“No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds! – November!” This line begins the chapter on November in my favorite childhood book, A Time to Keep, the Tasha Tudor Book of Holidays, and is also the last line of a poem by poet and humorist Thomas Hood (1799 -1845) called NO!.
The story line of A Time to Keep is prompted by a little girl asking her mother, “What was it like when mommy was me?” Tudor lovingly illustrates each month of the year and that family’s holidays and traditions for each of them.
Tudor (1915-2008) was an American author and illustrator whose stories and beautifully detailed illustrations created whimsical, magical worlds for children of all ages to enter.
I particularly liked November in A Time to Keep, because it describes a family coming together from all around and celebrating the holiday with food and impromptu performances as entertainment. I like to imagine that this is what we are doing here in Portland in the winter, gathering together in warm, cozy spaces, eating, drinking, and watching dance.
And this November has no shortage of dance: twenty performances, from a few Halloween carryovers to important anniversary celebration performances, circus performances with a social justice bent, Shakespeare, ballet, and much more. Scroll down to see it all!
Dance Performances in November
Week 1: November 1-3
Redwood (World Premiere)
Playwright Brittany K. Allen
Directed by Chip Miller
Choreography by Darrell Grand Moultrie
Portland Center Stage at The Armory, 128 N.W. 11th Ave.
A young Black woman’s relationship with her white boyfriend is upended when her uncle’s exploration of their family’s lineage reveals that her ancestors were enslaved by her boyfriend’s ancestors. Guided by a hip-hop dance class chorus, choreographed by Darrell Grand Moultrie (choreographer of Instinctual Confidence and Fluidity Of Steel for Oregon Ballet Theater), this American family learns to live and love in a present that’s overpopulated with ghosts.
Cabaret Variété – Halloween Horror
Presented by Bag&Baggage Productions in partnership with Narcissa Productions
7:30pm November 2
The Vault Theater, 350 E. Main St., Hillsboro
Celebrating the first year of their partnership, Bag & Baggage and Narcissa Productions present this spooktacular burlesque review featuring a rotating cast of renowned Portland burlesque performers, female and male. The Halloween-inspired performance incorporates elaborate costumes, dance, comedy, and theater, while also challenging social norms, gender politics, sexuality, and the public’s perception of the naked body.
For a chance to win fabulous prizes, come dressed to kill, in the costuming or attire your spooky heart desires, and strut your stuff on the runway of terror, if you dare.
For a glimpse into Portland’s burlesque scene, check out “Burlesque: Heart of the Glitter Tribe” on Netflix, directed by Jon Manning, featuring Angelique DeVil, a performer in Cabaret Variété.
Week 2: November 4-10
Reggie Wilson/Fist and Heel Performance Group
Presented by White Bird
Portland State University, Lincoln Performance Hall, 1620 S.W. Park Ave.
Reggie Wilson/Fist and Heel Performance Group is a Brooklyn-based troupe founded in 1989 that draws on the traditions of the African diaspora, combining that movement with postmodern dance to make what Wilson calls “post-African/Neo-HooDoo Modern dances.”
The company first came to Portland in 2016 and performed Moses(es), a work that examined the many representations of Moses in religious texts, asking: How do we lead and why do we follow? Inspired by the 1939 novel by African American novelist and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston, Moses, Man of the Mountain, Wilson traveled to Israel, Egypt, Turkey, and Mali to consider the migration of African people throughout the world.
Building on his ongoing examination of early African American spiritual worship within American Christian religiosity, Wilson’s newest work, POWER, is a reimagination of what the Black Shaker movement could have looked like.
Wilson will conduct a weekend intensive workshop for intermediate and advanced dancers, November 2-3, focusing on choreography and the creative process, and will give a lecture November 4 and a choreography workshop and a mixed-level contemporary technique class for dancers on November 5, all at Reed Performing Arts Building, Reed College. All classes are free but require an RSVP to attend.
Death and Delight
BodyVox Dance Center, 1201 N.W. 17th Ave.
BodyVox presents a double bill reimagining of two of Shakespeare’s most popular stories: Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, set to music by Sergei Prokofiev and Felix Mendelssohn, respectively. There are lovers and fairies and mischief and madness BodyVox style, performed to the live piano playing of Susan Smith, Yoko Green (Nov. 7, 9 – 23) and Western-Li Summerton (Nov. 8th).
