keith hennessy

DanceWatch Weekly: Tech and the beauty of dance

The tech savvy Rainbow Dance Theatre and a great performance by Butoh artist Teresa Vanderkin lead to speculations about what makes great dance

It’s raining here in Portland, a steady stream of tiny droplets creating vertical lines over a backdrop of lush green trees, waving gently in the wind against the dark gray sky. It’s a beautiful, peaceful moment. I love how Portland’s gray skies, combined with the humidity, make colors pop. People who don’t know Portland winters think it’s ALL gray and dark, but they don’t realize that without the background gray, you wouldn’t see/appreciate the color.

Right now, because of the constant bombardment of bad news from the Trump administration, I am fatigued, full of feelings, and I am actively seeking out moments of beauty and connectivity as a salve.

Last weekend I found a few of those moments when I went to see Selfie by Rainbow Dance Theatre and Timsila & the Cypress Tree by Butoh choreographer Meshi Chavez, performed by the students of his nine-week Butoh Performance intensive, Being Moved.

Selfie by Rainbow Dance Theatre. Photo courtesy of Rainbow Dance Theatre.

Selfie was choreographed by former Pilobolus dancer Darryl Thomas and former Merce Cunningham dancer Valerie Bergman for their company Rainbow Dance Theatre, which is based in Monmouth, Oregon. The dance explores the idea of self through the platform of technology and social media. They ask: Which part of us is the actually the self? The outer part, the inner part or the part we share with the world on social media?

As we entered the lobby at Portland State University’s Lincoln Hall, we were instructed by posters on the wall and the Rainbow Dance Theatre staff, to take photos of ourselves and text them to dancetext@wou.edu. Once we got into the theatre, we could see our photos projected onto the scrim at the front of the stage along with hundreds of other selfies, in an orderly, side by side mosaic of multi-colored faces.

The dancing began behind this scrim, and as the dancers moved, the photos fell away, creating small frames, revealing more and more of the dancing bodies behind it.

In Selfie, an hour-long series of vignettes, the performers, through motion tracking technology, interacted with abstract, vibrantly colored, computerized images projected on the same scrim. The images included wavy red lines, circles, a giant head, and raining letters, to name a few.

The raining letters really grabbed me. From the top of the scrim, white letters cascaded down against a black background in five columns as a male dancer walked through them, carrying a push broom over his shoulder. As he “bumped” into the letters, they bounced off of him, spilling onto the floor, collecting into piles. Once he got to the other side of the stage, he turned around and swept the letters off, causing the letters to billow up into the air and float down like feathers.

There were several striking moments just like this throughout, but I didn’t feel like they were developed this well. It also wasn’t always clear to me what effect the dancers were having on the screen images and what the overall story was. The dancing, which was performed by a mix of professional dancers and dance students from Western Oregon University, combined acrobatics, contemporary dance and simple ballet steps overlaid with a circus-like performative attitude. Given the level of experimentation that the technology brought to the performance, the choreography seemed too simple and underdeveloped. Technology won the creativity challenge.

Selfie brought up a lot of questions for me around what makes “good” dancing and “good” performing. What is that thing that some performers and choreographers have that affects audiences so personally? How do they get it? Is circus and aerial work dance? Does all movement theatre fall under the category of dance? Is it just a range, a spectrum?

I polled my FaceBook friends this past week looking for the words to describe that intangible thing that we all feel when we see a special performance, but can’t easily describe.

Here’s the list of qualities that were described: heart, energetic presence, commitment, tension, awareness, authenticity, a relaxed and confident demeanor, grace, the ability to transport an audience beyond the immediate awareness of the body and present moment, the ability to transcend, to reveal and to show risk.

This leads me to Timsila & the Cypress Tree by Butoh choreographer Meshi Chavez.

Timsila & the Cypress Tree, performed at The Headwaters theatre, was also a series of small, interconnected stories with many beautiful tableaux moments. Its student performers cannot be looked at in the same light as a professional work, although Chavez makes lots of professional work as well. (For Suspended Moment, a Butoh work about the atrocities of atomic warfare coming this summer, Chavez is collaborating with visual artist Yukiyo Kawano, musician Lisa DeGrace and poet Allison Cobb.)

