Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre/Northwest

August DanceWatch: Streaming right along

Dance doesn't hibernate: It dances. Even during a pandemic.

Welcome back to DanceWatch. The dancers are still here and they are dancing!

I know, I know, watching virtual dance performances isn’t the same as watching live performances, but who cares? This is where we happen to be. So let’s celebrate and enjoy it as it is, in all of its uniqueness. Someday we may even look back on this moment nostalgically, though I’m not taking any bets.

There are some benefits to these new viewing conditions. You don’t have to get dressed up and put on those uncomfortable shoes you only wear to performances. You don’t have to fight traffic and time and look for parking. And if you don’t like what you are watching, you can turn it off or switch the channel and no one will be the wiser, and no one will be offended. Sometimes you can even watch it again, if you want.

So get comfy, invite your friends (virtually), order or make some great food, grab a cold drink, ‘cause it’s really hot out there, and enjoy the virtual dance world brought to you by a whole lot of dancers who just want to keep dancing, no matter what!

Dance performances in August!

Rejoice: Diaspora Dance Theater. Photo courtesy of Rejoice: Diaspora Dance Theater.

Virtual Last Thursday Online
Hosted by Last Thursdays On Alberta and Alberta Main Street
7-9pm July 30
Live streamed from the Blind Insect Gallery
To view go to YouTube #SummerofAlberta

Take a virtual art walk down Alberta Main Street and experience live streamed performances by African drummer Alex Addy; singer, songwriter and performer Justin Leon Johnson; and dance company Rejoice! Diaspora Dance Theater. 

On the Alberta Main Street YouTube channel you can also dance and make masks with renowned multi-disciplinary artist Bobby Fouther, take a dance class with Rashad Pridgena, who teaches a remix of the Soul Line creating an African American line dance, and engage with a high-energy fitness class with Broadway dancer and choreographer Kemba Shannon, to name just a few options. 

Japanese dancer Sahomi Tachibana (foreground) teaching Chisao Hata (background) traditional Japanese dance. This photograph was taken by Folklife Coordinator Leila Childs in 1998 and is courtesy of The Oregon History Project.

Virtual Obon Fest fest 
Hosted by the Oregon Buddhist Temple
10-8pm August 1 

Obon, also known as the Festival of Lanterns, is a summertime Japanese festival that joyfully remembers and pays tribute to the dead. It involves dancing (Bon Odori dances), visiting with friends and family, offering food to the ancestors, and hanging lanterns in remembrance of loved ones.

The origin of the festival comes from a story in a Buddhist text about a monk who had a vision that his mother was suffering in the World of Hungry Ghosts. Buddha instructed him to provide a feast for the monks returning from their summer retreats. Upon doing so, his mother was released from her suffering and he danced with joy. This joyful dance became the Bon Odori dances that people perform today.

In Japan, the Bon Odori dances differ from region to region and depict the area’s history, geography and trades. To explore the different Odori dances, click here!

Portland’s Obon festival streaming schedule: 

10-11am ObonFest Service that includes commemorative lanterns and sutra chanting by Reverend Sugahara and a dharma Message by Reverend Sugahara. 
6-7pm Obon Dance Radio Tribute on KBOO radio at 90.7 FM in Portland/104.3FM in Corvallis/ 91.9 FM in Hood River.
​7-8 pm Virtual ObonFest  (Zoom link to be announced)

Photo courtesy of Andrea and Alseny Yansane of the West Africal Cultural Arts Institute

Galaxy Dance Festival 
Presented by Polaris Dance Theatre
11 am – 7 pm August 1
In lieu of tickets Polaris Dance Theatre is asking that you make a donations of $10+ here. 

Celebrating 10 years of bringing dance outdoors to the public, Polaris Dance Theatre goes virtual, bringing you eight hours of fantastic, prerecorded dancing, by a wide array of dance groups representing styles from around the globe. 

