Portland Playhouse A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens Portland Oregon

November DanceWatch: An explosion of creative impulse

This month's performances demonstrate the scope of inspiration and self-expression behind the choreographers and dancers.

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Butoh dancer Yukio Suzuki. Photo courtesy of Headwaters Theater.

There is no easy way to describe dance. It is a thousand different things all at once and is constantly changing. Here at DanceWatch, I work to define the dances listed each month in simple terms and sort them into categories of what I think might be familiar dance genres like contemporary dance, ballet, and hip hop so that someone’s interest is piqued or a connection with the form or an artist is made, and people go to see performances.

But dance, and especially the performances this month, defies all classifications. Dance, and any art really, is about the person behind the making. What lens are they looking at the world through? What are they curious about? What book are they reading? What has their life been like? To name just a few of the millions of things running through people’s lives. This month’s performances defy space and time; they are explosions of color and energy. They connect the world, envision futures, grapple with life and death, and fulfill people’s desires. Enjoy!

Bharanatayam dancer Janaki Rangarajan. Photo courtesy of Walters Culture Arts Center.

Ramya Raman and Janaki Rangarajan
Presented by RASIKA and the City of Hillsboro
7:30 pm, November 4
Walters Cultural Arts Center, 527 E. Main Street, Hillsboro

Performing an evening of Bharatanatyam repertoire are dancers Ramya Raman and Janaki Rangarajan. Raman, the daughter of famed Portland Bharanatayam dancer Jayanthi Raman, is a dancer, teacher, and choreographer in her own right and a Fulbright scholar with a degree in World Dance. Rangarajan is an internationally acclaimed performer who studied under Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam in Chennai, India and has been a teacher for over 40 years. Rangarajan is also a trained Carnatic vocalist and veena musician under the tutelage of Shrimati Kamala Viswanathan and vocal training with Sri D.K. Nagarajan. As a recipient of a City of Hillsboro Performance Series Grant, the proceeds from this performance go directly to the performers, with a portion going to RASIKA

Touch System by Blue McCall, Jamondria Harris, and ensemble. Photo courtesy of Performance Works NW.

Alembic Artist Series
Weekend One: dee bustos || Blue McCall + Jamondria Harris + ensemble
November 4-6
Performance Works NW, 4625 SE 67th Ave, Portland

In residence at Performance Works NW since January – dancing, vocalizing, creating videos, researching, and sharing ideas – the Alembic Artists are ready to share their work-in-development with the outside world. 

Touch System by Blue McCall, Jamondria Harris, and ensemble seeks saturation of experience, feeling, and sensation by enmeshing a group of dancers, installation, video projection, and live-hacked tech within a living sound installation by Jamondria Harris (Meroitic), accompanied by creative coder and visual hacker Ashley Ona Bott.

Inspired by the act of remembering and pausing around wounds, Molt is an attempt at reconciling the disconnect between body and voice. Having grown up singing in church, both catholic and gospel settings, dee bustos (movement, vocalization, video), are on the journey of discovering their voice outside of a religious context. They are joined by soundscaping artist gemini moon.

Eugene Ballet dancers in The Sleeping Beauty by artistic director Toni Pimble. Photo courtesy of Eugene Ballet.

The Sleeping Beauty
Eugene Ballet, artistic director Toni Pimble
November 4-6
Silva Concert Hall, Hult Center for the Performing Arts, 1 Eugene Center, Eugene

This classical ballet tells the tale of a King and Queen who anger an evil fairy at the celebration of the birth of their new daughter. The angry fairy curses the little girl to prick her finger on a spindle on her 16th birthday and die. But a good fairy intervenes and alters the curse to cause the princess to fall asleep for 100 years. Of course, she can only be awakened by a true love’s kiss. The ballet features Tchaikovsky’s powerful score, elaborate sets and costumes, and the dancing of fairy book characters and magical creatures.

The Kathak dance SISK Dance Ensemble directed by Shambhavi Dandekar. Photo courtesy of Shambhavi Dandekar.

Horizons… Myriad Hues in Kathak
Performed by Shambhavi Dandekar and SISK Dance Ensemble
Presented by Kalakendra and Oregon Marathi Mandal 
7:00 pm, November 5
Patricia Reser Center for the Arts, 12625 SW Crescent Street, Beaverton 

Visiting from the San Francisco Bay Area and performing an evening of Kathak are choreographer Shambhavi Dandekar and the SISK Dance Ensemble. Dandekar began her dance training under the guidance of her mother, Guru Pandita Maneesha Sathe, a celebrated dancer and a teacher, formed her own company in the United States in 2012, and is a member of the International Dance Council of UNESCO. 

Native to North India, Kathak (pronounced “Kah-tahk”), one of India’s eight classical dance forms, originated in Hindu temples as a storytelling device to portray tales from Hindu scriptures, the Mahabharata, and the Ramayana. The dance comprises complicated footwork paired with spinning, emotions, facial expressions, mime, theatricality, and poetry.

