DANCE

DanceWatch Weekly: Tap, flamenco, modern and Tom Gold on ballet

Choreographer Tom Gold talks about Twyla Tharp, ballet marketing and his work for The Portland Ballet

I recently sat down with choreographer and former New York City Ballet soloist Tom Gold to talk about his work Festival Russe for The Portland Ballet’s upcoming Spring show, which opens Friday.

The evening features four works representing the stylistic changes in classical ballet from 1909 to today. They are Michel Fokine’s Les Sylphides; excerpts from George Balanchine’s Who Cares?, staged by John Clifford; Festival Russe by Gold; and Abandon All Plans, a commissioned world premiere by former BodyVox dancer Lane Hunter.

Gold and I discuss everything from his choreographic process, to working with renowned choreographer Twyla Tharp, to politics in the ballet world. That conversation unfolds below.

But first, in other Portland dance news…

Dancing In The Rain!, a multigenerational performance directed by Harriet Cuttler in collaboration with the Hollywood Senior Center’s Funky Grooves dance class, uses movement to engage in ideas of release, resilience, and resistance in the body over time, opens Friday.

Also opening Friday is the New Expressive Work’s residency performance, a program that takes place twice yearly, showcasing the work of four new choreographers each time, directed by Subashini Ganesan. This round will feature choreographers Dora Gaskill, Jessica Kelley, Stephanie Schaaf and Michael Galen.

The N.E.W. residency is an invaluable component to our community and the support of dance making. I wrote about it extensively in December 2016, and you can read all about it here.

PDX Dance Collective, a revolving collective of dance artists ongoing since 2009, presents an evening of dance works by six of its company members alongside six guest artists from Portland’s larger dance community. The artists showing work will be: April MacKay, Hannah Downs, Ismael Soñanes, Katelyn Kollinzas, Rachael Singer, Zahra Garrett , Alicia Cutaia, Amelia Unsicker, Dar Vejon Jones, Kya Bliss, Olivia Camfield and Vitality Dance Collective.

The Portland Tap Dance Festival, founded in 2015 by Pamela Allen, Erin Lee, and Kelsey Leonard, will feature classes and a performance by faculty members and leading names in tap from Portland and beyond. The faculty—Dianne “Lady Di” Walker, Brenda Bufalino, Ted Louis Levy, Terry Brock, Derick Grant, Joseph Webb, Sarah Reich, Karida Griffith, Jessie Sawyers, Danny Nielsen, and Charles Renato—will be accompanied by the Josh Rawling Trio and Farnell Newton.

And lastly, Espacio Flamenco Portland and La Peña Flamenca de Portland finish out their season with La Peña: ¡Baila, Canta, Toca!, features dancing from Portland flamenco dancer Brenna McDonald with guest guitarist Jed Miley (Seattle), piquant cantaor Pepe Raphael, and Espacio Flamenco Portland’s Christina Lorentz, Lillie Last, and Nick Hutcheson.

It’s going to be a marvelous weekend. Enjoy!

Performances this week

Dancing In The Rain!
Hosted by Portland State University Art and Social Practice
6:30 pm May 26
Hollywood Senior Center, 1820 NE 40th Ave.

6×6: A PDX Choreographers Showcase hosted by PDX Dance Collective, May 26-28. Photo of Vitality Dance Collective, courtesy of PDX Dance Collective.

6×6: A PDX Choreographers Showcase
PDX Dance Collective
May 26-28
The Headwaters Theatre, 55 NE Farragut St.
An evening of dance works by April MacKay, Hannah Downs, Ismael Soñanes, Katelyn Kollinzas, Rachael Singer, Zahra Garrett, Alicia Cutaia, Amelia Unsicker, Dar Vejon Jones, Kya Bliss, Olivia Camfield and Vitality Dance Collective.

Who Cares?
Spring Concert – Tribute to the Ballets Russes
The Portland Ballet
Featuring work by Michel Fokine, George Balanchine, Tom Gold, and Lane Hunter
May 26-27
Portland State University, Lincoln Performance Hall, 1620 SW Park Ave.

Untitled Work in Progress by Jessica Kelley, performed by Suniti Dernovsek and Noelle Stiles. N.E.W. Residency performance, May 26-28. Photo courtesy of N.E.W.

N.E.W. Residency performance
Dora Gaskill, Jessica Kelley, Stephanie Schaaf, and Michael Galen
Directed by Subashini Ganesan
Fieldwork sessions facilitated by Katherine Longstreth
May 26-28
New Expressive Works, 810 SE Belmont St.

Portland Tap Dance Festival
Presented by the Portland Tap Alliance
Faculty Performance
8 pm May 28
Lewis & Clark-Evans Music Hall Auditorium, 0615 SW Palatine Hill Rd.

La Peña: ¡Baila, Canta, Toca!, 8 pm May 27. Photo of Nela McGuire, courtesy of La Peña Flamenca de Portland.

La Peña: ¡Baila, Canta, Toca!
Hosted by Espacio Flamenco Portland and La Peña Flamenca de Portland
8 pm May 27
Artichoke Music, 3130 SE Hawthorne Blvd.

Interview with Tom Gold

My conversation with Tom Gold began with learning about his connection to Portland, which began in 1999 when then-Oregon Ballet Theatre artistic director James Canfield invited him to guest in “Romeo and Juliet.” When Christopher Stowell took over the company Gold was invited back to create a piece on the second company and stage a Twyla Tharp work. This is when he met Anne Mueller, who now directs The Portland Ballet alongside co-founder Nancy Davis.

I was immediately curious about what his experience had been like working with Twyla Tharp. Gold said that he danced with Tharp when he had free time from New York City Ballet. “Mostly I just liked to go into the studio with her and have her make new material on me cause that was fun.”

What was that like?

Crazy, insane. Really exciting because it’s more cerebral than actual pleasure. I don’t know if that’s the right word. Basically, you’ll go into the studio and she won’t speak and she’ll just start moving and go…( Tom is wildly gesticulating at different body parts) like mime, look at my feet, look at my head, no, you’re not doing it right. And then she’ll be like, “What did you think of that” after three hours of no speaking. And you’re like, “Yeah, I like this, and I like that.” And she’s like, “Come back tomorrow.” And she just starts creating these pieces.

I always had a good relationship with her because I think she’s really funny, she’s really smart. [ ]… She’s a very demanding person and not always the easiest to work for. But I always just enjoyed the work, and pleasure, and never got caught up in the other stuff. And also it wasn’t my primary job, so I wasn’t depending on her for my main salary. So I think that took a little of the pressure off.

Twyla has always loved classical ballet. That’s always been her interest, her love, her passion. Her first company, which was very contemporary, ballet was the basis for what became the Twyla Tharp movement. Where she took all of that movement and started putting it all on pointe and adding more ballet vocabulary within it. She was building ballet pieces on us for other companies or for her to sell or for her group, because we went on tour a couple of times. Whenever she needed bodies to create on, I was always available. It was really fun, we had a great time.

Could you tell me about your new work for Portland Ballet?

This piece, “Festival Russe,” was created originally for Ballet Academy East in New York. They had a program called “To Russia With Love,” and all the pieces had to have a Russian theme.

My process is that I usually start with the music, so I basically Googled Russian composers and all of this glorious classical Russian music came up and that inspired me to make a piece as an homage to the original Ballets Russes with my own contemporary movement in it. So each movement is kind of reminiscent of some old classical warhorse ballet that you’ll see but with more syncopation and some jazzier movements and some kind of modern ballet steps in there.

What is your ballet-making process?

Usually I look at who I have in front of me, and I try and create a piece for them because in the end they are going to be up there on the stage and they have to be comfortable but it also has to be something that the audience is going to connect with and engage them. First and foremost, what we do is entertainment, and if you are not entertaining an audience, whether that’s making them laugh or cry, I think your mission is kind of gone. So, I take all of this into consideration and then my voice is in there, too, the kind of movement I like, the kind of dancing I like, the kind of dancers I like to see do it, so it’s those three components come together. So when I go into the studio, I have an idea of what I want to see, but I never really know until I start working with the dancers to see what they are capable of and what they can do.

