DanceWatch Monthly: TBA gets it going

This year's Time-Based Art Festival is loaded with dance events, and the rest of the month is brimming with dance, too

It’s September and it’s time to celebrate because Portland’s 2019-2020 dance season is here, and it’s tremendous! Listed below are September’s performances as well as all of the dance related performances that I am aware of in Oregon from now until next summer. The list will of course grow as new performances pop up, so check back often. Spend time with the list, ogle its greatness, click the links, and research at will. There is a lot to choose from and you don’t want to miss a thing!

The incredible amount of Portland dance offerings this year span American modern dance history, show breadth in style and approach, represent different cultures/counter cultures and countries, offer many ways to interact with them, and will be performed by local, national, and international dance companies and artists.

This week? It’s TBA time! TBA stands for Time-Based Art, and it’s the Portland Institute For Contemporary Art’s annual 10-day festival (September 5-15) of performance, music, visual art, film, workshops, lectures, and after-hours parties. The festival is inherently interdisciplinary and champions local, national and international artists who reflect and respond to our times. It’s a mind-altering, opinion-changing, heart-opening extravaganza of the senses. 

This year, the work of legendary, slow-motion Japanese performance artist Eiko Otake opens the festival and her work is woven throughout, an homage to Eiko and her dance partner Koma. During TBA’s inaugural Festival in 2003, Eiko and Koma performed “Offering,” a meditation on sorrow, in Portland’s Jamison Square fountains.

Below I have highlighted the dance-centric TBA events along with other September dance performances, because that’s what we do here at DanceWatch. For the full schedule of TBA events go to PICA’s website. Enjoy!

September Performances by week

Week 1: September 2-8

Members of the cast of In the Heights. Photo courtesy of Michael Brosilow/Milwaukee Repertory Theater.

In The Heights
Music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, book by Quiara Alegría Hudes, directed by May Andrales
August 31-October 13
Portland Center Stage at The Armory, 128 NW Eleventh Ave

In a Dominican-American community in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, life is bubbling on a hot summer day in this tale of a neighborhood’s struggles and sacrifices in search of identity and place, by Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda. Premiering in 1999, this Tony and Grammy Award-winning musical directed by May Adrales (she also directed Chinglish or Portland Center Stage), with choreography by William Carlos Angulo, brings hip-hop and the sounds of salsa, merengue, soul, and rhythm and blues, to center stage. 

Renowned Japanese dancer Eiko Otake, in her solo work, A Body in Places. Photo courtesy of the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art.

A Body in Places (TBA:19)
Eiko Otake 
Portland Institute for Contemporary Art
6 -8 pm September 5 (Opening Reception) 
September 5 – October 24, Center for Contemporary Art & Culture at PNCA, 511 NW Broadway, Free

Inaugurating the opening of TBA’s 19th festival, Eiko Otake, one half of the renowned Japanese dance duo, Eiko and Koma, will perform her 2014 solo, A Body in Places, in and around the Pacific Northwest College of Art’s exhibition gallery. The work has been performed in 40 sites around the world, and it responds to the architectural elements of the gallery, the audience, nature, time and space, death, family, politics, and Eiko’s experience revisiting the nuclear disaster site of Fukushima. 


Alongside Eiko’s live performance, she will showa series of new print and video work created in residency at the Institute for Electronic Arts at New York State’s College of Ceramics at Alfred University in collaboration with Joseph Scheer, multimedia artist Aodi Liang and music and video artist Rebekkah Palov. 

Across town at PICA, Eiko will present a three-channel video of herself performing with the spring waters and deserts of California. Shot by Alexis Moh and produced at the Institute for Electronic Arts, the video will be on view during her TBA performances of The Duet Project: Distance is Malleable.

Hosted by RASIKA, one of Oregon’s promoters of Indian classical music and dance, the dancers of Saptavarna: Seven Shades of Dance, will bring to life The Bhagavad Gita through seven forms of Indias classical dance.

Saptavarna: Seven Shades of Dance 
Presented by RASIKA 
7 pm September 6
PCC Rock Creek Forum Theater, 17705 NW Springville Road Portland, OR 97229
Meet and Greet the dancers of Saptavarna 
6:30 pm September 5 
Natya Dance Studio (opposite Balaji temple), 2110 NW Aloclek Dr., Suite 615, Hillsboro

On tour from India, Saptavarna: Seven Shades of Dance explores the spirituality and timeless nature of the sacred text, The Bhagavad Gita, which translates to “the song of the lord.” Conceptualized by the award-winning Odissi exponent Aruna Mohanty, Saptavarna visualizes the religious text through dance and music with a cast of 20 dancers representing seven forms of classical Indian dance: Odissi, Bharatnatyam, Kuchupudi, Mohiniyattam, Kathak, Manipuri, and contemporary dance. Saptavarna will take you on a pan-Indian, multicultural, multilingual journey. 

