Polaris Dance Theatre

DanceWatch Weekly: Time for that coffee break

How is good dance like a good cup of coffee? Let us count the ways.

I LOVE coffee, and I equally love coffee descriptions. They are full of wonderfully descriptive adjectives like dark, rich, smooth, and robust (to name a few), and describe hints of additional/other flavors that you might taste or smell in the coffee like citrus, chocolate, toffee, or vanilla (also to name a few), and whisk you away to far off locals like Ethiopia or Costa Rica where the beans were grown. These descriptions, for me, create a sense of romance, nostalgia, adventure, and the promise of an extraordinary experience; all in a cup of coffee. You can only imagine how many cups of coffee I drink in a day. This is how I feel about this week’s dance performance offerings.

Photo courtesy of Narcissa Productions LLC.

Beginning Thursday, Zoe Jakes & Special Guests: A Dance & Variety Revue (for one night only) will showcase some of the region’s most talented belly dancers from classic to contemporary styles. Featured artists include: musician and singer/songwriter Eric Stern; burlesque beauty Sandria Doré; the “raucous, nerdy, rollicking musical comedy” of The PDX Broadsides; the exquisite mistress of theatrical fusion belly dance Zoe Jakes of Beats Antique; The Allegro Dance Company; The Eshta Divas; and the divine lady Claudia, Ashley López, and Heather Powers.

The Fertile Ground Festival of New Works and its dance-centric arm, Groovin’ Greenhouse hosted by Polaris Dance Theatre, kick off on in various venues around town this week beginning on Thursday. Both Bob Hicks and A.L. Adams break down the festival performances in Fertile Ground: get set, go and DramaWatch Weekly: Fertile Ground, Playing Favorites. This 11-day festival, runs through January 28, and features new performance works in various stages of development, from the fully staged to workshops, in theater, comedy, dance and film, and everything in between.

Portland dance artist Alexander Dones. Photo courtesy of Alexander Dones.

Groovin’ Greenhouse will play host to new dance works by six Polaris Dance Theatre company members, Polaris Jr. Company, Neo Youth Company, Vitality Dance Collective, A-Wol Dance Collective, Galexi, NW Fusion, and Alex Dones r:ad.

Also performing as a part of the Fertile Ground Festival of New Works will be Stranger than Fiction, a collaborative work between Tempos Contemporary Circus and Echo Theater Company that explores the overlap of circus arts, dance, narrative and physical theatre as a medium to explore themes of social justice, consider our commonalities, and question the essence of truth.

The Black Lives Masquerade. Photo by Jay Adams

Global Street Dance Masquerade #GSDMQ8 presents an interactive presentation about the performance work of Rashad Pridgen and The Black Lives Masquerade project on Friday, January 19, at the Portland Art Museum. The program will include a community movement exercise, a screening of the short film The Black Lives Masquerade, and a post-screening conversation between Rashad Pridgen and Libby Werbel, artistic director of We.Construct.Marvels.Between.Monuments.

The We.Construct.Marvels.Between.Monuments. is an ongoing exhibition series at the Portland Art Museum that encourages audiences to think critically about how museums have traditionally granted access to art and knowledge. The exhibits create a platform for artists to ask questions about institutional representation, exhibition models, and what it takes to see themselves and their concerns reflected regularly in their city’s art museum.

Marissa Rae Niederhauser and Michele Meloni in Two Love Stories. Photo courtesy of Marissa Rae Niederhauser.

Closing out the weekend on Sunday evening (also for one night only) at Performance Works NW, will be Two Love Stories, an evening of two works from Marissa Rae Niederhauser, an American-born artist based in Berlin. Niederhauser focuses on body based work in dance, film, performance and installation. Niederhauser will perform alongside Aaron Swartzman from Seattle in a duet called M/f duet, a romantic work that focuses on the power dynamics embedded in male/female relationships, and a solo called Teething that addresses the painful process of ‘cutting teeth’ and swings from soft, bleeding, pink (gums) to the hard, strong, and capable of inflicting harm (teeth).

In case you missed it, last week I recapped my Dear Santa letter from December, discussed Oregon dance in terms of ecosystems, and Oregon ArtsWatch’s newest dance writer Elizabeth Whelan reviewed Lil Buck and Jon Boogz’s performance of Love Heals All Wounds at the Newmark last Friday.

Enjoy!

Performances this week

Zoe Jakes & Special Guests: A Dance & Variety Revue
Presented by Narcissa Productions LLC
7 pm January 18
Funhouse Lounge, 2432 SE 11th Ave.
See above.

Groovin’ Greenhouse/Fertile Ground Festival of New Work
Participating artists are; Polaris Dance Theatre, Polaris Jr. Company, Neo Youth Company, Vitality Dance Collective, A-Wol Dance Collective, Galexi, NW Fusion, r:ad
January 19-27
Polaris Dance Theatre, 1826 NW 18th Ave.
See above.

Tempos: Stranger than Fiction – Fertile Ground Festival
Tempos Contemporary Circus and Echo Theater Company
January 19-28
Echo Theater, 1515 SE 37th Ave.
See above.

The Global Street Dance Masquerade Presentation and Film
Global Street Dance Masquerade #GSDMQ8 and We.Construct.Marvels.Between.Monuments
5 pm January 19
Portland Art Museum, 1219 SW Park Ave. (Contemporary wing, 4th floor)
$5 museum entry fee
See above.

Two Love Stories (M/f duet + Teething)
Marissa Rae Niederhauser (Berlin)/Performance Works NW Alembic Artists
7:30 pm January 21
Performance Works NW/Linda Austin Dance, 4625 SE 67th Ave.
See above.

