Butoh College Performance Series

DanceWatch Weekly: Global dancing

This week Portland stages bubble with dance from Argentina, Berlin, Brazil, New York and New Orleans

This week Portland will host visiting dance artists from around the globe, beginning tonight with the all-male, Argentinian dance company, Che Malambo, presented by White Bird.

Freshly returned from a performance in France, the Jefferson Dancers will perform their Spring Concert Thursday at the Newmark. These talented, pre-professional dancers will engage in choreography by some illustrious Jefferson Dancer alums.

Also opening Thursday night is the Contact Dance Film Festival, curated by BodyVox artistic director Jamey Hampton in collaboration between Northwest Film Center and Hampton’s long-time collaborator and filmmaker, Mitchell Rose. The festival features a wide range of films on ballet, krumping, Ohad Naharin, and includes Crystals of Transformation, a dance film by Portland costume designer and filmmaker Fuchsia Lin, featuring NW Dance Project dancer Andrea Parsons.

Dance artists Scotty Heron and composer Brendan Connelly are visiting from New Orleans this week, and they’ll dance Appalachian Spring Break at Performance Works NW. XPOSED by Polaris Dance Theatre artists along with guest artist Barbara Lima from Brazil enters its second weekend, and the Butoh College Performance Series closes with Shoot Jeez My Gosh, by Berlin-based Butoh artist, Yuko Kaseki.

Performances this week

Che Malombo at White Bird Tuesday and Wednesday: rhythm and dance.

Che Malambo
Presented by White Bird
April 25-26
Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway
Che Malambo is an all-male, Argentinian dance company that has adapted the dance style of the gaucho—the South American cowboy of the pampas—for the contemporary stage. Movements that were originally designed to emphasize agility, strength, and dexterity among the gauchos is now high-energy choreography that features rhythmic footwork, drumming, singing, and other musical accompaniment.

The Jefferson Dancers Spring Concert, April 27-29 at the Newmark. Photo by Fritz Liedtke.

The Jefferson Dancers
Presented by Jefferson High School
April 27-29
Newmark Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway
This annual spring dance concert performed by one of Portland’s oldest, pre-professional dance companies will showcase choreography by Jefferson Dancers artistic director Steve Gonzales, Jefferson alums and one current student, Alexa McKone. The former Jeff Dancer choreographers include Broadway performer Kevin Paul Clark (featured in Artslandia Kids Magazine in 2015); French choreographer Charlotte Faillard (a former exchange student); La La Land dancer Michael Munday; former Ballet Oregon and Oregon Ballet Theatre dancer Andrea Thompson; commercial dancer and long-time member of NW African American Ballet, Bunky Williams; and Thomas Yale, who performed in the Latin Grammy ceremony, Saturday Night Live, and Dance Moms Season 5.

Photo from Fuchsia Lin’s film Crystals of Transformation. Water crystal costume performed in by Andrea Parson, appearing courtesy of NW Dance Project

Contact Dance Film Festival
Presented by BodyVox and NW Film Center
April 27-29
Teaming up with the Northwest Film Center, BodyVox artistic director Jamey Hampton and his long-time collaborator Mitchell Rose have curated a festival of dance films. The program includes Broken, a documentary by Portland filmmaker Lynne Spencer, on Ballet BC’s lead ballerina Simone Orlando as she comes to terms with a major injury; Crystals of Transformation, a dance film by Portland costume designer and filmmaker Fuchsia Lin, featuring NW Dance Project dancer Andrea Parsons, that promotes water conservation; the Art of Krump: Journey to Heaven by Kaizen Pictures and Mr. Gaga. The films will be simultaneously screened at both the BodyVox Dance Center and the Northwest Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium. All films will screen in both locations.

Appalachian Spring Break by Scotty Heron and Brendan Connelly at Performance Works NW, April 28-29.

Appalachian Spring Break
Scotty Heron and Brendan Connelly
Presented by Performance Works NW / Linda Austin Dance
April 28-29
Choreographer/performance artist Scotty Heron, an early collaborator with Portland’s Linda Austin, and a contributor to the ‘80’s downtown dance scene in New York City will perform Appalachian Spring Break. The dance is a duet that plays “with the iconic, confused and clichéd relationship of choreographer and composer, glancing sideways at Martha Graham and Aaron Copland’s only collaboration and its sepia-toned Americana.” All of the movement, sound and light will be generated in real time, and manipulated by the artists, including composer/sound designer Brendan Connelly, onstage.

