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DanceWatch Weekly: Halloween Chills and Circus Thrills


What’s happening this week in Portland dance? Two Halloween-themed productions: BloodyVox: Deadline October by BodyVox, and A Spine Tingling Soiree by Wild Rumpus Jazz Co. Both are fun, campy takes on a campy holiday.

Look for dance-infused circus performances, too. Australia’s Circa, presented by White Bird, stages Humans, and The Circus Project, a Portland-based company, celebrates its tenth anniversary with a big circus-sized bash, Change(d) Together.

Oregon Ballet Theatre offers the second weekend of Napoli, a ballet choreographed in 1842 by Danish choreographer August Bournonville. Martha Ullman West describes Napoli’s female protagonist as “a woman for our time” in her preview, “A Danish Pastry” for ArtsWatch.

And last but not least, the Portland Dance Film Fest returns for a second year with six film-infused days and nights. It opens with a party and includes artist talks, a workshop on dance filmmaking, and the screening of 28 international dance films. See all the details below.

Performances this week

Makino Hildestad in OBT’s 2015 production of the third act of “Napoli.” Photo by James McGrew.

August Bournonville
Performed by Oregon Ballet Theatre
October 11-13
Keller Auditorium, 222 SW Clay St.
6:30 pm pre-performance talk led by OBT dance historian and archivist Linda Besant

Napoli, sometimes called The Fisherman and His Bride, was created in 1842 by Danish choreographer and ballet master August Bournonville, inspired by his visit to Naples. The ballet, set in an Italian fishing village, spins a tale of young love thwarted by parental objections, natural disasters, evil sea creatures, and memory loss. Ultimately, however, faith and true love prevail.

Oregon Ballet Theatre, which staged the ballet’s third act in 2015, built this new production from scratch (including new costumes and sets). OBT is the first U.S. ballet company to stage the full-length three-act production, aided by former Royal Danish Ballet artistic director Frank Andersen and Bournonville experts Eva Kloborg and Dinna Bjorn. The OBT Orchestra will play live for all shows.

The Bournonville technique is characterized by quick footwork, small jumps, understatedly elegant port de bras, and dramatic impact through pantomime.

Napoli is one of Bournonville’s most famous ballets; another is La Sylphide, which the Bolshoi Ballet will perform in a live simulcast November 11. Check local cinema listings for details.

Circa’s “Humans.” Photo by Pedro Greig.

Circa, Artistic Director Yaron Lifschitz
Presented by White Bird
October 11-13
Newmark Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway

This genre-blurring, dance-based circus company from Brisbane, Australia, returns to Portland after a five-year absence with Humans. This is the West Coast premiere of the work, a stark-looking, seamlessly deep dive into the human experience in which an ensemble of 10 multi-talented performers explore the physical limits of their bodies.

Dancer Anna Marra in “BloodyVox: Deadline October.” Photo courtesy of BodyVox.

BloodyVox: Deadline October
October 11-20
BodyVox Dance Center, 1201 NW 17th Ave.

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, creating work that is by turns dark, mysterious, magical, beautiful, ironic, odd, hilarious, and absurd. The show, 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 a new work called “Victorian Secret.” This year’s production also includes Halloween costume contests and dance parties at every show. See link for details.

The Portland Ballet fall enrollment 2022
Alicia Cutaia and and Russ Stark of ARC in Movement. Photo by Gregory Bartning.

Change(d) Together
The Circus Project
October 11-13
Pre-show entertainment at 7:30 pm, seated performance at 8:00 pm
Peter Corvallis Warehouse, 2204 N. Randolph

The Circus Project, joined by world-renowned circus artists making guest appearances, celebrates its tenth anniversary for three nights, beginning with a benefit gala. The company is known for creating space for circus performers of all kinds and transforming lives through circus arts. The performance, which begins in the lobby 30 minutes before the sit-down portion of the show, includes former BodyVox dancer Alicia Cutaia flying through the air on a bungee harness, plus trapeze artists, stilt walkers, jugglers and a human-sized metal bird cage, on and around which the project’s teenagers perform aerial dance.

The main performance includes jugglers, static trapeze performers, aerialists using straps and silks, film, dance, and a cyr wheel performer. (A cyr wheel, in case you’re wondering, is a large metal ring inside of which performers do acrobatics as the wheel rolls and spins gyroscopically.)

The evening concludes with a finale dance and a counterbalancing act performed by Cutaia and her partner, Russ Stark, together known as the performance duo ARC in Movement.

Wild Rumpus Jazz Co. in a “A Spine Tingling Soiree.” Photo by Jarrid Cammack.

A Spine Tingling Soiree
Wild Rumpus Jazz Co.
October 12-20
Polaris Dance Theater, 1826 NW 18th Ave.

With this gathering of ghouls, Wild Rumpus Jazz Co. (co-founded by Kelsey Adams and Lucy Brush) gives Halloween a jazzy twist. Frankenstein goes on his first date, campfire stories come to life, tap shoes become possessed, and so much more. Audience participation is welcome and costumes are encouraged.

In addition to Adams and Brush, performers include Cherie Swain, Cassy Adams, Daniel Martinez, Kristina Lindquist, Nicholas Petrich, and Sondra Storm.

A still from the film “sweetgrass” by Portland artists Amy Leona Havin/The Holding Project and Tomas Alfredo Valladares.