Upcoming Performances

January 18-28, Fertile Ground Festival of New Work/Groovin’ Greenhouse
January 25-27, Rennie Harris Puremovement, presented by White Bird
January 28, Garden of Earthly Delights with Salem Concert Band (World premiere), Rainbow Dance Theatre, Independence

February
February 1-10, The skinner|kirk DANCE ENSEMBLE, presented by BodyVox
February 2, The Shore of Endless Worlds, A solo by Nathan Montogomery
February 3, Nrityotsava 2018: An evening of Indian Classical & Folk Dances, Presented by Kalakendra
February 3-25, Chitra The Girl Prince, NW Children’s Theatre, Anita Menon
February 4, The Lady Of The Camellias, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema Live from Moscow
February 15, Faculty Dance Concert featuring guest artist Vincent Mantsoe, Hosted by University of Oregon School of Music and Dance
February 16-March 4, Left of Center, A-WOL Dance Collective
February 17-18, Pink Martini, Eugene Ballet Company, Eugene
February 18, Chapel Theatre Open House, Chapel Theatre
February 21, Mark Morris Dance Group, presented by White Bird
February 23-25, Configure, PDX Contemporary Ballet
February 24-March 4, Alice (in wonderland), choreography by Septime Webre, performed by Oregon Ballet Theatre
February 26, Rejoice! at AWMC Regional Finals, Rejoice: Diaspora Dance Theater
February 27-March 1, Kinky Boots, Hult Center for the Performing Arts, Eugene

March
March 2-4, Zorro: The Ballet, Ballet Fantastique, Eugene
March 1-3, Urban Bush Women, presented by White Bird
March 4, The Flames Of Paris, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema Live from Moscow
March 8-10, Jessica Lang Dance, presented by White Bird
March 14, Compañia Jesús Carmona, presented by White Bird
March 15-17, HEDDA, NW Dance Project
March 22-24, To Have It All, choreography by Katie Scherman, presented by BodyVox

April
April 4, iLumiDance, Rainbow Dance Theatre, Corvallis
April 5, Earth Angel and other repertory works, Rainbow Dance Theatre, Corvallis
April 5-7, Stephen Petronio Company, presented by White Bird
April 8, Giselle, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema Live from Moscow
April 9, Noontime Showcase: Jefferson Dancers, Presented by Portland’5
April 12-14, Contact Dance Film Festival, presented by BodyVox and Northwest Film Center
Apr 14-25, Peer Gynt with Orchestra Next, Eugene Ballet Company, Eugene
April 12-21, Man/Woman, choreography by Mikhail Fokine, Darrell Grand Moultrie, Nicolo Fonte, James Canfield, Jiří Kylián, performed by Oregon Ballet Theatre
April 19-28, Early, push/FOLD, choreographed and directed by Samuel Hobbs
April 20-29, X-Posed, Polaris Dance Theatre, Robert Guitron
April 24-25, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, presented by White Bird
April 24-25, The Wind and the Wild, BodyVox and Chamber Music Northwest

May
May 4-5, Current/Classic, The Portland Ballet
May 10-12, New work premiere, Rainbow Dance Theatre, Western Oregon University, Monmouth
May 10-19, Rain & Roses (world premiere), BodyVox
May 11-13, Compose, PDX Contemporary Ballet
May 11-13, Alice in Wonderland, Ballet Fantastique, Eugene
May 14, Noontime Showcase: OBT2, Presented by Portland’5
May 16, Ballet Hispȧnico, presented by White Bird
May 17-20, CRANE, a dance for film by The Holding Project
May 23-June 3, Closer, original works by the dancers of Oregon Ballet Theatre

June
June 8-10, Up Close, The Portland Ballet
June 10, Coppelia, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema Live from Moscow
June 14-16, World Premiere – Ihsan Rustem, MemoryHouse – Sarah Slipper, NW Dance Project
June 15-17, New Expressive Works Residency Performance
June 24, Salem World Beat, Rainbow Dance Theatre, Salem

 

DanceWatch: Xuan Cheng and Ye Li’s ballet academy.

This week a performance by the students of a new Beaverton ballet school and a busy schedule of concerts

Did you know that Xuan Cheng (a Principal Dancer with Oregon Ballet Theatre) and her husband Ye Li (a soloist with OBT from 2011-2015) co-direct their own ballet school in Beaverton? They do! It’s called Oregon International Ballet Academy (OIBA) and they are performing this weekend, one classical work and one brand new contemporary ballet choreographed by Li.

Jamuna Chiarini

I just discovered their school this week in a last-minute search online before writing this week’s DanceWatch. It’s one thing to be a performer, but it’s a whole other ball of wax when performing artists, who have spend the majority of their careers bringing other people’s artistic vision to life, venture out on their own, creating work in their own voices. Watching a rehearsal video of Li’s new work sparked my curiosity, and I had to learn more. Cheng, Li, and I met briefly for coffee during Xuan’s lunch break from OBT, and we talked about their dance life, their history together, the new school, and the new work.

The OIBA students will be performing the Second Act of Swan Lake, staged by Cheng and adapted from Lev Ivanov’s choreography, and a world premiere by Li called Black and White at Portland State University’s Lincoln Performance Hall this Saturday night. They will be joined by 18 student musicians from the Metropolitan Youth Symphony, directed by Raúl Gómez, with costumes designed by Annika Schindler, a costume fabricator for LAIKA. Cheng and OBT Principal Dancer Brian Simcoe will be guest performing as well, courtesy of Oregon Ballet Theatre. The set design for Black and White includes a series of different-sized black and white boxes that the dancers engage with rhythmically, and the costumes have been created to evoke a sense of time, which is the constant, and the elegance of Victorian times.

Artistic Director Xuan Cheng working with her students at Oregon International Ballet Academy. Photo by Yi Yin.

Cheng and Li joined OBT in 2011 when they were hired by Christopher Stowell after one audition. They loved Portland right away and were very happy to call it home. Prior to OBT, they both danced for Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, and Cheng danced for La La La Human Steps. They both danced for GuangZhou Ballet in China straight out of ballet school—she became a principal dancer with the company and he a soloist.

Between the two of them there is a lifetime of experience of training and dancing ballet’s classics, as well as the works of many well-known contemporary choreographers, including William Forsythe, Nacho Duato, Ohad Naharin, Jirí Kylián, Mats Ek, Mauro Bigonzetti, Christian Spuck, Christopher Stowell, and Nicolo Fonte.

