Vitality Dance Collective

DanceWatch Weekly: Dance for occasional sun

The Martha Graham Dance Company visits and the local dance concerts are robust

While basking in the long-awaited, but intermittent, sunshine this weekend (depending on which weather forecaster you follow), you have your choice of dance events that cover that gamut of genres from ethnic to classic. Some of them even dare to venture outdoors.

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, a month chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843. May also marks the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10,1869. (Chinese workers made up a large part of the workforce for the line.)

Lan Su Chinese Garden in downtown Portland will be hosting a month-long celebration of the month with performances every Saturday and Sunday by local cultural organizations and dance troupes representing India, Nepal, Thailand, China, Indonesia, Cambodia, Hawaii/Pacific Islands and more. Events begin this Saturday. Check out Lan Su Chinese Garden’s website for the full schedule.

In Portland’s contemporary dance world, Portland artist Taka Yamamoto’s will debut Direct Path To Detour, a new dance work created in collaboration with composer Jesse Mejía that will open Thursday night at Portland Institute of Contemporary Art’s new headquarters in Northeast Portland.

Friday brings an end-of-the-school-year showing of dances from the Reed College Dance Department students and faculty, and a work for the students by Israeli choreographer-in-residence, Iris Erez.

Also on Friday night, Seattle choreographer Alice Gosti will unveil a new work-in-progress at Performance Works NW followed by a reception and a workshop the following day at Flock Dance Center.

Saturday, Tempos Contemporary Circus, Vitality Dance Collective, and the Inclusive Arts Vibe Dance Company open with a variety of dances using the brain and body in a myriad of creative ways.

Next Wednesday, the Martha Graham Dance Company closes out the White Bird season, and Portland dance artist Lu Yim will open up her new work for viewing and discussion at Flock Dance Center as part of the Critical Engagement Series hosted by Flock and dance artist Tahni Holt.

Performances this week

Direct Path To Detour by Taka Yamamoto, May 4-7. Photo courtesy of Portland Institute for Contemporary Art.

Direct Path To Detour
Choreography by Taka Yamamoto, music composed by Jesse Mejía, and dramaturgy by Lu Yim
Produced by Portland Institute for Contemporary Art
May 4-7
Portland Institute For Contemporary Art at Hancock, Annex, 20 NE San Rafael St.
Direct Path To Detour is a new dance work created by Portland artist Taka Yamamoto. The work, produced by the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, explores dance as a fully embodied physical and mental experience that contains value systems, social pressures, expectations, and the embodied personal experiences of the performers and their multiple societies of birth, residence, upbringing and religion. Direct Path To Detour will be performed by Yamamoto, dancer Julian Barnett, performance artists Ayako Kataoka, and performance artist and writer sidony o’neal, to a musical composition by Jesse Mejía.

Yamamoto, originally from Shizuoka, Japan, holds an MFA in Visual Studies from Pacific Northwest College of Art and works in live performance, sculpture, and photography. He is one quarter of the Portland-based group Physical Education with Allie Hankins, keyon gaskin, and Lu Yim.

Reed College Dance Department Spring Concert, 7 pm May 5. Photo by Gordon Wilson.

Reed College Dance Department Spring Concert
7 pm May 5
Reed College, Greenwood Performance Theater, 3203 SE Woodstock Blvd.
The evening will feature choreography by Reed College dance majors, a collaboration between the Reed Chorus and Collegium, conducted by John Cox, and a work by Israeli choreographer-in-residence, Iris Erez.

Also included in the program will be a new work by Department Chair Carla Mann that is structured on the principles of classic jazz, and a piece by Professor of Dance Minh Tran, inspired by Trisha Brown’s 1983 work Set and Reset, that focuses on the principles of simplicity, acting on instinct, staying on the edge, and working with visibility and invisibility.

Alice Gosti: Happy Hour Showing, 4:30 pm May 5. Photo courtesy of Performance Works NW.

