Kúkátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe

DanceWatch Weekly: Dualities and contradictions

As PSU pulls the plug on its dance department, the city demonstrates how vital dance is in the city

Dualities and contradictions exist in extremes this week in Portland’s dance scene.

While Portland’s talented dancers and choreographers are dancing for their lives and performing all over the city, Portland State University has decided to abolish its dance program, according to a press release for SHUT DOWN: The Final Performance from PSU Dance Students. Although PSU’s contribution to the community has been waning over the years because of continuous budget cuts and the policies of the various administrations, losing a university dance program, especially in a cultural hub like Portland, will have long-lasting, far-reaching consequences.

In a show of support for Portland dance artists, and in resistance to the cultural shift away from supporting the arts, showing up to this week’s dance performances (and there are many) is the action to take.

See you in the theatre!

Performances this week

Photo of NW Dance Project dancers Lindsey McGill and Elijah Labay. Photo by Christopher Peddecord.

Summer Splendors
Works by Lucas Crandall, Tracey Durbin, and Rachel Erdos, Sarah Slipper
World Premiere by Sarah Slipper
NW Dance Project
June 8-10
Portland State University, Lincoln Performance Hall, 1620 SW Park Ave.
Internationally acclaimed concert pianist Hunter Noack will perform Chopin’s 24 Preludes to the choreography of Lucas Crandall, Tracey Durbin, Rachel Erdos, and Sarah Slipper, as part of the The Chopin Project, one of two pieces being performed in their annual Summer Splendors concert.

The Chopin Project, which premiered in 2015, “avoided an attempt to make movement that translated the music directly, instead creating a parallel sphere that mirrored the richness and delight of the music rather than the notes. And that was tremendously satisfying,” wrote ArtsWatch’s Barry Johnson at the time.

The second piece in the program Tell Me How it Ends, a world premiere by NW Dance Project Artistic Director Sarah Slipper, is a work for two couples (Andrea Parson, Elijah Labay, Julia Radick, and Franco Nieto), danced to a mix of contemporary classical and experimental music. It depicts a couple’s dual perspectives on their relationship over time.

Kúkátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe, 6:30 pm June 9. Photo courtesy of Kúkátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe.

Kúkátónón 2017 Showcase!
Kúkátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe
6:30 pm June 9
Jefferson High School Auditorium, 5210 N Kerby Ave.
Kúkátónón’s young dancers and drummers will end the year with a performance featuring West African dance and drumming, ballet, and guest performances by Sebe Kan (a West African dance company) and Baramakono (an African drumming ensemble).Kúkátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe is a Portland children’s dance company founded by Rolia Manyongai-Jones in 1983, and now directed by Dana Shephard. It focuses on inspiring confidence among the troupe’s dancers and broadening awareness of African and African American cultural traditions throughout Oregon. The company offers tuition-free African dancing, drumming, and classical ballet lessons on a weekly basis, taught by professional music and dance instructors.

Goblin King: A David Bowie and Labyrinth Tribute by Trip the Dark Dance Company, June 2-17, The Headwaters Theatre, 55 NE Farragut St. Photo courtesy of Trip the Dark Dance Company.

Goblin King: A David Bowie and Labyrinth Tribute
Trip the Dark Dance Company
Co-directed by Corinn deWaard and Stephanie Seaman
June 9-17
The Headwaters Theatre, 55 NE Farragut St.
In tribute to Jim Henson’s 1986 film Labyrinth and singer/songwriter David Bowie, Trip the Dark Dance Company takes the audience on an adventure to the center of the Labyrinth to rescue Sarah’s baby brother from the Goblin King after Sarah had wished him gone. It’s a mind-bending, hypnotic adventure that includes a little tap, contemporary dance, theater and a lot of Bowie, and… “where everything seems possible and nothing is what it seems.”

Jazz Around the World, Presented by Wild Rumpus Jazz Co., June 9-11. Photo by Alleh Lindquist.

Jazz Around the World
Presented by Wild Rumpus Jazz Co.
June 9-11
New Expressive Works, 810 SE Belmont St. (Entrance is on the south side door of the WYSE building)
Wild Rumpus Jazz Co., co-founded by Kelsey Adams and Lucy Brush, is bringing jazz dance back to Portland in their latest concert, Jazz Around the World, which explores jazz dance composition in relations to the different instruments, sounds, rhythms and melodies present in a variety of world music.The history of jazz dance is rooted in African American vernacular dance and over time branched out into many different styles including tap, Broadway, funk, hip-hop, Afro-Caribbean, Latin, Pop, club jazz, popping, B-boying, party dances and many more. A few historical jazz choreographers include Katherine Dunham, Jack Cole, Lester Horton and Bob Fosse. Well-known Portland jazz teachers and choreographers include Tracey Durbin and Mary Hunt.

Wolfbird Dance, comprised of Selina DiPronio and Raven Jones, will perform as part of the Dance Out Loud Choreographers Showcase, June 10-11. Photo courtesy of Woldbird Dance.