When they first came to Portland, the Chinese community was very excited and proud to see Chinese dancers performing with Oregon Ballet Theatre and asked if they would teach their children. At that point they were still focused on their performing careers with OBT and weren’t able to devote the time they would like to teaching. But as time passed, Cheng started volunteering and creating small pieces for different community shows. She found that there was a big need for them and was drawn to teaching. She and Li both felt strongly that it was important to pass on their experience to the next generation and decided to open a school.

They opened Oregon International Ballet Academy in 2015, and it now has approximately 50 students. Cheng is still performing full time with OBT and teaches ballet classes in the evening, and Li retired from performing in 2015 to run the school full time.

Young dancers at the Oregon International Ballet Academy. Photo by Yi Yin.

When we met, Cheng said that teaching and running a school was satisfying. “It’s different than dancing,” she said “I feel like my life is actually very balanced. Before, I only knew ballet, ballet, ballet. Ballet is everything in my whole life. And as a dancer it’s always me, me, me, me. So during teaching it’s actually made me a better dancer. I’m also learning from the kids, too.”

She says she is treasuring her time dancing in the studio much more these days now that she has a thousand other things to focus on when she leaves at the end of the day. “It’s made my life more full and not so one sided,” she said.

When I asked about how the two of them work together, Cheng said, “It’s very challenging but we help each other. Our whole life since we met, we’re dancing together, we are always helping each other. We help each other grow and become a better person, we’re honest with each other. Sometimes we have to really say it, touch the pain. In Chinese we have a saying, it’s like the good medicine is the bitterest.” They have known each other since 1998, were each other’s first love, and married two years ago.

Ballet students at the Oregon International Ballet Academy. Photo by Yi Yin.

They want to teach their students the connections between the ballet steps and the stage, and teach the why of it all. They want to teach them curiosity and to become active participants in the process. They want more for their students than just performing and smiling and looking pretty on stage. They want to involve the students in the creative process.

The new work by Li, Black and White, is based on an idea that came from his mother. “My mom always said when a baby is born, we are like a white paper, white colors, you put a color on there. Black is a bad thing you did. You punched the cat. You did a bad thing, You put the black color on your paper. You hug somebody, you make somebody happy, then you add another color. So basically that’s your life. So the idea is at the end, we’re going to have a lot of colorful stuff, a lot of painting on the white paper. No matter what kind of stuff you do, when you look back, those colors are what you did, or your memories.”

Li’s new work features live music with compositions by David Long, ERA, Samuel Barber, Ezio Bosso, Raul Gomez-Rojas, and Li himself, who originally wanted to be a violinist. His mother wanted him to be a dancer.

The performance also holds a few surprises, especially in reference to Li’s mother’s metaphor.

Performances this week

Diva Practice (Solo) at the Risk/Reward Festival 2017.  Photo by Chelsea Petrakis.

Diva Practice (Solo)
Pepper Pepper
November 2-November 5
The Headwaters Theatre, 55 NE Farragut St.
November 2 Post-Show Q+A talk back with Pepper Pepper
November 2-3 performances have ASL Interpretation

Diva Practice (Solo), is the last leg in a three-part cycle created by multidisciplinary artist Pepper Pepper who works in performance, drag, theatre, and dance.

“Diva Practice is a research project about drag and contemporary performance as a solo, duet, and ensemble,” Pepper says. “Diva Practice is a performance about queens dancing in the face of uncertainty, because being fabulous takes practice.”

I asked Pepper in an email interview what uncertainty queens have to face. Pepper said that “uncertainty is a political, choreographic, and emotional narrative throughout the show.” Using “improvisation and video interactivity” it places the character in uncertain situations where choice, impulse, and intention combine to illustrate her “practice.”

The making of Diva Practice (Solo), happened through a series of residencies, performances, and a tour through Oregon, Louisiana, Maine, Texas, and Georgia that “make accomplices of the audience and initiate conversation around gender, power, and vulnerability.”

“The diva practice research tour allowed me to experiment and practice with live audiences across the US,” Pepper said. “In a way, the practice became performing the show as a live rehearsal. This informs the ethos of the show, which is radical acceptance and discernment. The tour was also a way for me to see drag and diva worship in many different states which influenced my choreography and frame of mind.”

I interviewed Pepper back in 2016 close to the debut of D.I.V.A. Practice in Pepper Pepper explains D.I.V.A. Practice.

Polaris Dance Theatre dancers in Avalanche. Photo courtesy of Polaris Dance Theatre.

Avalanche
Polaris Dance Theatre, artistic director Robert Guitron
November 2-10
Polaris Dance Theatre, 1826 NW 18th Ave.

Creating an arch between Prince, David Bowie and Leonard Cohen in this dance/music tribute, Polaris artistic director Robert Guitron plays with themes that were central to these artists—gender identity, diversity, sexuality, racism, spirituality, and fashion—in an evening work for thirteen dancers.

PDX Contemporary Ballet dancers attempting to read while dancing in Converge. Don’t try this at home. Photo courtesy of Briley Neugebauer.

Converge
PDX Contemporary Ballet, directed by Briley Neugebauer
November 3-5
New Expressive Works, 810 SE Belmont St.

In this collaborative project, PDX Contemporary Ballet, which thrives on experimentation in ballet, has combined spoken word and contemporary ballet choreography to expand the storytelling power of both by pairing Portland choreographers with Portland writers.

The pairings are: BodyVox dancer/choreographer Alicia Cutaia and Fox and Beggar Theater Director Nat Allister; ballet dancer/choreographer Micah Chermak and poet Milly Wallace; Briley Neugebauer (artistic director of PDX Contemporary Ballet) and playwright Claire Willett; and Neugebauer and poet Lorelei O’Connor.

Due to a generous donation, PDX Contemporary Ballet is offering $5 and $10 tickets on opening night.

A moment from Linda Austin’s solo Big Real from 2004. Photo courtesy of Performance Works NW.

