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DanceWatch Monthly: An armchair-travel guide to Oregon’s October dance performances

Dance starts to heat up after a slow pandemic summer. Jamuna Chiarini collects the fall colors for you.


This month’s dance calendar is starting to look a little pre-pandemic, which is a great thing! October’s dance offerings are a mix of armchair travel to places near and far and a bit of Halloween revelry, if we are indeed still celebrating Halloween this year. 

So, if you can ignore the Halloween show in the White House and the impending downfall of our democracy [hope I’m just kidding!], there is plenty of dance from bharatanatyam to ballet to keep you entertained and engaged this month.

October Dance Performances

Oregon Ballet Theatre dancers taking company class at Director Park
in Portland, Oregon. Photo courtesy of Oregon Ballet Theatre.

OBT Moves/ Exposed
September 8-October 3
Check Oregon Ballet Theatre’s schedule for times and locations.

Oregon Ballet Theatre has been presenting OBT Moves around the city this month and your last chance to see them out and about will be this week at the futsal field at Hacienda CDC. OBT Moves is a look into the ritual of how ballet dancers train and the process of ballet making in non traditional settings. 

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

Sweta Ravisankar
Presented by Music in CA
7 pm October 2
To be performed live on Music in CA’s Facebook page

Portland-based Bharatanatyam performer, teacher, and choreographer Sweta Ravisankar, will revive four dances from her early performance years, choreographed by her beloved dance gurus, Padmini Radhakrishnan, and Roja Kannan. In this live, solo concert, presented by Music IN CA (MINCA), a platform for artists to showcase their talent in Indian performing arts, Ravisankar will combine complex rhythmic footwork and emotional expression to narrate stories of Lord Krishna (the god of compassion, tenderness, and love), Nataraja, (Lord of the Dance) and Lord Murugan (the god of war).

A still from the film Day 27, by Charli Brissey. Day 27 is part of Stay Home Screendance series in the Portland Dance Film Festival and grapples with quarantine through whimsical animated daydreaming. Photo courtesy of the Portland Dance Film festival.

Portland Dance Film Festival
October 2-11 


WESTAF Shoebox Arts

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 ten-day, dance-centric film festival covers the gamut of movement experiences and will screen films by Oregon filmmakers and beyond. The festival features 26 curated films, 9 documentaries, 24 mini films created while sheltering in place, workshops, and the world premiere of the 2020 Oregon Dance Film Commission-a commission that brings together a filmmaker and a choreographer unknown to each other to create a new film. This year’s recipients of the commission are filmmaker Ivana Horvat and choreographer Alexander Dones.

Notable Oregon choreographers and filmmakers featured in the festival are: Heidi Duckler, Robert Uehlin, Monika Field and Celine Bouly, Faith Morrison, Alexander Dones, Amy Leona Havin and Tomas Alfredo Valladares, Che Che Luna, Asia Brown and Briana Bard, Kailee McMurran, Jana Zahler, and Tony Palomino, to name a few. 

There is so much to see that I can’t do justice to all of the festival content in these few short paragraphs so please go to Portland Dance Film Fest’s website for screening times, film descriptions, and workshop info. 

A Taste of Dance
Hosted by Chapel Theatre and Sommelier, Diana Schultz
October 2-TriptheDark Dance Company 
October 9-Jana Zahler, Patsy Morris, and Daniel Considine 
October 16-Jeff George
October 23-Angela Mazziotta

What kind of wine do you think pairs with your favorite choreographers’ work? Perhaps something delicate, or bold, or sweet, or tart, or spicy? Well don’t fear, sommelier Diana Schultz will tell you exactly which wine pairs best with this month’s Friday performance series featuring TriptheDark Dance Company, Jana Zahler, Patsy Morris, Daniel Considine, Jeff George, and Angela Mazziotta. 

The choreographic works swing from silly to serious, reflecting the roller coaster ride that is 2020, touching on politics, culture, racism, our relationships with each other and our relationship with the earth, and much more.


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The otherworldly dancers of A-WOL Dance collective suspended in air.
Photo courtesy of A-WOL Dance Collective.

The Way We Love Now – poetry + song + dance
Shelly Rudolph and A-WOL Dance Collective 
7 pm October 3 
Livestream from Alberta Rose Theatre

A-WOL Dance Collective, one of Portland’s most inventive aerial dance companies, will bring a visual representation to the music of jazz singer-songwriter and poet Shelly Rudolph at her album release party for The Way We Love.

If you are desperate to see live theatre, which I’m sure you are, there is a limited number of in-person seats available for this event. Seating is assigned, there will be no eating or drinking in the theatre, and strict social distancing and masking guidelines will apply.   

#Instaballet dancers and choreographers come back to life, this weekend, at Capitello Wines, Photo courtesy of #Instaballet.

