Charles Grant

Even amidst the chaos in our world right now, artists are getting creative and finding ways to perform for you. September’s performances are a combination of live, live- streamed, and recorded performances. 

In preparation for this month’s live performances that require social distancing, let’s play a few games. Let’s imagine that social distancing is a dance and that you are a performer in this dance. A dance that includes everyone around you. All the world’s a stage, right?

First, find a broom. Hold the broom out to your side, parallel with the floor, with one end about a foot from your center. This is approximately six feet. Two arms length. This is the suggested distance that we are supposed to keep between us to keep us safe from catching and spreading Covid-19. Now, walk around the house moving the broomstick around your body 360 degrees and experience what this measurement actually feels like. Yup, it’s bigger than you think. Watch out for those dishes and that lamp! 

If this doesn’t work for you and you need a different visual, measure six feet out from your center and place objects from your house in a circle around you on the floor. Now feel your feet on the ground, reach your fingertips up to the sky, and spread your arms out on either side of you and turn in place carving out the edges of your space with your fingertips. You can even take this a step further and explore your space beyond the vertical and horizontal tracing all of the areas in between. Now take this imaginary space that you have explored and create a giant bubble with it and put yourself in it. You now live in a bubble at all times! Stay in your bubble!

Next game. Imagine that you have a string attached to your bellybutton that connects your body to others. Imagine that we are all connected to each other, all the time, through this extensive web of strings. Take a moment to feel what this really feels like, to keep other people around you in your consciousness at all times. Imagine being out in the world and stringing yourself to people walking by you or folks standing in line with you at the grocery store or protestors downtown. You CAN be conscious of yourself and others all at the same time. 

Now, get into your gigantic bubble and connect your string to the people around you. Keep your distance but stay connected and go forth into the world. 

These are exercises or dances that dance teachers often give to their youngest students to help them learn body awareness and to keep them from bumping into and injuring each other during class. These awareness tools can keep us safe, create compassion, and connection. And don’t forget your costume, your mask!

Performances keep popping up, so I will be adding them to this list as they come up. Check back often. 

September Dance Performances

The beautiful Portland performer and community activist, Chisao Hata.
Photo courtesy of Chisao Hata.

Luminaries
Echo Theater Company PDX
9-10pm September 1

Under the full moon, in an undisclosed location somewhere in Portland (The event address will be emailed the day of the show), Echo Theatre, Portland’s zany, forward thinking, acrobatics, aerial dance, and physical theater company, will present, Luminaries, an hour long performance of music, dance, and storytelling. The event features Japanese-American performing artist and community organizer Chisao Hata, triple threat Bevin Victoria, Korean-American actor, writer and director Heath Houghton, and theatre and television actor Tessa May. Topping off the evening will be performances by the renowned Echo Theatre Company Education Director Wendy Cohen and Director of Operations and Community Engagement Aaron Wheeler Kay, who specializes in acrobatics, aerial dance, and physical theater.

The audience is requested to wear masks and engage in physical distancing. Please bring a blanket or chair. 

Performance artist Lu Yim. photo by Mario Galluci Studios.

Happy Hour with Lu Yim
Presented by Performance Works NW/Linda Austin Dance
5-6 pm September 2
RSVP here by 3pm September 2 in order to receive the Zoom link.

In a mindful approach that provides financial support to artists of color in the community, while centering dance and experimental performance, PWNW has created a Happy Hour on Zoom that features a variety of artists, twice monthly! The evening includes a cocktail demo (featured drink this week is the Oaxaca Old Fashioned), a toast, a performance, PWNW-themed Bingo, and prizes, of course! 

Happy Hour this week will feature performance artist and choreographer Lu Yim​ who creates work from her interests in body politics, language, and the mechanics of memory. 

