MYS Oregon to Iberia

DanceWatch Monthly: Back to the future

Jamuna Chiarini looks back on December and January shows and ahead to February's dance, from BodyVox's "Flights" to Rejoice!'s "Rites of Passage" to OBT's "Peter Pan" and more.

|

Tiffany Mills Company Dancers Tony Bordonaro, Ching-I Chang, Guanglei Hui, and Emily Pope in "Vapor/Blood." Mills, the new dance director at Lewis & Clark College, plans to bring this dance/theater work to the college in 2025. Photo: Robert Altman
Tiffany Mills Company Dancers Tony Bordonaro, Ching-I Chang, Guanglei Hui, and Emily Pope in “Vapor/Blood.” Mills, the new dance director at Lewis & Clark College, plans to bring this dance/theater work to the college in 2025. Photo: Robert Altman

It’s February, and I’m thrilled to announce the arrival of Tiffany Mills, the new director of dance at Lewis & Clark College. I also want to acknowledge and celebrate Susan Davis, who built the dance program at Lewis & Clark from the ground up and recently retired after serving as senior lecturer in theater and program head of dance for 29 years. 

Originally from Oregon and raised in Eugene, Mills pursued her undergraduate degree in dance at the University of Oregon. She later earned her MFA in dance with a concentration in choreography from Ohio State University. Twenty-five years ago, Mills relocated to New York, where she established the New York City-based Tiffany Mills Company in 2000. With more than 25 works to her credit, Mills has performed and taught domestically and abroad and received numerous awards and grants. 

Through collaborative efforts, she crafts multidisciplinary dances that transcend the boundaries of traditional art forms. She builds layers within her work by incorporating partnering, improvisation, and somatic techniques. Once form gives rise to meaning, she guides dancers in refining the choreography’s structure, emotional depth, and unique character. Mills delves into the intricacies of human vulnerability, using themes of communication, connection, and transformation as her canvas. Embracing the diversity of her performers, she extends an invitation to the audience, encouraging their active participation and response.

Mills has already built a solid network within Oregon’s dance community. PICA’s TBA Festival produced her company. She has taught at Lewis & Clark several times, was a resident at Reed College, taught at the Conduit summer intensives, exhibited her work at Conduit, and collaborated with Mary Oslund and Tere Mathern. 

Last week, I had the opportunity to sit down with Mills following her dance class in the black box theater at Lewis & Clark. Here are some of the things we talked about: 

First, I wanted to know why she decided to leave NYC after such a long and successful career and return to Oregon.

It was important for her children, she replied, to have the same access to nature she had while growing up. She wanted them to be able to simply walk out the front door and experience the mountains, ocean, and coast – just as she did. 

Sponsor

All Classical Radio James Depreist

About leaving New York?

She said she once asked a friend the same question when they decided to leave New York. Their response? “I never left,” they said. “That’s my home, and I come back; I haven’t left. I just have two homes now.”

“I think of myself as bicoastal. I spent so many years and decades in NYC. I have a board of directors, a company, dancers, and a rehearsal director there. But now I’m here, and I’m teaching, and I’m 100% committed to that. However, there are summers, winter breaks, and Zoom because of the pandemic. It doesn’t feel like I’ve fully left. I feel like I’m here, but I have work there. It’s the best of both worlds. It’s complex, for sure, and there’s a huge learning curve. I’ve seen many other artists leave NYC but return and have two homes. It’s not so uncommon at all.”

“Some artists get to a certain place and feel like, ‘Oh, there are some things in life that I want, like maybe not living in an apartment that’s 1,000 square feet for my entire life, or having an outdoor space or some things like that that are possible.’ Portland has such a rich arts community. I feel like there have always been a lot of creative beings in the Northwest, and I feel like there are opportunities for collaboration and new experiences both at Lewis & Clark and in the greater community that will provide new opportunities and connections. The company continues.”

Her plans for the dance department?

Mills told me that in development is a theater major degree program, which was part of Davis’s long-term vision, with a concentration in dance. Basically, Mills said, people will have what is equivalent to what would be a dance major, but it’s called a concentration in dance in the theater department. At present, only a minor with a concentration in dance is available. She wants to reintroduce regular technique classes that can be taken multiple times, add a partnering repertory class that complements Eric Nordstrom’s current contact improv classes, add faculty and guest artists concerts in addition to the already running student concerts, and bring in community members to create work on the students. In January 2025, Lewis and Clark will host a weeklong workshop for the Tiffany Mills Company to perform, create, and explore. 