Photo courtesy of Polaris Dance Theatre.

Robert Guitron, M’Liss Quinnly, Gerard Regot, (Spain), Barbara Lima (Brazil), and Jess Zoller.
Polaris Dance Theatre
April 28-29
Polaris Dance Theatre, 1826 NW 18th Ave
Polaris Dance Theatre presents new dance works from choreographers Barbara Lima from Brazil; Spanish dance artist and current company member Gerard Regot; founding company member M’Liss Quinnly, who is also the artistic director of Polaris’s Junior and Neo companies; current company member Jessica Zoller; and two new works by artistic director Robert Guitron.

The dances consider ideas of community, individualism against universalism, and politics, playing with energy, group dynamics and the architecture of the body and bodies.

Butoh dancer Yuko Kaseki in Shoot Jeez My Gosh. Photo credit: Dadaware, Sigel Eschkol

Shoot Jeez My Gosh
Yuko Kaseki (Berlin)
Butoh College Performance Series
8 pm April 29
The Headwaters Theatre, 55 NW Farragut St
Concluding the Butoh College Performance Series curated by Portland butoh artists Mizu Desierto, butoh artists Yuko Kaseki from Berlin, will use recorded sounds of war, juxtaposed against iconic images of innocence questioning “the feeling of ambivalence towards the systematic violence of belief that imposes powerlessness, and simultaneously reminds us of the brutal terror that characterizes our epoch.”

Kaseki studied Butoh dance with Anzu Furukawa and performed in her company Dance Butter Tokio and Verwandlungsamt for many years. She tours internationally performing and teaching and collaborating.

Performances next week

May 4-7, Direct Path To Detour, Taka Yamamoto, Produced by Portland Institute for Contemporary Art
May 5, Spring Dance Concert, Reed College Dance Department
May 5, Alice Gosti showing and reception, Hosted by Performance Works NW/Linda Austin Dance
May 6, Place, Vitality Dance Collective
May 5-7, In Close Proximity, The Tempos Contemporary Circus
May 5-7, Chickens and Cheese Pizza, Inclusive Arts Vibe Annual Performance, Disability Arts and Culture Project

Upcoming Performances

May 10, Critical Engagement Series with Lu Yim, hosted by Flock Dance Center/Tahni Holt
May 10, Martha Graham Dance Company, Presented by White Bird
May 13, Feria de Portland, hosted by Espacio Flamenco Portland and La Peña Flamenca de Portland
May 13, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Anjali School of Dance
May 16-21, An American in Paris, Presented by U.S. Bank Broadway in Portland
May 20, The Art of Nattuvangam: South Indian Classical music and dance, Hosted by New Expressive Works and Anjali School of Dance
May 20-21, The Future is Female, Mixed Dance Company
May 26-28, N.E.W. Residency performance, Dora Gaskill, Jessica Kelley, Stephanie Schaaf, and Michael Galen
May 26, PDX Choreographers Showcase, PDX Dance Collective
May 26 – 27, Spring Concert – Tribute to the Ballet Russes, Featuring work by Michel Fokine, Tom Gold, George Balanchine, and Lane Hunter, The Portland Ballet
June 2-4, Interum Echos, PDX Contemporary Ballet
June 2-17, The Goblin King, A David Bowie and Labyrinth, Trip the Dark Dance Company
June 8-10, Summer Splendors, NW Dance Project
June 23-24, Risk/Reward Festival Of New Performance, Produced by Jerry Tischleder and Hand2Mouth Theatre
June 27-July 2, Cabaret, Presented by U.S. Bank Broadway in Portland
June 29-30, Choreography XX, Oregon Ballet Theatre
July 15, Pretty Creatives Showing, NW Dance Project
August 24-September 6, Portland Dance Film Fest, Directed by Kailee McMurran, Tia Palomino, and Jess Evans

DanceWatch Weekly: Zipping through dance history

An important new film about Portland dance history, Ronald K. Brown, Eugene Ballet and a Butoh series highlight the week in dance

Dance offerings this weekend zip around through history’s timeline and around the world, bringing us ballet from the early 19th century, to a film documenting Portland’s contemporary dance history, to newer contemporary dance works that combines cultural aesthetics in exploration of self and place.

