Jamuna Chiarini

Profiles & Conversations 2017

From poets to painters to dancers to actors to musicians, 21 tales from ArtsWatch on the people who make the art and why they do it

Art is a whole lot of things, but at its core it’s about people, and how they see life, and how they make a life, and how they get along or struggle with the mysteries of existence. That includes, of course, the artists themselves, whose stories and skills are central to the premise. In 2017 ArtsWatch’s writers have sat down with a lot of artists – painters, actors, dancers and choreographers, poets, music-makers – and listened as they spun out their tales.

We’ve been able to tell their stories because of support from you and people like you. Oregon ArtsWatch is a nonprofit cultural journalism organization, and your gifts help pay for the stories we produce. It’s easy to become a member and make a donation. Just click on the “donate today” button below:

Here are 21 stories from 2017 about Oregon artists and artists who’ve come here to do their work:

 


 

Erik Skinner. Photo: Michael Shay

Eric Skinner’s happy landing

Jan. 18: “On the afternoon that Snowpocalypse struck Portland, Eric Skinner walked into the lobby at BodyVox Dance Center after a morning in the studio and settled easily onto one of the long couches in the corner. As always he looked trim and taut: small but strong and tough, with a body fat index down somewhere around absolute zero. If anyone looks like a dancer, Skinner does. Even in repose he seems all about movement: you get the sense he might spring up suddenly like a Jumping Jack on those long lean muscles and bounce somewhere, anywhere, just for the sake of bouncing.” In January, after 30 years on Portland stages, Skinner was getting ready to retire from BodyVox – but not from dance, he told Bob Hicks.

 


 

Les Watanabe in ‘Sojourn’ by Donald McKayle, Inner City Repertory Company. Photographed by Martha Swope in New York. 1972. Photo courtesy of Les Watanabe

Les Watanabe on Alvin Ailey, Lar Lubovich, Donald McKayle and his life in dance

Jan. 20: In a wide-ranging Q&A interview, Jamuna Chiarini hears a lot of modern-dance history from Watanabe, who was in the thick of it and now teaches at Western Oregon University:

“During Alvin Ailey’s CBS rehearsals, Lar Lubovitch was teaching in the next studio. I ran into him at the drinking fountain. While living in L.A., I had read articles about him in Dance Magazine. So while he was stooped over drinking, I exclaimed, ‘Lar Lubovitch! I’ve read all about you!’

“At that point he stood up facing me wiping his mouth and looking incredulous like, ‘Who is this guy?’ I then asked, ‘Do you ever have auditions? I would love to dance with you.’

“’Are you dancing now?’ he asked.

“’Yes, with Alvin Ailey next door, but it is only for five weeks.’

“’Where do you take class?’ Lar asked. ‘At Maggie Black’s,’ I answered. ‘Good. Let’s meet at her first class. Then you can rush back to rehearsal. See you next week.’”

Continues…

DanceWatch Weekly: Dear Santa

DanceWatch ends 2017 with a letter to Santa and a few last performances

Welcome to the very last DanceWatch of 2017. It’s been a hell of a year, but thankfully we had dance.

After today, DanceWatch will be on a break for two weeks and will reconvene in the new year on the January 12, at the Newmark, with movement artists Lil’ Buck and Jon Boogz and their collaborative work Love Heals All Wounds. The work combines dance and spoken word and “addresses social issues while also promoting diversity, inclusion, and empathy as a uniting force.” A perfect start to a brand new year.

Jamuna Chiarini

Before we leave 2017 in the dust, and head into the future, let’s recap. In 2017 DanceWatch covered 271 dance performances. That’s TWO HUNDRED AND SEVENTY ONE dance performances, folks! That’s a lot, and I know I missed a few.

White Bird and BodyVox both celebrated 20 years presenting and making dances in Portland, Eric Skinner retired after dancing with BodyVox for 20 years, and Portland State University clicked delete on its dance program. A state university without a dance program is almost unheard of, and the disappearing dance program is a bizarre occurrence in such a fast growing, dance-centric town as Portland, overflowing with talent.

I also had the privilege of speaking with 16 different dance artists from Portland and beyond—a completely selfish endeavor I have to admit. The more distant we become from one another in this computerized world, the more compelled I feel to connect. It’s hard living life in general, especially as an artist, and I don’t want to live it alone. I want to know how other people do it, how they live their lives as artists, how they make their work, what makes them feel successful, and how they see themselves in the world. I want to know it all, and I want to share it with you. I think the solutions are in those conversations, somewhere.

Les Watanabe in “Salsa Caliente” by Donald McKayle commissioned for the Joyce Trisler Danscompany. Photo courtesy of Les Watanabe. Photographer unknown.

The year began with an interview with Les Watanabe, a dance faculty member at Western Oregon University and a former dancer with Alvin Ailey, Lar Lubovitch and Donald McKayle. I was shocked to learn that he lived here in Portland and that I had never heard of him. Shouldn’t someone of his caliber be teaching in the Portland community? I think so. The same goes for quite a few of the other “retired” professional dancers I know of floating around Portland.

I also interviewed former New York City Ballet soloist Tom Gold, the three commissioned choreographers for Oregon Ballet Theatres XX program (Helen Simoneau, Nicole Haskins and Gioconda Barbuto), Iranian dancer and filmmaker Tannin, Butoh artist Mizu Desierto, Butoh artist Meshi Chavez and visual artist Yukiyo Kawano, former NW Dance Project dancer Ching Ching Wong, Oregon Ballet Theatre dancers Xuan Cheng and Ye Li, Allie Hankins on her creative process, Spenser Theberge on Forsythe technique, and Linda Austin on her new work a world, a world. These are just a few of the interviews/previews/reviews written by myself and my colleagues here at Oregon ArtsWatch. The entire collection can be found under Dance on Oregon ArtsWatch’s main page.

