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March DanceWatch: A month of dance from near and far

From the Latin themes of Ballet Hispánico’s "Doña Perón” to a bounty of Indian dance performances to world premieres by international women choreographers at NW Dance Project, there is an abundance of dance riches to enjoy in March.

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Bharanatayam students from the Kalabharathi School of Dance at Kalakendra’s Nrityotsava 2020. Photo by Gidu Sriram

As we slowly inch out of winter into spring, Portland dance continues to blossom and grow in numbers and variety. Based on the number of non-Western dances and perspectives offered this month, I am also hopeful (as I always am) that Portland will grow into a diverse multi-cultural city one day or at least begin to include the non-white folks that already live here.

March offers a deep dive into the classical Indian dance forms, of which there are eight, sometimes more, depending on who you talk to. The central eight, which are specific to the different regions of India, are Bharatanatyam (Tamil Nadu), Kathak (Northern India), Kathakali (Kerala), Kuchipudi (Andhra Pradesh), Manipuri (Manipur), Mohiniyattam (Kerala), Odissi (Odisha) and Sattriya (Assam). All of these styles will be on view at some point this month.

If you missed the performance of Portland Kathak dancer Shivani Joshi in February because of the snowpocalypse, you are in luck, because the show has been rescheduled for March 11. For an extra treat, Joshi’s performance also includes live music played on various Indian musical instruments.

Yours truly, who has been studying the classical Indian dance style of Odissi for six years with Beaverton-based Odissi dancer and teacher Yashaswini Raghuram, will also be performing a solo concert on March 25 at 7 pm at Echo Theatre in Portland, one that reflects the full spectrum of qualities Odissi offers. The performance will be interspersed with contextural information to help the audience understand the meaning behind the lyrics, movements, and hand gestures. Included will be a screening of a film by Portland dance photographer Jingzi Zhao called “Finding Rhythm,” which follows me trying to find new ways to dance throughout the pandemic. The performance will conclude with a Q and A with Portland dance artist Linda K. Johnson. So bring your curiosity and ask anything!

Of course, many other outstanding and mind-altering performances are happening in March, like A.I.M. by Kyle Abraham, Ballet Hispánico, and Paul Taylor Dance Company, all visiting from New York via White Bird. Full details are listed below, including information on a meet and greet with the company members of A.I.M. by Kyle Abraham, hosted by Dr. S. Renee Mitchell on March 1 at The Soul Restoration Center.

Open Space, new on the performance-producing circuit, is starting to show choreographic work regularly by artists in its orbit. This month they will present new choreography by Open Space Dance Company artists Sara Parker and Skye Stouber, performed by a whole crew of talented dancers. Also this month, NW Dance Project presents three new works by women choreographers, including a world premiere by artistic director Sarah Slipper.

See you in the theater!

Oregon Ballet Theater principal dancers Xuan Cheng and Brian Simcoe in Portland dance photographer Jingzi Zhao’s new solo photo exhibit called “Pas de Trois” on view at Portland Center Stage’s Ellyn Bye Studio Lobby from February 4 – March 31. Photo by Jingzi Zhao

Pas de Trois
A Photography Exhibit by dance photographer Jingzi Zhao
February 4 – March 31
Portland Center Stage at The Armory: Ellyn Bye Studio Lobby, 128 NW Eleventh Avenue, Portland

This new photo series by Portland dance photographer Jingzi Zhao describes her three-year collaboration with Oregon Ballet Theater principal dancers Xuan Cheng and Brian Simcoe. In this project, Zhao challenged herself to say as much in one photo as could be expressed in a 60-minute dance performance. 

Casanova and crew in Ballet Fantastique’s “(The Misadventures of) Casanova.” Photo courtesy of Ballet Fantastique

(The Misadventures of) Casanova
Ballet Fantastique and Oregon Mozart Players
Choreographed and produced by Donna Marisa and Hannah Bontrager
March 2-5
Soreng Theater, Hult Center For The Performing Arts, One Eugene Center, Eugene

Ballet Fantastique immerses audiences in an elaborate Venetian masquerade, RomCom, with a twist. Giacomo Girolamo Casanova de Seingalt, an Italian adventurer, author, and romancer alive during the late 16th century, later became popularly known as Casanova, aka womanizer, is turned on his head and challenged by a cast of strong female characters. Accompanying the performance will be live music by Oregon Mozart Players. 

Dancers Tamisha A. Guy and Claude CJ Johnson in “An Untitled Love” by A.I.M by Kyle Abraham. Photo by Christopher Duggan

An Untitled Love
A.I.M by Kyle Abraham
Presented by White Bird/WE ARE ONE Festival
March 2-4
Newmark Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway, Portland

Meet and greet with A.I.M. by Kyle Abraham, hosted by Dr. S. Renee Mitchell
6:15 pm, March 1
The Soul Restoration Center, 14 NE Killingsworth Street, Portland
Attendance is free, but space is limited. RSVP at info@whitebird.org

Drawing from the music of Grammy Award-winning Rhythm and Blues legend D’Angelo, An Untitled Love by Kyle Abraham, in collaboration with the artists of A.I.M., pays homage to the complexities of self-love and Black love, while serving as a thumping mixtape celebrating Black culture, family, and community.

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Abraham explores identity through his history of growing up in the hip-hop culture of the 1970s and his classical education in piano, cello, and visual arts. His work utilizes sound, human behavior, and graphic elements to express and expose his investigations on stage.