ArtsWatcher Bob Hicks in reference to A Midsummer Night’s Dream when it premiered in 2016 as a collaboration with Chamber Music NW wrote, “The dance has an endearingly goofy lightness of being that showcases BodyVox’s great gift of presenting serious emotional and cultural matters in buoyant comic tones.” For his full review click here.
ELa FaLa Collective, artistic director Barbara Lima
Polaris Dance Theatre, 1826 NW 18the Ave
Brazilian choreographer Barbara Lima, artistic director of the new Portland-based ELa FaLa Collective, presents her first evening-length work, Anna. ELa FaLa in Portugese means “she speaks,” an appropriate name for a company made up of eight women dancers, including Lima, that seeks to express the experiences of women as a collective voice. The company is a vehicle for self-expression, when cultures and languages are a barrier, and bridges art, technology, culture, education, and science.
PDX Contemporary Ballet
New Expressive Works, 810 S.E. Belmont St.
PDX Contemporary Ballet, directed by Briley Neugebauer, celebrates its fifth anniversary with a trip down memory lane, revisiting two works from the past; INCIPIO and Configure.
INCIPIO, choreographed by Neugebauer in 2016, means “I begin” in Latin, and is performed in the round, set to Jorge Mendez’s “Fragments,” with additional sounds of ambient rain overlaid. INCIPIO is part Neugebauer’s personal story of confronting the reality of trying to “do it all,” and part pure dance.
Configure, choreographed by Neugebauer in 2018, is inspired by the clay sculptural works of Michele Collier and the music of Italian composer and pianist Ludovico Einaudi. What Neugebauer loved about Collier’s work, she said in a 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.” Neugebauer shapes her choreography like Collier’s clay, revealing the body’s raw material, and proposing new perspectives on beauty.
Neugebauer danced with the now defunct Moxie Contemporary Ballet Company as well as Polaris Dance Theatre, and ART-IF-ACT Dance Project, and was an apprentice with Donald Byrd’s Spectrum Dance Theater in Seattle. PDX Contemporary Ballet has produced five shows since 2016.
Living Room Circus
The Circus Project
8:00 p.m. November 9
1420 N.W. 17th Ave., Suite 388
Due to the nature of this event, content may not be appropriate for all audiences.
Celebrate dance, circus arts, and the creative process with novices to professional artists in The Circus Project’s production. This quarterly works-in-progress showcase will give audience members an opportunity to engage further and give written feedback to the performers. You might ask, How does a performance get made? What makes you feel inspired when you watch it? What stands out? What doesn’t? And any other questions or feedback you might have. Tickets must be reserved in advance.
Eugene Ballet and Orchestra Next
Choreography by Denise Schultze and Louis Godfrey after Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov
Hult Center for the Performing Arts, 1 Eugene Center, Eugene
For the first time in Eugene Ballet’s 41-year history, Prince Siegfried, Odette, and Von Rothbart will dance their story, Swan Lake, to live music by Orchestra NEXT, directed by Brian McWhorter.
The story goes: Prince Siegfried, on the moonlit banks of a mysterious lake, meets Odette, the bewitched swan-woman. Spellbound by her beauty, he swears his faithfulness to her. Sadly, the Prince gets tricked by the evil Von Rothbart and promises his love to the wrong swan, the black swan, Odile. In Eugene Ballet’s ending of Swan Lake, Prince Siegfried kills Von Rothbart instead of Von Rothbart killing Prince Siegfried. A much prefered ending, in my opinion.
Princess Odette will be danced by Yuki Beppu, Prince Siegfried by Hirofumi Kitazume and Mark Tucker, Princess Odile by Yuki Beppu and Danielle Tolmie, and Von Rothbart will by Mark Tucker and Hirofumi Kitazume.
Week 3: November 11-17
The Hip Hop Nutcracker
Decadancetheatre, artistic director Jennifer Weber, featuring Kurtis Blow
Presented by Portland’5 Centers for the Arts
Keller Auditorium, 222 S.W. Clay St.