Teresa Vanderkin as the “Blue Woman” in Timsila & the Cypress Tree by Meshi Chavez. Photo by Greg Walters.

I can, though, talk about the performance of Teresa Vanderkin, who performed with the group and has been studying Butoh with Chavez for about seven years, and occasionally teaches for him when he is away. Vanderkin has that “thing,” that performance quality that is so hard to put into words. Her movement is never big or performative in anyway; she is relaxed onstage, deeply focused; she projects an emotional range, and she possesses an awareness and knowledge of her body that is sensitive, feeling, and porous. She can access any of these possibilities within her body at any time, to tell us a story and cause us to feel something. She is a captivating performer and deeply interesting to watch, for me.

In Timsila & the Cypress Tree she is the “Blue Woman,” a universal spirit character who breaks up the chaotic space with her directional, slow-moving walking, establishing order on the stage. When she performs, I watch her face, her hands, and her feet. All the parts are telling me something.

It isn’t enough to just be an empty moving body onstage, you have to fill it with something deep and knowing, about the body, life and the world—it’s a deep depth of body knowledge and experience performing, that makes a performance special.

This weekend, more rain, and more study on beauty of all kinds in performance.

Performances this week

Cuba Infused: Featuring Stories of Ochun the Goddess of Love
Donna Oefinger, Axé Didé music and Dance Company
February 10-12
Center Space, 420 SE 6th Ave
Directed by Donna Oefinger, owner of Center Space Studio in SE Portland, director of Axé Didé music and Dance Company, and teacher of dances from the African Diaspora, brings together dance and live music in this celebration of Cuban culture. This group of 20 performers, including Oluyinka Akinjiola, artistic director of Rejoice! Diaspora Dance Theatre, Cuban master percussionist and singer Isidro Valor Perez, and Portland funk and soul musician Jans Ingber, from the band Motet, will perform an array of dances from Cuba, including the dance of Ochún, the powerful Orisha of love, guardian of fertility, and ruler of fresh waters-she is irresistible, her laughter is seductive, her dancing graceful, and her lips are sweet like honey.

Syniva Whitney/Gender Tender and Will Courtney from Seattle, will perform GUT, as part of Linda Austin’s Cabaret Boris & Natasha. Photo courtesy of Linda Austin.

Cabaret Boris & Natasha
Presented by Performance Works NW / Linda Austin Dance
February 10-11
Performance Works NW, 4625 SE 67th Ave
Performance Works NW/Linda Austin Dance presents, an eclectic, cabaret-style evening of imaginative, unconventional entertainment, featuring dancers Mike Barber and Subashini Ganesan, Seattle’s Syniva Whitney/Gender Tender, oboist Catherine Lee, actor/performer Amber Whitehall, dancer Button Will, and a short piece by the famous The Boris & Natasha Dancers, all emceed by “The Greatest Entertainers Ever,” Reid Urban and David Weinberg.

Interlude
PDX Contemporary Ballet, directed by Briley Neugebauer
February 10-12
CoHo Theater, 2257 NW Raleigh St
Portland’s contemporary ballet company is back with Interlude, a program of six new dance works, by six women choreographers, for six dancers. The works explore dance’s relationship to science, politics, visual art, language, comedy, and more, and will include a musical interlude by Japanese violinist Tomoki Martens.

Participating Interlude choreographers are: Hayley Glickfeld Bielman, artistic director of Necessity Arts Collective; Briley Neugebauer, Artistic Director of PDX Contemporary Ballet; Eva Stone, producer and curator of Chop Shop: Bodies of Work, an annual contemporary dance festival in Bellevue, Washington, and the Artistic Director of Stone Dance Collective; Emily Running, founder of Portland’s Dance Wire and former performer/choreographer/administrator for the aerial troupe, A.W.O.L.; M’Liss Stephenson Quinnly, founding member of Polaris Dance Theatre and current director of Polaris Junior Company and Neo Company; and Margaret Wiss, a Boston choreographer interested in the interaction between dance and science.

