Resonance Ensemble preview: questions of faith

Choral organization's 'Souls' concert is part of a season-long musical exploration of timely social concerns

“This year, a lot of us are feeling the need to make sure our art is responding to the times we are in,” says Resonance Ensemble founder and director Katherine FitzGibbon. On Sunday, the acclaimed choral organization presents a concert that revolves around religious conflict and misunderstanding — part of a season-long emphasis on music and other arts that revolve around pressing social issues.

‘Souls’ is the second of three concerts in Resonance’s 2017-18 season, whose programming explores contemporary concerns through art. “Resonance has always had a desire to do concerts that have themes that connect deeply with people,” says FitzGibbon, whether connected to social justice or personal topics. “Because we sing choral music where the texts are paramount, we get to overtly explore these questions.”

Resonance Ensemble performing in 2015. Photo: Alan Niven.

Actually, the ensemble’s intensified focus on social issues started earlier, immediately after last year’s presidential inauguration, with sharp political commentary in some pieces in the choral ensemble’s February 2017 “Dirty Stupid Music” cabaret show. Resonance’s next concert last June focused on grief and healing, with works by Portland composer Renee Favand-See and singer-songwriter Nikole Potulsky about the loss of children, and also an original song by Portland theater artist Vin Shambry about “the decline of compassion and other changes in the political climate and how he was experiencing it personally,” FitzGibbon recalls.

The ensemble then decided to organize this season around a trio of urgent social concerns. For November’s “Voices” concert, “we collaboratively explored a lot of music that’s not part of the canon so much,” she explains. “There’s nothing wrong with the canon, but we had to think critically why certain works are in the canon and others aren’t — which composers’ voices are underrepresented. Especially in the divisive political climate we’re experiencing, we need to be really mindful of whose voices who are — and aren’t — at the table in the arts and particularly in Portland.”

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‘Revelations’ review: waiting for the end of the world

Fertile Ground reading reveals a funny, promising and ultimately poignant depiction of the last judgment 

By MARIA CHOBAN 

Waiting for the End of the World, Dear Lord!
I sincerely hope you’re coming
‘Cause you really started something!
— Elvis Costello

In grade school, a passel of us would walk to Mrs. Fey’s house every Tuesday after school for her home baked oatmeal cookies… after she fed us a conservative Christian bible-thumping lesson. Portraying God’s grief, wailing like a Greek war widow in a rich Billie Holiday voice, she embarrassed my Greek pantheist soul, which detests maudlin attempts to manipulate human emotion. So how did James Y. Kim make it work?

I saw Kim’s Revelations in a staged reading at Portland’s Fertile Ground Festival before I read the script. While the whole thing shoulda been a Wham! Bam! Holy Shit! kinda ride, it did have a gut punch of a climax I did not see coming despite my years with Mrs. Fey. It doesn’t matter whether you’re familiar with Fundamentalist Christianity or if you’re against any hierarchical monotheistic, male portrayal of a Universal Ruler, I think David Loftus (playing the Supreme Being) and Kim totally shocked us and moved us to pity in a performance that felt like Kim mined himself hard to dig up this feeling of grief and — unlike Mrs. Fey — made me feel it!

A scene from ‘Revelations’ at Fertile Ground Festival.

The ride there felt like a slog, though. Five beings are called upon to end the world: Michael and Gabriel – Archangels, an angel representing the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, the chief Seraphim and John the Revelator are summoned to this committee meeting. No, we are not in hell.

Kim’s character descriptions include:
Michael Male. Archangel. The big swinging dick in heaven.
Seraphim Female. The most powerful angel in heaven. Charming exterior, charred interior.

A contentious committee meeting of five characters (with emphasis on characters as in the two delicious descriptions above), lobbying for their own agendas for how to End The World, should feel like the opening bell of the NY Stock Exchange: Loud, frenetic, Type-AAAA, adrenaline-anxious even if we don’t yet know what’s at stake. This is chamber music, a five-voice Shostakovich Scherzo. Frantic, ominous, perfectly timed, tumbling down. Those kinds of movements require memorization, LOTS of rehearsal to sync up entrances, knowing when to butt in, and practicing practicing practicing until it feels sturdy and repeatable.

