Napoli

The Year of Living Cautiously, Pt. 2

Dance on screen: It's not the same as sitting with an audience for a live performance in a theater, but when theaters are shut down, it's a balm

Before Covid, I watched dancing on screen for several reasons, none of them related to recreating the experience of watching live performance, or as a substitute for it.

One was for reference, or what the French call an aide memoire, something to jog my memory of a performance I’d seen in the flesh, three-dimensionally, on the stage or in the studio or on a specific site, before I wrote about it. An example of that is watching the six-minute video of Linda K. Johnson’s Polka Dot Square piece, a viewing that verified that one of the dancers performing last October on artist Bill Will’s socially distanced giant polka dots in Pioneer Courthouse Square had been wearing red. Yet it in no way reproduced the joy I had derived from seeing birds doing a flyover, or feeling the chill in the air, or being part of an equally elated audience at the actual event. 

My rotten handwriting has also driven me to look at performances I’ve already watched in the dark—I often can’t read it. God forbid I misidentify a dancer in a review, or invent choreography that wasn’t performed.  (I am guilty of doing both of those things, for which I am still apologizing.) When Oregon Ballet Theatre performed Bournonville’s Napoli, I used a DVD of a different production—which had been staged by the same people—to remind myself of specific choreography, and while that recorded performance was extremely good, seeing it on my television screen with only my cat as my audience companion flattened it considerably. 

Oregon Ballet Theatre dancers in the United States full-production premiere of August Bournonville’s “Napoli,” October 6-13, 2018, at the Keller Auditorium. Photo: James McGrew.

The second reason is connected to research, to see what dances and dancers looked like that I have had no opportunity to see live. A few that come to mind are Janet Reed as Swanhilda in Coppélia (I was only three);  Loie Fuller’s nature-inspired dances (performed well before I was born, though I have seen one reconstruction at the Maryhill Museum of Art, which also has film clips in her archive there); and James Canfield and Mark Goldweber in the Joffrey Ballet’s reconstruction of Petrouchka (which was not performed in Portland on tour). 

Continues…

What’s happening this week in Portland dance? Two Halloween-themed productions: BloodyVox: Deadline October by BodyVox, and A Spine Tingling Soiree by Wild Rumpus Jazz Co. Both are fun, campy takes on a campy holiday.

Look for dance-infused circus performances, too. Australia’s Circa, presented by White Bird, stages Humans, and The Circus Project, a Portland-based company, celebrates its tenth anniversary with a big circus-sized bash, Change(d) Together.

Oregon Ballet Theatre offers the second weekend of Napoli, a ballet choreographed in 1842 by Danish choreographer August Bournonville. Martha Ullman West describes Napoli’s female protagonist as “a woman for our time” in her preview, “A Danish Pastry” for ArtsWatch.

And last but not least, the Portland Dance Film Fest returns for a second year with six film-infused days and nights. It opens with a party and includes artist talks, a workshop on dance filmmaking, and the screening of 28 international dance films. See all the details below.

Performances this week

Makino Hildestad in OBT’s 2015 production of the third act of “Napoli.” Photo by James McGrew.

Napoli
August Bournonville
Performed by Oregon Ballet Theatre
October 11-13
Keller Auditorium, 222 SW Clay St.
6:30 pm pre-performance talk led by OBT dance historian and archivist Linda Besant

Napoli, sometimes called The Fisherman and His Bride, was created in 1842 by Danish choreographer and ballet master August Bournonville, inspired by his visit to Naples. The ballet, set in an Italian fishing village, spins a tale of young love thwarted by parental objections, natural disasters, evil sea creatures, and memory loss. Ultimately, however, faith and true love prevail.

Oregon Ballet Theatre, which staged the ballet’s third act in 2015, built this new production from scratch (including new costumes and sets). OBT is the first U.S. ballet company to stage the full-length three-act production, aided by former Royal Danish Ballet artistic director Frank Andersen and Bournonville experts Eva Kloborg and Dinna Bjorn. The OBT Orchestra will play live for all shows.

The Bournonville technique is characterized by quick footwork, small jumps, understatedly elegant port de bras, and dramatic impact through pantomime.

