Oregon Cultural Trust

DanceWatch: Dear March, come in!

Oregon's dance month marches in like a lion, a tango, ballet, butoh, funk, fish, 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!


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. 

Public Forum on Support for the Arts in Portland
Presented by Portland State University Professor of Political Science Richard Clucas, The PSU College of Arts and The Hatfield School of Government, in partnership with Subashini Ganesan, creative laureate of Portland
7 – 8:30 p.m.  March 5
PSU’s Mark O. Hatfield School of Government, 506 S.W. Mill St., Suite 650

Join PSU’s Clucas and The Hatfield School of Government, in partnership with Ganesan, the city’s creative laureate, for a panel discussion on Support for the Arts in Portland. In conjunction with his new course at PSU called “Politics, Public Policy, and the Arts,” Clucas and Ganesan have organized two public forums to create discussions between the public and Portland’s art administrators and art gatekeepers. The upcoming panelists are: Linda Austin, director, Performance Works NW; Anthony Hudson, multidisciplinary artist; Michelle Reynolds, director of programs, Miller Foundation; and Dámaso Rodríguez , artistic director, Artists Repertory Theatre. 

Clucas cites several challenges that the city’s arts culture faces despite Portland’s rosy national image as reasons for setting up the forum: the recent closures of several vital arts institutions, including Conduit Dance, the Museum of Contemporary Craft, and others; issues of equity and inclusion; dissent over the city Art Tax; rising rents and a real-estate squeeze on studio and performance spaces; and a sense among many artists that policymakers aren’t hearing their concerns about such issues.

Dancers of Rennie Harris Pure Movement in “Funkedified.” Photo courtey of White Bird.

Rennie Harris Funkedified
Presented by White Bird
March 5-7
Newmark Theatre, 1111 S.W. Broadway, Portland

White Bird presents Rennie Harris’s FUNKEDIFIED, a dance work that pushes the audience to view hip-hop through a new lens, challenging what they think they know as hip-hop dance and culture. FUNKEDIFIED is a multimedia work that celebrates 1970s funk music and street dance and is set against the landscape of a video montage, narrated by Harris, of African American communities of that era. Performed by 12 dancers and a live funk band, the work is inspired by the political turmoil and atmosphere of Harris’s childhood. 

Eugene dance writer Rachael Carnes who has a 20-year history with Harris, interviewed him in September 2017 and shares his history, the history of the hip hop movement, and that conversation in her story Rennie Harris, moving pure for ArtsWatch.


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BARDO | Delicate Fish
Lyra Butler-Denman and Jess Evans
March 5-7
Shaking The Tree Theater, 823 S.E. Grant St., Portland

In this shared evening, Lyra Butler-Denman and Jess Evans present two works in communication with one another. BARDO, a dance theater piece by Butler-Denman, embodies the transition states of dying, of grieving, of a relationship moving from the physical plane to somewhere else. It reckons with the lack of guideposts, the emptiness and loneliness after a death, and the active process of filling that space, of making a map where there is none. Delicate Fish, by Evans, is a dance offering in call to an ocean of tenderness, and includes an original score by D.L. Fraze.

Dance and performance artist Julia Brandenberger appearing as the google eyed apparition of her expectations in her new work, “Funeral for Expectations.” Photo courtesy of Julia Brandenberger.

Funeral for Expectations
Julia Brandenberger
March 6-7
Performance Works Northwest, 4625 S.E. 67th Ave, Portland

Your presence is requested at a funeral: a Funeral of Expectations. 

Join dance artist Julia Brandenberger for a participatory journey through a landscape lit only by candlelight that examines the life of expectations and considers who achieves success. Once you’ve achieved this goal, once you’ve accomplished this thing, once you’ve attained this position, will you be fulfilled? The adventure promises to be fun and goofy, woeful and deep, and you, the audience, will be invited to share your own eulogy for expectations. 

Originally from Bucks County, Pennsylvania, outside of Philadelphia, Brandenberger creates performance experiences that delve into the questions and uncertainties of the human condition, through comedy and ritual that she calls Rogue Theology. Her work combines a deep knowledge of classical ballet; performance training from Philadelphia’s Headlong Performance Institute; PETE’s Institute for Contemporary Performance, which involves a variety of modes such as clowning and The Suzuki Method; and her Quaker values.

Her works have been produced by the Philly Fringe Festival, SoLow Fest, Philadelphia Folk Festival, and CoHo’s Summerfest. Brandenberger is also the founder of SoLow PDX, a Portland version of the long-running Philadelphia DIY festival.  

In addition to “Funeral for Expectations,” Brandenberger is in the early stages of crafting a new piece, “‘Ballet’ is a Ballet about Ballet.” 

Attention Everyone!
Presented by A-WOL Dance Collective
March 6-7
A-WOL Dance Collective, 513 NE Schuyler St

Through fierce, edgy, raw athleticism in the air and on the ground, the aerial/dance company A-Wol Dance Collective will knit together human commonalities, revealing our passion and energy and drive to serve the greater good.

