Dance Weekly: Past and future lenses

Keith Hennessy dances himself to death, a new dance film festival is born, Kyle Abraham is in town and audiences now need their passports.

Over the weekend I saw choreographer/performance artists Keith Hennessy perform “Bear/Skin” presented by PICA, and Oregon Ballet Theatre perform James Canfield’s “Romeo and Juliet.” It may seem like an odd pairing, but they were perfect together, each filling in where the other was incomplete, at least for me.

Before he performed, Hennessy “explained” his dance by reading a short essay he had written. Some of the points he touched on: Democracy is founded on slavery, misogyny and genocide; modernism is deeply rooted in racist cultural appropriation; and action films are a bridge between our cop-killing desires and the narrative of “The Rite of Spring,” which exposes gendered roles of the female as sacrificial and the male as protector. I suppose all of those are debatable propositions.

Hennessy danced the “chosen one’s” dance to the death from “The Rite of Spring” while wearing a man-sized teddy bear costume strapped to his back after telling us that once upon a time you could get money for killing American Indians, different amounts for men, women and children. And when they ran out of Native Americans, the bounty changed to grizzly bears until the bears ran out. For me, all of this was an extraordinary lens to view “Romeo and Juliet” through, and at some point during “Romeo and Juliet” I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if ballet audiences went to see Hennessy and Hennessy audience went to see the ballet?”

Arts Watcher Martha Ullman West had a wildly different experience seeing “Romeo and Juliet” and talks about it in her review.

Performances this week

1358-Kyle-Abraham-STG.jpg Kyle Abraham | STG, Moore Theater | Mar, 2015 © Jerry and Lois Photography All rights reserved

Kyle Abraham courtesy of White Bird. © Jerry and Lois Photography

Kyle Abraham
Presented by White Bird.
March 10-12
The Newmark Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway
A.I.M., or Abraham In Motion the company, will be performing three pieces beginning Wednesday evening: “Absent Matter,” an abstract dialogue on race in America; “The Gettin,” a dance that questions freedom and the power of perception; and “The Quiet Dance,” a quintet exploring the unsaid.

Choreographer Kyle Abraham explores identity through the lens of his own history of growing up in the hip hop culture of the 1970’s and his classical education in piano, cello and visual arts. His work emphasizes sound, human behavior and visual elements as a means of expressing and exposing his personal investigations on stage.

Abraham will be in residence at Reed College during his stay in Portland, and will be offering two workshops and a lecture demonstration that are open to the public, all of which will take place in the PAB Dance Studio (Performing Arts Building). You can find more information about those classes on the White Bird or Reed College websites.

Living Local
Northwest Piano Trio and PDX Contemporary Ballet
7:30 pm March 11
Cerimon House, 5232 NE 23rd Ave
Newly formed PDX Contemporary Ballet directed by Joanna Hardy and Briley Neugebauer will perform with the Northwest Piano Trio in their concert “Living Local,” featuring music by local composer Kenji Bunch and world premieres by Stacey Philipps and Mike Hsu.

Still from “One Fine Day," a site-specific screen dance piece in collaboration with Freefall Dance Company Directed by Sima Gonsai and choreographed by Lee Fisher.

Still from “One Fine Day,” a site-specific screen dance piece in collaboration with Freefall Dance Company directed by Sima Gonsai and choreographed by Lee Fisher.

Dance Film Day
The Outlet Dance Project
March 13
3-4 pm Q & A
4:30-6 pm Film Screening
Performance Works NW, 4625 SE 67th Ave.
On Sunday I will be hosting Dance Film Day in partnership with Performance Works NW/Linda Austin Dance. There will be a Q & A with several Portland filmmakers and a screening of films that were chosen by my partners and I for my festival in New Jersey, The Outlet Dance Project.

Dance Film Day is the first event in a series of performances from March 13-May 31 that are part of the Dance Wire Dance Passport event. There are 12 performances in all and at each performance you attend, you will get a stamp that enters you into a raffle to get 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 detailed information on the performances and how to get stamps and prizes.

The filmmakers in Dance Film Day are: Marta Arjona with Anna Borràs, Maggie Bailey, Ilana Goldman, Sima Gonsai, Jasmine Hearn & Paul Kruse, Juliette Machado, Kyle Georgina Marsh & Ann Lupo, Chris Rogy, Jen Roit, Amy Seiwert, Zornitsa Stoyanova, Wobbly Dance, Jana G. Youne. Wobbly Dance’s film “Waking the Green Sound” was featured in The Outlet film festival, and earlier in 2015, Arts Watcher Brett Campbell interviewed directors Arakelyan and Ferguson. For more information on the filmmakers, go to The Outlet Dance Project’s 2015 filmmakers page.

Pure Surface. Photo credit Robert Duncan Gray.

Pure Surface. Photo credit Robert Duncan Gray.

Pure Surface
Claire Barrera, Kelly Rauer and A.M. O’Malley
7 pm March 13
Valentine’s, 232 SW Ankeny St.
Curated by Stacey Tran and Danielle Ross, Pure Surface is a performance series interested in encouraging cross-disciplinary practice and performance by bringing together movement, text and film in the spirit of improvised collaboration. Each month a new group of artists is brought together in the intimate, open-air setting of Valentine’s and performance is made.

This month’s artists are movement artist Claire Barrera who will be seen in the upcoming (Un)Made YOU with Performance Works Northwest, video artist Kelly Rauer whose work was chosen for the PORTLAND 2014 Biennial of Contemporary Art presented by Disjecta and writer A.M. O’Malley, whose first full-length book of poems, Expecting Something Else, will be out in early 2016.

Next Week and later this month

March 17, Louder Than Words, NW Dance Project
March 19-April 3, Butoh College: classes, performances and community dialogue. Presented by Mizu Desierto and Water in the desert.
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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