This popular holiday mashup for the whole family is back again at the Keller. Directed and choreographed by Jennifer Weber, The Hip Hop Nutcracker is a contemporary dance spectacle set to Tchaikovsky’s timeless music. A unique and joyful event, this evening-length production is performed by a supercharged cast of a dozen all-star dancers, a DJ, a violinist, and MC Kurtis Blow, one of hip hop’s founding fathers, who opens the show with a short set.
Just as in the original, in The Hip Hop Nutcracker Maria-Clara and the Nutcracker Prince go on a dream adventure, battling a gang of mice, visiting the land of sweets, and learning the lessons of the holiday season. Innovative digital graffiti and visual effects transform the landscape of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s beloved story from traditional 19th Century Germany to the vibrant, diverse sights and sounds of contemporary New York City.
Through this remixed and reimagined version of the classic, the dynamic performers of The Hip Hop Nutcracker take us on a journey that celebrates love, community and the magic of the holiday season.
Autumn Choreographer’s Concert
Pacific Theatre and Dance Department
Pacific University, Tom Miles Theatre, Warner Hall, 2115 Pacific Ave., Forest Grove
Under the artistic leadership of Dance Director Jennifer Camp, Pacific University’s dance company celebrates its 17th season with a program of works by students, alumni, and faculty. The concert features a new work by guest alumna and freelance Portland dance artist Taylor Baker, called you did this to y o u r s e l f; a work by Camp called Silent Words that explores the silent fight of inequality; and a collaborative work by dance faculty member Mary Hunt and her dance students.
mekudeshet (מקודשת) (world premiere)
The Holding Project, Amy Leona Havin
Shaking The Tree Theatre, 823 S.E. Grant St.
In this deeply layered examination of Jewish cultural heritage, relationships, oppression, struggle, resilience and identity, and how those things relate to daily life, each of The Holding Project’s six performers presents a real-time negotiation of their personal, cultural, and emotional position within this paradigm.
Mekudeshet was created by artistic director Amy Leona Havin in collaboration with New York-based dance dramaturge Rachel Levens, lighting designer Trevor Sargent, and sculpture artist Maggie Heath.
Havin is a Portland-based, Israeli-born choreographer, filmmaker, and artistic director of The Holding Project. Her choreography is influenced by her dance training with Ohad Naharin and Batsheva Dance Company’s Gaga Movement Language. She has also trained under other well-known Israeli choreographers: L-E-V’s Sharon Eyal, Ate9’s Danielle Agami, Sidra Bell Dance, Yasmeen Godder, and Shahar Binyamini.
A fundraising performance for Performance Works NW
Performance Works NW, 4625 S.E. 67th Ave.
Join Performance Works NW and some of Portland’s dancers, performance-makers, musicians, for two nights of performance and merrymaking. Artists create original 5-10 minute works based on photo prompts from the PWNW archives—all in support of the company’s programming, which includes Alembic Artist Residencies, Alembic Co-Productions, Linda Austin Dance, Public Access Performances, and a subsidized rehearsal space program. PLUS: Raffle & Refreshments!
Artists on November 15:
The Boris and Natasha Dancers, Sarah-Luella Baker, Mickey Sanchez, Emily Jones and Hannah Krafcik, Carla Mann and Katherine Longstreth, Pepper Pepper (video), Urban Leopard (Chelsea Petrakis, Jason Williams, Jennifer Dymond, Justin Alexander, Kevin Nusser, Russ Walsh), and Muffie Delgado Connelly and Vo.
Artists on November 16:
The Boris and Natasha Dancers, Maggie Health, Jana and Patsy, Gregg Bielemeier, Linda K. Johnson, Midnight Variety Hour (Maura Campbell-Balkits, Jesse Carsten, Sean Christensen, Fern Wiley, Leah Wilmoth), Torse (Seth Nehil, Rebecca Miller, Loren Chasse) and Allie Hankins (video).
Meshi Chavez, Subashini Ganesan, and Unit Souzou
New Expressive Works, 810 S.E. Belmont St.
Sharing an evening of new work, some in-progress, are Unit Souzou, a taiko and Japanese folk dance ensemble directed by Michelle Fujii and Toru Watanabe; butoh artist and co-founder of Momentum Conscious Movement, Meshi Chavez; and Subashini Ganesan, Bharathatyam dancer, director of New Expressive Works, and Portland’s Creative Laureate.
