Bobby Fouther

Art for and from unprecedented times

RACC's "Capturing the Moment - Stories from a Pandemic" provided much needed funding to artists in the Portland Metro area. Luiza Lukova reviews the initiatives debut selections.

As the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted every facet of our lives over a year ago, the sudden upheaval and economic fissures left many individuals without employment, fearful, and struggling to make light of this new reality. Lockdown and mandated quarantine forced communities to look inward and into new methods of coming together and providing support. 

Capturing the Moment – Stories from a Pandemic is the recent initiative by the Regional Arts and Culture Council (RACC) to support artists in the Portland Metro area during this unprecedented time. The initiative’s open call invited artists of color to submit emerging work in all mediums that reflected their response to the crises unraveling and deepening in their communities. Eligible work needed to be created in the present moment and capture a creative response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The program was made possible by funding from the federal CARES (Coronavirus, Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act. 

RACC’s Public Art Team invited four Black community curators who represented a range of experience, and who identified as Black, Indigenous or artists of color to review submissions. The curators chosen were Christine Miller, Bobby Fouther, Ambush, and Stacey Drake Edwards. As artists themselves working and surviving during the pandemic they approached their curatorial process with a consideration of RACC’s guidelines as well as with an intimate understanding of the truths felt by the artists submitting. The work from the final artists chosen for this initiative also encapsulated the weight of the Black Lives Matter movement, racial justice, and the urgent socio-political environment; limiting the artists to addressing only the state of emergency brought on by the virus would have only perpetuated a historic dismissal of otherness.

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The year in dance: 2020, go away!

A look back at a year of closures, crises, streamings and reimaginings, and ahead to a more cheerful 2021

I have been trying to summarize 2020 Oregon dance events in my head for days now in anticipation of writing this piece, but every time I sit down to write, something catastrophic happens in my personal life that takes my attention away. It seems fitting that 2020, the year of Donald Trump’s impeachment, the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor by the police, the evisceration of the performing arts industry, and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people worldwide from Covid-19, should end so badly. 2020 has been the saddest, loneliest, most tragic year I have ever known.


LOOKING BACK: 2020 IN THE REAR VIEW MIRROR


Ironically, the first 2020 DanceWatch was a preview of Marquee TV, the newish streaming service for dance, opera, and theatre. Who knew that this idea would no longer be an anomaly a couple of months later and that ALL performing arts would end up online. 

Part 3 of Linda Austin’s (Un)Made. Choreographed by Linda Austin in collaboration with the cast. Visual design and costumes by Sarah Marguier; Set design by Linda Austin; Set construction by Seth Nehil; Sound design by Seth Nehil; Lighting design by Jeff Forbes; Performed by Austin, claire barrera, jin camou, Nancy Ellis, keyon gaskin, Jen Hackworth, Allie Hankins, Danielle Ross, Noelle Stiles, and Takahiro Yamamoto. Photo: Chelsea Petrakis

January, which feels like a thousand years ago, was a month packed full of dance performances. One was part three of Linda Austin’s a world, a world, which I previewed. This iteration of the four-year-long project was a collection of movements taken from the earlier two phases of the process, reworked and reimagined into a completely new idea performed in two disparate worlds. The entire process was chronicled on the (Un)Made website and includes performance and rehearsal photos and writing by Austin and Allie Hankins, the project’s dramaturg.

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DanceWatch Monthly: Focus on Linda Austin and Bobby Fouther

Dancers are adapting to the pandemic reality, mostly by taking performance online

For most dancers, the ability to maintain a career over a lifetime is nearly impossible. If the body doesn’t give out, the funds aren’t there to eat and pay rent. There are few opportunities, and the dance culture isn’t supportive of dancers growing families AND careers. And it definitely doesn’t take a dancer’s mental health into consideration. It really isn’t supportive of the whole dancer at all.

There are many reasons that dancers exit their dance careers to no fault of their own. It doesn’t matter how talented you are. The odds against you succeeding worsen if you are an independent dance artist working outside of a major non-profit dance organization and have to secure funding on your own. And it gets even more difficult if you are a woman and an artist of color.

But there are exceptions. And it is these folks that I look to as examples of how to carve out my own future in dance. Because there is going to be one. 

For me, Portland dance artist Linda Austin and dance and visual artist Bobby Fouther exemplify how to live as an artist FOREVER. Austin is 66 years old, and Fouther is 70. Slowing down or stopping anytime soon isn’t a consideration for either of them. And lucky for you, there are several opportunities to connect with them both this month!

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August DanceWatch: Streaming right along

Dance doesn't hibernate: It dances. Even during a pandemic.

Welcome back to DanceWatch. The dancers are still here and they are dancing!

I know, I know, watching virtual dance performances isn’t the same as watching live performances, but who cares? This is where we happen to be. So let’s celebrate and enjoy it as it is, in all of its uniqueness. Someday we may even look back on this moment nostalgically, though I’m not taking any bets.

There are some benefits to these new viewing conditions. You don’t have to get dressed up and put on those uncomfortable shoes you only wear to performances. You don’t have to fight traffic and time and look for parking. And if you don’t like what you are watching, you can turn it off or switch the channel and no one will be the wiser, and no one will be offended. Sometimes you can even watch it again, if you want.

So get comfy, invite your friends (virtually), order or make some great food, grab a cold drink, ‘cause it’s really hot out there, and enjoy the virtual dance world brought to you by a whole lot of dancers who just want to keep dancing, no matter what!

Dance performances in August!

Rejoice: Diaspora Dance Theater. Photo courtesy of Rejoice: Diaspora Dance Theater.

Virtual Last Thursday Online
Hosted by Last Thursdays On Alberta and Alberta Main Street
7-9pm July 30
Live streamed from the Blind Insect Gallery
To view go to YouTube #SummerofAlberta

Take a virtual art walk down Alberta Main Street and experience live streamed performances by African drummer Alex Addy; singer, songwriter and performer Justin Leon Johnson; and dance company Rejoice! Diaspora Dance Theater.

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