Dance Weekly: Northwest Dance Project up close

A new program from NW Dance Project, Butoh College, Dance Wire Dance Passport and a new gathering of artists at PICA's Creative Exchange Lab.

I recently started taking ballet in the mornings at Northwest Dance Project. It’s an open company class, which means advanced dancers from the community can take class alongside the company dancers. For a dancer, it is the perfect environment to push yourself, soak up some good energy from fellow dancers and, for me at least, to get a glimpse at the NWDP dancers in action off stage.

Onstage, the NWDP dancers move as one powerful unit, expressing the extreme emotions and movement desires of the many choreographers they work with. If this is the only way that we see them, I think it is easy to forget their everyday humanness. Seeing them in the studio reveals so much about each of them: their warm up habits, clothing choices, personalities, interactions, relationships, approach to dance, etc. Experiencing their joys and frustrations, side by side, helps me connect with them differently and more deeply onstage.


NW Dance Project dancers (left to right) Samantha Campbell, Elijah Labay, Andrea Parson, Julia Radick, and Franco Nieto in Sarah Slipper’s “Airys”. Photo by Marcel Matthias

Tonight (Thursday, March 17), the company opens its Spring program, “Louder Than Words.” I like this title as it speaks to the power of movement and its infinite variations and ways of expression. I also like the variety of choreographers the company brings in from around the world, giving us a glimpse into the development of contemporary dance in communities outside of Portland.

The program for “Louder than Words” includes “Airys,” choreographed by Artistic Director Sarah Slipper in 2012; “Trace in Loss” by Brazilian choreographer Alex Soares, which also premiered in 2012; and a new piece by resident choreographer Ihsan Rustem.

“Airys” and “Trace in Loss” use dramatic lighting to creates spaces and environments onstage, and collages of songs and sounds to create moments and feelings. Both pieces juxtapose big and small movements that seem to illuminate public and private moments and are full of beautiful sculptural shapes and fluid movement. They explore the full physical and emotional capacities of the dancers, and what they are about is really up to the viewer.

Sadly, I did not see any of Rustem’s rehearsals, and I could not tell you one bit what they look like or what the dance is about. But based on his past pieces (Yidam, State Of Matter and Mother Tongue), I believe that this new dance will be highly physical and dramatic. Rustem comes from the UK where he has danced with such well-known choreographers as Mats Ek, Jiří Kylián, Wayne McGregor and Matthew Bourne to name a few. He has also performed in works by William Forsythe and Twyla Tharp.

Performances this week

Louder Than Words
Presented by NW Dance Project
March 17-19
Newmark Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway

Dance Wire Dance Passport
Presented by Dance Wire
March 13-May 21
Happening all over town
Dance Wire, Portland’s dance resource and service organization, has launched an audience rewards program. The Dance Passport is like a frequent-customer rewards card for seeing dance. Dance fans are invited to attend the performances of 12 dance companies and independent dance artists based in Portland, collect stamps, and be entered into a raffle to win prizes.

The participating companies and Dance Wire member are: Northwest Dance Project, Tempos, BodyVox Dance, PDX Dance Collective, White Bird (presenting Cirque Alfonse), Trip The Dark, AUTOMAL, SubRosa Dance Collective, WolfBird Dance, Jefferson Dancers, The Holding Project, Classical Ballet Academy and Dance Film Day. Check out Dance Wire’s website for more information on the performances and how to get stamps and prizes.

Bennati BD

Photo of Yumiko Yoshioka by Elena Bennati.

Butoh College
Water in the desert, Mizu Desierto
March 15-April 3
The Headwaters Theatre, 55 NE Farragut St
If you have ever been curious about Butoh, now is the time to delve in and investigate. Mizu Desierto, the Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Water in the Desert and The Headwaters Theatre has brought together the leading names in the Butoh dance form from around the world for three weeks of classes, performances and community dialogue. The first performance is 8 pm Saturday, March 19, featuring Natsu Nakajima along with local artists Meshi Chavez, Teresa Vanderkin, Tracy Broyles and Kat MacMillan

Portland State University
7 pm March 17
Lincoln Hall Studio Theater, Room 115, 1620 SW Park Ave
After spending a semester engaging in critical dialogue around environment, listening practices, technology, identity, the body and interdisciplinary research methodology, PSU students will perform new works encompassing their research and incorporating dance, sound and video. The collaboration includes p PSU students in ART 399 Contemporary Soundscapes taught by Burk Jam, and Dance 399 Performance and Collaboration, taught by Tere Mathern and Renee Sills.

Ali Chahrour (Beirut, Lebanon)

Dancer/choreograher Ali Chahrour from Beirut, Lebanon. Chahrour is a participant in PICA’s Creative Exchange Lab. Photo courtesy of PICA.

Creative Exchange Lab: Meet the Artists
Presented by PICA
6 pm March 22
The Cleaners at The Ace Hotel, 403 SW 10th Ave.
Portland Institute for Contemporary Art is committed to promoting artistic exchange, cultivating research processes and fostering the development of new work among national and international artists across disciplines, and Creative Exchange Lab is central to that effort. This year’s artists include visual artist and publisher Marco Braunschweiler (Los Angeles); choreographer/dancer Ali Chahrour (Beirut, Lebanon); musician Shannon Funchess (Portland); visual artist Mark Mitchell (Seattle); writer and performance artist sidony o’neal (Portland); dramaturg Junaid Sarieddeen (Beirut, Lebanon); and choreographer/dancer Morgan Thorson (Minneapolis).

Next Week and later this month

March 25, New Expressive Works/Studio-2. Residency artists to be represented are Catherine Egan, Lane Hunter, Linda K. Johnson and Ruth Nelson.

March 30, Grupo Corpo, White Bird

March 31-April 2, Kidd Pivot, White Bird

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