The works, which come from three different cultural perspectives, grapple with otherness, self discovery, and finding meaning in language and in the everyday and the ordinary.
The Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema, presented by Fathom Events
12: 55pm November 17
Check local theater listings for more information
Broadcast all the way from Moscow to a movie theater near you, the Bolshoi Ballet will perform Le Corsaire—a lavish ballet created in 1856 by Marius Petipa, contemporized by Alexei Ratmansky. Loosely based on the poem The Corsair by Lord Byron, the ballet tells the tale of shipwrecked pirates, the beautiful women who rescue them, the capture and sale of those women into sexual slavery as harem workers, and then, of course, the rescue of said ladies by the pirates in the end. It’s all about romantic love.
Week 4: November 18-24
Sugar Skull! A Día de los Muertos Musical Adventure
Mexico Beyond Mariachi
Presented by Portland’5
7:30 p.m. November 18
Newmark Theatre, 1111 S.W. Broadway
Young Vita thinks her family has gone loco (crazy) planning a celebration for deceased loved ones. But when a candy skeleton on her abuelita’s (grandma’s) cemetery ofrenda (an altar to a departed loved one) suddenly springs to life, Vita finds herself on a magical, musical journey to unravel the true meaning of Día de los Muertos. Along with her skeletal new friend, Vita dances with ancient ancestors, sings with a sorrowful sorceress, escapes the trickster Chaneques, and meets the famous Catrina Calavera.
Mexico Beyond Mariachi was created 15 years ago to address the need for education of New York City communities about Mexican culture beyond its stereotypes.
Portland is just one of 30 stops on Mexico Beyond Mariachi’s two-month cross country tour.
Biped and Beach Birds
Choreographed by Merce Cunningham, restaged by Robert Swinston, and performed by the National Center for Contemporary Dance-Angers/Robert Swinston
Artistic Director, Robert Swinston
Newmark Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway
Pre-show talk before each performance, 6:50-7:05 with Bonnie Brooks, Associate Professor Emerita in Dance at Columbia College
12:30-2p.m. November 23, Cunningham master class taught by Robert Swinston, at FLOOR Center for Dance, 6635 N. Baltimore Ave #271
American dancer and choreographer Merce Cunningham, born in Centralia, Washington in 1919, was one of the biggest influences in modern dance today. He began as a drama major at Cornish School in Seattle, moved on to dance with the Martha Graham Dance Company as a soloist for six years, and then in 1953 formed the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. He collaborated with many artists over his lifetime, but most often with composer John Cage, who became his lifelong romantic partner.
Cunningham was fascinated with finding the potential of randomness and chance as choreographic structures. He was interested in the use of technology as a tool to create choreography, was one of the first modern dancers to perform to an electronic score, and was interested in creating dance that was abstract and void of emotional expression.
In celebration of Cunningham’s centennial year, former Cunningham dancer and assistant to Cunningham, Robert Swinston, and his Compagnie CNDC-Angers, will perform two Cunningham masterworks, Biped and Beach Birds. Biped premiered in 1999 just after Cunningham’s 80th birthday, and is an exploration of animation technology of motion capture in collaboration with digital artists Paul Kaiser and Shelley Eshkar. Beach Birds, with a naturalistic score by Cage, premiered at New York’s City Center in 1992, and costumed the dancers in white body stockings with a black stripe across the neckline that extends out to gloved arms, creating the effect of a fluidly moving flock of birds. “Its beauty lies in the poetic value of the images, which offer a vision of heightened reality,” Anna Kisselgoff wrote in the New York Times at the time of the premiere.
The Circus Project
The Circus Project, 1420 NW 17th Ave.
Circus arts meet social justice in the premiere of Gravity Defiant, an evening-length performance by the Voice Project, a circus company formed in part by a grant of $10,000 from Cirque du Soleil to support and inspire people living in margins, including people experiencing homelessness, queer and trans performers, and performers of color. Through trapeze, dance and acrobatics, and tightwire, they explore issues of identity and the invisible forces that shape our lives. This is the group’s inaugural performance.