Dance Out Loud Choreographers Showcase
Directed by Oluyinka Akinjiola and Donna Mation
June 10-11
Center Space Studio, 420 SE 6th Ave.
With the intention of pushing boundaries, and in the theme of “resistance,” this brand new presenting platform, created by dance artists Oluyinka Akinjiola and Donna Mation, will present three new works by Portland choreographers Jocelyn Edelstein, Sheyla Mattos and Wolfbird Dance.

Chickens and Cheese Pizza, Inclusive Arts Vibe Dance Company, Disability Arts and Culture Project, 4:30 pm June 12. Photo courtesy of Inclusive Arts Vibe Dance Company, Disability Arts and Culture Project.

Chickens and Cheese Pizza
Inclusive Arts Vibe Dance Company, Disability Arts and Culture Project
4:30 pm June 12
The Rosewood Initiative, 16126 SE Stark St.
Inclusive Arts Vibe Dance Company, founded in 2005 by Kathy Coleman (current director), Erik Ferguson (co-artistic director of Wobbly Dance), and Jody Ramey, is a mixed-ability, mixed-age dance company that aims to further the artistic expression of people with apparent and non-apparent disabilities, by providing dance, choreography and performance as an artistic outlet.

Chickens and Cheese Pizza will be performed by Daric Anderson, Eleanor Baily, Arrow Bless, Ryan Blumhardt, Rachel Esteve, Peter Heiken, Addie Nelson, Monique Peloquin and Scott Selby (you can read their full bios here). The collection of five dances, choreographed by company members, digs into the human experience, exposing a full spectrum of emotions.

Moving History: Portland Contemporary Dance Past and Present, a film by Eric Nordstrom, 7:30 pm June 13. Photo courtesy of Tere Mathern.

Moving History: Portland Contemporary Dance Past and Present
a film by Eric Nordstrom
7:30 pm June 13
Portland State University, Lincoln Performance Hall, 1620 SW Park Ave.
With the help of some of Portland’s most notable dance artists and writers, along with archival research, 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. Back in June 2016 I interviewed Nordstrom prior to the screening of the film’s first iteration, and you can read that conversation with you again here.

SHUT DOWN: The Final Performance from PSU Dance Students
presented by the PSU Dance Program/School of Theater+Film
Under the direction of Tere Mathern, Dance Faculty
June 14-15
Portland State University, Lincoln Performance Hall, 1620 SW Park Ave.
The entire Dance Program at Portland State University has been cut. In this final performance, Portland State University dance students, faculty, and community dance members, will perform works that express mourning, celebration, integration, and liberation through movement to mark the department’s passing.

Performances next week


DanceWatch Weekly: Dance without women

We celebrate International Women's Day with a thought experiment

Happy International Women’s Day!

Can you imagine the world of dance without women? No? I can’t either; it’s unfathomable.

It’s safe to say that the majority of the worldwide dance community—dancers, teachers, assistant directors, rehearsal directors, costume designers, and administrators—are women. Take them away and what have you got? A handful of men who, interestingly, are the ones running most of the dance companies and whose choreography is most widely seen.

The movement, A Day Without A Woman, which is happening today (Wednesday), seeks to show the importance of women in domestic and global economies by asking women to strike. The intention is to bring attention to issues that continually plague women, including lower wages, sexual harassment, discrimination, and job insecurity—all of which pertain to women in the dance world as well.

So, when you are deciding on what dance performances to see this weekend, imagine them without the women involved, because the harder our society and government makes it to survive as an artist, the harder it will be for women artists to continue. DanceWatch urges you to consider if that feels right to you, and what you can do to affect the change towards equality.

Performances this week

Companhia Urbana De Danca. Photo courtesy of Companhia Urbana De Danca.

Companhia Urbana De Danca
Presented by White Bird
March 9-11
The Newmark Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway
With a background in ballet and psychology, artistic director Sonia Destri Lie, in collaboration with her company dancers, creates dances that mix her place, the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, with the dancers personal life experiences, hip-hop and B-boy techniques.

Companhia Urbana De Danca brings two dances to Portland: ID:ENTIDADES explores the ongoing dialogue between person and place, set to music by Rodrigo Marçal; and Na Pista is a throw-down, rhythmic feast, that expresses individuality within community.

Spectacle Garden 10: Dance Party
Hosted by Ben Martens
8 pm March 10
The Headwaters Theatre, 55 NE Farragut St
This monthly, community-oriented performance series, curated by musician and butoh dancer Ben Martens, includes physical comedy, dance, film, music, poetry as well as many other undefined mediums of expression. This month’s theme is a giant dance party that may or may not include a Trump Piñata to pummel. Check out the Facebook event page for the full lineup of participating artists.

The Portland Ballet Studio Company and Kúkátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe.