Napoli is one of Bournonville’s most famous ballets; another is La Sylphide, which the Bolshoi Ballet will perform in a live simulcast November 11. Check local cinema listings for details.

Circa’s “Humans.” Photo by Pedro Greig.

Humans
Circa, Artistic Director Yaron Lifschitz
Presented by White Bird
October 11-13
Newmark Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway

This genre-blurring, dance-based circus company from Brisbane, Australia, returns to Portland after a five-year absence with Humans. This is the West Coast premiere of the work, a stark-looking, seamlessly deep dive into the human experience in which an ensemble of 10 multi-talented performers explore the physical limits of their bodies.

Dancer Anna Marra in “BloodyVox: Deadline October.” Photo courtesy of BodyVox.

BloodyVox: Deadline October
BodyVox
October 11-20
BodyVox Dance Center, 1201 NW 17th Ave.

BodyVox’s “scary” show, originally choreographed in 2010 and revamped over the years, celebrates co-founders Jamey Hampton’s and Ashley Roland’s favorite holiday, Halloween. This family-friendly dance theater extravaganza touches on all aspects of Halloween, creating work that is by turns dark, mysterious, magical, beautiful, ironic, odd, hilarious, and absurd. The show, composed of several short dances, incorporates standard Halloween fare such as vampires, zombies, ghosts, and killer spiders, as well as some non-standard material, like creepy identical twins and a new work called “Victorian Secret.” This year’s production also includes Halloween costume contests and dance parties at every show. See link for details.

Alicia Cutaia and and Russ Stark of ARC in Movement. Photo by Gregory Bartning.

Change(d) Together
The Circus Project
October 11-13
Pre-show entertainment at 7:30 pm, seated performance at 8:00 pm
Peter Corvallis Warehouse, 2204 N. Randolph

The Circus Project, joined by world-renowned circus artists making guest appearances, celebrates its tenth anniversary for three nights, beginning with a benefit gala. The company is known for creating space for circus performers of all kinds and transforming lives through circus arts. The performance, which begins in the lobby 30 minutes before the sit-down portion of the show, includes former BodyVox dancer Alicia Cutaia flying through the air on a bungee harness, plus trapeze artists, stilt walkers, jugglers and a human-sized metal bird cage, on and around which the project’s teenagers perform aerial dance.

The main performance includes jugglers, static trapeze performers, aerialists using straps and silks, film, dance, and a cyr wheel performer. (A cyr wheel, in case you’re wondering, is a large metal ring inside of which performers do acrobatics as the wheel rolls and spins gyroscopically.)

The evening concludes with a finale dance and a counterbalancing act performed by Cutaia and her partner, Russ Stark, together known as the performance duo ARC in Movement.

Wild Rumpus Jazz Co. in a “A Spine Tingling Soiree.” Photo by Jarrid Cammack.

A Spine Tingling Soiree
Wild Rumpus Jazz Co.
October 12-20
Polaris Dance Theater, 1826 NW 18th Ave.

With this gathering of ghouls, Wild Rumpus Jazz Co. (co-founded by Kelsey Adams and Lucy Brush) gives Halloween a jazzy twist. Frankenstein goes on his first date, campfire stories come to life, tap shoes become possessed, and so much more. Audience participation is welcome and costumes are encouraged.

In addition to Adams and Brush, performers include Cherie Swain, Cassy Adams, Daniel Martinez, Kristina Lindquist, Nicholas Petrich, and Sondra Storm.

A still from the film “sweetgrass” by Portland artists Amy Leona Havin/The Holding Project and Tomas Alfredo Valladares.

Portland Dance Film Fest
7:30 pm October 12, opening night party and live dance-film creation, Cup & Bar, 118 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd.
7:30 pm October 13, 20, and 21, film screenings, Clinton Street Theater, 2522 SE Clinton St.
10 am October 14, filmmaking & movement creation workshop with Sarah C Prinz, NW Dance Project, 211 NE 10th St.
7:30 pm October 16, dance for film panel discussion, NW Dance Project, 211 NE 10th St.

