DanceWatch: Back on stage!

After a long layoff, dance is getting back in performance halls. Celebrate its return – if you've been vaccinated.

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I am so happy to report that Portland dancers and dance companies are back in the theaters performing live this month after an 18-month hiatus due to Covid-19. A welcome change for all of us. But don’t you dare come to the theater without proof of complete vaccination against Covid-19 or a negative Covid-19 test and a mask, because they won’t let you in. Portland performing arts organizations have united to form a vaccine coalition for indoor performances. They’ve put protocols in place to prioritize the health and safety of audience members, artists, staff, volunteers, and the community. So take care. And if either of these two options is not possible for you, almost all of Octobers’s performances also have virtual viewing options.

Performances this month include the tail end of the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art’s TBA festival, dancing in a rose garden, lots and lots of dance films, jazzy cabaret and a new Oregon Music Hall of Famer, new dancers at Oregon Ballet Theatre, spooky Halloween stuff, and a durational solo that explores what’s possible in a fluctuating world. 

Enjoy!

Performances This Month!

jumatatu m. poe and Eric Sanchez performing in jumatatu m. poe and Jermone Donte Beacham’s work “Let ‘im Move You: Intervention.” Photo: Gema Galiana


Let ‘im Move You: Intervention (TBA Fest)
jumatatu m. poe and Jermone Donte Beacham
Presented by Portland Institute for Contemporary Art
In-person performances October 1-2
The exact location of the performance will be released in advance of the performance

Panel Discussion: Re-Sette the Stage: Gerard Minaya, Jerome Donte Beacham, Nikolai McKenzie, and Sanchel Brown with Jasmine Johnson
Online 3 p.m. October 1

Agitating the boundaries of property and belonging and confronting history and spatial limitations in predominantly Black neighborhoods, Philadelphia-based dance artists jumatatu m. poe and Jermone Donte Beacham will perform a series of works based on J-Sette, a dance style popularized by the Prancing J-Settes, the women’s dance line of Jackson State University’s Sonic Boom the South marching band in the late 1970s. This dance style is characterized by a lead-and-follow format in which one dancer initiates a series of high-energy dance moves, and the other dancers join in. J-Sette also has a parallel life and alternate political meaning in the Southern “Black gay club scene,” and has made its way into pop culture. 

Portland choreographers Emily Jones Hannah Krafcik leaning into it. Photo courtesy of Portland Institute for Contemporary Art

Apogee (TBA Fest)
Emily Jones and Hannah Krafcik 
Presented by Portland Institute for Contemporary Art
In-person performances September 30-October 2

Workshop: What I Don’t Know Yet I Know
In-person 10 a.m. October 2
PICA Pavilion, 20 N.E. San Rafael St., in PICA’s back lot

This sci-fi-inspired multi-sensory stimulation, created by Portland dance artists Emily Jones and Hannah Krafcik, reflects on the ways our nervous systems connect with our surroundings. Drawing together video, sound, text, and movement, the duo examines intuitive and predictive body-mind technologies and how they help realize personal truths.

The movement-based workshop will take place outside, under an open-air, shaded structure with roof covering, on the concrete ground that is ADA accessible but slightly sloped in some parts. Wear comfortable clothes and supportive footwear. Water sources will be available, and seating will be provided for those who need to rest. Gender-neutral, wheelchair-accessible restrooms are available on site. Please contact boxoffice@pica.org with specific requests or questions regarding accommodations and access needs. 

Perennial by Heidi Duckler Dance Northwest. Dancer: Himerria Wortham. Photo by Cristal Tappan

Perennial
Heidi Duckler Dance Northwest
5 p.m. October 2 
Peninsula Park Rose Garden, 700 N. Rosa Parks Way, Portland
In-person

Like the long-lasting perennial plant that continually reoccurs, Heidi Duckler Dance Theater/Northwest found many ways to endure and thrive and make art during the pandemic. The company will debut Perennial, a live dance performance that began as a series of photographs, evolved into a film, and then a Flipbook of compiled project photos. The project’s culmination will take place in the rose garden at Peninsula Park this coming Saturday. It will explore shared human experiences in a sensory-rich environment and will feature dancers Conrad Kaczor, Barbara Lima, Javan Mngrezzo, Himerria Wortham, and artistic director Heidi Duckler, with music composed by Crystal Quartez and Sound Artist Yaara and costumes by Snezana Petrovic.

