Sara Parker.

Darvejon Jones Dance Ensemble: Light and shadow

Darvejon Jones dances love and joy, but he understands the darker shadows, too, in his company's first concert

Ashley Roland, the co-artistic director of BodyVox, did the introductions for the first concert by Body Vox’s  resident artist and his new company, Darvejon Jones Dance Ensemble. “He emits extreme joy,” Roland said, almost as if Jones was a force of nature.

Roland’s observation held true as the company and Jones moved through the  program. But though joy rang out loudly in the virtuosity and pizzazz of the choreography and the dancers, there was shadow, too. Jones, whose work shared the eight-dance program with company dancers/artistic associate choreographers Brent Luebbert, Jillian St. Germain, and Sara Parker, transmits his account of the darker rumblings of American culture clearly as well.

Javan MnGrezzo and Paige Moreland in Darvejon Jones’ Allegiance/Annika Abel Photography

Think of this first concert as a sampler platter, perhaps: a little sweetness, then a helping of something more complicated. That’s how both Acts of the show played out. The sweet came first, then the longer commentaries of Parker’s The Reckoning and Jones’ Allegiance acted as closers, adding depth and social context to the evening.

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With Amorphous, DownRight Productions asks, ‘What If?’

A new Portland presenter arrives on the scene with a mix of performance disciplines and film in various states of completion

By HEATHER WISNER

The new performance-presenting venture DownRight Productions—co-directed by dancers Anna Marra and Emily Schultz—debuted at Headwaters Theatre February 15-18 with Amorphous, a program designed to showcase local talent working at the intersections of dance, art, music, and film.

It felt like a waltz with possibility: DownRight was willing to book artists who, at the time of their booking, were offering pieces that were finished, partially finished, or still in the idealized stage. And for a show that skewed young (though not inexperienced) and modern, the modest stage in this intimate space provided a fitting platform to play around with creative questions, such as:

What happens if I twist this knob?

There’s a long choreographic tradition of using tech to goose dance: in her solo “Dark Spot,” Kate Rafter switched a handheld light on and off in front of a computer screen, creating inkblot images that splotched across a larger projector screen facing the audience. After dispensing with the light, she moved toward and away from the computer screen, causing portions of her body to emerge and recede on the large screen, to ghostly effect.

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DanceWatch Weekly: Moving at JAW

This week the dance action is at a theater festival

It’s another warm and sunny weekend here in Portland, which makes going out to see performances really easy compared to the our rainy wintery months—or maybe not if you aren’t a heat person. Personally, I wish summer would last another six months, but I digress. Let’s talk dance.

On Sunday you can catch contemporary Portland dance artists Sara Parker and Rachel Slater activating the Armory lobby in the Pearl with their new site-specific dance work Watchers of the Wild Sky as part of Portland Center Stage’s JAW playwright festival.

Sara Parker and Rachel Slater in “Watchers of the Wild Sky.” Photo courtesy of Rachel Slater and Sara Parker.

The collaborative work is inspired by the energy and the physical materials in the space, and explores themes of softness, subtlety, hysteria, shadowing, and strength, according to the email exchange I had with Parker.

JAW gives time, space, and resources to playwrights with new scripts (a great idea for dance as well: Anyone?), and is interested in creating intersectionality with other arts communities and growing the footprint of the festival by interspersing works of other performance genres within the festival. And it’s enjoyable for the audience, too.

Dance artist Michael “Mantis” Galen. Photo courtesy of JAW.

In addition to Parker and Slater, the festival will include In the Groove, a street dance battle with Michael “Mantis” Galen and an all-star crew, plus a circus performance by artists Amica Hunter and David Cantor from A Little Bit Off. Check the JAW website for the complete performance schedule and performers.

That’s it for dance this weekend in Portland. Short and sweet. Enjoy!

Performances this week

JAW-A Playwright Festival
Featuring dance works by Sara Parker, Rachel Slater, Michael “Mantis” Galen, Amica Hunter, David Cantor and more!
July 28-30
Portland Center Stage at The Armory, 128 NW 11th Ave.