Dancer Ching Ching Wong. Photo (c) Peddecord Photo

Even though we had a record year, I still think more work needs to be done and more funding needs to be found in order to support a strong, healthy, growing dance ecosystem. In this past week alone, I have had three separate conversation with dance artists about feeling exhausted. Why? Because it takes every ounce of energy they have to produce a concert. Not only do choreographers have to create a dance, they have to find the money to fund it. That endeavor in itself is stressful and exhausting and takes up a huge amount of time and energy, energy that could be spent making art. What if choreographers had enough money to pay other people to do the grant writing, fundraising, and marketing, in addition to paying themselves and their dancers, of course. Sounds brilliant right? It is. This should be the norm. For a community that loves dance so much, the financial support just doesn’t match. So…

Dear Santa,

For 2018 and beyond, I would like;

1. Someone to produce regular seasons of Portland/Oregon choreographers so they don’t have to keep producing themselves.
2. More funding, we’re just barely getting by. How about new sources of funding and more of it. ArtsWatch Executive Editor Barry Johnson had a few ideas on how to fix this problem that he wrote about for Artslandia. Check it out here. He suggests that the arts in Oregon aren’t being funded sufficiently and gives suggestions on how to rectify this.
3. Free or low cost health care and mental health services for artists.
4. Fiscal sponsorship and or free or low cost help to become a non-profit.
5. A dance advocacy/resource group that helps promote the dance community as a whole throughout the larger community, and advocates for and them and communicates on their behalf with the press. Also provides administrative support with grant writing, press releases, artist statements, marketing, low cost design services, material distribution, and creates mailing distribution lists to buy. Good examples of this are The Field in New York City, Dance USA, and Dancers Group in San Francisco to name a few.
6. More artist residencies. Do you have space dancers could rehearse in? If so, create a residency. Choreographers need time and space to make work and Portland currently just has two.
7. Create opportunities and productions for choreographers to make new work. Portland has an abundance of talented choreographers and dancers floating around with nothing to do. Think Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration. We can make dances anywhere for any event.
8. Have auditions and hire NEW artists instead of the ones you’ve always hired.
9. Create a pipeline of exchange with other communities outside of Portland or Oregon to get your work seen, see new work, and be part of a larger community.
10. Additional funding sources for touring.
11. A summer dance workshop for professionals that draws professional dancers and teaching professional from around the world.
12. Make Portland a dance center that people are interested in being a part of and staying in for the long term.

Warmly,
Your servant in dance,

Jamuna Chiarini

Candace Bouchard dances in The Nutcracker one last time before her retirement from Oregon Ballet Theatre/Photo by Blaine Truitt Covert

This week in Oregon dance, Nutcrackers reign supreme at Oregon Ballet Theatre and Eugene Ballet. A transformative work for a transformative time.

Long time OBT dancer Candace Bouchard will retire at the end of the run and the same goes for Suzanne Haag of Eugene Ballet who I danced with many moons ago at The School of the Hartford Ballet in Connecticut. Both beautiful and amazing dancers with talent that extends beyond the stage.

Imago Theatre’s two shows continue; FROGZ, a tale of frogs, penguins, cats, and inanimate objects combined with physical comedy and fantastical costumes that upends the viewers sense of reality and HOTEL GONE, in which five dancing travelers push, pull, and shove in a hotel lobby “where identities shift, love is uncertain, and souls search for substance Checking-in and checking-out take on new meaning as live music drifts through HOTEL GONE as the dancers are propelled through coat racks, exiting and entering a world of timeless seduction and trapped mysteries.”

Butoh dancer Paula Helen. Photo by Erica Howard.

Closing out the year will be Mood Factory #2: Bones and Flowers, hosted by Dan Reed Miller, Ben Martens, and Hank Logan, at 7 pm on December 30th at The Headwaters Theatre in North Portland. This eclectic evening of performances by an array of movement, theater, and music practitioners addresses spirituality and mythology, issues of gender and culture, racial justice and cultural appropriation, sexuality, feminism, matriarchy, and our innate connection to nature and ritual.

The featured artists are; Butoh artist Paula Helen, actor, dancer, director, practitioner and teacher of Action Theater improvisation Mary Rose, dancer and visiting Butoh teacher Nathan Montgomery, dancer, performance artist, improvisor, physical comedian, ritual creator, Butoh practitioner, and lighting wizard Hank Logan, dancer Alison Krochina, renaissance man, performance artist, dancer, electronic sound/musician, producer, Butoh practitioner Ben Martens, and Dan Reed Miller.

Have a wonderful holiday season. Celebrate with love and light, and see you in the new year with more dance.

Upcoming Performances

January
January 6, Community Dance Day, NW Dance Project
January 8, Free Dance Day, BodyVox Dance Center
January 12-13, I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra, Leah Theresa Wilmoth
January 12, Love Heals All Wounds, Lil’ Buck and Jon Boogz, Presented by Portland’5 Center for the Arts
January 10-11, Tesla: Light, Sound, Color, Harmonic Laboratory, Eugene
January 13, Tesla: Light, Sound, Color, Harmonic Laboratory, Portland
January 15, Tesla: Light, Sound, Color, Harmonic Laboratory, Bend
January 18, Zoe Jakes & Special Guests: A Dance & Variety Revue, Presented by Narcissa Productions LLC
January 18-28, Fertile Ground Festival of New Work/Groovin’ Greenhouse
January 19, The Global Street Dance Masquerade Presentation and Film, Portland Art Museum
January 21, M/f duet + Teething, Marissa Rae Niederhauser (Berlin) and Aaron Swartzman (Seattle), Performance Works NW Alembic Artists
January 25-27, Rennie Harris Puremovement, presented by White Bird
January 28, Garden of Earthly Delights with Salem Concert Band (World premiere), Rainbow Dance Theatre, Independence

