Agnieszka Laska Dancers

Put on your jammies, pour a glass of wine, get comfortable and hit play. If you are like me and couldn’t make it out to see the Brazilian dance company Grupo Corpo presented by White Bird last night, don’t worry: You can stream all of their dances, including the two they performed last night (Suíte Branca and Dança Sinfôniva choreographed by Rodrigo Pederneiras) on Vimeo in HD for just $5 each. “Watch anytime, anywhere” it says on their website.

This is an unusual way to watch dance, and I wouldn’t recommend it on a regular basis because of how much you actually miss of the live performance experience. But it is a nice compensation, especially because the technology for filming dance has come a long way and looks more real than ever—more like you are actually in the theatre.

The folks over at White Bird are REALLY busy this week. Tonight begins the three-day run of Betroffenheit, a collaboration between two Canadian companies, Kidd Pivot and the Electric Company Theatre, exploring the concept of disaster and our reactions to it. (Given the Cascadia Subduction earthquake hanging over our heads, this has some specific local significance.) Five days later ODC/Dance from San Francisco docks in at the Newmark.

The local dance offerings are also strong this week. Butoh College finishes off with two performances and a community dialogue session on “The Future of Feminine through Embodiment”, Polaris Dance Theatre reveals its new space and shares photographer Jingzi Zhao dance/photography project “Fuse,” little red riding hood makes an appearance, a Russian orthodox sect dances to save the world, and a few of Portland’s most celebrated dancers perform in a fundraiser for The Dancing Over 50 Project.

Performances this week

Kidd Pivot and the Electric Company Theatre in Betroffenheit. Photo by Michael Slobodian.

Kidd Pivot and the Electric Company Theatre in Betroffenheit. Photo by Michael Slobodian.

Kidd Pivot/Electric Company Theatre
Presented by White Bird
March 31-April 2
Newmark Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway

You are the survivor and the disaster all at the same time, and a crisis-management team is on their way to help. You crave escape and pleasure and “The Show” is your distraction.

A hybrid of theatre and dance, Betroffenheit, is a collaboration between two Canadian companies, Kidd Pivot and the Electric Company Theatre, exploring the concept of disaster and our reactions to it.

Butoh Ad Lib: A series of extemporary dances of presence and imagination
Diego Piñón, Mizu Desierto, Douglas Allen, Christopher Mankowski, and Dreaming Body.
8 pm March 31
The Headwaters Theatre, 55 NE Farragut St

8 pm April 2
Yumiko Yoshioka, Mizu Desierto, Stephanie Lanckton, Sheri Brown, Helen Thorsen and Mary Cutrera.

Community Dialogue
The Future of Feminine through Embodiment
7 pm April 3
The Headwaters Theatre, 55 NE Farragut St

Wrapping up three weeks of classes, performances and dialogue, Butoh College finalizes this weekend in two performances by international and regional Butoh artists along with the last session of community dialogue. Organized and directed by Portland Butoh artists Mizu Desierto, Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Water in the Desert and The Headwaters Theatre.

If you have ever been curious about Butoh this is your last chance to see performances by some of the leading names in Butoh from around the world. If you are interested in further investigation into the experience of Butoh, I previously interviewed two Portland Butoh artists, Alenka Loesch and Meshi Chavez, about theirs.


The Dance over 50 Project. Photographs by Gregory Bartning.

Dancing Over 50 Soirée
Hosted by Stance On Dance; Emmaly Wiederholt and photographer Gregory Bartning
6 pm April 1
Alberta Abbey, 126 NE Alberta St

A collaboration between dancer/writer Emmaly Wiederholt and photographer Gregory Bartning, The Dancing Over 50 Project, through interviews and photos, works to destroy the myth that dance and professional dancing belong only to the young by talking with dancers over 50 from the West Coast about their lives in dance.

The project is being turned into a book and the fundraiser for the book publication will take place this weekend with performances by Gregg Bielemeier, Linda Austin, Carla Mann, Susan Banyas, Emily Schultz, Bb DeLano (of 11 Dance Co.), Joshua Hernandez (of Nonsense Dance), Rachel Slater (of Muddy Feet) and a short talk by Alito Alessi.

Portland dancers included in the publication are Linda Austin, Susan Banyas, Mike Barber, Gregg Bielemeier, Nancy Davis, Jim Lane, Heidi Duckler, Tracey Durbin, Jamey Hampton, Carla Mann, Tere Mathern, Jim McGinn, Josie Moseley, Jayanthi Raman and Eric Skinner.

