DanceWatch Weekly: Ballerinas and monsters

It’s all about ballerinas and monsters this week, beginning Thursday with the second weekend run of BodyVox’s semi-annual (it is performed alternately in Portland one year, and then away the next), Halloween-themed show, BloodyVox: Blood Red Is The New Black.

Monsters & Death, Ben Martens monthly showcase at The Headwaters Theatre, opens Friday, this time with a dark twist. And so does INCIPIO, PDX Contemporary Ballet’s new, two-act ballet choreographed by Briley Neugebauer, which combines classical and contemporary dance. Eugene Ballet raises the curtain on Giselle on Friday, too, a version choreographed by artistic director Toni Pimble.

Giselle is one of the creepiest ballets out there, and one of my favorites. It tells the story of a young woman, Giselle, who dies from a broken heart (who does that?) when she finds out her lover, Albrecht, is engaged to another. The Wilis, a group of powerful, supernatural women who enjoy dancing men to death, summon Giselle from her grave and offer to avenge her. Sadly/happily, depending on how you look at it, Giselle’s love for her lover saves him from this terrible fate. One of these days I wish a choreographer would change the ending and let the Wilis have their fun. But until then…Happy Halloween.

Performances this week!


Dancers Jeff George and Eric Skinner in BodyVox’s GEORGE AND GEORGE. Photo by Ken Salaman.

BloodyVox: Blood Red Is The New Black
October 27-29
BodyVox Dance Center, 1201 NW 17th Ave
Created in 2010, BloodyVox, BodyVox’s “scary” version of a holiday classic, celebrates directors Jamey Hampton and Ashley Roland’s favorite holiday, Halloween. This dance theatre extravaganza touches on all aspects of Halloween, creating an evening that is dark, mysterious, magical, beautiful, ironic, odd, hilarious and absurd. The dance, which is made up on many smaller dances, incorporates the standard Halloween fare of vampires, zombies, ghosts, killer lady spiders, and creepy identical twins alongside elegant technical ballet and modern dance done in the BodyVox style. It’s all about having fun while getting scared.

When I spoke with Hampton and Roland last week about the dance Hampton said, “It’s your standard modern dance fare.” Roland reiterated “Its typical. Anything you might find at the end of a Martha Graham piece or something that’s gone bad.” Hampton finished the conversation off with: “When you think of horror and modern dance, it’s limitless.”

Spectacle Garden 6: Monsters & Death
Curated & produced by Ben Martens
7:30 pm October 28
Music and Dancing at 930.
The Headwaters Theatre, 55 NE Farragut St
After a wild ride of performances by some of Portland’s finest experimental artists, all focusing on Monsters & Death of course, the evening will continue into the wee hours of the morning with the musical stylings of Wretched Tween Fantasy, Ben Martens, Savage Nightingale and DJ Banzai. Curator and organizer Ben Martens says, “Bring your costume, come late, just come through, all of our nightmares will come true!!”

Ben Martens, who has been curating monthly performances at The Headwater Theatre for several months now, is a poet, electronic music producer, emcee, mover, organizer and performance artist with an interest in revolution, existentialism, comedy, mindfulness and environmentalism. He studied music and performance at Naropa University and has been studying Butoh with Mizu Desierto since his arrival in Portland in January 2015. He and Desierto are hoping to rev up Portland’s performance community by bringing them together for low-cost, low-ambition, high-energy community showcases. Martens is always looking for future performers, particularly performers of color and diverse ages, in theater, comedy, dance and ensemble work. If you are interested in performing, contact Martens at


PDX Contemporary Ballet. Photo by Chris Hughes.

PDX Contemporary Ballet
Choreographed by Briley Neugebauer
October 28-30
N.E.W. Expressive Works, 810 SE Belmont St
Artistic director Briley Neugebauer accidentally created a new choreographic challenge for herself last year when she and her dancers were looking for a way to add more seating at a performance. They decided to place the chairs all around the stage, inadvertently creating a performance in the round. This, of course, is not a new idea, especially in contemporary dance practices, but it was new to Neugebauer and it suddenly opened up an abundance of new ideas. Neugebauer wants to combine the classical form of ballet and contemporary movement practices and ideas.

