The Tempos Contemporary Circus

DanceWatch Weekly: Echo’s otherworldly dance for all

What's happening in Oregon dance now

I recently spent three marvelous hours watching Echo Theater Company members negotiate a system of harnesses, ropes, and pulleys to move a butterfly with gigantic opalescent wings and a mad, spiky hermit crab-like monster around a stage. The atmosphere was electric: it was exciting to watch the collective synapses fire as the company, in an egalitarian way, created art in real time. “Whatever information set you have, you just lend it to the group to try to make the thing,” said creative director Aaron Wheeler-Kay. “The collaboration is constant and ongoing,”

Wheeler-Kay, a Portland native and Jefferson dance alum, directs ETC, which specializes in acrobatics, aerial dance, and physical theater. He has created an otherworldly new family-friendly work, It’s Like This, in collaboration with education director Wendy Cohen, deaf composer Myles de Bastion, ARC in Movement founders Alicia Cutaia and Russ Stark, and Rebound Movement instructor Laura Cannon for the upcoming Fertile Ground Festival of New Works, which runs January 24-February 3. The festival features new artistic work in various stages of development, from workshopped to fully formed, in dance, theater, comedy, film, and everything in between. (Check out Bob Hicks’s breakdown of festival offerings beyond dance in Speed-dating at Fertile Ground.)

You don’t often get to see the mechanics behind the theater magic, but in this production it’s all out in the open. The curtains are drawn to reveal the performers or riggers who hold the ropes propelling the central characters. The butterfly is attached to a four-pulley system that hoists her up and flies her around; the crab monster only needs a two-pulley system, because her movement is lower to the ground. The riggers need to remember the choreography and the timing of the ropes: it’s just as entertaining to watch these folks pulling, flying, and tumbling along with the performers.

The whimsical, gravity-defying creatures that slither, bounce, float, and pounce through It’s Like That are enhanced by imaginative costuming, music, and lighting. The show is designed to be accessible to deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers (and performers, two of whom are deaf). Composer de Bastion, a hardware/software designer, conceptual artist, and musician, founded CymaSpace, which specializes in equipment that translates audio information into sight (through light) and touch (through vibration). The music he has envisioned for It’s Like This, both improvised and composed, combines electronic and guitar sounds, he told me when we spoke through an ASL interpreter on Monday. A group of volunteers and a programmer worked with him on the software program he uses to track the music when he plays. Viewers will be able to feel the sound, thanks to a mechanism installed under some seats that creates low-frequency vibrations. American Sign Language interpreters will work all of the performances, and LED light panels installed on the back wall of the stage will use color to represent tone and blinking to represent rhythms.

Echo Theater Company will present its new work at Essentials, a program it will share with Tempos Contemporary Circus’ Underneath, a piece about living a good and fearless life. Essentials lasts an hour in total and will take place at Echo Theater, 1515 SE 37th Ave.

Performances this week

The MAC Dancers perform “The Project Approach” at Groovin’ Greenhouse Feb. 2.  Photo courtesy of Polaris Dance Theatre.

Fertile Ground Festival of New Work/Groovin’ Greenhouse
January 24-February 3
Check the Groovin’ Greenhouse and Fertile Ground websites for locations and times
The Fertile Ground Festival of New Works, including its dance-centric arm, Groovin’ Greenhouse (hosted by Polaris Dance Theatre), unfolds in venues around town with new performance works in various stages of development. Choreographers and companies presenting movement-related work in this year’s festival include Novoa Dances, Michal Schorsch, Hannah Downs, Polaris Company, Polaris Junior Company, NEO Youth Company, NW Fusion, the MAC dancers, Vitality Dance Collective, ELXR Dance Company, A-WOL Dance Collective, PDX Contemporary Ballet, ELa FaLa Collective, and Ballet Fiesta, Echo Theater Company, Tempos Contemporary Circus, and Living Room Circus.

“The Cutting Room” by BodyVox Dance Company. Photo courtesy of BodyVox.