This six-night adjudicated dance film festival, directed by dancer-choreographer Kailee McMurran, features 28 dance films from around the world. The opening night party includes the live creation of an interactive dance film with dancer/filmmaker Conrad “Icon” Kaczor and dancer/choreographer Jessica Zoller; Zsuzsanna Mangu will edit the film on the spot. The festival also features the debut of the Oregon Dance Film Commission, composed of dancer/choreographer Raven Jones and director/filmmaker Robert Uehlin; a master class on filmmaking and movement creation, led by L.A.-based director/choreographer Sarah C Prinz, and a panel discussion of dance on film with Kaczor, Jones, Uehlin, Daniel Norwood “DsouL” and Amy Leona Havin.

Upcoming Performances

October
October 18-20, Lucy Guerin Inc, Presented by White Bird
October 19, Everything’s Copacetic, The Skylark Tappers
October 20, Clock that Mug or Dusted, Cherdonna Shinatra, Presented by Risk/Reward
October 20, As You Like It-A Wild West Ballet, Ballet Fantastique, Eugene
October 20-21, The Man Who Forgot, The Portland Tap Company
October 22, Dance Artist Talk: Lucy Guerin, Reed College
October 26, Star Dust, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Eugene
October 26, Flamenco Pacifico, Presented by Berto Boyd
October 28, Matices Criollos, Peruvian Cultural Festival

November
November 1, Windows 11, Roesing Ape and Beth Whelan, Night Lights
November 2-4, A Midsummer Night at the Savoy, Rejoice! Diaspora Dance Theatre
November 4, civilized-Happy Hour, Catherine Egan
November 9, ¿LISTEN?, ELa FaLa Collective and Polaris Dance Theatre
November 9-11, Cloth, PDX Contemporary Ballet
November 11, La Sylphide, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema-Live from Moscow, presented by Fathom Events, BY Experience, and Pathe Live
November 13-14, The Hip Hop Nutcracker, Jennifer Weber
November 14, Tangueros del Sur, Presented by White Bird
November 16-18, Perceiving The Constant, Jessica Hightower
November 23-25, A Midsummer Night’s Dream with PSU Orchestra, The Portland Ballet

December
December 2, Don Quixote, Bolshoi Ballet in cinema, presented by Fathom Events, BY Experience, and Pathe Live
December 6-8, Winter Performance, NW Dance Project
December 8, So You Think You Can Dance Live! 2018, Eugene
December 8-25, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker®, Oregon Ballet Theatre
December 14-16, Babes in Toyland (World Premiere), Ballet Fantastique, Eugene
December 21-23, The Nutcracker, Eugene Ballet, Eugene
December 23, The Nutcracker, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema-Live from Moscow, presented by Fathom Events, BY Experience, and Pathe Live

January 2019
January 9-20, The Lion King, Eugene
January 20, La Bayadère, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema-Live from Moscow, presented by Fathom Events, BY Experience, and Pathe Live
January 24-February 2, The Cutting Room, BodyVox
January 31-February 2, Shay Kuebler/Radical System Art, Presented by White Bird

February
February 9-10, Romeo and Juliet, Eugene Ballet, Eugene
February 13, Les Ballets Trockadero De Monte Carlo, Presented by White Bird
February 16-23, Cinderella, Oregon Ballet Theatre
February 20, Beijing Dance Theater, Presented by White Bird
February 28-March 2, Compagnie Hervé Koubi, Presented by White Bird
February 29-March 2, Trip The Light Fantastic, NW Dance Project

March
March 1-3, The Odyssey, Ballet Fantastique, Eugene
March 1-3, Materialize, PDX Contemporary Ballet
March 7-9, Compagnie Marie Chouinard, Presented by White Bird
March 8-10, Interplay, Eugene Ballet, Eugene
March 9, Painted Sky Northstar Dance Company, Walters Cultural Arts Center
March 10, The Sleeping Beauty, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema, presented by Fathom Events, BY Experience, and Pathe Live
March 29-31, New Expressive Works Residency Performance