Polaris New Home Open House and Jingzi Photography exhibition “Fuse”
6 pm April 1
Polaris Dance Theatre, 1826 NW 18th Ave

Polaris Dance Theatre has a new home and they want to share it to you. Join them in celebration of their new digs with drinks, hors d’oeuvres, a raffle, and open rehearsals by the Polaris Dance Company and Polaris Junior Company.

Polaris will also be hosting a sneak peek at “Fuse—Portland Dance Portrait,” featuring the photography of Jingzi Zhao, on display from April 1-May 1st. “Fuse” is a collaborative dance/photography project by photographer Jingzi Zhao that captures dancers on location, in historic landmarks, neighborhoods, and businesses around Portland, to showcase the beauty, culture and lifestyles of Portland.

A larger body of work by Jingzi Zhao will be exhibited at the Multnomah Arts Center from October 7-25.

Agnieszka Laska Dancers
April 1-3
Studio 2-Zoomtopia, 810 SE Belmont St

Inspired by Polish writer, Olga Tokarczuk and paintings by Zdzislaw Beksinski, Bieguni or “runners” in English, depicts the story of a Russian orthodox sect that believes all evil comes from stagnation, and that only people, continually in motion, can save the world. The premise? The moving body is sacred.

Original choreography by Agnieszka Laska with an original score by ALD Resident Composer Jack Gabel.


Raven and Red in Tempos Contemporary Circus’s production of Little Red. Photo courtesy of Tempos.

Little Red
Tempos Contemporary Circus
April 1-3
Echo Theatre Company, 1515 SE 37th Ave

This dance tells the Little Red Riding Hood story through the eyes of the circus, the Tempos Contemporary circus that is. Wearing her famous hood, this Red Riding Hood dances, leaps and flies her way through the forest, avoiding creepy creatures and having a ball of a time until she meets the inevitable wolf.

Dance Wire Dance Passport participant. Click for details.

Next Week’s Performances

April 7-8, ODC/Dance, White Bird
April 7-21, Pearl Dive Project, BodyVox Dance
April 8, The Journey, Inclusive Arts Vibe Dance Company Performance
April 8-9, Ignite, PDX Dance Collective
April 14, Leo, A contemporary dance by Ron Amit

What is involved in the making of a dance? What does the duality of Shiva and Krishna look like in Bharatanatyam? What happens behind the scenes at a circus? What does the space between two people look like? How do you play a skeleton piano? How can you express yourself in performance beyond the conventional? What happens when you bring a writer, dancer and a filmmaker together in a small space? These are all questions that this weekend’s performances will address. If you don’t go, you will never know.

Evidence of a dance, Marginal Evidence by Katherine Longstreth.

Evidence of a dance, Marginal Evidence by Katherine Longstreth.

Marginal Evidence (an interactive experience of dance-making),
Katherine Longstreth
October 1 – November 14
White Box, 24 NW 1st Ave
6 pm October 1, Opening Reception
3 pm November 7, Panel discussion with paleontologist Theodore Fremd, artist Sara Huston, and Mark Johnson, a criminologist with the Portland Police Bureau.

Twenty years ago Katherine Longstreth, a Portland dance artist, received a camera for Christmas from her father, she took the camera to rehearsal, turned it on and forgot about it. Twenty years later after moving to Portland Oregon from New York she unpacked and found these beta tapes, had them converted and realized that they were the only record she had of the full rehearsal process of any of the dances she ever made. Little did she know that the footage she took of herself in those rehearsals, would become the spark for Marginal Evidence, a visual art exhibit that she developed, which opens tonight, at University of Oregon’s White Box gallery.

Marginal Evidence is a visual art installation about the intimate act of choreography. Dance is ephemeral and when it is gone, what is left? How do we know it existed? What is the evidence left behind? Using the approach of a forensic investigator, Longstreth reveals the private process of dance making and exposes the inner life of archival materials.

“My goal was to try to lift the lid metaphorically on the creative process and my creative process is dance: that’s what I am using because that’s my material and my expertise. I am hoping it will reverberate for any artist in any kind of creative process.”

She was also interested in broadening the definition of choreographer. What would be created if you took an artist from one field and had them create art in a field outside of their discipline? What would they make?

Using set design, text, illustrations, diagrams, photographs and video projections, Longstreth has created an interactive experience in collaboration with filmmaker, Dicky Dahl, and composer, Loren Chasse. As visitors move through the three rooms at the White Box, they will be encouraged to engage with the materials by reading, touching, watching and listening to it.

Inspired to look at this research process through different lenses, Longstreth has organized a panel discussion on November 7  at 3 pm, with paleontologist Theodore Fremd, artist Sara Huston, and Mark Johnson, a criminalist with the Portland Police Bureau. A Q & A with the artists involved with the exhibition will follow.

