Oregon ArtsWatch DramaWatch Marty Hughley

DanceWatch: a month of movement


Maybe this isn’t common knowledge, but warm weather is best for dancers. It cuts down on the time we have to warm up to dance and makes our muscles ooey gooey and stretchy, which is perfect for dancing. I love warm weather so much that I chose to major in dance at Florida State University instead of SUNY Purchase in upstate New York. My flexibility increased tenfold over my four years of dancing in the humid Florida heat.

I also love the slowed-down, molasses like pace of summer. It’s a season that is telling me to rest. So I will. And DanceWatch will, too! Both DanceWatch and I will be taking the month of August off and will see you back here bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in September.

Before I go, check out this month’s dance offerings. It’s a little like circling the globe and sampling a bit of each country’s culture from your own city streets. You can even catch me dancing Odissi (classical Indian dance from Odisha) with my dance teacher Yashaswini Raghuram and my classmates at the India Festival at Pioneer Square on August 12. I hope it’s nice and warm!

August performances

Mary Bodine of the Warm Springs tribe rehearsing with the Painted Sky Northstar Dance Company. Photo courtesy of Northstar Dance Company.

Party on the Plaza: Northstar Dance Company
Hult Center for the Performing Arts
5:30 pm August 2
Hult Center Plaza, 1 Eugene Center, Eugene

Northstar Dance Company combines Intertribal Native dances and contemporary dance forms to bring awareness to and honor Native American culture, past and present. The performance will take place outside at the Hult Center Plaza.

Street performer and vaudevillian Karla Mi Lugo. Photo courtesy of Karla Mi Lugo.

Roots and Rutas: Festival of Fending
Hosted by Karla Mi Lugo, featuring Min Yoon, Karen Kunke, and Samantha Perez
August 2-3
The Headwaters Theatre, 55 NE Farragut Street, Ste 9, Portland

This pop-up festival will feature works by Oakland-based, Puerto Rican street performer and vaudevillian Karla Mi Lugo; butoh dancer and conceptual artist Min Yoon, born in Korea, raised in Guam and California; poet and performance artist Karen Kunkel; and bomba dancer, rapper, artist, and writer from Puerto Rico, Samantha Perez.

The August 2 show will feature dance works by Kunkel, Yoon, Perez, and a video portrait by Mi Lugo of artists in Puerto Rico as well as a selection from Mi Lugo’s video diary series, The August 3 performance will feature Fe Faucet’s famous Vaudeville Gospel News service.

ELa FaLa Collective’s artistic director Barbara Lima, will be performing in Polaris Dance Theatre’s, Galaxy Dance Festival. Photo courtesy of Barbara Lima.

Galaxy Dance Festival
Hosted by Polaris Dance Theatre
August 2-4
Free classes and performances daily from 11:00am-7:00pm
Check the online schedule for details.
Director Park, 815 S.W. Park Ave., Portland

Hosted by Polaris Dance Theatre, this three-day, family-friendly, community-oriented dance festival features a wide variety of dance performances and dance classes situated in the beautiful outdoor venue of Director Park, in downtown Portland.

Featured dance companies and dance schools include: Polaris Dance Theatre, Polaris JCo / NEO, Polaris All Access, Polaris Advanced Dance Lab, Barbara Lima, ELXR, awoldance, The Circus Project, The Aspire Project, Groove Nation, Academy & Event Space, AUTOMAL, Pacific University Dance /Pacific Dance Ensemble, Beth Whelan, Katherine Ammerman, Jake Famme – Dance for Fitness, AUTOMAL, STEPS PDX, Mixd Dance Company, Pendulum Aerial Arts, and Laasya – Bharatanatyam Dance Studio.

The ensemble dancers of Guys and Dolls. Photo courtesy of Broadway Rose Theatre. Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer.

Guys and Dolls
Broadway Rose Theatre Company
Directed by Sharon Maroney with choreography by Maria Tucker
August 3-19
Deb Fennell Auditorium at Tigard High School, 9000 SW Durham Road, Tigard

In this mythologized portrait of the 1950s New York underworld, career gambler Sky Masterson makes the bet of a lifetime to win the heart of “Save-A-Soul” missionary Sarah Brown. This Tony Award-winning musical features choreography by 2016 Drammy finalist Maria Tucker and dancing by an ensemble of 12 well-known Portland dancers.

Portland Center Stage Portland Oregon Events
Eugene Ballet dancers excited about performing in #INSTABALLET NO.27. Photo courtesy of Suzanne Haag and #INSTABALLET.

