Urban Meadow

A mellow ‘Meadow’ like old times

BodyVox's "Urban Meadow," a blend of repertory favorites and a celebration of dancer Eric Skinner, is like a dinner party with old friends

Going to opening night of BodyVox’s Urban Meadow at Lincoln Performance Hall on Thursday evening was a little like dropping over for dinner with a bunch of old friends you haven’t seen in a while, and remembering why you liked them in the first place. The table was set nicely, the food and wine were good, and everybody swapped old jokes and stories with easy familiarity. There was even a guest of honor, who was fondly feted, and who told a few good tales himself.

The “guest,” or more appropriately the member of the family, was dancer Eric Skinner, an original BodyVoxer whose final Portland performances with the company after twenty years will be at the end of this brief run on Saturday. And the show, though technically a Portland premiere, is made up of a bunch of favorites that longtime BodyVox followers will recognize, and generally be pleased to see again. (Newbies will have the pleasure of meeting the members of the family for the first time.) This is the program, assembled a year and a half ago, that BodyVox takes on tour: It’s been from Germany to China, and is heading soon to China again.

“Hopper’s Dinner”: an exuberant feast. Photo: Blaine Truitt Covert

Urban Meadow is an expansive program, running a little over two hours with the addition of three celebratory pieces chosen by Skinner as a sort of final tip of the hat, but because all of the works are short and well-shaped, it doesn’t feel overstuffed. The whole thing’s introduced with wit and charm by co-artistic director Jamey Hampton (his mother-in-law, he noted wryly on Thursday, liked to refer to him as the Dick Clark of dance) and, before Skinner’s portion of the program, by Ashley Roland, Hampton’s co-founder, co-artistic director, and wife.

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DanceWatch Weekly: Inauguration weekend dance

Several big shows are on tap this weekend, including Tahni Holt at White Bird, BodyVox, Groovin' Greenhouse, and New Expressive Works

It’s an historic week for so many reasons, some happy, some frustrating, but here, we will focus on the happy and far less frustrating dance events in Portland.

Opening last night at Reed College’s Diver Studio is Tahni Holt’s Sensation/Disorientation, a White Bird commission that looks at femaleness and its layers in modern-day culture, will be performed in the round, by six multigenerational performers from 15 to 60 years old.

Sensation/Disorientation will be performed by Tracy Broyles, Muffie Connelly, Carla Mann, Eliza Larson, Suzanne Chi and Aidan Hutapea, with music by Luke Wyland, costumes by Alenka Loesch and dramaturgy by Kate Bredeson. Holt, within her choreography, investigates concepts of ritual, duration, exhaustion, vitality, and organic versus in organic, rupturing familiar cultural narratives around the female body specifically addressing age and weight.

For further insight into Holt’s process you can read Hannah Krafcik’s article, Reading into Tahni Holt’s ‘Sensation/Disorientation.’ Krafcik co-facilitates an ongoing movement practice with Holt at FLOCK Dance Center in North Portland and possibly offers a more intimate knowledge of Holt’s thinking and doing. You can also listen to OPB’s State of Wonder by Aaron Scott where he talks with dramaturge Kate Bredeson, musician Luke Wyland, Tahni Holt and White Bird directors Paul King and Walter Jaffe on the different aspects of the production.

Sensation/Disorientation was not intended to bookend the 2017 inauguration but works perfectly in that space anyway. Holt suggested in Krafcik’s article that we attend the Women’s March downtown and then head to her concert later in the evening. Sounds like a good plan to me.

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DanceWatch Weekly: Scanning a new year in Portland dance

The year's first DanceWatch starts with Éowyn Emerald and Dancers and a quick look at the next six dance months

Happy New Year dance fans and welcome to 2017!

Don’t get too comfortable hibernating in your winter dens because there is a lot to see, and you should see it.

Not only is the upcoming season already packed with dance works from local and international artists—including the premiere of Sensation/Disorientation by Tahni Holt, Urban Meadow by BodyVox, and  Fertile Ground’s Groovin’ Greenhouse hosted by Polaris Dance Theatre in three weeks—but a whole new group of Portland dance artists have just been awarded grants through the Regional Arts and Culture Council and PICA’s Precipice Fund, so watch out for those, too.

Éowyn Emerald & Dancers. Photo by David Krebs

The new year starts with a weekend of performances by Éowyn Emerald & Dancers. Portland choreographer Emerald takes her company to perform at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe every year and will be performing her latest Fringe festival concert at Reed College’s Greenwood Theatre.

The company, comprised of Éowyn Emerald, Mari Kai Juras, Josh Murry and Joel Walker,
will perform seven contemporary dance works that express a wide range of emotions while picking apart the complexities of human relationships. An apt performance to start the new year.

Oh, and Sunday the 8th is Free Dance Day at BodyVox, which means all dance classes are free, and you can even catch a glimpse of dance company Skinner/Kirk in rehearsal at the end of the day.

I have also put together Portland’s dance calendar from January to June for your planning convenience. If you see a performance missing from the list, just give me a holler at Jamunadasi@me.com and I will add it.

Performances this week!

Éowyn Emerald & Dancers-Fringe Coda
January 6-7
Greenwood Theatre at Reed College, 2903 Botsford Drive

See above.

Upcoming Performances

January
January 14-15, Increspature, Disorder Dance Company
January 18-22, Sensation/Disorientation, Tahni Holt Dance, Presented by White Bird
January 19-21, Urban Meadow, BodyVox
January 19-29, Groovin’ Greenhouse/Fertile Ground, Presented by Polaris Dance Theatre
January 20-22, Rent, Presented by U.S. Bank Broadway in Portland
January 20-29, Ignite, Oluyinka Akinjiola and Subashini Ganesan
January 24-25, BalletBoyz, Presented by White Bird
January 28, Nrityotsava-Indian Classical and Folk Dances, Presented by Kalakendra

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ArtsWatch Weekly: let’s start over

A new year, a fresh start: Oregon gets set for a cultural revival in January and 2017

We’ve got that nasty old 2016 in our rear-view mirror now, and as our newest Nobel Laureate for Literature once warbled, Don’t look back. Nothing to see there. Or too much to contemplate. Sure, sure: what happens in 2017 will build on what happened in 2016, which built on what happened in 2015, and on and on down the line. But right now, let’s look ahead.

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TRADITIONALLY, JANUARY IS IN THE MIDDLE of the artistic season and also the beginning of what’s called “The Second Season” – a chance to buckle down after the holidays and reinvigorate. Here are a few things, big and small, coming up this month to keep your eye on:

Kara Walker (American, born 1969), “The Emancipation Approximation (Scene 18),” 1999–2000, courtesy the artist. Part of “Constructing Identity” opening Jan. 28 at the Portland Art Museum.

Fertile Ground 2017. This is one of the biggies, made up of all sorts of “smalls.” Begun as an annual festival in 2009, it’s blossomed into one of the biggest, most sprawling, and most intriguingly unpredictable events on Portland’s cultural calendar. For eleven days, in venues scattered across the city, dozens of new performance works by Portland artists will take the stage: plays, dances, solo shows, puppet shows, interactive shows, musicals, more. Shows will range from the biggest companies to indie pop-ups, and from full-blown world premieres to workshops and readings. Trying to keep up is bound to leave you breathless. Jan. 19-29.

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