White Bird Parsons Dance Portland Oregon Newmark Theatre

September DanceWatch: A new season arrives, and it’s a big one

Major milestones for White Bird, BodyVox, and TBA, plus a season packed with contemporary, modern, and classical dance performances from across the cultural spectrums.

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White Bird’s 25th Anniversary Season begins on September 28 with a performance by Caleb Teicher & Company in their new production SW!NG OUT, is just one highlight of a big 2022-2023 Oregon dance season. Photo courtesy of White Bird.

Welcome to Oregon’s 2022-2023 dance season. It’s robust! This new season thankfully looks a lot like pre-Covid times (but don’t forget your mask) and spans decades in American ballet and modern dance history. It shows breadth in style and approach, represents different cultures/counter cultures and countries, offers countless ways to engage with dance, and will be performed by local, national, and international dance companies and artists live and on screen. 

And it includes a trio of notable anniversaries:

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This year, TBA turns twenty! TBA stands for Time-Based Art, the Portland Institute For Contemporary Art’s annual festival (September 8-18) of dance, performance, music, comedy, visual art, film, and, new this year, the Night School program. Initiated by artist and curator Kristy Edmunds in 1995, the festival is inherently interdisciplinary, like most dance these days, and champions local, national, and international artists who reflect and respond to our times. It’s a mind-altering, opinion-changing, heart-opening extravaganza of the senses. It’s a chance to reconnect with yourself and with others. 

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This season BodyVox Dance Company, the zany, quirky Portland contemporary dance company directed by Jamey Hampton and Ashley Roland, turns a quarter-century old! “25 Years of Optimism in Motion!” the company’s website declares, and I couldn’t agree more! Rooted in the dance styles of Momix, Pilobolus, and ISO Dance, the companies in which artistic directors Roland and Hampton worked before creating BodyVox, their choreography combines and experiments with well-known movement languages and other unusual sources like film, circus, mime, and vaudeville. The results are colorful, comedic, unconventional concoctions of pure entertainment. 

Their anniversary season includes a filmed version of the Pearl Dive Project, which features choreography by folks who aren’t choreographers or even dancers but who’ve distinguished themselves in other creative fields; Serious Cupcakes; new choreography by current and former BodyVox dancers; The SPIN, an exercise in controlled chaos, where the audience picks the dances; and CineVox Dance Film Festival, a celebration of dance film from around the world.

All of this will take place at their home studio, 1201 N.W. 17th Ave, which, I recently found out from Hampton, was built in 1915 by Wells Fargo to house horses, carriages, and their drivers. It seems only fitting that BodyVox would inhabit a building belonging to a company that symbolized opportunity, innovation, and perseverance – all qualities that can also be attributed to Roland and Hampton and their enduring legacy of dancemaking in Portland.  

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And happy 25th birthday to White Bird, Portland’s biggest dance presenter and the sole, dance-only presenter west of the Rockies! In a bold new step – especially in a city whose population is more than three-quarters white – White Bird’s 25th anniversary season takes a deep look with its new We Are One festival at racial inequities in the dance world and the culture at large.

The season-long festival consists entirely of performances by companies led by artists of color: Ronald K. Brown/EVIDENCE, which integrates African and contemporary dance with spoken word; A.I.M By Kyle Abraham, whose choreography is galvanized by Black culture and history, and which draws on a range of dance styles; and Ballet Hispánico, which champions and amplifies underrepresented voices and experiences of Latino artists.

White Bird rings in its Anniversary Season this month with a fundraising performance of S.W.!NG OUT, a new contemporary swing dance extravaganza that features Lindy Hop choreography and improvisation by acclaimed NYC-based choreographer Caleb Teicher and collaborators, put to live music by the Eyal Vilner Big Band. It all concludes with an on-stage jam session for all.

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Of course, there are many more exciting performances this year than I’ve included in the highlights above, so check back here often for performance dates and times, so you don’t miss a thing! 

Sponsor
Profile Theatre Chad Deity at Imago Theatre Portland Oregon

Performances This Month

The sunbathing beauties of Ballet Fantastique. Photo by Miki Markovich.

