Portland dodges the Polar Vortex and adds a dance center

Tahni Holt's FLOCK, CMNW's Winter Festival, BalletLab, Nicole Haslett's victory

We are missing the second installment of the Polar Vortex, just like the first, which makes me feel a little unsettled. No Polar Vortex for the Great Pacific Northwest? I have found some compensation, though: On Monday the wind at Crown Point, a very breezy place, reached 115 mph. Take THAT, Polar Vortex!

The weather back East probably has something to do with the arts in Portland, you know, at least like butterflies in China and all that. Just like the settlement of the Minnesota Orchestra lockout last week after a year-and-a-half will probably effect the Oregon Symphony (where negotiations between the musicians and the board over a new contract are proceeding). I want to deal with that in a later installment of News & Notes, because, yes, there are lessons involved for us in the Minnesota debacle.

Gorge winds had only the most marginal effect on the announcement of the formation of a new dance center in Portland yesterday, even though that center will be in Disjecta, which just may be the arts facility inside the city limits closest to the Gorge! (You can just see me stretching here, can’t you?) Or maybe that’s the Headwaters Theatre?

Robert Tyree and Lucy Yim dance Tahni Holt's "SUN$HINE"/Jeff Forbes

Robert Tyree and Lucy Yim dance Tahni Holt’s “SUN$HINE”/Jeff Forbes

Tahni Holt has been working on an arrangement with Disjecta, which has produced a lot of dance performances over the years, to open a dance studio she’s calling FLOCK. It’s a little like Conduit North, though how it’s used as a performing space is a little up in the air at this point. Mostly, it’s a place for nine prominent independent Portland choreographers/performance artists to create new work and offer classes, specifically Holt herself, Lucy Yim, Tracy Broyles, Allie Hankins, Stephanie Lanckton, Dawn Stoppiello, Kaj-Anne Pepper, Deanna Carlson and Danielle Ross.

Holt is pursuing nonprofit status for FLOCK, and she will act as executive director. The first order of business is to raise money for improvements in the space, including flooring and technical infrastructure for dance. Disjecta is providing material and financial support to build the studio and a rent subsidy for the new center, which Holt plans to open in March.

Holt’s plate is pretty full these days: She’s a prime force behind the dance newspaper FRONT (to which I have contributed), and her own choreography has led to a touring grant from the prestigious New England Foundation for the Arts through its National Dance Project to fund her new piece, “Duet Love,” which she’ll premiere this year (see our ” target=”_blank”>November 15 News & Notes).

The Mercury’s Jenna Lechner interviewed Holt at length about her fundraising plans and the inner workings of the studio.

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Chamber Music Northwest begins its three-part/four evening 2014 Winter Festival tonight at 7:30 pm in PSU’s Lincoln Recital Hall. The festival is subtitled Seasons, and the first program explains why: Beethoven’s Sonata No. 5 in F Major for Violin and Piano, Op. 24 “Spring”; Samuel Barber’s Summer Music for Wind Quintet, Op. 31; and Tchaikovsky’s The Seasons for Solo Piano, Op. 37bis, played by Yekwon Sunwoo. Tonight’s program repeats at 7:30 pm Friday in the Reed College Performing Arts Building Recital Room.

Program Two features Franz Schubert’s Winterreise (“Winter Journey”) and Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” Violin Concertos, Op. 8, at 7:30 pm January 25 at Reed’s Kaul Auditorium. And Program Three concludes in a more contemporary vein with David Schiff’s “Borrowed Times (a seasonal suite),” Astor Piazzolla’s “The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires,” and Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring (Original Suite for 13 Instruments). The roster of artists for each evening is loaded with Chamber Music Northwest favorites, who are among the best chamber musicians in the world.

And speaking of Winterreise, Bill T. Jones makes it almost unbearably personal on NPR.

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Meanwhile, on Thursday, White Bird kicks off its 2014 dance concerts with something provocative from Australia, namely Phillip Adams BalletLab, which will perform Adams’ Amplification at 8 pm in PSU’s Lincoln Hall. Adams makes high-energy work to begin with, and as the title indicates, here he’s attempting to take things to a new level. Yes, the earplugs are back!

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Congrats to soprano Nicole Haslett, named the top winner in last Sunday’s Metropolitan Opera National Council Northwest’s Regional Auditions at Seattle’s Benaroya Hall. The 24-year-old Portland Opera Resident Artist finished first in the field of a dozen finalists chosen during earlier regional auditions.

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