ICONIC
A fundraiser performance presented by Performance Works NW
7:30 pm and 9:30 pm November 4
Performance Works NW/Linda Austin Dance, 4625 SE 67th Ave.

Celebrating 17 years of engaging artists and audiences in “the process of experimentation, creation and dialog around the presentation of contemporary performance,” Performance Works NW directed by dance artist Linda Austin and lighting designer Jeff Forbes present Iconic, a fundraiser performance of 18 short works by community of artists inspired by photographic prompts highlighting memorable PWNW performance from 2000-2017.

The evening promises revelry and refreshments, and all proceeds go to supporting the awesome PWNW programming.

EARLY SHOW: 7:30pm
Linda Austin and the Boris & Natasha Dancers (Michael Chambers, Tom DeBeauchamp, Ben Martens), Gregg Bielemeier, Catherine Egan, Allie Hankins, Linda K. Johnson, Meg McHutchison, Kelly Rauer & claire barrera, edward sharp, and Lu Yim & keyon gaskin

LATE SHOW: 9:30pm
Tracy Broyles, Jeff Donaldson-Forbes, Maggie Heath, Seth Nehil, John Niekrasz, Stephanie Lavon Trotter, Leah Wilmoth with Alanna Hoyman-Browe & Simone Wood, Takahiro Yamamoto & Roland Dahwen Wu, and James Yeary.

Dancers Xuan Cheng and Brian Simcoe. Photo by Yi Yin.

Swan Lake Act 2 and Black and White (world premiere)
Oregon International Ballet Academy, directed by Xuan Cheng and Ye Li
Swan Lake Act II, Stage by Xuan Cheng after Lev Ivanov, World Premiere: Black and White, Contemporary Ballet Choreography by Ye Li
Featuring Xuan Cheng and Brian Simcoe, guest dancers from Oregon Ballet Theater,
OIBA students, and live music by members of the Metropolitan Youth Symphony and Music Director Raúl Gómez
7:30 pm November 4
Portland State University, Lincoln Performance Hall, 1620 SW Park Ave.

See above.

Performances Next Week

November 9-12, When We, Allie Hankins & Rachael Dichter, a PWNW Alembic Co-Production
November 11, A-WOL Dance Collective 15th Anniversary Celebration
November 15, The Hip Hop Nutcracker Featuring MC Kurtis Blow, Decadancetheatre
November 15, Horizon3 in collaboration with RAW PORTLAND, Brynn Hofer, Gerard Regot, and Melanie Verna

Upcoming Performances

November
November 16-18, L-E-V, presented by White Bird
November 18, Mood Factory, Hosted by Dan Reed Miller and Ben Martens
November 24-26, The Enchanted Toyshop by John Clifford, Tourbillon by Anne Mueller, performed by the PSU Orchestra and The Portland Ballet
November 26, The Taming Of The Shrew, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema Live from Moscow
November 30-December 9, Lexicon (world premiere), BodyVox

December
December 7-9, Bolero + Billie, Ihsan Rustem, NW Dance Project
December 8-9, The Nutcracker with Chamber Ballet of Corvallis, Rainbow Dance Theatre, Corvallis
December 9-24, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, Oregon Ballet Theatre
December 13-17, a world, a world (work-in-progress), Linda Austin Dance, PWNW
December 15-17, New Expressive Works Residency Performance, Crystal Jiko, Tere Mathern, Madison Page, Wolfbird Dance
December 17, The Nutcracker, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema Live from Moscow
December 22-24, The Nutcracker with Orchestra Next, Eugene Ballet Company, Eugene

January

January 12, Love Heals All Wounds, Lil’ Buck and Jon Boogz, Presented by Portland’5 Center for the Arts
January 18-28, Fertile Ground Festival of New Work/Groovin’ Greenhouse
January 25-27, Rennie Harris Puremovement, presented by White Bird
January 28, Garden of Earthly Delights with Salem Concert Band (World premiere), Rainbow Dance Theatre, Independence

February
February 1-10, The skinner|kirk DANCE ENSEMBLE, presented by BodyVox
February 4, The Lady Of The Camellias, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema Live from Moscow
February 17-18, Pink Martini, Eugene Ballet Company, Eugene
February 21, Mark Morris Dance Group, presented by White Bird
February 23-25, Configure, PDX Contemporary Ballet
February 24-March 4, Alice (in wonderland), choreography by Septime Webre, performed by Oregon Ballet Theatre

March
March 1-3, Urban Bush Women, presented by White Bird
March 4, The Flames Of Paris, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema Live from Moscow
March 8-10, Jessica Lang Dance, presented by White Bird
March 14, Compañia Jesús Carmona, presented by White Bird
March 15-17, World Premiere’s by Sarah Slipper and Cayetano Soto, NW Dance Project
March 22-24, To Have It All, choreography by Katie Scherman, presented by BodyVox

April
April 4, iLumiDance, Rainbow Dance Theatre, Corvallis
April 5, Earth Angel and other repertory works, Rainbow Dance Theatre, Corvallis
April 5-7, Stephen Petronio Company, presented by White Bird
April 8, Giselle, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema Live from Moscow
April 12-14, Contact Dance Film Festival, presented by BodyVox and Northwest Film Center
Apr 14-25, Peer Gynt with Orchestra Next, Eugene Ballet Company, Eugene
April 12-21, Man/Woman, choreography by Mikhail Fokine, Darrell Grand Moultrie, Nicolo Fonte, James Canfield, Jiří Kylián, performed by Oregon Ballet Theatre
April 19-28, Early, push/FOLD, choreographed and directed by Samuel Hobbs
April 20-29, X-Posed, Polaris Dance Theatre, Robert Guitron
April 24-25, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, presented by White Bird
April 24-25, The Wind and the Wild, BodyVox and Chamber Music Northwest

May
May 4-5, Current/Classic, The Portland Ballet
May 10-12, New work premiere, Rainbow Dance Theatre, Western Oregon University, Monmouth
May 10-19, Rain & Roses (world premiere), BodyVox
May 11-13, Compose, PDX Contemporary Ballet
May 16, Ballet Hispȧnico, presented by White Bird
May 23-June 3, Closer, original works by the dancers of Oregon Ballet Theatre

June
June 8-10, Up Close, The Portland Ballet
June 10, Coppelia, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema Live from Moscow
June 14-16, World Premiere – Ihsan Rustem, MemoryHouse – Sarah Slipper, NW Dance Project
June 15-17, New Expressive Works Residency Performance
June 24, Salem World Beat, Rainbow Dance Theatre, Salem

 

DanceWatch Weekly: Catch a breeze

Suddenly, the Portland dance calendar heats up

The pendulum swings from one extreme to another in Portland’s dance scene this weekend (hopefully causing a breeze)—from a lively community dance festival to a somber Butoh remembrance of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, with musical theatre and actual swinging in the trees in between.

