Polaris Dance Theatre

May DanceWatch: Questions about the future

Portland dance companies and presenters are still trying to figure out what 2021 will look like

Welcome to the mid-to-late pandemic temperature check of Oregon’s dance community. For the most part, the dancers are still here, but everyone else is in a holding pattern, riding out Oregon’s 4th wave of Covid-19 and waiting for people to get their vaccinations.

Last week I reached out to several Oregon dance companies and presenters via phone and email to see how they were doing. I asked them what returning to “normal” might look like, how it might happen, how they were preparing, and how it’s changing their programming. But before I dive into those conversations, here are three dance performances happening in May!

Performances this month

Pictured are the dancers of BodyVox working virtually with dance photographer Lois Greenfield on her new choreography for the Pearl Dive Project, Photosynthesis, streaming now StreamingVox. Photo courtesy of Jamey Hampton.

Pearl Dive Project 
Currently streaming: Episode One: Lois Greenfield, Photosynthesis
May 6th Episode Two: Poison Waters, Too 
May 27th Episode Three: Ludovico Einaudi, title TBA 
June 17th Episode Four: Yiyun Li, River like a sea 
July 5th Episode Five: Matt Groening, title TBA  
All episodes are available to stream on-demand on Vimeo.
TalkAbout on StreamingVox, a virtual conversation between BodyVox co-founders and rock musician Jeremy Wilson. 

Born out of the desire to see what kind of choreography non-dancers and other creatives could create, BodyVox artistic directors Jamey Hampton and Ashley Roland created The Pearl Dive Project. Each year they invite a who’s who of renowned artists to create new work for the company. This year’s newly christened choreographers are dance photographer Lois Greenfield, drag performer Poison Waters, Italian composer Ludovico Einaudi, writer Yiyun Li, and cartoonist Matt Groening.


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.


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 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 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 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 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 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