Heather Stewart

Conduit’s Dance+ Festival enters its fourth year in a discombobulated state, uprooted from its home in the Pythian Building in downtown Portland and relocated to Reed College’s spectacular Performing Arts Building, after Conduit was unceremoniously evicted by its landlord. Oregon’s laws governing landlord-tenant relationships are heavily weighted toward landlords, after all.

So, yes, discombobulated but still kicking! This year’s festival, July 8-11, is arranged in two programs, each of which play each night of the festival. I attended the dress rehearsal Tuesday night, and I can tell you that some fierce dancing is involved along with several solo performances, a dancing choir, and a Barbarian Princess.

The theme of Dance+ since its invention by Conduit artistic director Tere Mathern is collaboration. Some of these performances were more collaborative (the dancing choir!) than others, though it must be said that dance tends to be a collaborative enterprise, a lot like theater, combining costumes, lighting, music, sometimes the spoken word and sets, to movement. Not that it has to be, a solo danced in “silence” (John Cage taught us enough about the relativity of that word to demand the quotation marks) in a bare room or outdoors (which one of this year’s Dance+ performances manages, via video) can be a very powerful thing.

But I digress! I was alternately bemused, amused and moved by the seven dance works I saw, not equally, of course, though I’m going to deal with each of them in the same rapid-fire manner.

“Ready?” the soloist in the video I just mentioned, Barbara Tait, asks at one point toward the end of her dance. “Ready,” responds Eliza Larson, who is dancing in front of us in the well-appointed (and cool) studio at Reed College. She then starts to back away from us…

Continues…