The festival features performances by: West African Cultural Arts Institute, Chisao Hata, Rangeela Dance Company, Trainor Dance, Soomi Kim, Dance Inspired, Sébé Kan Drum and Dance Company, Sinha Danse, ELa FaLa Collective, push/FOLD, Noelle Simone, Polaris Junior and NEO Youth Companies, Manasi and Mahathi Sridhar, Echo Pro Lab, Sankalpa Dance Ensemble, and Polaris Dance Company. For detailed information on the companies, choreographers, and the works that they will be performing, please visit the event link here.

If you are unable to attend the LIVE event, a recording of the performance will be posted afterwards to the Polaris Dance Theatre Youtube channel.

Dancer Javan Mngrezzo. Photo courtesy of Heidi Duckler Dance/Northwest

Cooped Up Festival Three: Body Is home
Presented by Heidi Duckler Dance/ Northwest and the Halprin Landscape Conservancy
5:30 pm August 3
RSVP here on Zoom

Heidi Duckler Dance/ Northwest and the Halprin Landscape Conservancy present two short films created in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Keller Fountain. A fountain inspired by the waterfalls of the Columbia River Gorge, designed by Angela Danadjieva, a designer for Lawrence Halprin who was the husband of renowned post modern dancer, Anna Halprin. It was dedicated in 1970 shortly after a series of violent clashes between police and anti war protestors and became a symbol of the Portland community and the power of public space.

Following the films there will be a Q&A with the artists and members of the Halprin Landscape Conservancy.

Artwork by maximiliano. Photo courtesy of Performance Works NW. 

Happy Hour with maximiliano
Presented by Performance Works NW/Linda Austin Dance
5-6 pm August 5
RSVP here by 3 pm Aug 5 in order to get 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 Moscow Mule), a toast, a performance, PWNW-themed Bingo, and prizes, of course! 

This week’s featured artist is Alembic Resident Artist maximiliano whose multimedia performance will include video, audio, lighting, and space, with the intent to slow down and glitch the embodied narrative. 

Photo courtesy of the Indian Cultural Association of Portland

India Day Portland 
Hosted by the Indian Cultural Association of Portland
4 pm August 15
livestream of pre-recorded videos at ICA of Portland

Celebrating India’s Independence and cultural diversity, Portland’s Indian Cultural Association hosts a day of music, dance, and culture from across India. 

#Instaballet Heart in Motion 2020
Artistic directors Antonio Anacan and Suzanne Haag
6-7 pm August 15
Live Streamed from here 

In this virtual fundraiser gala, #instaballet, directed by Eugene Ballet resident choreographer Suzanne Haag and Antonio Anacan, continues to reimagine the audience’s involvement in the making of dance. If you have ever wanted to choreograph a ballet or a musical score but aren’t a dancer, choreographer, or musician, now is your chance! The #instaballet gala program offers several ways for you to get involved. If you would like to dance in the heART in Motion Community Dance video, click here! If you would like to create a solo for the MC of the event, Bill Hulings, click here! All proceeds go towards paying artists and keeping #instaballet creating. 

If you are interested in learning more about Instaballet and how it came to be, Eugene ArtsWatch correspondent Gary Ferrington wrote about them in 2015 in Crowd-sourced Choreography.

Sitara Razaqi Lones, a performer from last year’s Multicultural Day at the Oregon State Capitol. Photo courtesy of Sitara Razaqi Lones. 

Multicultural Day Reimagined
Hosted by Oregon State Capitol
l0 am-2 pm August 15
Connect to the online event here

Stay tuned for a celebration of Oregon’s cultural diversity with postings of video activities, music, stories, dancing performances, and much more!

Artist claire barrera playing games. Photo courtesy of Performance Works NW/Linda Austin Dance.