April
April 4-6, Parsons Dance, Presented by White Bird
April 4-13, The Pearl Dive Project, BodyVox
April 7, The Golden Age, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema, presented by Fathom Events, BY Experience, and Pathe Live
April 9-10, Savion Glover, Presented by White Bird
April 11-14, Director’s Choice, Oregon Ballet Theatre
April 13-14, The Firebird, Eugene Ballet, Eugene
April 24, Philadanco, Presented by White Bird
April 25-27, Spring Performance, NW Dance Project

May
May 9-11, Contact Dance Film Festival, BodyVox and NW Film Center
May 10-12, Shaun Keylock Company
May 10-12, Current/Classic, The Portland Ballet
May 10-12, Cleopatra (World Premiere), Ballet Fantastique, Eugene
May 17-19, Undone, PDX Contemporary Ballet
May 19, Carmen Suite / Petrushka, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema-Live from Moscow, presented by Fathom Events, BY Experience, and Pathe Live
May 26, Derek Hough: Live! The Tour, Eugene

June
June 7-15, The Americans, Oregon Ballet Theatre
June 7-9, Up Close, The Portland Ballet
June 13-15, Summer Performances, NW Dance Project

A Danish pastry, via Napoli

Preview: Oregon Ballet Theatre premieres a lavish version of a 19th century Danish story ballet set in Italy, with a heroine made for today.

Teresina, the heroine of Napoli, is a woman for our time. Don’t believe me? Go see Oregon Ballet Theatre’s sparkling new production of August Bournonville’s signature ballet, which opens the company’s 29th season at the Keller Auditorium on Saturday night. With a libretto by Bournonville, and a score by E. Helsted, Gade and Paulli, with whom the choreographer collaborated in the same way as Petipa with Tchaikowsky, and Balanchine with Stravinsky, this is a 19th century story ballet with which 21st century audiences can relate –– and particularly with fiery, independent Teresina.

In all three acts of the great Danish choreographer’s lighthearted ballet about common Neapolitan people (there isn’t an aristocrat in sight) she is a take-charge kind of gal, in control of her life and her future: “I’ll decide whom I’ll marry,” she declares without words in Act I, choosing Gennaro, the fisherman, over Giacomo the macaroni seller and Peppo the lemonade seller. Her widowed mother would prefer greater economic stability for her daughter, and incidentally for herself. But Teresina prevails and despite a looming storm, she and Gennaro go off for an evening boat ride and some alone time. He, the hapless hero—a convention of 19th century story ballets –– manages to lose her in the stormy seas, and returns to land without her.

Makino Hildestad in OBT’s 2015 production of the third act of “Napoli.” The company premieres its full-length production of the 1842 Bournonville story ballet on Saturday. Photo: James McGrew.

“Give me that medal, I’ll do this myself,” she asserts, equally wordlessly, in Act II when her fiancé finds her in Capri’s famed Blue Grotto, and fails to act quickly enough to save her from the unwanted attentions of Golfo, a sea demon who dwells there, happily turning maidens into Naiads whenever he gets the chance. And thrusting the medal depicting Mary, Mother of God (another strong woman) straight at her would-be seducer, she stops him cold.

Continues…

If you’re anything like me, you’re probably feeling exhausted from the insanity overload that is America right now. But don’t worry: Oregon dance can revive you. This week’s concerts offer grit, tenacity, and comic relief; creative problem-solving ideas, and suggestions on how to reimagine our relationships with each other and the space around us. They suggest that there is power in subtlety, warn us about the dangers of unchecked power, and give us strength. It just takes a little decoding and understanding the context of current events to get the most out of the work. Enjoy!

Performances this week

Pilobolus’s “Branches.” Photo courtesy of White Bird.

Pilobolus: Come to your senses
Co-directed by Renée Jaworski and Matt Kent
Presented by White Bird
October 4-6
Newmark Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway
Pilobolus master class at BodyVox Dance Center, 12:15 pm October 6
Formed in 1971 by athletes and dancers from New Hampshire’s Dartmouth College, Pilobolus–named for a fungus that can shoot off its top faster than a speeding bullet–returns to Portland, bringing along a two-hour dance concert dedicated to the five senses.

Pilobolus choreography ranges from comedic to otherworldly, even bizarre. Sometimes the movement is dancerly, sometimes it’s more athletic. Sometimes the choreography defies logic and gravity, and sometimes it contorts the human form. It is always evolving and surprising.