3 Trips: guided experiences with Keith Hennessy
A workshop
February 11, 14, and 18
New Expressive Works
810 SE Belmont Street
Exploring playing, meditating, feeling, being, and dancing, Bay Area dance artist Keith Hennessy, along with co-directors Jodi Darby, Julie Perini and Erin Yanke will facilitate a three part, guided experience—Practicing Death & Dying (workshop-experience-practice), Arresting Power (film screening and discussion), and Oil Action (creative, naked experiment in solidarity and intimacy).

For more info go to the Facebook event page. Please RSVPs to keith@circozero.org to participate. No drop-ins.

Upcoming performance

February
February 19, Early bird submission deadline, Portland Dance Film Fest
February 25, Civilized, Catherine Egan
February 23-26, Attention Everyone!, A-WOL Dance Collective
March
March 2-4, Cuisine & Confessions, Presented by White Bird
March 3, Local (not easy), Iris Erez, Presented by Reed College Dance Department
March 3-5, In Circadia, Eliza Larson
March 5, Nritya Shubha Dance Festival, Guru Smt Shubha Dhananjay, Maya Dhananjay and Mudra Dhananjay.
March 3-11, The Bacchae, PSU School of Theater + Film, choreography by Tere Mathern
March 9-11, Companhia Urbana De Danca, Presented by White Bird
March 10 – 12, TPB Studio Company Performance-Featuring dances by Anne Mueller, Jamey Hampton and Ashley Roland, John Clifford and guest artists from Kukátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe, The Portland Ballet
March 10-19, In The Heights, Portland Community College
March 16-18, Carmen, NW Dance Project
March 17, The Baroque Dance Project, Alice Sheu and Julie Iwasa
March 19, Duality: Dance Ballet of India, Presented by Rasika
March 19, BodyVox and Oregon Symphony collaboration performance
March 24, Shaping Sound, Travis Wall, Presented by Portland’5
March 24-25, New works by Alembic Artists Claire Barrera and Noelle Stiles, Presented by Performance Works NW / Linda Austin Dance
March 23-April1, Skinner/Kirk Dance Ensemble, Presented by BodyVox
April
April 4-5, Shen Yun, Presented by Oregon Falun Dafa Association
April 6-8, Ronald K. Brown/Evidence, Presented by White Bird
April 10, Noontime Showcase OBT2, Oregon Ballet Theatre
April 15, Synesthesia, BodyVox, TEDx Portland
April 15, Bridge the Gap, Presented by Sepiatonic
April 13-22, Terra, Oregon Ballet Theatre
April 14-16, New work by Jin Camou, Performance Works NW Alembic Co-Production
April 25-26, Che Malambo, Presented by White Bird
April 27-29, Contact Dance Film Festival, Presented by BodyVox and NW Film Center
April 28-29, Appalachian Spring Break, Scotty Heron and Brendan Connelly, Presented by Performance Works NW / Linda Austin Dance
May
May 5-7, Inclusive Arts Vibe Annual Performance, Disability Arts and Culture Project
May 10, Martha Graham Dance Company, Presented by White Bird
May 26-28, N.E.W. Residency performance, Dora Gaskill, Jessica Kelley, Stephanie Schaaf, and Kumari Suraj
May 26 – 27, Spring Concert – Tribute to the Ballet Russes, Featuring work by Michel Fokine, Tom Gold, George Balanchine, and Lane Hunter, The Portland Ballet
June
June 2-4, Interum Echos, PDX Contemporary Ballet
June 8-10, Summer Splendors, NW Dance Project
July
July 15, Pretty Creatives Showing, NW Dance Project
August
August 24-September 6, Portland Dance Film Fest, Directed by Kailee McMurran, Tia Palomino, and Jess Evans

Dance Weekly: Past and future lenses

Keith Hennessy dances himself to death, a new dance film festival is born, Kyle Abraham is in town and audiences now need their passports.

