Oregon Buddhist Temple

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.

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

Over the Hills, to Portland’s multi-cultural present

The energy at Portland's ethnic community events is great, and so are the performances

by MARIA CHOBAN

“You come every year!”

I do not recognize this observant Sri Lankan woman in a peacock blue sari, who’s obviously proud of the show we’re both attending.
“Yes, I‘ve been here since nearly the beginning,” I reply.

Last month, I was at a Sri Lankan event feting the community’s children with dance, drama and song— the fourth annual Pipena Kekulu (Blooming Buds), and I’ve attended all but the first. This time, Oregon state Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian presented one of the three welcoming speeches, with touching thanks to the community for allowing him and his wife to participate once more in the sharing of children’s arts/entertainment activities, his own children having left the nest, both happy successful artists/entertainers.

Oregon Buddhist Temple in Portland, USA celebrated the Vesak Festival last May with Sri Lankan Buddhists living in Portland.

Oregon Buddhist Temple celebrated the Vesak Festival last May. Photo:  ceylontoday.lk.

I attended the first such event in 2013 because I feel part of this community whose many children I have the privilege of teaching piano. I keep going because these events are ebullient. In fact, I’m stepping it up this Saturday, catching Sunil Edirisinghe and Neela Wickramasinghe in concert at PCC Sylvania (see listing at end of this story). Sri Lankan pop stars as popular on the island as Lady Gaga, but they are so underground outside of the culture that you have to call several numbers to secure tickets. Portland is the smallest city they’re playing on a tour which includes London, New York (where they drew 1,200) and Los Angeles (where they drew 1,000). Sri Lankans from Seattle and Vancouver BC will be making the journey to catch this show. In addition, performers from Pipena Kekulu 2015 will be opening. That’s like Bethany elementary school kids opening for the Rolling Stones. And yet, when I search the web for them, no website or Facebook page or Twitter or ANYTHING comes up. Promotions and marketing are as baffling to some of these ethnic communities as they are in the classical music milieu. In fact, Oregon Arts Watch might be the first Oregon arts/entertainment publication starting to cover and preview events like this when we find out about them.

These community and professional shows are part of a world of “ethnic” arts unknown to many Portlanders, especially those east of the West Hills. These events are worth knowing about — not just for their own joy and beauty, but also for what they can teach us about restoring Western classical music’s connection to the larger community.

Continues…