Oslo based choreographer Mia Habib and 50 local performers experiment with political “choreography” and its ability to dominate public events, for TBA. Photo courtesy of the Portland Institute For Contemporary Art.

ALL – a physical poem of protest (TBA:19)
Mia Habib Productions 
6:30 pm September 6, Director Park,  815 SW Park Avenue (Free)
3:30 pm September 7, PICA (Mainspace), 15 NE Hancock st (this performance will take up to 3 hours and all of the performers will be in the nude)
Mia Habib Productions in conversation with Roya Amirsoleyman 
12:30 pm September 6, PICA Patio, 15 NE Hancock St., Free

This durational performance, created by Oslo-based dancer, performer and choreographer Mia Habib, incorporates 50 local performers in its investigation into the power of political “choreography” and its ability to dominate public events. Through the meditative action of walking and running in circles, ALL considers the force of the protesting body and human mass. 

The four performers of choreographer Ligia Lewis’s Water Will (in Melody), consider ideas of willfulness in this work at part of the Time Based Arts festival. Photo courtesy of the Portland Institute For Contemporary Art.

Water Will (in Melody) (TBA:19)
Ligia Lewis 
September 6-8
Winningstad Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway
Ligia Lewis in conversation with bart fitzgerald,  12:30 pm September 8, PICA Patio, 15 NE Hancock Street

In this composition for four performers, Dominican-born, Berlin-based choreographer Ligia Lewis, uses the German fairy tale, The Willful Child, by the Brothers Grimm, as a point of departure to consider ideas of willfulness. The fairy tale describes a willful child who displeases God by not following her mother’s wishes and falls ill, and in some versions of the story, dies. In conversation with art historian and critic Catherine Damman for Bomb Magazine online, Lewis describes the work as “a hybrid, sort of nineteenth-century Southern Gothic meets German Romanticism meets early silent film.” 

Kiki ball contestants dancin’ it out. Photo courtesy of the Portland Institute For Contemporary Art.

The Back to School Kiki Ball (TBA:19)
Brandon Harrison/PDXBall
10:30 pm September 7
PICA (Mainspace), 15 NE Hancock st
TBA Workshop: Vogue with PDX Ball
10:30 am September 7
New Expressive Works (N.E.W.), 810 SE Belmont St

PDXBall presents, The Back to School Kiki Ball, directed by Brandon Harrison, founder of PDXBall and founder and father of the Kiki House of Flora. A subset of the larger Ball culture, the vibrant Kiki ballroom scene, originally geared towards the younger set and historically a safe space for the LGBTQ+ community, is a competition in which people “walk” and compete for trophies, prizes, and glory. Competitors dance, vogue, walk, pose, evaluate and support one another in the numerous drag and performance competition categories. Spectators and first-time ball attendees are welcome to join in the fun by dressing to the theme of “Back to School.” If it is your first time at a ball, you are highly encouraged to attend and cheer on the competitors who have rigorously trained for each category. Join Harrison and the PDX Ball scene in celebrating the powerful and inspiring community that uplifts and centers queer and trans black, indigenous land, people of color.

This Bridge Called My Ass by New York choreographer Miguel Gutierrez. Show photo by Ian Douglas.

This Bridge Called My Ass (TBA:19) West Coast Premiere
Miguel Gutierrez
September 7-8 
PICA (Annex), 15 NE Hancock St
Miguel Gutierrez and San Cha in conversation with Roy Pérez (Free)
12:30 pm September 7
PICA Patio, 15 NE Hancock St.

This Bridge Called My Ass plays on the title This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, which is an anthology of feminist essays that explore identity and critique white feminism. New York choreographer Miguel Gutierrez has brought together six Latinx performers including himself, to map an elusive choreography of obsessive and perverse action within an unstable terrain of bodies, materials and sound. Clichéd Latin-American songs and the form of the telenovela are exploited to show how familiar structures contain absurdity that reveal and celebrate difference.

