DanceWatch Weekly: Catch a breeze

Suddenly, the Portland dance calendar heats up

The pendulum swings from one extreme to another in Portland’s dance scene this weekend (hopefully causing a breeze)—from a lively community dance festival to a somber Butoh remembrance of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, with musical theatre and actual swinging in the trees in between.

The Polaris Dance Company performing at Galaxy Dance Festival— with Jessica Zoller, Gerard Regot, Blair D’Amico, Jana Tripp, Melanie Ann, Brynn Hofer and Preeya Kannan. Photo courtesy of Polaris Dance Theatre.

Beginning today, Galaxy Dance Festival, hosted and curated by Polaris Dance Theatre, will take place indoors instead of at its usual outdoor location at Director Park, due to this week’s extreme heat. The three-day festival, now in its seventh year, includes FREE classes and performances by renowned Portland teachers and performers in all genres of dance, from ballet to Mexican folks dance and more. It’s a great opportunity for all ages of dancers and dance audiences alike to get a taste of what Portland has to offer in a casual way. Plus they have icy beverages, and you get an opportunity to see Polaris Dance Theatre’s beautiful new studios up close as well. Check out the Galaxy Dance festival schedule online for the full lineup of classes and performances.

Also opening tonight is Broadway Rose Theatre Company’s production of Gypsy, with music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. The musical is loosely based on the memoirs of the American queen of striptease, Gypsy Rose Lee, and the aspirations of her stage mamma from hell.

Originally debuting in 1959 and starring Ethel Merman as Mama Rose, Gypsy was directed and choreographed by the late great American choreographer Jerome Robbins. Robbins, a former dancer with American Ballet Theatre, was known for his fantastic choreography in such musicals as On The Town, The King and I, West Side Story, and Fiddler on the Roof, to name just a few.

Robbins was a five-time Tony Award winner, a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors, and received two Academy Awards. A documentary about his life and work, Something to Dance About premiered in 2009. Excerpts from it can be seen on PBS and Youtube.

Although Gypsy is not a dance centric show, Robbins carefully re-created accurate depictions of the era’s vaudeville and burlesque dance styles for famous scenes like You Gotta Get a Gimmick, when three strippers tell Louise (Gypsy Rose Lee) that she doesn’t actually need talent, just an idea.

Coincidentally, the Oregon Burlesque Festival is opening at Dante’s this week, where you can catch a whole array of burlesque styles from classical to contemporary, comedy, boy/man-lesque, circus, and much much more.

A-WOL dancers flying in trees. Photo courtesy of A-WOL Dance Collective.

A-WOL Dance Collective will be suspended in trees this weekend in their annual Art in the Dark production called One Shy of Ten: The Intangible Dimension. The dance takes place at night, amongst the stars along the Willamette River in West Linn, at Mary S. Young park. A-WOL, an aerial dance company, will lead audiences on an eerie, mysterious, sci-fi fantasy that will leave everyone guessing about what’s real and what’s not.

Suspended Moment featuring Butoh dancer Meshi Chavez and the hanging sculpture of visual artist Yukiyo Kawano, Photo by Stephen A. Miller.

Next Wednesday in conjunction with the remembrance of the bombing of Nagasaki by the United States on August 9th, 1945 (Hiroshima took place three days earlier on August 6), Butoh dancer Meshi Chavez and visual artist Yukiyo Kawano, will present Suspended Moment. Kawano’s sculpture—two hanging replicas of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki which are fabricated from her grandmother’s kimonos and stitched together with strands of her own hair—is at the center of the event. The works collaborators include poet Allison Cobb, composer Lisa DeGrace and photographer Stephen Miller. The group just returned from performing in Los Alamos, New Mexico, where both bombs were developed. The performance will follow an event to commemorate Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the Japanese American Historical Plaza from 6 to 7 pm.

Chavez is also offering a three-day workshop in Butoh dance leading up to the performance. “Butoh asks dancers to meet each moment with curiosity” Chavez says, “thus creating the ‘suspended moment.’” Butoh is accessible to people of all physical abilities.

Performances this week

Galaxy Dance Festival
Hosted by Polaris Dance Theatre
August 3-5
Polaris Dance Theatre, 1826 NW 18th Ave

Gypsy
Broadway Rose Theatre Company
August 3-20
Deb Fennell Auditorium, 9000 SW Durham Road, Tigard

One Shy of Ten: The Intangible Dimension
A-WOL Dance Collective/Art in the Dark
August 4-13
Mary S. Young State Park, 19900 Willamette Drive, West Linn

Suspended Moment
Meshi Chavez, Yukiyo Kawano, Allison Cobb, Lisa DeGrace, and Stephen Miller
7 pm August 9
University of Oregon Portland’s Light Court Commons, 70 NW Couch Street

August

August 11-13, JamBallah Northwest ’17, Hosted by JamBallah NW
August 13, India Festival 2017, India Cultural Association of Portland
August 19, Laya-Bhavam: An amalgamation and importance of Rhythm in Dance, presented by Sarada Kala Nilayam
August 24-September 6, Portland Dance Film Fest, Directed by Kailee McMurran, Tia Palomino, and Jess Evans
August 24-October 8, Kurios: Cabinet Of Curiosities, Cirque Du Soleil
August 25-September 3, Where To Wear What Hat, WolfBird Dance

September
September 7-17, TBA, Portland Institute For Contemporary Art

One Response. Have your say.

  1. Martha Ullman West says:

    Department of Amplification as the New Yorker used to call it:
    Robbins not only danced with American Ballet Theatre, he did his first choreography for that company, a little ballet called Fancy Free, about three sailors on leave, an instant hit that is still in the repertories of many, many ballet companies. Leonard Bernstein’s score was his first for the theater, and the success of the ballet led both men to their Broadway careers. From ABT, Robbins went to New York City Ballet, because he wanted to work with George Balanchine. Balanchine revived his Prodigal Son for Robbins, who was a marvelous dramatic dancer. Balanchine also did a Tyl Eulenspiegel especially for Robbins. Robbins made many ballets for City Ballet, including Dances at a Gathering, Glass Pieces, Watermill, Goldberg Variations, and collaborated with Balanchine a number of times as well. Todd Bolender, who originated a number of roles in Robbins’ ballets, including the hilarious hen-pecked husband in The Concert, called Robbins the greatest American choreographer of his generation. What he said about his personality, however, I will not write here.

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