Ballet Fantastique’s Stephanie Urso and Bob William performing in Donna Marisa Bontrager and Hannah Bontrager’s original work, the “Dragon and The Night Queen.” Photo courtesy of Ballet Fantastique.

Dragon and The Night Queen
Ballet Fantastique and the Gerry Rempel Ensemble
March 6-8
Hult Center for the Performing Arts,  1 Eugene Center, Eugene
LIVE BROADCAST: This concert will be broadcast live to international audiences (Sunday, March 8 @ 2:30 pm PST) Click link here to be connected. 

A hunter-hero’s quest to impress his sweetheart turns into a perilous adventure to procure a Golden Apple. With the help of a magical bird, the Phantom Queen and her Ravens, Queen Rhiannon and King Consort Myrddin, and a powerful Sword to aid him, the hero kills a dragon, gets the apple, and the girl, and they lived happily ever after.  In this genre-defying hybrid dance-theater work, Ballet Fantastique delves deep into Celtic mythology, bringing to life an array of women characters and imagining a narrative where all of the characters meet. The dancers are accompanied live by the Celtic musicians of the Gerry Rempel Ensemble.

TriptheDark dance company examines the ten deadly sins in their 10th anniversary show, “Ten.” Photo courtesy of TriptheDark.

March 6-14
Chapel Theatre, 4107 S.E. Harrison St., Milwaukie, Oregon
March 14 will include a special reception, finale, and video project celebrating the company’s tenth season and the people who helped make it possible.

TriptheDark’s tenth-season show is all about the ten deadly sins. Through contemporary dance, sins such as greed and wrath are explored, as well as a few new ones, like manipulation and cowardice, that seem relevant today. The performance seeks to highlight what is wrong with humanity and a warns that not one of us is safe from sins. 

Bootleggers Ball
5:30 p.m. March 7
Redd East Event Space, 831 S.E. Salmon St., Portland

Bring your dancin shooze to this ball of  booze and dance the night away in support of Portland’s BodyVox dance company, directed by Jamie Hampton and Ashley Roland, in this 1920s fundraiser bash!

If you are unfamiliar with BodyVox, ArtsWatch senior editor Bob Hicks, who has followed the company’s work for most of its more than 20 years, describes it as “something of an anomaly in the dance world, quirky and contemporary but outside the mainstream of both the traditional and experimental wings. … With a deep affection for circus, mime, vaudeville, and silent film in addition to training in ballet and contemporary-dance techniques, it’s really movement theater—less dancerly than many companies but usually more dancerly than Momix, Pilobolus, and ISO Dance, the companies that artistic directors Ashley Roland and Jamey Hampton worked in before creating BodyVox.” To read Hicks’s full story of BodyVox, click  here.



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Week 2: March 9-15

Alembic Resident Artist Cat Ross dancing with sculpture. Photo by Mario Gallucci.

Alembic Resident Artists Showcase
Sarah Brahim, Maggie Heath, and Cat Ross
March 13-15
Performance Works NW, 4625 S.E. 67th Ave. Portland

After working in the Performance Works NW studio since June 2019, Alembic Resident Artists Sarah Brahim, Maggie Heath, and Cat Ross are ready to reveal their work. Chosen Alembic Residents are awarded 100 hours of studio time to be used within a 10-month period as research in their performance-based practices. 

Brahim’s body of land/back to dust is a dance performance in collaboration with Yaara Valey. Brahim’s performances and films touch on themes of culture, loss, identity, borders, race, migration, transnational experience, body in landscape, and the imprint places leave within us.

In Last Date of Contact, Heath recounts and tries to make sense of a family story while constructing and re-forming the stage. Heath is a Portland installation artist whose work is heavily influenced by the intersection of performance and visual art. 

feedback, by Ross and collaborators, works through the “restless looping of mutable fragments” by using technology to impact and affect the performing body. Ross is a sound artist, choreographer and performer born in the high mountain desert of Idaho whose work combines movement, sound, text, and technology. 

Butoh dancer Joan Laage performing in “Rivers Running Red,” an homage to menstruation. Photo courtesy of The headwaters Theatre.

Rivers of Industry and Rivers Running Red
Sheri Brown, Alan Sutherland, and Joan Laage
8 p.m. March 14
The Headwaters Theatre, 55 N.E. Farragut St. #9, Portland
Workshop 10 a.m.-1 p.m. March 15

For one night only, Seattle butoh artists Joan Laage, Alan Sutherland, and Sheri Brown will perform two works: Rivers of Industry, which expresses nature’s attempt to find peace amid the clatter of machines and the stink of factories, and which was created and will be performed by Brown and Sutherland with original music by Jane Maybrysmith; and Rivers Running Red, a solo by Laage that pays homage to the female body and menstruation while also commenting on the practices of traditional societies that send women away to unsafe locations during their periods, inevitably endangering their lives. 