The Cutting Room
January 24-February 9
BodyVox Dance Center, 1201 NW 17th Ave.
Multiple movie genres (action, comedy, drama, sci-fi) and memories of favorite films inspire BodyVox’s cinematic, virtuoustic dance performance The Cutting Room. Former BodyVox dancer Jonathan Krebs returns to perform with the company; look for new company member Jessica McCarthy and apprentice Coltrane Liu as well.

Sankalpa Dance Ensemble is one of 11 groups performing at the fundraising event Nrityotsava. Photo courtesy of Sweta Ravisankar.

Nrityotsava 2019 /Fundraiser
Indian Classical and Folk Dance Event
Hosted by Kalakendra
5 pm January 26
Lakeridge High School, 1235 Overlook Dr., Lake Oswego
Kalakendra’s mega Indian classical and folk dance fundraising event will feature 11 area professional and student groups performing dance styles including Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Gaudiya Nritya, Odissi, Kuchipudi, Assamese, Punjabi, and more. The Portland-based Kalakendra promotes performing arts from across the Indian subcontinent through classical dance and music performances.

Kudo Taketeru performing at The Tiny Theater PDX. Photo by Sophia Emigh.

The Art of Seeing: The Masculine Dancing
Anet Margot Ris
The Tiny Theater PDX
4 pm January 27
The Tiny Theater PDX, 3306 SE 65th Ave.
New to the performance scene is The Tiny Theater PDX, a home for radical performance curated by Anet Margot Ris, the theater’s founder and self-described “artistic directress.” Ris, a multi-disciplinary performer and former member of Daniel Nagrin’s The Workgroup and The Rudy Perez Performance Ensemble, among others, launches the theater’s 2019 Sunday series The Art of Seeing with The Masculine Dancing, an evening of film and video depicting 20th- and 21st-century male dancers/choreographers. Screenings will be followed by a conversation about how the masculine is portrayed. The series continues through May with sessions devoted to The Feminine Dancing, clowning, drag, and performance art.

Vancouver, B.C.-based Shay Kuebler/Radical System Art brings its cross-disciplinary work “Telemetry” to Portland. Photo courtesy of White Bird.

Shay Kuebler/Radical System Art
Presented by White Bird
January 31-February 2
1 pm February 2, master class with Shay Kuebler at Floor Dance Center, reservations recommended
Vancouver, B.C.-based choreographer Shay Kuebler and his company Radical System Art draw from martial arts, hip-hop, contemporary ballet, modern and tap to create theatrical, highly physical work. In the 65-minute work Telemetry, Kuebler and award-winning tapper Danny Nielson (who performs as part of the eight-member cast and contributes the work’s rhythmic score), explore the science of telemetry, a communications process by which measurements and other data are collected and transmitted to receiving equipment for monitoring. Kuebler extends that idea to the human body, using it, he says, as “a device—a tool—that translates, relays, and communicates intangible and unseen processes. Dance [uses the] body [to] translate an audible form into a visual form.” In short,Telemetry focuses on how the human body serves as a kind of antenna for sound, energy, and memory.

Upcoming Performances

February 2019
February 5-19, Chinese New Year at Lan Su Chinese Garden
February 6, Ballet Outsider: Gender Politics and Power, a panel discussion hosted by Eugene Ballet Music Director Brian McWhorter
February 8-10, The Gift, PDX Dance Collective, choreography by April MacKay, Zahra Garrett, and Rachael Singer
February 9-10, Romeo and Juliet, Eugene Ballet, Eugene
February 13, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, presented by White Bird
February 14, Fall In Love With Flamenco, Espacio Flamenco Portland
February 15-16, Two of a Kind: A Shared Evening of Dance, Beth Whelan and Trevor Wilde
February 16-23, Cinderella, Oregon Ballet Theatre
February 20, Beijing Dance Theater, presented by White Bird
February 21-24, Anicca/Impermanence, Minh Tran & Company
February 22-24, Alembic Resident Artists Performance, Performance Works NW
February 23-24, Left of Center, AWOL Dance Collective
February 24, Bharanatayam Margam by Mugdha Vichare and Mayurika Bhaskar, students of Sweta Ravisankar
February 28-March 2, Compagnie Hervé Koubi, presented by White Bird
February 28-March 2, Trip The Light Fantastic, NW Dance Project

