Jamuna Chiarini

 

White Bird on the brink

The venerable Portland dance presenter faces a major deficit due to concert cancellations during the pandemic

Have you noticed that it’s the arts we are all turning to right now to survive? 

While we wait out our “sheltering at home” and attempt to dodge the covid-19 virus long enough to keep our hospital beds and intensive care units from overfilling, it’s the free dance performances, free music concerts, free books, free museums exhibits, free art classes—all online—that are making this horrible situation bearable. 

But the question is, will these same arts organizations be there when life gets back to normal, whenever that is? 

Unfortunately, from where I stand right now, it doesn’t look good.

On Tuesday afternoon White Bird, Portland’s biggest dance-only presenter and one of the few dance-only presenters left in the United States, announced that if the organization can’t make up a $350,000 shortfall by June 30, it will have to consider the painful possibility of shutting down for good. The shortfall is the result of show cancellations due to the pandemic. You can read their full announcement here

In addition, White Bird will also see a 20 percent increase in rent from Portland’5 Centers for the Arts, which comprises the Schnitzer, Winningstad, Keller, Newmark, and Brunish halls: White Bird is a frequent renter of the Schnitzer and Newmark halls. The venues are owned by the City of Portland and managed by the Metropolitan Exposition Recreation Commission for Metro.

The situation is dire, White Bird co-founder Walter Jaffe said to me this morning when we spoke on the phone, but it’s dire for all arts organizations, he stressed. 

White Bird is a nonprofit organization that brings a variety of well-known and emerging, national and international dance companies and choreographers to Portland. It was launched in 1997 by Walter Jaffe and Paul King and was named for their beloved cockatoo, Barney, who is now 32.

Paul King, Walter Jaffe and Barney, of White Bird. Photo by Jennifer Alyse.

Continues…

DanceWatch: Dear March, come in!

Oregon's dance month marches in like a lion, and a tango, and some ballet, and some butoh, and some funk, and bootleggers, and more

Dear March – Come in –
How glad I am –
I hoped for you before –
Put down your Hat –
You must have walked –
How out of Breath you are –
Dear March, how are you, and the Rest –
Did you leave Nature well –
Oh March, Come right upstairs with me –
I have so much to tell –


This is the first stanza of Emily Dickinson’s Dear March – Come in –, a poem that describes the month of March like an old friend who has finally arrived, long awaited, but will soon leave because April is knocking at the door. Spring has arrived! The poem seems to express that time is fleeting, patience is a virtue, and we should enjoy things and life while they last. Our Portland winter hasn’t been as challenging as some, but it’s definitely been dark, and I am so glad to see the light again and feel the warmth of the sun on my face.

To me there is such an obvious connection between nature and dance. The body is nature. We are born of the earth, sustained by it, and return to it when we die.  Like nature, dance is also fleeting and lives in the moment. Dance and dancers, like seasons, grow and change, bloom, age, are affected by their environments, and flourishes when they are loved. 

March’s dance offerings are an interesting combination of the political and personal, the historical and imagined, and nature and connectivity, with a bit of comedy and religion sprinkled in. Enjoy!


DANCES AND DANCE EVENTS IN MARCH


Week 1: March 1-8

Marta Savigliano, Tango and the Political Economy of Passion
Presented by the Reed College Comparative Race and Ethnicity Studies Colloquium Series and moderated by Reed College Dance Professor Victoria Fortuna
Noon March 4 
Reed College, Vollum College Center, Room: 120, 3203 S.E. Woodstock Blvd., Portland

Offering both an insider and outsider point of view, Marta Savigliano – an Argentine political theorist and dance professor at the University of California at Riverside –, discusses her book Tango and the Political Economy of Passion (1995); a text on tango’s national and global politics that received the Congress of Research on Dance Award for Outstanding Book 1993-1996.
The event is free, and all are welcome. Lunch will be served, so please RSVP to cwilcox@reed.edu so that the right amount of food can be provided. 

Continues…

DanceWatch Monthly: February is all about the love

February in Portland dance is all about love and its many forms (not just Valentine's Day)


It’s February and love is in the air. Dance performances this month, appropriately enough, express love in a wonderful variety of ways. From the familiar romantic love to platonic love. From the love of connecting with community too connecting with oneself. From the love of music to the love of pure movement. From the love of sharing, to the love of technology, to the love of the wild. From the love of experimentation and research to the love of a good book and a good story, to the love of intimacy, and to the love of things big and small. For the love of god. For dance itself and for the gift of emotional expression. 


“To dance is to be out of yourself,” American choreographer Agnes de Mille famously proclaimed. “Larger, more beautiful, more powerful. This is power, it is glory on earth and it is yours for the taking.” 

So, let’s dance, and do it with love.

Dances in February

Week 1: February 1-2

Holy Goats!
Performance Works N
2 pm February 2
Performance Works NW, 4625 SE 67th Ave

Holy Goats! Sunday afternoon improvisations and bagels are back!  This new iteration will be devoted to dance and music by Portland-area and visiting artists. The dancers include Allie Hankins and Caspar Sonnet, Pepper Pepper, Tracy Broyles + Adrian Hutapea + jaime lee christiana, Luke Gutgsell + Kennedy Verrett. The musicians: Catherine Lee, Caspar Sonnet, Dan Sasaki, Annie Gilbert, and Stephanie Lavon Trotter.

Founded in 1999 by Artistic Director Linda Austin and Technical Director Jeff Forbes, Performance Works NorthWest || Linda Austin Dance engages artists and audiences of the Pacific Northwest in the process of experimentation, creation and dialogue around the presentation of contemporary performance. 

Continues…

Dance Preview: Linda Austin’s ‘a world, a world’

Choreographer Linda Austin concludes a four-year experiment with the we way remember, forget, re-imagine and recreate art

Linda Austin’s a world, a world opens Thursday night at her home studio-theater, Performance Works NW, which she co-directs with her husband and lighting designer Jeff Forbes. Forbes also designed the lighting for a world, a world. Sound design is by Seth Nehil with visual design and costumes by Sarah Marguier. 