Also featured this month at the Portland Dance Film Festival is a film by Duckler’s Northwest company called Body is Home that celebrates the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Keller Fountain. The Portland fountain inspired by the waterfalls of the Columbia River Gorge was designed by Angela Danadjieva, a designer for Lawrence Halprin, who was the husband of the renowned postmodern dancer Anna Halprin. It was dedicated in 1970, shortly after a series of violent clashes between police and anti-war protestors. It became a symbol of the Portland community and the power of public space.

Who We Carry 
Rejoice! Diaspora Dance Theatre
October 10
Door and Dance Party  7:30 p.m./ Film 8 p.m. 
In-person and online
Location of the performance will be released with ticket purchase 24 hours in advance of the show.

The shout or ring shout, which doesn’t actually include shouting, is a transcendent religious ritual that was practiced by African slaves in the West Indies and the United States. The worshipers move in a circle while shuffling their feet, stomping, and clapping their hands. In its newest film, Who We Carry, Rejoice Diaspora Dance Theatre explores a variety of Ring Shout traditions as a means to transform grief and loss into the reclamation of power. The evening includes a pre-film dance party and the screening of a short film selection from the Cascade Festival of African Films.

Cirque de la Lune, by Ballet Fantastique, shown at The Historic Carousel and Museum, Albany, Oregon. Featuring the dancers of Ballet Fantastique. Photo: Bob Williams

Cirque de la Lune
Ballet Fantastique, Eugene
October 2-3
In-person and online
Hult Center, Silva Concert Hall, 1 Eugene Center, Eugene

Weaving together live music from bands Folkestras, Troupe Carnivàle, Baroque Betty, and Mood Area 52, Cirque de la Lune, or Circus of the Moon, brings together 14 dancers and an international circus star, Raymond Silos, to tell the tale of a gritty Depression era traveling circus. For some, the circus is a glittery, magical escape from everyday reality. For the circus itself, life is as real and difficult as it gets. 

Oregon Ballet Theatre dancers Christopher Kaiser, Makino Hayashi, and Bailey Shaw performing in Jennifer Archibald’s “SculptedClouds.” Photo: Jingzi Zhao

Face to Face
Oregon Ballet Theatre
October 15-16
In-person at Keller Auditorium, 222 S.W. Clay St.

Celebrating its return to the theater, Oregon Ballet Theatre will perform a three-part program featuring George Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments, Ben Stevenson’s Three Preludes, and Jennifer Archibald’s SculptedClouds.

The Four Temperaments, Balanchine’s first work for the Ballet Society, a precursor to New York City Ballet, premiered on November 20, 1946, and was inspired by the medieval belief that humans are made of four humors that determine a person’s temperament: black bile, blood, phlegm, and bile. If a body was unhealthy, the humors were out of whack. Someone who was melancholic or sad was ruled by black bile; a sanguine or cheerful person was governed by blood; a phlegmatic or unemotional person was ruled by phlegm; and bile was a choleric, bad-tempered, and angry person. Thus, the ballet’s four movements — Melancholic, Sanguinic, Phlegmatic and Choleric — reflect these principles.

Three Preludes, choreographed by Stevenson in 1969 to selections of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Preludes, focuses on two dancers who fall in love while working in the dance studio. The ballet’s three sections develop in speed and intensity as the emotions between the two dancers grow. Stevenson performed with Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet and English National Ballet, where he was a principal dancer, and was artistic director of Houston Ballet for 27 years.

SculptedClouds, by Canadian choreographer Archibald, premiered in June 2021 at OBT’s live outdoor event and is set to the beat-driven music of Dead Can Dance and Roger Goula. It mulls over our relationship with nature and what we can and can’t control in our world. The abstract work heavily favors choreography for the company’s men and is influenced by traditional and nontraditional elements from hip hop, contemporary dance, classical ballet, street dance, and funk. If you are interested in learning more about Archibald, I interviewed her back in June.

“UPROOTED” is a feature-length documentary celebrating the history, lineage, and future progressions of jazz dance, and will be featured in the Portland Dance Film Festival. Photo courtesy of Portland Dance Film Festival.

