Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema Live

Dance is a global affair this spring, a series of international alliances and cultural collaborations that we can enjoy both in person and from afar.

Merce Cunningham centennial celebrations are in full swing all over the world and will continue throughout the summer. (Cunningham’s actual birthday, April 16, saw dancers in London, L.A., and New York City performing his work in a live stream of Night of 100 Solos). The Bolshoi, meanwhile, continues its live streaming series with that most Russian of ballets, Petrushka, showing this month in local theaters with a Cuban partner, Alfonso Alonzo’s Carmen Suite (see below). Not to be outdone, Eugene’s Ballet Fantastique is offering a live broadcast of its world-premiere work Cleopatra (see below). And BodyVox returns with the Contact Dance Film Festival, featuring shorts and feature-length dance movies created by choreographers from all over the world (see below).

On local stages, you’ll find a full complement of dance styles and traditions, sometimes intersecting in unexpected ways. To wit: our first entry.

International and cultural dance styles

Dormeshia Sumbrey-Edwards. Photo by Eduardo Patino

Tap dancer Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards finds commonalities with kathak dancer Seema Mehta at Interwoven. Photo by Eduardo Patino.

Interwoven: Kathak/Tap, and Sitar
Featuring Seema Mehta, Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards, Josh Feinberg, and Nilan Chaudhuri
May 5
Old Church, 1422 SS 11th St.

In April, White Bird brought us Savion Glover, one of tap’s brightest lights. This month we’re treated to another: the Bessie Award-winning hoofer Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards. Like Glover, she’s a veteran of film (Tap, Bamboozled) and Broadway (Black and Blue, Bring in Da’Noise, Bring in Da’ Funk), and her appearance is one of the better kept secrets on the Portland performance calendar.


DanceWatch Monthly: April dance in full bloom

What's happening in Oregon dance now

“And spring arose on the garden fair,
Like the spirit of love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on earth’s dark breast
Rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.” – Percy Bysshe Shelley, The Sensitive Plant

Welcome to DanceWatch for April.

Last year at this time, I was in Japan, and everywhere you looked there were cherry trees with cascading pink flowers, and countless people posing for photos beneath them. In Arashiyama, a district on the outskirts of Kyoto, spring celebrations were in full swing. The Hozu River, which runs from the mountains down into Kyoto, is lined with cherry trees. Large families with young girls dressed in colorful kimonos were strolling in the warm air along the banks, taking pictures under the trees, shopping, eating ice cream, and socializing late into the evening. It was idyllic.

Until that time, I don’t think I had ever experienced spring in quite this way before. The slower pace, the appreciation of nature, of the season, of family and tradition; it was all so beautiful, it made me euphoric.

I offer you this month’s performances as an embodiment of this experience, and of spring. April’s dance performances are full of new life, fresh ideas, and boundless energy. Enjoy!

International and cultural dance styles

Bharatanatyam guru Shubha Dhananjay and  daughters Maya and Mudra channel the divine in “Srinivasa Kalynam.” Photo courtesy of Yashaswini Raghuram.

Srinivasa Kalyanam
Presented by HECSA Portland Balaji Temple
Choreography by Shubha Dhananjay, artistic director of Natyantharanga
4:30 pm April 6
Canby High School, Richard R. Brown Fine Arts Auitorium, 721 SW 4th Ave., Canby

Bharatanatyam, an Indian classical dance form that originated in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. is known for its grace, elegance, expressiveness, and sculptural poses. Look for all of these in the dance drama Srinivasa Kalyana, which tells the story of Lord Vishnu’s descent to earth to spread love and devotion in the age of Kaliyuga (also known as the age of quarrel). The drama culminates in a royal wedding between Lord Vishnu and Princess Padmavati, and ends with Lord Vishnu taking the form of the deity Venkateshwara. (To read the full story, click here.)


DanceWatch Weekly: Summer improvises

This week's dance calendar features the art of improvisation

At the core of it all, life is really one big improvisation. I’m thinking dance improvisation, of course. Every day, in this funny, wonderful, and truly bizarre world we live in, we are presented with a variety of people and events to interact with, and how we bump into them, or embrace them, or avoid them, or dance with them, can change the trajectory of our lives. I find this process and where it takes us to be magical and thrilling in its mechanics, and sometimes a little frightening, too. It’s the not knowing and the risk that we encounter everyday that makes life interesting, don’t you think?

This week’s dance performances all move in this realm of chance and risk beginning tonight, July 5, with four soul-searching solos in Finding Soul: A Constellation of Stories, directed by Susan Banyas and Andrea Parson at the CoHo Theatre Summerfest. Opening Friday, July 6, at the Disjecta Contemporary Art Center, the Creative Music Guild’s Improvisation summit takes over the center’s voluminous space featuring some of Portland’s dance improvisation veterans in collaboration with other artistic mediums.


DanceWatch Weekly: Easy breezy

This week's dance line-up is led by students and the returning alumni of The Portland Ballet and Kúkátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe

It’s a feel-good, easy breezy weekend of dance here in Portland. The air is sweet, the sun is out, and the roses are in bloom. A welcome respite considering… everything. This weekend I give you permission to step away from your electronic devices and join the living in celebration of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” with dance.

The weekend’s offerings include: Up Close with students and the returning alumni of The Portland Ballet; Wakily, an end-of -the-year performance by the dancers of Kúkátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe; and a rendering of the comedic ballet Coppélia, performed live by the Bolshoi Ballet in movie theaters near you.

