Dance Weekly: Time to improvise!

The Improvisation Summit of Portland 2016 will go where no dancers have gone before

Summer is upon us and that brings festivals, festivals of all kinds, but most importantly dance festivals. I am biased, I know.

Summer festivals to me feel different from the regular programming of the traditional performance season. To me they encapsulate the qualities of summer—bright, festive, free and open—and they run the gamut of experimentation and expression. It is a time to sample many ideas in one place.

Opening on Thursday night, the Improvisation Summit of Portland 2016, curated by Portland dance artist Danielle Ross, features a large swath of the Portland dance community. Since its inception in 2012, the Improvisation Summit, a subset of the Creative Music Guild, has brought together dancers, musicians, filmmakers and other experimental artists to create improvised, one-of-a-kind performances. For me there is a feeling of electricity and risk watching dance artists create movement in the moment while they are performing. There is an aliveness and a deep listening that happens in their bodies that is not always present in set choreographed movement. This year’s summit is stocked to the brim with veteran improvisers and performers who are willing to take those risks.

Performances this week

All Serious Daring Starts From Within
A Site Dance Performance
Directed by Tere Mathern in collaboration with PSU dance students
Student collaborators: Summer Fry, Sara Hursey, Tristan Ahlschlager, and Tori Perez.
5:30 & 6 pm June 2
Outdoors at Portland’s Walk of the Heroines on the PSU Campus located behind Miller Library
Portland dance artist Tere Mathern, in collaboration with her students from the Site Dance class at Portland State University, has created a guided walking dance performance that travels through the Walk of the Heroines garden park on the PSU campus.

Dark Garden
A Dance & Media Installation and Performance
Directed by Dawn Stoppiello
Created and performed by Kayley Berezney, Harriet Cuttler, Melanie Flood, Gabriel Green, Fong Kei Lee, Eden Radar
6-7 pm June 2
Portland State University Lincoln Hall, Studio Theater 55
Ongoing performance from 6:00-7:00 PM
Students from the PSU Dance & Media class taught by Dawn Stoppiello, the artistic director of Troika Ranch, will present their final collaborative projects combining video and movement. In this installation and live performance with digital media intertwined, the audience will experience unexpected images and interactions. The audience is free to walk around and within the installation becoming part of the performance material themselves.

CMG Fest

Photo: Linda Austin, Gregg Bielemeier and Ken Ollis at the Improvisation Summit of Portland, 2014

Improvisation Summit of Portland 2016
Creative Music Guild
June 2-4
Disjecta Contemporary Art Center, 8371 N Interstate Ave

Schedule of Performances

Thursday, 8 pm June 2
Pure Surface: A Tonal Service
Curated by Stacey Tran and Danielle Ross since 2014, Pure Surface is a performance series that encourages cross-disciplinary practice and performance by bringing together movement, text and film artists in the spirit of improvised collaboration. The monthly series which takes place at Valentine’s on SW Ankeny, will be recreated for the Summit in an ensemble work for poets and dancers. The score or “map” of the performers “jobs” has been co-created by the performers.

Performers: Anis Mogjani, Neil Aitken, Stacey Villalobos, Tron (Grape God), Sophie Linden, Jenna Marie Fletcher, Stacey Tran, Leah Wilmoth, Claire Barrera, Jen Hackworth, Linda K Johnson, Noelle Stiles and Danielle Ross.


Photo: Jin Camou. Courtesy of Pure Surface.

10:20 pm
Jin Camou
Camou is a choreographer, performer, and facilitator, based in Portland since 2006. She has performed and collaborated with Lu Yim and Linda Austin. In 2013 her ensemble work Constance premiered at Conduit Dance. She is currently developing material for an evening length show to premier in 2017 and is a member of Linda Austin’s (Un)Made You.


Photo: Danielle Ross

Friday, June 3

8:30 pm
It’s Like This Out There, It’s Like This
Danielle Ross
An in-progress solo that is a study of the “interplay between destruction or self-sabotage and impulsiveness, re-directing and newness. It is a celebration of how multi-faceted, frenetic, complex and messy self-identification can be.”

Ross is a Portland-based choreographer and performer and is on the board of the Creative Music Guild. She co-curates Pure Surface with Stacey Tran, and is a founding member of FRONT, a newspaper dedicated to contemporary dance. Ross is currently working with Linda Austin in (Un)Made You, which will premiere in November, 2016 in Portland.