With live music played by Tanmay Bichu (tabla), Namrata Mahabal (vocals), and Aditya Ranade (vocals & harmonium), and dance performed by SISK Dance Ensemble dancers Shruti Naik, Sangeeta Balasubramani, Ketaki Sathe, Esha Badhe, Mayuri Sapre, and Rutuja Joshi.

Sponsor
Portland Playhouse A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens Portland Oregon
The choreographic work of Alembic resident artist Adrianna Audoma. Photo courtesy of Performance Works NW.

Alembic Artist Series 
Weekend Two: Adrianna Audoma and Pepper Pepper
November 11-13
Also live-streamed at 5pm on Sunday, November 13
Performance Works NW, 4625 SE 67th Ave, Portland

In residence at Performance Works NW since January – dancing, vocalizing, creating videos, researching, and sharing ideas – the Alembic Artists are ready to share their work-in-development with the outside world. 

In her new work, emerging contemporary choreographer Adrianna Audoma explores space, bodies, and sound with an ensemble of five dancers accompanied by original live music composed and performed by Daysmel Muniz and Alex Harrison. Her work is influenced by her time spent in Jerusalem, and by elements of honesty, family secrets, chaos, and even children and video games. Audoma has been a member of Tongue Dance Project since 2014 and is currently an instructor at Steps PDX.

A multidisciplinary artist who works in performance, video, drag, installation, theatre and dance, Pepper Pepper, with musician Matt Katz, presents The Moon Underneath, featuring storytelling, song, and dance concerning, belonging to, or inhabiting the underworld. Katz, originally from Brooklyn, NY, has been producing, writing, and creating music since 1997. Performance attendees should be aware this work-in-progress features a moment of strobe lighting. 

The dancers and musicians of The Skylark Tappers. Photo courtesy of The Skylark Tappers.

Skylarks On Tap
Presented by The Skylark Tappers 
November 12 – 13
Chapel Theatre, 4107 SE Harrison Street, Milwaukie

The Skylark Tappers are back and will perform new works and old favorites, including an array of live songs from Latin to jazz, while showing off the complexity and dynamics of tap dancing. The Skylark band includes musical director Jack Buddeke on the keyboard, Jeff Homan on saxophone, Rivkah Ross on drums, Ben Medler on bass, and 2016 Jazz Society of Oregon Hall of Fame Inductee Marilyn Keller on vocals. Directed by Judy Tibbles and assistant artistic director Victor Torres, the Skylark Tappers include Missy Eseppi-Desmarais, Becky Goldcrump, Sheri Leipzig, Liz O’Donnell, Rachael Singer-Brown, Alyssa Staab, Briana Whitehead. While most of the choreography presented is by Tibble, Torres, Singer-Brown, and Whitehead, the dancers and musicians contribute through improvisation. 

Choreographer Shay Kuebler’s new work, Momentus of Isolation that focuses on the new pandemic of loneliness. Photo by David Cooper.

Momentum of Isolation
Shay Kuebler Radical System Art
Presented by White Bird Uncaged
November 17-19
Lincoln Hall at Portland State University, 1620 SW Park Avenue, Portland

After learning that the United Kingdom had appointed a “Minister of Loneliness” to tackle the health effects of loneliness and isolation, Radical System Art choreographer Shay Kuebler created Momentum of Isolation, the story of a man who works alone, occasionally speaking to his single green plant. The work explores the objective and subjective experiences through the individual, the group, and modern society – a society with shifting values and an ever-advancing digital way of life. Vancouver, B.C.-based choreographer Shay Kuebler and his company Radical System Art draw from martial arts, hip-hop, contemporary ballet, modern, and tap to create theatrical, highly physical work that interacts with technology.

Artists of Union PDX-Festival:22 featuring Megan Doheny, Julienne Doko, Makino Hayashi, Sarada Kala Nilayam, SZALT, and push/FOLD. Photo courtesy of Union PDX.

Union PDX – Festival:22
Presented by push/FOLD, artistic director Samuel Hobbs
Featured artists include Megan Doheny, Julienne Doko, Makino Hayashi, Sarada Kala Nilayam, SZALT, and push/FOLD.
November 17-20
November 18-20 Livestream available
Hampton Opera Center, 211 SE Caruthers Street, Portland

Connecting audiences to artists and artists to resources, push/FOLD, directed by Samuel Hobbs, presents Union PDX, a four-day festival that includes performances, classes, panels, and professional development workshops. Featured will be work from local, national, and international contemporary artists representing West African and Afro-Brazilian, Bharatanatyam, Contemporary ballet, and Contemporary dance styles. Notable Portland choreographers whose work will be shown include Oregon Ballet Theater company artist Makino Hayashi, Bharanatayam dancer Sweta Ravisankar, and push/FOLD and Union PDX artistic director Samuel Hobbs.