What is classical ballet? Why do ballet companies differentiate between contemporary work and classical work?

In the end it’s a gimmick, it’s a selling point really. It’s all classical ballet. Whether you are moving to contemporary music or you’re doing more contemporary movements on point, it’s still classical ballet vocabulary and steps. I think it does make it easier when someone is sorting through a program—“oh, this is going to be classical, Swan Lake, “oh this is going to be contemporary Billy Forsythe”—to help you if you maybe don’t know a lot about dance and what your particular taste is or what you might be geared towards. You could say classical is more narrative and contemporary is more abstract, but that doesn’t really hold up either. It’s just ballet in the end, it really is. We’re all doing the same steps, we are all speaking the same languages. And that’s why ballet dancers can do all of these different styles because there is that basis of language and vocabulary to work from.

Ballet companies are trying to perform a broad range of styles which includes ideas from modern dance, but the dancers don’t train in modern dance, and it makes the pieces look less authentic to me. What do you think about this?

That’s a very good question. At City Ballet I think I worked with every contemporary modern choreographer because modern and contemporary choreographers are drawn to ballet: one, because you can make more money working with these companies because there’s more money in classical ballet, but two, the technique is so strong and different. It’s not that I want to downplay modern or contemporary dance because they have such beautiful movement qualities, but with ballet you get those shapes as well, the pointed toes, the articulation of the legs. Where I do see a difference—and it’s not all modern, because Cunningham wasn’t like this,—but a large part of modern contemporary is more about the movement and feeling, and they’re not so concerned with what your feet look like or what your arms are doing. It’s really about expressing a feeling along with the movement.

I do think a big important thing is the choreographer themselves. When they come into the room, they need to show the dancer the style that they are working in. A lot of times it can be very intimidating going to these ballet companies, if you are a contemporary modern choreographer, and just bring something you would do for your company and put it on a ballet company. And I think that’s kind of wrong, too, because what does it have to do with ballet? Where is your voice in this experience? The process should be about you doing something new, and the dancers doing something new. Instead of going “I’m just going to slap this onto you.”

That happened a lot at City Ballet. These modern choreographers would makes pieces and just set them on us. And then there’s this whole part that’s missing where you don’t even get to really experience what it’s like working with that choreographer or them making something in their style and taking your style into consideration, too. I am always aware of that when I’m working with people because that’s why I want it to be about them and express who they are as well as expressing my voice.

Yeah, I do think that’s what missing a lot of times. It’s exciting to get a Forsythe, or a Martha Graham or a Cunningham or some of these great things, but if there’s not someone there to work with the dancers to make it look the way it should, then it’s kind of a wasted experience. And I think the audience goes, “Well, I think this kind of looks fraudulent, it doesn’t feel authentic to me.” I mean, they get that.

The dancers are so hungry they want to work with these legends and these people, and then when they miss out, it’s kind of like they go, “Then why am I doing this?” And then their energy is bad and then you see that on the stage because their not really committing the way they should. It’s like a circle.

How do you feel about the ideas in the classical ballets that are no longer accepted in society?

That’s why people like Matthew Bourne are making an all-male “Swan Lake” or they’re taking contemporary themes and incorporating them into these old standard warhorse ballets—because we do live in a different time. And you know women are empowered, they’re not swans, they’re not sylphs anymore; they have a voice and we need to express what’s happening in the world, on the stage as well.

What are your thoughts on the lack of women choreographers in Ballet?

It’s true; there really are no female ballet choreographers. I think they do need to encourage more. But, also, if you look at a woman who is going to become a ballerina, she focuses on that 100 perfect. She’s not thinking, Oh I’ve got 5 minutes; I’m going to go choreograph something. Until that kind of mentality changes…

I would say 90 percent of the women that work in ballet world are coming from the modern contemporary field. Like Twyla, Pam Tanowitz, Molissa Fenley, Aszure Barton, Crystal Pite, she’s the big one, they are all coming from the contemporary field because they don’t have that “I’m a ballerina and this is what I do.” You know?

I don’t know why that is, I don’t know why these companies aren’t pushing them more or trying to find those voices because it is a strong voice and it is nice to see that side. Because women have different perspectives and different views, it should be out there. I think about this a lot because people ask it all the time about the whole sexism (in dance) thing. […] It’s all about marketing, and money and business. Nobody’s thinking, I want to encourage and nurture this. That’s kind of the last thing. How are we going to make the most money. What can we exploit and market. You know, it’s frustrating. It’s about the art, but without the money you can’t have the art.

How did you become a choreographer?

I was fortunate enough to go to a high school for the performing arts [in Chicago]. There were classes in dance composition. I was very fortunate to have that kind of experience— dance history, dance theory, dance composition—where I was able to explore at a very early age, improvisation, different styles of movement. Having that freedom without having a mass critical audience coming at you. And then I came to New York, I put that on the back burner because I wanted to focus on my dancing. And then I started picking it up again because it was a strong voice in my head. I would see things, I would hear music and I would have a response, and I thought, “I want to express this through music.”

So in 1998-99, I would start to make small pieces, and that grew into more experiences and people started to hear about it and I got little opportunities here and there. And then when I left NYCB[..] I thought, just make your own company then you can make the work you want and you can work with the kind of dancers you want and have the environment you want. It’s very nurturing and loving and wonderful and serious.

I’ve been really lucky. People have given me great opportunities. I’ve choreographed some operas, some theater, some television. I do love having all of these vehicles to do choreography in. I think it makes me a more well-rounded choreographer. Especially working with people who are not trained dancers, because you have to think in a different way about how they move, and that’s really interesting to me.

Performances next week

June 1, Jefferson Dancers Spring Recital, Jefferson Dancers
June 2-4, Interum Echos, PDX Contemporary Ballet
June 2-17, The Goblin King, A David Bowie and Labyrinth Tribute, Trip the Dark Dance Company

Upcoming Performances

June
June 8-10, Summer Splendors, NW Dance Project
June 9, Kúkátónón 2017 Showcase!, Kúkátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe
June 9-11, Jazz Around the World, Presented by Wild Rumpus Jazz Co
June 10-11, Dance Out Loud Choreographers Showcase, Directed by Oluyinka Akinjiola and Donna Mation
June 14-15, SHUT DOWN: The Final Performance from PSU Dance Students
June 23-24, Risk/Reward Festival Of New Performance, Produced by Jerry Tischleder
June 27-July 2, Cabaret, Presented by U.S. Bank Broadway in Portland
June 29-30, Choreography XX, Oregon Ballet Theatre
July
July 8, Ten Tiny Dances, Beaverton Farmers Market, Directed by Mike Barber
July 14-16, Apparatus, by Danielle Ross
July 15, Pretty Creatives Showing, NW Dance Project
July 29, Hafla, Portland Bellydance Guild
August
August 3-5, Galaxy Dance Festival, Hosted by Polaris Dance Theatre
August 11-13, JamBallah Northwest ’17, Hosted by JamBallah NW
August 24-September 6, Portland Dance Film Fest, Directed by Kailee McMurran, Tia Palomino, and Jess Evans
August 24-October 8, Kurios: Cabinet Of Curiosities, Cirque Du Soleil

DanceWatch Weekly: Bobby pins, hairspray and glitter

This is the season of dance recitals and so much more!

It’s recital time again! Spring is when dance students far and wide hit the stages to demonstrate a year’s worth of hard work, and Portland’s dance students are no exception. For some dancers this will be their first performance, and for others it will be their last one with their home school, before heading out into the world. Performing is always an emotional experience, mixed with excitement and apprehension, bobby pins, hairspray, and for some, lots of glitter. For a dancer, this moment is what it’s all about.

This weekend also features the award-winning touring musical theatre production of An American in Paris, an afternoon of Bharatnatyam with Anita Menon and her students at New Expressive Works, dance performances by regional cultural groups at Lan Su Chinese Garden as part of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Dance Wire’s annual work in progress showcase, a show of female power in The Future is Female by Mixed Dance Company, and a one year anniversary celebration of Ben Martens monthly performance gathering, Spectacle Garden.

