Skinner/Kirk Dance Ensemble

DanceWatch Weekly: Cirque city

As we note the passing of Trisha Brown, we have a lengthy menu of dance options this week, heavy on circus

On Saturday, March 18, Trisha Brown, the American postmodern choreographer and native West Coaster (Aberdeen, Washington), passed on from this earthly realm. She was one of the founders of the Judson Dance Theatre in New York, and her movement inventions and research helped shape generations of modern dancers and audiences worldwide.

Wendy Perron who danced for Brown in the 1970s wrote a beautiful piece on Brown this week for Dance Magazine. So did Alastair Macaulay for the New York Times. I recommend reading them both. This is the perfect time to settle into a deep study of Brown, if you don’t know her and her work already, and let the internet and all of its resources take you.

Performances this week

Gravity of Center ( Extended Promo ) from Quixotic on Vimeo.

Gravity of Center
Quixotic Cirque Nouveau
8 pm March 23
Revolution Hall, 1300 SE Stark St
This Kansas City Performing arts collective, known for seamlessly integrating technology, live music, contemporary dance, and cirque arts, brings us Gravity of Center, a multi-sensory performance that explores the tension between finding balance between gravity and lightness.

Quixotic, born in 2004, has toured nationally and internationally, and appeared at the Global 2012 TED conference In Edinburgh Scotland.

Skinner/Kirk Dance Ensemble. Photo by Christopher Peddecord

Burn It Backwards
Skinner/Kirk Dance Ensemble
Presented by BodyVox
March 23-April1
BodyVox Dance Center, 1201 NW 17th Ave
Burn It Backwards is a new work from BodyVox Dance company founders Eric Skinner and Daniel Kirk that combines five male dancers—Kirk, Skinner, James Healey, Chase Hamilton and Brent Luebbert, with the music of the late Portland singer, songwriter and musician Elliott Smith.

The work explores relationships: the bodies relationship to itself; to other dancers’ bodies; to the space around the body; and to the world at large. And it also looks into such concepts as ostracism and optimism through patterning, geometric shapes and physicality.

Photo courtesy of Sir Cupcake’s Queer Circus.

Sir Cupcake’s Queer Circus goes inside the body
Sir Cupcake’s Queer Circus
March 24-April 1
Echo Theater, 1515 SE 37th Ave
Sir Cupcake, a gender-bending circus performer, is stranded in the future and his magic time-traveling pocket-watch had been sabotaged. His internal organs have been all mixed up and his heart has gone missing. The Queer Circus must travel inside Sir Cupcake’s body and put his organs back together and find his missing heart, in this performance/adventure featuring rope artist Kiebpoli “Black Acrobat” Calnek, from San Francisco, DieAna Dae and Box of Clowns, contortion by Meg Russell, and duo acrobatics by Ari and Ben, and more!

Sir Cupcake’s Queer Circus celebrates queer and trans identities with storytelling and performances by queer and transgender people and their allies. The Saturday March 25 performance will be ASL interpreted and Audio Described (headsets provided). Echo Theater is wheelchair accessible and has a gender neutral bathroom.

Travis Wall’s Shaping Sound. Photo courtesy of Travis Wall.

After the Curtain
Travis Wall’s Shaping Sound
Presented by Portland’5
7:30 pm March 24
The Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway Ave
After the Curtain, a contemporary dance production created by Travis Wall, the runner-up on So You Think You Can Dance Season 2, along with co-creators Nick Lazzarini, Teddy Forance and Kyle Robinson, tells the story of a man fighting to find his creative voice after the death of a loved one.

The creation of the company was documented on the reality television series All The Right Moves on the Oxygen channel. You can view a clip of that show here.

Travis Wall will be performing in the shows throughout the tour, and will be joined in various cities by the co-founders Kyle Robinson and Nick Lazzarini.

Alembic Double Bill: Claire Barrera and Noelle Stiles. Photos by Chelsea Petrakis.

Alembic Double Bill: Claire Barrera and Noelle Stiles
Presented by Performance Works NW / Linda Austin Dance
March 24-25
Performance Works NW, 4625 SE 67th Ave
Performance Works NW presents Fifth Sun by Claire Barrera, which finds that all times are present at once, and This one is, by Noelle Stiles, which explores family intimacy, generational cycles of misogyny, and perseverance. These works were developed during the 2016 Alembic Artist Residency at Performance Works NW.

Barrera is an artist, activist, educator and writer. Her work can be found in the upcoming anthology of the zine, When Language Runs Dry, with Meredith Butner, and will be performing in an installation The Corresponding Distance, with Maya Dalinsky.

Stiles is an independent dance artist, graphic designer, and consultant. Her work has been seen at the Time-Based Art Festival, On The Boards, PWNW, and Dance New Amsterdam. She was co-instigator for the dance publication FRONT, with Tahni Holt, Danielle Ross, and Robert Tyree.

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Dance Weekly: Race and ballet

A documentary about the great Misty Copeland reminds us that race problems extend to ballet

Screening Thursday night at the Hollywood Theatre is the movie “A Ballerina’s Tale—The Incredible Rise of Misty Copeland” directed by Nelson George, part of the Portland Black Film Festival in partnership with Oregon Ballet Theatre. The film will be introduced by Oregon Ballet Theatre artistic director Kevin Irving and OBT dancer Jordan Kindell. I interviewed Kindell back in the summer as part of a boys in ballet article I wrote for Artslandia.

Misty Copeland is the first African-American woman to be promoted to the rank of principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre in New York City. But for some, she might only be known for her inspiring and powerful commercials and advertisements for the fitness clothing line Under Armour. In her most popular commercial, Copeland flies across the screen, a strong, chiseled beautiful body in motion. In the accompanying voiceover, a young girl reads a rejection letter from a ballet school. The letter says she has the wrong body type for ballet and at thirteen is too old to be considered. Copeland dancing puts the lie to it: We understand that the rejection is based on the girl’s race.

misty-copeland-nelson-george-ballerina-lead

Misty Copeland, Principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre. Photo courtesy of “A Ballerina’s Tale.”

I get choked up every time I watch this commercial. Like so many dancers everywhere I can relate—too old, not the right body type, not quite “right”—and I feel charged and empowered by the company’s message: “I will what I want.” I secretly hope (not so secret now) that if I wear Under Armor clothing, I too will have the courage of my convictions, just like Copeland. Oh, and look and dance like her, too!

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