DanceWatch Weekly: Inauguration weekend dance

Several big shows are on tap this weekend, including Tahni Holt at White Bird, BodyVox, Groovin' Greenhouse, and New Expressive Works

It’s an historic week for so many reasons, some happy, some frustrating, but here, we will focus on the happy and far less frustrating dance events in Portland.

Opening last night at Reed College’s Diver Studio is Tahni Holt’s Sensation/Disorientation, a White Bird commission that looks at femaleness and its layers in modern-day culture, will be performed in the round, by six multigenerational performers from 15 to 60 years old.

Sensation/Disorientation will be performed by Tracy Broyles, Muffie Connelly, Carla Mann, Eliza Larson, Suzanne Chi and Aidan Hutapea, with music by Luke Wyland, costumes by Alenka Loesch and dramaturgy by Kate Bredeson. Holt, within her choreography, investigates concepts of ritual, duration, exhaustion, vitality, and organic versus in organic, rupturing familiar cultural narratives around the female body specifically addressing age and weight.

For further insight into Holt’s process you can read Hannah Krafcik’s article, Reading into Tahni Holt’s ‘Sensation/Disorientation.’ Krafcik co-facilitates an ongoing movement practice with Holt at FLOCK Dance Center in North Portland and possibly offers a more intimate knowledge of Holt’s thinking and doing. You can also listen to OPB’s State of Wonder by Aaron Scott where he talks with dramaturge Kate Bredeson, musician Luke Wyland, Tahni Holt and White Bird directors Paul King and Walter Jaffe on the different aspects of the production.

Sensation/Disorientation was not intended to bookend the 2017 inauguration but works perfectly in that space anyway. Holt suggested in Krafcik’s article that we attend the Women’s March downtown and then head to her concert later in the evening. Sounds like a good plan to me.

Opening tomorrow night is the Fertile Ground Festival of New Works and Groovin’ Greenhouse, the dance centric arm of Fertile Ground hosted by Polaris Dance Theatre. Earlier this week I broke down all of the dance related performances which you can find in Fertile Ground goes dancing.

Also opening tomorrow night is BodyVox’s Urban Meadow which will be performed at Portland State University’s Lincoln Hall. This promises to be a very special performance as it will be dancer Eric Skinner’s last one with BodyVox. Skinner has been dancing with the company since its inception in 1997. ArtsWatcher Bob Hicks sat down with Skinner this past week to talk about transitions.

Urban Meadow will feature a collection of short dances gathered from the company’s repertory over the past 20 years that explore the range of Artistic Directors Jamey Hampton and Ashley Roland’s choreographic style—a combination of narrative, pure dance, and comedy, creating dance that is relatable and largely appealing.

There is an unofficial third act in the program dedicated to Skinner, who will perform three pieces that are quintessentially Skinner: Bottom of the World, A Good Man is Hard to Find, and Tell it to Me. Skinner is smooth and charismatic onstage like Fred Astaire, and he has the special ability to dance with objects onstage making us believe that they are human. Bring tissues, this is going to be an emotional evening for Skinner and BodyVox fans.

Up next and opening on the 20th, is Ignite,  a shared concert between choreographers Oluyinka Akinjiola (artistic director of Rejoice! Diaspora Dance Theater) and New Expressive Works artistic director Subashini Ganesan. Ganesan, a Bharatanatyam dancer/teacher/choreographer from South Asia, will present Bliss And Other Easy Things, a dance for six Bharatnatyam dancers that explores love and death in contemporary times through the medium and context of classical Indian dance. Ibukun/The Celebration by Akinjiola, explores modern day changes in Yoruba culture through the framework of traditional Nigerian funerals and ancestral relationships. The dance is a dedication to female leadership, familial bonds and cultural preservation.

You can listen to their interview with Aaron Scott and April Baer on OPB’s State of Wonder radio program.

Performances this week and next

Tahni Holt’s “Sensation/Disorientation”/Courtesy of White Bird

Tahni Holt Dance
Presented by White Bird
January 18-22
Reed College Performing Arts Building, Diver Studio Theatre, 3203 SE Woodstock Blvd

See above.