Over the weekend I saw choreographer/performance artists Keith Hennessy perform “Bear/Skin” presented by PICA, and Oregon Ballet Theatre perform James Canfield’s “Romeo and Juliet.” It may seem like an odd pairing, but they were perfect together, each filling in where the other was incomplete, at least for me.

Before he performed, Hennessy “explained” his dance by reading a short essay he had written. Some of the points he touched on: Democracy is founded on slavery, misogyny and genocide; modernism is deeply rooted in racist cultural appropriation; and action films are a bridge between our cop-killing desires and the narrative of “The Rite of Spring,” which exposes gendered roles of the female as sacrificial and the male as protector. I suppose all of those are debatable propositions.

Hennessy danced the “chosen one’s” dance to the death from “The Rite of Spring” while wearing a man-sized teddy bear costume strapped to his back after telling us that once upon a time you could get money for killing American Indians, different amounts for men, women and children. And when they ran out of Native Americans, the bounty changed to grizzly bears until the bears ran out. For me, all of this was an extraordinary lens to view “Romeo and Juliet” through, and at some point during “Romeo and Juliet” I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if ballet audiences went to see Hennessy and Hennessy audience went to see the ballet?”

Arts Watcher Martha Ullman West had a wildly different experience seeing “Romeo and Juliet” and talks about it in her review.

Continues…

Dance Weekly: Ballet and postmodern dance

Oregon Ballet Theatre's "Romeo and Juliet" continues and postmodern dance debuts

This weekend’s eclectic mix of ballet and postmodern performances helps us see where we have come from in dance and where the investigation into contemporary dance practices are going.

This is the second weekend of James Canfield’s “Romeo and Juliet” with Oregon Ballet Theatre, and for more insight into the artistic processes you can listen to an interview with Canfield about “Romeo and Juliet” and with Nicolo Fonte about his upcoming piece “Beautiful Decay” on OPB here.

Bay Area choreographer and performance artist Keith Hennessy will be giving a lecture at Portland State University and performance of “Bear/Skin” at Studio 2 through Portland Institute For Contemporary Art (PICA). Hennessy describes “Bear/Skin” as a “dance that is politically motivated by the tension between killer cops and virgin sacrifice, between indigenous culture and modernist appropriation. It has (almost) nothing to do with gay bears and everything to do with “The Rite of Spring,” teddy bear shamanism, the reconstruction of ritual bear dances, action movies, suicide economics, and the poetry of springtime.”

For more insight into Hennessy and “Bear/Skin,” check out his interview by Gia Kourlas in Time Out New York.

Performances this week

You Must Work in the Garden of Eden
by Jackie Davis
Presented by Night Lights
6:30 pm March 3
North side of RACC offices, 411 NW Park Avenue
You Must Work in the Garden of Eden by Jackie Davis is an avant-garde dance/Super-8 film performance that “displays the beauty of everyday routine and the necessity of interpersonal support as two foundations for building the lives we dream of living. A visual and auditory pattern of stylized actions, the film investigates daily habits and the profound effects these often subconscious choices have on shaping individual and community cultures. With this site-specific performance, Davis explores conversations and questions pertaining to our collective work and existence”

Night Lights is a monthly series produced by the Regional Arts and Culture Council (RACC) in conjunction with The Hollywood Theatre, on the First Thursday of every month, in the Pearl District, that features projection artists on the North Wall of the RACC offices (411 NW Park Ave.).

Keith Hennessy in "Bear/Skin". Photo by Robbie Sweeny.

Keith Hennessy in “Bear/Skin”. Photo by Robbie Sweeny.

Keith Hennessy: PSU MFA Studio Lectures Series
7 pm, March 3
Portland State University, Lincoln Hall Room 75
&
Bear/Skin (Performance)
Keith Hennessy
Presented by PICA
March 4-5
Studio 2, 810 SE Belmont St
Hennessy is a San Francisco-based dancer, choreographer, and performance artist regarded as a pioneer of queer and AIDS-themed expressionist dance. Hennessy is known for nonlinear performance collages that combine dance, speaking, singing, and physical and visual imagery, and for improvised performances that often undermine the performer-observer barrier.