February
February 1-10, The skinner|kirk DANCE ENSEMBLE, presented by BodyVox
February 3-25, Chitra The Girl Prince, NW Children’s Theatre, Anita Menon
February 4, The Lady Of The Camellias, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema Live from Moscow
February 15, Faculty Dance Concert featuring guest artist Vincent Mantsoe, Hosted by University of Oregon School of Music and Dance
February 17-18, Pink Martini, Eugene Ballet Company, Eugene
February 18, Chapel Theatre Open House, Chapel Theatre
February 21, Mark Morris Dance Group, presented by White Bird
February 23-25, Configure, PDX Contemporary Ballet
February 24-March 4, Alice (in wonderland), choreography by Septime Webre, performed by Oregon Ballet Theatre

March
March 1-3, Urban Bush Women, presented by White Bird
March 4, The Flames Of Paris, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema Live from Moscow
March 8-10, Jessica Lang Dance, presented by White Bird
March 14, Compañia Jesús Carmona, presented by White Bird
March 15-17, HEDDA, NW Dance Project
March 22-24, To Have It All, choreography by Katie Scherman, presented by BodyVox

April
April 4, iLumiDance, Rainbow Dance Theatre, Corvallis
April 5, Earth Angel and other repertory works, Rainbow Dance Theatre, Corvallis
April 5-7, Stephen Petronio Company, presented by White Bird
April 8, Giselle, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema Live from Moscow
April 9, Noontime Showcase: Jefferson Dancers, Presented by Portland’5
April 12-14, Contact Dance Film Festival, presented by BodyVox and Northwest Film Center
Apr 14-25, Peer Gynt with Orchestra Next, Eugene Ballet Company, Eugene
April 12-21, Man/Woman, choreography by Mikhail Fokine, Darrell Grand Moultrie, Nicolo Fonte, James Canfield, Jiří Kylián, performed by Oregon Ballet Theatre
April 19-28, Early, push/FOLD, choreographed and directed by Samuel Hobbs
April 20-29, X-Posed, Polaris Dance Theatre, Robert Guitron
April 24-25, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, presented by White Bird
April 24-25, The Wind and the Wild, BodyVox and Chamber Music Northwest

May
May 4-5, Current/Classic, The Portland Ballet
May 10-12, New work premiere, Rainbow Dance Theatre, Western Oregon University, Monmouth
May 10-19, Rain & Roses (world premiere), BodyVox
May 11-13, Compose, PDX Contemporary Ballet
May 14, Noontime Showcase: OBT2, Presented by Portland’5
May 16, Ballet Hispȧnico, presented by White Bird
May 17-20, CRANE, a dance for film by The Holding Project
May 23-June 3, Closer, original works by the dancers of Oregon Ballet Theatre

June
June 8-10, Up Close, The Portland Ballet
June 10, Coppelia, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema Live from Moscow
June 14-16, World Premiere – Ihsan Rustem, MemoryHouse – Sarah Slipper, NW Dance Project
June 15-17, New Expressive Works Residency Performance
June 24, Salem World Beat, Rainbow Dance Theatre, Salem

 

DanceWatch Weekly: a world, a world

An interview with Linda Austin on the culminating chapter in her series on memory and movement, plus "Nutcrackers" and more

Happy Holidays, Happy Solstice, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, and a Merry Christmas.

Jamuna Chiarini

Hold onto your hats, dance lovers, because you have a dizzying 11 dance concerts to choose from this week! And, because we are especially strapped for time in this accelerated period of the year, I’m going to attempt to make this week’s performance listings briefer-ish, except for an extended preview of Linda Austin’s a world, a world, which I caught a glimpse of last week. In this version of DanceWatch you’ll need to click on the links for performance information.

Continuing for a second week at the Keller Auditorium is George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, performed by Oregon Ballet Theatre accompanied live by the Oregon Ballet Theatre Orchestra.

Candace Bouchard dances in The Nutcracker one last time before retiring from Oregon Ballet Theatre. Photo: Blaine Truitt Covert.

The students of The Classical Ballet Academy, directed by Sarah Rigles, Candalee Wrede, and Sissy Dawson, will perform an assortment of holiday-themed dances for different tastes and attention spans, from a full-length version of The Nutcracker to a contemporary version of A Christmas Carol, as well as a condensed Nutcracker and an even more condensed version called The Nutcracker Sweet Suites to be performed by the youngest dancers. You can catch all of it at Lincoln Performance Hall at Portland State University.

Continues…

DanceWatch Weekly: Dancing magic, wonderment and joy

Oregon Ballet Theatre's 'Nutcracker' opens this week alongside NW Dance Project's 'Bolero + Billie'

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for some magic, wonderment, and joy in my life right now, and thankfully this weekend’s dance performances deliver just that.

BodyVox’s 20th anniversary celebration continues with Lexicon, a new collection of dances that marries technology and dance and also includes audience participation.

Jamuna Chiarini

NW Dance Project gets into the spirit with a double bill of Bolero and Billie. Bolero, choreographed by NW Dance Project resident choreographer Ihsan Rustem in 2016, is a reimagined, contemporary version of Ravel’s Bolero that ArtsWatcher Bob Hicks called a “bright and witty new Boléro, which he’s rescued from the graveyard of pop-culture banality and restored affectionately to its pedestal of seductively oddball expressionism.” If you’re interested in reading about Rustem’s artistic process, you can read my 2016 interview with him here. Billie, choreographed by the company dancers to the music of American jazz musician and singer-songwriter Billie Holiday, is a series of 13 vignettes that highlight love and interpersonal relationships.