March 1-3, The Odyssey, Ballet Fantastique, Eugene
March 1-3, Materialize, PDX Contemporary Ballet
March 7-9, Compagnie Marie Chouinard, presented by White Bird
March 8-10, Interplay, Eugene Ballet, Eugene
March 9, Shakti, Sankalpa Dance Ensemble, Sweta Ravishankar, Sridharini Sridharan, and Yashaswini Raghuram
March 9, Painted Sky Northstar Dance Company, Walters Cultural Arts Center
March 10, The Sleeping Beauty, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema-Live from Moscow, presented by Fathom Events, BY Experience, and Pathe Live
March 14-17, Corteo, Cirque du Soleil
March 14-21, Ordinary Devotions, Linda Austin
March 16, A Midsummer Night at the Savoy, Rejoice! Diaspora Dance Theater
March 29-31, New Expressive Works Residency Performance

April 5, Lecture Demonstration with Rosie Herrera and Company, Reed College
April 4-6, Parsons Dance, presented by White Bird
April 4-13, The Pearl Dive Project, BodyVox
April 7, The Golden Age, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema, presented by Fathom Events, BY Experience, and Pathe Live
April 9-10, Savion Glover, presented by White Bird
April 11-14, Director’s Choice, Oregon Ballet Theatre
April 12-14, Shen Yun, Presented by the Oregon Falun Dafa Association
April 13-14, The Firebird, Eugene Ballet, Eugene
April 24, Philadanco, presented by White Bird
April 25-27, Encores, NW Dance Project

May 9-11, Contact Dance Film Festival, BodyVox and NW Film Center
May 10-12, Shaun Keylock Company
May 10-12, Current/Classic, The Portland Ballet
May 10-12, Cleopatra (World Premiere), Ballet Fantastique, Eugene
May 17-19, Undone, PDX Contemporary Ballet
May 19, Carmen Suite / Petrushka, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema-Live from Moscow, presented by Fathom Events, BY Experience, and Pathe Live
May 26, Derek Hough: Live! The Tour, Eugene

June 7-15, The Americans, Oregon Ballet Theatre
June 7-9, Up Close, The Portland Ballet
June 13-15, Summer Performances, NW Dance Project

DanceWatch Weekly: Dance for occasional sun

The Martha Graham Dance Company visits and the local dance concerts are robust

While basking in the long-awaited, but intermittent, sunshine this weekend (depending on which weather forecaster you follow), you have your choice of dance events that cover that gamut of genres from ethnic to classic. Some of them even dare to venture outdoors.

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, a month chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843. May also marks the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10,1869. (Chinese workers made up a large part of the workforce for the line.)

Lan Su Chinese Garden in downtown Portland will be hosting a month-long celebration of the month with performances every Saturday and Sunday by local cultural organizations and dance troupes representing India, Nepal, Thailand, China, Indonesia, Cambodia, Hawaii/Pacific Islands and more. Events begin this Saturday. Check out Lan Su Chinese Garden’s website for the full schedule.

In Portland’s contemporary dance world, Portland artist Taka Yamamoto’s will debut Direct Path To Detour, a new dance work created in collaboration with composer Jesse Mejía that will open Thursday night at Portland Institute of Contemporary Art’s new headquarters in Northeast Portland.

Friday brings an end-of-the-school-year showing of dances from the Reed College Dance Department students and faculty, and a work for the students by Israeli choreographer-in-residence, Iris Erez.

Also on Friday night, Seattle choreographer Alice Gosti will unveil a new work-in-progress at Performance Works NW followed by a reception and a workshop the following day at Flock Dance Center.

Saturday, Tempos Contemporary Circus, Vitality Dance Collective, and the Inclusive Arts Vibe Dance Company open with a variety of dances using the brain and body in a myriad of creative ways.

Next Wednesday, the Martha Graham Dance Company closes out the White Bird season, and Portland dance artist Lu Yim will open up her new work for viewing and discussion at Flock Dance Center as part of the Critical Engagement Series hosted by Flock and dance artist Tahni Holt.