The Portland Ballet Studio Company
Directed by founder/artistic director Nancy Davis and artistic director Anne Mueller
March 10-12
The Portland Ballet Studio Theatre, 6250 SW Capitol Hwy Road
This pre-professional company made up of nine dancers ranging in ages 12-19, will perform a variety of work from the past to the present from choreographers Marius Petipa, John Clifford, Anne Mueller, Jamey Hampton and Ashley Roland, with a guest performance by Kúkátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe.

Mr. Gaga-a film capturing the life of Batsheva Dance Company’s artistic director, Ohad Naharin.

Mr. Gaga—a film
Directed by Tomer Heymann
March 10-16
Living Room Theaters, 341 SW 10th Ave
Eight years in the making, the film, Mr. Gaga captures the life of Batsheva Dance Company’s artistic director, Ohad Naharin.

Naharin has been at the helm of this Israeli dance company since 1990, has created over 20 works for the company, and is the creator of a movement form called Gaga—a guided improvisational class that is available to all ages and helps facilitate new pathways into movement.

In The Heights: music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, directed by Julianne Johnson-Weiss, and choreographed by Sarah Parker.

In The Heights
Music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, directed by Julianne Johnson-Weiss, and
choreographed by Sarah Parker
Portland Community College
March 10-19
PCC Sylvania Performing Arts Center, 12000 SW 49th Ave
In a Dominican-American community in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, life is bubbling on a hot summer day in this tale of a neighborhood’s struggles and sacrifices in search of identity and place by Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda. Originally premiered in 1999, this reproduction, set on the students of Portland Community College, is choreographed by Portland dance artists Sara Parker.

Parker serves as the Interim Dance Chair at Portland Community College, holds a B.S. in Dance from the University of Oregon, and an MFA in Modern Dance from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. She can also be found teaching dance at BodyVox Dance Center, and has recently performed with Tere Mathern in Edge Effects.

Performances next week

March 10-16, Mr. Gaga, Living Room Theaters
March 10-19, In The Heights, Portland Community College, choreography by Sara Parker
March 15, Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, a co-production with Ping & Woof Opera and Necessity Arts Collective
March 16-18, Carmen, NW Dance Project
March 17, Dancing with Rameau and J.S. Bach, The Baroque Dance Project, Alice Sheu and Julie Iwasa
March 19, Castles and Wizards, a collaboration between The Oregon Symphony, Intel and BodyVox’s Jamey Hampton and Ashley Roland.

Upcoming performance

March 23-April1, Skinner/Kirk Dance Ensemble, Presented by BodyVox
March 24, Shaping Sound, Travis Wall, Presented by Portland’5
March 24-25, Alembic Double Bill: Claire Barrera and Noelle Stiles, Presented by Performance Works NW / Linda Austin Dance
March 31, Junk in da Trunk, Tempos
April 1, Duality: Dance Ballet of India, Presented by Rasika
April 2, Sahomi Tachibana Dancers, Portland Japanese Garden
April 4-5, Shen Yun, Presented by Oregon Falun Dafa Association
April 6-8, Ronald K. Brown/Evidence, Presented by White Bird
April 8-9, The Snow Queen, Eugene Ballet Company
April 10, Noontime Showcase OBT2, Presented by Portland’5
April 15, Synesthesia, BodyVox, TEDx Portland
April 15, Bridge the Gap, Presented by Sepiatonic
April 13-22, Terra, Oregon Ballet Theatre
April 14-16, New work by Jin Camou, Performance Works NW Alembic Co-Production
April 25-26, Che Malambo, Presented by White Bird
April 27-29, Contact Dance Film Festival, Presented by BodyVox and NW Film Center
April 28-29, Appalachian Spring Break, Scotty Heron and Brendan Connelly, Presented by Performance Works NW / Linda Austin Dance
May 4-7, Taka Yamamoto, Produced by Portland Institute for Contemporary Art
May 5, Spring Dance Concert, The Reed College Dance Department
May 5-7, Inclusive Arts Vibe Annual Performance, Disability Arts and Culture Project
May 10, Martha Graham Dance Company, Presented by White Bird
May 26-28, N.E.W. Residency performance, Dora Gaskill, Jessica Kelley, Stephanie Schaaf, and Kumari Suraj
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 8-10, Summer Splendors, NW Dance Project
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: Light in the dark

A surprisingly busy week of dance lurks in the dark of winter

Portland dance performances this weekend offer light, intimacy, experimentation, new perspectives, and a slew of other wonderful and interesting things.

For starters, Portland based photographer-dancer-writer Intisar Abioto opens a new installation at The White Box. Then BodyVox performs as part of Portland’s Winter Light Festival, and Rainbow Dance Theatre from Monmouth, Oregon, will dance with technology for one night only at PSU’s Lincoln Hall. Butoh artists Meshi Chavez presents a new group of dancers from his nine-week workshop Being Moved, while Kúkátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe performs for a company fundraiser. Meanwhile, international dance artist Julian Barnett will perform at Flock Dance Center Friday night and lead a workshop on Saturday.

It’s a full weekend with many juicy bits to bite into. Enjoy!


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