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Dance review: It was 51 years ago today

Mark Morris comes to town with 'Pepperland,' his take on 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

By HEATHER WISNER

I was working at SF Weekly in the mid-’90s when the Mark Morris Dance Group brought The Hard Nut, its take on The Nutcracker, to UC Berkeley. When the review came in from a freelance writer, the copy editor called me, the resident dance nerd, over to her desk. “The whole thing is about one part of the dance,” she said, pointing at her monitor. “Doesn’t that seem a little excessive?” I skimmed the piece, which focused on the Waltz of the Snowflakes. I hesitated, then said, “It does seem like a lot.”

But once I saw The Hard Nut, I got it. Mark Morris has many talents, not the least of which is forcing you to reconsider what you thought you knew—especially where music is concerned. The Hard Nut’s snow scene is a perfect microcosmic example: the waltz-y, pristine prettiness of the original becomes a joyful, snow-flinging swirl of movement in the remake. It might not be what you expected, but it feels right.

Mark Morris pays homage to The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper” in “Pepperland.”/Photo by Gareth Jones

And so it is with Pepperland, the company’s witty and affectionate tribute to the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album, which White Bird, a co-commissioner of the piece, brought to the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall February 21. Last year, the city of Liverpool commissioned Morris to create the work as part of the city’s 50th anniversary celebration of the album. But instead of using its music outright, Morris turned to former Bad Plus composer/pianist Ethan Iverson for a new score.

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Act globally, view vocally: PIFF’s Portland ties

The Portland International Film Festival's second week is dotted with Oregon-sourced cinema

As the 41st Portland International Film Festival rounds the far turn and enters its second week, a mouth-watering array of cinematic flavors remain to be sampled. (We’ll even mention a few of them below.) But PIFF has always done an excellent job demonstrating that Northwest films and filmmakers can stand shoulder-to-shoulder alongside their intercontinental kin—and that they can do so without losing their unique local charms.

Greg Hamilton has been a familiar figure in the Portland film firmament for years. He’s organized tributes to director Les Blank, single-handedly kept “Fast Break”—the classic documentary about the 1977 NBA champion Portland Trail Blazers—in the public eye, and serves on the board of the Hollywood Theatre. Now he’s making his debut as a director with a portrait of another local institution: “Thou Shall Not Tailgate” profiles the Rev. Chuck Linville, an old-school Portland oddball who drives his elaborately festooned art cars around town when he’s not relaxing in his home amid equally eccentric decor.

Greg Hamilton, director of “Thou Shall Not Tailgate.”

The 25-minute film, screening as part of the shorts program “Made in Oregon 2: Wilderness,” lays interview audio with Linville over archival footage of his automotive exploits. Linville really is an ordained minister (Hamilton first met him at a wedding he performed), as well as a former Postal Service worker and an original member of Portland’s Cacophony Society. There’s a whole section devoted to him in Chuck Palahniuk’s myth-making Portland travelogue, “Fugitives and Refugees.”

One of the creations of the subject of the documentary “Thou Shall Not Tailgate.”

In other words, Linville and his Church of Eternal Combustion are the epitome of what we talk about when we talk about “Old Portland.” He’s not trying to create a personal brand, or exude some sort of cultivated weirdness. He’s just a guy who, as he puts it, gets bored easily. And who likes to glue hundreds of baby-bottle nipples to the top of his station wagon. “Thou Shall Not Tailgate,” though, isn’t meant as a simple nostalgic gesture, says Hamilton. Instead, it’s “paying witness to the transformation of Portland,” perhaps trying to inspire future kooks by spotlighting those who know how to do kooky right.

(“Shorts 4: Made in Oregon 2: Wilderness” screens at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 25, at the Whitsell Auditorium.)

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DanceWatch Weekly: Dance apocalypse

A vast number of dance concerts this weekend will keep you moving

It’s down the rabbit hole and into the land of the Beatles with Oregon Ballet Theatre’s Alice (in wonderland) and Mark Morris’s Pepperland (respectively), and oh, so muchly much more in between. Fifteen performances to be exact. Fifteen, completely different dance shows to choose from in Oregon from now until…next week.

Considering the breadth of dance works being presented this week I thought I would take a moment to offer up a few suggestions from an expert in watching dance, on how to watch dance.

