Summer Splendors

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


Dance Weekly: Women make dances

New dancers, new dances, new season, fresh faces and fresh starts.

This weekend promises to explode with warmth, light, beauty, vitality, and rigorous dancing from a multitude of choreographic perspectives. And maybe a little rain mixed in just to balance it all out.

I am talking about the three world premiers by the women choreographers in NW Dance Project’s annual Summer Splendors program, and the debut of The Portland Ballet’s Studio Company, with the school’s Career Track dancers performing alongside ten TPB alumni currently dancing professionally or attending dance training programs across the country. New dancers, new dances, new season, fresh faces and fresh starts.


Review: NW Dance Project’s splendid ‘Splendors’

The company closes its 10th season on a high note, and looks ahead to a new and bigger home

Summer Splendors is very likely the last program Northwest Dance Project will present in its small light-filled studio on North Shaver Street, and if so the company’s going out in high style: this is one of the most appealing dance programs I’ve seen in months.

Forced out by the frenzied real estate roulette of North Mississippi Avenue (the studio is just around the corner from the hubbub of the Mississippi strip), NDP will move its busy summer schedule to the new glassed-in studios at Portland State University’s Lincoln Performance Hall. And the company’s in negotiations to move permanently into a much larger space on Portland’s close-in east side. If all goes smoothly, that space will be converted for studios over the summer, and ready for NDP to begin its 11th season in the fall.

From left: Kilbane, Nieto, Labay in "Tis Is Embracing." Photo: Christopher Peddecord

From left: Kilbane, Nieto, Labay in “This Is Embracing.” Photo: Christopher Peddecord

In the meantime, nab tickets for Summer Splendors if you can. The program opened Friday night and continues through June 15, and not a lot of tickets are available.


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