Northwest Dance Theatre

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…

Dance Weekly: Divine dancing in various guises

All the dance you can possibly think of is happening right here, right now, this weekend.

Just because the weather has gotten dark again and the rain is back does not mean you get to crawl under the covers and stay there for the duration. There are important dance works being performed this weekend and you need to see them. They will NOT be projected on the underside of your blankets. This weekend offers 11 possible ways to connect with and view dance, with a little something for everyone.

Continues…

A double dash of Dennis Spaight

OBT2 and Northwest Dance Theatre are reviving works by the late, great Portland choreographer

For lighting designer Peter West, a frequent collaborator with Dennis Spaight in the last years of the choreographer’s life,  “the door into [his] work was his musicality: his astonishing ability to compose lines of movement that complemented, expanded and illuminated music. And likewise his choices of music illuminated his movement phrases. His range was exceptional: Gershwin, Ellington, Vivaldi, Schubert, Copland, Debussy, Rimsky-Korsakoff, Schumann – and even silence.”

West, commenting on a Feb. 7, 2013 ArtsWatch story, Remembering Dennis Spaight, 20 Years Later, had it right.

The young dancers of OBT2 rehearsing Spaight's "Crayola." Photo: Friderike Heuer

Rehearsing Spaight’s “Crayola”: Emma-Anne Bauman (front), Kimberly Nobriga (middle-left) and Paige Wilkey (middle-right); Siri Ell-Lewis (back-left) and Emily Parker. Photo: Friderike Heuer

Oregon Ballet Theatre’s founding associate artistic director and resident choreographer died more than two decades ago, but this spring, Spaight’s spirit and his talent are very much alive in the bodies of two groups of young dancers, Northwest Dance Theatre and OBT’s newly formed OBT2.  The ballets they are performing are quite different, but both bear the unmistakable stamp of an artist whose sensitivity to the human condition was just as acute as his ear for music.

NDT performs excerpts from Gloria on a mixed program Saturday and Sunday at Portland Community College Sylvania’s Performing Arts Center. Set to Antonio Vivaldi’s “Gloria Mass,” the ballet pays eloquent tribute to Spaight’s mother’s Catholic faith. Like the music, the dance is both celebratory and sad, the choreographer’s vocabulary a demanding mix of classical technique and modern expressiveness.  “Dance is my religion,” Spaight once told me, and this ballet, last seen in its entirety when OBT danced it in the fall of 1993 on an all-Spaight commemorative program that included Scheherazade and Rhapsody in Blue, is a richly beautiful manifestation of that creed.

When he listed “even silence” as part of Spaight’s musical range, West, who has redone the lighting for NDT’s production of Gloria, was surely referring to Crayola, which OBT’s youngest dancers will perform starting April 16 when the company concludes its 25th anniversary season at the Newmark with a repertory program titled Impact.

It is the impact of the dancers’ point shoes on the floor of the stage that provides the accompaniment for a work that is not about dancing crayons, but about incorporating American Sign Language into the classical vocabulary and turning a social occasion—in this instance young ladies at a teaparty—into a dance.  Crayola, which Spaight made for Pacific Northwest Ballet in 1979, is not, as Gloria is, a major work. But it does show that very early in his sadly curtailed career, he had full command of his craft and a light touch with it. An excellent vehicle for young dancers (it contains some exuberant movement involving chairs), Crayola, I was told by Alison Roper last fall, is fun to dance.  It is certainly fun to watch. Both ballets were staged by Spaight Trust repetiteur Carol Shults with loving care, judicious adjustments, and unimpeachable dedication to the choreographer’s intent.

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Schedule and ticket details for Northwest Dance Theatre’s performances are here.

Schedule and ticket details for Oregon Ballet Theatre’s Impact are here.

 
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