George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker also opens this week at Oregon Ballet Theatre, along with a variety of other Nutcrackers that offer variations in ticket price and length of production; something for everyone’s budget and attention span. Longtime Oregon Ballet Theatre soloist Candace Bouchard will retire at the end of the run and will perform her favorite role Dewdrop on closing night. Don’t miss her final performance, and keep a look out for Heather Wisner’s interview with her for ArtsWatch.

At Reed College this weekend, dance majors and community dancers will perform new works by dance faculty members Carla Mann, Oluyinka Akinjiola, and Victoria Fortuna in Reed College’s annual winter concert.

Enjoy!

Performances this week

Photo by Steve Cherry, Polara Studio courtesy of BodyVox.

Lexicon
BodyVox
December 7-16
BodyVox Dance Center, 1201 NW 17th Ave.
BodyVox celebrates its 20th anniversary with the premiere of Lexicon, a new work by BodyVox directors Jamey Hampton and Ashley Roland in collaboration with Italian avant-garde composer Ludovico Einaudi. Lexicon creates a new performance experience by marrying dance and technology and by having the dancers interact with infrared sensors, live video graphic generation, motion capture, virtual reality, and more, live on stage.

NW Dance Project in Bolero by Ihsan Rustem. Photo by Chris Peddecord.

Bolero + Billie
NW Dance Project
December 7-9
Portland State University, Lincoln Performance Hall, 1620 SW Park Ave.
See above.

Photo courtesy of Rainbow Dance Theatre.

The Nutcracker with Chamber Ballet of Corvallis
Choreography by Shelly Svobody with guest artists from Rainbow Dance Theatre
December 8-9
Corvallis High School, 1400 NW Buchanan Ave., Corvallis
This full-scale Nutcracker production under the artistic guidance of Shelly Svoboda will feature guest artists from Rainbow Dance Theatre, a dance company directed by former Pilobolus dancer Darryl Thomas and former Merce Cunningham dancer Valerie Bergman based in Monmouth, Oregon, at Western Oregon University. Rainbow Dance Theatre explores dance on multi-levels incorporating virtuosic concert dance, world-dance forms, aerial choreography, and technology creating interactive sets that use fiber optics and electro-luminescent technology.

Reed College dance students. Photo by Gordon Wilson.

Winter Dance Concert
Reed College Performing Arts
7 pm December 9
Greenwood Theatre, Reed College, 3202 SE Woodstock Blvd.
See above.

Candace Bouchard as “The Sugarplum Fairy” and Peter Franc as her “Cavalier” in Oregon Ballet Theatre’s 2015 production of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker,  Photo by Blaine Truitt Covert.

George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker
Oregon Ballet Theatre
December 9-24
Keller Auditorium, 222 SW Clay St.
To Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite, little Marie parties hard, fights with her brother because he broke her new toy, sees a tree grow to the size of a building, fights off rats and travels to the Land of Sweets where she meets the Sugar Plum Fairy, witnesses dancing delicacies from around the world, and takes off in the end to places unknown with the Nutcracker Prince.

Photo courtesy of NorthWest Dance Theatre.

A Nutcracker Tea
NorthWest Dance Theatre
Artistic Directors June Taylor-Dixon
December 9-17
PCC Sylvania Performing Arts Center, 12000 SW 49th Ave
Complimentary tea will be served
An abridged Nutcracker, this version follows Clara and her prince through the Snow Kingdom and the Land of Sweets, showcasing beautifully crafted sets and costumes with choreography by June Taylor-Dixon.

NWDT is a youth ballet company in its twenty-seventh season.

Upcoming Performances

Continues…

DanceWatch Weekly: BodyVox celebrates a milestone

The company that Jamey Hampton and Ashley Roland started turns 20, plus Physical Education stages a festival and Wobbly presents a new film

This week in Portland dance, BodyVox Dance Company celebrates its 20th anniversary with the opening of Lexicon, an electronically infused collection of dances and films; Physical Education hosts a three-day performance festival called Say When that includes performances by local and international artists working in performance, sound, sculpture, video, and virtual reality; and Wobbly Dance and cinematographer Ian Lucero unveil their new film Tidal, an exploration of the relationship between the rhythm of mechanized breath and the rhythm of the oceans in a fantastical underwater world.

BodyVox’s Carmina Burana. Photos by Blaine Truitt Covert.

Twenty years ago BodyVox artistic directors Jamey Hampton and Ashley Roland landed on the name BodyVox (a combination of body and voice) for their Portland-based dance company after trying out such alternatives as CODA (Contemporary Oregon Dance) and Hamroll, a combination of Hampton and Roland that “rolled right off the tongue and into the compost,” Roland said, laughing, when I interviewed her and Hampton several weeks ago.

This playful, collaborative nature between the two seems to be the secret to their success as artistic partners, their longevity in the business, and the general mood and mission of the company and the work it produces. For Roland and Hampton it has always been important that the work be driven by beauty and collaboration, not ego. “That is why I believe we’ve been able to make close to 20 shows in 20 years” Hampton said, “… because we don’t get hung up on the show being about us. It’s us being about the work.”

BodyVox co-artistic director Ashley Roland in Carmina Burana. Photo by Blaine Truitt Covert.

Lexicon is highly collaborative. The collaborators include lighting designer James Mapes; long-time BodyVox filmmaker Mitchell Rose; Italian avant-garde composer Ludovico Einaudi, known for his scores for the films Doctor Zhivago (2002) and Sotto Falso Nome (2004); The Boxtrolls animator Mike Smith; and programmer Wade Olsen, known for the FoxTrax, a hockey puck tracking software that is used during televised games. Lexicon is about re-examining and expanding what is possible in live performance by marrying dance and technology. The dancers use infrared sensors, live video graphic generation, motion capture, and virtual reality.

