DanceWatch: March hare edition

We are still watching dance online, and that's so much better than the alternative

Welcome to March. It’s almost spring! That means warmer weather, light in the sky, and flowers blooming everywhere. We also have the Coronavirus vaccine to look forward to, which means that maybe we can all commingle in theatres and dance studios once again by next fall, which is excellent! So, many things to look forward to, but dance and dance-related discussions are all still online until then. 

This month offers a mixed bag of performance experiences from new performance experiments from Linda Austin and Allie Hankins to an annual performance share by four different dance groups at AWOL Dance Collective’s performance space to a new film from PDX Contemporary Ballet and conversations with Oregon Ballet Theatre’s artistic director Kevin Irving on the future of classical ballet and its problems with racism and sexism. 

It’s a light month in terms of the number of dance performances, which is nice because I think we are all exhausted and could use some time offline. So go outside and dance, but don’t forget to watch and support the dance community online too. 

Last thought. Here is an excerpt of a poem I recently found by author Laura Kelly Fanucci:

“When this is over,
may we never again
take for granted
A handshake with a stranger
Full shelves at the store
Conversations with neighbors
A crowded theatre
Friday night out
The taste of communion
A routine checkup
The school rush each morning
Coffee with a friend…”

Dance performances this month!

UO Dance In Concert 2021
University of Oregon School of Music and Dance
March 1-6
Live-streamed dance 
All events are free, and no pre-registration is needed. 

Dance students of the University of Oregon School of Music and Dance will perform live online for six straight nights performing the works of students, faculty, and guest artists. 

Tempos Contemporary Circus artists Angela Bryant and Kraig Mead.
Photo by Bryan Flanders.

Junction 2021
Featuring: AWOL Dance Collective, push/FOLD, ELaFala Collective, and Tempos Contemporary Circus
7 pm March 13 (Archived concert available for ticket holders)
Virtual Event

Performing together for the second time, and for one night only, aerial dance company A-WOL Dance Collective, contemporary dance companies push/FOLD and Ela FaLa, and contemporary circus company Tempos Contemporary Circus will perform in their various ways, including dance, acrobatics, physical theater, and aerial performance.

AWOL Dance Collective is a non-profit arts organization with its own performance warehouse space in Northeast Portland that embodies the idea of “aerial without limits.” They believe that the arts build community, enhance the quality of life and in its various forms, fosters creativity, empower individuals, and bring people together.

push/FOLD is the vision of composer-choreographer Samuel Hobbs, whose work fuses his background in athletics, dance, music, and Osteopathic Medicine. Hobbs’ abstract choreography, supported by his own compositional score, plays with momentum and partnering, creating a moody, immersive landscape. 

ELa FaLa Collective (Company) is an all-female dance company directed by Brazilian choreographer Barbara Lima. It is a sister company to Polaris Dance Theatre, which seeks to express women’s experiences as a collective voice. ELa FaLa, which means “She Speaks,” is a vehicle for self-expression when cultures and languages are a barrier, and bridge art, technology, culture, education, and science. 

Tempos Contemporary Circus is an ensemble that combines dance, music, acrobatics, and physical theater to explore the connection between ourselves and our community’s vulnerability.

A Morfose: Chapters One to Five
Performed by PDX Contemporary Ballet
Choreographed by Helbert Pimenta

Video Release Dates: Chapter One-January 22, Chapter two-February 5th, Chapter three-19th, Chapter four-March 5th, and Chapter five-19th. 

Shutdowns, lockdowns, social distancing, and no in-person live performances have wholly altered the dancer/choreographer experience. Instead of folding, PDXCB found alternative ways to work within the new parameters. 

Together via Zoom with Brazilian choreographer Helbert Pimenta, a dancer with Grupo Corpo, the company created a five-chapter series of short dance films inspired by Franz Kafka’s novel Metamorphosis. The story is about a traveling salesman who wakes up one morning to find himself transformed into a giant bug. 

In each dance chapter, Pimenta offers an analysis of the book’s characters and relates the story’s themes of transformation, isolation, and adjustment to our current pandemic lives. 

Oregon Ballet Theatre dancers Hannah Davis and Kimberly Nobriga performing in Helen Simoneau’s Departures. Photo by Yi Yin.

(R)Evolve: The Alchemy of Audience
Oregon Ballet Theatre
6 pm March 16 

Oregon Ballet Theatre Artistic Director Kevin Irving and former OBT Education Outreach Director Kasandra Gruener will moderate a discussion on audiences’ role in performance. Guests will discuss their experiences working in the digital world, what that has meant for them, and their art form. Included in the online conversation will be choreographer Gioconda Barbuto, OBT dancers: Coco Alverez-Mena, Eva Burton, Mathilde Lambert, and Bailey Shaw, and former company member Emily Parker.

Dance artist Allie Hankins hanging out amid pink clouds in her new work with Linda Austin. Photo courtesy of Performance Works NW.

Linda Austin and Allie Hankins
/ə ˈsɪŋgəl pɪŋk klɑʊd/
Friday-Sunday, March 26-28 at 7:30 pm

Juxtaposing movement, objects, words, and song to express our current existence’s precariousness, Linda Austin and Allie Hankins create surrealist landscapes with incongruous concepts, structures, and desires that arise and dissolve. 

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 theatre 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. 

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). She has been an Artist in Residence at Ucross Foundation, Caldera, the Djerassi Resident Artist Program, the Robert Rauschenberg Residency, and the Wassaic Project.

Emily Parker and Avery Reiners in OBT’s Man/Woman program/Photo by Christopher Peddecord

(R)Evolve: Can Ballet Survive Its Traditions?
Oregon Ballet Theatre
6 pm March 30

In this virtual discussion, such problematic issues in classical ballet culture (along with the rest of society) as racism and sexism will be approached. Panelists will address gender roles, hierarchy, the classical ballet body, and ethnic stereotyping, to name a few.  

The panel discussion will be moderated by Artistic Director Kevin Irving and former OBT Education Outreach Director Kasandra Gruener. The panelists include dance writer Phil Chan who cofounded Final Bow for Yellow Face, a movement committed to eliminating outdated and offensive stereotypes of Asians; former New York City Ballet Soloist Kathryn Morgan, a leading advocate for positive body image and mental health for aspiring ballerinas; and OBT Rehearsal Director Lisa Kipp.

About the author

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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