This weekend is a doozy. I’m not even sure where to tell you to begin, but begin somewhere. Don’t get overwhelmed, pick one, maybe two performances and commit. This weekend covers the full spectrum of what live dance performance has to offer from experimental post-post-post-modern dance to Broadway. I know it’s the end of the year and the holidays are coming and you are probably feeling overwhelmed (I said it twice), but just go for it, throw in the towel and let go, and immerse yourself in it.
Alice Gosti, an Italian-American choreographer living in Seattle, is “an architect of experiences,” she says on her website. Her work, which is based in movement, uses media of all kinds to create environments that invite the viewer to experience and perform in. Because she lives the duality of being raised in a multicultural household, her work bridges those experiences.
Protecting the herd, in collaboration with Seattle composer Benjamin Marx and a group of seven dancers, is an hour-long immersive live performance focusing on questions of identity, community and pushing the boundaries of dance.
Soledad Barrio & Noche Flamenca
Presented by White Bird
Newmark Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway
Opening night only
La Peña Flamenca de Portland
7 pm December 3
Antoinette Hatfield Hall within The Newmark Theatre
The performers will be Lillie Last and Pepe Raphael, joined by special guest singers Elisa Rocha & Christy Yenni.
The world renowned Flamenco dancer Soledad Barrio in collaboration with her husband and Artistic Director Martín Santangelo along with their company of seven artists will perform a compilation of seven pieces, some dances, some instrumentals and some songs, under the title Sombras Sangradas or Sacred Dreams.
Flamenco is a folkloric tradition that combines song, dance, instrumentals (guitar mostly), hand clapping and finger snapping and originates in Andalusia in Spain. This art form is an amalgamation of centuries of cross-pollination between the many cultures that existed in Spain. Because it is a folkloric tradition and was passed down aurally 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) intense, profound, tragic in feeling and steeped with duende, which is the transformation of the musician by the depth of emotion; intermedio (intermediate), moderately serious, and pequeño (small), 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.
Choreographed by Suniti Dernovsek
Presented by Risk/Reward
Studio 2, 810 SE Belmont
Initially inspired by the tragic life of the Italian-Egyptian singer Dalida, choreographer Suniti Dernovsek has created a duet for herself and singer Holland Andrews as part of her residency in Studio 2’s N.E.W. (New Expressive Works) program. After developing it further and performing it at TBA, she began following new threads and brought in dancer Allie Hankins. Now in trio form, the dance created new questions for her and her creative process regarding boundaries between public expectations and private vulnerabilities and the precariousness of the feminine ideal.
The product of the evolution of these ideas into form will be danced by Suniti Dernovsek and Allie Hankins and performed to live music sung by Holland Andrew.
BodyVox Dance Center, 1201 NW 17th Ave
Inspired by their experience at an Elvis Costello concert at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, where Costello spun a wheel with song titles on it and played whatever song the marker landed on, BodyVox Artistic Directors Jamey Hampton and Ashley Roland decided to do the same but with dance, creating a game show dance performance.
There are 25 dances (each piece is no longer than 10 minutes), nine dancers and one wooden game show wheel with the names of the 25 dances written on magnetic pieces. Each night, chosen audience members will be allowed to spin the wheel, and whatever dance the marker lands on is the one that the company has to perform at that moment. I have been assured by Hampton and Roland that the wheel has not been loaded and that this is a “real” game of chance.
What is exciting for the audience is that the veil will be down, all of the backstage activity/chaos in this instance, that is normally concealed by the curtains will be revealed.
According to Roland, whom I spoke with while touring the performance space and getting a sneak peak at the six fully packed costume racks, “rehearsing for The Spin has become an incredible exercise in knowing where to be and what to wear, figuring out how much production time we need to get from here to there. Some costumes take time to get into-usually we build in time to change costumes—but when you create a random evening, the challenge will be how to fill in those gaps.”
I asked Roland how does the company rehearsed for this. “It has been insane, completely insane,” she said. “Everyone is in really good spirits, though. What’s great is there is no boredom. It’s a game, it really is fun.”
Keep your eye out for “Vanna Clark” the bearded technician wearing a lovely full-length black sequined and tulle evening gown. “She” will be at the wheel.
The Library At The End Of The World
A production of 11: Dance Co
CoHo Productions, 2257 NW Raleigh St
Stream the show in HD for the price of a cup of coffee.
What stories might you find in a fictional, dystopian library at the end of the world? This is the question that the Artistic Director, Bb (Brittany) DeLano, of the newly formed 11: Dance Co asked of a select group of choreographers. Each dance in the program explores social or relational commentary on the human experience and the choreographers are the “authors.”
11: Dance Co was founded by Bb DeLano and Huy Pham in 2014 and is a Neo-Fusion dance company, a new choreographic style that blends the street and classical worlds of dance.
The choreographers are Toogie Barcelo (Associate Artistic Director of Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre – LA), Sarah Touslee (Artistic Director of Back Bone Dance Co. – Boulder, CO), Lashaun Price (Artistic Director of Next – LA), Ching Ching Wong (Northwest Dance Project) Paula Metzler, Kiel Moton and Isiah Munoz.
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Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre
Central Office, 1355 NW Everett St. Suite 100
Heidi Duckler Dance Theater/Northwest, a site-specific dance company that lives part-time in Los Angeles and part-time in Portland, wants to know what makes Portland tick so distinctly?
Interested in making ordinary places become extraordinary through bold choreographic investigation, they have has teamed up with Central Office, a collaborative workspace in the Pearl, to make a dance.
Dance Wire/TriptheDark Joint Masquerade Fundraiser
7 pm December 4
Trip the Dark, 707 NE Broadway #208
Join in on the fun and raise money for good causes. Dance Wire, Portland’s community dance resource, and TriptheDark, Portland’s indie dance company, have joined forces and are putting on a masquerade party for you. There will be drinks, masks and dance performances by performers Kate Rafter of AUTOMAL, Suzanne Chi of Muddy Feet Contemporary Dance and Stephanie Seaman of Trip The Dark. All of the proceeds will go towards TriptheDark’s upcoming show inspired by the TV show Twin Peaks, and to support Dance Wire’s efforts to keep the dance community prosperous, inspired, and visible.
Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
Keller Auditorium, 222 SW Clay St
This is a tale as old as time (well, 1756 to be exact), but it’s not the original one. Based on Disney’s animated film, this Broadway musical version of Beauty and the Beast tells the story of kind-hearted Belle, who tames the heart of the unruly “Beast,” a typical Disney distortion of the original, creating narrow and rigid role models for little girls—but I digress. This lavish Busby Berkeley-style version stays true to the animated movie, bringing back all the original sing-along songs and characters we know and love, including Cogsworth the Clock, Lumière the Candle, Mrs. Potts the motherly teapot and my personal favorite “Chip,” the baby tea cup with a tiny chip on its rim.