The Polaris Dance Company performing at Galaxy Dance Festival— with Jessica Zoller, Gerard Regot, Blair D’Amico, Jana Tripp, Melanie Ann, Brynn Hofer and Preeya Kannan. Photo courtesy of Polaris Dance Theatre.

Beginning today, Galaxy Dance Festival, hosted and curated by Polaris Dance Theatre, will take place indoors instead of at its usual outdoor location at Director Park, due to this week’s extreme heat. The three-day festival, now in its seventh year, includes FREE classes and performances by renowned Portland teachers and performers in all genres of dance, from ballet to Mexican folks dance and more. It’s a great opportunity for all ages of dancers and dance audiences alike to get a taste of what Portland has to offer in a casual way. Plus they have icy beverages, and you get an opportunity to see Polaris Dance Theatre’s beautiful new studios up close as well. Check out the Galaxy Dance festival schedule online for the full lineup of classes and performances.

Also opening tonight is Broadway Rose Theatre Company’s production of Gypsy, with music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. The musical is loosely based on the memoirs of the American queen of striptease, Gypsy Rose Lee, and the aspirations of her stage mamma from hell.

Originally debuting in 1959 and starring Ethel Merman as Mama Rose, Gypsy was directed and choreographed by the late great American choreographer Jerome Robbins. Robbins, a former dancer with American Ballet Theatre, was known for his fantastic choreography in such musicals as On The Town, The King and I, West Side Story, and Fiddler on the Roof, to name just a few.

Robbins was a five-time Tony Award winner, a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors, and received two Academy Awards. A documentary about his life and work, Something to Dance About premiered in 2009. Excerpts from it can be seen on PBS and Youtube.

Although Gypsy is not a dance centric show, Robbins carefully re-created accurate depictions of the era’s vaudeville and burlesque dance styles for famous scenes like You Gotta Get a Gimmick, when three strippers tell Louise (Gypsy Rose Lee) that she doesn’t actually need talent, just an idea.

Coincidentally, the Oregon Burlesque Festival is opening at Dante’s this week, where you can catch a whole array of burlesque styles from classical to contemporary, comedy, boy/man-lesque, circus, and much much more.

A-WOL dancers flying in trees. Photo courtesy of A-WOL Dance Collective.

A-WOL Dance Collective will be suspended in trees this weekend in their annual Art in the Dark production called One Shy of Ten: The Intangible Dimension. The dance takes place at night, amongst the stars along the Willamette River in West Linn, at Mary S. Young park. A-WOL, an aerial dance company, will lead audiences on an eerie, mysterious, sci-fi fantasy that will leave everyone guessing about what’s real and what’s not.

Suspended Moment featuring Butoh dancer Meshi Chavez and the hanging sculpture of visual artist Yukiyo Kawano, Photo by Stephen A. Miller.

Next Wednesday in conjunction with the remembrance of the bombing of Nagasaki by the United States on August 9th, 1945 (Hiroshima took place three days earlier on August 6), Butoh dancer Meshi Chavez and visual artist Yukiyo Kawano, will present Suspended Moment. Kawano’s sculpture—two hanging replicas of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki which are fabricated from her grandmother’s kimonos and stitched together with strands of her own hair—is at the center of the event. The works collaborators include poet Allison Cobb, composer Lisa DeGrace and photographer Stephen Miller. The group just returned from performing in Los Alamos, New Mexico, where both bombs were developed. The performance will follow an event to commemorate Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the Japanese American Historical Plaza from 6 to 7 pm.

Chavez is also offering a three-day workshop in Butoh dance leading up to the performance. “Butoh asks dancers to meet each moment with curiosity” Chavez says, “thus creating the ‘suspended moment.’” Butoh is accessible to people of all physical abilities.

Performances this week

Galaxy Dance Festival
Hosted by Polaris Dance Theatre
August 3-5
Polaris Dance Theatre, 1826 NW 18th Ave

Gypsy
Broadway Rose Theatre Company
August 3-20
Deb Fennell Auditorium, 9000 SW Durham Road, Tigard

One Shy of Ten: The Intangible Dimension
A-WOL Dance Collective/Art in the Dark
August 4-13
Mary S. Young State Park, 19900 Willamette Drive, West Linn

Suspended Moment
Meshi Chavez, Yukiyo Kawano, Allison Cobb, Lisa DeGrace, and Stephen Miller
7 pm August 9
University of Oregon Portland’s Light Court Commons, 70 NW Couch Street

August

August 11-13, JamBallah Northwest ’17, Hosted by JamBallah NW
August 13, India Festival 2017, India Cultural Association of Portland
August 19, Laya-Bhavam: An amalgamation and importance of Rhythm in Dance, presented by Sarada Kala Nilayam
August 24-September 6, Portland Dance Film Fest, Directed by Kailee McMurran, Tia Palomino, and Jess Evans
August 24-October 8, Kurios: Cabinet Of Curiosities, Cirque Du Soleil
August 25-September 3, Where To Wear What Hat, WolfBird Dance

September
September 7-17, TBA, Portland Institute For Contemporary Art

DanceWatch Weekly: Bobby pins, hairspray and glitter

This is the season of dance recitals and so much more!