Fertile Ground Festival of New Works and Groovin’ Greenhouse
January 19-29
Check the listing for dates, times and locations

Rejoice! Diaspora Dance Theatre. Photo courtesy of Oluyinka Akinjiola.

Oluyinka Akinjiola and Subashini Ganesan
January 20-29
New Expressive Works, 810 SE Belmont St

See above.


Urban Meadow
BodyVox Dance
January 19-21
Portland State University, Lincoln Performance Hall, 1620 SW Park Ave

See above.

Rent-20th Anniversary Tour
Presented by U.S. Bank Broadway in Portland
January 20-22
Keller Auditorium, 222 SW Clay St
Loosely based on Puccini’s “La Bohème,” this rock musical, which debuted in 1996 on Broadway, follows seven starving artists living in New York City’s East Village for a year, while they struggle to follow their dreams under the shadow of AIDS/HIV. The Tony Award Nominated choreography is by Marlies Yearby, an artist activist originally from Oakland, California, and artistic director of Movin’ Spirits Dance Theater.

BalletBoyz. Photo courtesy of White Bird.

Presented by White Bird
January 24-25
Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway
This all male, 10 member, British ballet company will perform a two-part program that features two newly commissioned works by international choreographers Pontus Lidberg and Javier de Frutos. The work reframes death in an elegant and humorous way. Part one costumes the dancers in rabbit heads and explores loneliness, fitting in, and the idea of staging one’s own death. Part two is all about gauging people’s reactions to part one. Artistic directors Michael Nunn and William Trevitt of BalletBoyz are committed to demystifying dance and how it’s made.

Upcoming Performances


January 28, Nrityotsava-Indian Classical and Folk Dances, Presented by Kalakendra
January 31, Spectacle Garden 9: Solidarity & Resistance, Curated by Ben Martens

February 3, ODE 2 Fool, Julian Barnett, Presented by Flock Dance Center
February 4-5, Being Moved, Meshi Chavez and workshop participants
February 10-11, Cabaret Boris & Natasha, Presented by Performance Works NW / Linda Austin Dance
February 17, The Missing Generation, Sean Dorsey, Presented by Reed College Dance Department
February 17-18, New works by Alembic Artists Claire Barrera and Noelle Stiles, Presented by Performance Works NW / Linda Austin Dance
February 18-25, Swan Lake, Oregon Ballet Theatre
February 22, Ballet De Lorraine, Presented by White Bird
February 23-26, Attention Everyone!, A-WOL Dance Collective

March 2-4, Cuisine & Confessions, Presented by White Bird
March 3, Local (not easy), Iris Erez, Presented by Reed College Dance Department
March 3-5, In Circadia, Eliza Larson
March 9-11, Companhia Urbana De Danca, Presented by White Bird
March 10 – 12, TPB Studio Company Performance-Featuring dances by Anne Mueller, Jamey Hampton and Ashley Roland, John Clifford and guest artists from Kukátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe, The Portland Ballet
March 16-18, Carmen, NW Dance Project
March 24, Shaping Sound, Travis Wall, Presented by Portland’5
March 23-April1, Skinner/Kirk Dance Ensemble, Presented by BodyVox

April 4-5, Shen Yun, Presented by Oregon Falun Dafa Association
April 6-8, Ronald K. Brown/Evidence, Presented by White Bird
April 13-22, Terra, Oregon Ballet Theatre
April 14-16, New work by Jin Camou, Performance Works NW Alembic Co-Production
April 25-26, Che Malambo, Presented by White Bird
April 27-29, Contact Dance Film Festival, Presented by BodyVox and NW Film Center
April 28-29, Appalachian Spring Break, Scotty Heron and Brendan Connelly, Presented by Performance Works NW / Linda Austin Dance

May 5-7, Inclusive Arts Vibe Annual Performance, Disability Arts and Culture Project
May 10, Martha Graham Dance Company, Presented by White Bird
May 26-28, N.E.W. Residency performance, Dora Gaskill, Jessica Kelley, Stephanie Schaaf, and Kumari Suraj
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 8-10, Summer Splendors, NW Dance Project

August 24-September 6, Portland Dance Film Fest, Curated by SubRosa Dance Collective


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