Spectacle Garden

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 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 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 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 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

It’s all about ballerinas and monsters this week, beginning Thursday with the second weekend run of BodyVox’s semi-annual (it is performed alternately in Portland one year, and then away the next), Halloween-themed show, BloodyVox: Blood Red Is The New Black.

Monsters & Death, Ben Martens monthly showcase at The Headwaters Theatre, opens Friday, this time with a dark twist. And so does INCIPIO, PDX Contemporary Ballet’s new, two-act ballet choreographed by Briley Neugebauer, which combines classical and contemporary dance. Eugene Ballet raises the curtain on Giselle on Friday, too, a version choreographed by artistic director Toni Pimble.

Giselle is one of the creepiest ballets out there, and one of my favorites. It tells the story of a young woman, Giselle, who dies from a broken heart (who does that?) when she finds out her lover, Albrecht, is engaged to another. The Wilis, a group of powerful, supernatural women who enjoy dancing men to death, summon Giselle from her grave and offer to avenge her. Sadly/happily, depending on how you look at it, Giselle’s love for her lover saves him from this terrible fate. One of these days I wish a choreographer would change the ending and let the Wilis have their fun. But until then…Happy Halloween.

Performances this week!


Dancers Jeff George and Eric Skinner in BodyVox’s GEORGE AND GEORGE. Photo by Ken Salaman.

BloodyVox: Blood Red Is The New Black
October 27-29
BodyVox Dance Center, 1201 NW 17th Ave
Created in 2010, BloodyVox, BodyVox’s “scary” version of a holiday classic, celebrates directors Jamey Hampton and Ashley Roland’s favorite holiday, Halloween. This dance theatre extravaganza touches on all aspects of Halloween, creating an evening that is dark, mysterious, magical, beautiful, ironic, odd, hilarious and absurd. The dance, which is made up on many smaller dances, incorporates the standard Halloween fare of vampires, zombies, ghosts, killer lady spiders, and creepy identical twins alongside elegant technical ballet and modern dance done in the BodyVox style. It’s all about having fun while getting scared.

When I spoke with Hampton and Roland last week about the dance Hampton said, “It’s your standard modern dance fare.” Roland reiterated “Its typical. Anything you might find at the end of a Martha Graham piece or something that’s gone bad.” Hampton finished the conversation off with: “When you think of horror and modern dance, it’s limitless.”

Spectacle Garden 6: Monsters & Death
Curated & produced by Ben Martens
7:30 pm October 28
Music and Dancing at 930.
The Headwaters Theatre, 55 NE Farragut St
After a wild ride of performances by some of Portland’s finest experimental artists, all focusing on Monsters & Death of course, the evening will continue into the wee hours of the morning with the musical stylings of Wretched Tween Fantasy, Ben Martens, Savage Nightingale and DJ Banzai. Curator and organizer Ben Martens says, “Bring your costume, come late, just come through, all of our nightmares will come true!!”

Ben Martens, who has been curating monthly performances at The Headwater Theatre for several months now, is a poet, electronic music producer, emcee, mover, organizer and performance artist with an interest in revolution, existentialism, comedy, mindfulness and environmentalism. He studied music and performance at Naropa University and has been studying Butoh with Mizu Desierto since his arrival in Portland in January 2015. He and Desierto are hoping to rev up Portland’s performance community by bringing them together for low-cost, low-ambition, high-energy community showcases. Martens is always looking for future performers, particularly performers of color and diverse ages, in theater, comedy, dance and ensemble work. If you are interested in performing, contact Martens at bensmateria@gmail.com.


PDX Contemporary Ballet. Photo by Chris Hughes.

PDX Contemporary Ballet
Choreographed by Briley Neugebauer
October 28-30
N.E.W. Expressive Works, 810 SE Belmont St
Artistic director Briley Neugebauer accidentally created a new choreographic challenge for herself last year when she and her dancers were looking for a way to add more seating at a performance. They decided to place the chairs all around the stage, inadvertently creating a performance in the round. This, of course, is not a new idea, especially in contemporary dance practices, but it was new to Neugebauer and it suddenly opened up an abundance of new ideas. Neugebauer wants to combine the classical form of ballet and contemporary movement practices and ideas.