About the work-in-progress presentation in Lu Yim’s own words:

“I embarked on Before the Dying That Will when I witnessed my father get up and perform an impromptu dance in an effort to settle a dispute with his sister. They were arguing about the ungodliness of homosexuality. With curiosity I started to archive this dance by conjuring it in my own body, discovering its connections to other bodies, geographies and timescapes. I imagined the archive of his dance through my version of it, coming via ancestral, cellular and inexplicably miraculous catalogues of information. It turns out the dance emerges by way of escaping, so I stopped looking at it or for it, like, I don’t need to hold on to it, and like, sometimes meaning is better when it is hacked anyway.”

Happy Hour will resume in October

Dancers of Espacio Flamenco performing onstage at The Alberta Rose Theatre.
Photo by Dennis Glisson of Glisson Imaging PDX.

Espacio Flamenco on the Portland Music Re-Stream
The Alberta Rose Theatre
7-8pm September 2
Rebroadcast from The Alberta Rose Theatre

Espacio Flamenco, Portland’s premier flamenco producer, will rebroadcast a previous performance from a night at The Alberta Rose Theatre right to your living room. 

Flamenco, an improvisational form of dance, is an amalgamation of centuries of cross-pollination between the many cultures that have existed in Spain, and combines singing, dancing, instrumentals (guitar mostly), hand clapping and finger snapping. It is also one of the few dance forms that requires audience participation, so get up and clap along and shout out words of encouragement to the performers on the screen as they perform.

Oregon Ballet Theatre dancers taking company class at Director Park in Portland, Oregon. Photo courtesy of Oregon Ballet Theatre.

OBT Moves/ Exposed
September 8-October 3
Check Oregon Ballet Theatre’s schedule for times and locations.

In a rare look behind the scenes, Oregon Ballet Theatre moves out of the studio and onto Portland city streets. For a month, the company will participate in week-long residencies that rotate between four Portland locations: Zidell Yards, OMSI, Hacienda CDC, and the last location to be decide. OBT will present a variety of non traditional performances that include a look into the ritual of how ballet dancers train and the process of ballet making. Check Oregon Ballet Theatre’s schedule for exact times and locations.

An A-Wol Dance Collective dancer stretching herself to the limits.
Photo courtesy of A-Wol Dance Collective.

A-Wol Pop Up Park Performance
A-Wol Dance Collective and Circus Rose
5-8 pm September 12
The performance will be repeated at the top of every hour
Mary S Young Park, 19900 Willamette Drive, West Linn

In a normal summer, which this is not, you would find the artists of A-Wol dance collective, a fantastically creative, Portland based aerial dance company, suspended from trees under the stars in their annual Art in the Dark performance along the Willamette River in West Linn, at Mary S. Young Park. But, because their  season was cancelled, due to Covid-19,  and they love their work so much, they’ve decided to do it anyway. So bring a blanket, snacks, a mask, and stay socially distant in this one-off, pop up performance of dancer favorites. 

A video still from Fernanda D’Agostino’s film collaboration Peace Movements performed at the Palace of Fine Arts. Photo courtesy of Fernanda D’Agostino.

Time-Based Arts Festival
Presented by The Portland Institute For Contemporary Art
September 10-30

For 21 days, The Portland Institute For Contemporary Art’s annual Time-Based Arts Festival will share the work of 40+ artists through performances, films, audio projects, publications, conversations, music, workshops, and participatory events, with a mix of virtual and in-person programs. 

The festival is inherently interdisciplinary 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. 

Matter writer and actor Charles Grant from his solo show in 2017 standing on the set of The Language Archive.
Photo courtesy of Portland Playhouse.

Matter
Conceived, written, and performed by Charles Grant
A co-production of  Many Hats Collaboration and Portland Playhouse
September 25 – October 1
Matter will be available for free viewing here and on Portland Playhouse’s website. 

This very personal portrait of a Black Everyman follows writer and performer Charles Grant on his journey to find answers to police brutality and gun violence. While not strictly a dance work, Matter does include a lot of movement, as life should, and includes sections that could be called dances with movement direction by Many Hats Artistic Director Jessica Wallenfels. 

