A studio shot from tEEth's "Make/Believe"/Photo: Patrick Weishampel

I hunted in vain for a specific through-line in “Make/Believe,” the new dance/theater piece that Portland-based tEEth premiered for White Bird’s Uncaged series Thursday night. Catherine Thomas’s preview quoted choreographer Angelle Hebert, who said that the meaning of the dance had evolved from “fantasy as a means to cope and survive (to) fantasy manipulating our world into how we want it to be.” I didn’t see that in the piece.

That didn’t stop me from liking “Make/Believe” quite a bit, though, so apparently my inability to articulate in 25 words or less what it was “about” didn’t bother me much. Why should it? Movement and sound usually communicate along paths that language doesn’t. The theatrical experience of “Make/Believe,” minute by minute, “means” lots of different things, and it “means” them in different ways to different observers, just because that’s the way art works.

“Make/Believe” combines movement (by Hebert), sound (by tEEth co-founder Phillip Kraft), four live microphones, four dancers and some inventive lighting design (Alex Gagne-Hawes) in a series of episodes. Some utilize the microphones and their cords extensively. Some have more to do with the light or the music. All demand that the dancers commit to enacting various difficult states — childlike frustration is a key one — and to invasions of each other’s faces and mouths by the hands of the other dancers and those microphones.

So, why did I like it so much?


Does the Imago costume fit?

In the past few days, we’ve received a small mailbox full of dance missives from various and sundry, enough to remind everyone that  dance in the PDX does not take a summer vacation. Here’s some of what we discovered.

Bouand Dance Company founder Alexandrous Ballard is the new ballet master of theAlberta Ballet, the third-largest company in Canada.  The Bouand dancers are working on a joint project with Lyon, France-based Compaigne Ando, and Ballard will meet up with them again in April 2012 to prepare for the Portland performances of the project in May and June.

BodyVox and Chamber Music Northwest are teaming up Wednesday for In Motion. Musicians from CMNW’s Protege Project will provide live accompaniment (including pieces by Ravel, Debussy, Bartok and Marias) to such BodyVox dances as SOS, Foreign Tales and Serien, plus two of the dance company’s short films. 7 p.m. at the BodyVox Dance Center, $25.

Join Imago and see the world! Yes, the peripatetic Portland theater/dance troupe is auditioning the young and the fit to find performers for its next international tour of ZooZoo, one of its menagerie of kid-friendly shows. The audition will be at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Imago, 17 S.W. 8th Ave. Wear dance or athletic clothes. It’s a group audition, like a workshop, so you don’t have to prepare anything. Pay is $475 plus all travel expenses plus per diem. Minimum age is 18.

tEEth is fully operational this summer, preparing a new commission, Make/Believe, for White Bird’s Uncaged series in January. Co-artistic director Angelle Hebert is offering an intensive workshop, tEEth in Process, of material she’s working on at Conduit dance studio, starting on Thursday. The workshop culminates in a performance on Sunday. The company is also aiming at the TBA festival and a set of five performances of its Home Made, which won a $10,000 prize  at On the Boards in Seattle last year. (On the Boards is the co-commissioner with White Bird of the new dance.) Want to get in the middle of Make/Believe? Sign up for the workshop ($130) at Conduit.

Conduit has a ton of classes going on this month — in addition to tEEth, classes from Tere Mathern, Linda K. Johnson, Rebecca Harrison, Sarah Gamblin, Amy O’Neal, Tracy Broyles, Tiffany Mills, Meshi Chavez, Kirsten Johansen  and Touch Monkey are on the schedule. Everything starts on Thursday.

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