In 1978, years before he co-founded BodyVox in Portland, Jamey Hampton joined Pilobolus. This week, ArtsWatch senior editor Bob Hicks asked Hampton how his work with Pilobolus has influenced BodyVox’s work. “What comes to mind–two things,” Hampton replied. “One is, remain open-minded and let your imagination fly without barriers, so you can be inventive. The other: Let yourself consider the impractical and the impossible. And then if there’s a light there, see what you can do to get to it.”

Renée Archibald in “Shiny Angles in Angular Time.” Photo by Brian Rogers.

Shiny Angles in Angular Time
Melinda Ring and Renée Archibald
October 5-6
Performance Works NW, 4625 SE 67th Ave.
Workshop with Melinda Ring and Renée Archibald at FLOCK Dance Center 1 pm October 6
In their efforts to redefine the black box theater as a magic box, choreographers Melinda Ring and Renée Archibald question how spaces influence us in real and imagined ways.

Part One, a full-length solo that Archibald dances, examines the basic rules of theatrical perspective by asking, “How can I act on the space and can the space, in turn, act upon me?” In Part Two, Archibald and Ring present the movement responses to these questions.

Danced without musical accompaniment but still attentive to musicality, this complex, understatedly virtuosic dance addresses the parameters of, and relationship to, the room it’s performed in.

The work began in Walla Walla, Washington, where Archibald teaches at Whitman College and has access to studio space. The pair spent time in the space, observing it and examining their relationship with it. They created the piece by videotaping their own improvisation, keeping what seemed interesting, then relearning the steps to create the final movement material, which Archibald will perform live.

Ring, the founder of the performance company Special Projects, creates dance- and movement-based projects that incorporate visual arts practices, video, sculpture, and installation.

Archibald is a dancer, choreographer, and Assistant Professor of Dance at Whitman College. She has performed throughout New York City, the United States, and internationally with independent artists including Christopher Williams, Ann Liv Young, Joshua Bissett, Nina Winthrop, and Rebecca Lazier.

Amy Watson and Candace Bouchard in Oregon Ballet Theatre’s 2015 premiere of August Bournonville’s “Napoli” Act III. Photo by James McGrew.

Napoli
August Bournonville
Performed by Oregon Ballet Theatre
October 6-13
Keller Auditorium, 222 SW Clay St.
Napoli, sometimes called The Fisherman and His Bride, was created by Danish choreographer and ballet master August Bournonville in 1842 after he was inspired by his visit to Naples. The ballet, set in an Italian fishing village, spins a tale of young love thwarted by parental objections, natural disasters, evil sea creatures, and memory loss. Ultimately, however, faith and true love prevail.

Oregon Ballet Theatre, which staged the ballet’s third act in 2015, built this new production from scratch (including new costumes and sets). It is the first U.S. ballet company to stage the full-length three-act production, aided by former Royal Danish Ballet artistic director Frank Andersen and Bournonville experts Eva Kloborg and Dinna Bjorn. The OBT Orchestra will play live for all shows.

The Bournonville technique is characterized by quick footwork, small jumps, understated elegance in the port de bras, and dramatic impact through pantomime.

Napoli is one of Bournonville’s most famous ballets; another is La Sylphide, which the Bolshoi Ballet will perform in a live simulcast November 11. Check local cinema listings for details.

Ophelia in Stephen Mills “Hamlet,” performed by Eugene Ballet. Photo by Ari Denison.

Hamlet
Stephen Mills, Eugene Ballet
October 6-7
Hult Center for the Performing Arts, 1 Eugene Center, Eugene
For its 40th anniversary season opener, Eugene Ballet (directed by Toni Pimble) stages Stephen Mills’ contemporary ballet version of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Featuring lavish sets, Armani-inspired costumes, and a Philip Glass score, the ballet–which adheres to the original tale of family drama–will make its Pacific Northwest debut here.