Looking back on December and January

Before we move forward into February, I’d like to take you back to December 2023 to an exceptional performance I saw at the Newmark Theatre called The NOT-Cracker, an unconventional holiday story choreographed by Open Space cofounders Franco Nieto, Charlene Hannibal and Maeve Dougal, and guest choreographers NØIR, Uno, and Charles Roy, which tells the story of Ted, an individual struggling to find joy because they believed they couldn’t dance. So relatable. 

Sponsor

MYS Oregon to Iberia

The show featured students from The School at Open Space who performed as supercute penguins, mini not-bunnies, polichinelles, and lyrical dancers in The Waltz of the Flowers. The phenomenally talented Open Space company artists Annie Borden, Tony Carnell, Elise Gonsalves, Bree Kostelnik, Sophia Mladineo, as well as second company dancers Natalie Becker, Maeve Ethridge, Tiernan McKay, and Elisa Trujillo, performed nonstop as a roving tribe in brightly colored ski masks with bunny ears and color-matching outfits called the Whimsical Creatures, who played host to Ted throughout, guiding them on their journey of self-discovery. And, of course, the gifted Audrey Wells performed as Ted. Where are the Whimsical Creatures when I need a self-esteem boost? They might be the new prescription. 

The production also featured a talented group of guest artists from Portland, including street dancer NØIR, who danced the role of the Toy Soldier and performed a combination of popping/locking and animation whose movement was so unusual, unique, and entirely of his own making, created on the spot at the moment. It was as if he were trying to control an incredible amount of energy pressurized from the inside, trying to escape his body, giving way bit by bit and succumbing to it in the end. His energy was contagious, and the movements were out of this world. 

The NOT-Cracker performance included members from the House of Ada, a gender-nonconforming ballroom house from Portland recently featured on HBO’s Legendary. Ballroom, as in the 1990 movie Paris is Burning, which chronicled the New York City ball culture and the lives of the African American, Latino, and LGBTQ communities involved, not the Samba or Cha Cha. Charles Roy played the role of Mother Ginger, with backup dancers Alice Ada, Aki Ada, Chai Ada, and Janae Ada. Roy was rolled onto the stage while standing on a square platform, holding onto a pole, lip-syncing, and wildly dancing while whipping their hair around, flanked by backup dancers on each side in all their fabulosity.

Then, dancer Tony Carnell performed the Sugar Plum Fairy solo—the absolute show-stopper. Dressed in a lavender-colored leotard with long mesh sleeves revealing their beautifully sculpted body, they brought a new quality to the work: a mixture of feminine and masculine energy, power, and softness soaring with effortless freedom and ease, changing the air around them. You could feel a collective sucking-in of breath, and awe and admiration from the audience as they took the stage and danced, with everyone erupting into applause at the end. Tony was the most beautiful blend of everything. 

The biggest takeaway from this production was the lack of a hierarchy of importance in dancers, body types, skin color, genders, gender roles, gendered relationships, types of dance, whether it be studio or street dance, who should dance, who should get more time on the stage, and who gets to dance with whom. Everybody and every idea had a solo moment and a chance to shine onstage. It felt like a new, welcoming, safe space for anyone who needs a place like this, free of judgment. I can’t wait to see the show again next year. 

***

Dancers Jack Anderson and Katie Armstrong in Eowyn Emerald and Dancers' "Your Tomorrow" at Imago. Photo: Josh Murry
Dancers Jack Anderson and Katie Armstrong in Eowyn Emerald and Dancers’ “Your Tomorrow” at Imago. Photo: Josh Murry

In January, I saw “Your Tomorrow” by Éowyn Emerald and Dancers at Imago Theatre, which I’ve decided is my new favorite intimate venue for dance. It has a spacious lobby for chatting and just under 200 comfortable theater seats that have good visibility from any point and give enough personal space to each person, unlike some airplane seats these days and the Patricia Reser Center for the Arts, which feels a tad tight. The performance space is also very versatile and, in this case, was made into a traditional black-box theater to frame Éowyn’s beautiful duet about the life of a couple in love and all of the ups and downs they experience.

Sponsor

All Classical Radio James Depreist

Performed beautifully and energetically by dancers Jack Anderson and the technically brilliant and versatile Katie Armstrong to the sentimental tunes of Dave Brubeck, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, and others, the work featured 144 Ferrero Rocher chocolate, representative of so many different things: emotions, promises, memories, etc. The chocolates were eaten, shared, thrown, kicked around, and stomped on. At first, I wanted to eat them, but that desire went away after looking at them for so long and seeing them thrown around and stepped on. Too much of a good thing, maybe? Sad.

I struggled to figure out what dance style I was watching, because I had previously known Emerald’s work to be jazz-based contemporary dance. It looked different now, more spacious, and more like ballet. When I noticed the dancers were wearing ballet slippers, it was confirmed, at least to me, that this was contemporary ballet, which is rare to see outside of a ballet company setting, especially choreographed by an independent woman choreographer touring the work on her own.