Roland and Hampton originally met at a Pilobolus workshop in 1983. Hampton danced with Pilobolus for five years after college, and later they performed together in MOMIX where Roland and Hampton were both founding members. The pair later co-founded ISO Dance, which stands for “I’m so optimistic,” with Daniel Ezralow and Morleigh Steinberg. Around 1994 Hampton quit dancing and moved home to Portland to work for his family’s lumber company with Roland joining him later.

Alicia Cutaia and Brent Luebbert in the new BodyVox film Night Shine./ Photo by Blaine Truitt Covert.

“I moved back here (Portland) because my body was broken from all those years of touring, and I needed to rest and recover,” Hampton said. “I started working for our family lumber business because I felt like eventually I would have to know what was going on with that. So I stopped dancing for almost two years and just did yoga and rock climbing and working out.”

Twenty years is a long time, and in that 20 years BodyVox, Roland and Hampton have been written about too many times to count, which is a good thing. So instead of going over that ground myself, I thought I would share with you a couple of my favorite interviews/reviews by other writers, and a list of interesting things that jumped out at me in our interview together. If you have the time and love reading about dance, which I hope you do, you can peruse the collection of writing on the company’s press page on their website.

Photo by Steve Cherry, Polara Studio courtesy of BodyVox.

In describing BodyVox’s movement and choreographic style in a review of Fifteen, a two-part celebration of the company’s 15th anniversary in 2013 that included 22 pieces, ArtsWatch’s senior editor Bob Hicks describes the company as “something of an anomaly in the dance world, quirky and contemporary but outside the mainstream of both the traditional and experimental wings.” He continued: “With a deep affection for circus, mime, vaudeville, and silent film in addition to training in ballet and contemporary-dance techniques, it’s really movement theater–less dancerly than many companies but usually more dancerly than Momix, Pilobolus, and ISO Dance, the companies that artistic directors Ashley Roland and Jamey Hampton worked in before creating BodyVox.” You can read the full review here.

In 2013 Roland and Hampton were interviewed by Portland Interview Magazine in an intimate reflection on BodyVox’s first 15 years and the couple’s 30 year collaborative history together. You can read that interview here.

In 2014 Hampton was interviewed by Emmaly Wiederhold and photographed by Gregory Bartning for their book Beauty Is Experience, Dancing 50 And Beyond, a beautiful and moving collection of stories and photos of dancers still dancing past the age of 50. In his interview with Wiederhold Hampton talks about finding dance at Dartmouth College with dance teacher Alison Chase, dancing for Pilobolus, burning out at age 40, rebuilding himself, measuring success, and considering the “end.” You can read that full interview here.

Interesting bits from my interview with Roland and Hampton

1. Hampton grew up in Portland. Roland grew up in Connecticut.
2. BodyVox was the first Portland dance company to be commissioned and produced by White Bird, The Big Room in 1998.
3. Jamey was 43 when he and Ashley started BodyVox. He is now 63, and he and Ashley continue to perform with the company.
4. The company’s first home was at the old home of PCVA, Portland Center for the Visual Arts, 117 NW Fifth Avenue, which featured so many notable visual artists (Agnes Martin, Robert Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist, Lynda Benglis, Sol LeWitt and Andy Warhol), site-specific installations (Donald Judd, Christo and Robert Irwin), and performance (Allan Kaprow, Trisha Brown and Yvonne Rainer).
5. Ashley gave birth to her first baby in the second year of the company. That baby is graduating from high school this year. Their second child is in 6th grade. Both kids have made appearances in several of the companies dances and films and have gone everywhere with the company.
7. At one point all the women dancers in the company had babies, and Ashley hired someone to watch the kids during rehearsals.
8. The original company members were Eric Skinner, Daniel Kirk, Robert Guitron, Cristina Patricelli-Betts, Eric Oglesby, Jamey Hampton, and Ashley Roland.
9. The company’s second home was over the Bridgeport Brewery where they were for ten years.
10. The company moved into the BodyVox Dance Center, 1201 NW 17th Ave., in 2008.

At the end of our interview Roland said, “Our mission is to enlighten people, to inspire people of all ages. With that in mind WE have to be inspired. So we’re are always looking for those things that give us inspiration. I love the root of the word inspiration: it’s having the spirit within.”

Performances this week

Lexicon (world premiere)
BodyVox
November 30-December 16
BodyVox Dance Center, 1201 NW 17th Ave.
See above.

TRANSCENDENTAEROBICOURAGE with Allie Hankins. Photo courtesy of Physical Education.

SAY WHEN -a mini festival
Hosted by Physical Education; keyon gaskin, Allie Hankins, Lu Yim and Takahiro Yamamoto.
December 1-3
All events FREE and ADA accessible
See below for the full schedule.
“PE’s vision is to offer audiences, artists of all mediums, and curious individuals immersive modes through which to engage with multi-disciplinary art practices and performance. PE acknowledges and scrutinizes the perceived illegibility and messiness of the performing body. PE organizes and hosts READING GROUPS, ARTIST SHARES, curated PERFORMANCES, AEROBICS classes, and straight-up sweat-it-out DANCE PARTIES.”

SAY WHEN-Day 1-TRANSCENDENTAEROBICOURAGE
Allie Hankins and DJ Allan Wilson
5-6pm December 1
Flock Dance Center, 8371 N Interstate Ave. Studio 4
“Traditionally, TRANSCENDENTAEROBICOURAGE is a movement/embodiment event. We breathe, vocalize, bounce, sweat, push, rest, DANCE, and work as individuals & as a group in actions that help us access the pleasure of effort. This special Say When edition of TRANSCENDENTAEROBICOURAGE will focus on sensation and perception.”