In Through Our Critics’ Eyes, Expert tips on how to get the most out of music, movies, art, dance and theater published in The Washington Post, Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Sarah Kaufman lays out a sequence of steps/best practices to follow to better understand dance. In summary Kaufman says…

1. a. Warm up.

Do some metal stretching before heading out to a show. Kaufman recommends studying the dance company, performers, choreography, music, the era or historical figures, beforehand.

1. b. Coffee.

Drink lots of it. Stay awake.

2. Juggle.

Watch the dance as an audience member and let yourself get carried away but also watch it objectively, like an appraiser, “evaluating the individuality and uniqueness of the performance, the artistic quality, its ability to stir emotions, the significance and truthfulness of the whole enterprise.”

3. Scan your senses.

Because seeing dance is a sensory experience it’s helpful to tune in to your physical responses to the performance. Ask yourself questions like how is the music and the sound quality? How does it make me feel? What’s the relationship between the music and movement? Does it make me want to dance? Are the visual elements (sets, costumes, lighting) appealing? If something is unsettling does it serve an artistic purpose — or does it not?

4. Trust your instincts.

“Critics are constantly asking themselves, “Is this any good?” The answer begins in one’s gut.”

5. Repeat steps 1-4.

“The more dance you see, the sharper your eye.”

Enjoy!

Performances this week!

Dancers of Mark Morris Dance Group in Pepperland. Photo courtesy of White Bird.

Pepperland
Extremely limited ticket availability
Mark Morris Dance Group, Presented by White Bird
7:30 pm February 21
Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway
Co-commissioned by Portland dance presenter White Bird, and performing in Portland for one night only, the Mark Morris Dance Group will perform Pepperland (premiere May 2017, Liverpool Royal Court Theatre), an evening-length tribute to the Beatles’ groundbreaking 1967 album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Joined by a 7-member chamber music ensemble, the 17-member modern dance company will perform an original score by composer Ethan Iverson interspersed with arrangements of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, With a Little Help From My Friends, A Day in the Life, When I’m Sixty-Four, Within You Without You, and Penny Lane.

Morris’s work, like his company of dancers, is diverse, extremely musical, mixes moods and dance styles, and treats gender roles as interchangeable.

Photo courtesy of Physical Education.

Futility of Preparedness
Physical Education; keyon gaskin, Allie Hankins, Takahiro Yamamoto, and Lu Yim
5 pm February 21 Opening Reception and Performance
Linfield College, James F. Miller Fine Arts Center, Linfield Gallery, 900 SE Baker St.,
McMinnville
Focusing on concepts surrounding the idea of self, “in its immediacy, in the current now, the currents of weather, in what is currently seismic,” Portland performance collective Physical Education “addresses the phenomenology of disaster planning,” and considers “how the language of necessity, survival, and the informed, create meaning in different contexts.” Through workshops and performances Physical Education “will work with different communities to consider how this language functions in relation to speculation, paranoia and the world of information, resources and materials.”

Eugene Ballet in Sympathique. Photo courtesy of Eugene Ballet.

Sympathique
Pink Martini and Eugene Ballet Company
7:30 pm February 21, 100 LaSells Stewart Center, Oregon State University, 875 SW 26th St., Corvallis
February 23, 2018 at 7:30 pm, The Elsinore Theatre, 170 High St. SE, Salem
Eugene Ballet Company directed by Toni Pimble presents a two part evening. The first, a ballet by San Francisco choreographer Val Caniparoli called “Tutto Eccetto il Lavandino” or “Everything But The Kitchen Sink;”a contemporary work set to the music of Vivaldi. The second, is a collection of ballets choreographed by Pimble, modern dance choreographer Sarah Ebert, and #instaballet creator Suzanne Haag in collaboration with Pink Martini. to world jazz, pop and classical music.

Pink Martini will not be accompanying Eugene Ballet on the tour.

Chapel Theatre in Milwaukie, Oregon.