Kudos to Emerald for taking the lesser-traveled path as a choreographer. I’m sad that Emerald was just passing through Portland on her way to her final destination and new home in Canada. The Portland dance landscape has changed a lot since she left in 2017, and it might be more supportive of her work now than before. When I arrived in Portland 12 years ago, the dance landscape was dominated by performance art more than technique-based dancing or, ballet, or contemporary-based work. Now, it is the opposite. 

***

I decided to sit in the balcony at The Patricia Reser in Beaverton to see Vespers on January 21 — a choice that might not have been the right one, but definitely opened my eyes more to how dance translates or doesn’t translate well in a large space with audience members at various distances from the stage. 

Vespers was a collaborative performance by Portland-based push/Fold dance company, directed by Samuel Hobbs and performed by dancers Maile Crowder, Briley Jozwiak, Ashley Morton, Alana Stubbs, Willow Swanson, and the 100 members of the Portland Symphonic Choir, conducted by Alissa Deeter. They presented Sergei Rachmaninoff’s choral masterpiece All-Night Vigil.

So much of the detail in the choreography and performance was lost on me because I was so far away from the stage — and that, in turn, made me feel disconnected from the experience. 

Sponsor

PCS Clyde’s

From what I could see, the dancers, mostly dressed in full-length black gowns and a few in white leotards and white dresses at the end, began lying on the floor as a group and, throughout the work, moved through different groupings and relationships with each other, as the choir responded to the edges, swells and swirls, and ebbs and flows in the music. I didn’t notice a narrative, but I saw imagery like Christ being cradled by a woman, and bent legs sprouting up out of a pool of black fabric reminded me of the people who abused the power of the church in Dante’s Inferno and who were buried upside down and their feet burned. 

What worked really well, and what I anticipated seeing, was large-scale, full-stage choreography that utilized the many bodies on stage to create different shapes and set designs on stage, creating new and interesting spaces for the dancers to move through. 

The performance had some truly satisfying and dramatic moments that worked very well from the balcony. One was when the dancers lined up along the front edge of the stage with their backs to us. A diagonal light shone across the stage, which the dancers moved through. At another point the dancers, wearing white dresses, weaved in and out of the choir, who were dressed in black. The dancers picked up the front of singers’ black dresses and created an interesting box-like shape in front of their bodies while shuffling quickly together in a line, following curvy pathways around the stage and through the choir.

Finally, in the last section, each dancer, one by one, dressed in white and came to the edge of the stage. They opened one arm and bowed, eventually accumulating to five dancers. Willow Swanson performed a beautiful, sweeping, classic modern dance solo in a black dress that took place between four vertical lines of choristers spread out across the stage. 

What worked best for me were simpler choreographic ideas. The last piece of music played did not include the dancers, and made me realize how difficult it was to pay attention to the singing and dancing simultaneously. They were like two large entities vying for our attention on stage. Without the dancing, I was able to hear the music better. 

The lighting was also very dark for much of the performance, and the choristers and dancers mostly wore black, with the exception of the white dresses and leotards. This was tiring for my eyes and made it difficult to stay focused. I did close my eyes a few times to take a break.

Interestingly, a large contingent of Russians was sitting around me, and one Russian woman sitting next to me even sang along with the choir. 

Sponsor

All Classical Radio James Depreist

Things I heard audience members say after the show: 

“I’m a dancer, and that music wasn’t for dancing.”

“That was not dancing.”

“It was hard to see the dancers because they were mostly in black dresses, and the lighting was so dark. I wish there had been color.”

“The last piece of music without dancing was a relief. I could actually hear the music better.” 

Vespers reminded me of a piece I saw many years ago at Jacobs Pillow in Becket, Massachusetts (I was an intern there, a story for another time), called Borrowed Light that was musically accompanied by The Boston Camerata and performed by Finnish dance company Tero Saarinen. The work was inspired by the Shaker movement in the 18th and 19th centuries. What I remember is that the sound and the dancing didn’t compete with each other, and even though everyone was dressed in black, the lighting was such that it highlighted the darkness. The dancers, wearing heavy-soled shoes, created their own sounds and rhythms in accompaniment. 

Given the effort that likely went into the Vespers production, it would be disappointing if this were its final performance. I hope it will be staged again, perhaps in a different theater and with choreography that better complements the music and space.

Sponsor

All Classical Radio James Depreist

***

Performers in "Kid Lightning" by the Boise-based company LED, Lauren Edson Dance. Photo: Conrad Kaczor
Performers in “Kid Lighting” by the Boise-based company LED, Lauren Edson Dance. Photo: Conrad Kaczor

On January 25, I saw Kid Lighting at Lincoln Performance Hall by Boise Dance Company LED, directed by Lauren Edson and composed by Andrew Stensass, with lighting and scenic design by Michael Mazzola and costumes by Robin Halsinger. 