Austin, who grew up in Medford, Oregon, and attended Lewis & Clark College, has been making dance and performance since 1983. In the late ‘70’s she moved to New York City where she got involved with what was then called the “downtown dance scene,” which included workshops at Movement Research, whose programs carry on and extend the legacy of Judson experimentation. While in New York, her work was presented at Performance Space 122, the Danspace Project, the Kitchen, and Movement Research at Judson Church and in the early ‘90’s she lived and made work in Mexico. In 1998 she moved back to Portland, Oregon, where she and Forbes bought a small church, which she turned into a studio, and founded the performing arts non-profit, Performance Works Northwest. 

Choreographer /performer Linda Austin in part 3 of (Un)Made in 2017. Photo by Chelsea Petrakis.

Since her move back to the West Coast, Austin has presented work at PWNW, Conduit, On the Boards’ Northwest New Works, Velocity, and PICA’s TBA Festival, and back in New York.

Austin has been awarded numerous prestigious awards, including the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Merce Cunningham Award (2017), a Fellowship in Performing Arts from the Regional Arts & Culture Council (2014), as well as Fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts (1992) and the Oregon Arts Commission (2007 & 2019). Her work has been supported by the Regional Arts & Culture Council, the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, and Movement Research, as well as residencies at Djerassi and Robert Wilson’s Watermill Center. Her writing has appeared in The Movement Research Performance Journal, Tierra Adentro (Mexico), the literary journal FO A RM and a 2003 collection from MIT Press, Women, Art & Technology.

In 2015 when Performance Works NW celebrated its 15 anniversary, I interviewed Austin, which you can read here. In the interview she talks about how her experimental style developed in New York and her move back to Portland. This year Austin, Forbes, and Performance Works NW will celebrate their 20th anniversary.

Part 3 of (Un)Made in 2017. Pictured here are dancers claire barrera, and Noelle Stiles. Photo by Chelsea Petrakis

This new work, a world, a world,  is a visually arresting dance for seven dancers: claire barrera, Muffie Delgado Connelly, Nancy Ellis, Hannah Krafcik, Danielle Ross, Noelle Stiles and Austin. It drops the viewer into the same, saturated, arena-like environments that the dancers themselves inhabit. The work offers an immersive experience that is an amalgamation of movement, sound, image, and language. a world, a world continues through January 25. Seating is limited because it is built into the set—there are 30 seats total each night. 

a world, a world is the culmination of a four-year-long choreographic process that began with (Un)Made, a solo created and performed by Austin, who then passed it down in relay fashion, like a game of telephone, to eight other performers: Jin Camou, keyon gaskin, Matthew Shyka, Linda K. Johnson, Nancy Ellis, Robert Tyree, Tahni Holt, and Jen Hackworth. These performers then in turn passed it down to a group called the Dream Team—Claire Barrera, Danielle Ross, Noelle Stiles, and Takahiro Yamamoto— and it was finally performed again by Austin herself.

The experience played out what it looks like to remember, misremember, and adapt. Austin was interested in investigating new ways of authorship and finding “a way of dissolving self importance,” she said when we spoke last weekend. “I had an initial idea about losing your boundaries…in a devotional sense.”

Part 3 of Linda Austin’s (Un)Made in 2017 at Performance Works NW. Pictured here are dancers Nancy Ellis and Danielle Ross.
Photo by Chelsea Petrakis.

We, the audience, tracked the details from Austin’s original performance through each one of the performers, observing what was lost, what remained, and what was changed. The entire process was chronicled on the (Un)Made website and includes performance and rehearsal photos as well as writing by Austin and Allie Hankins, the dramaturg for the project.

The second phase was called (Un)Made Part 2: the last bell rings for you, and was a collaborative, large ensemble score (a structured framework for improvisation) that featured movement artists Claire Barrera, Jin Camou, Nancy Ellis, Jen Hackworth, Allie Hankins, keyon gaskin, Danielle Ross, Noelle Stiles and Takahiro Yamamoto and involved 18 new participants with varying levels of performance experience. In this phase, Austin was interested in having “people experience making something together, performing it together, and also being able to watch the result.”

Philosophically, she wanted to create community but also wanted to challenge herself “as a choreographer to make something satisfactory out of simple elements and people who aren’t dancers.” Austin also sees dance in everyday movement and honors the trained and untrained moving bodies, also honoring her own experiences as an untrained dancer in the beginning of her career by balancing the pieces movement style between both worlds.

Part three, a world, a world, is a collection of movements taken from the other two phases of the process, reworked and re-imagined into a completely new idea that is performed in two disparate worlds—one oversaturated with repeated patterns in darkness, and the other quiet, clean, and peaceful and full of light.

Part 3 of Linda Austin’s (Un)Made in 2017. Photo by Chelsea Petrakis.

In watching this process unfold over the past three years I have become acutely aware of how imperfect and suspect my own memory is. I definitely don’t remember everything; I survive day-to-day on a collective memory shared by my family and close friends. If I can’t remember something, someone else definitely will. We are an inseparable unit that acts as one.

Austin seems to be tracking memory in this choreographic process, in turn creating her own collective memory and community with the performers involved. Legacy comes to mind.

For myself, the making of a dance becomes inseparable from the experiences I am having outside the studio. The questions I have, my relationships, what I’m interested in, they all consciously and unconsciously inform the choices I am making in my art eventually creating a cyclical relationship where you can’t extract one from the other. Maybe it’s always been that way. We recreate the world we live in, in our art.

So, Austin is curious about how we are influenced by culture, our awareness of those influences, whether we like who we are, is it changeable, can identity be fluid, can we keep our individuality while living harmoniously in a community, and what are different ways that we author/alter the narrative of our lives. All of those questions and possibly some answers can be found in a world, a world.

a world, a world, January 16-25, Performance Works NW, 4625 SE 67th Ave.