Chapel Theatre Grand Opening
Corinn DeWaard, Illya Torres-Garner, and Jr Holland
February 21-24
Chapel Theatre, 4107 SE Harrison St., Milwaukie
Chapel Theatre in Milwaukie—owned, run, and managed by Corinn DeWaard (Artistic Director of TriptheDark Dance company), Illya Torres-Garner, and Jr Holland—is finally opening for arts business.This renovated two-story, 4,554 square foot, 1940s church at 4107 SE Harrison Street in Milwaukie, is now available to rent for plays, dance performances, and other community events.
Celebrations include a full week of activities showcasing the art, performance and classes that Chapel Theater offers. Check out Chapel Theatre’s website for the full schedule.

Photo courtesy of Tahni Holt.

A Body Full
Tahni Holt and Luke Wyland, hosted by Russo Lee Gallery
6:30 pm February 22
Russo Lee Gallery, 805 NW 21st Ave.
Post-performance conversation moderated by Meagan Atiyeh of the Oregon Arts Commission
A BODY FULL, is a performative response by Portland dance artist Tahni Holt and composer Luke Wyland to Elizabeth Malaska’s Heavenly Bodies show at the Russo Lee Gallery-a gallery that showcases work of artists from the Pacific Northwest region.

In Paul Maziar’s interview with Malaska for ArtsWatch she says, “The body that’s in this new series of work, one could call it a non-beautiful body. They’re beautiful to me, but not in the way that we’re taught: skinny, young. We’re taught to have expectations of the centralized female figure, so when this figure doesn’t fulfill those expectations, I want to force an all-new way of relating. A different rubric for understanding the valorization of that figure. Putting something into an image is a valorization of it, especially paintings in a gallery. That’s art with a capital A. It carries a lot of weight and I’m very cognizant of that. I have an agenda.”

Wayne Bund in Strong Female Protagonist . Photo courtesy of Risk/Reward and PNCA.

Strong Female Protagonist
Created and performed by Wayne Bund
Presented in association with Risk/Reward and PNCA
February 23-March 4
PNCA Mediatheque, 511 NW Broadway
Multidisciplinary artist, and first grade teacher Wayne Bund presents, Strong Female Protagonist, a queer solo performance piece that uses comedy, theater, music, dance and drag to illuminate the power of femininity and sass.

Part autobiography, part ‘80s nostalgia, part drag fantasy, Bund’s solo follows little Wayne on his quest to become a drag queen called Feyonce. “He struggles with self-doubt about where his inspiration comes from and is taken to an appropriation fantasy. He is judged by Judith Butler, his ego, and his mother, until he lets go of his dreams and finds a new lineage.”

Alembic Artist Catherine Egan, Suzanne Chi, and GRINDGROUP. Photo courtesy of Performance Works NW.

Alembic Resident Showcase
Performance Works NorthWest presents; Catherine Egan, Suzanne Chi, and GRINDGROUP
February 23-25
Performance Works NW, 4625 SE 67th Ave. Portland
Post-show talk with the artists facilitated by Tahni Holt after the Saturday show
After working in the Performance Works NW studio for the past year, the 2017 Alembic Resident Artists Catherine Egan, Suzanne Chi, and GRINDGROUP are ready to reveal their work. Chosen Alembic Residents are awarded 80-100 hours of studio time to be used within a 10-month period.

Egan’s civilized is an exploration of ice as a visual medium and the sound of language as an abstraction of communication. “civilized”was created in collaboration with movement artist Celine Bouly and instrumentalist Doug Theriault.

An Incidental Host/ the passenger may in fact be the pilot by long-time Portland dance artist Suzanne Chi, focuses the lens inward using the microscopic world as inspiration, investigating the motility of bacteria and protozoa while questioning the role these organisms have on the development of human personality.

(p→p) presented by Portland based contemporary multi-media art group GRINDGROUP is an exploration of what is possible for p. “If p is possible, then it is necessary that p is possible. Also, if p is necessary, then it is necessary that p is necessary. and if it ought to be that p, then it is permitted that p seems appropriate, but we should probably not include that p, because in doing so we are saying that if p is the case, p ought to be permitted.”

PDX Contemporary Ballet. Photo by Stephen Jennings.

Configure
PDX Contemporary Ballet, Artistic Director Briley Neugebauer
February 23-25
New Expressive Works, 810 SE Belmont
Inspired by the clay sculptural works of Michele Collier and the music of Italian composer and pianist Ludovico Einaudi, PDX Contemporary Ballets’ artistic director and choreographer Briley Neugebauer shapes her choreography like Collier’s clay, revealing the the body’s raw material, and proposing new perspectives on beauty.

