Portland Festival Ballet

Dance Weekly: Bursting at the seams

Continuing celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, visiting artists, new works at Polaris and more!

Five years ago when I moved to Portland from New Jersey (for the record I am originally from Berkeley, California), it was hard to discern what was happening in Portland’s dance scene from the outside. From what I could see online and from what I can remember, there was an outdated community web page and dead lists of dance companies that no longer existed on various websites. The large companies like BodyVox, Oregon Ballet Theatre, NW Dance Project and Polaris were still standing, but the majority of Portland’s dance community seemed to have been flattened by the recession and various other things, and I arrived in the aftermath.

I won’t lie: This was devastating for me. I was 36 and still raring to perform and needing desperately to keep the momentum going. I had moved my family across the United States with blind faith that a thriving dance community was waiting for me on the other side. It wasn’t, and I was heartbroken. I thought my career was over. Admittedly I can be a bit melodramatic at times and occasionally lack patience, but this was huge for me. In my lifetime I had never directly experienced the results of war or a shattered economy, so I didn’t recognize the signs, and the wounds to the community were real. Slowly over time I began to meet people who supported me, and a totally new kind of dance life emerged, one that I am now extremely satisfied with.

Today in Portland, it is a completely different story. Our community is thriving and bursting at the seams with dancers moving here from all over the world. The energy and activity are amazing, and this growth seems to be re-charging the existing dance community as well.

The reason I started writing Dance Weekly was to create a sense of community for myself by gathering everyone together on one page. I also wanted to help create visibility for all of the hardworking artists making dances out there. I want people to know that we are here and that we are dancing. And we are dancing this week!


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