Happy Hour with claire barrera
5-6 pm August 19
Presented by Performance Works NW/Linda Austin Dance
RSVP HERE by 3pm Aug 19 to get the Zoom link

This week’s Happy Hour on Zoom at PWNW features2016 Alembic Resident Artist  claire barrera. Barrera is a Portland-based organizer, educator and artist whose current projects include the zine anthology When Language Runs Dry, organizing for Brown Girl Rise, and a 2021 group performance about the transformation capacity of games. Barrera’s Happy Hour performance explores how play and games are a space for discipline, imagination, liberation and kinship for both youth and adults.

Oluyinka Akinjiola, Decimus, Michael Galen, Bethany Harvey and Jamie Minkus in “A Midsummer Night at the Savoy”/Photo by Andy Batt

Virtual Last Thursday Online
Hosted by Last Thursdays On Alberta and Alberta Main Street
7-9 pm August 27
Live streamed from the Blind Insect Gallery
To view go to YouTube #SummerofAlberta

Take a virtual art walk down Alberta Main Street and experience live streamed performances by musician, singers, and dancers, as well as prerecorded dance and mask making classes with multi-disciplinary artist Bobby Fouther, a dance class with Rashad Pridgena who teaches a remix of the Soul Line creating an African American line dance, and a high-energy fitness class with broadway dancer and choreographer Kemba Shannon, to name just a few. 

Out of town festivals to check out!

Drive East 
August 9-16

Emerge Fusion Dance Festival
August 13

Battery Dance Festival 
August 14-22

The Dance Enthusiast
Dance performances and events from around the world listed by date.

A list of online platforms that are presenting performances, films, and talks. 

Dance review: ‘Waters of the World’ is a liquid love story

Heidi Duckler pays homage to the liquid side of the Northwest in her new site-specific dance in the Fair-Haired Dumbbell building

The Fair-Haired Dumbbell building on the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and East Burnside is one of Portland’s newest and funkiest creative office spaces. The New York Times described its exterior as “florentine wallpaper” and the dumbbell-shape design features multiple sky bridges connecting its two six-story buildings. This is the location of site-specific choreographer Heidi Duckler’s latest work, Waters of the World, an homage to the Northwest, its abundance of water, and the fluid possibilities of movement.

Duckler is based in Los Angeles and Portland and leads two creative teams of movers, musicians, and artists. Since 1985, she’s crafted almost 300 performance installations between the two cities and around the world. Earlier last week, her company parked a school bus outside the BodyVox studio and danced within, under and around the bus while audience members watched from the sidewalk. There seems to be no location Duckler can’t turn into a space for dance.

Keil Moton and Conrad Kaczor dance in Heidi Duckler’s “Waters of the World” in the Fair-Haired Dumbbell building/Andra Georges

Three days after the bus performance, Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre/Northwest was back at it, bringing life and art into the Fair-Haired Dumbbell. Upon arrival, audience members took the elevator up to the fifth floor where Duckler directed them to the performance space: an empty room, walls punched by variously-sized windows looking out upon the city in all directions.


DanceWatch Weekly: Dance Camp at Breitenbush

DanceWatch rejuvenates itself in the wilderness

I have a lot of questions these days about dance. What is it really? What does it mean? What is its purpose? What is its value? Is one expression of dance more valuable than another? As a dancer myself, how do I feel about leaving behind the traditional, mainstream, American value systems in dance? How do I feel about never taking ballet again and finding other ways of moving, expressing, and staying in shape that feed me and make me feel good about myself instead of depleted and defeated? Can I be happy in other dance worlds? Will I feel a loss? Will I be OK with that loss? Is it really a loss or just a perceived loss?

From this place of curiosity (if not perplexity), I decided to go to Dance Camp at Breitenbush Hot Springs with Portland dance artists Meshi Chavez and Winky Wheeler. Chavez and Wheeler facilitate weekly Portland dances that could be called ecstatic dance but really incorporate many more ideas from other movement modalities and philosophies. Chavez is also a Butoh dancer and I have participated in his Being Moved workshop and weekly Butoh classes, so I knew that Dance Camp would be a safe space for me to be vulnerable and to ask the questions troubling me.