Ballet In The Vineyard 
Ballet Fantastique, directed/choreographed/produced by Donna Marisa Bontrager and Hannah Bontrager
6:30 pm, September 3
Silvan Ridge Winery, 27012 Briggs Hill Road, Eugene

Heading out into the wild, the dancers of Ballet Fantastique add flavor to the grapes at Silvan Ridge Winery with an end-of-summer outdoor performance. Directed, choreographed, and produced by the mother-daughter artistic team of Donna Marisa and Hannah Bontrager, the company, which prides itself on creating vivid characters and genre-defying contemporary ballet choreography since 2007, will dance to live music while you sip wine and enjoy wood-fired pizza on a picnic blanket with friends. 

Heart of Stone by Alisher Khasanov and Karen Polinsky. Photo courtesy of Alisher Khasanov.

Heart of Stone
Directed and choreographed by Alisher Khasanov and written by Karen Polinsky
September 9-11
CoHo Theater, 2257 NW Raleigh Street

In this coming-of-age memoir of Russian choreographer Alisher Khasanov’s life, a Muslim Uighur boy in Kazakhstan, who is in love with dance and music, defies both his father and the government soldiers by risking his life to save a mysterious ancient artifact in a cave and in the process, discovers himself. Heart of Stone is a dance theater collaboration between choreographer Alisher Khasanov, director of the Movement Theater Mim-Orkestr, and playwright Karen Polinsky who received the 2022 Fertile Ground GROW Award.

NOTHINGBEING by Takahiro Yamamoto and collaborators. Photo courtesy of On The Boards.

NOTHINGBEING (TBA) WORLD PREMIERE
Choreographed by Takahiro Yamamoto in collaboration with David Thomson, Anna Martine Whitehead, and Samita Sinha
September 9-11
Portland Institute for Contemporary Art Annex, 15 NE Hancock Street

Three performers investigate the multifaceted concepts of nothingness and its opposite state, “being,” through highly physical movement, communal meditation, and internal activation of sensory memories. 

Choreographer Takahiro Yamamoto is a multidisciplinary artist whose interests revolve around the effects of time, an embodied approach to the presence of nothingness, and visibility’s social and emotional implications. His visual and performance work has been presented by the Portland Art Museum, the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, and many others. Yamamoto holds an MFA in Visual Studies from the Pacific Northwest College of Art and is part of the Portland-based dance group Physical Education with Allie Hankins, keyon gaskin, and Lu Yim.

Choreographer Adrienne Truscott in THIS. Photo courtesy of PICA.

THIS (PICA-TBA)
Choreographed by Adrienne Truscott
8 pm, September 10
Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, 15 NE Hancock Street

THIS by New York City choreographer, circus acrobat, dancer, writer, storyteller, and comedian Adrienne Truscott is a comedic dance solo that isn’t always a solo, isn’t always a dance, and isn’t always funny. THIS is altered in the moment to reflect the venue, the location, and the current news cycle. It plays with assumptions about linear narrative, truth, fiction, failure, autobiography, and authorship. It’s about making art about trauma while being traumatized by the inadequacy of making art in the current political landscape. This was nominated for a 2017 New York Dance and Performance Award (Bessie) for Outstanding Production. This performance will be followed by a DJ set by ​​Shannon Funchess / LIGHT ASYLUM

Portland performance artist Pepper Pepper. Photo courtesy of PICA.

NIGHT SCHOOL: Drag Animism and the Cyborg Sissy (PICA-TBA)
Pepper Pepper
6 pm, September 13
Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, 15 NE Hancock Street

This performance includes strobe effects. 

Exploring cyborg consciousness and dirt-witch-glamour, aka a meditation on digital and physical bodies, Pepper Pepper, “so spice, they named her twice” (he/they pronouns), explores vulnerability, fakery, and identity while “turning tragic into magic and trauma into drama” in this multidisciplinary performance that incorporates video, drag, installation, theater, dance, and comedy. 

Pepper has over 15 years of participation in Portland’s drag nightlife and in theater and dance companies, including Hand2Mouth Theater, Risk/Reward, and Linda Austin Dance. In 2020 they received the Visual Arts Fellow from Oregon Arts Commission. 