If you are interested in furthering your Hennessy experience, he will be teaching a workshop on March 12th from 1-5pm, at University of Washington’s Dance Department’s Meany Hall. Check out the Velocity Dance’s website for more information.

Xuan Cheng as "Juliet" and Peter Franc as "Romeo" with choreographer James Canfield (in the background) in rehearsal for Oregon Ballet Theatre's production of Romeo and Juliet. Photo by Blaine Truitt.

Xuan Cheng as “Juliet” and Peter Franc as “Romeo” with choreographer James Canfield (in the background) in rehearsal for Oregon Ballet Theatre’s production of Romeo and Juliet. Photo by Blaine Truitt.

Romeo and Juliet
James Canfield/Sergei Prokofiev
Oregon Ballet Theatre
February 27-March 5
Keller Auditorium, 222 SW Clay St
Young love, underage sex, teen suicide and Crips vs. Bloods family rivalry factor into how choreographer and former OBT Artistic Director James Canfield defines his “Romeo and Juliet” in his interview with Arts Watcher Marty Hughley for Artslandia.

What’s different about Canfield’s version is his investment in the development of the characters and their relationships with each other, giving the work dimension and depth. And of course there is always beautiful dancing, chiffon and Prokofiev, performed every night by the live OBT orchestra.

Line-Up!
Zinzi Minott, Sharita Towne, Amento Abioto, Dead Thoroughbred: Sidony O’Neal and Keyon Gaskin
LACUNA, 5040 SE Milwaukie Ave
7 pm March 6
An evening of performance, sound, and video featuring London-based dancer/choreographer Zinzi Minott, video artists Sharita Towne, sound artist Amento Abioto, and Dead Thoroughbred made up of Sidony O’Neal (writer, dramaturg and performance artist) and well-known Portland dance artist Keyon Gaskin.

Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion. Photo courtesy of White Bird.

Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion. Photo courtesy of White Bird.

Later in March

Dance Wire Dance Passport: March 13-May 31
March 11, PDX Contemporary Ballet with Northwest Piano Trio
March 10-12, Kyle Abraham presented by WhiteBird.
March 13, Dance Film Day, an afternoon of dance films and discussion, co-presented by dance artists and writer Jamuna Chiarini and Performance Works NW.
March 14, workshop and lecture demonstration with Kyle Abraham at Reed College presented by WhiteBird.
March 17, Louder Than Words, NorthWest Dance Project
March 19-April 3, Butoh College: classes, performances and community dialogue. Presented by Water in the desert.
March 25, New Expressive Works/Studio-2. Residency artists to be represented are Catherine Egan, Lane Hunter, Linda K. Johnson and Ruth Nelson.

Dance Weekly: ‘Edge Effects’ to ‘Romeo and Juliet’

The return of James Canfield and his 'Romeo and Juliet,' a new Tere Mathern dance, and much more

This week’s schedule covers the full spectrum of dance from Bay Area dancer and performance artist Keith Hennessy to ballet choreographer James Canfield’s Romeo and Juliet for Oregon Ballet Theatre and everything in between, and I mean everything—which is a good thing.

On Saturday I sat in on a rehearsal for “Edge Effects,” a new dance choreographed by long-time Portland choreographer and artistic director of Conduit Dance, Tere Mathern.

The piece was made over a two-year period with several previous iterations, in collaboration with electronic sound composer Roland Ventura Toledo, filmmaker Sophia Wright Emigh, lighting designer Robin Greenwood, along with five dancers—Lyra Butler-Denman, Vanessa Vogel, Dar VeJon Jones, Lena Traenkenschuh, and Sara Parker. It takes time to make a dance.

Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 17.16

Edge Effects by Tere Mathern. Photo by Sophia Wright Emigh.

The dance references the idea of an “ecotone—a zone where one ecosystem meets another as when the meadow meets the forest, the water meets the land, or where one body meets another,” said Mathern via our email conversation.

Taking the concepts of edges, transitions and transformations and relating them to human nature, culture and society, Mathern rendered them into movement, through the choreographic process.

