galaxy dance festival

DanceWatch: a month of movement

A guide to August's dance performances in Oregon, gathered in one easy place to check all month long

Maybe this isn’t common knowledge, but warm weather is best for dancers. It cuts down on the time we have to warm up to dance and makes our muscles ooey gooey and stretchy, which is perfect for dancing. I love warm weather so much that I chose to major in dance at Florida State University instead of SUNY Purchase in upstate New York. My flexibility increased tenfold over my four years of dancing in the humid Florida heat.

I also love the slowed-down, molasses like pace of summer. It’s a season that is telling me to rest. So I will. And DanceWatch will, too! Both DanceWatch and I will be taking the month of August off and will see you back here bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in September.

Before I go, check out this month’s dance offerings. It’s a little like circling the globe and sampling a bit of each country’s culture from your own city streets. You can even catch me dancing Odissi (classical Indian dance from Odisha) with my dance teacher Yashaswini Raghuram and my classmates at the India Festival at Pioneer Square on August 12. I hope it’s nice and warm!

August performances

Mary Bodine of the Warm Springs tribe rehearsing with the Painted Sky Northstar Dance Company. Photo courtesy of Northstar Dance Company.

Party on the Plaza: Northstar Dance Company
Hult Center for the Performing Arts
5:30 pm August 2
Hult Center Plaza, 1 Eugene Center, Eugene

Northstar Dance Company combines Intertribal Native dances and contemporary dance forms to bring awareness to and honor Native American culture, past and present. The performance will take place outside at the Hult Center Plaza.


DanceWatch Weekly: Catch a breeze

Suddenly, the Portland dance calendar heats up

The pendulum swings from one extreme to another in Portland’s dance scene this weekend (hopefully causing a breeze)—from a lively community dance festival to a somber Butoh remembrance of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, with musical theatre and actual swinging in the trees in between.

The Polaris Dance Company performing at Galaxy Dance Festival— with Jessica Zoller, Gerard Regot, Blair D’Amico, Jana Tripp, Melanie Ann, Brynn Hofer and Preeya Kannan. Photo courtesy of Polaris Dance Theatre.

Beginning today, Galaxy Dance Festival, hosted and curated by Polaris Dance Theatre, will take place indoors instead of at its usual outdoor location at Director Park, due to this week’s extreme heat. The three-day festival, now in its seventh year, includes FREE classes and performances by renowned Portland teachers and performers in all genres of dance, from ballet to Mexican folks dance and more. It’s a great opportunity for all ages of dancers and dance audiences alike to get a taste of what Portland has to offer in a casual way. Plus they have icy beverages, and you get an opportunity to see Polaris Dance Theatre’s beautiful new studios up close as well. Check out the Galaxy Dance festival schedule online for the full lineup of classes and performances.

Also opening tonight is Broadway Rose Theatre Company’s production of Gypsy, with music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. The musical is loosely based on the memoirs of the American queen of striptease, Gypsy Rose Lee, and the aspirations of her stage mamma from hell.

Originally debuting in 1959 and starring Ethel Merman as Mama Rose, Gypsy was directed and choreographed by the late great American choreographer Jerome Robbins. Robbins, a former dancer with American Ballet Theatre, was known for his fantastic choreography in such musicals as On The Town, The King and I, West Side Story, and Fiddler on the Roof, to name just a few.

Robbins was a five-time Tony Award winner, a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors, and received two Academy Awards. A documentary about his life and work, Something to Dance About premiered in 2009. Excerpts from it can be seen on PBS and Youtube.

Although Gypsy is not a dance centric show, Robbins carefully re-created accurate depictions of the era’s vaudeville and burlesque dance styles for famous scenes like You Gotta Get a Gimmick, when three strippers tell Louise (Gypsy Rose Lee) that she doesn’t actually need talent, just an idea.

Coincidentally, the Oregon Burlesque Festival is opening at Dante’s this week, where you can catch a whole array of burlesque styles from classical to contemporary, comedy, boy/man-lesque, circus, and much much more.

A-WOL dancers flying in trees. Photo courtesy of A-WOL Dance Collective.

A-WOL Dance Collective will be suspended in trees this weekend in their annual Art in the Dark production called One Shy of Ten: The Intangible Dimension. The dance takes place at night, amongst the stars along the Willamette River in West Linn, at Mary S. Young park. A-WOL, an aerial dance company, will lead audiences on an eerie, mysterious, sci-fi fantasy that will leave everyone guessing about what’s real and what’s not.