Performances this week

An American in Paris Broadway Tour, May 16-21. Photo courtesy of An American in Paris Broadway Tour.

An American in Paris
Presented by U.S. Bank Broadway in Portland
May 16-21
Keller Auditorium, 222 SW Clay St.
This award-winning touring production, inspired by George Gershwin’s time spent in Paris during the 1920s, features music by George and Ira Gershwin as well as choreography by the former New York City Ballet soloist and resident choreographer, Christopher Wheldon. Gershwin noted, “My purpose here is to portray the impression of an American visitor in Paris as he strolls about the city and listens to various street noises and absorbs the French atmosphere.”

Junior Artist Generator dancer Avery Wagner. Photo by David Krebs.

Junior Artist Generator
Hosted by BodyVox Dance Company
May 19-21
BodyVox Dance Center, 1201 NW 17th Ave.
BodyVox’s Junior Artist Generator is a performance training program that provides dance students with the opportunity to work with renowned Portland dance professionals and culminates in an annual concert.

This year’s program will include work by BodyVox Artistic Directors Jamey Hampton and Ashley Roland, Alicia Cutaia, Tracey Durbin, Éowyn Emerald, Thorey Mountain, Josh Murry, Sara Parker, Katie Scherman, Rachel Slater, and Jenelle Yarbrough.

Spring Performance
Classical Ballet Academy, Directed by Sarah Rigles
May 19-21
Portland State University, Lincoln Performance Hall, 1620 SW Park Ave
Classical Ballet Academy’s Spring Performance is a mixture of works performed by the tiniest of dancers to pre-professional ones, and will include the ballet “Don Quixote” and other dances ranging from modern to jazz, choreographed by Classical Ballet Academy faculty members.

The Art of Nattuvangam: South Indian Classical music and dance, 2 pm May 20. Photo courtesy of New Expressive Works.

The Art of Nattuvangam: South Indian Classical music and dance
Hosted by New Expressive Works and Anjali School of Dance
2 pm May 20
New Expressive Works, 810 SE Belmont St.
Marking the culmination of the Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program through Oregon Folklife Network, Bharatanatyam teacher, choreographer, and Regional Arts and Culture Fellow Anita Menon presents, an afternoon of South Indian Classical Music and Dance.

Menon has passed on the art of Nattuvangam, the rhythmic playing of cymbals for Bharatanatyam, to her student Maya Jagannathan. Accompanying Jagannathan will be vocalist Archana Mungara and dancers Vipanchi Mungara, Sharika Pillai, Ankitha Krishnamurthy, Sagarika Ramachandran and Sanya Surya.

This event is free but requires an RSVP to attend because seating is limited.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, May 6-28. Photo of courtesy of Lan Su Chinese Garden.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
Lan Su Chinese Garden
May 20-21
Lan Su Chinese Garden, 239 NW Everett St.
May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, and Lan Su Chinese Garden in downtown Portland will be hosting a month-long celebration with performances every Saturday and Sunday by local cultural organizations and dance troupes.

This weekend’s programs includes performances by Portland Taiko, Kalabharathi School of Dance, One With Heart, and the Portland Chinese Dance Troupe.
Check out the full schedule for specific dates and times.

Polaris Dance Theatre Spring Performance, May 19-21. Photo courtesy of Polaris Dance Theatre.

Spring Student Performances
Polaris Dance Theatre
May 19-21
Polaris Dance Theatre, 1826 NW 18th Ave.
Showcasing energy, technique, playfulness and fun, Polaris dance students ages 3 – 18 will perform an array of dances choreographed by Polaris faculty members.

 

The Future is Female by Mixd Dance Company, May 20-21. Photo courtesy of Mixd Dance Company.

The Future is Female
Mixd Dance Company, co-directed by Megan Armand & Lindsay Duus
Choreography by Megan Armand, Lindsay Duus, Amanda Harry, Jacki Mascorro and Shannel Williams
May 20-21
World Trade Center, 121 SW Salmon St.
Mixd Dance Company, a 20-strong team of dancers, brings together a variety of dance styles and stories told through the eyes of strong women.

Dance Wire Refinery, May 21. Photo courtesy of Dance Wire.

Refinery: A Work in Progress Showcase
Hosted by Dance Wire
4 pm May 21
Peninsula Odd Fellows Lodge, 4834 N Lombard St.
Dance Wire, a Portland dance resource and service organization, presents Refinery: A work in Progress Showcase, featuring Hector Zaragoza Valentin, Olivia Camfield, Trip The Dark, and WolfBird Dance. The evening is free and provides a glimpse into the creative process, and will provide an opportunity to give feedback to the choreographers at the end.

Spectacle Garden Birthday Show
Curated by Ben Martens
6 pm May 24
The Headwaters Theatre, 55 NE Farragut St. Ste 9
Celebrating its one-year anniversary, this monthly, interdisciplinary showcase, curated by composer/Butoh artist Ben Martens, will feature Katie Piatt, Kiel Moton, Jme Antonick & Jana Zahler, Alex and Alexa, Inclusive Arts Vibe Dance Company, Anet Ris-Kelman, Project Grow/Port City, and Cagil Harmandar. The evening will also include an homage to performances past with one-minute solo performances by Spectacle Garden alumni performers, and of course an after party, and a few surprises, as to be expected.

Performances next week

May
May 25, PCC Spring Dance Concert, Hosted by the Portland Community College Dance Program
May 26, Dancing In The Rain!Hosted by Portland State University Art and Social Practice
May 26, 6×6: A PDX Choreographers Showcase, PDX Dance Collective
May 26-27, Spring Concert – Tribute to the Ballet Russes, Featuring work by Michel Fokine, Tom Gold, George Balanchine, and Lane Hunter, The Portland Ballet
May 26-28, Portland Tap Dance Festival, Presented by the Portland Tap Alliance
May 26-28, N.E.W. Residency performance, Dora Gaskill, Jessica Kelley, Stephanie Schaaf, and Michael Galen
May 27, La Peña: ¡Baila, Canta, Toca!, Hosted by Espacio Flamenco Portland and La Peña Flamenca de Portland

Upcoming Performances

June
June 1, Jefferson Dancers Spring Recital, Jefferson Dancers
June 2-4, Interum Echos, PDX Contemporary Ballet
June 2-17, The Goblin King, A David Bowie and Labyrinth Tribute, Trip the Dark Dance Company
June 8-10, Summer Splendors, NW Dance Project
June 9, Kúkátónón 2017 Showcase!, Kúkátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe
June 9-11, Jazz Around the World, Presented by Wild Rumpus Jazz Co
June 10-11, Dance Out Loud Choreographers Showcase, Directed by Oluyinka Akinjiola and Donna Mation
June 14-15, SHUT DOWN: The Final Performance from PSU Dance Students
June 23-24, Risk/Reward Festival Of New Performance, Produced by Jerry Tischleder
June 27-July 2, Cabaret, Presented by U.S. Bank Broadway in Portland
June 29-30, Choreography XX, Oregon Ballet Theatre
July
July 8, Ten Tiny Dances, Beaverton Farmers Market, Directed by Mike Barber
July 15, Pretty Creatives Showing, NW Dance Project
July 29, Hafla, Portland Bellydance Guild
August
August 3-5, Galaxy Dance Festival, Hosted by Polaris Dance Theatre
August 11-13, JamBallah Northwest ’17, Hosted by JamBallah NW
August 24-September 6, Portland Dance Film Fest, Directed by Kailee McMurran, Tia Palomino, and Jess Evans
August 24-October 8, Kurios: Cabinet Of Curiosities, Cirque Du Soleil

DanceWatch Weekly: A Flamenco evening via Sevilla

Find the castanets and prepare for Flamenco, por favor

In Sevilla, Spain, about a week or so after Holy Week (a yearly Catholic tribute to the Passion of Jesus Christ that takes place during the last week of Lent), the people throw a really big party celebrating Andalusian culture, with loads of flamenco dancing, music and tapas. It’s called Feria de Abril.