Alice Gosti: Happy Hour Showing
Hosted by Performance Works NW/Linda Austin Dance
4:30 pm May 5
Performance Works NW, 4625 SE 67th Ave.
Workshop 12:30-2:30 pm May 6 at Flock Dance Center, 8371 N Interstate Ave.

Seattle artist Alice Gosti will be in residence at Performance Works NW this week working on her new project, Material Deviance In Contemporary American Culture.

The work, according to Gosti, is an “immersive installation” that includes dance, video, 3D mapping, and an e-zine, and weaves “the stories and physical histories of: immigrants and refugees who carry their homes on their shoulders; hoarders who compulsively accumulate anything and everything; and America’s growing homeless population.” The dance grapples with the “complexity of living in an object-based society where we define our identity through the objects we own.”

The residency will culminate in a reception, a sharing of the work, and a workshop the following day with Gosti at Flock Dance Center.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
May 6-28
Lan Su Chinese Garden, 239 NW Everett St.
See above.

Vitality Dance Collective presents Place, 5 pm May 6. Photo courtesy of Vitality Dance Collective.

Vitality Dance Collective
5 pm May 6
Polaris Dance Theatre, 1826 NW 18th Ave
This collective of nine dancers will perform an evening of dance works in a variety of styles that look to the past, present, and future.

Vitality Dance Collective, a vision of Kristina York, was created for adults dancers who dance, but don’t have the time to dedicate themselves full-time to the art. The company acts as a collective, supporting the choreographic vision of all its members, and enjoys being undefinable. They are about innovation, authenticity and fun.

The Tempos Contemporary Circus presents In Close Proximity, May 5-7. Photo courtesy of The Tempos Contemporary Circus.

In Close Proximity
The Tempos Contemporary Circus
May 5-7
Echo Theatre, 1515 SE 37th Ave.
Kraig Mead, the director of Tempos Contemporary Circus, a Portland-based company that combines physical theatre, acrobatics, aerial arts and dance, is interested in the in-between—ideas and movement not normally illuminated.

In his new work In Close Proximity, developed in collaboration with musicians Zack Borden and Sean Daly, he furthers this investigation by asking what happens when you break the traditional relationship between dancer and musician in performance, switching back and forth between who leads and who follows, say, or what happens when you break the rules of personal space.

Inclusive Arts Vibe Dance Company presents Chickens and Cheese Pizza, May 5-7. Photo courtesy of Inclusive Arts Vibe Dance Company.

Chickens and Cheese Pizza
Inclusive Arts Vibe Dance Company, Disability Arts and Culture Project
May 5-7
Friday May 5: 10:30 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. Free community performance*
New Expressive Works, 810 SE Belmont 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, is to 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), is a collection of five dances choreographed by company members, that dig into the human experience, exposing a full spectrum of emotions.

Critical Engagement Series with Lu Yim
Hosted by Flock Dance Center/Tahni Holt
8:30 pm May 10
Flock Dance Center, 8371 N Interstate Ave.
The Critical Engagement Series at Flock Dance Center is curated by dance artist Tahni Holt, and “brings together audiences and choreographers in hopes to reveal some of the mystery surrounding the languages around dance and the unique practices of individual choreographers. We start with the question: What does the choreographer need at this particular moment in their process and how might this also serve the wider community.”

Now Dynasty Beneath the Stormy Water, a work-in-progress by Portland artist Lu Yim, examines the tension between objecthood and subjecthood.

Martha Graham Dance Company presented by White Bird, 7:30 pm May 10. Photo courtesy of White Bird.

Martha Graham Dance Company
Presented by White Bird
7:30 pm May 10
Pre-show Conversation 6:45-7:15pm with Artistic Director Janet Eilber, former dancer/choreographer Keith martin and Portland dance artist Josie Moseley, Schnitzer Lower Lobby
Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1111 SW Broadway

Closing out White Bird’s 19th season, the Martha Graham Dance Company, Celebrating its 90th year running, will present a selection of works choreographed by Graham herself, and works choreographed by current, well-known artists on the Graham company.