Performances this week

Direct Path To Detour by Taka Yamamoto, May 4-7. Photo courtesy of Portland Institute for Contemporary Art.

Direct Path To Detour
Choreography by Taka Yamamoto, music composed by Jesse Mejía, and dramaturgy by Lu Yim
Produced by Portland Institute for Contemporary Art
May 4-7
Portland Institute For Contemporary Art at Hancock, Annex, 20 NE San Rafael St.
Direct Path To Detour is a new dance work created by Portland artist Taka Yamamoto. The work, produced by the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, explores dance as a fully embodied physical and mental experience that contains value systems, social pressures, expectations, and the embodied personal experiences of the performers and their multiple societies of birth, residence, upbringing and religion. Direct Path To Detour will be performed by Yamamoto, dancer Julian Barnett, performance artists Ayako Kataoka, and performance artist and writer sidony o’neal, to a musical composition by Jesse Mejía.

Yamamoto, originally from Shizuoka, Japan, holds an MFA in Visual Studies from Pacific Northwest College of Art and works in live performance, sculpture, and photography. He is one quarter of the Portland-based group Physical Education with Allie Hankins, keyon gaskin, and Lu Yim.

Reed College Dance Department Spring Concert, 7 pm May 5. Photo by Gordon Wilson.

Reed College Dance Department Spring Concert
7 pm May 5
Reed College, Greenwood Performance Theater, 3203 SE Woodstock Blvd.
The evening will feature choreography by Reed College dance majors, a collaboration between the Reed Chorus and Collegium, conducted by John Cox, and a work by Israeli choreographer-in-residence, Iris Erez.

Also included in the program will be a new work by Department Chair Carla Mann that is structured on the principles of classic jazz, and a piece by Professor of Dance Minh Tran, inspired by Trisha Brown’s 1983 work Set and Reset, that focuses on the principles of simplicity, acting on instinct, staying on the edge, and working with visibility and invisibility.

Alice Gosti: Happy Hour Showing, 4:30 pm May 5. Photo courtesy of Performance Works NW.

Alice Gosti: Happy Hour Showing
Hosted by Performance Works NW/Linda Austin Dance
4:30 pm May 5
Performance Works NW, 4625 SE 67th Ave.
Workshop 12:30-2:30 pm May 6 at Flock Dance Center, 8371 N Interstate Ave.

Seattle artist Alice Gosti will be in residence at Performance Works NW this week working on her new project, Material Deviance In Contemporary American Culture.

The work, according to Gosti, is an “immersive installation” that includes dance, video, 3D mapping, and an e-zine, and weaves “the stories and physical histories of: immigrants and refugees who carry their homes on their shoulders; hoarders who compulsively accumulate anything and everything; and America’s growing homeless population.” The dance grapples with the “complexity of living in an object-based society where we define our identity through the objects we own.”

The residency will culminate in a reception, a sharing of the work, and a workshop the following day with Gosti at Flock Dance Center.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
May 6-28
Lan Su Chinese Garden, 239 NW Everett St.
See above.

Vitality Dance Collective presents Place, 5 pm May 6. Photo courtesy of Vitality Dance Collective.

Vitality Dance Collective
5 pm May 6
Polaris Dance Theatre, 1826 NW 18th Ave
This collective of nine dancers will perform an evening of dance works in a variety of styles that look to the past, present, and future.

Vitality Dance Collective, a vision of Kristina York, was created for adults dancers who dance, but don’t have the time to dedicate themselves full-time to the art. The company acts as a collective, supporting the choreographic vision of all its members, and enjoys being undefinable. They are about innovation, authenticity and fun.

The Tempos Contemporary Circus presents In Close Proximity, May 5-7. Photo courtesy of The Tempos Contemporary Circus.

In Close Proximity
The Tempos Contemporary Circus
May 5-7
Echo Theatre, 1515 SE 37th Ave.
Kraig Mead, the director of Tempos Contemporary Circus, a Portland-based company that combines physical theatre, acrobatics, aerial arts and dance, is interested in the in-between—ideas and movement not normally illuminated.