Thanks to Espacio Flamenco Portland and La Peña Flamenca de Portland, both the brainchild of Flamenco dancer Brenna McDonald, we Portlanders can celebrate Feria de Abril right here in our own home town on Saturday night at the AudioCinema under the east side of the Hawthorne Bridge. From 5 pm to midnight, under the warm glow of string lights and fragrant flowers, you can experience the pulse and heat of flamenco music and dance, and the flavors of Spanish food.

Feria de Portland as it is called in Portland, will transport us to Sevilla while celebrating Oregon’s own Flamenco community with performances by dancers from Portland Flamenco Events, Beach Elementary Dance Program, Espacio Flamenco Portland, Elena Villa, 3shine Flamenco, guitarist Ricardo Diaz, Los rumberos, Pepe Raphael and DJ Blas. The tapas will be supplied by Morgan St Theater – Inspired ice creams, Crown Paella, M&M Catering, and J.Molina Pasteleria.

Flamenco, an improvisational form of dance, is a folkloric tradition that combines song, dance, instrumentals (guitar mostly), hand clapping and finger snapping. This art form is an amalgamation of centuries of cross-pollination between the many cultures that have existed in Spain. Because it is a folkloric tradition passed down orally until the mid-18th century, its history is imprecise. Its evolution is widely debated, but it is thought to be greatly influenced by the Roma people, called Gitanos, who migrated from Rajasthan (Western India) to Spain between the 9th and 14th centuries, bringing with them tambourines, bells, castanets and a variety of songs and dances. The arm, hand and foot movements of Flamenco closely resemble those of classical Indian dance styles. These traditions combined with the cultures of the Sephardic Jews and Moors make up the Flamenco we see today.

The Flamenco dance (baile) can be characterized by the light graceful arm movements of the female dancer and the contrasting stomping foot drills of the man. It is intense, passionate, sexual and deeply emotional.

The song (canto) which is the core of Flamenco has three forms: grande or hondo (grand or deep) which is intense, profound, tragic in feeling and steeped with duende, which is the transformation of the musician by the depth of emotion; intermedio (intermediate), which is moderately serious; and pequeño (small), marked by light, energetic songs of love.
The Spanish playwright and poet Federico García Lorca, who grew up in southern Spain and was greatly inspired and influenced by the Roma culture, spoke in depth about duende in his essay Theory and Play of the Duende, written in 1933.

Performances this week

Feria de Portland, 5 pm-12 pm May 13. Photo courtesy of Brenna McDonald.

Feria de Portland
Hosted by Espacio Flamenco Portland and La Peña Flamenca de Portland
5 pm-12 pm May 13
AudioCinema, 226 SE Madison St.
See Above.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, May 6-28. Photo courtesy of Lan Su Chinese Garden.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
Lan Su Chinese Garden, dance performances representing India, Nepal, Thailand, China, Indonesia, Cambodia, Hawaii/Pacific Islands and more
May 6-28
Lan Su Chinese Garden, 239 NW Everett St.
May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, a month chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843. May also marks the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. (Chinese workers made up a large part of the workforce for the line.)

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, and Lan Su Chinese Garden in downtown Portland will be hosting a month-long celebration with performances every Saturday and Sunday by local cultural organizations and dance troupes.

This weekend’s programs includes performances by the Thai Association of Oregon, Vancouver Dance Troupe, Ka Lei Hali’a O Ka Lokelani, and the Haiyan International Dance Academy. Check out the full schedule for specific dates and times.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 2 pm May 13. Photo courtesy of Anita Menon.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Anjali School of Dance, Anita Menon
Hosted by Walters Cultural Arts Center
2 pm May 13
Walters Cultural Arts Center, 527 E Main St., HIllsboro
Anita Menon, the founder and director of Anjali School of Dance, a Bharatanatyam dance school in Hillsboro is interested in finding ways to help connect her Indian dance students to the dual cultures that they live in, and to connect American audiences to Indian culture.

This “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” combines Shakespeare and Bharatanatyam. When it debuted in 2012, ArtsWatch Bob Hicks wrote, “Anjali’s “Midsummer Night” is gorgeous to look at, from its rich temple-inspired costumes to the architectural snap of its precise group formations, which suggest a singularity of movement and purpose that a Radio City Rockette would understand. This is spectacle, in a good sense, a work that saturates the eyes and pleases the senses. It’s in constant motion, shape-shifting to a mix tape that’s authentic to the spirit of the American stewpot: it tosses in a little bit of everything from classical Indian music to Beethoven’s Fifth, Bollywood songs, and hip-hop. In that sense it reflects the shifting multiplicities of everyday life in Indian American communities. And unlike compressed ballet versions set to Mendelssohn’s brilliant score, Anjali’s “Midsummer” is leisurely and expansive, playing out most of the comedy’s major themes and using a narrator (actor G. Scott Brown, as Shakespeare himself) to set up the action and summarize the scenes.” You can read Hick’s full review of the production here.

Memories of Mom, May 13-14. Photo courtesy of Wanderlust Circus.

Memories of Mom
Presented by Wanderlust Circus and 3 Leg Torso
May 13-14
Alberta Rose Theatre, 3000 NE Alberta St.
Portland’s Wanderlust Circus and 3 Leg Torso pair together to tell the phantasmagorical story of ringmaster William Batty’s early boyhood in the Victorian slums, his boyhood shenanigans, and his ailing actress mum, in this blend of circus arts, dance, melody and rhythm.

An American in Paris Broadway Tour, May 16-21. Photo courtesy of An American in Paris Broadway Tour.

An American in Paris
Presented by U.S. Bank Broadway in Portland
May 16-21
Keller Auditorium, 222 SW Clay St.
This award-winning touring production, inspired by George Gershwin’s time spent in Paris during the 1920’s, features music by George and Ira Gershwin as well as choreography by the former New York City Ballet soloist and resident choreographer, Christopher Wheldon. Gershwin noted, “My purpose here is to portray the impression of an American visitor in Paris as he strolls about the city and listens to various street noises and absorbs the French atmosphere.”

Performances next week

May 6-28, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Lan Su Chinese Garden, dance performances representing India, Nepal, Thailand, China, Indonesia, Cambodia, Hawaii/Pacific Islands and more
May 19-21, Junior Artist Generator, BodyVox Dance Company
May 20, The Art of Nattuvangam: South Indian Classical music and dance, Hosted by New Expressive Works and Anjali School of Dance
May 20-21, The Future is Female, Mixed Dance Company
May 21, Refinery: A Work in Progress Showcase, Hosted by Dance Wire
May 24, Spectacle Garden Birthday Show, Curated by Ben Martens

Upcoming Performances

May
May 25, PCC Spring Dance Concert, Hosted by the Portland Community College Dance Program
May 26-28, Portland Tap Dance Festival, Presented by the Portland Tap Alliance
May 26-28, N.E.W. Residency performance, Dora Gaskill, Jessica Kelley, Stephanie Schaaf, and Michael Galen
May 26, 6×6: A PDX Choreographers Showcase, PDX Dance Collective
May 26-27, Spring Concert – Tribute to the Ballet Russes, Featuring work by Michel Fokine, Tom Gold, George Balanchine, and Lane Hunter, The Portland Ballet
May 27, La Peña: ¡Baila, canta, toca!, Hosted by Espacio Flamenco Portland and La Peña Flamenca de Portland
June
June 2-4, Interum Echos, PDX Contemporary Ballet
June 2-17, The Goblin King, A David Bowie and Labyrinth Tribute, Trip the Dark Dance Company
June 8-10, Summer Splendors, NW Dance Project
June 9, Kúkátónón 2017 Showcase!, Kúkátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe
June 9-11, Jazz Around the World, Presented by Wild Rumpus Jazz Co
June 10-11, Dance Out Loud Choreographers Showcase, Directed by Oluyinka Akinjiola and Donna Mation
June 23-24, Risk/Reward Festival Of New Performance, Produced by Jerry Tischleder
June 27-July 2, Cabaret, Presented by U.S. Bank Broadway in Portland
June 29-30, Choreography XX, Oregon Ballet Theatre
July
July 8, Ten Tiny Dances, Beaverton Farmers Market, Directed by Mike Barber
July 15, Pretty Creatives Showing, NW Dance Project
July 29, Hafla, Portland Bellydance Guild
August
August 11-13, JamBallah Northwest ’17, Hosted by JamBallah NW
August 24-September 6, Portland Dance Film Fest, Directed by Kailee McMurran, Tia Palomino, and Jess Evans
August 24-October 8, Kurios: Cabinet Of Curiosities, Cirque Du Soleil

DanceWatch Weekly: Dance for occasional sun

The Martha Graham Dance Company visits and the local dance concerts are robust

While basking in the long-awaited, but intermittent, sunshine this weekend (depending on which weather forecaster you follow), you have your choice of dance events that cover that gamut of genres from ethnic to classic. Some of them even dare to venture outdoors.