Me? I’m headed to the forest. The Willamette National Forest to be exact. It’s where Breitenbush Hot Springs is and where I’ll be for four days this week dancing with Portland dance artists Meshi Chavez and Winky Wheeler in their yearly Dance Camp retreat. It’s a chance to find new connections with my dancer self, in a new place, and mix with new people and new ideas. I’m looking forward to this fresh experience and I’ll let you know how it went, in next week’s DanceWatch.

Performances this week

The Portland Ballet, studio dress rehearsal,15th anniversary alumni show. Photo by Blaine Truitt Covert.

Up Close
The Portland Ballet
June 8-10
The Portland Ballet Studio Theatre, 6250 SW Capitol Hwy
In an intimate studio setting, The Portland Ballet’s Career Track Program students will perform alongside nine returning TPB alumni who are now dancing in professional companies and college programs across the country.

The program includes new ballets by TPB faculty member Michelle Davis and alumna Carolina MacDonald (currently dancing with Nevada Ballet), as well as works by retired New York City Ballet Principal Dancer and Répétiteur for The George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins Trust, Philip Neal, and a duet by the renowned ballet artist Christopher D’Amboise.

D’Amboise’s duet, Pandora’s Box, will be performed by Lauren Lane and Michael McGonegal, the daughter and future son-in-law of Portland Ballet’s artistic directors Nancy Davis and Jim Lane. The pair dances for Saint Louis Ballet, where the duet was originally set in 2014, and will be married this summer.

Kúkátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe. Photo courtesy of Kúkátónón.

Kúkátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe, with special guest performances by Habiba Addo, Habib Iddrisu, and the Obo Addy Legacy Project
6:30 pm June 9
Jefferson High School Auditorium, 5210 N. Kerby
Wakily (wah-kee-lee ) in the West African language of Sousou, means to never give up, push through, persevere and triumph.

Kúkátónón’s young dancers and drummers will end the year with a performance inspired by the meaning of Wakily, featuring West African dance and drumming, a special ballet presentation, and guest performances by Habiba Addo (Ghanaian storytelling and vocals), Habib Iddrisu (Ghanaian drumming), and Obo Addy Legacy Project (Ghanaian drumming and dancing).

Kúkátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe is a Portland children’s dance company founded by Rolia Manyongai-Jones in 1983, and now directed by Dana Shephard. It focuses on inspiring confidence among the troupe’s dancers and broadening awareness of African and African-American cultural traditions throughout Oregon. The company offers tuition-free African dancing, drumming, and classical ballet lessons on a weekly basis, taught by professional music and dance instructors.

Bolshoi Ballet in Coppélia. Photo courtesy of the Bolshoi Ballet.

Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema Live from Moscow, Presented by Fathom Events
Choreography by Sergei Vikharev after Marius Petipa and Enrico Cecchetti
Performed by the Bolshoi Principals, Soloists and Corps de Ballet
12:55 pm June 10
Click here for participating theatres and locations

The story goes that Franz, the fianceé of Swanhilda, has eyes for another. The girl that he admires is Coppélia. What he doesn’t realize is that Coppélia is actually a life-size doll created by the inventor, Dr. Coppélius. Swanhilda and her friends go to Dr. Coppélius’s house to tell this Coppélia to get lost and discover that she is actually a doll. Mayhem ensues, things get broken, Dr. Coppélius returns, and they all run off except for Swanhilda who gets left behind and hides. While in hiding, Swanhilda watches as Dr. Coppélius tries to drug Franz in an attempt take his soul and put it into his beloved Coppélia, to bring her to life. Of course, Swanhilda leaps out from her hiding place, saves Franz, they forgive each other, get married, and live happily ever after. The End.

Oh, and Dr. Coppélius’s anger over broken property is placated with a big bag of money.

Upcoming Performances

June 13, Dance Forum, showcase and reception, American Dance Abroad at BodyVox
June 14-16, World Premiere – Ihsan Rustem, MemoryHouse – Sarah Slipper, This Time Tomorrow-Danielle Agami, NW Dance Project
June 15-23, Waters of the World, Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre/Northwest
June 15-17, New Expressive Works Residency Performance, Claire Barrera, Shaun Keylock, Sarah Brahim, and Decimus Yarbrough
June 16, Dance Film Double Feature: Standing on Gold and Moving History, hosted by Eric Nordstrom
June 22-23, Bodies of Existence/Dances of Resistance, Company Movimiento, Artistic Director- Cynthia Gutierrez-Garner, Eugene
June 22-23, Ævium: Intimacy with Disappearance, Jayne Lee, Delisa Myles, Mizu Desierto, Breanna Rogers, Ashley Fine, Sedona Ortega, and Studio M13
June 22-23, Recipe: A Reading Test (1983) and Raw Material (1985), Linda Austin
June 24, Salem World Beat, Rainbow Dance Theatre, Salem
June 29-July 1, Risk/Reward Festival of New Performance
June 29-30, River Daze, Dillon & Wilde + Artists

July 6, #INSTABALLET NO.26, artistic directors Antonio Anacan and Suzanne Haag
July 11-27, [A Swatch of Lavender]: A Self Portrait, keyon gaskin
July 14, Pretty Creatives Showing, NW Dance Project
July 19-21, RELATIVES // apples & pomegranates, Shannon Stewart and Tahni Holt
July 27, Rejoice! Diaspora Dance Theater presents UPRISE, Washington Park Summer Festival

August 2-4, Galaxy Dance Festival, Polaris Dance Theatre
August 3, #INSTABALLET NO.27, artistic directors Antonio Anacan and Suzanne Haag
August 3-12, Art in the Dark: 10 Laws, A-WOL Dance Collective
August 10-12, JamBallah Northwest
August 12, India Festival, produced by the India Cultural Association of Portland

September 1, #INSTABALLET NO.28, artistic directors Antonio Anacan and Suzanne Haag