Radio III / ᎦᏬᏂᏍᎩ ᏦᎢ by Hanako Hoshimi-Caines and Zoë Poluch, with music composed by Elisa Harkins. Photo by Mathieu Verreault.

Radio III / ᎦᏬᏂᏍᎩ ᏦᎢ (PICA-TBA)
Choreographed and performed by Hanako Hoshimi-Caines and Zoë Poluch, with music composed by Elisa Harkins
September 17-18 
Bodyvox Dance Center, 1201 NW 17th Avenue

Born from a common interest in minimalist art and music, Radio III / ᎦᏬᏂᏍᎩ ᏦᎢ is both a beautiful and awkward dance performance and an Indigenous futuristic concert. The dance hints at recognizable choreographic tools like abstraction, form, repetition, and pattern-making but makes visible what has been invisible in colonial systems of recognition and aesthetics. The work is alive, layered, and situated in the performer’s body, which evokes past, present, and future possibilities.

Hanako Hoshimi-Caines is a mother, dancer, performance-maker, writer, questioner, enthusiast, and organizer born and based in Tiohtià:ke/Montreal. Zoë Poluch’s relationship with the “contemporary dance” scene is based on a long-term and practice-based interest in the politics and poetics of moving and sensing. She is looking forward to inaugurating a dance company for dancing people over 70 and touring on a solar airplane in 2070. Harkins is a Native American (Cherokee/Muscogee) artist and composer based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Her work is concerned with translation, language preservation, and Indigenous musicology. Harkins uses the Cherokee and Mvskoke languages, electronic music, sculpture, and the body as her tools. 

Tablao Flamenco 
Presented by Espacio Flamenco and Artichoke Music 
7:30 pm, September 17
Artichoke Music, 2001 SE Powell Boulevard

Showcasing the dynamic interplay between the music and dance of the improvisational folkloric tradition of Flamenco are singer Yeshe Wingerd, guitarist Brenna McDonald, and dancers Lillie Last, Nela McGuire, and Christina Lorentz. Immerse yourself in Flamenco’s intense, passionate, and emotionally expressive sounds and movements. 

Black Feast still life. Photo courtesy of Black Feast.

Black Feast: Black Imagerial (PICA-TBA)
Salimatu Amabebe, Intisar Abioto, Akela Jaffi, and Annika Hansteen-Izora
1 pm, September 18 
A farm in the Portland Metro area, ticket holders will be notified of the location before the event.

In this participatory culinary event celebrating Black artists and writers through food, Bay Area-based chef, multimedia artist, and the founder/ director of Black Feast, Salimatu Amabebe (they/he), weaves together a multi-course, vegan, gluten-free meal based on the artist’s work. 

In tandem with Black Feast will be Black Imagerial, made up of Portland movement artists Intisar Abioto and Akela Jaffi, who will present a collectively held offering honoring the legacies of Black movers, dancers, and choreographers in Portland. With eight Black dancers and movement artists moving with the land, Black Imagerial recognizes Black movement as embodied image-making and visionary practice. 

The meal and dances are created as a celebration and an offering and are made for you.

Balloons, Birds, and Other Flying Things
Flynn Creek Circus 
September 22-25
The Lot at Zidell Yards, 3030 SW Moody Avenue

Under the big top, down at Zidell Yards in Portland’s South Waterfront district, you will find the Flynn Creek Circus flying high to the live rock music of Eric McFadden and Kate Vargas in their new production, Balloons, Birds, and Other Flying Things. Having sourced stories from audience members on their experiences with the elusiveness of time, the company will transform them through acrobatics, comedy, and stunts to inspire and connect. 

Swan Lake. Photo courtesy of RBT.