DanceWatch Monthly: Marquee TV leaps into the void

A new streaming channel for the performing arts joins local live stage performances this month

Have you heard of Marquee TV? It’s the new Netflix for the dance, opera, and theatre that you can stream in HD onto just about any electronic device. It is now possible to see an abundance of beautifully filmed, full-length productions by some of the biggest choreographic names in contemporary dance, ballet, and dance film-productions. You wouldn’t normally have access to unless you were a frequent traveler to Europe and Russia, and they are not available anywhere else on the web. Subscriptions are reasonably priced, too: You can either pay either pay $8.99 monthly or $89.99 a year to have access to all of the channel’s content. 

Marquee TV  has categories for Contemporary Dance, Ballet, British Choreographers, American Choreographers, works from the Royal Ballet, works from The Bolshoi Ballet, Dance Films, Unique Fusion works, Hip Hop inspired dances, Ballet documentaries, Behind the Scenes films, Opera and Theatre. There are works by Crystal Pite, Herve Koubi, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Akram Khan, Alexander Ekman, and Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, to name just a few, of course. And there are pieces by such American choreographers as Mark Morris, Bill T. Jones, Alonzo King of Lines Ballet, and Seattle choreographer Catherine Cabeen. 

There are also choreographers and works available on the site that we here in Portland are familiar with thanks to White Bird—I’m thinking Crystal Pite’s Betroffenheit, and French-based Compagnie Hervé KOUBI.

Betroffenheit by Crystal Pite. Photo by Michael Slobodian.

It is important to the Marquee TV co-founders Marc Kirschner and Kathleya Afanador that the channel not be an archive, a repository, or library for older works, but a living representation of the best performing arts that are being produced today. “It is a curated, constantly refreshed source for those who love the arts,” Afanador said during a series of emails and phone calls I had with the pair. 

“Marquee TV is actually a combination of two teams,” Kirschner said. “Our New York team, led by Kathleya and myself, came from TenduTV, which was the earliest digital outlet/distributor of dance programming. Our London team is mainly comprised of BBC veterans and is led by our third co-founder, Simon Walker, who was a lead architect of Arts Council England’s digital strategy.”

“We’ve designed the Marquee platform to be something that adds to the live arts ecosystem, not something that exists outside of it or competes with it,” Afanador said. “So part of the curation strategy is really about building ongoing partnerships with the arts organizations and positioning Marquee as a digital extension of the great work they’re already doing.  

For Marc, he consider venues like White Bird to be their spirit animals or guides as to what Marquee TV should screen.

Marquee is piloting a “digital membership” program with some arts organizations. That will give their members and patrons access to their content on Marquee, Afanador said.

“Our acquisition strategy is very much focused on staying current, Afanador said.

ALICE by Christopher Wheeldon for The Royal Ballet. Photo by Johan Persson.

Although the channel will have and will acquire great classics, it is committed to showcasing the new work being created and the diverse artists voices that are out there right now, Afanador said. “We look at what’s being written about and reviewed; what productions are going to be touring; what choreographers are getting commissioned and who’s setting work on various companies around the world.” 

There is an assumption that seeing performances live is the ultimate experience, and that digital experiences will drive people away from the theatre, but I would argue, now that I’ve experienced Marquee TV, that that’s not true. What you get is an intimate experience with choreographers and their work on your own timeline. You can get up for snacks and go to the bathroom as many times as you want without disturbing anyone. 

“It’s about risk management.” Kirschner said, “People don’t want to have a bad experience. Given how much tickets are, people want to know they will enjoy it.”

Kirschner said they surveyed four thousand people in the US and found that younger audiences want familiarity with an artist and their work and will watch what they can see online and go to the theatre as well. 

In Europe, digital is a part of every arts organizations mission, Kirschner explained. The goal is to reach a variety of communities through digital media, to create the biggest impact, and to draw people into the theaters to see the work live. 

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s Sutra. Photo courtesy of Marquee TV.

Now I did have one issue with watching Marquee TV on my own TV, which Marc explained is an Apple one. Because I have a first generation Apple TV I can’t get to the Apple TV App Store to get the Marquee TV App. But I can easily watch through AirPlay and get an upgraded Apple TV which I’ve been wanting to get anyways. 

“We are expanding our reach as we speak—we’re about to launch on a major cable app platform, and we have a few more similar deals in the pipeline. From a device perspective, the only problematic ones are LG and Samsung TVs. However, both of those manufacturers have begun supporting AirPlay on their higher-end models, so that barrier is coming down for us. Plus, now that many streaming middleware providers (Roku, Amazon Fire, AndroidTV) are embedding their systems directly into newer generations of Smart TVs, we’re rapidly reaching a point where Marquee will be accessible to any new device that supports streaming.”

So get those snacks, get cozy, and get watching your favorite choreographers or discover new ones, on Marquee TV. You can find all the details on the website.

Dance Performances in January 2020

Week 1: January 1-5

ZooZoo

Imago Theatre, Carol Triffle and Jerry Mouawad
January 1-5
Imago Theatre, 17 SE 8th

ZooZoo is back! This longtime, audience favorite magnifies the quirkiness in our everyday life with an expert composition of elaborate costumes, masks, dance, music, physical comedy, and anthropomorphic humor. ZooZoo features a zany cast of characters like playful polar bears, firefly eyes, hippos with insomnia, arrogant anteaters, introverted frogs, acrobatic worms, self touting accordions, and tricky penguins, in this carnival of the absurd. 

Founded in 1979 by Carol Triffle and Jerry Mouawad, Imago presents original productions using masks and elaborate costumes making the humans disappear and the imaginative creatures appear.

Week 2: January 6-12

Might I suggest, Marquee TV?

Week 3: January 13-19

Dancer Andrea Parson in She’s Here: A One Woman Show. Photo courtesy of Andrea Parson.

