Trip the Dark Dance Company

DanceWatch Monthly: April dance in full bloom

What's happening in Oregon dance now

“And spring arose on the garden fair,
Like the spirit of love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on earth’s dark breast
Rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.” – Percy Bysshe Shelley, The Sensitive Plant

Welcome to DanceWatch for April.

Last year at this time, I was in Japan, and everywhere you looked there were cherry trees with cascading pink flowers, and countless people posing for photos beneath them. In Arashiyama, a district on the outskirts of Kyoto, spring celebrations were in full swing. The Hozu River, which runs from the mountains down into Kyoto, is lined with cherry trees. Large families with young girls dressed in colorful kimonos were strolling in the warm air along the banks, taking pictures under the trees, shopping, eating ice cream, and socializing late into the evening. It was idyllic.

Until that time, I don’t think I had ever experienced spring in quite this way before. The slower pace, the appreciation of nature, of the season, of family and tradition; it was all so beautiful, it made me euphoric.

I offer you this month’s performances as an embodiment of this experience, and of spring. April’s dance performances are full of new life, fresh ideas, and boundless energy. Enjoy!

International and cultural dance styles

Bharatanatyam guru Shubha Dhananjay and  daughters Maya and Mudra channel the divine in “Srinivasa Kalynam.” Photo courtesy of Yashaswini Raghuram.

Srinivasa Kalyanam
Presented by HECSA Portland Balaji Temple
Choreography by Shubha Dhananjay, artistic director of Natyantharanga
4:30 pm April 6
Canby High School, Richard R. Brown Fine Arts Auitorium, 721 SW 4th Ave., Canby

Bharatanatyam, an Indian classical dance form that originated in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. is known for its grace, elegance, expressiveness, and sculptural poses. Look for all of these in the dance drama Srinivasa Kalyana, which tells the story of Lord Vishnu’s descent to earth to spread love and devotion in the age of Kaliyuga (also known as the age of quarrel). The drama culminates in a royal wedding between Lord Vishnu and Princess Padmavati, and ends with Lord Vishnu taking the form of the deity Venkateshwara. (To read the full story, click here.)

Continues…

DanceWatch Weekly: Dualities and contradictions

As PSU pulls the plug on its dance department, the city demonstrates how vital dance is in the city

Dualities and contradictions exist in extremes this week in Portland’s dance scene.

While Portland’s talented dancers and choreographers are dancing for their lives and performing all over the city, Portland State University has decided to abolish its dance program, according to a press release for SHUT DOWN: The Final Performance from PSU Dance Students. Although PSU’s contribution to the community has been waning over the years because of continuous budget cuts and the policies of the various administrations, losing a university dance program, especially in a cultural hub like Portland, will have long-lasting, far-reaching consequences.

In a show of support for Portland dance artists, and in resistance to the cultural shift away from supporting the arts, showing up to this week’s dance performances (and there are many) is the action to take.

See you in the theatre!

Performances this week

Photo of NW Dance Project dancers Lindsey McGill and Elijah Labay. Photo by Christopher Peddecord.

Summer Splendors
Works by Lucas Crandall, Tracey Durbin, and Rachel Erdos, Sarah Slipper
World Premiere by Sarah Slipper
NW Dance Project
June 8-10
Portland State University, Lincoln Performance Hall, 1620 SW Park Ave.
Internationally acclaimed concert pianist Hunter Noack will perform Chopin’s 24 Preludes to the choreography of Lucas Crandall, Tracey Durbin, Rachel Erdos, and Sarah Slipper, as part of the The Chopin Project, one of two pieces being performed in their annual Summer Splendors concert.

The Chopin Project, which premiered in 2015, “avoided an attempt to make movement that translated the music directly, instead creating a parallel sphere that mirrored the richness and delight of the music rather than the notes. And that was tremendously satisfying,” wrote ArtsWatch’s Barry Johnson at the time.

