Keyon Gaskin

DanceWatch Weekly: A holiday just for dance

Saturday is National Dance Day and DanceWatch has some ideas about you can celebrate

Saturday, July 28, is National Dance Day. Shouldn’t it also be a national holiday? Don’t we need a holiday to dance?

“So You Think You Can Dance” judge Nigel Lythgoe invented National Dance Day to promote dance education and physical fitness. Lythgoe also co-founded the Dizzy Feet Foundation, and the foundation and I agree “that participation in dance connects the mind and body, promotes health and wellbeing, connects us with others and enables us to find joy through dance and movement.”

So, let’s do it! How will you engage in dance this week? Will you watch it, do it, or both? Listed below are a multitude of ways to do it all. See you at the dance.

Performances this week

Dance artist keyon gaskin. Photo courtesy of PICA.

[A Swatch of Lavender]: A Self Portrait
keyon gaskin
July 25-27
PICA at Hancock, 15 NE Hancock St.
Dancemaker keyon gaskin in DanceWatch Weekly two weeks ago spoke with me about about his new work [A Swatch of Lavender]: A Self Portrait, which debuts at the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art.

Gaskin’s work is complex and layered, deeply intellectual and questioning. His work butts up against normative performance practices and can disturb, confuse, and up-end.

“I think with this piece, I’m really trying to value and center all the ways in which we receive information,” gaskin said. “I also think about feminist ways of engagement with it. I think the whole piece in general is very decentralized. It’s not about WATCHING. Things are happening all around you. You can’t possibly see everything the whole time because there are three different people moving throughout the room at any given time….trying to center text and experience, and sensations, smell, feel, as equally receiving of information.”

To read the full interview, click here.

Dancer Dalitza Samantha Alicea-Perez. Photo by Karla MIlugo,

Duende Yubá: Bomba Workshop and Performance
Presented by #ArtSavedMyLife
Featured artists include: DJ Mami Miami (Noche Libre DJ Collective), Bobby Fouther, Jean Nada, Amenta Bodunde Abioto, and Dalitza + Drummers
8 pm July 26
New Expressive Works, 810 SE Belmont St.
6-7:30 pm Bomba workshop with Dalitza Samantha Alicea- Perez

#ArtSavedMyLife—that’s exactly what I’m talking about! Join Puerto Rican performance artist and Bomba dancer Dalitza Samantha Alicea-Perez and her drummers for an evening honoring Puerto Rican and African cultures through music and dance. The evening will also include performances by DJ Mami Miami (Noche Libre DJ Collective), Bobby Fouther, Jean Nada, and Amenta Bodunde Abioto.


DanceWatch Weekly: A dance that can be whatever it wants to be

Shannon Stewart talks about the 3-year process that her dance "Relatives" has gone through

“Honestly, the real reason for this production is because I wanted to get Shannon Stewart here (in Portland) again,” said Portland choreographer Tahni Holt when we met for coffee last week at Posies Bakery & Cafe in NE Portland. “She’s just a power house. She’s an amazing choreographer, and teacher, and a very dear colleague of mine.”

New Orleans-based Stewart’s Relatives and Holt’s newest work-in-progress, Rubble Bodies, will share the stage this weekend at Performance Works NW/Linda Austin Dance. The two pieces are in conversation with each other Holt said.

“So many of our ideas—what we think about, and what we are working on—are on similar paths,” Holt says. “We are at similar points in our lives, and we’re similar ages” she continued. “I think that they will be really amazing pieces to see together and hers (Stewart’s) is an incredibly complicated, rigorous piece, that you get a bit lost in the meditation of it and the consistency of it. The dedication she brings to that hour—and the fierceness—is really amazing. I’m very excited to bring that piece to this community. I want this community to show up for it because I think it’s a really important work to see.”


“I mean that’s not really the title: I don’t really like that that gets used as the title, but the title is actually the ‘color’ lavender.”

This is the Portland dance artist keyon gaskin speaking about the title of his new work, [A Swatch of Lavender]: A Self Portrait over coffee last week at Bushel and Peck Bakeshop in northeast Portland. [A Swatch of Lavender]: A Self Portrait opens Wednesday, July 11, at Portland Institute for Contemporary Art.

“I feel like if there was any language I would use for the piece, it would be ‘a self portrait’,” he said. “But I prefer that the visual (color) representation be the language for the piece.”

“A self portrait,” which actually debuted in January at American Realness in New York, is a container for all that is keyon gaskin.