Laage studied under butoh masters Kazuo Ohno and Yoko Ashikawa and performed with Ashikawa’s dance company,  Gnome, in Japan in the late 1980s. In 1990, she formed Dappin’ Butoh, a company known for its appearances in Seattle’s fringe theater and dance festivals. 

Sutherland first experienced Butoh in 1991 while attending Dappin Butoh performances and performed for the first time in 1996, when he was 42. In 2000 Sutherland met Sheri, and they have been performing together ever since. 

Sheri Brown, Artistic Director of DAIPANbutoh Collective, began dancing butoh 20 years ago when she saw Alan Sutherland and others performing in the Seattle Butoh Festival that Joan Laage/Dappin’ Butoh put on at On the Boards.


Week 3: March 16-22


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Two heads are better than one in BunkerFood Studio’s new work about human existence and interconnectivity, “Since the First Sunrise/Coming Home.” Photo by Adrian Hutapea.

Since the First Sunrise/COMING HOME
BunkerFood Studio/Tracy Broyles, Adrian Hutapea, and  jaime lee christiana
March 20-22
Performance Works NW, 4625 S.E. 67th Ave., Portland

Peering across time through a kaleidoscope lens, Since the First Sunrise/Coming Home reconciles the totality of human existence and the truth of our interconnectedness with each other and with nature. Since the First Sunrise/Coming Home is a living score that braids a variety of disciplines to create an embodied experience melding humor, the inexplicable, and the absurd, while attempting to bend spacetime under a fiber art installation. 

BunkerFoodStudio creates immersive, spacious environments through sound, visual art, installation and movement and is made up of dancer, performer, and teacher Tracy Broyles; multi-instrumentalist, composer, performer Adrian Hutapea; and multicultural artist, actor, producer and singer jaime lee christiana. 


Week 4: March 23-31

Dancer Jillian St. Germain kick-in it up flapper style in BodyVox’s world premiere of “NINETEEN*TWENTY,” a new work that translates the essence of the ’20s into dance. Photo courtesy of BodyVox.

NINETEEN * TWENTY (world premiere)
BodyVox and Chamber Music Northwest
March 26-April 4
BodyVox Dance Center, 1201 N.W, 17th Ave., Portland

The world premiere of NINETEEN*TWENTY, BodyVox’s newest creation in collaboration with Chamber Music Northwest, celebrates the explosion of creativity in music, art, culture, and dance of the 1920s. 

The Roaring Twenties were a time of great economic prosperity and social change. The era was defined through art deco, expressionism, literary creativity, radio, cinema, jazz music, dance clubs, the Charleston, homosexuality, the Harlem Renaissance, speakeasies, and flappers – stylish young women who threw off the restrictions of the Victorian and Edwardian ages to become a pioneering generation of independent women. 

Flappers ditched their corsets for a freer, more relaxed silhouette with shorter hemlines and lower necklines. They wore high heels, makeup, and sported shorter hairstyles like the bob. They smoked in public, drank alcohol, and danced at jazz clubs. These women entered the workforce in droves, earning higher wages that allowed them to participate in the growing economy. The passage of the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote, and huge strides were made in contraception, making it possible for women to have fewer children. New machines and technology like washing machines and vacuum cleaners also freed women from the drudgery of housework. Mass production of cars brought down automobile prices, making mobility possible for younger generations, especially women, who drove their cars into cities, which experienced big population booms.

The 1920s also brought about Prohibition, which ended the making and selling of alcohol but not the drinking of it. 

But everything that goes up must come down, and on October 29, 1929, the party ended and the stock market crashed. Millions of people lost their jobs and the great depression began. 

NINETEEN*TWENTY will translate these forces into a vivid and vibrant dance work that is classic BodyVox: deeply theatrical, extremely physical, and entertaining. 

Music composed by Shostakovich, Gershwin, Duke Ellington, Mellits, Poulenc, Irving Berlin, Scott Joplin, Erik Satie, and Ravel will be performed by the Akropolis Reed Quintet, with special arrangements by Dan Schlosberg. 

Nina Kapstova and Artem Ovcharenko of the Bolshoi Ballet as Juliet and Romeo. Photo by Damir Yusupov.

Romeo and Juliet
The Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema, Fathom Events
12:55 p.m. March 29

Set to Sergei Prokofiev’s cinematic score, The Bolshoi Ballet presents the famous star-crossed lovers from Shakespeare’s most tragic love story, Romeo and Juliet. 

Diagram courtesy of Shmoop University.


April 2-4, Camille A. Brown and Dancers, White Bird
April 3-7, Body of Sound, Delgani Quartet and DanceAbility
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, Presented by Portland’5
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 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


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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

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Photo Joe Cantrell

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.


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