Portland dance artist and filmmaker Eric Nordstrom has captured six decades of contemporary dance in Portland in his new film Moving History: Portland Contemporary Dance Past and Present. The film screens Thursday night at Portland Art Museum’s Whitsell Auditorium in partnership with the NW Film Center.

With the help of some of Portland’s most notable dance artists and writers, along with archival research, Nordstrom has been begun the process of chronicling the history and evolution of contemporary dance in Portland.

Back in June 2016 I interviewed Nordstrom prior to the screening of the film’s first iteration, and I thought I would share that conversation with you again here.

Also happening this weekend is the performance of three works by Brooklyn choreographer Ronald K. Brown and his dance company Evidence, presented by White Bird. Brown has been making work since 1987 that integrates traditional African and contemporary movement aesthetics.

From April 8-11 Brown and his company members will be teaching a series of workshops at Reed College on composition and dance technique, and will give a lecture demonstration on April 10. Space is limited so register soon.

Interview with Eric Nordstrom

What inspired you to make this film?

Having danced in Portland for a decade (with Oslund and Co., Keith V. Goodman, Linda K. Johnson, and POV Dance, among others), I feel like, before this project, my knowledge of the history of dance in Portland was limited. I was seeing a lot of new people moving to Portland with an interest in dance, and realized that most of them were even more unfamiliar with the history of Portland dance, and yet that they were—through their own practices—becoming part of a rich genealogy. I wanted to make this film to honor those who built the contemporary dance scene in Portland, and also for those of us who are currently dancing here to connect with the past.

How long have you been working on this project?

A year-and-a-half. The catalyst to start the groundwork for this film was receiving a RACC grant.

Where have you sourced the most information about Portland’s dance history?

I have worked in the archives at Reed College and Portland State University, which both contain rich materials in the forms of photographs of past performances, and press releases, course rosters, and other primary documents from when both colleges were central to the dance community in Portland and participated in the shaping of Portland Dance.

The most information has come from my one-on-one interviews with over thirty prominent figures from the history of contemporary dance in Portland. These include Vaunda Carter, Bonnie Merrill, Judy Patton, Nancy Matschek, and Gregg Bielemeier, among others. Many of the artists with whom I spoke had their own archives—old VHS tapes of their own performances, often relegated to closets or basements. Part of the goal of this film is to take this material, preserve it, and to centralize it. This is one part of the film about which I am especially excited.

With this film, I’m doing three things: 1. Gathering the information about Portland dance history through these interviews and this archival footage. 2. Preserving this information by recording the interviews and converting artists’ VHS videos to digital format. And 3. Coordinating with the PSU archives to house footage of some of the seminal performances referenced in the film, and some of the interviews in their entirety.

What was the most interesting or surprising thing that you learned from your research?

I was surprised to learn how the contemporary dance scene in Portland really stemmed from early programs at both PSU and Reed College. It made me realize how much of an impact university resources have on professional companies, and how professional companies can really influence education. This is certainly something to consider as PSU has just abolished its plans to reinstitute its Dance major—which was cut in 1994—and cut its only full time Dance faculty position; this position’s job was supposed to be to help grow the program back into a major. This feels like a real lost opportunity not just for students, but also the Portland dance community. It will be interesting to see what happens at Reed now that they—for the first time in the history of the college—have a Dance major starting in Fall 2016.

Also, I was fascinated to learn about Vaunda Carter’s PBS television show from the early 1970s. It was called Vaunda’s View and played after Sesame Street.

Another pleasure was hearing recollections about Keith Goodman and Jann Dryer, two very influential people in Portland dance who are now deceased. It was really touching to talk to friends and colleagues of both of these artists, and to hear how important their work was, and how they are missed.

The other thing that is crucial to mention is that during the time of making this film, Conduit—Portland’s longtime incubator for contemporary dance—was evicted from their space on the fourth floor of the Pythian Building, where they’d been for almost two decades. Then it was announced that Conduit is closing the doors of their new rental space in the Ford Building. Conduit has been around for 20 years, and has long been the center of Portland dance. Their shuttering is an indication of a changing landscape in Portland, and this event asks us if this changing landscape is for the better or worse for our city. This is a great moment to look back at Conduit, and I hope that this film honors the space and all of the people involved in making Conduit what is has been.

How did you get involved in dance for film?


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