SAY WHEN-Day 2-Performances + VR + Dancing
Performances by sidony o’neal, Seanna Musgrave, coast 2c,
and Nadia Granados (Mexico City)
9 pm December 2
S1, 7320 NE Sandy Blvd.

SAY WHEN-Day 3-Performances + SPA
Performances by Hannah Piper Burns, Linda Austin, and Jin Camou
5pm December 3
High + Low Gallery, 936 SE 34th Ave.

Tidal by Wobbly Dance. Photo courtesy of Wobbly.

Tidal-the first cut
Wobbly Dance
Collaborators; cinematographer Ian Lucero, costume designer Jenny Ampersand and musicians Sweetmeat. Additional animation was created by Kurtis Hough. Make-up by Sumi Wu and Jenny Ampersand. Photography by Kamala Kingsley.
2 pm and 7:30 pm December 2
Q&A following the 2pm showing
The Headwaters Theatre, 55 NE Farragut #9
Both screenings will be Audio Described and ASL Interpreted.

In collaboration with cinematographer Ian Lucero, costume designer Jenny Ampersand and musicians Sweetmeat, this one day showing of Tidal-work in progress, will screen next to Wobbily Dance’s “Waking the Green Sound: a dance film for the trees” and a short film by Cheryl Green called “In My Home.”

Tidal is “a fantastical film, where breathing masks transform into diving masks, ventilator tubing morphs into costumes, and an ancient diver who calls the ocean home, draws us into his world. We fall, we dream, we dive. We transform from human to jellyfish and everything in between. This film is a continuation of the exploration of Wobbly’s dark, dream-like and sometimes absurd aesthetic. Starring Yulia Arakelyan and Erik Ferguson as the Dreamers, Nathan H.G. as the Diver, and Grant Miller as the Forager.”

Upcoming Performances

December
December 7-9, Bolero + Billie, Ihsan Rustem, NW Dance Project
December 8-9, The Nutcracker with Chamber Ballet of Corvallis, Rainbow Dance Theatre, Corvallis
December 9, Winter Dance Concert, Reed College Performing Arts
December 9-24, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, Oregon Ballet Theatre
December 13-17, a world, a world (work-in-progress), Linda Austin Dance, PWNW
December 15-17, New Expressive Works Residency Performance, Crystal Jiko, Tere Mathern, Madison Page, Wolfbird Dance
December 17, The Nutcracker, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema Live from Moscow
December 17, Fiesta Navideña, Hosted by Espacio Flamenco Portland
December 22-24, The Nutcracker with Orchestra Next, Eugene Ballet Company, Eugene

January

January 12, Love Heals All Wounds, Lil’ Buck and Jon Boogz, Presented by Portland’5 Center for the Arts
January 18-28, Fertile Ground Festival of New Work/Groovin’ Greenhouse
January 25-27, Rennie Harris Puremovement, presented by White Bird
January 28, Garden of Earthly Delights with Salem Concert Band (World premiere), Rainbow Dance Theatre, Independence

February
February 1-10, The skinner|kirk DANCE ENSEMBLE, presented by BodyVox
February 4, The Lady Of The Camellias, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema Live from Moscow
February 17-18, Pink Martini, Eugene Ballet Company, Eugene
February 21, Mark Morris Dance Group, presented by White Bird
February 23-25, Configure, PDX Contemporary Ballet
February 24-March 4, Alice (in wonderland), choreography by Septime Webre, performed by Oregon Ballet Theatre

March
March 1-3, Urban Bush Women, presented by White Bird
March 4, The Flames Of Paris, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema Live from Moscow
March 8-10, Jessica Lang Dance, presented by White Bird
March 14, Compañia Jesús Carmona, presented by White Bird
March 15-17, World Premiere’s by Sarah Slipper and Cayetano Soto, NW Dance Project
March 22-24, To Have It All, choreography by Katie Scherman, presented by BodyVox

April
April 4, iLumiDance, Rainbow Dance Theatre, Corvallis
April 5, Earth Angel and other repertory works, Rainbow Dance Theatre, Corvallis
April 5-7, Stephen Petronio Company, presented by White Bird
April 8, Giselle, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema Live from Moscow
April 12-14, Contact Dance Film Festival, presented by BodyVox and Northwest Film Center
Apr 14-25, Peer Gynt with Orchestra Next, Eugene Ballet Company, Eugene
April 12-21, Man/Woman, choreography by Mikhail Fokine, Darrell Grand Moultrie, Nicolo Fonte, James Canfield, Jiří Kylián, performed by Oregon Ballet Theatre
April 19-28, Early, push/FOLD, choreographed and directed by Samuel Hobbs
April 20-29, X-Posed, Polaris Dance Theatre, Robert Guitron
April 24-25, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, presented by White Bird
April 24-25, The Wind and the Wild, BodyVox and Chamber Music Northwest

May
May 4-5, Current/Classic, The Portland Ballet
May 10-12, New work premiere, Rainbow Dance Theatre, Western Oregon University, Monmouth
May 10-19, Rain & Roses (world premiere), BodyVox
May 11-13, Compose, PDX Contemporary Ballet
May 16, Ballet Hispȧnico, presented by White Bird
May 17-20, CRANE, a dance for film by The Holding Project
May 23-June 3, Closer, original works by the dancers of Oregon Ballet Theatre

June
June 8-10, Up Close, The Portland Ballet
June 10, Coppelia, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema Live from Moscow
June 14-16, World Premiere – Ihsan Rustem, MemoryHouse – Sarah Slipper, NW Dance Project
June 15-17, New Expressive Works Residency Performance
June 24, Salem World Beat, Rainbow Dance Theatre, Salem