Flamenco dancer Melinda Hedgecorth perfomring as a special night of flamenco of Holocene with guest singer Alfonso Cid, of Sevilla. Photo courtesy of Portland Flamenco Events.

Flamenco at Holocene 
w/special guest Alfonso Cid of Sevilla, Spain
Presented by Portland Flamenco Events 
7:30pm September 8
Holocene Portland, 1001 SE Morrison St

Experience the passion and improvisational nature of traditional and contemporary flamenco dance and music with Spanish singer Alfonso Cid, dancers Melinda Hedgecorth and Laura Onizuka (Portland Flamenco Events) and guitarist, Jed Miley. 

Week 2: September 9-15

Eiko Otake in Fukushima, reflecting on the nuclear in everyday life. Photo by William Johnston.

A Body in Fukushima: Reflections on the Nuclear in Everyday Life (TBA:19)
Eiko Otake 
7 pm September 9
Northwest Film Center, Whitsell Auditorium, 1219 SW Park Avenue

Eiko Otake presents a A Body in Fukushima, a film crafted from thousands of photographs taken by William Johnston of Eiko in movement dialogue with the irradiated landscapes of the post-nuclear meltdown of Fukushima, Japan. 

Eiko will be present at the screening and will introduce and lead a conversation after the viewing. The images are accompanied by an original soundtrack and text.

A full version of A Body in Fukushima will be on view at the Center for Art and Culture at PNCA from September 5 through October 24.

Two Bodies in Hangar H18. Performance by d’Emmauelle Huynh and Eiko Otake. Photo by Lucille Adam.

The Duet Project: Distance is Malleable (TBA:19)
Eiko Otake
September 12-14
PICA (Annex), 15 NE Hancock St
Eiko Otake in conversation with Linda K. Johnson and Kristan Kennedy 
12:30 pm September 13
PICA, 15 NE Hancock St.
Free

Performing live with Eiko Otake are choreographers Ishmael Huston-Jones, poet and performing artist Mark McCloughan, and filmmaker and environmental activist Alexis Moh. The work revolves around four themes: how we grapple with cross-generational provocation; environmental and nuclear disaster; the malleability of distances between locations, individuals, and events; and what the dead left us.  

Adam Linder’s The Want: a contemporary opera that mixes experimental dance and opera. Photo courtesy of the Portland Institute For Contemporary Art.

The Want (TBA:19)
Adam Linder
September 13-14
PSU Lincoln Hall, 1620 SW Park Avenue
Adam Linder in conversation with Mark Burford
2:00 pm September 14
PICA Patio, 15 NE Hancock St.
Free

Inspired by the client/dealer relationship in Bernard-Marie Koltès play In the Solitude of Cotton Fields, Los Angeles/Berlin-based choreographer Adam Linder, speculates on the individual’s capacity to know the other, in this experimental dance/contemporary opera with music by Ethan Braun and a libretto in co-operation with Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer. The Want, is sung by four performers, with a libretto littered with interjections from Jacques Derrida to Missy Elliott. 

Thread, a contemporary work by choreographer Katie Banks to be performed in the Aspire Projects performance, Ways of Seeing.  Dancer and photographer in the photo are both Katie Burks.

Ways of Seeing
The Aspire Project and Katie Burks
7pm September 14
BodyVox Dance Center, 1201 NW 17th Ave.

The Aspire Project and Katie Burks present, Ways of Seeing: an evening of contemporary dance built on Burks’ investigations into perception, spectatorship and performance. The Aspire Project is a nonprofit organization that serves the North Portland community by providing low-cost dance programs and the evening’s dances will be performed by former Aspire Project dancers as well as regional professional dancers. 

Week 3: September 16-22

Bharatanatyam dancer, Smruthi Vishwanath. Photo courtesy of Portland’s Shiridi Sai Baba Temple – HECSA.

Noopura 
Bharatanatyam recital by Smruthi Vishwanath
Hosted by HECSA Portland Balaji Temple and Smruthi Vishwanath
7:30 pm September 20
Portland Shiridi Sai Baba Temple – HECSA
2110 NW Aloclek Dr, Hillsboro

Former senior software engineer turned professional Bharatanatyam dancer, Smruthi Vishwanath, from Bangalore, India, will perform a solo concert titled, Noopura, which translates to “ankle bells.”  Vishwanath has trained as a dancer since she was six, performed in various productions with Abhinava Dance Company in Bangalore, and has performed across India.