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, a month chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843. May also marks the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10,1869. (Chinese workers made up a large part of the workforce for the line.)

Lan Su Chinese Garden in downtown Portland will be hosting a month-long celebration of the month with performances every Saturday and Sunday by local cultural organizations and dance troupes representing India, Nepal, Thailand, China, Indonesia, Cambodia, Hawaii/Pacific Islands and more. Events begin this Saturday. Check out Lan Su Chinese Garden’s website for the full schedule.

In Portland’s contemporary dance world, Portland artist Taka Yamamoto’s will debut Direct Path To Detour, a new dance work created in collaboration with composer Jesse Mejía that will open Thursday night at Portland Institute of Contemporary Art’s new headquarters in Northeast Portland.

Friday brings an end-of-the-school-year showing of dances from the Reed College Dance Department students and faculty, and a work for the students by Israeli choreographer-in-residence, Iris Erez.

Also on Friday night, Seattle choreographer Alice Gosti will unveil a new work-in-progress at Performance Works NW followed by a reception and a workshop the following day at Flock Dance Center.

Saturday, Tempos Contemporary Circus, Vitality Dance Collective, and the Inclusive Arts Vibe Dance Company open with a variety of dances using the brain and body in a myriad of creative ways.

Next Wednesday, the Martha Graham Dance Company closes out the White Bird season, and Portland dance artist Lu Yim will open up her new work for viewing and discussion at Flock Dance Center as part of the Critical Engagement Series hosted by Flock and dance artist Tahni Holt.

Performances this week

Direct Path To Detour by Taka Yamamoto, May 4-7. Photo courtesy of Portland Institute for Contemporary Art.

Direct Path To Detour
Choreography by Taka Yamamoto, music composed by Jesse Mejía, and dramaturgy by Lu Yim
Produced by Portland Institute for Contemporary Art
May 4-7
Portland Institute For Contemporary Art at Hancock, Annex, 20 NE San Rafael St.
Direct Path To Detour is a new dance work created by Portland artist Taka Yamamoto. The work, produced by the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, explores dance as a fully embodied physical and mental experience that contains value systems, social pressures, expectations, and the embodied personal experiences of the performers and their multiple societies of birth, residence, upbringing and religion. Direct Path To Detour will be performed by Yamamoto, dancer Julian Barnett, performance artists Ayako Kataoka, and performance artist and writer sidony o’neal, to a musical composition by Jesse Mejía.

Yamamoto, originally from Shizuoka, Japan, holds an MFA in Visual Studies from Pacific Northwest College of Art and works in live performance, sculpture, and photography. He is one quarter of the Portland-based group Physical Education with Allie Hankins, keyon gaskin, and Lu Yim.

Reed College Dance Department Spring Concert, 7 pm May 5. Photo by Gordon Wilson.

Reed College Dance Department Spring Concert
7 pm May 5
Reed College, Greenwood Performance Theater, 3203 SE Woodstock Blvd.
The evening will feature choreography by Reed College dance majors, a collaboration between the Reed Chorus and Collegium, conducted by John Cox, and a work by Israeli choreographer-in-residence, Iris Erez.

Also included in the program will be a new work by Department Chair Carla Mann that is structured on the principles of classic jazz, and a piece by Professor of Dance Minh Tran, inspired by Trisha Brown’s 1983 work Set and Reset, that focuses on the principles of simplicity, acting on instinct, staying on the edge, and working with visibility and invisibility.

Alice Gosti: Happy Hour Showing, 4:30 pm May 5. Photo courtesy of Performance Works NW.

Alice Gosti: Happy Hour Showing
Hosted by Performance Works NW/Linda Austin Dance
4:30 pm May 5
Performance Works NW, 4625 SE 67th Ave.
Workshop 12:30-2:30 pm May 6 at Flock Dance Center, 8371 N Interstate Ave.

Seattle artist Alice Gosti will be in residence at Performance Works NW this week working on her new project, Material Deviance In Contemporary American Culture.

The work, according to Gosti, is an “immersive installation” that includes dance, video, 3D mapping, and an e-zine, and weaves “the stories and physical histories of: immigrants and refugees who carry their homes on their shoulders; hoarders who compulsively accumulate anything and everything; and America’s growing homeless population.” The dance grapples with the “complexity of living in an object-based society where we define our identity through the objects we own.”

The residency will culminate in a reception, a sharing of the work, and a workshop the following day with Gosti at Flock Dance Center.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
May 6-28
Lan Su Chinese Garden, 239 NW Everett St.
See above.

Vitality Dance Collective presents Place, 5 pm May 6. Photo courtesy of Vitality Dance Collective.

Place
Vitality Dance Collective
5 pm May 6
Polaris Dance Theatre, 1826 NW 18th Ave
This collective of nine dancers will perform an evening of dance works in a variety of styles that look to the past, present, and future.

Vitality Dance Collective, a vision of Kristina York, was created for adults dancers who dance, but don’t have the time to dedicate themselves full-time to the art. The company acts as a collective, supporting the choreographic vision of all its members, and enjoys being undefinable. They are about innovation, authenticity and fun.

The Tempos Contemporary Circus presents In Close Proximity, May 5-7. Photo courtesy of The Tempos Contemporary Circus.

In Close Proximity
The Tempos Contemporary Circus
May 5-7
Echo Theatre, 1515 SE 37th Ave.
Kraig Mead, the director of Tempos Contemporary Circus, a Portland-based company that combines physical theatre, acrobatics, aerial arts and dance, is interested in the in-between—ideas and movement not normally illuminated.

In his new work In Close Proximity, developed in collaboration with musicians Zack Borden and Sean Daly, he furthers this investigation by asking what happens when you break the traditional relationship between dancer and musician in performance, switching back and forth between who leads and who follows, say, or what happens when you break the rules of personal space.

Inclusive Arts Vibe Dance Company presents Chickens and Cheese Pizza, May 5-7. Photo courtesy of Inclusive Arts Vibe Dance Company.

Chickens and Cheese Pizza
Inclusive Arts Vibe Dance Company, Disability Arts and Culture Project
May 5-7
Friday May 5: 10:30 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. Free community performance*
New Expressive Works, 810 SE Belmont St.
Inclusive Arts Vibe Dance Company, founded in 2005 by Kathy Coleman (current director), Erik Ferguson (co-artistic director of Wobbly Dance), and Jody Ramey, is a mixed-ability, mixed-age dance company that aims to further the artistic expression of people with apparent and non-apparent disabilities, by providing dance, choreography and performance as an artistic outlet.

Chickens and Cheese Pizza, is to be performed by Daric Anderson, Eleanor Baily, Arrow Bless, Ryan Blumhardt, Rachel Esteve, Peter Heiken, Addie Nelson, Monique Peloquin and Scott Selby (you can read their full bios here), is a collection of five dances choreographed by company members, that dig into the human experience, exposing a full spectrum of emotions.