The premise?

A game show is hosted by a devilishly handsome and flamboyant man (performed by Brett Perry) with blond hair and blue eyes. He wears a blue velvet suit that matches his eyes; a yellow ruffled tuxedo shirt; and a silk red tie. He holds a long, skinny microphone, which he speaks into constantly, lip-syncing to prerecorded nonsensical noises that could be words but aren’t, while wildly gesticulating about his greatness and continually vying for the audience’s attention. The game show is essentially a dance-off, because the contestants are actually professional dancers.

He was a quirky mix of game show hosts from the U.S. and other countries, infused with a bit of Dr. Seuss’s Cat in the Hat, the Mickey Mouse Club, and other unknown ingredients. His multidimensional persona was entirely fabricated by LED. He appeared surreal yet also strangely familiar as he embodied the characteristics of someone we have all encountered at some point.

After each contestant performed, the host would congratulate them and say, “Beneka.” Then, the contestant would repeat the word “Beneka” into the microphone, except for the last dancer. The last dancer was different from the others, and disliked by the host for some reason. This made the host angry and caused a disturbance in his perfectly scripted TV show. After the intermission, the host handed all the dancers blue velvet jumpsuits, which curiously looked like prison uniforms.

Slowly, the host began to break the last dancer down. First, he did it alone, but then he enlisted the help of other dancers, who joined in to torture her. Despite being put under immense pressure, she held on.

Sponsor

PCS Clyde’s

The piece was an explosion of color, texture, wild characters, fantastic flashy lighting, and phenomenal dancing by Cassidy Fulmer, Colleen Loverde, Emma Lalor, Brett Perry, Myles Woolstenhulme, Audrey Well, Portland’s Franco Nieto and Elise Gonsalves and Dave X. The score by creative director/composer Andrew Stensass seamlessly blended nonsensical sounds with music, creating an emotional roller-coaster ride through the story. I loved the character studies and felt so much freedom and joy in the dancer’s movements. In fact, I loved every minute, even when I didn’t understand what was happening. I was even happier when the company added an encore solo by the beautiful Audrey Wells, who, like Elise Gonsalves, also dances for Franco Nieto’s Open Space dance company here in Portland. 

And that’s a wrap? Check out the listings below to see what’s coming up!

February Dance Performances

Graphic image for BodyVox Dance's January show "Flights," pairing movement with Oregon wine. Photo courtesy of BodyVox.
Photo courtesy of BodyVox.

Flights 

  • BodyVox, directed by Jamey Hampton and Ashely Roland
  • February 1-10
  • BodyVox, 1201 N.W. 17th Ave, Portland

In a sensory-rich evening, BodyVox pairs dance with Oregon wines, accompanied by live music and Liberace impersonator David Saffert. Featured dancers include Kennedy Sizemore, Brent Luebbert, Ariel Isakowitz, Theresa Hanson, and Elenaluisa Alvarez. Guests who prefer not to consume alcohol can enjoy an array of equally interesting non-alcoholic beverages.

***

Sponsor

MYS Oregon to Iberia

Image by AMY SAKURAI. Photo courtesy of Portland Monthly.
Fire performer Erika Ryn at the 2019 Portland Winter Light Festival
Image by AMY SAKURAI. Photo courtesy of Portland Monthly.

Portland Winter Lights Festival 

  • February 2-10
  • Performed in various locations throughout the city.
  • Check the website for details. 

Under the theme of “What Glows Under Pressure,” the ninth annual Portland Winter Light Festival returns, celebrating the intersection of art, technology, and community, showcasing resilience and creativity through light sculptures, interactive installations, and live performances. Appropriately presented by Portland General Electric, more than 170 light-based installations will illuminate the city and brighten up the darkest time of the year. 

The festival features iLUMiDance, by Rainbow Dance Theatre, which blends electro-luminescent wire with dance and storytelling, followed by a screening of the 1982 classic Tron at Portland Art Museum’s Tomorrow Theater; Seattle-based circus performer Esjay the Dragon Dreamer, who weaves tales with her horde of illuminated dragons’ the three feet tall, electric blue, and glowing Butteyes by Echo Theater Company that uses acrobatics to navigate complex interpersonal relationships; and Pressure Buttons, by Portland dancer and Julliard graduate Nick Le Jurika and sound artist Fred Cirillo, that isn’t just an installation but a journey of exploration, inviting you to become a creator in the realm of light and sound. 

***

The dancers of Tongue Dance Project. Photo courtesy of Tongue Dance Project. 
The dancers of Tongue Dance Project. Photo courtesy of Tongue Dance Project. 

