Claire Olberding

Eowyn Emerald and Jonathan Krebs in Emerald's contemporary pas de deux "hexe ist." Photo montage: Tim Summers

Every now and again I glance beyond my two left feet and realize with pleasure that Portland’s in the middle of a dance renaissance. It’s not as if anyone’s getting rich in the process. And it’s not as if, at least at this point, the rest of the world is beating a path to the city’s sprung floor. Still, the evidence is real and compelling.

Between the vibrant poles of Oregon Ballet Theatre at one end and White Bird Dance at the other are such flourishing outfits as Northwest Dance Project, BodyVox, Conduit and tEEth, as well as individual choreographers and dancers as varied as Tere Mathern, Gregg Bielemeier, Josie Moseley, Rachel Tess, Linda Austin, and Katherine Longstreth.

And new performers just keep flowing into the city, or cropping up from its own development programs. These days, if you’re a dance follower, you can spend some very busy nights keeping up with what’s going down. You can even, if you really want to, take sides: ballet vs. contemporary, structured vs. improvisational, athletic vs. intellectual, chamber vs. electronic vs. rock ’n’ roll.

So it was only a little bit of a surprise on Saturday evening when I showed up at the BodyVox Dance Center for the first of two performances of new works by dancer/choreographer Eowyn Emerald and discovered a packed house.

Apparently the abundance of the opening-show crowd was just a test run.

“The 8 o’clock show was sold out even more than the 6 o’clock,” dancer and concert co-producer Rachel Slater told me later. “It was standing room only.” That means, by rough count, that something on the order of 340 people chose this small show as their destination on a busy Saturday night.

BodyVox’s move three years ago from rented digs on the upper floor of a working brewery to its own new space in a renovated former Wells Fargo carriage house and stable on Northwest Northrup Street has played a significant supporting role in Portland’s dance revival. It’s not only given a much better showcase for BodyVox’s own programs, it’s also provided a fine space for independent companies looking for a good spot to put on their own shows.

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