#instaballet LIVE  
1:30 pm October 3
Capitello Wines, 540 Charnelton St., Eugene

Consider the elements of choreography: time, space, and energy, while you choreograph the next ballet at #Instaballet’s next event at Capitello Wines. Directors Suzanne Haag and Antonio Anacan are reimagining who creates ballets, giving 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 Capitello Wines in Eugene and be a part of the process and make a ballet on the spot. The creative process begins at 1:30pm with a performance of the final product at the end. 

Learn more about #Instaballet and how it came to be in Crowd-sourced Choreography by ArtsWatch Eugene correspondent, Gary Ferrington.

Bharatanatyam dancer and choreographer, Jayanthi Raman, begins a free webinar Series this Saturday featuring artists of the Pacific NorthWest. Photo courtesy of  Jayanthi Raman.

Jayanthi Raman’s Traditions Transitioned
Webinar Series featuring artists of the Pacific NorthWest 
Curated and moderated by Jayanthi Raman
9 am October 3-November 14
October 3-Jazz Musician Darrell Grant
October 10-Dance Presenters Walter Jaffe and Paul King of White Bird
October 17-Dancer/choreographer Pat Graney
October 24-Jazz Drummer, Cultural Writer, Radio host, and Artist-civic ecologist, Tim DuRoche
October 31-Jazz Drummer Musician Chris Brown
November 7-Manipuri dancer and academician Sohini Ray
November 14- Poets Emmett Wheatfall and Paulann Petersen


MYS Oregon to Iberia

Renowned Portland Bharatanatyam dancer and choreographer, Jayanthi Raman, will host a weekly, Saturday morning conversation via Zoom, with distinguished artists in the fields of music, dance, and literary artists, from the Pacific Northwest. To join the conversation, click ‘going’ by Thursday on the Facebook event page, and Raman will send you a Zoom link. Participants will be admitted from 8:45-9am, no late admittance. 

The gorgeous flamenco dancer, Savannah Fuentes, will accompany musician Diego Amador Jr, this weekend, on a journey through flamenco history, from the past to the present.

Flamenco Happy Hour featuring Diego Amador Jr
Hosted by Savannah Fuentes
4 pm October 8

Join flamenco singer, percussionist and “flamenco royalty,” Diego Amador Jr,  guitarist Carlos de Jacoba, and flamenco dancer Savannah Fuentes, for an intimate evening of music and history. In addition to playing traditional and contemporary Flamenco compositions, Amador will also talk extensively about Flamenco history and culture, translated from spanish to english by Fuentes. 

PWNW Retrospective: Foreman Fest
Performance Works NW
4 pm October 11

The Richard Foreman Mini-Festival is back! In celebration of the 20th anniversary of Performance Works NW, artists will be selected to create short works in 7-10 days using texts from the royalty-free notebooks of American playwright and avant-garde theater pioneer, Richard Foreman. This performance will be one of many online gatherings celebrating and looking back at 20 years of supporting experimental performance.

The Performance Works NW Happy Hour is back! This month features Linda Austin and Maya Vivas. Photo courtesy of Linda Austin.

Happy Hour with Linda Austin and Maya Vivas
Hosted by Performance Works NorthWest || Linda Austin Dance
5 pm October 15

In a mindful approach that provides financial support to artists of color in the community, while centering dance and experimental performance, PWNW has created a Happy Hour on Zoom that features a variety of artists. The evening includes a cocktail demo, a toast, a performance, PWNW-themed Bingo, and prizes, of course! 


WESTAF Shoebox Arts

Happy Hour this week will feature founding Artistic Director of Performance Works NW, Linda Austin and artist and co-founder of Ori Gallery, Maya Vivas. Austin will present a durational work, Three Miles of Possible, that includes movement, drawing, sound, and texts that animates spatial paths envisioned as giant drawings and/or runes, and when completed total three miles. In a live feed, Vivas will converse while maneuvering through accrued diasporic therapies and rumination.

The dancers of BodyVox getting creepy in BloodyVox: Lockdown. Photo courtesy of BodyVox.

BloodyVox: Lockdown
BodyVox, directed by Jamey Hampton and Ashley Roland
October 22-31
Location of performance TBD with ticket purchase

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.

This year’s show, now a drive-in, feature-length dance film, directed by award-winning Oregon screendance cinematographer Robert Uehlin, is inspired by the classic films Rocky Horror Picture Show, Moulin Rouge, The Blair Witch Project, and Chicago. BloodyVox is composed of several short dances, incorporates standard Halloween fare such as vampires, zombies, ghosts, and killer spiders, as well as some non-standard material, like creepy identical twins and will include the premiere of “Lockdown,” a new dance that showcases the cinematic and choreographic talents of Hampton and Roland.