 

DanceWatch Weekly: Giving thanks through dance

The "Enchanted Toyshop" returns for another Thanksgiving, and you could make it a Butoh celebration with Mushimaru Fujieda

On this Thanksgiving week there are just two performance offerings, but they are mighty. The first is a double bill performed by the students of The Portland Ballet (TPB) of The Enchanted Toyshop, choreographed by John Clifford (restaged by founder and TPB artistic director Nancy Davis), and the world premiere of Tourbillon by TPB artistic director Anne Mueller. Both works will be performed to live music by The Portland State University Orchestra, under the direction of Ken Selden, and open Friday, November 24, at Lincoln Performance Hall. The second concert features Butoh artist Mushimaru Fujieda and his solo Natural Physical Poetry, at The Headwaters Theatre for one night only, also on the 24th.

Quickly becoming a Portland Thanksgiving holiday tradition, much as The Nutcracker is for Christmas, The Enchanted Toyshop – originally titled La Boutique Fantasque – was choreographed by Leonide Massine for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes in 1919. Clifford has adapted the story ballet for The Portland Ballet, cutting out much of the original libretto but keeping the original sets and costumes and making room for many new characters. Clifford, a protégé of George Balanchine, is an artistic advisor to TPB and provides a link for the company to one of America’s most influential ballet choreographers.

The Portland Ballet in The Enchanted Toyshop. Photo by Blaine Truitt Covert.

Dance writer Martha Ullman West, in her ArtsWatch review of the show last year, said the ballet “offers comedy and pathos, fantasy and romance, a thoroughly satisfactory happily-ever-after-ending…”

The Enchanted Toyshop, featuring a cast of 75 dancers and 38 musicians, taps into the childhood fantasy of accidentally getting locked in a toy shop overnight. Adventure ensues when toys come to life, and so does lots of dancing by fairies, dolls, children, and Pinocchio, who serves as the master of ceremonies.

Tourbillon, by Mueller, is a new ballet for 27 advanced dancers, set to the music of Joseph Lanner, an Austrian dance composer from the early 1800s who helped popularize the waltz. The ballet features two waltzes, a galop, and a polka danced in colorful 1950s cotillion-inspired dresses, white gloves, and jeweled crowns.

Butoh artist Mushimaru Fujieda. Photo courtesy of Mizu Desierto and Water in the Desert.

Natural Physical Poetry, by Japanese Butoh artist Fujieda, is a solo performance that expresses emotional moments in life poetically, utilizing the body’s movement in relation to its own breath and rhythm, producing a combination of tension and lyricism.

Originally from Handa city, in the Aichi Prefecture of Japan, Fujieda has worked as an actor, scriptwriter, director, producer, writer, and dancer, performing internationally since 1972.

This week’s DanceWatch is brought to you from the beautiful, tropical island of Maui, in Hawaii. I’m here with my family hiding out, but having lots of fun, trying to subvert the traditional Thanksgiving celebration, which wasn’t even a real event, anyway. We are vegetarians (for religious reasons), and we don’t really like the post-holiday shopping mania in celebration of this fictitious, whitewashed holiday.

But I do enjoy the underlying sentiment of Thanksgiving, which is not meat-based, and is about being thankful and generous, and I think traditional Hawaiian culture embodies those sentiments wholeheartedly.

In Hawaii, “Aloha” isn’t just a generous feel-good greeting but also an embodied way of life. Aloha is a way of living and treating each other with love and respect. The lei, which can be made of flowers, feathers, or nuts, is a symbol of family and unity, and the beautiful dancing that Hawaii is so famous for is actually the entire history of the culture told through movement.

So in the spirit of Aloha, Happy Thanksgiving.

Coming up next week: BodyVox celebrates its 20th anniversary with the premiere of Lexicon, a new work by BodyVox directors Jamey Hampton and Ashley Roland in collaboration with Italian avant-garde composer Ludovico Einaudi. Lexicon creates a new performance experience by marrying dance and technology and by having the dancers interact with infrared sensors, live video graphic generation, motion capture, virtual reality, and more, live on stage.

Performances this week

Mushimaru Fujieda: Natural Physical Poetry Performance
hosted by Water in the Desert
8 pm November 24
The Headwaters Theatre, 55 NE Farragut St. # 4

The Enchanted Toyshop by John Clifford, Tourbillon by Anne Mueller
Performed by the PSU Orchestra and The Portland Ballet
November 24-26
Portland State University, Lincoln Performance Hall, 1620 SW Park Ave.

Upcoming Performances

November/December
November 30-December 16, Lexicon (world premiere), BodyVox
December 1-3, SAY WHEN -a mini festival, Hosted by Physical Education
December 2, Tidal-the first cut, Wobbly Dance

December
December 7-9, Bolero + Billie, Ihsan Rustem, NW Dance Project
December 8-9, The Nutcracker with Chamber Ballet of Corvallis, Rainbow Dance Theatre, Corvallis
December 9, Winter Dance Concert, Reed College Performing Arts
December 9-24, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, Oregon Ballet Theatre
December 13-17, a world, a world (work-in-progress), Linda Austin Dance, PWNW
December 15-17, New Expressive Works Residency Performance, Crystal Jiko, Tere Mathern, Madison Page, Wolfbird Dance
December 17, The Nutcracker, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema Live from Moscow
December 17, Fiesta Navideña, Hosted by Espacio Flamenco Portland
December 22-24, The Nutcracker with Orchestra Next, Eugene Ballet Company, Eugene