On the program will be Diversion of Angels, choreographed by Graham in 1948 that abstractly describes three different aspects of love, Dark Meadow Suite a rearrangement of Graham’s Dark Meadow (1946) by Artistic Director, Janet Eilber, Rust created in 2013 for five male dancers by Spanish choreographer Nacho Duato that speaks about violence and terrorism in our world today, and Mosaic by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui (Artistic Director of the Royal Ballet of Flanders, and an associate artist at Sadler’s Wells in London) that is inspired by Middle Eastern culture, and the repetitious patterning in mosaic artwork.

Performances next week

May 6-28, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Lan Su Chinese Garden, dance performances representing India, Nepal, Thailand, China, Indonesia, Cambodia, Hawaii/Pacific Islands and more
May 13, Feria de Portland, hosted by Espacio Flamenco Portland and La Peña Flamenca de Portland
May 13, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Anjali School of Dance
May 14, Memories of Mom, Presented by Wanderlust Circus and 3 Leg Torso
May 16-21, An American in Paris, Presented by U.S. Bank Broadway in Portland

Upcoming Performances

May 6-28, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Lan Su Chinese Garden, dance performances representing India, Nepal, Thailand, China, Indonesia, Cambodia, Hawaii/Pacific Islands and more
May 19-21, Junior Artist Generator, BodyVox Dance Company
May 20, The Art of Nattuvangam: South Indian Classical music and dance, Hosted by New Expressive Works and Anjali School of Dance
May 20-21, The Future is Female, Mixed Dance Company
May 21, Refinery: A Work in Progress Showcase, Hosted by Dance Wire
May 26-28, N.E.W. Residency performance, Dora Gaskill, Jessica Kelley, Stephanie Schaaf, and Michael Galen
May 26, 6×6: A PDX Choreographers Showcase, PDX Dance Collective
May 26-27, Spring Concert – Tribute to the Ballet Russes, Featuring work by Michel Fokine, Tom Gold, George Balanchine, and Lane Hunter, The Portland Ballet
June 2-4, Interum Echos, PDX Contemporary Ballet
June 10-11, Dance Out Loud, Directed by Oluyinka Akinjiola and Donna Mation
June 2-17, The Goblin King, A David Bowie and Labyrinth Tribute, Trip the Dark Dance Company
June 8-10, Summer Splendors, NW Dance Project
June 23-24, Risk/Reward Festival Of New Performance, Produced by Jerry Tischleder
June 27-July 2, Cabaret, Presented by U.S. Bank Broadway in Portland
June 29-30, Choreography XX, Oregon Ballet Theatre
July 8, Ten Tiny Dances, Beaverton Farmers Market, Directed by Mike Barber
July 15, Pretty Creatives Showing, NW Dance Project
August 24-September 6, Portland Dance Film Fest, Directed by Kailee McMurran, Tia Palomino, and Jess Evans
August 24-October 8, Kurios: Cabinet Of Curiosities, Cirque Du Soleil

Fertile Ground goes dancing

Portland's annual fringe festival has an expansive dance component, too

The Fertile Ground Festival of New Works and its dance-centric arm, Groovin’ Greenhouse (hosted by Polaris Dance Theatre), are right around the corner, January 19-29 to be exact. The 11-day festival that features new performance work in various stages of development, from the fully staged to workshops, in theater, comedy, dance and film, and everything else that doesn’t fit neatly inside those bins.

Fringe festivals, like Fertile Ground, can be found all over the world. The first one was the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, established in Scotland in 1947, as an alternative to the Edinburgh International Festival. The Fringe runs for 25 days and features a whopping 50,266 performances of 3,269 shows in 294 venues. (Portland choreographer Éowyn Emerald is a frequent performer at the Edinburgh Fringe.) Generally, fringe festivals show a range of work from amateurs to professionals. They are a non-curated, open forum for expression, and pose a low financial risk to artists and audience alike. What’s special about our Fertile Ground Festival, though, is that it shows only the work of Portland artists.