She’s Here: A One Woman Show
Andrea Parson and Susan Banyas
January 16-18
CoHo Productions, 2257 NW Raleigh Street

Choreographed and performed by veteran NW Dance Project dancer and Princess Grace Award winner Andrea Parson, She’s Here: A One Woman Show investigates the spiritual roots of one woman through dance and storytelling. Directed by Portland writer and performance artist Susan Banyas, this evening-length work weaves personal stories, oral history, and myth to trace spirituality, magic and witchery in Parson’s Sicilian lineage. 

a world, a world by Linda Austin. Photo by Chelsea Petrakis

a world, a world
Choreographed by Linda Austin in collaboration with the performers: Austin, claire barrera, Muffie Delgado Connelly, Nancy Ellis, Hannah Krafcik, Danielle Ross, and Noelle Stiles
Presented by Performance Works NorthWest 
January 16-25
Performance Works NW, 4625 SE 67th Ave

Performed for an intimate audience of 30, a world, a world, drops the viewer into the same, saturated, arena-like environment that the dancers themselves inhabit. The work offers an immersive experience that is an amalgamation of movement, sound, image, and language.

An American in Paris
Presented by Broadway in Eugene
January 17-18
The Hult Center for the Performing Arts, Silva Concert Hall, 1 Eugene Way, Eugene

Post-war Paris is full of romance and youthful optimism as World War ll veteran Jerry Mulligan begins to make plans for a new life as a painter. But things get complicated when he meets a young Parisian shop girl with secrets. In this musical, the power of love is rediscovered through gravity-defying choreography and soaring Gershwin melodies that include, but are not limited to, I Got Rhythm, Liza, S Wonderful, But Not for Me, and Stairway to Paradise.

Week 4: January 20-26

a world, a world by Linda Austin continues through the 25th.

Berto Boyd and the artists of Flamenco Pacifico. Photo courtesy of Berto Boyd.

Flamenco Pacifico
Presented by Berto Boyd
7:30 pm January 24 
The Old Church Concert Hall, 1422 SW 11th Ave 

In the spirit of convivencia (“coexistence” in Spanish), Flamenco Pacifico’s acclaimed guitarist and composer Berto Boyd integrates Brazilian samba and American jazz with traditional Spanish flamenco in this one-night-only performance. Boyd, with guitarist/singer Grant Ruiz, percussionist Terry Longshore, and bassist Randy Tico, will accompany dancers Elena Villa and Melissa Cruz.

An artist of Flip Fabrique’s Blizzard enjoying the snow. Photo courtesy of Flip Fabrique.

Blizzard
Flip Fabrique
8:00 pm January 25
Hult Center for the Performing Arts, Silva Hall, 1 Eugene Way
&
Presented by Portland’5
7:00 pm January 26
Keller Auditorium, 222 SW Clay Street, Portland

Canadian circus company, Flip Fabrique, started by a group of friends in 2011, appropriately takes on the extreme experience of winter as a canvas for storytelling, through circus arts, creating arresting visual poetry. Blizzard, captures the magic of winter and invites you to lose yourself in the wonderment and joy of movement. 

Olga Smirnova as Giselle and Artemy Belyakov as Albrecht in Alexei Ratmansky’s reconstructed “Giselle” at the Bolshoi Ballet. Photo by Damir Yusupov/Bolshoi Theater

Giselle
The Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema, Fathom Events
12:55 pm January 26

This romantic ballet in two acts follows the peasant girl Giselle as she learns that her aristocratic lover (Albrecht) is promised to another. After going mad and dying from a broken heart, she returns from the dead as a vengeful spirit (a Wili) and she and her tribe of Wilis, force Albrecht to dance to his death.

In this brand-new production by Alexei Ratmansky for the Bolshoi Ballet, former director of the Bolshoi Ballet (2004-09) and now the artist in residence with American Ballet Theater, gives Giselle a refresh. 

To create this new version of Giselle, Ratmansky drew from several historic sources that include notations made in the 1860’s by the French ballet master Henri Justamant that were a combination of written notes and miniature drawings of the choreography, and notes scribbled on musical scores that he found in various Russian archives. The ballet, according to a review by Marina Harss for Dance Tabs, “is both familiar and new. Watching it on opening night and on the following evening, with different casts, was like seeing a faded painting regain its colors,” she said. 

Debuting in Moscow on November 21, 2019, this screening was captured live from the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow.

Week 5: January 27-February 2

Fertile Ground Festival of New Work and Groovin’ Greenhouse
January 31-February 8
Check the Groovin’ Greenhouse and Fertile Ground websites for locations and times

The Fertile Ground Festival of New Works and its dance-centric arm, Groovin’ Greenhouse (hosted by Polaris Dance Theatre), unfold in venues around town for 9-days. The performances feature new work in various stages of development, from the fully staged to workshops, in theater, comedy, dance and film, and everything else in between.

Groovin’ Greenhouse will be performed at Polaris Dance Theatre’s home theatre located at 1826 NW 18th. The choreographers and companies being presented there are: Polaris Dance Company, ELa FaLa Collective, Mark Koenigsberg and Sara Naegelin, Polaris Junior Company and NEO Youth Company, ELXR Dance Company, and Central Catholic Dance. Check the Groovin’ Greenhouse schedule for dates and times.

Independent Fertile Grounds dance productions

Interplay
Echo Theater Company 
January 31- February 9
Echo Theatre Company, 1515 SE 37th Avenue

Featuring dance, video, music, physical theatre, aerial expression, Shibari (Japanese rope bondage), and more, this mixed repetoire highlights the work of traditionally marginalized communities and will be sex and size positive. Each weekend will feature a different group of artists presenting 10-20 minute vignettes. To view these works is to explore what arises when several performance disciplines unite to produce an original piece of work.

Weekend A: Heavy Is The Head that Wears the Crown: Mental Health Memoirs of the Black Woman by Noelle Simone, Bad Grrls of Bellydance by Sasshole, self-titled Rip/Pull Effect, and We Belong Here by Echo Theater Company.

Weekend B: CITRINE by Joni Renee Whitworth, The Book of J by Sara Fay Goldman and Marc Schreiner, Textured by Flo Buddenbaum, Summer Olsson and Aurora Rupert, and We Belong Here by Echo Theater Company.