January

January 12, Love Heals All Wounds, Lil’ Buck and Jon Boogz, Presented by Portland’5 Center for the Arts
January 18-28, Fertile Ground Festival of New Work/Groovin’ Greenhouse
January 25-27, Rennie Harris Puremovement, presented by White Bird
January 28, Garden of Earthly Delights with Salem Concert Band (World premiere), Rainbow Dance Theatre, Independence

February
February 1-10, The skinner|kirk DANCE ENSEMBLE, presented by BodyVox
February 4, The Lady Of The Camellias, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema Live from Moscow
February 17-18, Pink Martini, Eugene Ballet Company, Eugene
February 21, Mark Morris Dance Group, presented by White Bird
February 23-25, Configure, PDX Contemporary Ballet
February 24-March 4, Alice (in wonderland), choreography by Septime Webre, performed by Oregon Ballet Theatre

March
March 1-3, Urban Bush Women, presented by White Bird
March 4, The Flames Of Paris, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema Live from Moscow
March 8-10, Jessica Lang Dance, presented by White Bird
March 14, Compañia Jesús Carmona, presented by White Bird
March 15-17, World Premiere’s by Sarah Slipper and Cayetano Soto, NW Dance Project
March 22-24, To Have It All, choreography by Katie Scherman, presented by BodyVox

April
April 4, iLumiDance, Rainbow Dance Theatre, Corvallis
April 5, Earth Angel and other repertory works, Rainbow Dance Theatre, Corvallis
April 5-7, Stephen Petronio Company, presented by White Bird
April 8, Giselle, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema Live from Moscow
April 12-14, Contact Dance Film Festival, presented by BodyVox and Northwest Film Center
Apr 14-25, Peer Gynt with Orchestra Next, Eugene Ballet Company, Eugene
April 12-21, Man/Woman, choreography by Mikhail Fokine, Darrell Grand Moultrie, Nicolo Fonte, James Canfield, Jiří Kylián, performed by Oregon Ballet Theatre
April 19-28, Early, push/FOLD, choreographed and directed by Samuel Hobbs
April 20-29, X-Posed, Polaris Dance Theatre, Robert Guitron
April 24-25, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, presented by White Bird
April 24-25, The Wind and the Wild, BodyVox and Chamber Music Northwest

May
May 4-5, Current/Classic, The Portland Ballet
May 10-12, New work premiere, Rainbow Dance Theatre, Western Oregon University, Monmouth
May 10-19, Rain & Roses (world premiere), BodyVox
May 11-13, Compose, PDX Contemporary Ballet
May 16, Ballet Hispȧnico, presented by White Bird
May 17-20, CRANE, a dance for film by The Holding Project
May 23-June 3, Closer, original works by the dancers of Oregon Ballet Theatre

June
June 8-10, Up Close, The Portland Ballet
June 10, Coppelia, Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema Live from Moscow
June 14-16, World Premiere – Ihsan Rustem, MemoryHouse – Sarah Slipper, NW Dance Project
June 15-17, New Expressive Works Residency Performance
June 24, Salem World Beat, Rainbow Dance Theatre, Salem

 

DanceWatch Weekly: close partners

Spenser Theberge talks about “Rather This, Then” and his partnership with Jermaine Spivey; L-E-V comes to White Bird; Mood Factory; more

Dancer and Portland native Spenser Theberge and his partner in life and dance, Jermaine Spivey, are back in town to perform Rather This, Then, a work they developed last September during a residency at Disjecta here in Portland. They will perform it twice on Friday, Nov. 17, once at 12:15 p.m. and again at 7:30 p.m. at Reed College’s Massee Performance Lab in the Performing Arts Building.

Jamuna Chiarini

Theberge grew up in Portland dancing at The School of Oregon Ballet Theatre and Columbia Dance in Vancouver and went on to attend Juilliard and dance with the Netherlands Dance Theatre and The Forsythe Company.

Spivey also attended Juilliard, and went on to dance for Ballet Gulbenkian and the Cullberg Ballet, joining Canadian choreographer Crystal Pite’s company Kidd Pivot in 2008, where he dances now. You might have seen him perform back in April 2016 when White Bird brought Betroffenheit to Portland—a collaboration between Kidd Pivot and the Electric Company Theatre that combined dance and theater, which ArtsWatch’s Nim Wunnan captured in his review, which you can read here.

Therberge describes this collaborative work as “highly physical and highly human, calling on body, voice, and visual elements to reveal truths about each other. It’s privacy made public, it’s tenderly voyeuristic, and the result is an opportunity for the audience to see something of themselves represented in another.”

When Theberge was here last year I interviewed him via email about his life in dance in the United States versus Europe. “Working as a dancer in Europe means you’re really well taken care of,” he said. “You get paid all year, have health care, vacation time, physical therapy, a pension plan. Dancing is the same as any other job there (for the most part, although Europe is beginning to see similar budget cuts in the arts as we do in America) and the conditions and benefits of the all jobs are the same.” You can read the full interview here.

Since then, he and Spivey have been quite busy. Therberge has restaged works from Nederlands Dans Theater on companies in Rome, Lyon, and Tulsa, and Spivey just finished a long tour of Betroffenheit with Kidd Pivot and the Electric Company Theater that included being awarded an Olivier Award in London. The Olivier Award, or The Laurence Olivier Awards, is an annual award given by the Society of London Theatre in recognition of excellence in professional theater in London.

Spenser Theberge and Jermaine Spivey. Photo by Michael Slobodian.

Somewhere in there they moved to Los Angeles and are settling in for the first time in two years, Theberge said when we spoke recently via email. “We’ve been focusing a lot on establishing roots and connecting with our new community which has felt so enriching after missing that home feeling for so long. We’ve been teaching a lot and creating short works on dancers around L.A. and America. Now we’re talking about what we want our future to look like and how we can facilitate those experiences.”

Continues…

 
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