The second piece in the program Tell Me How it Ends, a world premiere by NW Dance Project Artistic Director Sarah Slipper, is a work for two couples (Andrea Parson, Elijah Labay, Julia Radick, and Franco Nieto), danced to a mix of contemporary classical and experimental music. It depicts a couple’s dual perspectives on their relationship over time.

Kúkátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe, 6:30 pm June 9. Photo courtesy of Kúkátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe.

Kúkátónón 2017 Showcase!
Kúkátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe
6:30 pm June 9
Jefferson High School Auditorium, 5210 N Kerby Ave.
Kúkátónón’s young dancers and drummers will end the year with a performance featuring West African dance and drumming, ballet, and guest performances by Sebe Kan (a West African dance company) and Baramakono (an African drumming ensemble).Kúkátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe is a Portland children’s dance company founded by Rolia Manyongai-Jones in 1983, and now directed by Dana Shephard. It focuses on inspiring confidence among the troupe’s dancers and broadening awareness of African and African American cultural traditions throughout Oregon. The company offers tuition-free African dancing, drumming, and classical ballet lessons on a weekly basis, taught by professional music and dance instructors.

Goblin King: A David Bowie and Labyrinth Tribute by Trip the Dark Dance Company, June 2-17, The Headwaters Theatre, 55 NE Farragut St. Photo courtesy of Trip the Dark Dance Company.

Goblin King: A David Bowie and Labyrinth Tribute
Trip the Dark Dance Company
Co-directed by Corinn deWaard and Stephanie Seaman
June 9-17
The Headwaters Theatre, 55 NE Farragut St.
In tribute to Jim Henson’s 1986 film Labyrinth and singer/songwriter David Bowie, Trip the Dark Dance Company takes the audience on an adventure to the center of the Labyrinth to rescue Sarah’s baby brother from the Goblin King after Sarah had wished him gone. It’s a mind-bending, hypnotic adventure that includes a little tap, contemporary dance, theater and a lot of Bowie, and… “where everything seems possible and nothing is what it seems.”

Jazz Around the World, Presented by Wild Rumpus Jazz Co., June 9-11. Photo by Alleh Lindquist.

Jazz Around the World
Presented by Wild Rumpus Jazz Co.
June 9-11
New Expressive Works, 810 SE Belmont St. (Entrance is on the south side door of the WYSE building)
Wild Rumpus Jazz Co., co-founded by Kelsey Adams and Lucy Brush, is bringing jazz dance back to Portland in their latest concert, Jazz Around the World, which explores jazz dance composition in relations to the different instruments, sounds, rhythms and melodies present in a variety of world music.The history of jazz dance is rooted in African American vernacular dance and over time branched out into many different styles including tap, Broadway, funk, hip-hop, Afro-Caribbean, Latin, Pop, club jazz, popping, B-boying, party dances and many more. A few historical jazz choreographers include Katherine Dunham, Jack Cole, Lester Horton and Bob Fosse. Well-known Portland jazz teachers and choreographers include Tracey Durbin and Mary Hunt.

Wolfbird Dance, comprised of Selina DiPronio and Raven Jones, will perform as part of the Dance Out Loud Choreographers Showcase, June 10-11. Photo courtesy of Woldbird Dance.

Dance Out Loud Choreographers Showcase
Directed by Oluyinka Akinjiola and Donna Mation
June 10-11
Center Space Studio, 420 SE 6th Ave.
With the intention of pushing boundaries, and in the theme of “resistance,” this brand new presenting platform, created by dance artists Oluyinka Akinjiola and Donna Mation, will present three new works by Portland choreographers Jocelyn Edelstein, Sheyla Mattos and Wolfbird Dance.

Chickens and Cheese Pizza, Inclusive Arts Vibe Dance Company, Disability Arts and Culture Project, 4:30 pm June 12. Photo courtesy of Inclusive Arts Vibe Dance Company, Disability Arts and Culture Project.