Junction
AWOL Dance Collective, push/FOLD, and Tempos Contemporary Circus 
January 31-February 2
A-WOL Performance Warehouse, 513 Northeast Schuyler StreetPortland

Performing together for the first time are aerial dance company A-WOL Dance Collective, contemporary dance company push/FOLD, and contemporary circus company Tempos Contemporary Circus. For this performance, each company was tasked worked with the concept of connectivity as their choreographic theme-the state or extent of being connected or interconnected

AWOL Dance Collective, ​is a non-profit arts organization with their own performance warehouse space in NE Portland that embodies the idea of “aerial without limits,”and believes that the arts build community and enhance the quality of life and in its various forms, fosters creativity, empowers individuals and brings people together.

push/FOLD, is the vision of composer-choreographer Samuel Hobbs, whose work fuses the power of his athletics and dance career with his professional practice in Osteopathic medicine. With a minimalistic visual design and Hobbs’ original sound scores, push/FOLD features momentum-based choreography and sculpturesque partnering that craft immersive moodscapes and virtuosic dance performance.

Tempos Contemporary Circus is an ensemble that combines dance, music, acrobatics, and physical theater to explore the connection between the vulnerability in ourselves and within our community.

Left: Subashini Ganesan (Photo by Intisar Abioto); right: Yashaswini Raghuram.

Listening to Silence
Collaborative choreography and performance by Subashini Ganesan and Yashaswini Raghuram
January 31-February 2
New Expressive Works, 819 SE Belmont Suite 2, located In the WYSE Building. (Use the building doors located on the South side of the building.)

In her new work, “Listening to Silence,” Portland-based Bharatanatyam dancer Subashini Ganesan, alongside Portland-based Bharanatayam/Odissi dancer Yashaswini Raghuram, explores the undefinable nature of silence through the writings of Rainer Maria Rilke, Jiddu Krishnamurti, and the Rig Veda poem, Nasadiya Suktam (10.129), which considers the origin of the universe and creation. The duet also examines contemporariness in relation to tradition, through construction, deconstruction, and reconstruction of the Bharatanatyam vocabulary and rhythm.

Ganesan is the Creative Laureate of Portland, the executive director of New Expressive Works, and was recently awarded the White Bird 2019 Community Engagement Award.

Raghuram is a professional Bharatanatyam and Odissi dancer and teacher, and performs internationally as the principal dancer and the assistant director of the Odissi Dance Company. 

***

Upcoming Performances

February 
January 31-February 8, Fertile Ground Festival of New Work and Groovin’ Greenhouse
February 2, Holy Goats!, Performance Works NW
February 5-9, Niv Sheinfeld and Oren Laor, White Bird
February 8-9, Alice in Wonderland, Eugene Ballet
February 10, Fall in Love with Flamenco, Hosted by Espacio Flamenco
February 12, Grupo Corpo, Presented by White Bird
February 14-15, Darvejon Jones Dance Ensemble, BodyVox Artist in Residence
February 14-16, Been Ready, Rejoice: Diaspora Dance Theater
February 15-23, The Sleeping Beauty, Oregon Ballet Theatre
February 21-22, Ten Tiny Dances/Corvallis
February 21-23, ORIGIN: Humble Beginnings, PDX Contemporary Ballet
February 22, Interplay, Eugene Ballet and The University of Oregon School of Music and Dance
February 22, Nrityotsava 2020, A Benefit Program for Kalakendra
February 23, Swan Lake, The Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema, Fathom Events
February 27-29, Cirque Alfonse, White Bird
February 28-March 7, Attention Everyone!, Presented by A-WOL Dance Collective
February 29, BodyVox on Tour in Medford, Oregon
February 29, Bal Utsav 2020, Hosted by Nartana Kuchipudi

March
March 5-7, Rennie Harris Funkedified, White Bird
March 7, Bootleggers Ball, BodyVox
March 6-8, Dragon and The Night Queen, Ballet Fantastique
March 13-15, Alembic Resident Artists Performance: Sarah Brahim, Maggie Heath, and Cat Ross, Performance Works NW
March 20-22, Since the First Sunrise/COMING HOME, Tracy Broyles
March 26-April 5, NINETEEN * TWENTY (world premiere), BodyVox and Chamber Music Northwest
March 29, Romeo and Juliet, The Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema, Fathom Events

April 
April 2-4, Camille A. Brown and Dancers, White Bird
April 4-5, Heaven and Earth, Eugene Ballet
April 9-12, Beautiful Decay, Oregon Ballet Theatre
April 15, ChangMu Dance Company, White Bird
April (dates TBA): Linda Austin & Allie Hankins ║ The Traveler & the Thief
April 19, A Taste of Dance, Chapel Theatre
April 19, Jewels, The Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema, Fathom Events
April 23, Drum Tao 2020
April 23-25, The Rite Of Spring, NW Dance Project
April 25-28, X-Posed, Polaris Dance Theatre
April 30-May 2, Contact Dance Film Festival, BodyVox

May
May 1-2, Contact Dance Film Festival, BodyVox
May 3: Holy Goats!Plus, Performance Works NW
May 8-9, Current/Classic, The Portland Ballet
May 8-10, Luna Mistica, Ballet Fantastique
May 12-13, Dance Theatre of Harlem, White Bird
May 15 – 17, Junior Artist Generator, BodyVox
May 22-24, ARISE: What Dance Could Be, PDX Contemporary Ballet
May 29-31, Portland Tap Dance Festival, Portland Tap Alliance

 June
June 5-13, The Americans 2.0, Oregon Ballet Theatre
June 11-13, Summer Splendors, NW Dance Project
June 12-14, Up Close, The Portland Ballet


December DanceWatch: Rhyming couplets rule!

December dance around the state and especially Portland has its fair share of Nutcrackers and yet more

‘Twas the month of December and all through the state, 

Not a dancer was sleeping. They hardly could wait!

Dance shoes of all kinds were readied with care,

In hopes that big audiences soon would be there.

