Portland Center Stage Portland Oregon Events

DanceWatch Weekly: Restorative dance for trying times


If you’re anything like me, you’re probably feeling exhausted from the insanity overload that is America right now. But don’t worry: Oregon dance can revive you. This week’s concerts offer grit, tenacity, and comic relief; creative problem-solving ideas, and suggestions on how to reimagine our relationships with each other and the space around us. They suggest that there is power in subtlety, warn us about the dangers of unchecked power, and give us strength. It just takes a little decoding and understanding the context of current events to get the most out of the work. Enjoy!

Performances this week

Pilobolus’s “Branches.” Photo courtesy of White Bird.

Pilobolus: Come to your senses
Co-directed by Renée Jaworski and Matt Kent
Presented by White Bird
October 4-6
Newmark Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway
Pilobolus master class at BodyVox Dance Center, 12:15 pm October 6
Formed in 1971 by athletes and dancers from New Hampshire’s Dartmouth College, Pilobolus–named for a fungus that can shoot off its top faster than a speeding bullet–returns to Portland, bringing along a two-hour dance concert dedicated to the five senses.

Pilobolus choreography ranges from comedic to otherworldly, even bizarre. Sometimes the movement is dancerly, sometimes it’s more athletic. Sometimes the choreography defies logic and gravity, and sometimes it contorts the human form. It is always evolving and surprising.

In 1978, years before he co-founded BodyVox in Portland, Jamey Hampton joined Pilobolus. This week, ArtsWatch senior editor Bob Hicks asked Hampton how his work with Pilobolus has influenced BodyVox’s work. “What comes to mind–two things,” Hampton replied. “One is, remain open-minded and let your imagination fly without barriers, so you can be inventive. The other: Let yourself consider the impractical and the impossible. And then if there’s a light there, see what you can do to get to it.”

Renée Archibald in “Shiny Angles in Angular Time.” Photo by Brian Rogers.

Shiny Angles in Angular Time
Melinda Ring and Renée Archibald
October 5-6
Performance Works NW, 4625 SE 67th Ave.
Workshop with Melinda Ring and Renée Archibald at FLOCK Dance Center 1 pm October 6
In their efforts to redefine the black box theater as a magic box, choreographers Melinda Ring and Renée Archibald question how spaces influence us in real and imagined ways.

Part One, a full-length solo that Archibald dances, examines the basic rules of theatrical perspective by asking, “How can I act on the space and can the space, in turn, act upon me?” In Part Two, Archibald and Ring present the movement responses to these questions.

Danced without musical accompaniment but still attentive to musicality, this complex, understatedly virtuosic dance addresses the parameters of, and relationship to, the room it’s performed in.

The work began in Walla Walla, Washington, where Archibald teaches at Whitman College and has access to studio space. The pair spent time in the space, observing it and examining their relationship with it. They created the piece by videotaping their own improvisation, keeping what seemed interesting, then relearning the steps to create the final movement material, which Archibald will perform live.

Ring, the founder of the performance company Special Projects, creates dance- and movement-based projects that incorporate visual arts practices, video, sculpture, and installation.

Archibald is a dancer, choreographer, and Assistant Professor of Dance at Whitman College. She has performed throughout New York City, the United States, and internationally with independent artists including Christopher Williams, Ann Liv Young, Joshua Bissett, Nina Winthrop, and Rebecca Lazier.

Amy Watson and Candace Bouchard in Oregon Ballet Theatre’s 2015 premiere of August Bournonville’s “Napoli” Act III. Photo by James McGrew.

August Bournonville
Performed by Oregon Ballet Theatre
October 6-13
Keller Auditorium, 222 SW Clay St.
Napoli, sometimes called The Fisherman and His Bride, was created by Danish choreographer and ballet master August Bournonville in 1842 after he was 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). It 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, understated elegance in the port de bras, and dramatic impact through pantomime.

Portland Center Stage Portland Oregon Events

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.

Ophelia in Stephen Mills “Hamlet,” performed by Eugene Ballet. Photo by Ari Denison.

Stephen Mills, Eugene Ballet
October 6-7
Hult Center for the Performing Arts, 1 Eugene Center, Eugene
For its 40th anniversary season opener, Eugene Ballet (directed by Toni Pimble) stages Stephen Mills’ contemporary ballet version of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Featuring lavish sets, Armani-inspired costumes, and a Philip Glass score, the ballet–which adheres to the original tale of family drama–will make its Pacific Northwest debut here.

It’s the ballet in which “everybody dies,” according to a helpful blog infographic from Ballet Austin, where Mills serves as artistic director. “My inspiration for putting Hamlet in a contemporary setting” Mills said in a statement, “ is due to the fact that many of the themes in the play—murder, betrayal, and more—are still very relevant themes in today’s society. For me, Shakespeare’s Hamlet is a perfect warning for a contemporary audience about the dangers of unchecked power and the ways in which lives of innocents can be forever changed.”

The New Chinese Acrobats. Photo by Liu Baomin.

The New Chinese Acrobats
7:30 pm October 9
Hult Center for the Performing Arts, Silva Concert Hall, 1 Eugene Center, Eugene
Acrobatic arts and variety shows in China date back many thousands of years and evolved from everyday life, incorporating tools and found objects such as rings, tables, chairs, jars, plates, and bowls. Chinese variety shows also included martial arts, gymnastics, wrestling, musical performances, dance, horsemanship, juggling, and Chinese folk stories and cultural traditions.

Connecting the past with the present, The New Chinese Acrobats, in association with Montreal’s Cirque Eloize (a driving force in the circus arts reinvention movement), present audiences with a unique look at ancient Chinese performing arts traditions and practices, combining them with contemporary aesthetics.

In case you missed it

Martha Ullman West recalls the late, great Arthur Mitchell, founder of Dance Theatre of Harlem, and the indelible imprint he left on dance in Warm hug from (and for) a giant.

And Bob Hicks reviews Northwest Dance Project’s season-opening Room 4 and Carmen.

Upcoming Performances

October 11-13, Napoli, Oregon Ballet Theatre
October 11-16, Circa, Presented by White Bird
October 11-20, Bloody Vox: Deadline October, BodyVox
October 12-13, Change(d) Together, The Circus Project
October 12-20, A Spine Tingling Soiree, Wild Rumpus Jazz Co.
October 12-21, Portland Dance Film Fest
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.