This past week, Arts Watchers Christa McIntyre, A.L. Adams and Bob Hicks attended the Fertile Ground’s meet-and-greet speed dating event, to learn as much about what this year’s Fertile Ground festival has to offer. According to Bob Hicks the speed dating event went something like this. “Theater people line up in front of a confusion of journalists from print, online, radio, and television outlets and work their way to the front, where they get five minutes to pitch their show and explain why that journalist really, really ought to see it and write very, very nicely about it. Then a whistle blows, and everyone moves on to the next encounter.” You can read their entire account of the evening here, as well as the terrifically descriptive list of the performances.

Here at DanceWatch I am just going to break down the dance offerings within the festival because, you know, I love dance and you probably do too.

The list below begins with independently produced Fertile Ground dance productions, followed by the Groovin’ Greenhouse schedule of performances with descriptions of each dance group or choreographer following. Groovin’ Greenhouse shows are shared by multiple performers in an evening.

Independent Fertile Grounds dance productions

Echo Theater Company in “Uncommon Sense.” Photo by Arnista Photography.

Uncommon Sense (workshop)
Featuring Echo Theatre Company, sister: grit collective, Tempos Contemporary Circus, and Sir Cupcake’s Queer Circus
Presented by Echo Theater Company
January 20-29
Echo Theatre, 1515 SE 37th Ave

Echo Theater Company’s creative director Aaron Wheeler-Kay, has brought together Echo Theatre Company, sister: grit collective, Tempos Contemporary Circus, and Sir Cupcake’s Queer Circus, to explore the multitudinous interpretations of the sensed world and find freedom within limitations, in an evening of politically driven, new works, combining circus arts, dance, narrative and physical theatre.

Featured performers with Echo Theater Company will be Portland dancers Yulia Arakelyan and Erik Ferguson, co-artistic directors of Wobbly Dance. You can catch a glimpse of them in rehearsal in Echo Theatre’s video trailer for “Uncommon Sense.”

“Last Dance”. Photo by Holly Wilmeth.

Last Dance
Written by Sky Yeager and directed by Jonathan Walters
January 19-29
The Headwater Theatre, 55 NE Farragut St. #4

Butoh artist Kat Macmillan, and actor Jaime Lee Christina, tell the story of an angel’s transformation into human form in this new play by Sky Yeager directed by Jonathan Walters. Through the modes of theatre, film, music and dance, the play touches on concepts of agency, spiritual purpose, life after life, and ponders the preciousness of life. Out of darkness, hopelessness, and despair, comes new life, hope and transformation. You can see a video preview of the work here.

“Into the night” by Allegro Dance Company. Photo by Casey Campbell Photography and Paul Pour Photography.

Into the Night: An Exploration of Life, Love & Loss
Performed by The Allegro Dance Company
Directed by Ashley López
January 28-29
BodyVox Dance Center, 1201 NW 17th Ave

Connecting aspects of ancient Middle Eastern culture to modern day ones, this collaborative, contemporary belly dance company of 15, directed by Tribal Fusion belly dance star Ashley Lopez, will examine the mystery, pain, and beauty inherent in the human condition through a visually rich, multifaceted, storytelling experience.

Groovin’ Greenhouse performances

Performance Dates and times

Portland Bellydance Guild, Polaris Dance Theatre, Polaris Junior Company, Neo Youth Company
7:30 pm January 20
Polaris Dance Theatre, 1826 NW 18th Ave

Les Watanabe, Polaris Dance Theatre, Polaris Junior Company, Neo Youth Company
2:00 pm January 21
Polaris Dance Theatre, 1826 NW 18th Ave

Les Watanabe, NW Fusion Dance Company, Polaris Dance Theatre
7:30 pm January 21
Polaris Dance Theatre, 1826 NW 18th Ave

Portland Bellydance Guild, Polaris Dance Theatre
2:00 pm January 22
Polaris Dance Theatre, 1826 NW 18th Ave

Vitality Dance Collective, Polaris Dance Theatre
7:30 pm January 27
Polaris Dance Theatre, 1826 NW 18th Ave

Polaris Dance Theatre, Polaris Junior Company, Neo Youth Company
2:00 pm January 28
Polaris Dance Theatre, 1826 NW 18th Ave

A-WOL Dance Collective and Polaris Dance Theatre
7:30 pm January 28
Polaris Dance Theatre, 1826 NW 18th Ave

Breakdown of performing groups and premiering work

“Attention Everybody!” by A-WOL Dance Collective. Photo courtesy of A-WOL Dance Collective.