Choreographers were restless and pacing all night,

With visions of slip-ups creating a fright.

While ArtsWatch’s writers got set to review,

The dancers lined up and awaited their cue.

With music beginning and growing intense,

The curtain rose softly, without a pretense. 

The dancers all flew from the wings with a flash,

They tore up the stage and gave it a thrash!

The dancers’ excitement gave rise to new hope, 

That in this new year, we may cheerfully cope.

With so much to see we can say without fear,

Happy winter to all, and a Happy New Year!

Dance Performances in December

Week 1: December 1-8

The Cirque Dreams Holidaze, spectacle! Photo courtesy of Cirque Dreams Holidaze.

Cirque Dreams Holidaze
6:30 pm December 1
Hult Center, Soreng Theater, 1 Eugene Center, Eugene

In this larger than life, Las Vegas-meets-musical theatre-meets- nutcracker-spectacle-blowout, Cirque Dreams Holidaze celebrates Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s all in one! 

The performance features over 300 costumes and 20 acts. Singers, dancers, and circus artists bring holiday characters to life and waltz the night away to seasonal favorites like Deck The Halls, Winter Wonderland, and Jingle Bell Rock.

Dora Gaskill and Stephanie Lavon Trotter in, Split Chorus, shared concert.
Photo courtesy of Dora Gaskill and Stephanie Lavon Trotter.

Split Chorus
Dora Gaskill and Stephanie Lavon Trotter
Performance Works NW Alembic Co-Production
December 6-7
Performance Works NW, 4625 SE 67th Ave

Sharing an evening of new work are interdisciplinary performance artist and lighting designer Dora Gaskill and vocal performance artist and composer Stephanie Lavon Trotter.

Gaskill presents, Graphical Optical Black Out (GOBO), a work that utilizes theatrical lighting, anatomy, and dance to play with perception. 

Trotter presents, Nothing’s really easy about the end of the world, an opera in process, in collaboration with trombonist and vocalist Annie Gilbert. The composition ritualizes the mundane using electro-acoustic voice, movement and video, to situate us in the chaos and comforts of a dying planet.

Lewis and Clark College dancers working it out.
Photo courtesy of Lewis and Clark College.

Dance Extravaganza
Presented by Lewis and Clark College
December 6-7
Lewis and Clark College, Fir Acres Theatre Main Stage, 0615 S.W. Palatine Hill Road MSC 54 

Dance Extravaganza features an eclectic mix of new choreography from Lewis and Clark College dance students, alumni, BodyVox Artistic Director Jamey Hampton, and Portland Hip Hop artist Mariecella Devine. 

Bharatanatyam dancer and teacher Sridharini Sridharan.
Photo courtesy of Sridharini Sridharan.

Melattur Margam Bharatanatyam
Artistic Director: Sridharini Sridharan
Performed by students of Kala Shiksha
Hosted by HECSA Portland Balaji Temple
3pm December 7
PCC Rock Creek Campus, 17705 NW Springville

Comprised of nine pieces in the Melattur style of Bharathanaityam, this margam (or program) accompanied by a live orchestra, is choreographed and directed by international Bharatanatyam dancer and teacher Sridharini Sridharan. Sridharan, originally from Chennai, is a student of Guru Srimati Revathi Ramachandran and is formally trained in Nattuvangam and carnatic music, and has a diploma in Bharatanatyam and Carnatic music. In 2016 Sridharan founded her own school in Portland called Kala Shiksha.

The traditionally ordered program includes 25 dancers and begins with a Mallari, an invocation dance, and concludes with a mangalam which calls for the blessings of the audience. The dances are in a conversation between the dancer’s ankle bells (Padha Paatas) and the accompanying percussion instrument (the Mridangam) and strike a perfect balance between the mind, body, and soul with the purpose of leading us to moksha, liberation or enlightenment. 

Oregon Ballet Theatre in George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker. Photo courtesy of Oregon Ballet Theatre.

George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker
Oregon Ballet Theatre, artistic director, Kevin Irving
December 7-26
Keller Auditorium, 222 SW Clay Street

To Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite, little Marie parties hard, fights with her brother because he broke her new toy, sees a tree grow to the size of a building, fights off rats and travels to the Land of Sweets where she meets the Sugar Plum Fairy, witnesses dancing delicacies from around the world, and takes off in the end to places unknown with the Nutcracker Prince.

George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker was first performed on February 2, 1954, an adaptation of an earlier version that Balanchine had danced back in Russia. It is now synonymous with the holiday season here in America and is performed by ballet companies nationwide, including OBT’s large-scale version.

Week 2: December 9-15

Dancers of the Inclusive Arts Vibe Dance Company. Photo courtesy of the Disability Art and Culture Project.

Do Good Showcase
Hosted by Disability Art and Culture Project
6:30 pm December 10
New Expressive Works, 810 SE Belmont 

Dancers of the Inclusive Arts Vibe Dance Company will perform to raise funds for the Disability Art and Culture Project, CymaSpace, Friends of Noise, Portland Street Art Alliance, and Vibe.  There are pre-and post-show activities and live DJ in the lobby! The event is FREE and a donation to participating nonprofits is recommended. ASL interpretation, live audio captioning, and audio description will be provided. 

Inclusive Arts Vibe Dance Company, founded in 2005 by Kathy Coleman (current director), Erik Ferguson (co-artistic director of Wobbly Dance), and Jody Ramey, is a mixed-ability, mixed-age dance company that aims to further the artistic expression of people with apparent and non-apparent disabilities, by providing dance, choreography and performance as an artistic outlet.

NW Dance Project dancers Noelle Kayser and William Couture. Photos by Michael Slobodian

Winter Wonders
NW Dance Project
December 12-14
Lincoln Performance Hall, 1620 SW Park Ave

Celebrating its 16th anniversary, NW Dance Project presents its annual holiday extravaganza and warm wassail for all! Five NW Dance Project dancers have joined forces to conceive, create, and produce an evening of new, contemporary dance works. Interspersed throughout, will be short whimsical interludes created by Resident Choreographer, Ihsan Rustem for the company’s 10 dancers and the Young Creatives student performing group.