Invisible Touch and Drama Tops, This Is For You
Allie Hankins and Elby Brosch
An Alembic Co-Production Series produced by Performance Works NW
Performance Works NW, 625 S.E. 67th Ave.
In this shared Alembic Co-Production Series, produced by Performance Works NW, Portland dancer/choreographer Allie Hankins centers deconstruction as a means of meaning-making in her new work-in-progress, Invisible Touch. In it, Hankins considers how melody, nostalgia, and sentimentality contaminate movement exploration.
Sharing the bill are Seattle choreographers Elby Brosch and Shane Donohue, presenting Drama Tops, This Is for You. It’s the story of a trans masculine dancer and choreographer, told through a series of duets that examining toxic masculinity and the potential for beauty through tenderness and empathy.
Oregon International Ballet Academy
Choreography by Xuan Cheng / Ye Li after Marius Petipa / Lev Ivanov
Metropolitan Youth Symphony, Rául Gómez, Music Director
Portland State University, Lincoln Performance Hall, 1620 S.W. Park Ave.
Oregon International Ballet Academy, directed by Oregon Ballet Theatre principal dancer Xuan Cheng and her husband, former OBT soloist Ye Li, present its second, full-length Nutcracker in collaboration with the Metropolitan Youth Symphony. The production, adapted from Lev Ivanov and Marius Petipa’s original Nutcracker, features student performers and parents as well as professional guest artists from OBT. This years Sugar Plum Fairy will be performed by Arts and Communication Magnet Academy junior Lauren Grover.
Week 5: November 24-December 1
Petrushka (World Premiere) and Firebird
The Portland Ballet and Portland State University Orchestra
Choreography by Tom Gold and John Clifford
November 29-December 1
Lincoln Performance Hall at PSU, 1620 S.W. Park Ave.
The Portland Ballet presents an all-Stravinsky program featuring the world premiere of Tom Gold’s Petrushka and John Clifford’s Firebird accompanied live by the Portland State University Orchestra conducted by Ken Selden.
Gold’s Petrushka is a reimagining of Michel Fokine’s 1911 ballet that takes place instead in the 1950s, during Thanksgiving dinner in a historic Portland hotel. Petrushka is an immigrant busboy who is in love with a beautiful lounge singer, who in turn is in love with a handsome doorman. An unfortunate turn of events for Petrushka.
Because of Gold’s long history with Portland, which began in 1999 when he was invited by then-Oregon Ballet Theatre artistic director James Canfield to guest in Romeo and Juliet, he has packed many Portland references throughout Petrushka to be discovered, like surprise Easter eggs, by you.
John Clifford’s Firebird is based on several Russian fairy tales and tells the story of a Firebird and a royal prince who team up to break a spell cast by an evil magician. Clifford, a TPB artistic advisor, was a principal dancer and choreographer with New York City Ballet and founder and artistic director of the original Los Angeles Ballet.
Gold is founder and director of Tom Gold Dance and performed for 21 years with the New York City Ballet, where he rose to the rank of soloist.
For the youngest ballet fans, there will be photo opportunities and activities in the lobby and gift “swag bags.” Audience members are invited to stay after every performance to meet the cast, take photos with them, and have their programs signed.
December 6-7, Dora Gaskill + Stephanie Lavon Trotter
December 7-26, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, Oregon Ballet Theatre
December 12-14, Winter Wonders, NW Dance Project
December 13-15, Babes in Toyland, Ballet Fantastique
December 14-22, A Nutcracker Tea, Northwest Dance Theatre
December 15, The Nutcracker, The Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema, Fathom Events
December 20-22, The Nutcracker, Eugene Ballet
December 21, Cirque Nutcracker, Presented by Oregon Symphony
December 30, A Viennese New Year, Presented by Oregon Symphony
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 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 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
March 5-7, Rennie Harris Funkedified, White Bird
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 29, Romeo and Juliet, The Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema, Fathom Events
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 1-2, Contact Dance Film Festival, BodyVox
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 3: Holy Goats!Plus, Performance Works NW
May 22-24, ARISE: What Dance Could Be, PDX Contemporary Ballet
May 28-31, Portland Tap Dance Festival, Portland Tap Alliance