World Ballet Series: Swan Lake
RBT/Russian Ballet Theatre
7:00 pm, September 23
Newmark Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway

RBT/Russian Ballet Theatre, based in Los Angeles and formed in 2015 by two American citizens Gulya Hartwick formerly from Latvia, and Sasha Gorskaya, formerly from Belarus, is named for the style of ballet it performs, not for the country it resides. The company employs 50 extraordinarily talented ballet dancers from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Japan, Poland, Armenia, and Slovenia, to bring the most famous ballet love stories to life. Immerse yourself in lavish costumes, physical feats, and the magic of Tchaikovsky’s music in the ballet Swan Lake, the tale of a bewitched swan whose chance at love and becoming a human woman is thwarted by evil. Click here for an extended version of the story.    

When Russia attacked Ukraine in March, the RBT team announced a change in the company name to RBT in solidarity with Ukraine. “Let’s not allow them to destroy a beautiful world and culture created by millions of brave, kind, smart, and caring people. We dance for peace. We stand with Ukraine,” they said in their announcement

Eugene choreographer and teacher Shannon Mockli. Photo courtesy of Performance Works NW.

Shannon Mockli Open Showing
4:00 pm, September 25
Performance Works NW, 4625 SE 67th Avenue

A series of collaborative duets facilitated by Eugene-based choreographer Shannon Mockli featuring sound artist Jon Bellona and dancers Dakota Bouher, Karen Daly, Sarah Ebert, and Carlos Rassmussen explore our movement identities and histories and how differences meld into distinct syntheses. Audience feedback will be welcomed and appreciated as part of the program. 

Mockli is an Associate Professor of Dance at the University of Oregon, where she choreographs, performs, and teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in contemporary dance practices, improvisation, dance history, ballet, and pedagogy. 

Caleb Teicher & Company in their new production SW!NG OUT. Photo courtesy of White Bird.

SW!NG OUT
Caleb Teicher & Company
White Bird’s 25th Anniversary fundraiser
7:30 pm, September 28
Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall​, 1037 SW Broadway Avenue

White Bird rings in their 25th Anniversary Season with a blowout fundraising performance of SW!NG OUT, a new contemporary swing dance extravaganza featuring Lindy Hop choreography and improvisation by acclaimed NYC-based choreographer Caleb Teicher to live music by the Eyal Vilner Big Band. In addition to the talented collaborators Evita Arce, LaTasha Barnes, Nathan Bugh, and Macy Sullivan, the performance will include a spectacular cast of Lindy Hop champions and conclude with an on-stage jam session for all!

Teicher got his start in a shared evening with tap dancer Michelle Dorrance and Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards in 2011. He was a founding member of Dorrance Dance, apprenticed with Camille A. Brown & Dancers, and spent time as an associate choreographer to Chase Brock. Teicher, featured in the 2019 White Bird season, is the recipient of a 2019 New York City Center Choreographic Fellowship, two Bessie Awards, a 2019 Harkness Promise Award, and a 2019 NEFA National Dance Project Production Grant. 

Portland dance artist Linda Austin performing in her new solo, 3 miles of possible. Photo by Jeff Forbes.

3 miles of possible (the first 2 miles)
Performance Works NW | Linda Austin Dance
September 30-October 15 
Performance Works NW, 4625 SE 67th Avenue
Mile 1, September 30 
Mile 2, October 1 
Mile 1 + 2, October 2 
Mile 2, October 15

Dance and performance artist Linda Austin presents the second mile of her new durational solo, 3 miles of possible. The first mile was presented in the fall of 2021. She explores what’s possible in a world of fluctuating personal, material, political, and artistic contingencies. Within the work, Austin travels along spatial paths, animating objects, text, sound compositions, and choreography, touching upon ideas of utopian longings, possible world theory, and modal logic.

Audiences can view the first mile, the second mile only, or both miles back to back. Each mile will last about one and a half hours, and audiences can come and go, change seats as they like, and enjoy refreshments in the backyard. 

Austin is an award-winning dancer, choreographer, performance artist, and writer who founded Performance Works NW in 1999 with technical director Jeff Forbes. PWNW is a studio theater in Southeast Portland that engages artists and audiences in experimentation, creation, and dialogue around contemporary performance. Austin’s work, which she has been making since 1983, is both improvisational and highly choreographed. It contains interesting and unusual visual elements, is humorous and poetic, and purposefully disrupts what is considered dancerly. 

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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