Inspired by fairytales of yesteryear, fables, snowy scenes, and winter wonders, this holiday mashup includes, but is not limited to, appearances by The Snow Queen, The Grinch and his dog Max, and many more madcap characters.

ZooZoo
Imago Theatre, Carol Triffle and Jerry Mouawad
December 13-January 5
Imago Theatre, 17 SE 8th

ZooZoo is back! This longtime, audience favorite magnifies the quirkiness in our everyday life with an expert composition of elaborate costumes, masks, dance, music, physical comedy, and anthropomorphic humor. ZooZoo features a zany cast of characters like playful polar bears, firefly eyes, hippos with insomnia, arrogant anteaters, introverted frogs, acrobatic worms, self touting accordions, and tricky penguins, in this carnival of the absurd. 

Founded in 1979 by Carol Triffle and Jerry Mouawad, Imago presents original productions using masks and elaborate costumes making the humans disappear and the imaginative creatures appear.

Ballet Fantastique dancers in, Babes in Toyland.
Photo by Bob Williams.

Babes in Toyland
Ballet Fantastique
December 13-15
Hult Center, Soreng Theater, 1 Eugene Center, Eugene

It’s Christmastime in Candyland with Ballet Fantastique! Babes in Toyland, which debuted in 2018, is a contemporary ballet danced to Duke Ellington’s jazzy rendition of The Nutcracker Suite, played live by the Swing Shift Orchestra. This retro-glam ballet, choreographed and produced by the mother-daughter artistic team of Donna Marisa and Hannah Bontrager, is a reimagining of the original Babes in Toyland operetta that Victor Herbert composed as a Christmas-themed fairy-tale mashup; it debuted in 1903.

Reed College dancers taking flight. Photo courtesy of Reed College Dance Department.

Winter Dance Concert
Reed College Dance Department
December 14-15
Reed College, Greenwood Theatre, 3203 SE Woodstock Blvd

The end of the semester is here and with it the result of many hours of hard work by Reed dance majors. This performance features choreography by students and faculty-get a glimpse of future Portland dancers and dance makers.

Northwest Dance Theatre’s Nutcracker and Mouse King, dueling it out.
Photo by Blaine Truitt Covert

A Nutcracker Tea
Northwest Dance Theatre
Artistic Directors June Taylor-Dixon and Gretta Murray-Marchek
December 14-22
Sylvania Campus, PCC Sylvania’s Performing Arts Center, 12000 SE, SW 49th Ave

An abridged Nutcracker, this version follows Clara and her prince through the Snow Kingdom and the Land of Sweets, showcasing beautifully crafted sets and costumes with choreography by June Taylor-Dixon and Gretta Murray-Marchek.

NWDT is a youth ballet company in its twenty-seventh season.

The Bolshoi Ballet’s Evgenia Obraztsova as Marie, and Vladislov Lantrtov as the Nutcracker-Prince, in The Nutcracker. Photo by Damir Yusopov.

The Nutcracker
The Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema, Fathom Events
12:55 pm December 15
Check local theater listings for more information

Broadcast all the way from Moscow to a movie theater near you, the Bolshoi Ballet will perform Yuri Grigorovich’s 1966 version of The Nutcracker (after E.T.A. Hoffmann and Marius Petipa). 

In this version, our heroine’s name is Marie instead of Clara, Drosselmeyer turns into a wizard, the Nutcracker-Prince fight mice not rats, Marie and Nutcracker Prince sail in a magic boat through the Christmas tree kingdom not the land of sweets, Marie vanquishes the mice with a lighted candle instead of her shoe, and in the end, Marie wakes only to realize that it was all just a dream. 

Photo by Michael Miyahara. Poster design by Anthony Tzakis.

Fiesta Flamenca Navideña
Espacio Flamenco Portland
7pm December 15
Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie Ave

Espacio Flamenco Portland presents Fiesta Navideña, a celebration honoring the holidays, Flamenco style. The evening will include performances by Espacio Flamenco Coro Navideño, Flamenco Kids, the Flamenco Guitar class, and the Espacio Flamenco Company.

Week 3: December 16-22

Celebrate the Season 
DOJUMP, 3 Leg Torso, Joan Szymko, and more!
7:30 pm December 20
Alberta Rose Theatre, 3000 NE Alberta St

DO JUMP! and 3 Leg Torso present a seasonal mashup of theatricality, acrobatics, aerial dance, comedy, beauty, virtuosity and wit that includes comic and singer Pepe Raphael, juggler Charlie Brown, and original music composed by Courtney Von Drehle, Béla R. Balogh, Ralph Huntley and Joan Szymko.

Pictured: Troupe Vertigo. Photo courtesy of Oregon Symphony.

Cirque Nutcracker
Presented by Oregon Symphony
December 21
Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway

Los Angeles-based theatrical circus company Troupe Vertigo, founded in 2009 by Aloysia Gavre (Cirque du Soleil) and her husband Rex Camphuis (Pickle Family Circus), join forces with the Oregon Symphony to bring a unique hybrid of cirque, dance, and acrobatics to Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker.

The Nightmare Before Christmas
Steps PDX, directed by Kathryn Harden,
2 pm and 7 pm December 21
World Trade Center Portland, 121 Southwest Salmon Street

The dancers of Steps PDX embody the pumpkin headed scarecrow Jack Skellington and all of the zany ghoulish characters on an adventure to bring Christmas to Halloween Town in this show based on the Tim Burton film of the same name. 

The choreography is provided by artistic director Kathryn Harden, ballet mistress Olivia Ornelas, and the artistic staff—Tj Yale, Alexander Dones, Lauren Smith and Adrianna Audoma.

Eugene Ballet’s The Nutcracker by artistic director Toni Pimble.
Photo courtesy of Eugene Ballet.