Upcoming Performances

August
August 3-5, Galaxy Dance Festival, Hosted by Polaris Dance Theatre
August 3-20, Gypsy, Broadway Rose Theatre Company
August 9, Suspended Moment, Meshi Chavez, Yukiyo Kawano, Allison Cobb, Lisa DeGrace, and Stephen Miller
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
September
August 25-September 3, Where To Wear What Hat, WolfBird Dance
September 7-17, TBA, Portland Institute For Contemporary Art

DanceWatch Weekly: Openings and closings

The dance weekend bubbles with new work from the likes of NW Dance Project, BodyVox, the Necessity Arts Collective and the Baroque Dance Project

This weekend is all about openings and closings, transitions, and possibly a change from winter to spring. I can already smell my neighbor’s fragrant magnolia tree beginning to bloom. I am feeling hopeful that we will see more sun soon, although I love the rain.

Opening tonight is NW Dance Project’s world premier of a modern day Carmen, choreographed by resident choreographer Ihsan Rustem, joined on the program by choreographer Patrick Delcroix’s Visible Darkness. Visible Darkness is the first piece that Delcroix has made since a harrowing fall off of a ladder two years ago that left him unconscious for several days. The dance tells that story.

ArtsWatch welcomes new civically minded dance theatre company Necessity Arts Collective, directed by Hayley Glickfeld Bielman, who will be collaborating with Ping & Woof opera company to perform Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater in a fundraiser for Ceasefire Oregon Education Foundation.

The Baroque Dance Project, a collaboration between harpsichordist Alice Sheu and baroque dancer Julie Iwasa, will take place at Performance Works NW on Friday night. Iwasa has painstakingly recreated the the dances steps to Jean-Philippe Rameau and J. S. Bach’s keyboard suites from 300-year-old dance manuals, a deep-dive into the history of dance in the West.

On Sunday BodyVox founders Jamey Hampton and Ashley Roland will don wearable Intel technology and accompany the Oregon Symphony in a composition written especially for them and their high-tech costumes by principal percussionist Niel DePonte, punningly entitled Intel-ligent Juxtapositions.

Mr. Gaga is still showing at Living Room Theaters. The film captures the life of Batsheva Dance Company’s artistic director Ohad Naharin. In April, it will also be part of the Contact Film Festival, a collaboration between BodyVox and NW Film Center.

Also closing this weekend is the musical theatre hit In The Heights by Lin-Manuel Miranda with choreography by Sara Parker. The story is a celebration of the immigrant story in America that takes place in a Dominican-American community in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan.

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DanceWatch Weekly: Dance without women

We celebrate International Women's Day with a thought experiment

Happy International Women’s Day!

Can you imagine the world of dance without women? No? I can’t either; it’s unfathomable.

It’s safe to say that the majority of the worldwide dance community—dancers, teachers, assistant directors, rehearsal directors, costume designers, and administrators—are women. Take them away and what have you got? A handful of men who, interestingly, are the ones running most of the dance companies and whose choreography is most widely seen.

The movement, A Day Without A Woman, which is happening today (Wednesday), seeks to show the importance of women in domestic and global economies by asking women to strike. The intention is to bring attention to issues that continually plague women, including lower wages, sexual harassment, discrimination, and job insecurity—all of which pertain to women in the dance world as well.

So, when you are deciding on what dance performances to see this weekend, imagine them without the women involved, because the harder our society and government makes it to survive as an artist, the harder it will be for women artists to continue. DanceWatch urges you to consider if that feels right to you, and what you can do to affect the change towards equality.

Performances this week

Companhia Urbana De Danca. Photo courtesy of Companhia Urbana De Danca.

ID:ENTIDADES and NA PISTA
Companhia Urbana De Danca
Presented by White Bird
March 9-11
The Newmark Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway
With a background in ballet and psychology, artistic director Sonia Destri Lie, in collaboration with her company dancers, creates dances that mix her place, the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, with the dancers personal life experiences, hip-hop and B-boy techniques.

Companhia Urbana De Danca brings two dances to Portland: ID:ENTIDADES explores the ongoing dialogue between person and place, set to music by Rodrigo Marçal; and Na Pista is a throw-down, rhythmic feast, that expresses individuality within community.

Spectacle Garden 10: Dance Party
Hosted by Ben Martens
8 pm March 10
The Headwaters Theatre, 55 NE Farragut St
This monthly, community-oriented performance series, curated by musician and butoh dancer Ben Martens, includes physical comedy, dance, film, music, poetry as well as many other undefined mediums of expression. This month’s theme is a giant dance party that may or may not include a Trump Piñata to pummel. Check out the Facebook event page for the full lineup of participating artists.