In his new work In Close Proximity, developed in collaboration with musicians Zack Borden and Sean Daly, he furthers this investigation by asking what happens when you break the traditional relationship between dancer and musician in performance, switching back and forth between who leads and who follows, say, or what happens when you break the rules of personal space.

Inclusive Arts Vibe Dance Company presents Chickens and Cheese Pizza, May 5-7. Photo courtesy of Inclusive Arts Vibe Dance Company.

Chickens and Cheese Pizza
Inclusive Arts Vibe Dance Company, Disability Arts and Culture Project
May 5-7
Friday May 5: 10:30 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. Free community performance*
New Expressive Works, 810 SE Belmont St.
Inclusive Arts Vibe Dance Company, founded in 2005 by Kathy Coleman (current director), Erik Ferguson (co-artistic director of Wobbly Dance), and Jody Ramey, is a mixed-ability, mixed-age dance company that aims to further the artistic expression of people with apparent and non-apparent disabilities, by providing dance, choreography and performance as an artistic outlet.

Chickens and Cheese Pizza, is to be performed by Daric Anderson, Eleanor Baily, Arrow Bless, Ryan Blumhardt, Rachel Esteve, Peter Heiken, Addie Nelson, Monique Peloquin and Scott Selby (you can read their full bios here), is a collection of five dances choreographed by company members, that dig into the human experience, exposing a full spectrum of emotions.

Critical Engagement Series with Lu Yim
Hosted by Flock Dance Center/Tahni Holt
8:30 pm May 10
Flock Dance Center, 8371 N Interstate Ave.
The Critical Engagement Series at Flock Dance Center is curated by dance artist Tahni Holt, and “brings together audiences and choreographers in hopes to reveal some of the mystery surrounding the languages around dance and the unique practices of individual choreographers. We start with the question: What does the choreographer need at this particular moment in their process and how might this also serve the wider community.”

Now Dynasty Beneath the Stormy Water, a work-in-progress by Portland artist Lu Yim, examines the tension between objecthood and subjecthood.

Martha Graham Dance Company presented by White Bird, 7:30 pm May 10. Photo courtesy of White Bird.

Martha Graham Dance Company
Presented by White Bird
7:30 pm May 10
Pre-show Conversation 6:45-7:15pm with Artistic Director Janet Eilber, former dancer/choreographer Keith martin and Portland dance artist Josie Moseley, Schnitzer Lower Lobby
Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1111 SW Broadway

Closing out White Bird’s 19th season, the Martha Graham Dance Company, Celebrating its 90th year running, will present a selection of works choreographed by Graham herself, and works choreographed by current, well-known artists on the Graham company.

On the program will be Diversion of Angels, choreographed by Graham in 1948 that abstractly describes three different aspects of love, Dark Meadow Suite a rearrangement of Graham’s Dark Meadow (1946) by Artistic Director, Janet Eilber, Rust created in 2013 for five male dancers by Spanish choreographer Nacho Duato that speaks about violence and terrorism in our world today, and Mosaic by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui (Artistic Director of the Royal Ballet of Flanders, and an associate artist at Sadler’s Wells in London) that is inspired by Middle Eastern culture, and the repetitious patterning in mosaic artwork.

Performances next week

May 6-28, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Lan Su Chinese Garden, dance performances representing India, Nepal, Thailand, China, Indonesia, Cambodia, Hawaii/Pacific Islands and more
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 14, Memories of Mom, Presented by Wanderlust Circus and 3 Leg Torso
May 16-21, An American in Paris, Presented by U.S. Bank Broadway in Portland

Upcoming Performances

May 6-28, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Lan Su Chinese Garden, dance performances representing India, Nepal, Thailand, China, Indonesia, Cambodia, Hawaii/Pacific Islands and more
May 19-21, Junior Artist Generator, BodyVox Dance Company
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 21, Refinery: A Work in Progress Showcase, Hosted by Dance Wire
May 26-28, N.E.W. Residency performance, Dora Gaskill, Jessica Kelley, Stephanie Schaaf, and Michael Galen
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
June 2-4, Interum Echos, PDX Contemporary Ballet
June 10-11, Dance Out Loud, Directed by Oluyinka Akinjiola and Donna Mation
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 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
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