Welcome to the midsummer edition of DanceWatch, where dance brings people together indoors and out. It’s a month of artistic experimentation and soul-baring dance performances that will take you around the world and introduce you to new concepts and cultures, all within a 20-mile radius of Portland. Although it may be hot outside, don’t let that stop you from experiencing this month’s dance offerings. Remember, the sun will disappear in a few months, and we’ll all go back to hibernation. So, grab your umbrellas, misters, and sunscreen, and enjoy the summer while it lasts. Remember, summer doesn’t officially end until September 23rd, so make the most of it!
Art in the Dark 2023: Drop of a Hat
Featuring a musical score and live performance by Anthony Meade
July 27-August 5
Seating begins at 7:30 pm; performance begins at dark (9 pm)
Under the Trees at Mary S. Young Park, 19900 Willamette Drive, West Linn
During the summer, A-WOL Dance (short for Aerial Without Limits) performs its annual “Art in the Dark” show at Mary S. Young Park in West Linn. The dancers, suspended from trees under the stars, create a captivating performance that blends the tangible and ethereal with their twists and twirls through the treetops.
This year’s show, “Drop of a Hat,” features a group of everyday 9-to-5 workers who unexpectedly transform into a circus troupe. The production is filled with dreams and drama that often arise in large groups. Watch as a rebellious lion, love-struck aerialist, hapless magician, talented poodle on a Cyr wheel, and mischievous stagehands aim to steal the show. All of this takes place in the enchanting outdoor setting at Mary S. Young Park.
Vancouver Arts and Music Festival
Presented by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra USA (VSO) and the City of Vancouver
415 W 6th Street, Vancouver, Washington
The inaugural Vancouver Arts & Music Festival is a free, three-day event that welcomes revelers of all ages to enjoy world-class dance, music, art, food, and fun. The festival will feature stages, pop-up galleries, family activities, and food vendors throughout downtown Vancouver and Esther Short Park.
The festival will showcase dance styles from around the world, such as Odissi, Bharatanatyam, Irish dancing, and Aztec Dance. It will also feature Riverside Performing Arts Academy, Hawaiian Civic Club of Oregon & Washington, Odissi Dance Company, Sarada Kala Nilayam, Teva Oriata, Vancouver Ballet Folklórico, and Columbia Dance. Theater and performance artist Rodney Mason will present the History of Hip Hop. Mason, who toured the world with Rennie Harris Pure Movement, a concert dance company in Philadelphia, is known for his award-winning role (Lawrence Olivier Award – Best Performance) in Harris’s “Rome & Jewels.”
Presented by the India Cultural Association of Portland – ICA
11 am – 8:30 pm, August 6
Pioneer Courthouse Square, downtown Portland
The India Cultural Association of Portland (ICA), a nonprofit organization founded in 1980 to promote Indian culture in Portland, Oregon, will present its annual festival in downtown Portland. The festival celebrates India’s Independence Day and attracts over 10,000 visitors. The festival features free live music, dance, food, and entertainment throughout the day.
Presented by Open Space
Open Space Creative Container, Located within Oregon Contemporary 8731 N. Interstate Avenue, Portland
Open Space Dance presents “Summer Soup,” a diverse evening of contemporary dance featuring new choreography by sister company LED from Boise, Idaho, directed by Lauren Edson; an excerpt from Open Space artistic director Franco Nieto’s “Outsider”; Nieto’s high-energy duet “Confetti Head,” recently selected as a finalist in the McCallum Theatre’s Palm Desert Choreography Festival; and choreography by Portland street artist NØIR and Japanese street dancer Uno.
Chakras-The Wheel Of Energy
Presented by Sweta Ravisankar, featuring the students of Sarada Kala Nilayam and guest collaborator Manaswini Sridhar.
4 pm, August 13
Student showing 6 pm, August 12
Hart Theatre, 185 SE Washington Street, Hillsboro
Ten dancers and a live orchestra will take the stage in “Chakras – The Wheel of Energy,” a new work by Portland Bharatanatyam and Nattuvangam performer, teacher, and choreographer Sweta Ravisankar. Featuring dance students from her school of classical Indian dance, Sarada Kala Nilayam, the production includes music composition by Harini Acharya and Ravisankar’s father, S. Ravisankar, a mridangam exponent. A nattuvanar is the conductor of a Bharatanatyam orchestra who keeps the rhythm with cymbals, and a mridanga is an Indian percussion instrument. Inspired by the yogic teachings of her mother, Kousalya Ravisankar, the dance depicts the seven main chakras along the spine from the base to the top of the head. Each is associated with different aspects of the human experience, including physical health, emotional well-being, and spiritual development. Balanced chakras lead to feelings of wholeness and well-being, while blocked chakras can cause physical, emotional, or spiritual problems.
Sharing the program will be Manaswini Sridhar, a Washington State-based Bharatanatyam dancer and nattuvangam student of Guru Hemanth Lakshman and director of her own art institution Spandana Classical Arts. A panel selected Sridhar as part of Kalpana (meaning imagination), a program in its second year (applications open in February) that Sweta created to encourage young artists of any genre to collaborate by providing them with a live orchestra and a performance platform to explore their artistic ideas at no cost.
Sridhar will present several verses from Kurunthogai, a classical Tamil poetic masterpiece from the second book of Ettuthokai (eight anthologies), expressing the love lives of men and women who lived during the Sangam period (roughly between the 3rd century B.C. and 3rd century A.D.). Sangam refers to the historical assembly of Tamil poets and scholars during ancient times in southern India, Tamil Nadu. The assemblies were instrumental in promoting Tamil literature, arts, and culture. The term “Sangam” also refers to the literature produced during this period, known as Sangam literature, which includes poems and texts that provide insights into the social, cultural, and political life of that era.
Sridhar has composed her own jathis or rhythmic sections and will present her work in the form of a varnam, a dance from the Bharatanatayam repertoire that is the longest piece in any program and is based on a theme and has emotive storytelling and rhythmic sections interspersed.
By My Own Hand, Part 2: TRANSPARENCY
Presented by Allie Hankins
New Expressive Works, 810 SE Belmont St., Portland
In “Part 2” of her three-part performance series, Allie Hankins threads together ideas of manipulation, suicide, sleight of hand, self-reliance, and queer notions of autobiography and self-reflection in a series of solos choreographed by Portland/New York dance/performance artists Linda Austin, claire barrera, keyon gaskin, Takahiro Yamamoto, and Lu Yim. The final work performed may replicate, distort, or exaggerate any parts of the original choreography revealing the processes of deconstruction, distillation, resurrection, and remembering, confronting notions of finality, authorship, and self-perception.
Hankins is a dancer and performance maker who has been creating work in Portland for 10 years. She focuses on the destabilization of persona through uncanny physicality, wry wit, and layered imagery. She is an inaugural Resident Artist at FLOCK Dance Center and co-founder of Physical Education. Her work has been shown nationally and internationally.
“Part 3: THE ACHE,” a collaboration with Hannah Krafcik, will premiere at the Portland Institute of Contemporary Art in October 2023 as part of their Time-Released programming.
If you want to learn about “Part 1: Ghosting,” you can read Amy Leona Havin’s performance review from August 2022: https://www.orartswatch.org/getting-ghosted-by-allie-hankins/
Please submit listings to DanceWatch (email@example.com) by the 20th of the month prior to ensure inclusion in the calendar.