In The Rough, a work in progress showing

  • 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. February 3
  • New Expressive Works, 810 S.E. Belmont Street, Portland

Sponsor

MYS Oregon to Iberia

In The Rough (ITR) is an ongoing showcase for movement-based artists to exhibit their new ideas, receive feedback from a live audience and peers, and establish connections with other artists in the Portland area. Founded by Tongue Dance Project’s artistic director Stephanie Gilliland and rehearsal director and dancer Lauren Smith, the show premiered at FLOOR Center for Dance in 2019 and has since produced three iterations, providing performance opportunities for more than 25 artists from Portland. ITR is designed to serve emerging artists, improvisers, and seasoned choreographers by giving them a platform to present their work in an intimate, informal setting.

Artists featured this month are Elizabeth Bressler, Adam Hartley, Marissa Rae Niederhauser, Roselynn Dance, Cas & Tess Majewski, Kelly O’Connor & Christopher Carvalho, Adrianna Audoma, Bryaunna Kostelnik, Jessica Post and Tongue Dance Project. 

Founded in Los Angeles in 1996 by Stephanie Gilliland and relocated to Portland In 2014, Tongue Dance Project is a contemporary dance company that serves as a platform for choreographic exploration and artistic development. Led by choreographer and multimedia artist Gilliland, the company is known for its innovative approach to extreme physicality and athleticism. It aims to produce and create artistic work in collaboration with the dancers.

***

Graphic image for "Spectra," by the tap-ance company Congruency Dance Collective. Photo courtesy of Congruency Dance Collective.
Photo courtesy of Congruency Dance Collective.

Spectra

  • Congruency Dance Collective
  • February 9-10
  • The Headwaters Theatre, 55 N.E. Farragut Street #9, Portland

Presented by Portland tap dance company Congruency Dance Collective, Spectra is a tribute to growth, breaking free of assumptions, and embracing change, the only constant in life. The company’s goal is to challenge traditional tap-dance norms by incorporating various styles and encouraging open communication. 

Sponsor

All Classical Radio James Depreist

***

Graphic image for Eugene Ballet's production of "Gatsby" with Orchestra Next's Jazz Ensemble. Photo courtesy of Eugene Ballet.
Photo courtesy of Eugene Ballet.

Gatsby

  • Eugene Ballet, directed by Toni Pimble
  • February 9-10
  • Silva Concert Hall, Hult Center, One Eugene Center, Eugene

Witness the colorful, extravagant splendor of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s legendary novel The Great Gatsby as it is brought to life onstage by the music of Wynton Marsalis, played live by Orchestra Next’s Jazz Ensemble, and choreography by Eugene Ballet artistic director Toni Pimble. Revel in the lavish parties, magnificent costumes, and the liveliness of the roaring 1920s in Gatsby. Also featured in this performance is the premiere of resident choreographer Suzanne Haag’s Portrait in Glass, based on Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie.

***

Bharatanatayam and Odissi dancer Yashaswini Raghuram performing at HECSA Balaji Temple. Photo: Gidu Sriram
Bharatanatayam and Odissi dancer Yashaswini Raghuram performing at HECSA Balaji Temple. Photo: Gidu Sriram

Marghazi Dance Performances

  • 2-6 p.m. February 4 and 11
  • HECSA Portland Balaji Temple, 6100 S.W. Raab Road, Portland

Sponsor

WESTAF Shoebox Arts

The Tamil month of Margazhi (pronounced as Maargali), which is mid-December through mid-January, is an auspicious month dedicated to Lord Vishnu, making it an ideal period to worship and perform rituals to attain spiritual development. Because no weddings or celebrations are held during this period, people instead present their music and dance performances as devotional offerings, filling temples and performance halls worldwide. 

Here in Portland, the Jaya Hanuman Temple and the HECSA Balaji Temple in Beaverton open their temples and performance halls to dancers and musicians at any stage of their artistic development. It’s a great time to sample the Indian classical arts in Oregon at no cost. 

There is an Indian Cultural Community Calendar created by accomplished Portland classical dancer and Carnatic vocalist Mini Jairaj that keeps track of all of these performances. You can check it out here

On Sunday, February 4, the Nartana School of Kuchipudi dance students, Odissi dancer Srabonti Bandyopadhyay, the Bharatanatyam students of Sarada Kala Nilayam, and Odissi students of Yashaswini Raghuram, including your dear author, will be performing. 

Saturday, February 17, there will be Bharatanatyam performances by Prathibha Nanagudi and Esha Avinash, Diya Shah, Nayonika Vijayaraghavan, Trishna Kumar, and Sanjana Santosh, and by the students of Sri Nrityaranjani Fine Arts Academy.

