of these performances, from the smallest movements of the dancers to major structural decisions.

In their introduction to Split, which opens the 2018-19 Uncaged series, White Bird co-founders Paul King and Walter Jaffe mentioned that they rarely book duets, but felt that this was Guerin’s “masterwork.” What does that mean? The specifics of superlatives can blur into a vague sense of “really very good.” Mastery, however, is different from “exemplary” or “best.” It suggests a combination of total control and total freedom; masters know their work inside and out and can speak through it clearly and articulately. Mastery has nothing to prove and can cut through the dressing of a discipline to show us the nature of the work.

By that measure, “masterwork” seems like an appropriate description of Split. Plenty of shows seem fun or impressive enough to make us non-dancers wish we could perform the same feats. But this show made me want to be a dancer so I could better understand what the dancers were saying about dance itself. So much of dance defies written description—which is the main reason I haven’t yet tried to describe the actual movement in the piece. The show is made of a few simple components, but they add up to something complex.

The space Steiner and Lane share gradually shrinks in “Split.” Photo by Gregory Lorenzutti

As viewers finds their seats, a hypnotic beat pulses quietly from the speakers. This soundtrack, composed by British artist Scanner, serves as a sort of auditory armature throughout the whole piece. Its minimal, repetitive structure is influenced by contemporary minimal music, but stops short of the complex polyrhythms and phasing that composers such as Steve Reich or Terry Riley are known for. It’s a rhythm that feels both intellectual and visceral, beating at the rate of an endurance runner’s heart.

As the show opens, dancers Lilian Steiner and Melanie Lane stand on an empty stage, squared off by white tape outlining the perimeter. Steiner is completely naked, Lane wears a simple blue satin gown. The lighting is spare and directional—a broad spotlight that falls from the rafters, highlighting every edge and corner of Steiner’s body and every twist and fold in Lane’s gown.

The movement demonstrates Guerin’s minimalist bent. Starting in perfect sync, split by a distance of about five feet, the dancers work through individual positions combining everyday gestures with the simple movements that have been part of  modern dance vocabulary since choreographers including Trisha Brown began foregrounding components of human movement in the 1960s. Within the first few minutes, however, both dancers fling out their arms with the sort of speed we see in movies when editors drop a few frames to make action seem inhumanly fast. Later, some of the minimal lighting changes occur with the same snappiness, signaling significant transitions in the arc of the piece.

These intentionally startling moments split the otherwise steady rhythm supporting the movement throughout the whole show. Guerin’s decisions about how and when to break from a prevailing structure make her movement feel both tightly packed and carefully chosen. Split is so stripped down that every piece of it feels on view —it’s more sushi than soup—and we are invited to focus intensely on these pieces. Having Steiner perform entirely in the nude makes our scrutiny feel less analytical and more humane. When they dance in unison, Steiner feels like a living X-ray of Lane’s movement; when they move in opposition, Steiner serves as Lane’s counterpoint.

These tools of reduction, rupture and opposition are what move the show forward. Progress is marked by points where Steiner and Lane stop dancing, take a quick breather, and then split the working area of the stage in half with a roll of white tape. A quick burst of light from the side of the stage signals them to continue, and they re-engage in half the space they had before. These breaks come quicker and quicker, until the dancers barely have enough room to stand. They fight, they support each other, they cling to each other, and they drive each other out. Split is full of the things that make movement into dance, but it’s surprising for how few parts it needs to achieve that.

Split runs 8 p.m. Saturday at Portland State University’s Lincoln Hall, 1620 SW Park Ave. Find tickets here.

It’s all about shoes this week. Dance shoes to be exact, and tons of them, too. Tap shoes, jazz shoes, pointe shoes, and stilettos. It’s a busy week in Oregon dance. But I’m particularly excited by a pair of sneakers inspired by the work of Portland-based dancer, choreographer, and performance artist Linda Austin. Portland interdisciplinary artist Tiffany Lee Brown designed the shoes through Cultivator as a fundraiser for Austin and Performance Works NorthWest, the dance/performance space Austin runs with husband, lighting designer Jeff Forbes. Austin has been making dances and working tirelessly for many years to provide opportunities and support for other artists.

These limited-edition, one-of-a-kind Nike Pegasus sneakers, called Movement, have “PWNW” emblazoned along the heel, in addition to yellow laces, red soles, and a groovy, topsy-turvy, black-and-white striped triangular pattern across the shoe. They are great for dancing and leaping and any creative thing you can think of to do in them.

You only have until Oct. 21 to buy a pair of these awesome sneakers and support the extensive work that Austin does for the Portland arts community. So get to it!

Performances this week

Melbourne-based choreographer Lucy Guerin’s “Split.” Photo by Gregory Lorenzutti.