Critical Engagement Series with Lu Yim
Hosted by Flock Dance Center/Tahni Holt
8:30 pm May 10
Flock Dance Center, 8371 N Interstate Ave.
The Critical Engagement Series at Flock Dance Center is curated by dance artist Tahni Holt, and “brings together audiences and choreographers in hopes to reveal some of the mystery surrounding the languages around dance and the unique practices of individual choreographers. We start with the question: What does the choreographer need at this particular moment in their process and how might this also serve the wider community.”

Now Dynasty Beneath the Stormy Water, a work-in-progress by Portland artist Lu Yim, examines the tension between objecthood and subjecthood.

Martha Graham Dance Company presented by White Bird, 7:30 pm May 10. Photo courtesy of White Bird.

Martha Graham Dance Company
Presented by White Bird
7:30 pm May 10
Pre-show Conversation 6:45-7:15pm with Artistic Director Janet Eilber, former dancer/choreographer Keith martin and Portland dance artist Josie Moseley, Schnitzer Lower Lobby
Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1111 SW Broadway

Closing out White Bird’s 19th season, the Martha Graham Dance Company, Celebrating its 90th year running, will present a selection of works choreographed by Graham herself, and works choreographed by current, well-known artists on the Graham company.

On the program will be Diversion of Angels, choreographed by Graham in 1948 that abstractly describes three different aspects of love, Dark Meadow Suite a rearrangement of Graham’s Dark Meadow (1946) by Artistic Director, Janet Eilber, Rust created in 2013 for five male dancers by Spanish choreographer Nacho Duato that speaks about violence and terrorism in our world today, and Mosaic by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui (Artistic Director of the Royal Ballet of Flanders, and an associate artist at Sadler’s Wells in London) that is inspired by Middle Eastern culture, and the repetitious patterning in mosaic artwork.

Performances next week

May 6-28, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Lan Su Chinese Garden, dance performances representing India, Nepal, Thailand, China, Indonesia, Cambodia, Hawaii/Pacific Islands and more
May 13, Feria de Portland, hosted by Espacio Flamenco Portland and La Peña Flamenca de Portland
May 13, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Anjali School of Dance
May 14, Memories of Mom, Presented by Wanderlust Circus and 3 Leg Torso
May 16-21, An American in Paris, Presented by U.S. Bank Broadway in Portland

Upcoming Performances

May
May 6-28, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Lan Su Chinese Garden, dance performances representing India, Nepal, Thailand, China, Indonesia, Cambodia, Hawaii/Pacific Islands and more
May 19-21, Junior Artist Generator, BodyVox Dance Company
May 20, The Art of Nattuvangam: South Indian Classical music and dance, Hosted by New Expressive Works and Anjali School of Dance
May 20-21, The Future is Female, Mixed Dance Company
May 21, Refinery: A Work in Progress Showcase, Hosted by Dance Wire
May 26-28, N.E.W. Residency performance, Dora Gaskill, Jessica Kelley, Stephanie Schaaf, and Michael Galen
May 26, 6×6: A PDX Choreographers Showcase, PDX Dance Collective
May 26-27, Spring Concert – Tribute to the Ballet Russes, Featuring work by Michel Fokine, Tom Gold, George Balanchine, and Lane Hunter, The Portland Ballet
June
June 2-4, Interum Echos, PDX Contemporary Ballet
June 10-11, Dance Out Loud, Directed by Oluyinka Akinjiola and Donna Mation
June 2-17, The Goblin King, A David Bowie and Labyrinth Tribute, Trip the Dark Dance Company
June 8-10, Summer Splendors, NW Dance Project
June 23-24, Risk/Reward Festival Of New Performance, Produced by Jerry Tischleder
June 27-July 2, Cabaret, Presented by U.S. Bank Broadway in Portland
June 29-30, Choreography XX, Oregon Ballet Theatre
July
July 8, Ten Tiny Dances, Beaverton Farmers Market, Directed by Mike Barber
July 15, Pretty Creatives Showing, NW Dance Project
August
August 24-September 6, Portland Dance Film Fest, Directed by Kailee McMurran, Tia Palomino, and Jess Evans
August 24-October 8, Kurios: Cabinet Of Curiosities, Cirque Du Soleil

DanceWatch Weekly: Global dancing

This week Portland stages bubble with dance from Argentina, Berlin, Brazil, New York and New Orleans

This week Portland will host visiting dance artists from around the globe, beginning tonight with the all-male, Argentinian dance company, Che Malambo, presented by White Bird.

Freshly returned from a performance in France, the Jefferson Dancers will perform their Spring Concert Thursday at the Newmark. These talented, pre-professional dancers will engage in choreography by some illustrious Jefferson Dancer alums.

Also opening Thursday night is the Contact Dance Film Festival, curated by BodyVox artistic director Jamey Hampton in collaboration between Northwest Film Center and Hampton’s long-time collaborator and filmmaker, Mitchell Rose. The festival features a wide range of films on ballet, krumping, Ohad Naharin, and includes Crystals of Transformation, a dance film by Portland costume designer and filmmaker Fuchsia Lin, featuring NW Dance Project dancer Andrea Parsons.

Dance artists Scotty Heron and composer Brendan Connelly are visiting from New Orleans this week, and they’ll dance Appalachian Spring Break at Performance Works NW. XPOSED by Polaris Dance Theatre artists along with guest artist Barbara Lima from Brazil enters its second weekend, and the Butoh College Performance Series closes with Shoot Jeez My Gosh, by Berlin-based Butoh artist, Yuko Kaseki.

Performances this week

Che Malombo at White Bird Tuesday and Wednesday: rhythm and dance.

Che Malambo
Presented by White Bird
April 25-26
Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway
Che Malambo is an all-male, Argentinian dance company that has adapted the dance style of the gaucho—the South American cowboy of the pampas—for the contemporary stage. Movements that were originally designed to emphasize agility, strength, and dexterity among the gauchos is now high-energy choreography that features rhythmic footwork, drumming, singing, and other musical accompaniment.

The Jefferson Dancers Spring Concert, April 27-29 at the Newmark. Photo by Fritz Liedtke.

The Jefferson Dancers
Presented by Jefferson High School
April 27-29
Newmark Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway
This annual spring dance concert performed by one of Portland’s oldest, pre-professional dance companies will showcase choreography by Jefferson Dancers artistic director Steve Gonzales, Jefferson alums and one current student, Alexa McKone. The former Jeff Dancer choreographers include Broadway performer Kevin Paul Clark (featured in Artslandia Kids Magazine in 2015); French choreographer Charlotte Faillard (a former exchange student); La La Land dancer Michael Munday; former Ballet Oregon and Oregon Ballet Theatre dancer Andrea Thompson; commercial dancer and long-time member of NW African American Ballet, Bunky Williams; and Thomas Yale, who performed in the Latin Grammy ceremony, Saturday Night Live, and Dance Moms Season 5.

Photo from Fuchsia Lin’s film Crystals of Transformation. Water crystal costume performed in by Andrea Parson, appearing courtesy of NW Dance Project

Contact Dance Film Festival
Presented by BodyVox and NW Film Center
April 27-29
Teaming up with the Northwest Film Center, BodyVox artistic director Jamey Hampton and his long-time collaborator Mitchell Rose have curated a festival of dance films. The program includes Broken, a documentary by Portland filmmaker Lynne Spencer, on Ballet BC’s lead ballerina Simone Orlando as she comes to terms with a major injury; Crystals of Transformation, a dance film by Portland costume designer and filmmaker Fuchsia Lin, featuring NW Dance Project dancer Andrea Parsons, that promotes water conservation; the Art of Krump: Journey to Heaven by Kaizen Pictures and Mr. Gaga. The films will be simultaneously screened at both the BodyVox Dance Center and the Northwest Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium. All films will screen in both locations.

Appalachian Spring Break by Scotty Heron and Brendan Connelly at Performance Works NW, April 28-29.

Appalachian Spring Break
Scotty Heron and Brendan Connelly
Presented by Performance Works NW / Linda Austin Dance
April 28-29
Choreographer/performance artist Scotty Heron, an early collaborator with Portland’s Linda Austin, and a contributor to the ‘80’s downtown dance scene in New York City will perform Appalachian Spring Break. The dance is a duet that plays “with the iconic, confused and clichéd relationship of choreographer and composer, glancing sideways at Martha Graham and Aaron Copland’s only collaboration and its sepia-toned Americana.” All of the movement, sound and light will be generated in real time, and manipulated by the artists, including composer/sound designer Brendan Connelly, onstage.