The movement, mixed with seven short films that capture the magical aspects of nature up close, added to the atmospheric sounds created by Toledo, creates a three dimensional, experiential, enterable atmosphere, illuminating aspects of nature and relationships you did not know existed.

This concept has stayed with me since Saturday, and I find myself looking around for those moments and places where different environments meet and feeling secret pleasure in discovering them.

“Edge Effects” promises to be an a impactful, contemplative, sensorial experience.

Edge Effects by Tere Mathern. Photo by Sophia Wright Emigh.

Edge Effects by Tere Mathern. Photo by Sophia Wright Emigh.

Edge Effects
A collaboration of dance, film and sound
Choreographed by Tere Mathern
February 25-28
Studio2, 810 SE Belmont St

Regarding the New Wave of African American Choreographer and Their Gesture of Interweaving (Lecture)
6:30 pm February 25
Reed College, PAB Performance Lab, 3203 SE Woodstock Blvd
Visiting dance scholar Dr. Christina Rosa from Tufts University Department of Drama and Dance will present a lecture based on her research on the intersection of embodiment, knowledge production, and processes of identification. Her most recent publication Brazilian Bodies and Their Choreographies of Identification (Palgrave McMillan), examines how aesthetic principles cultivated across the black Atlantic contributed to the construction of Brazil as an imagined community. Rosa, a native of Brazil who migrated to the US in 1996, is able to draw on her duel living experiences in her research.

GHOSTS + Snake Talk
Asaf Aharonson & Ruairí Donovan (Berlin) and Abby Crain (Oakland)
Presented by Performance Works NorthWest, Alembic Co-Production Series
Curated by Allie Hankins
February 26-27
Performance Works NW, 4625 SE 67th Ave.
“GHOSTS” by Asaf Aharonson & Ruairí Donovan of Berlin, draws on the work of theorist Michael Hardt, veiling and unveiling the complex intimacy between lovers, exploring concepts of confidentiality, indecency, travel, erottica, pornography and friendship asking the question “how can love be the central, constitutive mode and motor of politics.”

“Snake Talk,” created and performed by Abby Crain, Maryanna Lachman and Mara Poliak, with lighting design by Elizabeth Ardent and sound design by Samuel Hertz, explores femininity, calling it “slippery and undefinable within an aesthetic terrain of discomfort, excess and distortion. We are dense, opulent, dazzling, awkward, seductive, repulsive, terrifying. We ooze, leak, wander, tie ourselves in a knot, rip apart at the seams. We have forgotten the difference between kissing and eating.”

Workshop with Abby Crain will be held at Flock on Thursday, February 25, and with Asaf Aharonson & Ruairí Donovan on Saturday, February 27.

James Canfield

Romeo and Juliet
James Canfield/Sergei Prokofiev
Oregon Ballet Theatre
February 27-March 5
Keller Auditorium, 222 SW Clay St
Young love, underage sex, teen suicide and Crips vs. Bloods family rivalry are how choreographer and former OBT Artistic Director James Canfield defines his Romeo and Juliet in his interview with Arts Watcher Marty Hughley for Artslandia.

What’s different about Canfield’s version is his investment in the development of the characters and their relationships with each other, giving the work dimension and depth.

And of course there is always beautiful dancing, chiffon and Prokofiev, performed every night by the live OBT orchestra.

Pure Surface
Featuring Renee Sills, Sam Pirnak and Christopher Rose
7 pm, February 28
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 Renee Sills, video/interdisciplinary artist Sam Pirnak and writer Christopher Rose, who explore the intersection of the Filipino and Black Diasporas.

Nrityotsava 2016
Kalakendra benefit concert
4 pm, February 28
Lake Oswego High School, 2501 Country Club Rd
Kalakendra, the society for the performing arts of India, is a Portland organization with the mission to introduce, promote, and enhance awareness of the various performing arts of the Indian subcontinent through concerts, classical dances, recitals, and lecture-demonstrations.This benefit concert will feature performances by 11 Indian dance groups from Portland and California.