Photo: Dora Gaskill performing her work-in-progress as part of the Alembic Artists Showcase at Performance Works NW. Photo by Chelsea Petrakis.

10:25 pm
Your feelings about my body
Stephanie Lavon Trotter with Dora Gaskill and Nancy Ellis
An improvised work-in-process that “illuminates the vulnerable spaces of individual bodies and sounds, where they unite and divide.” Your feelings about my body
will be performed in its entirety this fall at Performance Works Northwest.

Stephanie Lavon Trotter is “just a vocalist, just a woman, just creating performances that utilize the sounding and moving body.” She has a B.Mus from Cornish College of the Art and a MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts from Goddard College.

Nancy Ellis is a dance artist who recently appeared in Boom Arts’ production of Matias Umpierrez’s TeatroSOLO and will be appearing in Linda Austin’s (Un)Made.

Dora Gaskill is a dance artist, lighting designer, and writer and is “interested in how the objects of these practices confront each other in representational spaces.” Dora will present a new work called S-words at Performance Works Northwest this fall.

Saturday , June 4


Photo: Tahni Holt. Courtesy of Tahni Holt.

6:15 pm
Tahni Holt and Luke Wyland
Holt and Wyland who have been collaborating for several years will play with material from Holt’s current project focusing on the materiality of the female identified body, messy sensuality, intuition, constant morphing into identifiable/indefinable parts, emotionality and embodied expression.

Holt is choreographer, teacher, and organizer who has been creating performances for 18 years and is the founder and director of FLOCK Dance Center at Disjecta Arts Center. In 2015 Holt received the Barney Award from dance presenter White Bird Dance and will be presenting the commissioned work Sensation/Disorientation in January 2017.

Wyland is an interdisciplinary artist and composer in music, performance and dance. He created the music for Tahni Holt’s Duet Love in 2014 and is part of the multi-instrumentalist band AU (pronounced “Ay-you”) with Dana Valatka and Holland Andrews.


Photo: Catherine Egan and Celine Bouly in Egan’s Et voici, et voilà. Photo by Chelsea Petrakis.

7 pm
Catherine Egan, Celine Bouly and Doug Theriault
Egan, joined in performance by Bouly, will improvise to a structured score created in collaboration with Theriault.

Egan is an interdisciplinary artist focusing on performance. Theriault is a Portland improviser, composer and instrument builder and Bouly is a dance performer and choreographer and has previously performed in worked with by Egan, Randee Paufve, and Susan Banyas.


Photo courtesy of Echo Theatre Company PDX.

The Shindig
Echo Theatre Company PDX
7 pm June 4
Echo Theatre Company PDX, 1515 SE 37th Ave

A shindig, or an elaborate celebratory party, will happen for one night only to raise money to support the programing of Echo Theatre Company PDX, a Portland school that provides classes in acrobatics, trapeze, aerial dance, and physical theater.

The evening will consist of performances by Portland acrobats, bellydancers, singers, trapeze artists, clowns, including BodyVox dancer and aerialist Alicia Cutaia and her partner Russ Stark.

There will be a hosted bar and light refreshments, Fancy socks or stockings are encouraged.

Upcoming Performances

June 9-11, Summer Splendors, NW Dance Project
June 10-11, Studio Company Debut, The Portland Ballet
June 13, FutureForum Presents Julia Calabrese
June 15, Artist in Conversation; Kaj-anne Pepper and Claire Willett, Interfaith Muse
June 17-18, Flyco presents: Casual Cookery, A-Wol Dance Collective
June 17, Risk/Reward Festival of New Performance
June 18-July 2, Procedures for Saying No, Portland Experimental Theatre Ensemble
June 18, Rejoice! Diaspora Dance Theater at TedX Mt Hood
June 24-27, Alegria!, Rejoice! Diaspora Dance Theatre
June 25, Moving History: Portland Contemporary Dance Past and Present, A documentary film by Eric Nordstrom. Additional films by Carolyn Altman and Bonnie Merrill’s Off Location, Waking the Green Sound by Wobbly’s Yulia Arakelyan & Erik Ferguson, and Carla Mann’s Ching.
July 9, Ten Tiny Dances, Beaverton
July 9, Todrick Hall Presents: Straight Outta Oz

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