Suspended Moment featuring Butoh dancer Meshi Chavez and the hanging sculpture of visual artist Yukiyo Kawano, Photo by Stephen A. Miller.

Next Wednesday in conjunction with the remembrance of the bombing of Nagasaki by the United States on August 9th, 1945 (Hiroshima took place three days earlier on August 6), Butoh dancer Meshi Chavez and visual artist Yukiyo Kawano, will present Suspended Moment. Kawano’s sculpture—two hanging replicas of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki which are fabricated from her grandmother’s kimonos and stitched together with strands of her own hair—is at the center of the event. The works collaborators include poet Allison Cobb, composer Lisa DeGrace and photographer Stephen Miller. The group just returned from performing in Los Alamos, New Mexico, where both bombs were developed. The performance will follow an event to commemorate Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the Japanese American Historical Plaza from 6 to 7 pm.

Chavez is also offering a three-day workshop in Butoh dance leading up to the performance. “Butoh asks dancers to meet each moment with curiosity” Chavez says, “thus creating the ‘suspended moment.’” Butoh is accessible to people of all physical abilities.

Performances this week

Galaxy Dance Festival
Hosted by Polaris Dance Theatre
August 3-5
Polaris Dance Theatre, 1826 NW 18th Ave

Broadway Rose Theatre Company
August 3-20
Deb Fennell Auditorium, 9000 SW Durham Road, Tigard

One Shy of Ten: The Intangible Dimension
A-WOL Dance Collective/Art in the Dark
August 4-13
Mary S. Young State Park, 19900 Willamette Drive, West Linn

Suspended Moment
Meshi Chavez, Yukiyo Kawano, Allison Cobb, Lisa DeGrace, and Stephen Miller
7 pm August 9
University of Oregon Portland’s Light Court Commons, 70 NW Couch Street


August 11-13, JamBallah Northwest ’17, Hosted by JamBallah NW
August 13, India Festival 2017, India Cultural Association of Portland
August 19, Laya-Bhavam: An amalgamation and importance of Rhythm in Dance, presented by Sarada Kala Nilayam
August 24-September 6, Portland Dance Film Fest, Directed by Kailee McMurran, Tia Palomino, and Jess Evans
August 24-October 8, Kurios: Cabinet Of Curiosities, Cirque Du Soleil
August 25-September 3, Where To Wear What Hat, WolfBird Dance

September 7-17, TBA, Portland Institute For Contemporary Art

Weekend Dance: They’re even dancing in trees

While AWOL Dance heads to the forest, lots of other dance action stays in town

This week in Portland dance news, Ching Ching Wong of Northwest Dance Project received the Princess Grace Award. She is the fourth dancer in the company to receive it. The Princess Grace Award was created by Prince Rainier III of Monaco to honor his wife, Princess Grace Kelly. The Foundation’s mission is to identify and assist emerging talent in theater, dance, and film by awarding grants in the form of scholarships, apprenticeships, and fellowships.

We congratulate our new honoree, and we think this is a good week to look for other worthy and amazing local dancers all over our beautiful city.

Galaxy Dance Festival
Polaris Dance Theatre
August 6-8
Simon & Helen Director Park, 815 SW Park Ave
Polaris Dance Theatre, founded in 2002 under the artistic direction of Robert Guitron, is newly installed in its brand new home at 1826 NW 18th Ave. Polaris is a contemporary dance company that focuses on accessibility through community performances, classes and outreach.

In its 3rd year, the Galaxy Dance Festival is one of those programs, bringing together a large swathe of Portland’s dance community with classes and performances at Director Park. The featured dance companies that will perform during the three day festival: Polaris Dance Theatre, Polaris Junior Company, Pacific University, Northwest Conservatory of Dance, Automal, Pendulum Aerial Arts, The Skylark Tappers & PDX Dance Collective, The Circus Project, 3rd Shift Dance, WHYTEBERG and NW Fusion Dance Company.

AWOL Dance Collective will hit the trees this weekend.

AWOL Dance Collective will hit the trees this weekend.

Art in the Dark
AWOL: Dance Collective
August 7-16
Under the Trees at Mary S Young Park, West Linn
Awol’s Art in the Dark, is an annual happening in the forest, suspended from trees. This year’s event will recreate a fantastical, Old World circus performance that includes lions, poodles, mimes, clowns, strongmen, a ringmaster and, of course, beautiful dancing aerialists.