***

Performers making faces in "Imposter/switch." Photo courtesy of Performance Works NW.
Photo courtesy of Performance Works NW.

Imposter/switch

Sponsor

MYS Oregon to Iberia

  • Co-curated by Liz Howls and Marissa Rae Niederhauser
  • 8 p.m. February 10
  • Performance Works NW, 4625 S.E. 67th Avenue, Portland

Co-curated by Liz Howls (puppetry) and Marissa Rae Niederhauser (dance, video, performance art), Imposter/Switch celebrates the imposter syndrome living in each of us by poking fun at the idea that mastery is necessary for creative viability, inviting artists to switch disciplines with another artist. 

Each curator picks three artists working in various fields. Those artists’ names go in one hat and their discipline in another. In a publicly shared video drawing, artists are randomly assigned a medium outside their usual practice. They are given two weeks to gather supplies and prepare to show the results of their experimentations.

This month’s participating artists are Hannah Krafcik, Yaara Valey, Devin Devine, Sarah Eaton, The Bone Goddess, and Stephanie Leet.

If you are interested in participating in this experiment, submissions are ongoing, and diverse disciplines and demographics are encouraged.

***

Performers of Zenith Aerial Arts. Photo courtesy of Zenith Aerial Arts.
Performers of Zenith Aerial Arts. Photo courtesy of Zenith Aerial Arts.

Zenith Aerial Arts: Dreams: The Stories We Tell Ourselves

Sponsor

PCS Clyde’s

  • A benefit for Community Alliance of Lane County
  • 6 p.m. February 10
  • Soreng Theater, Hult Center, One Eugene Center, Eugene

Get ready to immerse yourself in the magical world of the circus in your dreams. As you drift off to sleep, prepare to embark on a journey through the clouds, lose yourself in abstract thoughts, confront your fears, and explore the narratives we create when we shut our eyes.

Zenith Aerial Arts (ZAA) is a pre-professional aerial circus ensemble at Bounce Gymnastics and Circus Arts Center in Eugene. This group of young artists is renowned for their strength, dedication, creativity, and passion for performing. Under the guidance of their coaches, they train and rehearse together to produce unique aerial arts shows that are entirely their own.

***

Performers in Michael Flatley's Lord of the Dance 25th Anniversary Tour. Photo courtesy of Lord of the Dance.
Performers in Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance25th Anniversary Tour. Photo courtesy of Lord of the Dance.

Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance: 25th Anniversary Tour

  • 7:30 p.m. February 13
  • Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 S.W. Broadway, Portland

Lord of the Dance is a live musical and Celtic dance performance that tells a story about love, heartbreak, temptation, peace, struggle, and triumph. Set in the Celtic land of Planet Ireland, the show features Celtic-themed imagery, music, and dance, and follows the “Lord of the Dance” as he embarks on a quest to defeat the evil dark Lord, Don Dorcha, who seeks to take over Planet Ireland.

Sponsor

WESTAF Shoebox Arts

***

Graphic image of "When We wWere Ocean," choreographer by Laura Cannon. Photo courtesy of ProLab Artistic Director Laura Cannon.
Photo courtesy of ProLab Artistic Director Laura Cannon.

When We Were Ocean

  • Choreographed by ProLab artistic director Laura Cannon
  • February 14-18 
  • OMSI’s Kendall Planetarium, The Museum
  • 1945 S.E. Water Avenue, Portland

Directed by ProLab artistic director and choreographer Laura Cannon, with music by Jennifer Wright, Lynne Piper, and Chopper, and films by Fernanda D’Agostino and Hungry Mantis, When We Were Ocean guides the audience on an imaginative journey into different aspects of human life and existence. Through interwoven layers of dance, music, and film, the performance explores working together to achieve something more significant and how a collection of tiny elements forms our identity. The show, which takes place in the Kendall Planetarium at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, features 360-degree films that give the audience a new perspective on our surrounding world. Live dancers and musicians will perform simultaneously with the dome films to create an immersive and multisensory experience. 

***

The dancers of Rejoice! Diaspora Dance Theatre. Photo: Jingzi Zhao
The dancers of Rejoice! Diaspora Dance Theatre. Photo: Jingzi Zhao

Rites of Passage

  • Rejoice! Diaspora Dance Theatre, artistic director Oluyinka Akinjiola
  • Presented by Reed College Dance Department
  • February 16-25
  • Reed College’s Greenwood Theatre, 3203 S.E. Woodstock Blvd. Portland

Sponsor

MYS Oregon to Iberia

Join Rejoice! Diaspora Dance Theatre for an evening of dance that explores personal and community life transitions, drawing inspiration from contemporary, Diasporic, and West African dance. The work celebrates Black artistry and culture and honors traditional rites of passage, such as those found in West African traditions, Yoruba baby-naming ceremonies, and funeral celebrations. Through dance, the company will create new rituals to recognize the importance of tradition in shaping our lives and honor contemporary transitions.

