ArtsWatch Weekly: Conduit’s last dance, Russian lost love, the color of race, chamber tales

A look at the week that was in Oregon arts. A glimpse ahead at the week that's going to be.

For more than 20 years Conduit was a vital link – in many ways, the vital link – in Portland’s chain of contemporary dance organizations. A home base for some of the city’s most creative dancemakers, it was also the place that visiting choreographers and dancers made their temporary work home when they were in town. Major work and vital experiments were created here by a host of talented people. Mary Oslund, Tere Mathern, Linda K. Johnson, Gregg Bielemeier, V. Keith Goodman, Jim McGinn, Katherine Longstreth: the list goes on and on, creating a tapestry of the tale of a very large and significant chapter in the history of the city’s dance.

It’s all history now, or will be as of July 23, when Conduit hangs up its hat for good, at least in its current form. The party’s over – but not before an actual party, A Wake for Conduit, fills the Ford Building for a final celebration this Wednesday, July 13. Bring your stories, and put on your dancing shoes. Jamuna Chiarini has the story for ArtsWatch readers.

There Mathern's "Gather: a dance about convergence," performed in 2012 in Conduit's original home in the Pythian Building. Photo: Gordon Wilson

There Mathern’s “Gather: a dance about convergence,” performed in 2012 in Conduit’s original home in the Pythian Building. Photo: Gordon Wilson



A TALE OF RUSSIAN LOVE LOST. Bruce Browne reviews Portland Opera’s new production of Eugene Onegin, which continues in the relatively cozy Newmark Theatre through July 26. Tchaikovsky’s opera, based on Alexander Pushkin’s extraordinarily popular Russian verse novel, is re-set in this production to the late years of the Soviet Union and the early years of the post-Soviet era, a switch that works for Browne: “The reason this production works so well is that the actors/singers embraced the change.” He particularly praises Jennifer Forni as Tatiana, the country miss who’s spurned by the cold title character: “Forni’s voice has the power and brilliance of a roman candle, and yet is never pushed, always in control. She has the best messa di voce (getting softer and louder on one note) I’ve heard in a long time. And she convincingly brought to life the facets of her teenage angst, brought about attempting to deal with Onegin.”

Tatiana (Jennifer Forni) and Eugene Onegin (Alexander Elliot) share headphones/Photo by Cory Weaver.

Tatiana (Jennifer Forni) and Eugene Onegin (Alexander Elliot) share headphones. Photo: Cory Weaver



WHAT’S RACE GOT TO DO WITH IT? ArtsWatch joined the packed house Monday night at Imago Theatre for The Color of NOW’s conversation on race – “part performance, part talk show and part back-and-forth with the audience” – that featured an extensive talk between actor Chantal DeGroat and actor/director Kevin Jones, artistic director of the August Wilson Red Door Project. The event was planned before the national explosion of race-based violence in the past week, but those events brought an extra urgency to the proceedings. Our report on the evening is here, and includes these observations: “One thing that did not get spoken on Monday night – the subject is vast, and the time was brief – is the role that theater people and other artists bring to the telling of stories. Whose stories get told, and whose get ignored? How are the stories told? Who tells them? Who listens? What is the role of theater and other arts organizations in expanding the conversation, in making it emotionally understandable and at the same time spreading more light than heat? Who gets hired? Who doesn’t? These are essential questions that contemporary artists and their followers need to confront.”

Actor Joseph Gibson, spinning a tale for The Color of NOW. Photo: Peter Irby

Actor Joseph Gibson, spinning a tale for The Color of NOW. Photo: Peter Irby



CHAMBER MUSIC NORTHWEST. Portland’s premiere summer music festival continues through July 31, and one of this week’s highlights should be Death and Delight, the festival’s newest collaboration with the contemporary dance troupe BodyVox. The performance, which combines dance, music, and Shakespeare (Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet and Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream) opens a nine-show run on Thursday, July 14, at BodyVox.

Meanwhile, a look at a trio of CMNW events that ArtsWatch has tracked so far:

  • LAWRENCE DUTTON ON THE BODY, THE VIOLA AND THE EMERSON QUARTET. The famed chamber quartet shows up for CMNW concerts Friday through Sunday of this week, and Alice Hardesty interviews its violist on the Emerson sound, the group’s future, its “Passing the Torch” program, the role of the viola, and why the group’s players started standing during performances rather than sitting, the way other quartets do.
  • ORION TAKES ON SCHUBERT AND BEETHOVEN. Angela Allen writes of another leading quartet’s “cleanly and movingly rendered interpretations” of a couple of Romantic touchstones, Schubert’s grand Death and the Maiden and Beethoven’s String Quartet in C-sharp Minor.
  • GREAT MUSICIANS HANDLE ANDREW NORMAN’S GRAND TURISMO. Angela Allen from the front lines of the July Fourth Weekend performances: “ ‘Higher! Louder! Faster!’ That’s how 36-year-old composer Andrew Norman describes the ’emphatic trajectory’ of his 2004 Gran Turismo. The audience seemed to enjoy the ride, and if I didn’t concur entirely, at least I appreciated its wit.”