Portland Dance Film Fest
7:30 pm October 12, opening night party and live dance-film creation, Cup & Bar, 118 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd.
7:30 pm October 13, 20, and 21, film screenings, Clinton Street Theater, 2522 SE Clinton St.
10 am October 14, filmmaking & movement creation workshop with Sarah C Prinz, NW Dance Project, 211 NE 10th St.
7:30 pm October 16, dance for film panel discussion, NW Dance Project, 211 NE 10th St.

This six-night adjudicated dance film festival, directed by dancer-choreographer Kailee McMurran, features 28 dance films from around the world. The opening night party includes the live creation of an interactive dance film with dancer/filmmaker Conrad “Icon” Kaczor and dancer/choreographer Jessica Zoller; Zsuzsanna Mangu will edit the film on the spot. The festival also features the debut of the Oregon Dance Film Commission, composed of dancer/choreographer Raven Jones and director/filmmaker Robert Uehlin; a master class on filmmaking and movement creation, led by L.A.-based director/choreographer Sarah C Prinz, and a panel discussion of dance on film with Kaczor, Jones, Uehlin, Daniel Norwood “DsouL” and Amy Leona Havin.

Upcoming Performances

October 18-20, Lucy Guerin Inc, Presented by White Bird
October 19, Everything’s Copacetic, The Skylark Tappers
October 20, Clock that Mug or Dusted, Cherdonna Shinatra, Presented by Risk/Reward
October 20, As You Like It-A Wild West Ballet, Ballet Fantastique, Eugene
October 20-21, The Man Who Forgot, The Portland Tap Company
October 22, Dance Artist Talk: Lucy Guerin, Reed College
October 26, Star Dust, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Eugene
October 26, Flamenco Pacifico, Presented by Berto Boyd
October 28, Matices Criollos, Peruvian Cultural Festival

November 1, Windows 11, Roesing Ape and Beth Whelan, Night Lights
November 2-4, A Midsummer Night at the Savoy, Rejoice! Diaspora Dance Theatre
November 4, civilized-Happy Hour, Catherine Egan
November 9, ¿LISTEN?, ELa FaLa Collective and Polaris Dance Theatre
November 9-11, Cloth, PDX Contemporary Ballet
November 11, La Sylphide, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema-Live from Moscow, presented by Fathom Events, BY Experience, and Pathe Live
November 13-14, The Hip Hop Nutcracker, Jennifer Weber
November 14, Tangueros del Sur, Presented by White Bird
November 16-18, Perceiving The Constant, Jessica Hightower
November 23-25, A Midsummer Night’s Dream with PSU Orchestra, The Portland Ballet

December 2, Don Quixote, Bolshoi Ballet in cinema, presented by Fathom Events, BY Experience, and Pathe Live
December 6-8, Winter Performance, NW Dance Project
December 8, So You Think You Can Dance Live! 2018, Eugene
December 8-25, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker®, Oregon Ballet Theatre
December 14-16, Babes in Toyland (World Premiere), Ballet Fantastique, Eugene
December 21-23, The Nutcracker, Eugene Ballet, Eugene
December 23, The Nutcracker, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema-Live from Moscow, presented by Fathom Events, BY Experience, and Pathe Live

January 2019
January 9-20, The Lion King, Eugene
January 20, La Bayadère, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema-Live from Moscow, presented by Fathom Events, BY Experience, and Pathe Live
January 24-February 2, The Cutting Room, BodyVox
January 31-February 2, Shay Kuebler/Radical System Art, Presented by White Bird

February 9-10, Romeo and Juliet, Eugene Ballet, Eugene
February 13, Les Ballets Trockadero De Monte Carlo, Presented by White Bird
February 16-23, Cinderella, Oregon Ballet Theatre
February 20, Beijing Dance Theater, Presented by White Bird
February 28-March 2, Compagnie Hervé Koubi, Presented by White Bird
February 29-March 2, Trip The Light Fantastic, NW Dance Project

March 1-3, The Odyssey, Ballet Fantastique, Eugene
March 1-3, Materialize, PDX Contemporary Ballet
March 7-9, Compagnie Marie Chouinard, Presented by White Bird
March 8-10, Interplay, Eugene Ballet, Eugene
March 9, Painted Sky Northstar Dance Company, Walters Cultural Arts Center
March 10, The Sleeping Beauty, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema, presented by Fathom Events, BY Experience, and Pathe Live
March 29-31, New Expressive Works Residency Performance

April 4-6, Parsons Dance, Presented by White Bird
April 4-13, The Pearl Dive Project, BodyVox
April 7, The Golden Age, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema, presented by Fathom Events, BY Experience, and Pathe Live
April 9-10, Savion Glover, Presented by White Bird
April 11-14, Director’s Choice, Oregon Ballet Theatre
April 13-14, The Firebird, Eugene Ballet, Eugene
April 24, Philadanco, Presented by White Bird
April 25-27, Spring Performance, NW Dance Project

May 9-11, Contact Dance Film Festival, BodyVox and NW Film Center
May 10-12, Shaun Keylock Company
May 10-12, Current/Classic, The Portland Ballet
May 10-12, Cleopatra (World Premiere), Ballet Fantastique, Eugene
May 17-19, Undone, PDX Contemporary Ballet
May 19, Carmen Suite / Petrushka, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema-Live from Moscow, presented by Fathom Events, BY Experience, and Pathe Live
May 26, Derek Hough: Live! The Tour, Eugene

June 7-15, The Americans, Oregon Ballet Theatre
June 7-9, Up Close, The Portland Ballet
June 13-15, Summer Performances, NW Dance Project

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.