Inspired by recent and not so recent events, Matter centers the embodied experience of being continually bombarded with systemic racism and injustice. 

Dance Performances in October

October 2-8, Portland Dance Film Fest
October 2-23, A Taste of Dance, A co production of Chapel Theatre and Milwaukie Arts Committee

Frog & Toad, together again

Five years later, Oregon Children's Theatre's Drammy-winning hit picks up where it left off, charming audiences young and old again

Oregon Children’s Theatre knows something about what it takes to put on a hit show: the company has been creating magical theater experiences for kids for 30 years. So, no wonder OCT decided to revive its 2013 hit musical A Year with Frog & Toad this year to close OCT’s 30th season.

In 2013 the show won seven Drammy awards, including for outstanding musical. This year’s production could repeat that feat. After all, James Sharinghousen returns as Toad from that original production; the sets and numbers are reminiscent of that 2013 show; and the additions only add to the magic.

Charles Grant and James Sharinghousen in OCT’s “A Year with Frog and Toad.” Photo: Owen Carey

Charles Grant takes over the other title role as Frog— and don’t for a moment think his serious role as Eddie in And in This Corner, Cassius Clay has him typecast. Where he brought emotional weight to the role of Cassius Clay’s best friend in that OCT play from earlier this season, he brings comedy, musical, and dancing talent to the role of Frog. He’s a triple threat, and reveling in it. Grant and Sharinghousen are a perfect pair. I’d be delighted to see them together again: a modern-day Abbot and Costello. They play off each other well, and both excel at physical comedy. The pratfalls are at an all-time high here, especially in the silly sledding number, “Down the Hill.” And the mistaken intentions — secretly raking each other’s leaves only to have the squirrels (Lauren Burton and Katie McClanan) — ruin it so they’ll never know what their friend did.

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A joyful miser: ‘Christmas Carol’ at Portland Playhouse

For the fourth year, the Playhouse's touching version of the Dickens classic lights up the stage

A recent article surfaced from the think tank the Acton Institute, supported by the next secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, which wants us to “rethink our position on child labor.” When Charles Dickens penned the novella A Christmas Carol in 1843, he had in mind the women and children he termed “victims of the Industrial Revolution”: the poor London souls who toiled to early deaths under the smokestacks of early factories. For all the Scrooges out there who’ve grown tired of the Currier and Ives Victorian death grip on the holiday aesthetic, this seasonal reminder of Christmases past, present, and yet to come may be the snake oil your hot cider needs.

At Portland Playhouse, which has opened the fourth annual production of its multiple award-winning version of A Christmas Carol, Scrooge – a delicious Dickens name and noun, somewhere between screw and gouge – is immediately distinguishable from the rest of the characters onstage. Jen Rowe’s Scrooge wears a perma-scowl, and loafs with a purposed business shuffle. She wears a black dovetail suit, her hair is pulled back with pincher precision, and her complexion is near ash. Scrooge the misanthrope, horrible old miser, pales in the sights of the rosy-cheeked and ornately clothed villagers. Rowe’s diction is on point, like a rusty typewriter key punching paper. She takes little to no time looking up from her counting ledger, except to raise an eyebrow in disapproval or her can’t-be-bothered voice.

A light in the darkness: Portland Playhouse's "A Christmas Carol." Photo: Brud Giles

A light in the darkness: The Playhouse’s “Christmas Carol.” Photo: Brud Giles

The outside of the old church where Portland Playhouse makes its home looks more like late autumn. The neighborhood is filled with a few Christmas baubles in the yards, but mostly decorated with protest signs. Once you’re in the door of the theater, the angry aura of the president-elect is swept away in a candlelit hue. Cockney accents of passersby welcome you, and the warm voices of what seems a spontaneous choir reach your ears. The scene for Portland Playhouse’s A Christmas Carol is an immersive dunk into a world long gone by.

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