The work, INCIPIO, which in Latin means “I begin,” is performed in the round, and is set to Jorge Mendez’s “Fragments,” with additional sounds of ambient rain overlaid. A totally appropriate arrangement for this time of year here in Portland.

The process of creating this work was one of self-reflection and self discovery for Neugebauer, she said. Last year she realized that she couldn’t “do it all” and decided to step down as a performer and focus solely on directing the company. At the time she was performing, choreographing, teaching and doing all of the administration work for the company. The decision was difficult, as Neugebauer always identified as a performer and only a performer, and stepping off the stage and out of the limelight at 27 was definitely an adjustment, but a good one, she said.

She also was inspired by the number of dancers who came to her during an audition, expressing the need to get away from the negative, body-shaming rhetoric of the ballet world, and just dance. She decided that she needed to create opportunities for others to dance, and to provide that safe place for them to be whoever they wanted to be as they are.

INCIPIO is part Neugebauer’s personal story and part pure dance.


Eugene Ballet’s Giselle. Photo courtesy of Eugene Ballet.

Eugene Ballet Company
Artistic Director, Toni Pimble
October 28-30
Hult Center for the Performing Arts, 1 Eugene Center, Eugene

See above.


Marginal Evidence by Katherine Longstreth. Photo courtesy of Katherine Longstreth.

Marginal Evidence
A visual installation about the act of choreography
By Katherine Longstreth
October 24-November 5
Reception November 3, 6:00-7:15 pm
Reed College, Performing Arts Building, Performance Lab 128, 3202 SE Woodstock Blvd
Marginal Evidence, a visual installation about the act of choreography created by choreographer Katherine Longstreth, reopens at Reed College in the Performing Arts Building. It was originally installed at the White Box gallery last year around this time. You can read my preview of the exhibit here, and Martha Ullman West’s review of the exhibit, here. There will be a reception and walk through with Longstreth on November 3rd.

Next Week

November 3-12, Reclaimed, Polaris Dance Theatre
November 4-6, Obstacles and Victory Songs, Stephanie Lavon Trotter and Dora Gaskill
November 5-6, All The Marys, Luciana Proaño

Upcoming Performances

November 11-13, Epoch, Jamuna Chiarini and push/FOLD-Samuel Hobbs
November 12-20, the last bell rings for you, Linda Austin Dance
November 17-19, Reggie Wilson/Fist and Heel Performance Group, White Bird
November 19, Jazz Throughout the Ages, Wild Rumpus Jazz Co.
November 19-20, 3rd Annual Glow Variety Show, Trauma Healing Project, Eugene
November 25-27, The Enchanted Toyshop, The Portland Ballet Holiday Show
November 26, Nutcracker Remixed, All That! Dance Company, Eugene
December 2-4, N.E.W. Expressive Works Residency Performance, Dana Detweiler, James Healey, Jessica Hightower, and Renee Sills
December 8-10, In Good Company, NW Dance Project
December 8-10, ARCANE COLLECTIVE, Presented by BodyVox
December 9-11, The Book of Esther — A Rock Gospel Ballet, Ballet Fantastique, Eugene
December 10-26, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker®, Oregon Ballet Theatre
December 15-17, Complicated Woman, Katie Scherman/2016 Performance Works NW Alembic Resident Artist
December 16-18, The Nutcracker, Eugene Ballet Company, Eugene
December 18, Gifts, a film by Clare Whistler/2015 Performance Works NW visiting artist
December 19, Dancing with the Stars: Live! – We Came to Dance, AEG Live NW, Eugene
December 22-24, Cirque Dreams Holidaze, Presented by U.S. Bank Broadway in Portland

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