Choreographed by Jayanthi Raman and Guru Adyar Lakshman, presented by RASIKA
7 pm October 2
Portland State University, Lincoln Performance Hall, 1620 SW Park
Choreographed by Jayanthi Raman, this troupe of seven professional Bharatanatyam dancers from India and the US, will perform Anubhava. The word has many meanings but generally refers to the ecstatic experience of the divine. The first half of the dance will be about Lord Shiva, the Hindu god known as the destroyer, and the second half will be about Lord Krishna, the most popular Hindu god identified by his dark blue skin (the color of a dark monsoon cloud) and his love of cows.

Raymond Silos of Ballet Fantastique

Guest artist Raymond Silos of Ballet Fantastique

Cirque de la Lune
Ballet Fantastique, directed by Donna and Hannah Bontrager
7:30 pm October 3
Portland State University, Lincoln Performance Hall, 1620 SW Park
Set in the 1930’s depression era, Ballet Fantastique will take us behind the the scenes of a traveling circus company just an hour before curtain. Mother and daughter choreographic duo from Eugene, Donna and Hannah Bontrager, have created a contemporary ballet piece that sets the scene on faded grandeur and romance, combining texture and illusion, set to original music by Troupe Carnivàle, Mood Area 52, and Betty and the Boy. Expect the unexpected. Guest starring three folk orchestras and international guest circus artist Raymond Silos.

Michelle Fujii and Toru Watanabe in 88: Hachi Hachi

88: Hachi Hachi
Unit Souzou, directed by Michelle Fujii and Toru Watanabe
October 2-4
Zoomtopia, Studio 2, 810 SE Belmont Street
Portlands newest professional Taiko company, Unit Souzou, will perform 88:Hachi Hachi directed by dance artist Susan Banyas. A new work that weaves taiko, dance and theater, the piece will investigate the space that exists between two people in a percussion journey.

Skeleton Piano Dances
Agnieszka Laska Dancers
October 3-4
Bodyvox Theater, 1201 NW 17th Ave
Now in its twelfth year, Agnieszka Laska’s modern dance company will be searching for the truths that have occupied human minds for centuries: what is true, what is worth fighting for, and what is worth being lost.

The evening will fuse modern dance choreography, video work by Takafumi Uehara and live music by three living composers—Jack Gabel, Dan Senn and Jennifer Wright—on the Skeleton Piano. Wright has written Obscure Terrain for Laska and will be playing a shot glasses, wire brushes, timpani mallets, picture wire, scrap wood, a homemade bottle cap mandolin rail, cannibalized hammers and keys, a tambourine stick, magnet strips and a junkyard cymbal. You can get a sneak peek to her marvelous music on Vimeo.

Performance artists Kelly McGovern

Performance artists Kelly McGovern.

Lucy Lee Yim, Kelly McGovern, Future Death Agency and Antibody Corporation
Presented by Lacuna Club & Performance Works NW
9 pm October 2, Lacuna Club, 5040 SE Milwaukie
8 pm October 3, Performance Works NW, 4625 SE 67th
One performance, two locations, two different days, brought to you by Lacuna Club and Performance Works NW, this show features Portland performance artists Lucy Lee Yim, Kelly McGovern, Future Death Agency, and Chicago-based Antibody Corporation, who will be performing new works.

Pure Surface
Dora Gaskill, Tyler Brewington, Justine Highsmith
6 pm October 4
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 dance artist Dora Gaskill, writer Tyler Brewington and filmmaker Justine Highsmith.

Dance Weekend: Linda Austin, WolfBird, AL Dancers

Linda Austin kicks off an epic solo project and other movement delights

If you are a dance fan and can’t get enough, full weekends like this one are the best. Starting on Friday night through Saturday, Linda Austin, the recent recipient of the  Regional Arts & Culture Council Performing Arts Fellowship will start the multi-concert (Un)Made: Solo Relay Series at Performance Works NW.  WolfBird Dance, an emerging contemporary dance company directed by Selina DiPronio and Raven Jones, also opens Friday and continues through Sunday evenings at Conduit. And Agnieszka Laska’s Dancers and Cascadia Composers combine forces to cap off the weekend on Sunday night at PSU’s Lincoln Hall.

(Un)Made: Solo Relay Series
Stage one of a new multi-year project by Linda Austin
Beginning 8 pm March 13-14
Performance Works NW, 4625 SE 67th Ave, Portland
Like a great game of telephone, through a multi-year, multi-stage process, Linda Austin will explore the ideas of making, unmaking, transforming, transmitting and distilling of dance in a pass-along solo for 8-10 performers culminating in a community ensemble version of (Un)Made at the end of the cycle.