Artistic directors Antonio Anacan and Suzanne Haag
5:30 pm August 3
Oregon Contemporary Theatre, 194 W Broadway, Eugene
This event is FREE

Reimagining who creates ballets, #Instaballet, directed by Suzanne Haag and Antonio Anacan of Eugene Ballet company, gives artistic control to the audience. If you have ever wanted to choreograph a ballet but aren’t a dancer or a choreographer, now is your chance. Head on over to First Friday ArtWalk in Eugene and be a part of the process and make a ballet on the spot. The creative process begins at 5:30 pm and a performance of the final product will happen at 8 pm. This month’s performance features dancers of Eugene Ballet.

If you are interested in learning more about #Instaballet and how it came to be, Eugene ArtsWatch correspondent Gary Ferrington wrote about them in 2015 in Crowd-sourced Choreography.

A-WOL takes its circus to the trees in Art in the Dark.

Art in the Dark: 10 Laws
A-WOL Dance Collective
August 3-12
Mary S. Young State Park, 19900 Willamette Drive, West Linn

A-WOL Dance Collective, an aerial dance company, will be suspended from trees under the stars this weekend in their annual Art in the Dark performance along the Willamette River in West Linn, at Mary S. Young Park.

This year’s show is called 10 Laws and is based on a recording from an East Forest song of a man talking about the 10 Laws of survival. East Forest (a.k.a. Trevor Oswalt), will accompany the performance live, and is a nationally known Pacific Northwest sound artist who is interested in creating sonic architecture for others to explore their own inner landscapes.

Japanese dancer Sahomi Tachibana (foreground) teaching Chisao Hata (background) traditional Japanese dance. This photograph was taken by Folklife Coordinator Leila Childs in 1998 and is courtesy of The Oregon History Project.

ObonFest 2018
Featuring Sahomi Tachibana Dancers and Portland Taiko
Hosted by Oregon Buddhist Temple
3 pm August 4
Oregon Buddhist Temple, 3720 SE 34th Ave, Portland

Obon, also known as the Festival of Lanterns, is a summertime Japanese festival that joyfully remembers and pays tribute to the dead. It involves dancing (Bon Odori dances), visiting with friends and family, offering food to the ancestors, and hanging lanterns in remembrance of loved ones.

The origin of the festival comes from a story in a Buddhist text about a monk who had a vision that his mother was suffering in the World of Hungry Ghosts. Buddha instructed him to provide a feast for the monks returning from their summer retreats. Upon doing so, his mother was released from her suffering and he danced with joy. This joyful dance became the Bon Odori dances that people perform today.

In Japan, the Bon Odori dances differ from region to region and depict the area’s history, geography and trades.

Portland’s Obon festival begins at 3 pm and continues through the night with music and dance performances, closing with a final Bon Odori Dance at the end.

Bill Bulick Memorial and Celebration of Life | 1952-2018
10 am August 4
Reed College, Performing Arts Building Atrium, 3203 SE Woodstock Blvd, Portland

A memorial service and performance festival honoring Bill Bulick’s contributions to the arts will take place in the atrium of the Reed College Performing Arts Center. Tributes, memories, music, dance, song, and video commemorations will be followed by a processional parade featuring Michael Curry’s giant puppets.

Performers include: Lauren Sheehan, Tim DuRoche, Ravenwood, Linda Austin, Lyndee Mah, Old Growth Band, Tere Mathern, Taka Yamamoto, Subashini Ganesan, Gary Haggerty, Kevin Burke, Thunkadelic Marimba Band, Shaun Keylock, Darrell Grant, Portland Taiko, Reed Wallsmith, Stuart Celarier and more.

Bulick was also integral to the development of Conduit Dance. I spoke with Tere Mathern, the former artistic director of Conduit Dance last week via email to learn about how Bulick was integral to Portland’s dance community. Mathern said, “He thought about Conduit as a vital part of a community—he said, like every village or community needs a church, every community needs a place for dance. Bill was always so inspired by seeing dance and learning about how it was made, and he was deeply supportive of our work as artists. I remember the sparkle in his eyes after seeing a show, his thoughtful way of speaking about what he saw and felt, and how excited he was by the way dance and music brought people together.

ArtsWatch Executive Editor Barry Johnson who knew Bulick, wrote a eulogy to him in March, which you can read here.

Eshta Divas dance group. Photo courtesy of Eshta Divas.

Portland Iranian Festival
Hosted by the Andisheh Center
11 am August 4
Portland South Park Blocks-Portland State University, 800 SW Market St.

Celebrating its 19th annual festival in Portland, the Portland Iranian Festival will honors women and artists that have contributed to the rich Iranian cultural heritage. The festivities will include Persian cuisines, dancing, and activities, as well as performances by Eshta Divas dance group, Rahim Shahriari, and DJ Nima.

Photo courtesy of Ballet Folklórico Ritmo Alegre.


