Twenty-one years ago, two stay-at-home moms, Kathleen Fish and Mona Hayes, created the World Beat Festival in response to growing racial intolerance in Salem, Oregon. Today the festival, which opens Friday evening, June 29, has grown dramatically and involves more than 1,000 volunteers.
The festival spans three days, takes over Salem’s entire Riverfront Park, comprises five “villages” representing different regions of the world, and presents the dances, music, food, and crafts of more than 70 nations and cultures. There are also drumming classes, dance lessons, dragon boat races, kids’ activities, cooking classes, three Powwows, and, yes, much, much more.
“We didn’t want to raise our kids in a community where that kind of thing happened,” Fish said in an interview last year with Heather Rayhorn for the Statesman Journal in reference to the the racist incident that was a catalyst for the festival. “We thought the best way to prevent those incidents of racism was to get rid of the fear. A lack of exposure to other cultures, not knowing, drives that fear.”
I accidentally discovered the World Beat Festival this year through Rainbow Dance Theatre. Rainbow Dance Theatre, directed by Darryl Thomas and Valerie Bergman, is based in nearby Monmouth. Thomas and Bergman are former dancers with Pilobolus and Merce Cunningham respectively, and combine a variety of dance styles, acrobatics, and technology to create their choreographic style. They will be one of many dance companies performing at this year’s festival.
Salem is about a 50-minutes drive from Portland. If you’re in Portland and on the fence about sitting in the car for that long, hop over it and make the drive. Considering the world we live in right now, the World Beat Festival is where you need to be. Check out the festival’s program for all of the festival events.
In Portland, the Risk/Reward Festival of New Performance also opens Friday, June 29, with brand new work from six artists hailing from Portland and Seattle who blur the boundaries among dance, theater, music, and performance art.
This year’s Risk/Reward artists include Bouton Volonté, Angel “Moonyeka” Alviar-Langley, Cheryl Delostrinos/Au Collective, Eli Steffen, Britt Karhoff, and John Berendzen.
Among other themes, their work addresses the point of view of a black, queer, bald femme; different facets of the mixed-race experience; the intersectionality of people who are immigrants, queer, trans, and POC; an exploration of how we construct masculinity and whiteness; and the experience of grappling with a necessary late-term abortion for a much-wanted pregnancy.
Different this year is a live sound installation that will take place during intermission. Performed by Berendzen and titled Air Objects #3, the installation features the ElectroHorn, an electrically modified and architecturally interactive brass instrument with real-time looping and processing ability.
Risk/Reward was started in 2008 by Risk/Reward producing artistic director Jerry Tischleder and Hand2Mouth Theatre, and was modeled after Seattle’s Northwest New Works (NWNW) at On the Boards. Tischleder had participated in NWNW as an artist and “was intrigued by how the festival helped launch new works, created community among distinct artistic disciplines and exposed audiences to a lot of different work in one sitting,” he said when we spoke via email earlier this week.
Risk/Reward’s objective is to find projects that push artistic boundaries and nurture them “in their earliest and most vulnerable phase to give artists the chance to start out focused solely on their vision and not on self-producing,” Tischleder said.
If you like what you see at this year’s festival and are called to apply, Tischleder advises you to “put forward an idea that feels urgent, to keep everything as succinct as possible, and to provide the best work samples possible. There’s no magic formula to creating a good application, and we truly appreciate every submission we receive.”
For more in-depth information on 2018 Risk/Reward artists visit the festival blog. Risk/Reward also has a video vault chock full of video footage featuring past festival performers.
Performances this week
Salem World Beat Festival
June 29-July 1
Riverfront Park, 200 Water Street, NE, Salem
Admission is free, but there is a suggested donation of $5/person or $20 per family.
Risk/Reward Festival of New Performance
Presented by Risk/Reward
June 29-July 1
Artists Repertory Theatre, Morrison Stage, 1515 Southwest Morrison Street
Pay-What-You-Will every performance
Dillon & Wilde + Artists
Choreographers: Lucy Dillon and Trevor Allen Wilde
Dancers: Katherine Ammerman, Elle Crowley, Lucy Dillon, Kristalyn Gill Earley, Natalie Press, Beth Whelan, and Trevor Allen Wilde
Tom McCall Waterfront Park, 1000 SW Naito Parkway
Admission is free, but there is a suggested donation of $15/person
This site-specific work, created under the direction of Lucy Dillon and Trevor Wilde, will take place on the edge of the Willamette River in Tom McCall Waterfront Park in downtown Portland. Inspired by the river and the natural beauty of Portland, the team of dancers, dressed in bright summer clothing, initially appear as pedestrians but slowly emerge from that facade responding to their surroundings as dancers, allowing the audience to view the surrounding landscape in a new way.
New to Portland, Dillon, a recent graduate of UC Irvine with a BFA in Dance Performance, has performed professionally with Polaris Dance Theatre and San Diego’s Malashock Dance Company. Her choreography was selected in 2016 and 2017 to premiere in UCI’s Bare Bones Dance Theatre’s annual show.
Wilde received his BFA in Modern Dance from University of Utah and has performed professionally with San Francisco-based choreographer Katie Faulkner, the Wasatch Contemporary Dance Company, ChitraKaavya dance, Ragamala Dance Company, Polaris Dance Theatre, and is currently a dancer with the Shaun Keylock Company.
July 5-8, Finding Soul: A Constellation of Stories, directed by Andrea Parson and Susan Banyas
July 6-7, Improvisation Summit of Portland, Creative Music Guild
July 6, #INSTABALLET NO.26, artistic directors Antonio Anacan and Suzanne Haag
July 9, Giselle, Bolshoi Ballet Summer Series, presented by Fathom Events, BY Experience, and Pathe Live
July 11-27, [A Swatch of Lavender]: A Self Portrait, keyon gaskin
July 14, Ten Tiny Dances, Produced by Mike Barber
July 14, Pretty Creatives Showing, NW Dance Project
July 16, Romeo and Juliet, Bolshoi Ballet Summer Series, presented by Fathom Events, BY Experience, and Pathe Live
July 19-21, RELATIVES // Rubble Bodies, Shannon Stewart and Tahni Holt
July 23, Swan Lake, Bolshoi Ballet Summer Series, presented by Fathom Events, BY Experience, and Pathe Live
July 27, Rejoice! Diaspora Dance Theater presents UPRISE, Washington Park Summer Festival
August 2-4, Galaxy Dance Festival, Polaris Dance Theatre
August 3-12, Art in the Dark: 10 Laws, A-Wol Dance Collective
August 3, #INSTABALLET NO.27, artistic directors Antonio Anacan and Suzanne Haag
August 3-12, Art in the Dark: 10 Laws, A-WOL Dance Collective
August 10-12, JamBallah Northwest
August 12, India Festival, produced by the India Cultural Association of Portland
September 1, #INSTABALLET NO.28, artistic directors Antonio Anacan and Suzanne Haag