The slow build continues Fridays and Saturdays, the second weekend of each month at 8 pm.

March 13-14 Linda Austin
April 10-11 keyon gaskin + Jin Camou
May 8-9 Matthew Shyka + Linda K. Johnson
June 12-13 Nancy Ellis + Robert Tyree
July 10-11 Tahni Holt + Jen Hackworth
August 7-8 Special coda performance by 4 new performers! Details TBA

WolfBird Dance's "Your Idea of This"

WolfBird Dance’s “Your Idea of This”

Your Idea of This by WolfBird Dance
8 pm March 13-15
Conduit Dance, 918 SW Yamhill Street, Suite 401, 4th Floor,
This emerging contemporary dance company focusing on interdisciplinary collaboration and community, will be performing an interactive dance centered on six dancers, examining the fundamental themes of humanity; love, fear, humor and family drawn from their own experiences. “It is a look at fundamental themes of humanity, such as love, fear, humor, and relationships, and invites the audience to consider exactly how they perceive themselves and the world around them in light of these things.”

AL Dancers "Body Sung Electric"/Photo by Chris Leck

AL Dancers “Body Sung Electric”/Photo by Chris Leck

Agnieszka Laska Dancers (ALD) with Cascadia Composers
8 pm March 15
PSU Lincoln Performance Hall, Rm 175
Agnieszka Laska Dancers, a modern dance company with movement roots in the stylized forms of Martha Graham, Jose Limon, jazz andbBallet, will feature choreography by company members in collaboration with Cascadia Composers, using only music from regional composers. A lecture demonstration by Artistic Director Agnieszka Laska and Resident Composer/Technical Director Jack Gabel on their collaborative process will take place prior to the show.

Recital reviews: Lubomyr Melnyk and Igor Lipinski

Mysticism and magic tricks at the piano recital

Lubomyr Melnyk

Lubomyr Melnyk


Portland recently experienced two eccentric piano concerts that relied less on pianism than on non-musical elements: mysticism and magic tricks.

“The sound of a piano has taught me a lot about the universe, about existence, and about my life,” said Lubomyr Melnyk. “Sound is a miracle, a mystery, and it dismantles the fairy tales that science tells us about the nature of sound.” The Ukrainian-Canadian pianist’s concert at Portland’s Yale Union last month was a philosophical foray into the effect of sound on the body.


Last Rite

The summer's final performance of Agnieszka Laska Dancers' "Rite of Spring" at the Astoria Music Festival Saturday.

Lauren Michelle Redmond as The Chosen One and the  AL Dancers/Chris Leck

Lauren Michelle Richmond as The Chosen One and the AL Dancers/Chris Leck


History is coming to Astoria on Saturday. Not through books covered in dust, or even keyboards covered in fingerprints, but with crazy pulse-pounding music and dance! It’ll be a riot!

There was a riot, a century and a month ago to the day, the most famous riot in the history of classical music, when Igor Stravinsky’s ballet, “The Rite of Spring” premiered in Paris in 1913. Admittedly there isn’t a lot of competition in that specialized category, but it was a doozy. No one died and nothing was burned down, but fists flew, clothes were ripped, and the screaming and shouting nearly drowned out the music. Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes company delivered on a triple threat of outrageous dance, costumes and music, and the scandalous result lived up to his wildest dreams.

These days of course, we have seen much more shocking things, and Astorians are unlikely to riot when the curtain goes up at 7:30 pm June 29 at the Liberty Theater and the exuberant cacophony of a Russian spring thaw begins to spread over them. However, two things that they will experience in this production of “The Rite” will evoke its tumultuous history. While they won’t hear Stravinsky’s colorful orchestration, decried at the time as violent and bizarre, the infamous dissonances are if anything sharper when heard in the piano four-hand version, which will be performed by top Portland pianists (and “Rite” veterans) Jeffrey Payne and Susan Smith of the new music ensembles FearNoMusic and Third Angle, respectively.

And Portland choreographer Agnieszka Laska, who like Diaghilev has never been afraid of controversy, has leapt to a new stage in her artistic development, creating a show which inventively combines distinctive elements of her choreographic repertoire with moves inspired by classic ballet and the landmark 1987 Joffrey Ballet “Rite” reconstruction (Vaslav Nijinsky’s original choreography has been largely lost). And then, just when you think you’ve seen it all, she tops it off with an unflinching gaze at the work’s barbaric denouement.

I was one of the fortunate who got into the sold-out Portland State University performance of this show on June 7th. It started innocently enough, with a group of girlfriends doing girlfriend things, while in the orchestra, winter’s ice melted away underneath. There is no hint that one of them will have danced to her death before an hour has passed.


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