Michael Jackson and the zombies dancing in Thriller. Photo courtesy of Michael Jackson.

Thrill the World Portland
3 pm October 24

It’s almost Halloween, which means it’s time to dress up like a zombie and join Thrill the World, in which thousands of people gather in cities worldwide to dance the choreography from Michael Jackson’s famous 1983 music video Thriller.

Thrill The World was created by Canadian Ines Markeljevic in 2005 with the goal to unite the world through dance. The event happens on the Saturday before Halloween. You don’t need to be a professional dancer or even have a zombie costume: just learn the dance in one of the group lessons, or online, and get out there and dance.


WESTAF Shoebox Arts

Portland’s Thrill The World takes place at 3 pm; registration begins at 2:40 pm Saturday, October 24 at Irving Park’s covered basketball court. 

Practices begin this weekend at Irving Park’s covered basketball court. Message Thrill the World on Facebook for more information. 

Oregon Ballet Theatre dancer Xuan Cheng dancing serenely, in cool blues. Photo courtesy of Oregon Ballet Theatre.

Wish List
Oregon Ballet Theatre
October 29-November 15
OBT Warehouse, 2320 NW 21st Ave

Working with the restrictions of the pandemic, Oregon Ballet Theatre continues to find creative solutions to practice and perform, safely. This month the company is converting the block sized, company warehouse space, where the company’s sets, props, and costumes are stored, into a blackbox theatre so that audiences can attend performances in the flesh. Working from a dancer created wish list of dream ballets and roles, the company will perform an evening of solos and duets that explore stylistic differences in each dancer and the dances. Exact program TBA.

Woven through this year’s reimagined season will also be a series of open discussions with local leaders on a range of social issues and the evolving role of ballet in contemporary culture.

OBT has also been busy creating online content for ballet audiences—performance clips, behind-the-scenes videos, dancer-made films and tik tok videos, dance classes for kids and adults, and a tutorial video with instructions and a supply list on how to make your own ballet barre at home. All of which you can find at OBT@Home

The Headless Horseman and Ichabod Crane duel it out in Ballet Fantastique’s Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Photo by Bob Williams.

Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Ballet Fantastique 
6 pm October 31 
Live-streamed from the Hult Center for the Performing Arts


MYS Oregon to Iberia

The headless horseman rides again in this rom-com/horror adaptation of Ichabod Crane’s ill-fated journey. Ballet Fantastique’s whimsical contemporary choreography, created and produced by the mother-daughter artistic team of Donna Marisa and Hannah Bontrager, combined with music from the Celtic music ensemble Dréos and Eugene musician and Ballet Fantastique resident composer Gerry Rempel, brings you an eclectic irreverent take on a spooky Halloween tale.  

Eugene Ballet’s artistic director Toni Pimble will premiere a pas de deux from her Taming of the Shrew in this weekend’s Halloween fundraiser. This ballet was initially scheduled to premiere in April 2021 but has been postponed to our 2021-2022 season. Photo courtesy of Eugene Ballet.

Home Is Where the Art Is
Eugene Ballet
7:30 pm October 31
Live-streamed from the Hult Center for the Performing Arts, Eugene

Recently awarded the Governor’s Arts Award in recognition of their significant contribution to Oregon arts, Eugene Ballet, directed by Toni Pimble, will stream live to you in a fundraising event from Eugene’s Hult Center. The event will include interviews, pre-recorded updates on how the company is doing, live dance samplings from favorite past performances, and a preview of Eugene Ballet resident choreographer Suzanne Haag’s new work in progress, “In Place.” Haag says her latest work might or might now include social distancing tutus, quarreling roommates, and pantsless Zoom meetings. A work for the times. Viewers will also get a behind-the-scenes look at the company’s future home, the new Midtown Arts Center. 

Matter writer and actor Charles Grant from his solo show in 2017 standing on the set of The Language Archive.
Photo courtesy of Portland Playhouse.

Conceived, written, and performed by Charles Grant
A co-production of Many Hats Collaboration and Portland Playhouse

Matter will be indefinitely available for free viewing at Many Hats Collaboration and Portland Playhouse websites and on the websites of writer and performer Charles Grant, director James Dixon, videographer Tamera Lyn, and sound designer Sharath Patel. 

This very personal portrait of a Black Everyman follows writer and performer Charles Grant on his journey to find answers to police brutality and gun violence. While not strictly a dance work, Matter does include a lot of movement, as life should, and includes sections that could be called dances with movement direction by Many Hats Artistic Director Jessica Wallenfels. 

Inspired by recent and not so current events, Matter centers on the embodied experience of being continually bombarded with systemic racism and injustice.


MYS Oregon to Iberia

Last month I previewed Matter and interviewed Charles Grant and Jessica Wallenfels, which you can read here.

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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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