Chickens and Cheese Pizza
Inclusive Arts Vibe Dance Company, Disability Arts and Culture Project
4:30 pm June 12
The Rosewood Initiative, 16126 SE Stark 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 will 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). The collection of five dances, choreographed by company members, digs into the human experience, exposing a full spectrum of emotions.

Moving History: Portland Contemporary Dance Past and Present, a film by Eric Nordstrom, 7:30 pm June 13. Photo courtesy of Tere Mathern.

Moving History: Portland Contemporary Dance Past and Present
a film by Eric Nordstrom
7:30 pm June 13
Portland State University, Lincoln Performance Hall, 1620 SW Park Ave.
With the help of some of Portland’s most notable dance artists and writers, along with archival research, Portland dance artist and filmmaker Eric Nordstrom has captured six decades of contemporary dance in Portland in his new film Moving History: Portland Contemporary Dance Past and Present. Back in June 2016 I interviewed Nordstrom prior to the screening of the film’s first iteration, and you can read that conversation with you again here.

SHUT DOWN: The Final Performance from PSU Dance Students
presented by the PSU Dance Program/School of Theater+Film
Under the direction of Tere Mathern, Dance Faculty
June 14-15
Portland State University, Lincoln Performance Hall, 1620 SW Park Ave.
The entire Dance Program at Portland State University has been cut. In this final performance, Portland State University dance students, faculty, and community dance members, will perform works that express mourning, celebration, integration, and liberation through movement to mark the department’s passing.

Performances next week

Continues…

DanceWatch Weekly: Journeys, a goblin king and an arts festival

The dance weekend features PDX Contemporary Ballet and Trip the Dark Dance Company

Two Portland dance company performances and an outdoor arts festival in Wilsonville— your dance weekend in a nutshell!

Two shows open on Friday night. PDX Contemporary Ballet’s Iterum Echo collects three works that involve journeys (“iter” is a Latin word meaning journey) by artistic director Briley Neugebauer, Margaret Wiss, and Kiera Brinkley. And Trip the Dark Dance Company will stage The Goblin King: A David Bowie and Labyrinth Tribute, which runs for three consecutive weekends.

For PDX Contemporary Ballet, Iterum Echos finishes out the company’s first full season, an exemplary feat, considering most Portland choreographers work from project to project due to the amount of funding available for dance and the financial reality of dance: maintaining a company of dancers year round is a whole other ball of wax.

Since October 2016, the company, directed by Neugebauer (who danced with the now defunct Moxie Contemporary Ballet Company as well as Polaris Dance Theatre, ART-IF-ACT Dance Project and was an apprentice with Donald Byrd’s Spectrum Dance Theater in Seattle), has produced three major shows: Incipio in October, Interlude in February 2017, and now Iterum Echos. The company which prides itself on experimentation in ballet, received its nonprofit 501(c)(3) last April, and has since provided a platform for numerous choreographers, who have all been women. The fact that the company is directed by a woman and performs works by women choreographers is an unusual distinction in the ballet world, where choreographic commissions and directorships are predominantly held by men.

The works featured in Iterum Echos will be performed in the intimate setting of New Expressive Works space at 810 SE Belmont St., doing away with the traditional space that separates the audience from the performers.

The pieces include Circular Wave of Circumstance by Boston choreographer Wiss, inspired by the concept of space-time where time and three-dimensional space are considered fused in a four-dimensional continuum. It employs an original soundscape composed by local artist Colin Minigan. Portland choreographer Kiera Brinkley has created The Times, which explores her “real world” profession as a nurse. Brinkley, a former performer and choreographer with Polaris Dance Theatre, is a quadruple amputee since age two. Neugebauer’s Continually Beginning considers “the ordinary, repetitive steps of everyday life, the subtle differences that sometimes occur, as well as the feeling of moving backward instead of forward.”

On Saturday BodyVox, Polaris Dance Theatre, Edge Movement Arts, and Mexica Tiahui Aztec Dance Group, a dance group formed by Oregon State University students in 1995 to help preserve and promote Mexican culture, will perform as part of the Wilsonville Festival of Arts that brings visual art, literary arts, live music, dance, theatre, and performance art, outside to the public, for free, at the Town Center Park.