Split
Lucy Guerin Inc.
Presented by White Bird
October 18-20
Portland State University, Lincoln Performance Hall, 1620 SW Park
Dance Artist Talk: Lucy Guerin
6:30 pm October 22
Reed College, Performing Arts Building, Massee Performance Lab, 128, 3203 SE Woodstock Blvd.
This 60-minute duet, which opens White Bird’s Uncaged series, features choreography by Melbourne-based choreographer Lucy Guerin. It’s performed by two women, one clothed and one not, and explores competition, negotiation, aggression, and harmony in an ever-decreasing space.

“BloodyVox: Deadline October.” Photo courtesy of BodyVox.

BloodyVox: Deadline October
BodyVox
October 18-20
BodyVox Dance Center, 1201 NW 17th Ave.
BodyVox’s “scary” show, originally choreographed in 2010 and revamped over the years, celebrates co-founders Jamey Hampton’s and Ashley Roland’s favorite holiday, Halloween. This family-friendly dance theater extravaganza touches on all aspects of Halloween, offering work that is by turns dark, mysterious, magical, beautiful, ironic, odd, hilarious, and absurd. The show, composed of several short dances, incorporates standard Halloween fare such as vampires, zombies, ghosts, and killer spiders, as well as some non-standard material, like creepy identical twins and a new work called “Victorian Secret.” This year’s production also includes Halloween costume contests and dance parties at every show. See link for details.

Wild Rumpus Jazz Co. in a “A Spine Tingling Soiree.” Photo by Jarrid Cammack.

A Spine Tingling Soiree
Wild Rumpus Jazz Co.
October 19-20
Polaris Dance Theater, 1826 NW 18th Ave.
With this gathering of ghouls, Wild Rumpus Jazz Co. (co-founded by Kelsey Adams and Lucy Brush) gives Halloween a jazzy twist. Frankenstein goes on his first date, campfire stories come to life, tap shoes become possessed, and so much more. Audience participation is welcome and costumes are encouraged.

In addition to Adams and Brush, performers include Cherie Swain, Cassy Adams, Daniel Martinez, Kristina Lindquist, Nicholas Petrich, and Sondra Storm.

“As You Like It: A Wild West Ballet” by Ballet Fantastique. Photo by Bob Williams.

As You Like It: A Wild West Ballet
Ballet Fantastique, Donna Marisa Bontrager and Hannah Bontrager
October 19-21
Hult Center, One Eugene Center, Eugene
Ballet meets the Wild West in this twist on Shakespeare’s romantic comedy. As the play famously puts it, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players”: here, those players include a brave heroine, lovers, a troubadour, and a bad guy, accompanied by a banjo and a honky-tonk saloon piano.

This concert will be broadcast live to audiences via Concert Window on Sunday, October 21 at 2:30 pm PST. Click here to learn more/sign up to watch.

The tap shoes of The Skylark Tappers. Photo by Annika Abel Photography

Everything’s Copacetic
The Skylark Tappers, Artistic Director Judy Tibbles
October 19-22
The Headwaters, 55 NE Farragut
Showcasing the rhythm and dynamics of tap, Portland’s Skylark Tappers will explore an array of songs under the musical direction of Jack Buddeke, accompanied by jazz vocalist Anandi Gefroh, saxophonist Jeff Homan, drummer Rivkah Ross, and bassist Perry Thoorsell, with Buddeke on keyboard.

“Clock that Mug or Dusted” by Cherdonna Shinatra. Photo by Sally Kohn.

Clock that Mug or Dusted
Cherdonna Shinatra (Jody Kuehner)
Presented by Risk/Reward
8 pm October 20
Portland Institute For Contemporary Art, 15 NE Hancock St.
Working at the intersection of dance and drag, Seattle’s Cherdonna Shinatra (Jody Kuehner) pits vintage feminism against today’s feminism. This messy conceptual experiment, which includes paint and birthday cake, explores the idea of the body as a canvas for social change, rebellion, and personal expansion.

The Portland Tap Company debuts this weekend with “The Man Who Forgot.” Photo by Nicholas Teeuwen

The Man Who Forgot
The Portland Tap Company
Choreography by Jessie Sawyers and Kelsey Leonard.
Presented by the Portland Tap Alliance
October 21
Winningstad Theatre, Antoinette Hatfield Hall, 1111 SW Broadway
Based on recorded excerpts of Neil Gaiman’s story “The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury,” combined with an original score by Grammy-nominated pianist and composer Josh Rawlings, the Portland Tap Company makes its debut with an exploration of the human mind and its ability to remember and forget.

A still from the film “sweetgrass” by Portland artists Amy Leona Havin/The Holding Project and Tomas Alfredo Valladares.

Portland Dance Film Fest
October 20-21
Clinton Street Theater, 2522 SE Clinton St.
There are just two nights left of this six-night adjudicated dance film festival, so go. Directed by dancer-choreographer Kailee McMurran, the festival features dance films from around the world, shot anywhere from sand dunes to city streets to a squash court. (And as long as we’re talking shoes, looks for the man in the white-winged angel shoes.) Check out the festival’s website for descriptions of the films and interviews with the filmmakers.

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