The work, INCIPIO, which in Latin means “I begin,” is performed in the round, and is set to Jorge Mendez’s “Fragments,” with additional sounds of ambient rain overlaid. A totally appropriate arrangement for this time of year here in Portland.

The process of creating this work was one of self-reflection and self discovery for Neugebauer, she said. Last year she realized that she couldn’t “do it all” and decided to step down as a performer and focus solely on directing the company. At the time she was performing, choreographing, teaching and doing all of the administration work for the company. The decision was difficult, as Neugebauer always identified as a performer and only a performer, and stepping off the stage and out of the limelight at 27 was definitely an adjustment, but a good one, she said.

She also was inspired by the number of dancers who came to her during an audition, expressing the need to get away from the negative, body-shaming rhetoric of the ballet world, and just dance. She decided that she needed to create opportunities for others to dance, and to provide that safe place for them to be whoever they wanted to be as they are.

INCIPIO is part Neugebauer’s personal story and part pure dance.


Eugene Ballet’s Giselle. Photo courtesy of Eugene Ballet.

Eugene Ballet Company
Artistic Director, Toni Pimble
October 28-30
Hult Center for the Performing Arts, 1 Eugene Center, Eugene

See above.


Marginal Evidence by Katherine Longstreth. Photo courtesy of Katherine Longstreth.

Marginal Evidence
A visual installation about the act of choreography
By Katherine Longstreth
October 24-November 5
Reception November 3, 6:00-7:15 pm
Reed College, Performing Arts Building, Performance Lab 128, 3202 SE Woodstock Blvd
Marginal Evidence, a visual installation about the act of choreography created by choreographer Katherine Longstreth, reopens at Reed College in the Performing Arts Building. It was originally installed at the White Box gallery last year around this time. You can read my preview of the exhibit here, and Martha Ullman West’s review of the exhibit, here. There will be a reception and walk through with Longstreth on November 3rd.

Next Week

November 3-12, Reclaimed, Polaris Dance Theatre
November 4-6, Obstacles and Victory Songs, Stephanie Lavon Trotter and Dora Gaskill
November 5-6, All The Marys, Luciana Proaño

Upcoming Performances

November 11-13, Epoch, Jamuna Chiarini and push/FOLD-Samuel Hobbs
November 12-20, the last bell rings for you, Linda Austin Dance
November 17-19, Reggie Wilson/Fist and Heel Performance Group, White Bird
November 19, Jazz Throughout the Ages, Wild Rumpus Jazz Co.
November 19-20, 3rd Annual Glow Variety Show, Trauma Healing Project, Eugene
November 25-27, The Enchanted Toyshop, The Portland Ballet Holiday Show
November 26, Nutcracker Remixed, All That! Dance Company, Eugene
December 2-4, N.E.W. Expressive Works Residency Performance, Dana Detweiler, James Healey, Jessica Hightower, and Renee Sills
December 8-10, In Good Company, NW Dance Project
December 8-10, ARCANE COLLECTIVE, Presented by BodyVox
December 9-11, The Book of Esther — A Rock Gospel Ballet, Ballet Fantastique, Eugene
December 10-26, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker®, Oregon Ballet Theatre
December 15-17, Complicated Woman, Katie Scherman/2016 Performance Works NW Alembic Resident Artist
December 16-18, The Nutcracker, Eugene Ballet Company, Eugene
December 18, Gifts, a film by Clare Whistler/2015 Performance Works NW visiting artist
December 19, Dancing with the Stars: Live! – We Came to Dance, AEG Live NW, Eugene
December 22-24, Cirque Dreams Holidaze, Presented by U.S. Bank Broadway in Portland