Dancer Andrea Parson. Photo by Kristin Francis.

You Can’t Be Serious
Andrea Parson
Presented by From the Ground Up, artistic director Katherine Murphy Lewis
November 18-19
New Expressive Works, 810 SE Belmont Street, Portland

Choreographed and performed by veteran NW Dance Project dancer and Princess Grace Award winner Andrea Parson, You Can’t Be Serious explores a final bow in Germany, a cancer diagnosis, a death, a cookie, and a conversation with God. This evening of solo dance and storytelling performance explores various memories and scenes surrounding the loss of Parson’s sister. In this autobiographical work, she blends dance and stand-up comedy to create a hilarious and tragic story about witnessing and grappling with death. 

Parson is a lifelong dancer who studied at the Joffrey Ballet, San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, and Loyola Marymount University, receiving her BA in dance in 2009. After graduating, she joined Northwest Dance Project in Portland, Oregon, where she danced for 11 years, performing with them nationally and internationally. Parson is currently in residence with the Portland-based organization, From the Ground Up, where she developed You Can’t Be Serious. Parson teaches and choreographs at dance studios and universities throughout Portland.

Butoh dancer Yukio Suzuki. Photo courtesy of Headwaters Theater.

A Moment of Flower
Yukio Suzuki
November 19-20
Headwaters Theater, 55 NE Farragut, Portland
The entrance is in the back of the building, next to the parking lot and railroad tracks.
Yukio Suzuki Workshop November 16 and November 18

In his solo, A Moment of Flower, Japanese Butoh dancer Yukio Suzuki, in collaboration with photographer Saki Yagi, searches for answers. What makes him want to dance, what makes him move, and what does contemporary expression unbound by existing styles look like? 

Suzuki studied butoh, a form of Japanese dance theatre, at the “Karada no Gakko” (School of the Body) of the Asbestos-kan (base of the original founder of butoh, Tatsumi Hijikata) and from Ko Murobushi. Suzuki began studying butoh dance in 1997, performing in works by Ko Murobushi, Megumi Nakamura, and others. In 2000 he founded his company YUKIO SUZUKI Projects, and toured worldwide. Suzuki won the Toyota Choreography Award 2008 “Nextage–Choreographer of the Next Generation” prize and was presented by Portland Institute For Contemporary Art as part of the Time Based Arts festival in 2010 and 2011. 

For an in-depth look into the practice of Yukio Suzuki and the dance form of butoh, check out this interview with Suzuki called The new realm of contemporary dance pioneered by Yukio Suzuki, an inheritor of the compelling body movement of butoh.

Flamenco dancer Lucía Ruibal and flamenco guitarist José Almarcha. Photo courtesy of The Alberta Rose Theatre.

Alejandra
José Almarcha
Presented by Flamenco Spain Arts and Culture, FECACE, and Espacio Flamenco Portland
6 pm November 20
The Alberta Rose Theatre, 3000 NE Alberta Street, Portland

This Flamenco tribute to the mother of Spanish musical director and flamenco guitarist José Almarcha evokes personal history, roots, and identity. Featuring choreographer and flamenco dancer Lucía Ruibal, the performance incorporates a variety of Flamenco styles, including tangos, seguiriya, toque por levante, milonga, and guajira.

Babes in Toyland by Ballet Fantastique. Photo courtesy of Ballet Fantastique.

Babes in Toyland
Ballet Fantastique, artistic director Donna Marisa 
November 26-27
Silva Concert Hall, Hult Center, 1 Eugene Center, Eugene

Danced to Duke Ellington’s jazzy rendition of The Nutcracker Suite, this retro-glam contemporary ballet loosely weaves together various characters from Mother Goose nursery rhymes into a Christmas-themed dance extravaganza. Choreographed by the mother-daughter artistic team of Donna Marisa and Hannah Bontrager, this reimagining of Babes in Toyland will transport some back to the technicolor holiday television specials of yore and will introduce new generations to the bizarre vintage entertainment for the first time. 

The Portland Ballet in The Enchanted Toyshop. Photos by Blaine Truitt Covert.

The Enchanted Toyshop
Choreography by John Clifford 
Performed by The Portland Ballet with guest artists Lauren Lane and Nick Le-Jurica
November 26-27
Lincoln Hall at Portland State University, 1620 SW Park, Portland

Left behind in a toyshop, two children are entertained by a parade of dancing dolls in John Clifford’s The Enchanted Toyshop. Originally titled La Boutique Fantasque, the ballet was choreographed by Leonide Massine for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes in 1919. Clifford, who has adapted the story ballet for The Portland Ballet, cut out much of the original libretto, but kept the original sets and costumes. Clifford, a protégé of George Balanchine, is an artistic advisor to The Portland Ballet and provides a link for the company to one of America’s most influential ballet choreographers.

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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