The Nutcracker
Eugene Ballet, Toni Pimble 
December 20-22
Hult Center, Soreng Theater, 1 Eugene Center, Eugene

Already on tour across Oregon and Idaho, Eugene Ballet’s The Nutcracker, will return to Eugene for just four performances. 

In this version, played lived by Orchestra Next lead by Brian McWhorter, The Nutcracker becomes a story of young love. In Clara’s dream, the nutcracker transforms into Hans, a young man who works for Drosselmeyer, instead of a prince. The couple takes off on their journey in hot air balloons instead of a horse and sleigh and encounter more culturally sensitive dances that borrow from the folk dances of each country represented. 

Week 4: December 23-31

Dancers of Oregon Ballet Theatre waltzing it out with the Oregon Symphony. Photo courtesy of the Oregon Symphony.

A Viennese New Year
Presented by Oregon Symphony with guests from Oregon Ballet Theatre
7:30 pm December 30
Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway

Transport yourself to the imperial palaces of Austria and live out your fairytale dreams as the Oregon Symphony celebrates the golden age of Viennese music with operatic melodies and Strauss waltzes, while dancers from Oregon Ballet Theatre give visual form to the sounds. 

Upcoming Performances

January 
January 16-18, She’s Here: A One Woman Show, Andrea Parson and Susan Banyas
January 16-25, a world, a world, Linda Austin Dance
January 26, Cirque Flip Fabrique, Presented by Portland’5
January 26, Giselle, The Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema, Fathom Events
January 30-February 9, Fertile Ground Festival of New Works

February 
February 2, Holy Goats!, Performance Works NW
February 5-9, Niv Sheinfeld and Oren Laor, White Bird
February 8-9, Alice in Wonderland, Eugene Ballet
February 12, Grupo Corpo, White Bird
February 14-15, BodyVox Artist in Residence Darvejon Jones Dance Ensemble
February 15-23, The Sleeping Beauty, Oregon Ballet Theatre
February 21-23, ORIGIN: Humble Beginnings, PDX Contemporary Ballet
February 22, Interplay, Eugene Ballet and The University of Oregon School of Music and Dance
February 23, Swan Lake, The Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema, Fathom Events
February 27-29, Cirque Alfonse, White Bird
February 29, BodyVox on Tour in Medford, Oregon

March
March 5-7, Rennie Harris Funkedified, White Bird
March 7, Bootleggers Ball, BodyVox
March 6-8, Dragon and The Night Queen, Ballet Fantastique
March 13-15, Alembic Resident Artists Performance: Sarah Brahim, Maggie Heath, and Cat Ross, Performance Works NW
March 26-April 5, NINETEEN * TWENTY (world premiere), BodyVox and Chamber Music Northwest
March 29, Romeo and Juliet, The Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema, Fathom Events

April 
April 2-4, Camille A. Brown and Dancers, White Bird
April 4-5, Heaven and Earth, Eugene Ballet
April 9-12, Beautiful Decay, Oregon Ballet Theatre
April 15, ChangMu Dance Company, White Bird
April (dates TBA): Linda Austin & Allie Hankins ║ The Traveler & the Thief
April 19, Jewels, The Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema, Fathom Events
April 23, Drum Tao 2020
April 23-25, The Rite Of Spring, NW Dance Project
April 25-28, X-Posed, Polaris Dance Theatre
April 30-May 2, Contact Dance Film Festival, BodyVox

May
May 1-2, Contact Dance Film Festival, BodyVox
May 3: Holy Goats!Plus, Performance Works NW
May 8-9, Current/Classic, The Portland Ballet
May 8-10, Luna Mistica, Ballet Fantastique
May 12-13, Dance Theatre of Harlem, White Bird
May 15 – 17, Junior Artist Generator, BodyVox
May 22-24, ARISE: What Dance Could Be, PDX Contemporary Ballet
May 28-31, Portland Tap Dance Festival, Portland Tap Alliance

 June
June 5-13, The Americans 2.0, Oregon Ballet Theatre
June 11-13, Summer Splendors, NW Dance Project
June 12-14, Up Close, The Portland Ballet

Dance preview: BodyVox’s Death and Delight scramble

After a leading dancer took a blow to the noggin, BodyVox called on its dancers' super powers to learn new roles

Last weekend, BodyVox dancer Andrés Peraza, took a blow to the head towards the end of a performance of BodyVox’s spooktacular Halloween show, BloodyVox, in Hood River. Peraza suffered a concussion. The why and the how it all happened is not entirely clear, but it’s always a risk taking shows on the road: as Elizabeth Miller, BodyVox’s Audience Engagement director told me,  you never know what the stages will look like on the road and how much space you will have to dance in.

“We had to restructure a lot of the pieces…and unfortunately someone’s knee or foot extended beyond the new spacing,” she said.

Sadly, this means that Andrés will not be able to perform in Death and Delight, BodyVox’s double Shakespeare bill of Romeo and Juliet (set to Sergei Prokofiev’s dramatic Romeo and Juliet Suite) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, (danced to Felix Mendelssohn’s theatrically descriptive score). The show opens Thursday and runs for three weeks, November 7-23, at BodyVox. But don’t worry, according to BodyVox artistic director Jamey Hampton, the entire cast has rallied together and the show is looking wonderful. 

Peraza, who is a native Oregonian and a graduate of the Arts and Communication Magnet Academy (ACMA) in Beaverton, was set to dance the part of Benvolio, Romeo’s cousin in Romeo and Juliet, and Bottom, the donkey-headed comic relief in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He’ll  rejoin the production for its last two weeks. 

The role of Benvolio, typically a male part, will now be danced by junior company member Jenelle Gaerlan. Bottom will be danced by guest dancer Jake Gordon, and company dancer Brent Lubbert, originally cast as Bottom, will be jumping into the role of Helena, one of the lovers and female protagonists in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It’s dancer superhero time as all three of these dancers have to learn new choreography for two, 45-minute acts in just three days. Actually the whole cast has to readjust. New company members Theresa Hanson and guest artist DarVejon Jones will also be joining the production.

Continues…