Photo courtesy of Polaris Dance Theatre.

XPOSED
Robert Guitron, M’Liss Quinnly, Gerard Regot, (Spain), Barbara Lima (Brazil), and Jess Zoller.
Polaris Dance Theatre
April 28-29
Polaris Dance Theatre, 1826 NW 18th Ave
Polaris Dance Theatre presents new dance works from choreographers Barbara Lima from Brazil; Spanish dance artist and current company member Gerard Regot; founding company member M’Liss Quinnly, who is also the artistic director of Polaris’s Junior and Neo companies; current company member Jessica Zoller; and two new works by artistic director Robert Guitron.

The dances consider ideas of community, individualism against universalism, and politics, playing with energy, group dynamics and the architecture of the body and bodies.

Butoh dancer Yuko Kaseki in Shoot Jeez My Gosh. Photo credit: Dadaware, Sigel Eschkol

Shoot Jeez My Gosh
Yuko Kaseki (Berlin)
Butoh College Performance Series
8 pm April 29
The Headwaters Theatre, 55 NW Farragut St
Concluding the Butoh College Performance Series curated by Portland butoh artists Mizu Desierto, butoh artists Yuko Kaseki from Berlin, will use recorded sounds of war, juxtaposed against iconic images of innocence questioning “the feeling of ambivalence towards the systematic violence of belief that imposes powerlessness, and simultaneously reminds us of the brutal terror that characterizes our epoch.”

Kaseki studied Butoh dance with Anzu Furukawa and performed in her company Dance Butter Tokio and Verwandlungsamt for many years. She tours internationally performing and teaching and collaborating.

Performances next week

May 4-7, Direct Path To Detour, Taka Yamamoto, Produced by Portland Institute for Contemporary Art
May 5, Spring Dance Concert, Reed College Dance Department
May 5, Alice Gosti showing and reception, Hosted by Performance Works NW/Linda Austin Dance
May 6, Place, Vitality Dance Collective
May 5-7, In Close Proximity, The Tempos Contemporary Circus
May 5-7, Chickens and Cheese Pizza, Inclusive Arts Vibe Annual Performance, Disability Arts and Culture Project

Upcoming Performances

May
May 10, Critical Engagement Series with Lu Yim, hosted by Flock Dance Center/Tahni Holt
May 10, Martha Graham Dance Company, Presented by White Bird
May 13, Feria de Portland, hosted by Espacio Flamenco Portland and La Peña Flamenca de Portland
May 13, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Anjali School of Dance
May 16-21, An American in Paris, Presented by U.S. Bank Broadway in Portland
May 20, The Art of Nattuvangam: South Indian Classical music and dance, Hosted by New Expressive Works and Anjali School of Dance
May 20-21, The Future is Female, Mixed Dance Company
May 26-28, N.E.W. Residency performance, Dora Gaskill, Jessica Kelley, Stephanie Schaaf, and Michael Galen
May 26, PDX Choreographers Showcase, PDX Dance Collective
May 26 – 27, Spring Concert – Tribute to the Ballet Russes, Featuring work by Michel Fokine, Tom Gold, George Balanchine, and Lane Hunter, The Portland Ballet
June
June 2-4, Interum Echos, PDX Contemporary Ballet
June 2-17, The Goblin King, A David Bowie and Labyrinth, Trip the Dark Dance Company
June 8-10, Summer Splendors, NW Dance Project
June 23-24, Risk/Reward Festival Of New Performance, Produced by Jerry Tischleder and Hand2Mouth Theatre
June 27-July 2, Cabaret, Presented by U.S. Bank Broadway in Portland
June 29-30, Choreography XX, Oregon Ballet Theatre
July
July 15, Pretty Creatives Showing, NW Dance Project
August
August 24-September 6, Portland Dance Film Fest, Directed by Kailee McMurran, Tia Palomino, and Jess Evans

‘Snow Queen’ review: Frozen journey

Though some tweaks are needed, premiere performance of Eugene Ballet's dazzling new original production of H.C. Andersen’s classic tale shows promise

by RACHAEL CARNES

After years of dreaming and ideation, Eugene Ballet’s The Snow Queen premiered last weekend, a dazzling spectacle of stagecraft that was most compelling in its moments of pure, unadorned dance.

Yuki Beppu as Gerda in Eugene Ballet’s ‘The Snow Queen.’

It’s the largest production in Eugene Ballet Company’s 38 years, featuring the longest commissioned score — by Portland composer Kenji Bunch — in Oregon’s history. Every bit of the artistic effort, from sets to costumes, props to animations, was labored over by more than 150 artists and designers from the Eugene community, under the vision of inimitable EBC Artistic Director Toni Pimble.

EBC clearly has poured its heart into this story about a girl name Gerda, whose friend Kay disappears one day, inspiring her to go on a mission to find him.

Continues…

DanceWatch Weekly: A ballet that might change your mind about ballet

Oregon Ballet Theatre closes its season with "Terra," White Bird's Che Malambo, Le Chic Le Freak and so much more

I had a realization on Saturday night at the Newmark Theatre while watching Helen Pickett’s ultra-bright, Gerbera daisy-inspired Petal, performed by the dancers of Oregon Ballet Theatre. Ballet, like modern or contemporary dance, is experimental, too. And what I was seeing was Pickett’s experiment with time, space, form, color, sound, etc., within the context of classical ballet. She was making choreographic choices different from ballets norm. Depending on your own dance experience, that may sound strange or obvious, but all I’ve ever known of ballet was the classics like Swan Lake and Giselle, works that are tried, true, and proven to be “good” because they have withstood the test of time. Anything outside of those seemed to be considered “other” or “not-ballet.”

I realized that I expect perfection from ballet because that’s what ballet is, an embodiment of perfection and control over the body and its surroundings. Because of that, there is little room for imperfection and experimentation in the form, at least that’s what I’ve come to think, which isn’t really fair to ballet, is it? And where does that leave today’s classical ballet choreographers?

I also realized that I am attached to the formula of classical ballet, the linear storytelling, the gender stereotypes, the patriarchy, the unrealistic happy ending, etc. Even though I don’t love it, it’s what I’ve come to expect, it’s familiar, and yet I claim to be a liberal, modern woman. Go figure. I drank the Kool-Aid a long time ago. Seeing Pickett’s work on the program, both Petal and Terra, completely disrupted my belief system surrounding classical ballet, and have in turn jump-started a series of internal questions that I would like to share with you here.

What defines classical ballet? Are the dancers still classical dancers even though they are performing contemporary work? Is that idea fluid? Can a dancer be both a classical and contemporary dancer? Is contemporary work changed by being performed by a classical company and vice versa? Will the definition of classical ballet change as we get further away from its inception, and more and more new ballets are created? How much has it already changed? Why is it so important for ballet companies to define what kind of ballet they do, when almost all of the ballet companies do both classical and contemporary work? Why do people have to define themselves against what they are not? Why does anyone try to define themselves at all? When do new classics get created? What will audiences in 100 years consider classical ballets? Will there be ballets created now that will be added to that roster? Was I seeing work this weekend that will stand the test of time and be considered a classic someday?

ArtsWatcher Martha Ullman West was at Terra opening night and gives her review here.

Terra, the final program of Oregon Ballet Theatre’s 2016-2017 Season of Giants concludes this weekend with three more performances, closing on Saturday night.

Other experimental works happening around Portland this weekend, include the touring production of the Jersey Boys, new works by XPOSED choreographers Robert Guitron, M’Liss Quinnly, Gerard Regot, Barbara Lima, and Jess Zoller at Polaris Dance Theatre, Butoh with Mari Osanai from Japan through the Butoh College Performance Series at The Headwaters Theatre, student performance at Oregon Ballet Theatre, Le Chic Le Freak (an ode to the Disco era by Ecdysiast Pole Dance Company), collaborations between dancers and musicians at Reed College and at New Expressive Works, and Che Malambo, the dancing Argentinian cowboys presented by White Bird.

