Seattle Opera The Life and Times of MalcolmX McCaw Hall Seattle Washington

July DanceWatch: Hot Fun in the Summertime

It’s the middle of summer and dance performances are just heating up, including several outdoor productions in venues from parks to shipyards.


ProLab Dance and director Laura Cannon explore the possibilities of Zidell Yards through movement, sound, and visual art in “Break to Build.” Photo courtesy of Laura Cannon.

Happy July! The perfect time for outdoor performances with sunny skies and warmer days. This month offers three outdoor site-specific dance performance opportunities, a deep exploration of the evolution of Middle Eastern dance, and a performance lecture by Emily Jones and Hannah Krafcik that delves into the origins of our aesthetics. Ten Tiny Dances® is back at the Beaverton Farmers Market with ten new dances on a four-by-four stage. And the aerial dance company A-WOL Dance Collective will be swinging limb to limb in trees under the stars at Mary S. Young State Park. New to Portland’s outdoor summer dancing is Laura Cannon’s exploration of “Break to Build,” a multi-media deep dive into the history and archeology of the historic shipyard at Zidell Yards. So put on sunscreen and comfortable shoes, and head out or in to see some adventurous summer dancing. Enjoy!

Dancer Emilie Lauren, pictured, is one of many featured performers in this year’s JamBallah NW festival. Photo by Casey Campbell Photography.

JamBallah NW
Presented by Narcissa Productions
June 29-July 2
Lewis and Clark College, 0615 SW Palatine Road, Portland 

This four-day festival celebrates Middle Eastern dance and its American Fusion versions, featuring performances by regional, national, and international dance artists. The annual festival also includes a variety of classes for all levels, lectures, an artisan vendor fair, and curated evening performances. 

The performances feature Amel Tafsout (Algeria/CA); Pynksy Shell (Mozamqique/Toronto), Esraa Warda (Algeria/New York), Ebony Qualls (Washington DC), Emilie Lauren (PDX), and live music and dance group Baksana Ensemble (PDX).

Ten Tiny Dances® founder Mike Barber (pictured) will be performing a new work with long-time dance partner Heather Perkins, one of many contemporary and traditional performances on tap this year. Photo courtesy of Ten Tiny Dances®.

Ten Tiny Dances®
5 pm, July 8
The Round Amphitheater, 12600 SW Crescent Street, Beaverton

Watch ten different dance groups of varying styles perform on a small 4-by-4-foot stage, showcasing their limitless creativity. Established in 2002 by Portland’s renowned dance artist Mike Barber, Ten Tiny Dances® has become a popular fixture in Oregon’s dance community. The goal is to explore diverse choreographic options on a small stage, providing the audience a unique and engaging viewing experience. The dancers may perform on or under the stage, and the stage itself may be manipulated in unexpected ways, offering limitless possibilities.

Featured dance groups, choreographers, and performers include Ritual Azteca Huitzilopochtli, Akela Jaffi, Grace Eucker, Jazmyn Thomas, Mike Barber and Heather Perkins, Sweta Ravisankar, Sruthi Sathyanath, Deepika Padmanabhan, Taylor Eddleston, Addam Stell and TJ Yale, Bernard Okuley Tetteh, also known as Face King, push/FOLD/Maile Crowder, Briley Jozwiak, Holly Shaw, Summit Wushu Academy and Painted Sky, Inc. 


Chamber Music Northwest Beethoven's Complete Piano Trios The Old Church Portland Oregon

Following the performance will be a talkback, where the audience can meet Ten Tiny Dances® founder and artistic director Barber, and the event choreographers and dancers, to learn about their experiences and the creative process used to produce dances for the tiny stage.

Emily Jones and Hannah Krafcik present “Aesthetics Project”, an exploration of the connection between Aesthetics and Intuition. Photos by Miguel Zavala and Hannah Krafcik. Collage by Hannah Krafcik.  

Aesthetics Project
Emily Jones and Hannah Krafcik
6pm, July 8-9 
Performance Works NW, 4625 SE 67th Avenue, Portland

In this performance lecture co-created by Portland-based dance artist, movement educator, bodyworker Emily Jones, and interdisciplinary neuroqueer artist and writer (Oregon ArtsWatch) Hannah Krafcik, the long-time artistic partners explore the mysterious connection between Aesthetics, our principles of beauty and artistic taste, and Intuition. Through interweaving sculptures, spoken text, and choreography, they explore how these preferences are developed, how they are affected by Context, and how they affect our relationships. 

ProLab Dance and director Laura Cannon explore the possibilities of Zidell Yards through movement, sound, and visual art in “Break to Build.” Photo courtesy of Laura Cannon.

Break to Build
Directed by Laura Cannon/ProLab Dance
7:30pm, July 21-23 and July 28-30
Zidell Yards, South Waterfront, 3121 S Moody Avenue, Portland

Explore the history and archeology of Zidell Yards through the eyes of a dancer in this immersive, mobile show that incorporates movement, sound, and visual art. Inspired by rusty cranes and industrial relics, Break to Build director Laura Cannon, along with a crew of dancers, media artist Fernanda D’Agostino, and new music composer Jennifer Wright, explores the 33 acres of the former shipyard site slowly being taken back by nature and ponders our place in time.

Join A-WOL Dance Collective amongst the trees at Mary S. Young Park in West Linn as a group of 9-to-5’ers unexpectedly transform into a circus troupe. Photo courtesy of A-WOL Dance Collective.

Art in the Dark 2023: Drop of a Hat 
Featuring a musical score and live performance by Anthony Meade
July 27th-August 5th
Seating begins at 7:30pm; performance begins at dark (9pm) 
Under the Trees at Mary S Young Park, 19900 Willamette Drive, West Linn

During the summer, A-WOL Dance (short for Aerial Without Limits) performs its annual Art in the Dark show at Mary S. Young Park in West Linn. The dancers, suspended from trees under the stars, create a captivating performance that blends the tangible and ethereal with their twists and twirls through the treetops. 


Seattle Opera The Life and Times of MalcolmX McCaw Hall Seattle Washington

This year’s show, Drop of a Hat, features a group of everyday 9-to-5 workers who unexpectedly transform into a circus troupe. The production is filled with dreams and drama that often arise in large groups. Watch as a rebellious lion, love-struck aerialist, hapless magician, talented poodle on a Cyr wheel, and mischievous stagehands aim to steal the show. All of this takes place in the enchanting outdoor setting at Mary S. Young Park.

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Photo Joe Cantrell

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.

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