Portland Dance Film Fest
October 15-24
Clinton Street Theater, 2522 S.E. Clinton St, Portland
In-person and online

Screendance is a powerful vehicle for audiences to experience the human body in motion in new ways by bringing the viewer closer to the dancer and allowing for intimacy and a shared kinesthetic experience. The camera goes to spaces and places that you wouldn’t normally be able to go. This dance-centric film festival covers the gamut of movement experiences and will screen films by Oregon filmmakers and beyond. The festival features 31 curated films and 5 documentaries.

PWNW director Linda Austin, tangled in yards of possibility. Photo: Jeff Forbes

3 miles of possible (the first mile)
Performance Works NW | Linda Austin Dance
October 17-29
In-person at Performance Works NW, 4625 S.E. 67th Ave.
Livestream Sunday, October 24 https://vimeo.com/event/1264100
ASL Interpretation Thursday, October 28

In her new durational solo, PWNW director Linda Austin explores the “the possible” in a world of fluctuating personal, material, political and artistic contingencies — a future event or circumstance that cannot be predicted with certainty. Austin animates and travels along a series of spatial paths envisioned as giant drawings, spells, and/or runes in a work whose length is measured by distance. These paths are threaded with various movement scores, choreographies, tasks, interactions with objects, texts, songs, and environmental sounds. 

This work-in-progress is estimated to last from 4:30 to 6:15 p.m., and the audience can come and go and change seats as available.

A maximum of 12 tickets is available for each performance.

Following the performance, weather permitting, guests are invited to join the artist in the backyard for beverages and socializing.

Austin is an award-winning dancer, choreographer, performance artist, and writer who founded Performance Works NW in 1999 with technical director Jeff Forbes. PWNW is a studio theater in Southeast Portland that engages artists and audiences in experimentation, creation, and dialogue around contemporary performance. Austin’s work, which she has been making since 1983, is both improvisational and highly choreographed. It contains interesting and unusual visual elements, is humorous and poetic, and purposefully disrupts what is considered dancerly. This month Austin will be hosting a 20-year retrospective of group works that she has made to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Performance Works NW.

Midnight at the Crossroads 
Querencia Dance Productions 
9 p.m. October 22 
In-person at Echo Theater, 1515 S.E. 37th Ave, Portland
Performances suitable for 18+

Costumes and other finery are highly encouraged in this evening of theatrical dance performances with live music by Portland’s First Lady of the Blues, LaRhonda Steele, and her band, fresh from her induction into the Oregon Music Hall of Fame.

Querencia Dance features jazz to burlesque in an All-Black Cast that includes Dahlia Kash, Kizmyastrid, Viper, Bee Bee Sanchez, and Nox Falls of Seattle. “Querencia” refers to the place where one’s strength is drawn from, where one feels at home, and the place where you are your most authentic self. 

BodyVox artistic director Jamey Hampton and dancer Daniel Kirk scaring up some Halloween fun in last years production of, “BloodyVox: Lockdown.” Photo courtesy of BodyVox

BloodyVox
BodyVox Dance Company
October 28-31
In-person at BodyVox Dance Center, 1201 NW 17th Ave

BodyVox’s “scary” show, originally choreographed in 2010 and revamped over the years, celebrates co-founders Jamey Hampton’s and Ashley Roland’s favorite holiday, Halloween. This family-friendly dance theater extravaganza touches on all aspects of Halloween, offering work that is by turns dark, mysterious, magical, beautiful, ironic, odd, hilarious, and absurd. The show, composed of several short dances, incorporates standard Halloween fare such as vampires, zombies, ghosts, and killer spiders, as well as some nonstandard material, like creepy identical twins and a new work called “Victorian Secret.” This year’s production also includes a costume contest and prizes for the best Halloween costume or mask.

Performances Next Month

November

November 4-7, Union PDX – Festival:21, presented by push/FOLD 
November 5-6, Fall Premieres, NW Dance Project
November 5-7, Cinderella, Eugene Ballet and Orchestra NEXT 
November 12-13, Romp, Shaun Keylock Company
November 13, The Process Project, Roselyn Dance

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