What Neugebauer loves about Collier’s work, she said in the press release is “that you can still see her original material–the clay. Many of her figures appear as if they are emerging from the clay and trying to break free of the slab that is part of them. Others look as if they have embraced the fact that they are partially formed, waiting for what is to come.”

A-WOL Dance Collective. Photo courtesy of A-WOL Dance Collective.

Left of Center
A-WOL Dance Collective (Aerial Without Limits)
February 23-March 4
A-WOL Dance Center, 513 NE Schuyler St.
Celebrating their 15-year anniversary season in their spacious 5,000-square-foot warehouse home, A-WOL Dance Collective, a 13-member company that combines aerial arts and dance, will create an immersive experience in the round with a haunting soundscape and Victorian-era costumes weaving together “a fantastical tale suspended between reverie and reality…enveloped in a dream state free of the limitations of the waking world.”

JamBallah NW Friday night showcase at the Artists Repertory Theatre in Portland, Ore. (photo by Casey Campbell Photography)

Allegro Dance Company Winter Fundraiser
Hosted by Allegro PDX
7:30 pm February 24
Peninsula Odd Fellows Lodge, 4834 N Lombard St.
Join Allegro Dance Company in an all-ages benefit performance for the company, featuring two new group pieces by the Allegro Dance Company, and duets and solos by Ashley Lopez, Heather Powers, Morgan Fay, Talia, Laura Blake, Rachel Smith, Bevin Victoria, Elise, Emilie Lauren, and Anna Maniaci. The performance will also include Inclusion Fusion Arts formerly Happy Hips Adapted Movement & Dance, students of Ashley López and Emilie Lauren,

The evening will include raffles and such prizes as free dance classes, workshops (JamBallah NW), chocolate, wine, art pieces, studio time, dance accessories, vintage swag, and more! And of course all proceeds go to helping Allegro Dance Company survive another year.

The brainchild of internationally renowned belly dancer Ashley López, Allegro Dance Company is an experimental fusion dance collective that draws on the artistry of each company member as well as the dance styles of many cultural dances.

“Chitra: The Girl Prince”: dancing, adventure, and an ancient tale. Photo: David Kinder

Chitra: The Girl Prince
NW Children’s Theatre, Co-directed by Sarah Jane Hardy and Anita Menon
February 24-March 3
Mainstage, NW Children’s Theatre, 1819 NW Everett St.
In this retelling of a fourth century tale from the Mahabharata, co-directors Sarah Jane Hardy and Anita Menon along with a collaborative team of theater artists, musicians, and dancers from India and Portland’s Bengali-American community, tell the story of a warrior princess who struggles to stay true to herself while balancing her responsibility to her people and true love’s call.

Alice (in wonderland)
Choreography by Septime Webre, performed by Oregon Ballet Theatre
February 24-March 4
Keller Auditorium, 222 SW Clay St.
Follow Alice and a zany cast of characters down the rabbit hole into the unknown in Septime Webre’s 2012 retelling of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. This large scale production, which marries tradition with modernism with the help of ballet and acrobatics, boasts an original score from composer/violinist Matthew Pierce, to be played by the OBT orchestra, costumes by designer Liz Vandal, and sets by James Kronzer. The production includes a cast of 100 dancers, 50 of whom are children from The School of Oregon Ballet Theatre.

Dancer Sweta Ravisankar. Photo courtey of Sweta Ravisankar.

Shivarpanam
Performance by Sweta Ravisankar
5:30 pm February 25
Portland Shiridi Sai Baba Temple – Hindu Educational & Cultural Society of America, 2110 NW Aloclek Dr, Hillsboro
Sweta Ravisankar, a Bharatanatyam and Nattuvangam performer, teacher, and choreographer, from Mumbai, India will present a collection of dances based on Lord Shiva, the hindu god of destruction.
Ravisankar is pursuing her Ph.D. in Cell and Developmental Biology at OHSU, holds a Master’s Degree in Bharatanatyam and Biology, maintains dance schools (Sarada Kala Nilayam) in San Jose, California, and Hillsboro, Oregon, and travels the world performing.