Party on the Plaza: Ballet Folklórico Ritmo Alegre
Produced by the Hult Center for the Performing Arts
5:30 pm August 9
Hult Center Plaza, 1 Eugene Center, Eugene

Ballet Folklórico Ritmo Alegre is a professional southern Oregon youth dance troupe that performs traditional folk dances from Mexico. In addition to dances from Baja California Sur and Nuevo Leon that were influenced by Polish and German immigrants, and dances from Jalisco (capital Guadalajara) which were reflective of the Spanish colonial era, the dancers will perform a Revolucion dance that honors the contributions of women during the 1910 revolution that led to the establishment of the constitutional republic of Mexico.

Dancer Amel Tafsout (Algeria/CA) will be performing as part of JamBallah Northwest. Photo courtesy of Amel Tafsout.

JamBallah Northwest
Hosted by JamBallah NW and Presented by Elise of Narcissa Productions LLC, partnered with the Marissa Mission, a 501(c)(3) organization.
August 10-12
Portland State University, Smith Memorial Student Union, Room 355, 1825 SW Broadway

This three-day festival celebrates Middle Eastern dance and its American Fusion versions and includes performances by regional, national and international dance artists including Amel Tafsout (Algeria/CA), Aziza (Blainville, Quebec), Ozgen (Turkey/London), Sharon Kihara (Portland, OR), Bevin Victoria (Portland, OR) and Rin Ajna (Washington, DC). The festival also features an artisan vendor fair and three days of workshops encompassing the entire bellydance diaspora.

2018 Pan African Festival
Hosted by Pioneer Courthouse Square
12 pm August 11
Pioneer Courthouse Square, 701 SW Sixth Avenue

The Pan African festival celebrates African, Caribbean and African American cultures through live music, dance, food, and entertainment. This annual festival focuses on the presence, resilience, strength and influence of Pan Africans in Oregon and includes health education, career awareness, financial literacy, along with other relevant opportunities for people to take action and solve problems in their community.

The Indian Cultural Association of Portland’s India Festival. Photo courtesy of the Indian Cultural Association of Portland.

India Festival 2018
Hosted by the Indian Cultural Association of Portland
10 am August 12
Pioneer Courthouse Square, 701 SW Sixth Avenue

Celebrating India’s Independence and cultural diversity, Portland’s Indian Cultural Association hosts a day of live music, dance, and food from across India.

Bharatanatyam exponent Sweta Ravisankar. Photo courtesy of Sweta Ravisankar.

Anbe Sivam
Hosted by Sweta Ravisankar and ASHA for Education – Portland Chapter
7 pm August 24
PCC Rock Creek Auditorium, 17705 NW Springville Rd, Portland

Hosted by Bharatanatyam and Nattuvangam performer, teacher, and choreographer, Sweta Ravisankar, “Anbe Sivam” (which means “Love is God”) will feature: performances by senior Mridangam player, Sri S Ravisankar (disciple of Sanjeevi Rao and Gundupalli Sri Krishnamurthy Rao) and also Ravisankar’s father; students of Sarada Kala Nilayam (Ravisankar’s dance school); plus additional performances by regional dancers and percussion artists.

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—and the mridangam is a barrel-shaped, two-headed drum played to accompany Bharatnatyam dancers.

Sweet Tooth
Presented by Downright Productions
Co-directed by Anna Marra and Emily Schultz
5 pm August 25
Disjecta Contemporary Arts Center, 8371 N Interstate Avenue

This summer sampler of Portland dance, music, and visual arts, co-directed by BodyVox dancers Anna Marra and Emily Schultz, will feature: Nacia Amundson, Shaun Keylock Company, Kim Diamond, Kristalyn Gill, Brette Irish, Nicole Mark, Riley Parker, Sara Parker, No Aloha, Havania Whaal, and more!

The evening includes drinks, sweets, live performances of course, and a DJ’d dance party at the end.

Jamuna Chiarini is a dance artist, producer, curator, and writer, who produces DanceWatch Weekly for Oregon ArtsWatch. Originally from Berkeley, Calif., she studied dance at The School of The Hartford Ballet and Florida State University. She has also trained in Bharatanatyam and is currently studying Odissi. She has performed professionally throughout the United States as a dancer, singer, and actor for dance companies, operas, and in musical theatre productions. Choreography credits include ballets for operas and Kalamandir Dance Company. She received a Regional Arts & Culture Council project grant to create a 30-minute trio called “The Kitchen Sink,” which was performed in November 2017, and was invited to be part of Shawl-Anderson’s Dance Up Close/East Bay in Berkeley, Calif. Jamuna was a scholarship recipient to the Urban Bush Women’s Summer Leadership Institute, “Undoing Racism,” and was a two-year member of CORPUS, a mentoring program directed by Linda K. Johnson. As a producer, she is the co-founder of Co/Mission in Portland, Ore., with Suzanne Chi, a performance project that shifts the paradigm of who initiates the creation process of new choreography by bringing the artistic vision into the hands of the dance performer. She is also the founder of The Outlet Dance Project in Hamilton, N.J.