It’s recital time again! Spring is when dance students far and wide hit the stages to demonstrate a year’s worth of hard work, and Portland’s dance students are no exception. For some dancers this will be their first performance, and for others it will be their last one with their home school, before heading out into the world. Performing is always an emotional experience, mixed with excitement and apprehension, bobby pins, hairspray, and for some, lots of glitter. For a dancer, this moment is what it’s all about.

This weekend also features the award-winning touring musical theatre production of An American in Paris, an afternoon of Bharatnatyam with Anita Menon and her students at New Expressive Works, dance performances by regional cultural groups at Lan Su Chinese Garden as part of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Dance Wire’s annual work in progress showcase, a show of female power in The Future is Female by Mixed Dance Company, and a one year anniversary celebration of Ben Martens monthly performance gathering, Spectacle Garden.

Performances this week

An American in Paris Broadway Tour, May 16-21. Photo courtesy of An American in Paris Broadway Tour.

An American in Paris
Presented by U.S. Bank Broadway in Portland
May 16-21
Keller Auditorium, 222 SW Clay St.
This award-winning touring production, inspired by George Gershwin’s time spent in Paris during the 1920s, features music by George and Ira Gershwin as well as choreography by the former New York City Ballet soloist and resident choreographer, Christopher Wheldon. Gershwin noted, “My purpose here is to portray the impression of an American visitor in Paris as he strolls about the city and listens to various street noises and absorbs the French atmosphere.”

Junior Artist Generator dancer Avery Wagner. Photo by David Krebs.

Junior Artist Generator
Hosted by BodyVox Dance Company
May 19-21
BodyVox Dance Center, 1201 NW 17th Ave.
BodyVox’s Junior Artist Generator is a performance training program that provides dance students with the opportunity to work with renowned Portland dance professionals and culminates in an annual concert.

This year’s program will include work by BodyVox Artistic Directors Jamey Hampton and Ashley Roland, Alicia Cutaia, Tracey Durbin, Éowyn Emerald, Thorey Mountain, Josh Murry, Sara Parker, Katie Scherman, Rachel Slater, and Jenelle Yarbrough.

Spring Performance
Classical Ballet Academy, Directed by Sarah Rigles
May 19-21
Portland State University, Lincoln Performance Hall, 1620 SW Park Ave
Classical Ballet Academy’s Spring Performance is a mixture of works performed by the tiniest of dancers to pre-professional ones, and will include the ballet “Don Quixote” and other dances ranging from modern to jazz, choreographed by Classical Ballet Academy faculty members.

The Art of Nattuvangam: South Indian Classical music and dance, 2 pm May 20. Photo courtesy of New Expressive Works.

The Art of Nattuvangam: South Indian Classical music and dance
Hosted by New Expressive Works and Anjali School of Dance
2 pm May 20
New Expressive Works, 810 SE Belmont St.
Marking the culmination of the Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program through Oregon Folklife Network, Bharatanatyam teacher, choreographer, and Regional Arts and Culture Fellow Anita Menon presents, an afternoon of South Indian Classical Music and Dance.

Menon has passed on the art of Nattuvangam, the rhythmic playing of cymbals for Bharatanatyam, to her student Maya Jagannathan. Accompanying Jagannathan will be vocalist Archana Mungara and dancers Vipanchi Mungara, Sharika Pillai, Ankitha Krishnamurthy, Sagarika Ramachandran and Sanya Surya.

This event is free but requires an RSVP to attend because seating is limited.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, May 6-28. Photo of courtesy of Lan Su Chinese Garden.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
Lan Su Chinese Garden
May 20-21
Lan Su Chinese Garden, 239 NW Everett St.
May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, and Lan Su Chinese Garden in downtown Portland will be hosting a month-long celebration with performances every Saturday and Sunday by local cultural organizations and dance troupes.

This weekend’s programs includes performances by Portland Taiko, Kalabharathi School of Dance, One With Heart, and the Portland Chinese Dance Troupe.
Check out the full schedule for specific dates and times.

Polaris Dance Theatre Spring Performance, May 19-21. Photo courtesy of Polaris Dance Theatre.

Spring Student Performances
Polaris Dance Theatre
May 19-21
Polaris Dance Theatre, 1826 NW 18th Ave.
Showcasing energy, technique, playfulness and fun, Polaris dance students ages 3 – 18 will perform an array of dances choreographed by Polaris faculty members.

 

The Future is Female by Mixd Dance Company, May 20-21. Photo courtesy of Mixd Dance Company.

The Future is Female
Mixd Dance Company, co-directed by Megan Armand & Lindsay Duus
Choreography by Megan Armand, Lindsay Duus, Amanda Harry, Jacki Mascorro and Shannel Williams
May 20-21
World Trade Center, 121 SW Salmon St.
Mixd Dance Company, a 20-strong team of dancers, brings together a variety of dance styles and stories told through the eyes of strong women.

Dance Wire Refinery, May 21. Photo courtesy of Dance Wire.

Refinery: A Work in Progress Showcase
Hosted by Dance Wire
4 pm May 21
Peninsula Odd Fellows Lodge, 4834 N Lombard St.
Dance Wire, a Portland dance resource and service organization, presents Refinery: A work in Progress Showcase, featuring Hector Zaragoza Valentin, Olivia Camfield, Trip The Dark, and WolfBird Dance. The evening is free and provides a glimpse into the creative process, and will provide an opportunity to give feedback to the choreographers at the end.

Spectacle Garden Birthday Show
Curated by Ben Martens
6 pm May 24
The Headwaters Theatre, 55 NE Farragut St. Ste 9
Celebrating its one-year anniversary, this monthly, interdisciplinary showcase, curated by composer/Butoh artist Ben Martens, will feature Katie Piatt, Kiel Moton, Jme Antonick & Jana Zahler, Alex and Alexa, Inclusive Arts Vibe Dance Company, Anet Ris-Kelman, Project Grow/Port City, and Cagil Harmandar. The evening will also include an homage to performances past with one-minute solo performances by Spectacle Garden alumni performers, and of course an after party, and a few surprises, as to be expected.