Rites of Passage will feature world premieres by two guest choreographers: Cleveland/NYC-based artist Antonio Brown and Portland-based Derrell Sekou Walker. A newly choreographed duet by Oluyinka Akinjiola and Michael Galen and a suite from their previous work, The Sounds of Afrolitical Movement, will also be performed. Rejoice! dancers will be joined by musicians and youth dancers from the Sebé Kan African drum and dance ensemble. 

***

Oregon Ballet Theater dancer Hannah Davis as Tinker Bell in Trey McIntyre's "Peter Pan." Photo courtesy of Oregon Ballet Theater.
Oregon Ballet Theater dancer Hannah Davis as Tinker Bell in Trey McIntyre’s “Peter Pan.” Photo courtesy of Oregon Ballet Theater.

Peter Pan

  • Oregon Ballet Theater
  • February 17-25
  • Keller Auditorium, 222 S.W. Clay Street, Portland

Escape to Neverland with Wendy, John, Michael, and the free-spirited and mischievous Peter Pan in choreographer Trey McIntyre’s take on the boy who refused to grow up. McIntyre juxtaposes childhood whimsy with the weighty responsibilities of adulthood in his interpretation of J.M. Barrie’s 1911 novella Peter Pan. The ballet features spectacular flying sequences, swashbuckling sword fights, giant puppets, and Tinker Bell! It’s set to a soaring score by Sir Edward Elgar, arranged by founding OBT Orchestra Music Director Niel DePonte, with elaborate sets by Thomas Boyd and colorful, punk-fashion-inspired costumes from Broadway costume designer Jeanne Button.

***

Sponsor

WESTAF Shoebox Arts

New Zealand contemporary dance company Black Grace, presented in Portland by White Bird. Photo courtesy of Black Grace.
New Zealand contemporary dance company Black Grace, presented in Portland by White Bird. Photo courtesy of Black Grace.

Hand Game, Kiona and the Little Bird Suite, Paradise Rumour (abridged)

  • Black Grace 
  • Presented by White Bird
  • 7:30 p.m. February 21
  • Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 S.W. Broadway, Portland

Black Grace, founded by Neil Ieremia in 1995, draws from Samoan and New Zealand roots and contemporary dance to create innovative dance works that reach across social, cultural, and generational barriers.

The company will present three works: Hand Game, Kiona and the Little Bird Suite, and Paradise Rumour (abridged).

Hand Game uses Samoan slap dancing combined with children’s hand games to make a dance statement about child abuse. Kiona and the Little Bird Suite draws from two decades of the company’s greatest hits, creating a new work that features live drumming, singing in harmony, and chanting.

Paradise Rumour is a response to a 2008 economics discussion paper written by Dr. Greg Clydesdale titled Growing Pains: The Valuation and Cost of Human Capital and the Impact of Pacific Migration on the New Zealand Economy, which argued that Pacific migrants burdened the economy. The paper, later denounced by the Human Rights Commission as poorly researched and prejudiced, caused significant hurt within the Pacific Island community in Aotearoa and encouraged those with xenophobic views. The central question of Paradise Rumour is, “How far have we come since then?” The story moves back and forth through time and space, beginning with the arrival of the missionaries to the Pacific. It collects memories, visions, and experiences, both personal and collective, to explore the answer to this question.

***

Sponsor

WESTAF Shoebox Arts

Graphic image for New Expressive Works' 15th Residency Cohort Performance. Photo courtesy of Subashini Ganeshan-Forbes.
Photo courtesy of Subashini Ganeshan-Forbes.

New Expressive Works 15th Residency Cohort Performance

  • New Expressive Works, founder Subashini Ganesan-Forbes
  • February 23-25
  • New Expressive Works (In the WYSE Building), 810 S.E. Belmont, Studio 2, Portland 
  • To enter the studio, use the building doors located on the South side of the building.

The New Expressive Works residency performance, founded in 2012 by Oregon Arts Commissioner and former Portland Creative Laureate Subashini Ganesan-Forbes, features four choreographers who are chosen through an application process and are provided free rehearsal space and a stipend to create new work in a supportive environment, with no strings attached and no expectations of the final product. It has served more than 58 choreographers and 300 collaborators. This year’s choreographers are Jared “ashi” Maurice Dancler, Sadie Leigh, Willow Swanson, and the Queer Contact Improvisation Group.