For those who don’t know, Bharatanatyam is the name of a style of South Indian classical dance. Nattuvangam is the rhythmic instrument played in the background of Bharatanatyam performances and is made of two metal cymbals—one of iron and the other of brass.

Photo courtesy of Rejoice: Diaspora Dance Theater.

Rejoice! at AWMC Regional Finals
Rejoice: Diaspora Dance Theater, Artistic Director Oluyinka Akinjiola
6:30 pm February 26
Newmark Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway
Catch Rejoice! Diaspora Dance Theatre performing at the August Wilson Red Door Project Monologue competition.

The August Wilson Red Door Project is about changing the racial ecology of Portland through the arts.

Rejoice! Diaspora Dance Theater is a dance and music ensemble directed by Oluyinka Akinjiola that looks at tradition through a contemporary lens. Connecting the past to the present-from African roots to modern day Jazz and House to current political issues of police brutality through new choreography by Michael Galen, Jamie Minkus, and Oluyinka Akinjiola.

 

Kinky Boots photo courtesy of the internet.

Kinky Boots
Presented by Broadway in Eugene
February 27-March 1
Hult Center for the Performing Arts, Silva Hall, 1 Eugene Center, Eugene
Inspired by a true story, Kinky Boots follows Charlie Price, an aspiring young businessman who is forced to give up his dreams in order to save his late father’s shoe factory from the brink of bankruptcy. He finds unexpected inspiration in the form of Lola, an entertainer in need of some sturdy stilettos. As Charlie and Lola work together to turn the factory around, the pair find that they have more in common than they thought possible. Changing your perspective can change the world.

Upcoming Performances

March
March 2-4, Zorro: The Ballet, Ballet Fantastique, Eugene
March 1-3, Urban Bush Women, presented by White Bird
March 3-4, Voices: A Choreographers’ Showcase, Hosted by PDX Dance Collective
March 4, The Flames Of Paris, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema Live from Moscow
March 8-10, Jessica Lang Dance, presented by White Bird
March 14, Compañia Jesús Carmona, presented by White Bird
March 15-17, HEDDA, NW Dance Project
March 22-24, To Have It All, choreography by Katie Scherman, presented by BodyVox

April
April 4, iLumiDance, Rainbow Dance Theatre, Corvallis
April 5, Earth Angel and other repertory works, Rainbow Dance Theatre, Corvallis
April 5-7, Stephen Petronio Company, presented by White Bird
April 7, Reaching Back to Our Roots: Annual Gala Fundraiser, Kúkátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe
April 8, Giselle, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema Live from Moscow
April 9, Noontime Showcase: Jefferson Dancers, Presented by Portland’5
April 12-14, Contact Dance Film Festival, presented by BodyVox and Northwest Film Center
Apr 14-25, Peer Gynt with Orchestra Next, Eugene Ballet Company, Eugene
April 12-21, Man/Woman, choreography by Mikhail Fokine, Darrell Grand Moultrie, Nicolo Fonte, James Canfield, Jiří Kylián, performed by Oregon Ballet Theatre
April 19-28, Early, push/FOLD, choreographed and directed by Samuel Hobbs
April 20-21, In layers, choreography by Jana Kristi Zahler
April 20-29, X-Posed, Polaris Dance Theatre, Robert Guitron
April 24-25, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, presented by White Bird
April 24-25, The Wind and the Wild, BodyVox and Chamber Music Northwest

May
May 4-5, Current/Classic, The Portland Ballet
May 10-12, New work premiere, Rainbow Dance Theatre, Western Oregon University, Monmouth
May 10-19, Rain & Roses (world premiere), BodyVox
May 11-13, Compose, PDX Contemporary Ballet
May 11-13, Alice in Wonderland, Ballet Fantastique, Eugene
May 14, Noontime Showcase: OBT2, Presented by Portland’5
May 16, Ballet Hispȧnico, presented by White Bird
May 17-20, CRANE, The Holding Project, directed by Amy Leona Havin
May 23-June 3, Closer, original works by the dancers of Oregon Ballet Theatre

June
June 8-10, Up Close, The Portland Ballet
June 10, Coppelia, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema Live from Moscow
June 14-16, World Premiere – Ihsan Rustem, MemoryHouse – Sarah Slipper, NW Dance Project
June 15-17, New Expressive Works Residency Performance
June 24, Salem World Beat, Rainbow Dance Theatre, Salem