Dance Camp was at Breitenbush. If you don’t know, Breitenbush is a hot springs on 154 acres in the Willamette National Forest, about 100 miles from Portland. Its main lodge, built in the 1930s, is the center of activity and houses a large dance studio (with a disco ball), a dining room that serves vegetarian food only, two libraries, and a lobby with a piano that someone is almost always playing. Breitenbush also has a steam sauna and numerous soaking pools that are full of naturally hot water from the earth that sit around 107 degrees. Clothing is optional when bathing. Breitenbush is also completely off the grid, utilizing its own hydroelectric power system and natural springs for power and heat. Campers can sleep in the main lodge, cabins or tents.

On my drive to Breitenbush, somewhere between Detroit Lake and Breitenbush, my cell service dropped out. It was a magical moment, an electric moment. A point of no return. It was the beginning of four days with no wifi, no cell service, no communication with the outside world. Bliss.

Dance Camp with Chavez and Wheeler was four days short. It began at dinner time on Thursday and ended with lunch on Sunday. For four days we ate and danced, ate and danced, ate and danced, and danced some more. And, of course, soaked many times over in the hot springs.


DanceWatch Weekly: Nancy Davis and Portland Ballet

The artistic director of The Portland Ballet talks about the winding road that led to this weekend's concert

I’ve been trying to write DanceWatch for about five days now without much success, until now of course. I seem to function best under great pressure, kind of like how a diamond is made. Take Jamuna, apply an intense amount of heat, and pressure, and voilà DanceWatch is written! A kind of stressful and undesirable scenario to create under but sometimes unavoidable. You see, I am mostly a full-time, stay-at-home mom, but, also a dancer, choreographer, and dance writer, and sometimes everyone’s else’s needs take over and I can’t quite find the time to sit down and write.

This week’s disastrous attempt to write (I’m exaggerating a bit for theatrical effect) was partly due to post-performance fatigue (I performed with Rejoice! Diaspora Dance Theatre this past weekend, which Elizabeth Whelan reviewed for ArtsWatch), a traveling husband situation that turns me into a single parent for a few days, and a myriad of other crazy events that included an emergency trip to the vet, calls from my son’s principal, the cats, the stuff, the whatever. Right now, as I write this, my 55-pound boxer/lab puppy is standing on my chest panting in my face demanding to be scratched and walked. It’s a circus, and I love it. It’s because THIS is my life that I’m always curious as to how other dancer/teacher/choreographer parents “do it” and stay artistically focused.

I recently became friends with Portland Ballet’s artistic director Nancy Davis on Facebook, and suddenly I was seeing gorgeous photos and videos of Davis as a young dancer in my news feed. Then I saw a photo of her beautiful daughter Lauren Lane on a poster for St. Louis Ballet, and I realized that I didn’t know Nancy Davis at all, and I definitely didn’t know she had a daughter who had also grown up to become a professional dancer.

I only know Davis as I see her now, as the artistic director and founder of The Portland Ballet academy. But how did she get here, what influenced her artistically, and how did she manage to raise a child in the midst of it all, I wanted to know. So, in between her rehearsals for Portland Ballet’s upcoming show Current/Classic, which opens May 4-5 at Lincoln Hall, and my performances, we got a chance to speak on the phone.

The Portland Ballet studio dress rehearsal of Us by Josie Moseley. Photo courtesy of The Portland Ballet.

Davis, who is from California, began her ballet training with one of Los Angeles’s most flamboyant characters, Madame Etienne. Madame Etienne was born in Greece but raised in Paris. Kathryn Charisse was her given name, and she ran a studio called the Hollywood Dance Studio that catered to movie stars. She was the one time sister-in-law of dancer-actress Cyd Charisse, toured the vaudeville circuit with her parents and her ten siblings as a child, and always dressed in a flamboyant outfits. She frequently wore a tiara and full makeup, according to accounts on a blog called lastcappuccino.com.