It’s the ballet in which “everybody dies,” according to a helpful blog infographic from Ballet Austin, where Mills serves as artistic director. “My inspiration for putting Hamlet in a contemporary setting” Mills said in a statement, “ is due to the fact that many of the themes in the play—murder, betrayal, and more—are still very relevant themes in today’s society. For me, Shakespeare’s Hamlet is a perfect warning for a contemporary audience about the dangers of unchecked power and the ways in which lives of innocents can be forever changed.”

The New Chinese Acrobats. Photo by Liu Baomin.

The New Chinese Acrobats
7:30 pm October 9
Hult Center for the Performing Arts, Silva Concert Hall, 1 Eugene Center, Eugene
Acrobatic arts and variety shows in China date back many thousands of years and evolved from everyday life, incorporating tools and found objects such as rings, tables, chairs, jars, plates, and bowls. Chinese variety shows also included martial arts, gymnastics, wrestling, musical performances, dance, horsemanship, juggling, and Chinese folk stories and cultural traditions.

Connecting the past with the present, The New Chinese Acrobats, in association with Montreal’s Cirque Eloize (a driving force in the circus arts reinvention movement), present audiences with a unique look at ancient Chinese performing arts traditions and practices, combining them with contemporary aesthetics.

In case you missed it

Martha Ullman West recalls the late, great Arthur Mitchell, founder of Dance Theatre of Harlem, and the indelible imprint he left on dance in Warm hug from (and for) a giant.

And Bob Hicks reviews Northwest Dance Project’s season-opening Room 4 and Carmen.

Upcoming Performances

October
October 11-13, Napoli, Oregon Ballet Theatre
October 11-16, Circa, Presented by White Bird
October 11-20, Bloody Vox: Deadline October, BodyVox
October 12-13, Change(d) Together, The Circus Project
October 12-20, A Spine Tingling Soiree, Wild Rumpus Jazz Co.
October 12-21, Portland Dance Film Fest
October 18-20, Lucy Guerin Inc, Presented by White Bird
October 19, Everything’s Copacetic, The Skylark Tappers
October 20, Clock that Mug or Dusted, Cherdonna Shinatra, Presented by Risk/Reward
October 20, As You Like It-A Wild West Ballet, Ballet Fantastique, Eugene
October 20-21, The Man Who Forgot, The Portland Tap Company
October 22, Dance Artist Talk: Lucy Guerin, Reed College
October 26, Star Dust, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Eugene
October 26, Flamenco Pacifico, Presented by Berto Boyd
October 28, Matices Criollos, Peruvian Cultural Festival

November
November 1, Windows 11, Roesing Ape and Beth Whelan, Night Lights
November 2-4, A Midsummer Night at the Savoy, Rejoice! Diaspora Dance Theatre
November 4, civilized-Happy Hour, Catherine Egan
November 9, ¿LISTEN?, ELa FaLa Collective and Polaris Dance Theatre
November 9-11, Cloth, PDX Contemporary Ballet
November 11, La Sylphide, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema-Live from Moscow, presented by Fathom Events, BY Experience, and Pathe Live
November 13-14, The Hip Hop Nutcracker, Jennifer Weber
November 14, Tangueros del Sur, Presented by White Bird
November 16-18, Perceiving The Constant, Jessica Hightower
November 23-25, A Midsummer Night’s Dream with PSU Orchestra, The Portland Ballet

December
December 2, Don Quixote, Bolshoi Ballet in cinema, presented by Fathom Events, BY Experience, and Pathe Live
December 6-8, Winter Performance, NW Dance Project
December 8, So You Think You Can Dance Live! 2018, Eugene
December 8-25, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker®, Oregon Ballet Theatre
December 14-16, Babes in Toyland (World Premiere), Ballet Fantastique, Eugene
December 21-23, The Nutcracker, Eugene Ballet, Eugene
December 23, The Nutcracker, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema-Live from Moscow, presented by Fathom Events, BY Experience, and Pathe Live

January 2019
January 9-20, The Lion King, Eugene
January 20, La Bayadère, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema-Live from Moscow, presented by Fathom Events, BY Experience, and Pathe Live
January 24-February 2, The Cutting Room, BodyVox
January 31-February 2, Shay Kuebler/Radical System Art, Presented by White Bird

