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DanceWatch: From Flamenco to Bharatanatyam

Make the most of the last month of summer with a diverse array of outdoor cultural celebrations.


Spain, India, Mexico, and unnamed unchartered spaces in-between are where dance is headed this August here in Oregon. Three of this month’s five performances are free and outdoors for those not comfortable with indoor shows yet, and if you need a cooling space and a change of indoor scenery, you have options there, too. It’s the celebratory last month of summer, traditionally chock full of outdoor cultural celebrations giving everyone a chance to let loose before we all begin our fall hibernation. This month’s dance offerings also allow you to explore Portland scenery, from the 410 acres of Washington Park to the culturally rich Portland Mercado. So get out there, buck the heat, and enjoy!

Performances this month!

The dancers of Portland’s Espacio Flamenco. Photo courtesy of Espacio Flamenco.

¡Fiesta Flamenca!

Espacio Flamenco
6-8 pm, August 5
Washington Park Rose Garden Amphitheater, 410 SW Kingston Ave., Portland


Bring your own picnics, picnic blankets, or stadium seats/sand chairs. (No alcohol is allowed in the park.)

Set in the idyllic landscape of Washington Park, surrounded by acres of gorgeous roses and greenery, Fiesta Flamenca brings more heat to an already hot summer, celebrating the soulful, emotional depth of flamenco music and culture. 

Flamenco, an improvisational form of dance, is a folkloric tradition that combines song, dance, instrumentals (guitar mostly), hand clapping, and finger snapping. This art form is an amalgamation of centuries of cross-pollination between the many cultures that have existed in Spain. Because it is a folkloric tradition passed down orally until the mid-18th century, its history is imprecise. Flamenco is influenced by the Roma people, called Gitanos, who migrated from Rajasthan (Western India) to Spain between the 9th and 14th centuries, bringing with them tambourines, bells, castanets, and a variety of songs and dances. Flamenco’s arm, hand, and foot movements resemble classical Indian dance styles. These traditions, combined with the cultures of the Sephardic Jews and Moors, make up the Flamenco we see today. The Flamenco dance (baile) can be characterized by the light, graceful arm movements of the female dancer and the contrasting stomping foot drills of the man. It is intense, passionate, sexual, and deeply emotional.

Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre dancers cooling off. Photo courtesy of Heidi Duckler Dance Northwest.


Heidi Duckler Dance Northwest, in partnership with Hacienda CDC
Performers include Santiago Villarreal, Barbara Lima, Conrad Kaczor, Colleen Loverde, and Ingrid Ferdinand. 
7:30 pm, August 5
Portland Mercado, 7238 SE Foster Rd., Portland


Interested in redefining audience-performer relationships by positioning dance in unusual locales, Heidi Duckler Dance Theater/Northwest, in partnership with Hacienda CDC, will perform at the Portland Mercado, imbibing the rich cultural history and vibrant beauty of the community. Hacienda CDC, a Latino Community Development Corporation, strengthens families by providing affordable housing, homeownership support, economic advancement, and educational opportunities. The Portland Mercado is a community economic development initiative of Hacienda CDC, bringing diverse cultures together through food, art, and entertainment.

A ghost image of dancer Allie Hankins in her new work, By My Own Hand, Part 1: GHOSTING. Photo courtesy of Allie Hankins.

By My Own Hand, Part 1: GHOSTING

Presented by Allie Hankins and Risk/Reward 
8 pm, August 5-7
Performance Works NorthWest || Linda Austin Dance
4625 SE 67th Ave., Portland
ASL Interpretation by Jme James Antonick on August 5
Livestreamed on August 7

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Hankins’s new work, By My Own Hand, Part 1: GHOSTING, centers on the futility of upholding a fixed persona in life by repurposing elements from past performances, rehearsals, and experiments. Decorating the atmosphere with light, shadow, haunted objects, dancing, and songs, Hankins deconstructs and questions our attempts at containment, naming, and establishing lines and boundaries. 

Hankins is a Portland-based performer who makes work focusing on the destabilization of persona through uncanny physicality, wry wit, and layered imagery. In 2013 she founded Physical Education with keyon gaskin, Taka Yamamoto, and Lu Yim. Physical Education hosts open reading groups and lectures, curates performances, and teaches workshops nationally. Most recently, Allie has invited Morgan Thorson (Minneapolis), Linda Austin (Portland), and Ruairi Donovan (Ireland) to take part in the endeavors. She has been an Artist in Residence at Ucross Foundation, Caldera, the Djerassi Resident Artist Program, the Robert Rauschenberg Residency, and the Wassaic Project.

Joyous dancers performing at the celebration of India’s independence. Photo courtesy of the Indian Cultural Association of Portland.

India Festival 2022

Hosted by the Indian Cultural Association of Portland
11 am-8:30 pm, August 14
Pioneer Courthouse Square, 701 SW Sixth Avenue, Portland


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

Bharatanatyam and Nattuvangam performer, teacher, and choreographer, Sweta Ravisankar. Photo courtesy of Sweta Ravisankar.

Shanmatham: Virtues to achieve satisfaction in life
Sarada Kala Nilayam (SKN), Sweta Ravisankar
3-5 pm August 21
Hillsboro Artists’ Regional Theatre, 185 SE Washington St., Hillsboro

Masks are highly encouraged but not mandatory.

Hosted by Portland Bharatanatyam and Nattuvangam performer, teacher, and choreographer, Sweta Ravisankar, the program will feature choreography by Ravisankar and a live orchestra with vocals by Deepti Ravidath, Mridangam by Krishna Srikanth, and violin by Ganesh Subramanian. 

Bharatanatyam is an ancient style of South Indian dance that interprets Hindu mythology and spirituality and traces its roots back to Natya Shastra, the ancient Sanskrit text on the performing arts written between 200 BCE and 500 CE. The dance is characterized by a fixed torso, angular arms, bent knees, complex rhythmic footwork, and a sophisticated vocabulary of gestures for the hands, eyes, and face.

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.

Chamber Music Northwest Orion Quartet The Old Church Portland Oregon
Kalakendra An Evening of Indian Classical Music First Baptist Church Portland Oregon
Portland Center Stage presents Hair at the Armory Portland Oregon
Seattle Opera, Alcina, Handel's Story of Sorcery, McCaw Hall, Seattle Washington
Hallie Ford Museum of Art, Crow's Shadow Institute of the Arts Biennial, Willamette University, Salem Oregon
Hallie Ford Museum of Art at 25, Highlights from the permanent collection, Willamette University, Salem Oregon
City of Hillsboro Walters Cultural Arts Center Guy Davis Hillsboro Oregon
Hand2Mouth Theatre Home Land Live Performance Portland Oregon
Portland Playhouse Roald Dahl Matilda the Musical Portland Oregon
Literary Arts Presents the Portland Book Festival Portland Oregon
NW Dance Project Sharing Stories Newmark Theatre Portland Oregon
The Dalles Art Center Lori Mason A Life In Pattern The Dalles Oregon
Maryhill Museum of Art Columbia Gorge Washington
Portland State University College of the Arts
Lincoln County Historical Society Pacific Maritime Heritage Center The Curious World of Seaweed Newport Oregon
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