Week 4: September 23-29

push/FOLD dancer Liane Burns performing in Carlyn Hudson’s A Predisposition, slated to debut at the Union PDX Festival of Contemporary Dance, September 26-29, at Portland Opera’s Hampton Opera Center. Photo by Jingzi Photography

Union PDX Festival of Contemporary Dance/
The Portland Dance Community Awards

Presented by push/FOLD/Samuel Hobbs
September 26-29
Hampton Opera Center/Portland Opera, 211 SE Caruthers St
September 26-28, Post-show Q&A facilitated by Matthew Bade, former professional dancer and director of revenue, artistic and community partnerships at White Bird
Union Soireé: September 29 (post-show)
9:30 am September 28, Masterclasses
7:30 pm September 25, student outreach performance

With the overarching goal of expanding the visibility of Portland dance artists and dance organizations, Samuel Hobbs, the artistic director of push/FOLD dance company presents the Union PDX Festival of Contemporary Dance and the Portland Dance Community Awards (PDCA).

Union PDX Festival of Contemporary Dance will feature world premieres by Portland choreographers Amy Leona Havin (The Holding Project), Carlyn Hudson, and Samuel Hobbs (push/FOLD) and The Portland Dance Community Awards (PDCA), which will be awarded in the categories of: Visibility and Advocacy, and Opportunity and Platform. The PDCA’s consider individuals who have a demonstrated longevity of service to the Portland dance community and who have positively impacted any style, tradition, and genre of dance within Portland through their service work, as opposed to artistic focus or practice. On the final night of the Union PDX performances the recipients of the PDCA’s will be announced at the post-show Union Soireé. 

NW Project dancer’s Samantha Campbell, Franco Nieto, and Andrea Parson performing in Luca Veggetti’s, Ensemble for Somnambulists.
Photo by Blaine Truitt Covert

Infall
NW Dance Project
Works by Patrick Delcroix, Ihsan Rustem, and Luca Veggetti
September 26-28
Newmark Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway  

NW Dance Project presents a trio of works by three acclaimed European choreographers. A world premiere by French choreographer Patrick Delcroix will be his fifth original work for the company.  Resident choreographer Ihsan Rustem’s Le Fil Rouge (“The Red Thread”) was a crowd favorite in 2016. ArtsWatch critic Bob Hicks called it “an evocation of the smart pop music and fizzy Hollywood dance styles of the 1950s and ’60s, a light and ebullient tip of the contemporary hat to the mating game in its many woozy variations. Like Twyla Tharp and a few others before him, Rustem’s not afraid to mine the energy and inventiveness and nostalgic attractions of popular culture.” Also slated is Italian choreographer Luca Veggetti’s Ensemble for Somnambulists, a work originally created for the company in 2006, featuring an original score by Paolo Aralla. Back then, The Oregonian reported that it packed “an existential statement into ten minutes of dancing.” 

Lord Shiva and the Goddess Parvati come alive in this Kuchipudi drama of 30 dancers and musicians on tour from India. Photo courtesy of Kalakendra Performing Arts.

Ardhanareeswaram
A Kuchipudi Dance Drama 
Choreographed by the late Dr. Vempati Chinna Satyam
Presented by Kalakendra Performing Arts
6:30 pm September 29 
Newmark Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway Ave.

Depicting the tale of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, Ardhanareeswaram, performed by a cast of 30 dancers and musicians, expresses the synthesis of masculine and feminine energies in the universe. 

Kuchipudi, one of India’s eight classical dance forms, originated in the village of Kuchipudi, in the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. It is known for its fluidity and grace, quick footwork, dramatic characterization, expressive eye movements and spirited narrative. Based on the Natya Shastra, the ancient Sanskrit text on the performing arts written sometime between 200 BCE and 500 CE., Kuchipudi dances reflect on Hindu mythology, religion and spirituality. 

Originally performed only by men, the style exhibits control with abandon, and strength with delicacy. The abhinaya (expression) aspect of Kuchipudi is unique in that it combines both the stylistic and realistic ways of expression. The use of Vachikabhinayam is a distinct feature of Kuchipudi dance: the dancer not only dances to the traditional background music but also acts with gestures as well as words, and the lyrics of the songs are always lip synced by the dancer.

Young ballet dancers from the movie Danseur by Scott Gormley that chronicles the difficulties and triumphs of male ballet dancers today. The photo is a still from Danseur.