February
February 9-10, Romeo and Juliet, Eugene Ballet, Eugene
February 13, Les Ballets Trockadero De Monte Carlo, Presented by White Bird
February 16-23, Cinderella, Oregon Ballet Theatre
February 20, Beijing Dance Theater, Presented by White Bird
February 28-March 2, Compagnie Hervé Koubi, Presented by White Bird
February 29-March 2, Trip The Light Fantastic, NW Dance Project

March
March 1-3, The Odyssey, Ballet Fantastique, Eugene
March 1-3, Materialize, PDX Contemporary Ballet
March 7-9, Compagnie Marie Chouinard, Presented by White Bird
March 8-10, Interplay, Eugene Ballet, Eugene
March 9, Painted Sky Northstar Dance Company, Walters Cultural Arts Center
March 10, The Sleeping Beauty, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema, presented by Fathom Events, BY Experience, and Pathe Live
March 29-31, New Expressive Works Residency Performance

April
April 4-6, Parsons Dance, Presented by White Bird
April 4-13, The Pearl Dive Project, BodyVox
April 7, The Golden Age, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema, presented by Fathom Events, BY Experience, and Pathe Live
April 9-10, Savion Glover, Presented by White Bird
April 11-14, Director’s Choice, Oregon Ballet Theatre
April 13-14, The Firebird, Eugene Ballet, Eugene
April 24, Philadanco, Presented by White Bird
April 25-27, Spring Performance, NW Dance Project

May
May 9-11, Contact Dance Film Festival, BodyVox and NW Film Center
May 10-12, Shaun Keylock Company
May 10-12, Current/Classic, The Portland Ballet
May 10-12, Cleopatra (World Premiere), Ballet Fantastique, Eugene
May 17-19, Undone, PDX Contemporary Ballet
May 19, Carmen Suite / Petrushka, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema-Live from Moscow, presented by Fathom Events, BY Experience, and Pathe Live
May 26, Derek Hough: Live! The Tour, Eugene

June
June 7-15, The Americans, Oregon Ballet Theatre
June 7-9, Up Close, The Portland Ballet
June 13-15, Summer Performances, NW Dance Project

Tripping on Memory Lane

Turning points in a life of dance: Eric Skinner moves on, Balanchine's grave, Paul Taylor's passing, Pacific Ballet Theatre days, 'Napoli'

A visit to Balanchine’s grave (and my mother’s).

The departure of Eric Skinner for a new life in Chicago.

A reunion of Pacific Ballet Theatre’s dancers.

The death of Paul Taylor.

These are the happenings of the past five weeks that have sent me tripping on Memory Lane, making me realize that the personal and the professional are, in my case as in many, inextricable from each other.

*

George Balanchine, who died on April 30, 1983, is buried in Oakland Cemetery in Sag Harbor, Long Island, one of this country’s oldest whaling ports, and now, for better but more often worse, one of the Hamptons. He made no stipulation in his will about his final resting place, and some, according to Bernard Taper, his first biographer, thought he should have been buried in Venice, with Stravinsky and Diaghilev, or in Monte Carlo. But Balanchine detested Venice, was charmed by Sag Harbor on his visits there when he was in residence at his Southampton condominium (he reportedly told someone it reminded him of the South of France). And while he remained firmly rooted in Russian culture, he was without question the principal creator of American ballet style – an American citizen, and proud of it.

George Balanchine, right, with New York City Ballet dancers, in Amsterdam, August 26, 1965. Dutch National Archives, The Hague / Wikimedia Commons

Which made it entirely appropriate to bury him in this historic American cemetery, which contains a monument to whalers lost at sea, a marker for a soldier of the Revolutionary War who, and I quote, “Did not run away,” and the graves of novelists Nelson Algren and William Gaddis, playwright Lanford Wilson, writer and actor Spalding Gray, pioneering site-specific artist Gordon Matta-Clark, and, across the path from Balanchine, dual pianists Arthur Gold and Robert Fizdale, who were longtime friends of his. Close by as well lies Alexandra Danilova, his muse and common law wife, whose impact as ballerina and teacher on American dancers was nearly as powerful as his.

Continues…