If you missed it, last week I spoke with former New York City Ballet dancer Tom Gold about working with Twyla Tharp, ballet marketing and his work for The Portland Ballet. “It’s all about marketing, and money and business. Nobody’s thinking, ‘I want to encourage and nurture this.’ That’s kind of the last thing.” You can read the full interview here.
Also last weekend ArtsWatch’s Nim Wunnan reviewed the latest installment of New Expressive Works’ resident choreographer program, and noted that tension was a common thread.

Performances this week

Jefferson Dancers Spring Recital, 7 pm June 1. Photo by Fritz Liedtke.

Jefferson Dancers Spring Recital
Jefferson Dancers
7 pm June 1
5210 N Kerby Ave.

The Jefferson Dancers, a Portland Public Schools dance training program and company based at Jefferson High School in North Portland, celebrates its 41st anniversary this year and will feature choreography by faculty members and performances by students in this recital program.

Iterum Echos by PDX Contemporary Ballet, June 2-4 at New Expressive Works, 810 SE Belmont. Photo courtesy of PDX Contemporary Ballet.

Iterum Echos
PDX Contemporary Ballet
Directed by Briley Neugebauer
June 2-4
New Expressive Works, 810 SE Belmont St.
See above.

Goblin King: A David Bowie and Labyrinth Tribute by Trip the Dark Dance Company, June 2-17, The Headwaters Theatre, 55 NE Farragut St. Photo courtesy of Trip the Dark Dance Company.

Goblin King: A David Bowie and Labyrinth Tribute
Trip the Dark Dance Company
Co-directed by Corinn deWaard and Stephanie Seaman
June 2-17
The Headwaters Theatre, 55 NE Farragut St.
In tribute to Jim Henson’s 1986 film “Labyrinth” and singer/songwriter David Bowie, Trip the Dark Dance Company takes the audience on an adventure to the center of the Labyrinth to rescue Sarah’s baby brother from the Goblin King after Sarah had wished him gone. It’s a mind-bending, hypnotic adventure that includes a little tap, contemporary dance, theater and a lot of Bowie, and… “where everything seems possible and nothing is what it seems.”

Photo of the Mexica Tiahui Aztec Dance Group. Wilsonville Festival of Arts June 3-4. Photo courtesy of Mexica Tiahui Aztec Dance Group.

Wilsonville Festival of Arts
June 3-4
Town Center Park
29600 SW Park Pl., Wilsonville
In its 18th year, the Wilsonville Festival of Arts brings visual art, literary arts, live music, dance, theatre, and performance art, outside to the public for free, at Town Center Park. This year’s festivities includes dance performances by BodyVox, Polaris Dance Theatre, Edge Movement Arts, and Mexica Tiahui Aztec Dance Group-a dance group formed by Oregon State University students in 1995 to help preserve and promote Mexican culture.

Performances next week

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 13, Moving History: Portland Contemporary Dance Past and Present, a film by Eric Nordstrom
June 14-15, SHUT DOWN: The Final Performance from PSU Dance Students

Upcoming Performances

June
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
June 30-July 1, Improvisation Summit of Portland 2017, Hosted by The Creative Music Guild and Disjecta
July
July 8, Ten Tiny Dances, Beaverton Farmers Market, Directed by Mike Barber
July 14-15, Rantom Skoot, Linda Austin, Gregg Bielemeier, Bob Eisen (NYC), and Sada Naegelin & Leah Wilmoth
July 14-16, Apparatus, by Danielle Ross
July 15, Pretty Creatives Showing, NW Dance Project
July 26, Movement and Flow: Portland Dance Films, Hosted by NW Film Center featuring films by Conrad Kazcor, Fuchsia Lin, Dylan Wilbur Media, Gabriel Shalom, Jackie Davis, and Amy Yang Chiao
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