DanceWatch Weekly: It’s a Rantum Scoot

A busy summer dance weekend issues an invitation to be here now!

It’s all kind of up in the air this weekend. Will it work or won’t it? Who cares where we’re going—it’s beautiful outside. Just relax. Forget about the destination or the drive. Let intuition take over. Be here now.

It’s that kind of dance weekend.

Enjoy the ride!


Dance weekend: Between the ‘Forest’ and the city

Carla Mann's "Forest," a sizzling Flamenco show, Clare Whistler and Jen Mitas' "a hole in time"

Summer is winding down, and though it’s not quite time to pack it all up and go indoors, this week/weekend shows that we are starting to make the transition. The last three dance offerings of August come from vastly different regions of the dance world—post-modern contemporary dance, Flamenco and site-specific dancing in the trees.

Save the dates: PICA’s TBA  festival runs September 10-20 and will feature four Portland dance artists—Lucy Yim, Suniti Dernovsek, Keyon Gaskin and Luke Gutgsell—as well as the ever-popular Ten Tiny Dances. We’ll talk more about them next week. White Bird starts up the new season with Momix, October 8-10, and then brings the great Twyla Tharp’s 50th anniversary tour to town on October 14. It looks to be a really exciting year.

Jesse Berdine and Estelle Olivares in "Forest" by Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre/Northwest. Photo by Nick Shepard

Jesse Berdine and Estelle Olivares in “Forest” by Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre/Northwest. Photo by Nick Shepard

Clare Whistler and Jen Mitas: a hole in time
7 pm August 26
Performance Works NW, 4625 SE 67th Ave.
This collaborative work between Whistler and Mitas might be a discussion, an action, a score, a happening, a dig, a seminar, a research presentation, a walk, a sharing, an interaction, or a round table—who knows? Whistler is interested in breaking down barriers between disciplines and artists and finding ways to offer insight, feeling and moments of timeless beauty in performance. Mitas is investigating digging and the creation of unproductive holes, both as a performance practice and a site of resistance/disruption/joy in post-industrial economies. It’s an interesting combination and will be fun to see how it’s presented.

Carla Mann and Heidi Duckler Dance Theater/Northwest
5 pm and 6:15 pm August 30
Hoyt Arboretum, 4000 SW Fairview Blvd.
Carla Mann—a long-time Portland choreographer, Reed College dance professor (on sabbatical 2015-16), and the associate director of Heidi Duckler Dance Theater/Northwest, a site-specific dance company that lives part-time in Los Angeles and part-time in Portland—has choreographed the first part of a two-part site specific dance focusing on Portland’s growth and development and its connection to nature and urban growth. The first piece, “Forest,” (with music by Portland jazz band Blue Cranes) will explore Hoyt Arboretum and the surrounding forest, and the second, “Urban,” will take place 7 and 9 pm September 12 at Sustainable Northwest Wood, 2701 SE 14th Ave.

For more information on Mann, check out an article written by Emmaly Wiederholt for Stance on Danceas part of her interview series The Dancing Over 50 Project. “Look at dance broadly. Look at the forms of dance that you haven’t experienced before. If you’re primarily involved in the concert dance world, go out and social dance. Explore the breadth of dance activities that are happening. Let your palette be really open.”

Tinto de Verano
Presented by La Peña Flaminca de Portland
7:30 pm August 30
The Headwaters Theater, 55 NE Farragut St.
Flamenco artists from the Bay Area, France and Portland will gather together at The Headwaters Theater for one very special night of music, singing and dancing. Featured artists are dancers Andrea La Canela and Brenna McDonald, singer Cristo Cortis, and musician Ricardo Diaz. La Peña Flaminca is a Portland organization dedicated to promoting the flamenco arts by organizing monthly gatherings around the art. It  promises to be a passionate and fiery evening.

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