Performances this week

Photo courtesy of Jersey Boys.

Jersey Boys
Presented by U.S. Bank Broadway in Portland
April 18-23
Keller Auditorium, 222 SW Clay St
You can’t have musical theatre without dance, and Jersey Boys, with choreography by Sergio Trujillo, is no exception to that rule. This dancin’ in the aisles, sing-a-long trip down memory lane story follows the quick rise to fame of the 1960’s rock band, The Fours Seasons and includes familiar songs such as Sherry, Big Girls Don’t Cry,  Oh What a Night and Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.

Pacific Dance Ensemble. Photo courtesy of Pacific University Department of Theatre & Dance.

DanceWorks XIV
Pacific Dance Ensemble
Pacific University Department of Theatre & Dance
April 20-22
Tom Miles Theatre at Warner Hall, 2043 College Way, Forest Grove
Celebrating its 14th season, Pacific Dance Ensemble will feature choreography by dance department faculty members James Healey, Mary Hunt, Anita Mitchell, and artistic Director, Jennifer Camp and student choreographer Annalise Nilson.

Martina Chavez and Colby Parsons in Duacho’s “Jardi Tancat.” Photo: Emily Nash

Terra
Oregon Ballet Theatre
April 20-22
Newmark Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway
Celebrating the warmth and earthiness of Mediterranean culture, ritualistic dance, and the return of spring, Oregon Ballet Theatre concludes its 2016-2017 Season of Giants with Terra, a program that features a world premiere by former William Forsythe dancer Helen Pickett, itself called Terra, and two dances by Spanish choreographer Nacho Duato; Jardí Tancat, Duato’s first choreographed work from 1983 and El Naranjo (The Orange Tree), a sensuous pas de deux from a larger work called Gnawa.

Mysticism, Modernity, and Motion
Reed College Performing Arts
7 pm April 21
Reed College Performing Arts, 3203 SE Woodstock Blvd
Exploring themes of minimalism and pandiatonicism, the Reed College Chorus and Collegium Musicum, in collaboration with the Reed Dance Department, presents an evening of music and dance conducted by John K. Cox. The program includes music by by Arvo Pärt, Eric Whitacre, Erik Esenvalds, Philip Glass, Olivier Messiaen, David Lang, and Gustav Holst.

Ecdysiast Pole Dance Company in Le Chic Le Freak.

Le Chic Le Freak
Ecdysiast Pole Dance Company
April 21-22
Alberta Rose Theatre, 3000 NE Alberta St
Celebrating the birth and evolution of Disco, Ecdysiast Pole Dance Company presents Le Chic Le Freak, a comedic and thought-provoking work that combines pole dancing, acrobatics, and dance in the vision of artistic director and company dancer Shannon Gee.

Photo courtesy of Polaris Dance Theatre.

XPOSED
Robert Guitron, M’Liss Quinnly, Gerard Regot, (Spain), Barbara Lima (Brazil), and Jess Zoller.
Polaris Dance Theatre
April 21-29
Polaris Dance Theatre, 1826 NW 18th Ave
Polaris Dance Theatre presents new dance works from choreographers Barbara Lima from Brazil, Spanish dance artists and current company member Gerard Regot, founding company member M’Liss Quinnly and artistic director of Polaris’s Junior and Neo companies, current company member Jessica Zoller, as well as two new works by artistic director Robert Guitron.

The works consider ideas of community, individualism against universalism, and politics, playing with energy, group dynamics and the architecture of the body and bodies.

Butoh dancer Mari Osanai. Photo courtesy of Mari Osanai.

P.S-1
Mari Osanai
Butoh College Performance Series
April 22
The Headwaters Theatre, 55 NW Farragut St
Influenced by Tai Chi, Western dance methods, and traditional folk dances of Japan, Butoh dance artist Mari Osanai, from Aomori, Japan, finds connections between the mind, gravity’s influence on the body, and the body’s connection to the earth, in her dance research and performance.

Annual School Performance
The School of Oregon Ballet Theatre
Choreography by George Balanchine, Nicolo Fonte, Alison Roper, and Anthony Jones
April 22-23
Newmark Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway
The annual showcase of The School of Oregon Ballet will feature Oregon Ballet School students and OBT2 dancers in works by George Balanchine, Oregon Ballet Theatre resident choreographer Nicolo Fonte, former OBT dancer Alison Roper, and school director, Anthony Jones.

Jazz Collaborations at New Expressive Works.

Jazz Collaborations
Dayna Stephens, Tom Sandahl, Okropong, and Shape Theory Project
Co-produced by New Expressive Works (N.E.W.) and Loose Wig Jazz
7:30 pm April 23
New Expressive Works, 810 SE Belmont St (in the WYSE Building)
A collaborative evening between jazz tenor saxophonists and composer Dayna Stephens, guitarist Tom Sandahl, and musicians from the Obo Addy Legacy Project alongside dancers Amanda Morse, Kelly Koltiska, Ivy Farrell, Jana Zahler and Ruth Nelson from the Shape Theory Project led by Ruth Nelson.

Che Malambo presented by White Bird/Photo by Diane Smithers

Che Malambo
Presented by White Bird
April 25-26
Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway
Che Malambo is an all-male, Argentinian dance company that has adapted the dance style of the gaucho, or South American cowboy of the pampas, for the contemporary stage. Movements that were originally designed to emphasize agility, strength, and dexterity among the gauchos is now high-energy choreography featuring rhythmic footwork, drums, singing, and musical accompaniment.

Upcoming Performances

April
April 27-29, Jefferson Dancers Spring Concert, Hosted by the Jefferson Dancers
April 27-29, Contact Dance Film Festival, Presented by BodyVox and NW Film Center
April 29, Yuko Kaseki, Butoh College Performance Series
April 28-29, Appalachian Spring Break, Scotty Heron and Brendan Connelly, Presented by Performance Works NW / Linda Austin Dance
April 29, Yuko Kaseki (Berlin), Butoh College Performance Series
May
May 4-7, Direct Path To Detour, Taka Yamamoto, Produced by Portland Institute for Contemporary Art
May 5, Spring Dance Concert, The Reed College Dance Department
May 5, Alice Gosti showing and reception, Hosted by Performance Works NW/Linda Austin Dance
May 6, Place, Vitality Dance Collective
May 5-7, In Close Proximity, The Tempos Contemporary Circus
May 5-7, Chickens and Cheese Pizza, Inclusive Arts Vibe Annual Performance, Disability Arts and Culture Project
May 10, Critical Engagement Series with Lu Yim, hosted by Flock Dance Center/Tahni Holt
May 10, Martha Graham Dance Company, Presented by White Bird
May 13, Feria de Portland, hosted by Espacio Flamenco Portland and La Peña Flamenca de Portland
May 13, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Anjali School of Dance
May 16-21, An American in Paris, Presented by U.S. Bank Broadway in Portland
May 20-21, The Future is Female, Mixed Dance Company
May 26-28, N.E.W. Residency performance, Dora Gaskill, Jessica Kelley, Stephanie Schaaf, and Michael Galen
May 26, PDX Choreographers Showcase, PDX Dance Collective
May 26 – 27, Spring Concert – Tribute to the Ballet Russes, Featuring work by Michel Fokine, Tom Gold, George Balanchine, and Lane Hunter, The Portland Ballet
June
June 2-4, Interum Echos, PDX Contemporary Ballet
June 2-17, The Goblin King, A David Bowie and Labyrinth, Trip the Dark Dance Company
June 8-10, Summer Splendors, NW Dance Project
June 23-24, Risk/Reward Festival Of New Performance
June 27-July 2, Cabaret, Presented by U.S. Bank Broadway in Portland
July
July 15, Pretty Creatives Showing, NW Dance Project
August
August 24-September 6, Portland Dance Film Fest, Directed by Kailee McMurran, Tia Palomino, and Jess Evans