Danseur
Directed and produced by Scott Gormley
Presented by The Portland Ballet
3:30 pm September 29
Cinema 21, 616 N.W. 21st Ave.

Post-film discussion with director Scott Gormley and three of Portland’s finest male ballet dancers and teachers—Zachary Carroll, Peter Franc, and Theodore Skye Stouber.

Directed and produced by Scott Gormley, the award winning documentary Danseur explores the determination and struggles of young men pursuing ballet today. Having interviewed more than two dozen dancers, Gormley reveals the harsh truth that being a male ballet dancer is fraught with verbal and physical abuse. “Researcher Doug Risner of Wayne State University found that nearly 96 percent of all boys who dance have faced verbal and/or physical assaults from their peers, ultimately driving many young danseurs from the studio,” the documentary reports. The film features stories from James Whiteside (American Ballet Theatre), John Lam (Boston Ballet), Harper Watters (The Houston Ballet), and Derek Dunn (Boston Ballet), among others. 

Upcoming Performances

October
October 3-5, Momix, White Bird
October 3-5, Portland Dance Film Fest
October 5-12, OBT Roar(s), Oregon Ballet Theatre
October 10-12, Sasha Waltz and Guest, White Bird
October 13, Holy Goats, Produced by Linda Austin
October 17-19, Caleb Teicher and Company, White Bird
October 20, Let Us Pray – a dance party!, The Holding Project
October 24-26, Night Flight’s 9th Annual Fright Night – A Halloween Circus
October 25-27, Nevermore: Stories of Edgar Allen Poe, Ballet Fantastique
October 25-27, New Expressive Works – 12th Residency Performance
October 26-November 17, Redwood, Portland Center Stage

November
November 7-9, Reggie Wilson/Fist and Heel Performance Group, White Bird
November 7-16, Death and Delight, BodyVox
November 9-10, Swan Lake, Eugene Ballet
November 8-10, Transcend: Best of “In the Round”, PDX Contemporary Ballet 
November 12-13, The Hip Hop Nutcracker, Presented by Portland’5
November 14-16, Autumn Choreographer’s Concert, Pacific Theatre and Dance Department
November 14-17, mekudeshet (מקודשת), The Holding Project
November 15-16, PANOPLY, PWNW Fundraiser
November 15-17, Ignite, Meshi Chaves and Unit Souzou
November 18, Sugar Skull! A Día de los Muertos Musical Adventure, Presented by Portland’5
November 21-23, CNDC-Angers/Robert Swinston, White Bird
November 22-23, Allie Hankins + Elby Brosch, Performance Works NW
November 29-December 1, Petrushka (World Premiere) and Firebird, The Portland Ballet

December
December 6-7, Dora Gaskill + Stephanie Lavon Trotter
December 7-26, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, Oregon Ballet Theatre
December 12-14, Winter Wonders, NW Dance Project
December 13-15, Babes in Toyland, Ballet Fantastique
December 20-22, The Nutcracker, Eugene Ballet
December 21, Cirque Nutcracker, Presented by Oregon Symphony
December 30, A Viennese New Year, Presented by Oregon Symphony

January 
January 17-25, a world, a world, Linda Austin Dance
January 26, Cirque Flip Fabrique, Presented by Portland’5
January 30-February 9, Fertile Ground Festival of New Works

February 
February 2, Holy Goats!, Performance Works NW
February 5-9, Niv Sheinfeld and Oren Laor, White Bird
February 8-9, Alice in Wonderland, Eugene Ballet
February 12, Grupo Corpo, White Bird
February 15-23, The Sleeping Beauty, Oregon Ballet Theatre
February 21-23, ORIGIN: Humble Beginnings, PDX Contemporary Ballet
February 22, Interplay, Eugene Ballet and The University of Oregon School of Music and Dance
February 27-29, Cirque Alfonse, White Bird

March
March 5-7, Rennie Harris Funkedified, White Bird
March 6-8, Dragon and The Night Queen, Ballet Fantastique
March 13-15, Alembic Resident Artists Performance: Sarah Brahim, Maggie Heath, and Cat Ross, Performance Works NW

April 
April 2-4, Camille A. Brown and Dancers, White Bird
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 23, Drum Tao 2020
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
May 1-2, Contact Dance Film Festival, BodyVox
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 3: Holy Goats!Plus, Performance Works NW
May 22-24, ARISE: What Dance Could Be, PDX Contemporary Ballet 

June
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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