This will also be Emily Running’s last performance with Awol. Running has performed with Awol for seven years and is the mastermind behind Dance Wire, a webpage dedicated to uniting the Portland dance community online, and she is a co-director of Conduit Dance.

Summer Works
Moxie Contemporary Ballet
11:30 am August 7 at Bite of Oregon; 7 pm  August 7 at Lincoln Performance Hall, 1620 SW Park Ave.
Moxie ballet is the newest dance company on the Portland block. Directed by Gina Canland, this contemporary ballet company and school rages against the “ballet body,” opening it’s door to dancers of all body types, mixing rigorous ballet classes with cross training.

The company’s first summer intensive concludes with two shows in one day, an abbreviated version at The Bite of Oregon, and a full-length performance at Lincoln Hall. Students will perform dances choreographed by guest faculty—Drew Jacoby, Doug Baum, Marie Zvosec, Katie Scherman, Michele Oliva, Jourdan Epstein—and expect an appearance by Moxie Contemporary Ballet.

Moxie Contemporary Ballet's Emily Schultz/Photo by Lindsay Hille

Moxie Contemporary Ballet’s Emily Schultz/Photo by Lindsay Hille

(Un)Made Solo Relay, Grand Finale
Linda Austin, Claire Barrera, Danielle Ross, Noelle Stiles and Taka Yamamoto
August 7-8
Performance Works NW, 4625 SE 67th Ave.
It’s Grand Finale time! After a six-month adventure that began in March with a solo created and performed by Linda Austin who then passed it down to six other performers like a game of telephone in relay fashion, is now ready for its final stages where it will be witnessed and performed by a group of movers and then performed again by Linda Austin herself.

Pure Surface
Julia Calabrese, Patricia No, Eileen Isagon Skyers
6 pm August 9
Valentine’s, 232 SW Ankeny St
Curated by Stacey Tran and Danielle Ross, Pure Surface is a performance series interested in encouraging cross-disciplinary practice and performance by bringing together movement, text and film in the spirit of improvised collaboration. Each month a new group of artists is brought together in the intimate, open air setting of Valentine’s and performance is made. This month’s artists are movement artist Julia Calabrese, writer by Patricia No and filmmaker Eileen Isagon Skyers.


Portland Center Stage, the city’s largest theater company (and perhaps the largest in the Northwest, depending on what measures you apply), released some of its salient numbers from the 2010-2011 season and fiscal year last month. Those numbers were record breakers, or near record breakers, for the company. Let’s take a look:

  • $3,414,180 — cash and in-kind contributions, a record year and almost $200,000 more than the previous year
  • 148,000 — ticketed attendance for the season, another record. (Total attendance, including education and community events was 186,900)
  • $4,852,000 — ticket revenue, the second-highest in the company’s history

These are still unaudited numbers at this point, the company cautions, and may very well change. We asked for some additional details, and here’s what we learned:

  • $964,000 — grants and foundations
  • $373,000 — corporate giving rental income was $211, 000. Individual giving was $1,586,630.
  • $211,000 — rental income
  • $1,586,630 — individual giving

The banner year allowed the company to erase $100,000 from its accumulated deficit, which stands at $1.1 million.

What about attendance at individual shows? The top three for the 2010-2011 season:

  • 24,350 — “A Christmas Story”
  • 21,889 — “One Night with Janis Joplin”
  • 21,220 — “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”

Those were all main stage shows. The highest attended show in the Ellyn Bye Studio was “An Iliad” (9,472).

Director Park in the heart of Downtown Portland sets up so nicely for performances of various sorts, and Polaris Dance Theatre is taking advantage with this weekend’s Galaxy Dance Festival. Companies involved include A-WOL Dance Collective, Agnieszka Laska Dancers, Circus Project, Rainbow Dance Theatre, Edge DanceSport, Portland Festival Ballet, Flamenco artist Laura Onizuka, Pendulum Aerial Arts and Polaris Dance Theatre itself. And it’s not just a performance festival: Classes are involved, too. Click the link for the full schedule. (Willamette Week)

Just to get into the whole free dance spirit, Sarah Slipper’s Northwest Dance Project has two outdoor performances this week, and the first one is TODAY (which slipped up on us), part of the PCPA Noontime Showcase and also part of Summer Arts on Main. It’s noon to 1 pm next to Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. On Friday, 6-8 pm, the company joins forces with the Blue Cranes jazz unit for a Summer Free For All Concert in Washington Park’s Rose Garden Amphitheater. Free dance!