NOTHING TO LOSE; A Dance Party Fundraiser for Physical Education
ft pop-up performances all night long.
8 pm, March 2
Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison St
Physical Education is comprised of dance and performance artists Keyon Gaskin, Allie Hankins, Lucy Lee Yim and Takahiro Yamamoto. PE’s mission is to provide immersive methods of engaging with dance and performance through reading groups, lectures, curated performances, aerobic/movement classes and dance parties.

The featured performers at the fundraiser are Ruth Nelson, William Jay, Holland Andrews, Jin Camou, Julia Calabrese, Danielle Ross, Stacey Tran and Physical Education; Keyon Gaskin, Allie Hankins, Lucy Yim, and Taka Yamamoto with DJ’s Daniela Karina, Rap Class and Allan Wilson with visuals by Jodie Cavalier.

Keith Hennessy courtesy of PICA.

Keith Hennessy courtesy of PICA.

Keith Hennessy: PSU MFA Studio Lectures Series
7 pm, March 3
Portland State University, Lincoln Hall Room 75
&
Bear/Skin (Performance)
Keith Hennessy
Presented by PICA
March 4-5
Studio 2, 810 SE Belmont St
Bear/Skin is a “dance that is politically motivated by the tension between killer cops and virgin sacrifice, between indigenous culture and modernist appropriation. It has (almost) nothing to do with gay bears and everything to do with The Rite of Spring, teddy bear shamanism, the reconstruction of ritual bear dances, action movies, suicide economics, and the poetry of springtime.”

Hennessy is a San Francisco-based dancer, choreographer, and performance artist regarded as a pioneer of queer and AIDS-themed expressionist dance. Hennessy is known for nonlinear performance collages that combine dance, speaking, singing, and physical and visual imagery, and for improvised performances that often undermine the performer-observer barrier.

If you are interested in furthering your Hennessy experience, he will be teaching a workshop on March 12th from 1-5pm, at University of Washington’s Dance Department’s Meany Hall. Check out the Velocity Dance’s website for more information.

Later in March

March 10-12, Kyle Abraham presented by WhiteBird.
March 13, Dance Film Day, an afternoon of dance films and discussion, co-presented by dance artists and writer Jamuna Chiarini, and Performance Works NW.
March 14, workshop and lecture demonstration with Kyle Abraham at Reed College presented by WhiteBird.

Spot On at TBA: Unmeasured response

Keith Hennessy and the End Times

Keith Hennessy/Circo Zero/Photo by G.K Wilson

By Patrick Collier

The end is nigh!

Lingering, nay, persistent pangs of millennialism. Or, my nihilism. And by “my” I mean “our.”

I have a bag of protein bars and a couple nutrition drinks but no coffee in this hotel room. I make an accounting of this because the night I write this I have witnessed what may be as close to the End Times as we’re going to get, which, at least in art historical terms, is the attempt to not repeat ourselves into mundanity.

There seems to be a consensus: There is nothing left to say except that there is nothing left to say. Oh! rail as we might, we might well rail. And then recoil back to lingering hope and the history lesson we choose to ignore: although it has endured, art has yet to prevail.

Continues…

Goats, towers, and one dance increasing in size

Ten Tiny Dances breaks records and maybe cheats a little

“Awkward,” Keith Hennessy and Empress Jupiter, TBA:12/Nim Wunnan

By NIM WUNNAN

Emerging twice a year, Ten Tiny Dances could easily pass for some sort of some sort of art-equinox ritual. If you’re unfamiliar, Ten Tiny Dances is the flash-fiction of dance — ten short performances by ten acts, confined to a 4’ x 4’ stage, one performed after another.

In the right hands (or under the right feet) constraints so tight can become a secret recipe, and they turn into a gimmick with the wrong ones. That magic can pivot on the potential futility of limitation. Before each act on Saturday night at TBA, you could feel the audience wagering whether that futility would transform into a special flavor of freedom or weigh heavily on the performance until its short life was extinguished.

Two of the most notable moments of transformation came from the performers being pushed—or pushing themselves—into even tighter corners than the tiny stage did. In each case, it sent them all the way around the cycle again to the point where they ended up using the entire audience, which felt a little like cheating, but no one cared given the fun they were having.

Continues…