The Portland Ballet Studio Company and Kúkátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe.

The Portland Ballet Studio Company
Directed by founder/artistic director Nancy Davis and artistic director Anne Mueller
March 10-12
The Portland Ballet Studio Theatre, 6250 SW Capitol Hwy Road
This pre-professional company made up of nine dancers ranging in ages 12-19, will perform a variety of work from the past to the present from choreographers Marius Petipa, John Clifford, Anne Mueller, Jamey Hampton and Ashley Roland, with a guest performance by Kúkátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe.

Mr. Gaga-a film capturing the life of Batsheva Dance Company’s artistic director, Ohad Naharin.

Mr. Gaga—a film
Directed by Tomer Heymann
March 10-16
Living Room Theaters, 341 SW 10th Ave
Eight years in the making, the film, Mr. Gaga captures the life of Batsheva Dance Company’s artistic director, Ohad Naharin.

Naharin has been at the helm of this Israeli dance company since 1990, has created over 20 works for the company, and is the creator of a movement form called Gaga—a guided improvisational class that is available to all ages and helps facilitate new pathways into movement.

In The Heights: music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, directed by Julianne Johnson-Weiss, and choreographed by Sarah Parker.

In The Heights
Music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, directed by Julianne Johnson-Weiss, and
choreographed by Sarah Parker
Portland Community College
March 10-19
PCC Sylvania Performing Arts Center, 12000 SW 49th Ave
In a Dominican-American community in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, life is bubbling on a hot summer day in this tale of a neighborhood’s struggles and sacrifices in search of identity and place by Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda. Originally premiered in 1999, this reproduction, set on the students of Portland Community College, is choreographed by Portland dance artists Sara Parker.

Parker serves as the Interim Dance Chair at Portland Community College, holds a B.S. in Dance from the University of Oregon, and an MFA in Modern Dance from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. She can also be found teaching dance at BodyVox Dance Center, and has recently performed with Tere Mathern in Edge Effects.

Performances next week

March 10-16, Mr. Gaga, Living Room Theaters
March 10-19, In The Heights, Portland Community College, choreography by Sara Parker
March 15, Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, a co-production with Ping & Woof Opera and Necessity Arts Collective
March 16-18, Carmen, NW Dance Project
March 17, Dancing with Rameau and J.S. Bach, The Baroque Dance Project, Alice Sheu and Julie Iwasa
March 19, Castles and Wizards, a collaboration between The Oregon Symphony, Intel and BodyVox’s Jamey Hampton and Ashley Roland.

Upcoming performance

March
March 23-April1, Skinner/Kirk Dance Ensemble, Presented by BodyVox
March 24, Shaping Sound, Travis Wall, Presented by Portland’5
March 24-25, Alembic Double Bill: Claire Barrera and Noelle Stiles, Presented by Performance Works NW / Linda Austin Dance
March 31, Junk in da Trunk, Tempos
April
April 1, Duality: Dance Ballet of India, Presented by Rasika
April 2, Sahomi Tachibana Dancers, Portland Japanese Garden
April 4-5, Shen Yun, Presented by Oregon Falun Dafa Association
April 6-8, Ronald K. Brown/Evidence, Presented by White Bird
April 8-9, The Snow Queen, Eugene Ballet Company
April 10, Noontime Showcase OBT2, Presented by Portland’5
April 15, Synesthesia, BodyVox, TEDx Portland
April 15, Bridge the Gap, Presented by Sepiatonic
April 13-22, Terra, Oregon Ballet Theatre
April 14-16, New work by Jin Camou, Performance Works NW Alembic Co-Production
April 25-26, Che Malambo, Presented by White Bird
April 27-29, Contact Dance Film Festival, Presented by BodyVox and NW Film Center
April 28-29, Appalachian Spring Break, Scotty Heron and Brendan Connelly, Presented by Performance Works NW / Linda Austin Dance
May
May 4-7, Taka Yamamoto, Produced by Portland Institute for Contemporary Art
May 5, Spring Dance Concert, The Reed College Dance Department
May 5-7, Inclusive Arts Vibe Annual Performance, Disability Arts and Culture Project
May 10, Martha Graham Dance Company, Presented by White Bird
May 26-28, N.E.W. Residency performance, Dora Gaskill, Jessica Kelley, Stephanie Schaaf, and Kumari Suraj
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 8-10, Summer Splendors, NW Dance Project
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