  • WHEN THOUGHTS ATTACK. CoHo Summerfest concludes with New York actor/comedian Kelly Kinsella’s solo show about a woman who “walks into a restaurant to order lunch and is sucked into a whirlpool of anxiety. Clinging to her sense of humor and an emergency Xanax, she teeters between the salmon or a complete nervous breakdown.” Well, we’ve all been there, haven’t we? Thursday through Sunday.
  • WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE WHITE IN AMERICA? The local launch of this anthology “contains more than eighty personal narratives that break the white code of silence,” including a story from Portland artist and writer Anne Mavor, whose installation I Am My White Ancestors will be at Clackamas Community College in October, and fellow Northwest participants Tereza Topferova Bottman, Jan Priddy, Patrik McDade, Leah Mueller, Carol Weliky, and Janie Starr. Tuesday, July 12, McMenamins Kennedy School.
  • NU SHOOZ FREE AT MARYLHURST. The legendary Portland soul and R&B band from the ’80s led by husband and wife John Smith and Valerie Day is back in the saddle and touring with a new album, Bagtown. At 7 p.m. Friday, July 15, the band will give a free hometown concert on the green at Marylhurst University, south of Lake Oswego. Let the good times roll: We Can’t Wait.
  • NORTHWEST DANCE PROJECT’S PRETTY CREATIVES. Luca Signoretti of Spain and Anton Rudakoov of Russia, winners of the Portland company’s latest choreographer competition, will have had 18 hours each to create new work on the 36 dancers in NWDP’s summer LAUNCH program. See the results at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Portland State University’s Lincoln Performance Hall.
Day and Smith of Nu Shooz: Concert on the Green, Friday. Photo: Phil Isley

Day and Smith of Nu Shooz: Concert on the Green, Friday. Photo: Phil Isley



ArtsWatch links


From left: Genevieve Adams, Kayla Dixon, Tara Velrde in Broadway Rose's "West Side Story." Photo: Liz Wade

From left: Genevieve Adams, Kayla Dixon, Tara Velarde in Broadway Rose’s “West Side Story.” Photo: Liz Wade


WEST SIDE STORY: THE MEMORY LINGERS ON. Broadway Rose’s vibrant production hooks into an American tradition that feels fresh and up-to-date. Christa Morletti McIntyre reviews.

CAPTAIN FANTASTIC SAVES THE DAY. Marc Mohan falls for Viggo Mortensen as an off-the-grid modern-day hippie dad raising his brood in the Pacific Northwest in this funny flick: “His combination of weathered wisdom, intellectual and physical fitness, and mischievous spark makes Ben the perfect dad. And his expressions of soulful regret and outsized pride make him fully human, which is even better.”

GABRIEL KAHANE’S AMERICAN TOUR. Brett Campbell writes about the young composer’s fresh spin on serious music and his piece for the Oregon Bach Festival, Gabriel’s Guide to the 48 States.

LINDA K. AND TRIO A: A NEW VIEW. Jamuna Chiarini writes about Portland choreographer Linda K. Johnson’s latest steps in her longstanding adventure with the Yvonne Rainer landmark dance.

TOP DOWN: MAKING IT HAPPEN EVERY WEEK. Erik McClanahan writes about movies for ArtsWatch. He’s also a projectionist for the Northwest Film Center. Here, he reveals the hoops the tech squad needs to jump through to project those classics on an outdoor screen for the center’s Rooftop Cinema series.

JEALOUSY’S COLD HEART, MELTING. On the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Elizabethan Stage, Suzi Steffen discovers a Winter’s Tale that bends toward forgiveness, not justice.

MUSIC WATCH WEEKLY. Brett Campbell’s weekly column keeps you updated about what’s happening on Oregon’s busy classical and contemporary music scene.

DANCE WATCH WEEKLY. Jamuna Chiarini’s latest dance calendar also includes a look at the most recent version of Ten Tiny Dances.

FILM WATCH WEEKLY. Marc Mohan’s most recent big-screen wrap takes a look at Bette Davis eyes and tickling lies.

REQUIEM, WRESTLING WITH THE ANGELS. Sir James MacMillan’s A European Requiem, which premiered at the Oregon Bach Festival, “is less a work of solace … than a deep and fiercely felt argument about the unknowable – a lamentation not for an individual soul but for the soul of a continent,” ArtsWatch writes.

BREAKING THROUGH: ROBERT COLESCOTT AND J.D. PERKIN. Paul Sutinen considers “the marvelous juggling act of composition, the exactitude of line in the drawing, sure smooshes with just the right brushiness of paint, the hot color” in some old works by the great Colescott at Laura Russo Gallery, and the collection of ceramic heads by Perkin that constitute “a major exhibition of what seems to be breakthrough work. … The works make me feel as though the sculptor had a burst of ‘what the hell, why not?’ energy.”


Robert Colescott, "A Fool There Was... Europe–Africa", 1992, acrylic on canvas, 84 x 72 inches/Courtesy Laura Russo Gallery

Robert Colescott, “A Fool There Was… Europe–Africa”, 1992, acrylic on canvas, 84 x 72 inches/Courtesy Laura Russo Gallery



About ArtsWatch Weekly

We send a letter like this every Tuesday to a select group of email subscribers, and also post it weekly on the ArtsWatch home page. In ArtsWatch Weekly, we take a look at stories we’ve covered in the previous week, give early warning of events coming up, and sometimes head off on little arts rambles we don’t include anywhere else. You can read this report here. Or, you can get it delivered weekly to your email inbox, and get a quick look at all the stories you might have missed (we have links galore) and the events you want to add to your calendar. It’s easy to sign up. Just click here, and leave us your name and e-address.


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