Performances next week

May
May 25, PCC Spring Dance Concert, Hosted by the Portland Community College Dance Program
May 26, Dancing In The Rain!Hosted by Portland State University Art and Social Practice
May 26, 6×6: A PDX Choreographers Showcase, PDX Dance Collective
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
May 26-28, Portland Tap Dance Festival, Presented by the Portland Tap Alliance
May 26-28, N.E.W. Residency performance, Dora Gaskill, Jessica Kelley, Stephanie Schaaf, and Michael Galen
May 27, La Peña: ¡Baila, Canta, Toca!, Hosted by Espacio Flamenco Portland and La Peña Flamenca de Portland

Upcoming Performances

June
June 1, Jefferson Dancers Spring Recital, Jefferson Dancers
June 2-4, Interum Echos, PDX Contemporary Ballet
June 2-17, The Goblin King, A David Bowie and Labyrinth Tribute, Trip the Dark Dance Company
June 8-10, Summer Splendors, NW Dance Project
June 9, Kúkátónón 2017 Showcase!, Kúkátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe
June 9-11, Jazz Around the World, Presented by Wild Rumpus Jazz Co
June 10-11, Dance Out Loud Choreographers Showcase, Directed by Oluyinka Akinjiola and Donna Mation
June 14-15, SHUT DOWN: The Final Performance from PSU Dance Students
June 23-24, Risk/Reward Festival Of New Performance, Produced by Jerry Tischleder
June 27-July 2, Cabaret, Presented by U.S. Bank Broadway in Portland
June 29-30, Choreography XX, Oregon Ballet Theatre
July
July 8, Ten Tiny Dances, Beaverton Farmers Market, Directed by Mike Barber
July 15, Pretty Creatives Showing, NW Dance Project
July 29, Hafla, Portland Bellydance Guild
August
August 3-5, Galaxy Dance Festival, Hosted by Polaris Dance Theatre
August 11-13, JamBallah Northwest ’17, Hosted by JamBallah NW
August 24-September 6, Portland Dance Film Fest, Directed by Kailee McMurran, Tia Palomino, and Jess Evans
August 24-October 8, Kurios: Cabinet Of Curiosities, Cirque Du Soleil

DanceWatch Weekly: Global dancing

This week Portland stages bubble with dance from Argentina, Berlin, Brazil, New York and New Orleans

This week Portland will host visiting dance artists from around the globe, beginning tonight with the all-male, Argentinian dance company, Che Malambo, presented by White Bird.

Freshly returned from a performance in France, the Jefferson Dancers will perform their Spring Concert Thursday at the Newmark. These talented, pre-professional dancers will engage in choreography by some illustrious Jefferson Dancer alums.

Also opening Thursday night is the Contact Dance Film Festival, curated by BodyVox artistic director Jamey Hampton in collaboration between Northwest Film Center and Hampton’s long-time collaborator and filmmaker, Mitchell Rose. The festival features a wide range of films on ballet, krumping, Ohad Naharin, and includes Crystals of Transformation, a dance film by Portland costume designer and filmmaker Fuchsia Lin, featuring NW Dance Project dancer Andrea Parsons.

Dance artists Scotty Heron and composer Brendan Connelly are visiting from New Orleans this week, and they’ll dance Appalachian Spring Break at Performance Works NW. XPOSED by Polaris Dance Theatre artists along with guest artist Barbara Lima from Brazil enters its second weekend, and the Butoh College Performance Series closes with Shoot Jeez My Gosh, by Berlin-based Butoh artist, Yuko Kaseki.

Performances this week

Che Malombo at White Bird Tuesday and Wednesday: rhythm and dance.

Che Malambo
Presented by White Bird
April 25-26
Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway
Che Malambo is an all-male, Argentinian dance company that has adapted the dance style of the gaucho—the South American cowboy of the pampas—for the contemporary stage. Movements that were originally designed to emphasize agility, strength, and dexterity among the gauchos is now high-energy choreography that features rhythmic footwork, drumming, singing, and other musical accompaniment.

The Jefferson Dancers Spring Concert, April 27-29 at the Newmark. Photo by Fritz Liedtke.

The Jefferson Dancers
Presented by Jefferson High School
April 27-29
Newmark Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway
This annual spring dance concert performed by one of Portland’s oldest, pre-professional dance companies will showcase choreography by Jefferson Dancers artistic director Steve Gonzales, Jefferson alums and one current student, Alexa McKone. The former Jeff Dancer choreographers include Broadway performer Kevin Paul Clark (featured in Artslandia Kids Magazine in 2015); French choreographer Charlotte Faillard (a former exchange student); La La Land dancer Michael Munday; former Ballet Oregon and Oregon Ballet Theatre dancer Andrea Thompson; commercial dancer and long-time member of NW African American Ballet, Bunky Williams; and Thomas Yale, who performed in the Latin Grammy ceremony, Saturday Night Live, and Dance Moms Season 5.

Photo from Fuchsia Lin’s film Crystals of Transformation. Water crystal costume performed in by Andrea Parson, appearing courtesy of NW Dance Project

Contact Dance Film Festival
Presented by BodyVox and NW Film Center
April 27-29
Teaming up with the Northwest Film Center, BodyVox artistic director Jamey Hampton and his long-time collaborator Mitchell Rose have curated a festival of dance films. The program includes Broken, a documentary by Portland filmmaker Lynne Spencer, on Ballet BC’s lead ballerina Simone Orlando as she comes to terms with a major injury; Crystals of Transformation, a dance film by Portland costume designer and filmmaker Fuchsia Lin, featuring NW Dance Project dancer Andrea Parsons, that promotes water conservation; the Art of Krump: Journey to Heaven by Kaizen Pictures and Mr. Gaga. The films will be simultaneously screened at both the BodyVox Dance Center and the Northwest Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium. All films will screen in both locations.

