Amy Havin brings The Holding Project to life

The birth of a new company's first project, 'Hava,' that investigates emotional struggles and physical interactions

HAVA | חוה is a new dance piece, opening this week, that combines film and live movement. It was created by The Holding Project, a new collective of dance artists and filmmakers directed by dancer/choreographer Amy Leona Havin. Originally from Rehovot, a small city in Israel just outside of Tel Aviv, Havin moved to San Diego, California, as a teenager and later attended the Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle where she received her BFA in dance and choreography.

Havin’s early dance training in Israel was in ballet and the GaGa Movement Language with Ohad Naharin, the artistic director of the Batsheva Dance Company. After following a friend to Portland, Havin fell in love with the city and its environment for nurturing new independent artists, and decided to stay. I interviewed Havin on the who, what and why of HAVA | חוה and The Holding Project via email; below is our conversation.


Allie Hankins: ‘on the verge of overflowing’

The Portland choreographer's solo dance concert is a prologue to "better to be alone than to wish you were"

Debuting this week, Now Then: A Prologue is a new work by dance artist Allie Hankins that “ponders the illogical and sordid practices of love and sex.” Now Then: A Prologue is the first part of a two-part solo called better to be alone than to wish you were, and it runs 8 pm Friday-Sunday at the Siren Theater, 315 NW Davis St. It is important to note that the entire collaborative and production team is female-identified. The costumes are by Rose Mackey, lighting design by Vanessa Janson and sculptures by Morgan Ritter and Maggie Heath.

Hankins is originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she also attended college before leaving after graduation for Seattle. After immersing herself in the Seattle dance scene for five years, she moved to Portland in the summer of 2011 to work with Claudia Meza and to spend time with her long-term/long-distance partner. During that summer Hankins fell in love with city and the people and began splitting her time between the two cities until her final move to Portland in 2012.

Hankins is part of the Portland collective Physical Education with Lucy Lee Yim, Keyon Gaskin and Taka Yamamoto, who explore immersive methods of engaging with dance and performance. She has also performed recently in Portland with Tahni Holt and Suniti Dernovsek.

I interviewed Hankins via email about her new work and her life as an artist via email, and below is our conversation.


Dance Weekly: closing on a strong note

Love and sex, magic, human connectivity and dance for film in this week's Dance Weekly

The traditional Portland dance season is slowly coming to an end as the days get warmer and brighter. Portland’s choreographers seem to be most prolific during the rainy months as they hole up in their studios busily creating. When the sun comes out, activity slows, but even though the season is waning, the work being presented is no less strong.

This week brings us dances by many well-known choreographers as well as brand new ones on the scene. This week I interviewed Allie Hankins about her creative life and her new piece Now Then: A Prologue. I also interviewed newcomer Amy Leona Havin, the director of The Holding Project, on dance for camera and her new collaborative project HAVA | חוה.


Dance Cuba, dance America

Malpaso Dance's season-ending show for White Bird and The Portland Ballet's career-beginning performances for its young dancers cross the cultural divide

What is specifically Cuban about the Malpaso Dance Company, which concluded White Bird’s 2015-16 season at the Schnitzer Concert Hall last Wednesday night, shortly before The Portland Ballet‘s annual shows (see below) over the weekend at Lincoln Performance Hall?

I asked a friend who has been to Havana, though not in the recent past, and she listed the following: “the men’s long hair; the street clothing was likely what you would see young people wearing in Havana; and the rhythm – swaying hips and loose limbs were very Cuban.”

Malposo Dance: long hair, loose limbs. Photo courtesy White Bird

Malpaso Dance: long hair, loose limbs. Photo courtesy White Bird

That hip-slung, loose-limbed movement style, and the street wear, get announced, as they should be, in the first piece on the program. Ocaso is a duet performed by the long-haired Osnel Delgado and Beatriz Garcia.  He’s wearing bright yellow trousers; she’s in a simple, dark dress. But Delgado, a company founder, who made the piece, chose music that could have been used by any contemporary or ballet choreographer in today’s world: a sound collage of Autechre’s Parallel Sun, the Kronos Quartet’s White Man Sleeps, and Max Richter’s Sunlight. Globalization struck the dance world long ago, and Cuba has only been isolated from the United States, let’s not forget.


Dance Weekly: Bursting at the seams

Continuing celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, visiting artists, new works at Polaris and more!

Five years ago when I moved to Portland from New Jersey (for the record I am originally from Berkeley, California), it was hard to discern what was happening in Portland’s dance scene from the outside. From what I could see online and from what I can remember, there was an outdated community web page and dead lists of dance companies that no longer existed on various websites. The large companies like BodyVox, Oregon Ballet Theatre, NW Dance Project and Polaris were still standing, but the majority of Portland’s dance community seemed to have been flattened by the recession and various other things, and I arrived in the aftermath.

I won’t lie: This was devastating for me. I was 36 and still raring to perform and needing desperately to keep the momentum going. I had moved my family across the United States with blind faith that a thriving dance community was waiting for me on the other side. It wasn’t, and I was heartbroken. I thought my career was over. Admittedly I can be a bit melodramatic at times and occasionally lack patience, but this was huge for me. In my lifetime I had never directly experienced the results of war or a shattered economy, so I didn’t recognize the signs, and the wounds to the community were real. Slowly over time I began to meet people who supported me, and a totally new kind of dance life emerged, one that I am now extremely satisfied with.

Today in Portland, it is a completely different story. Our community is thriving and bursting at the seams with dancers moving here from all over the world. The energy and activity are amazing, and this growth seems to be re-charging the existing dance community as well.

The reason I started writing Dance Weekly was to create a sense of community for myself by gathering everyone together on one page. I also wanted to help create visibility for all of the hardworking artists making dances out there. I want people to know that we are here and that we are dancing. And we are dancing this week!


Eugene Ballet Hosts BodyVox: Congenial collaboration

Oregon institutions’ partnership reflects increasingly collaborative dance scene


Two of Oregon’s sturdiest dance institutions, Eugene Ballet Company and BodyVox, have built loyal and enthusiastic followings in their hometowns. But both are increasingly looking to collaboration to expand their audiences, and to bring a wider range of dance to their current fans. That’s why Eugene Ballet is bringing BodyVox, one of the country’s most innovative dance ensembles to its home stage the Hult Center for the Performing Arts on May 14.

Eugene audiences can expect a program that includes 11 individual dances, plus two award-winning short films, all selected from different productions spanning many years of creating dance, theater, film, and opera — “kind of a greatest hits show,” suggests Daniel Kirk, BodyVox’s tour manager, in an email interview. The show tours with the full company of nine dancers, including BodyVox founding directors and award winning choreographers Jamey Hampton and Ashley Roland.

1_header 618px Urban Meado

Urban Meadow. Photo: BodyVox.

Last seen in Eugene in 2003,  BodyVox now joins a growing list of dance companies hosted by the EBC that has included the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, The Israel Ballet, ODC San Francisco, Joffrey 2 Dancers, and Ailey II. “Having groups such as BodyVox as part of the season’s programming is of great value in exposing our audiences to works they might otherwise not see,” says EBC Artistic Director Toni Pimble. “BodyVox can be fun and wacky but their work can also be thought provoking.”

For example, the show’s title, Urban Meadow, taken from one of the pieces in the program, “is a bit of tongue-in-cheek commentary on how we are all part of a herd — a kinder, gentler take on the urban jungle,” Kirk explains.“The directors, Hampton and Roland, have always found dance and movement in everyday settings, from the shifting dynamics of a crowded elevator, to the way people move about an art gallery, so the title also suggests that the origins of the work come from our surroundings.”


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