 

MusicWatch Weekly: musical warming

PDX Jazz Festival, symphonic concerts, chamber music gems, and mixes of choral and opera music keep Oregon listeners warm this week

It’s a chilly week in Oregon, but there’s plenty of jazz, of both the hot and cool variety, to keep us warm. Read Angela Allen’s ArtsWatch’s preview of this year’s PDX Jazz Festival, check out the extensive calendar for the many fine concerts we haven’t the space to list here. On Wednesday at Mission Theater, Mostly Other People Do the Killing, one of jazz’s  most acclaimed rising young ensembles, combines avant garde improv, 21st century compositional approaches and jazz tradition with a sense of fun.

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That same night at Jack London Revue, Kandinsky Effect, takes a different approach to contemporary jazz. The French-American trio electronica meets jazz combo swirls funk grooves and rock beats with relaxed sax melodies.

If your tastes tilt more trad, catch legendary South African/New York bandleader Abdullah Ibrahim’s Ekaya ensemble also Wednesday, at Revolution Hall. No less than Nelson Mandela called the former Dollar Brand “South Africa’s Mozart,” and Duke Ellington thought enough of him to arrange his American record debut. He’s been blending African and American jazz influences ever since, and this ensemble, which includes cello and flute as well as more traditional jazz instruments, is one of the 83-year-old composer/pianist’s best.

On Thursday at Newmark Theater, an all star lineup of drummer Terri Lyne Carrington,saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, and Portland-native bassist Esperanza Spalding celebrate the great composer/pianist Geri Allen, who died last year. Portland’s own great jazz pianist/composer, Darrell Grant, opens with a solo tribute. Afterwards, check out yet another great Oregon original, multi instrumentalist George Colligan, leading another all star trio from his New York years with the great bassist/composer Buster Williams and drummer Lenny White. And for a nightcap, catch young Portland saxman/composer Ian Christensen’s quartet at Portland5’s Art Bar.

Esperanza Spalding performs in a tribute to Geri Allen. Photo: Andrea Mancini.

On Friday at Mission Theater, still more Portlanders (pianist Randy Porter, drummer Charlie Doggett and more) join another tribute show: soul jazz septet Under the Lake’s celebration of Houston’s groovy ‘70s band the Crusaders (earlier called Jazz Crusaders) featuring pianist Joe Sample. Also Friday: terrific pianist Marcus Roberts’s long-term trio with drummer Jason Marsalis and bassist Roland Guerin, double-billed with guitarist Russell Malone’s quartet at Newmark Theatre.

Another ‘70s-’80s plugged in jazz tribute follows Saturday at Revolution Hall with Miles Electric Band’s tribute to the visionary musician called jazz’s Picasso, Miles Davis, featuring members of his various electric ensembles including his nephew, drummer Vince Wilburn, Jr., Neville Bros/Rolling Stones bass great Darryl Jones, sax titan Antoine Roney and more.

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Gambling with ‘Macbeth’

Shaking the Tree's new version of the Scottish Play takes bold and calculated risks. The result is striking, even if they don't all pay off.

If you are a regular theatergoer you’ve probably seen Macbeth. Possibly multiple times. Possibly too many times. But a director with a vision can make a particular production stand out from all the others in your memory. All it takes is some ambition. And Samantha Van Der Merwe is nothing if not ambitious. But if Macbeth teaches us nothing, it’s that ambition can come at a price.

Walking into Shaking the Tree it’s immediately obvious that Van Der Merwe has a strong vision for the show. Instead of filling up her cavernous warehouse space she pulls in, creating an intimate theater-in-the-round. Four huge paper screens intersect in the middle of the white stage, cutting it into quadrants. It’s an immediately intriguing image.

Jamie M. Rae is a Macbeth in blood-red. Photo: Gary Norman

Van Der Merwe’s concept is one out of time and place. It’s that futuristic yet ancient minimalist aesthetic that feels familiar yet oddly alien. Inventive use of lighting and sound do a lot of heavy lifting in this show. There’s almost no furniture or props, and the color palette is black and white with occasional splashes of dark red. The concept embraces the performative, combining nicely with Shakespeare’s use of soliloquy and direct address.

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