Appalachian Spring Break by Scotty Heron and Brendan Connelly at Performance Works NW, April 28-29.

Appalachian Spring Break
Scotty Heron and Brendan Connelly
Presented by Performance Works NW / Linda Austin Dance
April 28-29
Choreographer/performance artist Scotty Heron, an early collaborator with Portland’s Linda Austin, and a contributor to the ‘80’s downtown dance scene in New York City will perform Appalachian Spring Break. The dance is a duet that plays “with the iconic, confused and clichéd relationship of choreographer and composer, glancing sideways at Martha Graham and Aaron Copland’s only collaboration and its sepia-toned Americana.” All of the movement, sound and light will be generated in real time, and manipulated by the artists, including composer/sound designer Brendan Connelly, onstage.

Photo courtesy of Polaris Dance Theatre.

XPOSED
Robert Guitron, M’Liss Quinnly, Gerard Regot, (Spain), Barbara Lima (Brazil), and Jess Zoller.
Polaris Dance Theatre
April 28-29
Polaris Dance Theatre, 1826 NW 18th Ave
Polaris Dance Theatre presents new dance works from choreographers Barbara Lima from Brazil; Spanish dance artist and current company member Gerard Regot; founding company member M’Liss Quinnly, who is also the artistic director of Polaris’s Junior and Neo companies; current company member Jessica Zoller; and two new works by artistic director Robert Guitron.

The dances consider ideas of community, individualism against universalism, and politics, playing with energy, group dynamics and the architecture of the body and bodies.

Butoh dancer Yuko Kaseki in Shoot Jeez My Gosh. Photo credit: Dadaware, Sigel Eschkol

Shoot Jeez My Gosh
Yuko Kaseki (Berlin)
Butoh College Performance Series
8 pm April 29
The Headwaters Theatre, 55 NW Farragut St
Concluding the Butoh College Performance Series curated by Portland butoh artists Mizu Desierto, butoh artists Yuko Kaseki from Berlin, will use recorded sounds of war, juxtaposed against iconic images of innocence questioning “the feeling of ambivalence towards the systematic violence of belief that imposes powerlessness, and simultaneously reminds us of the brutal terror that characterizes our epoch.”

Kaseki studied Butoh dance with Anzu Furukawa and performed in her company Dance Butter Tokio and Verwandlungsamt for many years. She tours internationally performing and teaching and collaborating.

Performances next week

May 4-7, Direct Path To Detour, Taka Yamamoto, Produced by Portland Institute for Contemporary Art
May 5, Spring Dance Concert, Reed College Dance Department
May 5, Alice Gosti showing and reception, Hosted by Performance Works NW/Linda Austin Dance
May 6, Place, Vitality Dance Collective
May 5-7, In Close Proximity, The Tempos Contemporary Circus
May 5-7, Chickens and Cheese Pizza, Inclusive Arts Vibe Annual Performance, Disability Arts and Culture Project

Upcoming Performances

May
May 10, Critical Engagement Series with Lu Yim, hosted by Flock Dance Center/Tahni Holt
May 10, Martha Graham Dance Company, Presented by White Bird
May 13, Feria de Portland, hosted by Espacio Flamenco Portland and La Peña Flamenca de Portland
May 13, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Anjali School of Dance
May 16-21, An American in Paris, Presented by U.S. Bank Broadway in Portland
May 20, The Art of Nattuvangam: South Indian Classical music and dance, Hosted by New Expressive Works and Anjali School of Dance
May 20-21, The Future is Female, Mixed Dance Company
May 26-28, N.E.W. Residency performance, Dora Gaskill, Jessica Kelley, Stephanie Schaaf, and Michael Galen
May 26, PDX Choreographers Showcase, PDX Dance Collective
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 2-17, The Goblin King, A David Bowie and Labyrinth, Trip the Dark Dance Company
June 8-10, Summer Splendors, NW Dance Project
June 23-24, Risk/Reward Festival Of New Performance, Produced by Jerry Tischleder and Hand2Mouth Theatre
June 27-July 2, Cabaret, Presented by U.S. Bank Broadway in Portland
June 29-30, Choreography XX, Oregon Ballet Theatre
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

Life and our own sensation disorientations

Tahni Holt's new dance operated on its audience in very particular ways. Soup is involved.

Midway through the opening-night performance of Tahni Holt’s Sensation/Disorientation I had my own sensation-disorientation experience. I was struck with the feeling that this dance had a lot to do with the soup I had made for dinner that night. I don’t mean to diminish or speak irreverently about Holt’s work by any means—my soup was no ordinary soup and neither was the dance.

The soup was Moroccan Lentil Soup from my favorite online recipe source, Forks Over Knives, and it was one of the tastiest soups I have ever made. It was a simple recipe, which was helpful because I had squeezed in cooking and eating with my family between picking my son up from school, picking up my mom to babysit, shopping for ingredients, and going to the theater. The recipe included such basic ingredients as onions, carrots, tomatoes and red lentils, with the addition of an exotic, colorful collection of spices and flavors: coriander, cumin, turmeric, smoked paprika, cinnamon, ground ginger, garlic, parsley, salt, pepper, vegetable broth and lemon juice.

It was the gorgeous photo that accompanied this recipe that initially piqued my interest. The soup was made up of oranges and yellows. Garnished with green parsley on top, it sat in the middle of a beautiful turquoise, ceramic bowl, which was decorated with small white embossed flowers. It was beautiful, achingly beautiful.

Tahni Holt’s “Sensation/Disorientation”/Photo by Kamala Kingsley courtesy of White Bird

In this moment, while watching Sensation/Disorientation, time and space collapsed, and all of a sudden the soup that I had made for my family—its colors, spices, vegetables, and lentils—connected me to history, to women, to my femininity, my family, my role as a woman in my household (as a mother and a wife), and in my life in society. More, my relationship with other women became present in the dance. In this instant, I suddenly felt connected to the earth, to every culture, to every woman that ever existed and to every woman here now. This was a dance made unapologetically by a woman, for women, about women.

Continues…