Jin Camou

DanceWatch Weekly: Embracing the matriarch

Mizu Desierto says good-bye to the matriarch of her family and channels her final teaching, plus PWNW Alembic and Kalakendra

Portland dance this weekend is a magical convergence of female energy, wisdom, spirituality, discussions of death and dying, creation, and letting go of it all. On Friday, three powerful choreographer/performers who defy definition—Mizu Desierto from Portland, and Haruko Crow Nishimura and Joshua Kohl, co-artistic directors of Degenerate Art Ensemble from Seattle—will share an evening. The works are based in Butoh but expand beyond, utilizing dance, theatre, live sound, and video to address and meditate on a variety of human states and experiences.

Jamuna Chiarini

This week I interviewed Desierto, a dance/theatre artist with a 20-year practice in Butoh and the co-founder of Portland’s Water in the Desert, a major hub of artistic activity that includes The Headwaters Theatre, Prior Day Farm, and the annual Butoh College. Desierto, who has been a major contributor to the Portland dance and art scene in many ways for many years, will present her solo Matriarch, a dance/film collaboration with composer Lisa DeGrace and video designer Stephen Miller. Matriarch examines death and dying, lineages, and bees—specifically queen bees.

My email interview with Desierto about what inspired the work and how she created it, begins below after this week’s performance listing.

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Dance Weekly: Time to improvise!

The Improvisation Summit of Portland 2016 will go where no dancers have gone before

Summer is upon us and that brings festivals, festivals of all kinds, but most importantly dance festivals. I am biased, I know.

Summer festivals to me feel different from the regular programming of the traditional performance season. To me they encapsulate the qualities of summer—bright, festive, free and open—and they run the gamut of experimentation and expression. It is a time to sample many ideas in one place.

Opening on Thursday night, the Improvisation Summit of Portland 2016, curated by Portland dance artist Danielle Ross, features a large swath of the Portland dance community. Since its inception in 2012, the Improvisation Summit, a subset of the Creative Music Guild, has brought together dancers, musicians, filmmakers and other experimental artists to create improvised, one-of-a-kind performances. For me there is a feeling of electricity and risk watching dance artists create movement in the moment while they are performing. There is an aliveness and a deep listening that happens in their bodies that is not always present in set choreographed movement. This year’s summit is stocked to the brim with veteran improvisers and performers who are willing to take those risks.

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