In addition to dance classes, Open Space now houses a professional dance company, Open Space Dance Company, directed by Franco Nieto. Photo courtesy of Open Space

Open Ended
Presented by Open Space
March 9-11
Oregon Contemporary, 8371 N Interstate Ave, Portland
Reception following the performance

Open Ended includes new choreography by Open Space Dance Company Artists Tony Carnell, Audrey Wells, and Colleen Loverde, and a multi-disciplinary dance and film by Portland-based dance artist Sara Parker and Skye Stouber entitled the beast that blooms.

Open Space is a creative center located inside the Disjecta Contemporary Art Center in the Kenton neighborhood of North Portland, founded by former Princess Grace aware winner and former NW Dance Project dancer Franco Nieto; professional ballet dancer and teacher Charlene Hanibal; and professional ballet dancer, teacher, and arts administrator Maeve Dougal.

Portland Kathak dancer Shivani Joshi will perform a solo concert to live music. Photo courtesy of Shivani Joshi

Shivani Joshi
Disciple of Pt. Rajendra Gangani
Presented by Swaranjali Academy of Indian Music
7:00 pm, March 11
Evans Auditorium, Lewis & Clark College, 0615 SW Palatine Hill Road, Portland

Portland Kathak dancer Shivani Joshi, a disciple of Pt. Rajendra Gangani, will perform a solo concert to live music by Vishal Nagar on tabla and Suhail Yusuf Khan on the sarangi, with vocals by Shruti Jahangirdar, and Padhant by Shrikant Naware. Kathak is a classical dance form of north India derived from storytelling and includes intricate footwork, hand gestures, and facial expressions.

Colombian-Belgian choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa explores the legacy of Eva Perón in her new work, “Doña Perón,” for Ballet Hispánico. Photo courtesy of White Bird

Doña Perón
Ballet Hispánico
Presented by White Bird/WE ARE ONE Festival
7:30 pm, March 15
Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway, Portland

In this evening-length work, Colombian-Belgian choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa explores the diverging legacies of the most recognizable and controversial woman in Argentine history, Eva Perón. Set to an original score by Peter Salem, the 18-member company will explore the contradicting themes in Evita’s life, from her extreme power, activism for women, and the working class to her indulgence in a luxurious high-class life. Was she a voice for the people or a deceitful actress? 

NW Dance Project dancers in dress rehearsal for “Common Ground” with choreography by Yin Yue. Photo courtesy of NW Dance Project

Common Ground
NW Dance Project
March 17-18
Patricia Reser Center For The Arts, 12625 SW Crescent Street, Beaverton

Making its Reser debut, NW Dance Project presents a trio of works by three distinct contemporary women choreographers. The program includes Chinese choreographer Yin Yue’s Common Ground, a blend of traditional Chinese folk dance and modern dance; a world premiere from Caroline Finn, former Artistic Director of National Dance Company Wales, in her U.S. debut; and a world premiere from NW Dance Project’s Artistic Director Sarah Slipper. 

Photo courtesy of Kalakendra

Nrityotsava 2023
Presented by Kalakendra
6 pm, March 18
Lake Oswego High School Auditorium, 2501 Country Club Rd, Lake Oswego

As one of Portland’s most prominent and longest-running presenters of Indian performing arts, Kalakendra features Nrityotsava, an extravaganza of Indian classical dance. Portland-area Indian dance teachers, choreographers, and students will perform several styles of the South Indian dance Bharanatayam, Odissi from the East Indian state of Odisha, Kathak from North India, Kuchipudi from the southeastern coastal state of Andhra Pradesh, Bollywood dance, and more.

Odissi and contemporary dancer and writer of DanceWatch, Jamuna Chiarini. Photo by Yashaswini Raghuram

Arpan – An Offering
A solo Odissi performance by Jamuna Chiarini, a student of Srimati Yashaswini Raghuram
Co-produced by Echo Theater
7 pm, March 25
Echo Theater, 1515 SE 37th Avenue, Portland

Performing in the classical Indian dance style of Odissi, from the East Indian state of Odisha, Jamuna Chiarini, a student of Srimati Yashaswini Raghuram and writer of DanceWatch for Oregon ArtsWatch, will showcase a traditional Odissi repertoire demonstrating the form’s graceful, lyrical, rhythmic, and spiritual aspects. The evening will include a deep dive into Odissi’s historical, musical, cultural, and visual elements with a lecture demonstration by Odissi teacher Srimati Yashaswini Raghuram and her student Sonakshi Choudhury. Also featured will be a dance film directed and edited by Portland dance photographer Jingzi Zhao called Finding Rhythm, which follows Jamuna as she adapts to the isolation of the pandemic and finds new and meaningful ways to continue dancing without a stage. Concluding the performance will be a Q&A with Portland dance artist Linda K. Johnson.

Paul Taylor’s “A Field of Grass”. Photo courtesy of Paul Taylor Dance Company

A Field of Grass, Company B, and Brandenburgs
Paul Taylor Dance Company
Presented by White Bird
March 30 – April 1
Newmark Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway, Portland

The first dance company presented by White Bird during their inaugural season in October 1997, and the last to close out its 25th season, the Paul Taylor Dance Company will perform three works: A Field of Grass, which captures the sights, sounds, and sensations of the 1970s; Company B which expresses the dualities of celebration and war in America between the depression and World War II; and Brandenburgs, a dedication to the form and musical structure of baroque music that experiments with ballet turning its hierarchies on its head. 

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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One Response

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this with me! I am so glad to be on your list!
    I remember meeting you at the PushFold concert last fall.

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