***

"The Age of Influence" is a new collaborative work between Shaun Keylock Dance Company and the drums-and-electronics duo Methods Body, showcasing at the Portland Jazz Festival. Photo courtesy of Shaun Keylock Company.
“The Age of Influence” is a new collaborative work between Shaun Keylock Dance Company and the drums-and-electronics duo Methods Body, showcasing at the Portland Jazz Festival. Photo courtesy of Shaun Keylock Company.

The Age of Influence

  • Shaun Keylock Company, Methods Body, Andrea Parson, and Biamp Portland Jazz Festival 
  • February 23-24
  • Dolores Winningstad Theatre, 1111 S.W. Broadway, Portland

The world premiere of The Age of Influence is a collaboration between Shaun Keylock Dance Company and the drums-and-electronics duo Methods Body, featuring John Niekratz and Luke Wyland. This abstract, futuristic work commissioned by PDX Jazz deconstructs conventional notions of jazz music and contemporary dance, pushing the boundaries of both genres.

Sponsor

All Classical Radio James Depreist

The performance also features guest artist Andrea Parson, known for her work with NW Dance Project. The piece incorporates humor, seriousness, and big dance moves, making it the collaborating artists’ most experimental and genre-bending work yet.

*** 

The dancers of "Rejigged, desperately seeking Dorinda." Photo courtesy of Céline Bouly.
The dancers of “Rejigged, desperately seeking Dorinda.” Photo courtesy of Céline Bouly.

Rejigged, desperately seeking Dorinda

  • Choreographed by David Balsley, Celine Bouly, Dorinda Holler, Mark Koenigsberg, Sada Naegelin, and Stéphanie Schaaf
  • Concept by Dorinda Holler and Céline Bouly
  • February 27-28
  • Shaun Keylock Company Dance Center, 5511 N. Albina Avenue, Portland 

What began as a duet co-created by longtime Portland contemporary dancers Dorinda Holler and Celine Bouly, expressing their deep friendship, quickly grew in scope after they invited dancers Sada Naegelin, Mark Koenigsberg, Stephanie Schaaf, and David Balsley to respond to their duet with their own duets. When Holler unexpectedly relocated to California, the remaining artists cried but soldered on, reworking the dance to cover the choreographic holes left by Holler’s departure. Much like the musical score inspired by Terry Riley’s In C, the choreography comprises remixed, reinvented, expanded, and rejigged fragments. Leanne Grabel and Gregg Bielemeier will perform an opening act.

***

Graphic image for Ballet Fantastique's "Cinderella: TheRock Opera." Photo courtesy of Ballet Fantastique.
Photo courtesy of Ballet Fantastique.

Cinderella: The Rock Opera

Sponsor

MYS Oregon to Iberia

  • Ballet Fantastique, artistic director Donna Marisa Bontrager
  • February 29-March 3
  • Soreng Theater, Hult Center, One Eugene Center, Eugene

The dance floor is hoppin’ as prom weekend arrives in the ’60s. The jukebox pulsates with the infectious rhythms of The Beatles and The Supremes as the rebellious Cindy fearlessly embraces her rock ‘n’ roll spirit in this rock ballet, reimagining the classic fairytale of Cinderella, featuring live music by Shelly James and The Agents of Unity.

Dancers and musicians from the New York City-based Music From The Sole. Photo by Titus Ogilvie Laing.

I Didn’t Come to Stay
Music From The Sole, artistic directors Leonardo Sandoval and Gregory Richardson
Presented by White Bird
February 29-March 2
Newmark Theater, 1111 SW Broadway, Portland

Music From The Sole, a New York City-based dance company that celebrates the Afro-diasporic roots of tap dance and its connection to Afro-Brazilian dance and music, makes its West Coast debut with its latest work, “I Didn’t Come to Stay,” performed by eight dancers and a five-piece band directed by Brazilian choreographer Leonardo Sandovalone, one of Dance Magazine’s 25 To Watch, and composer and multi-instrumentalist Gregory Richardson. Through “I Didn’t Come to Stay,” the company reflects on the issues of racial and cultural identity while showcasing the joy, strength, depth, and virtuosity of Black dance and music.

Be part of our
growing success

Join our Stronger Together Campaign and help ensure a thriving creative community. Your support powers our mission to enhance accessibility, expand content, and unify arts groups across the region.

Together we can make a difference. Give today, knowing a donation that supports our work also benefits countless other organizations. When we are stronger, our entire cultural community is stronger.

Donate Today

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.

SHARE:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

PCS Clyde’s
MYS Oregon to Iberia
Profile Theatre Orange Sky
Mt Tabor Art Walk
OCCA Monthly
PNCA MFA Exhibition
NW Dance Project
Maryhill Museum of Art
PAM 12 Month
Pacific Maritime HC Prosperity
PSU College of the Arts
Oregon Cultural Trust
We do this work for you.

Give to our GROW FUND.