Attention Everybody! (excerpts), A-WOL Dance Collective
Through fierce, edgy, raw athleticism in the air and on the ground, A-Wol Dance Collective, an aerial/dance company, will knit together humanities commonalities, revealing our passion and energy and drive to serve the greater good.

Untitled work in progress by M’Liss Quinnly, Neo Youth Company
In its first season, Polaris Dance Theatre’s youth company for its youngest committed dancers will perform a new work by former Polaris dancer and Director, M’Liss Quinnly.

Untitled work in progress, NW Fusion Dance Company
Directed by Brad Hampton, this pre-professional dance company provides training and performance experience to help advanced dancers transition to professional careers.

Diverse-Divide (an excerpt) by Robert Guitron, Overcoming by Gerard Regot, Gravitation by Kiera Brinkley, performed by Polaris Dance Theatre
Guitron’s Diverse-Divide, speaks to diversity in the natural world and in politics. The movement explores the juxtapositions of the similar and the dissimilar. Guitron is the artistic-director of Polaris Dance Theatre.

Gravitation by past Polaris Dance Theatre company member Kiera Brinkley addresses her choice to change careers and the state of exhaustion. From 2011-2016 Brinkley was a Polaris Dance Company member and is a quadruple amputee. You can learn more about Brinkley’s story in the documentary Soar that came out in 2014 directed by Susan Hess Logeais.

Overcoming by Regot, a Polaris Dance Company member originally from Spain, explores ideas of disruption and loss. It attempts to capture the process of processing a loss and the difficulties in reaching out for help and moving forward.

Untitled work in progress by M’Liss Quinnly, Polaris Junior Company
Polaris Dance Theatre’s pre-professional youth company for its oldest committed student dancers, will perform a new work by former Polaris dancer and Director, M’Liss Quinnly.

Portland Bellydance Guild
Representing belly dancing styles from Folkloric/Traditional, Cabaret/Oriental, Tribal Improv, to Theatrical/Fusion, The Portland Bellydance Guild, a membership organization with a mission to increase public awareness and appreciation for dance and music, rooted in, or inspired by, the Middle-Eastern diaspora, will feature solo performances from Claudia and Jewels, a modern interpretation of women’s folk dance from the Arabian Gulf region using movement vocabulary informed by the seafaring traditions of the area by the newly formed troupe Amwaj, and an improvisational duet by Zephyr Bellydance that is created in the moment in response to the music, the dancers on stage and the energy from the audience.

Vitality Dance Collective. Photo by Will Mahoney Watson

Surrounding, Vitality Dance Collective
Vitality Dance Collective, a vision of Kristina York, was created for adults dancers who dance, but don’t have the time to dedicate themselves full time to the art. The company acts as a collective, supporting the choreographic vision of all its members, and enjoys being undefinable. They are about innovation, authenticity and fun.

Their new work Surroundings, is an exploration of life’s journey: where we’ve been, where we are headed, and what remains out of reach, and is only dreamable.

Love Songs, Les Watanabe
Inspired by the music of Cuban singer, songwriter and pianist Bola de Nieve, Love Songs, choreographed by Les Watanabe for four dancers ( Laura Stilwell, Felice Moskowitz and Terry Brock and Emma Mochnick), endeavors to capture love and its myriad of meanings and forms.

Leslie Watanabe is an Assistant Professor of Theatre and Dance at Western Oregon University and performed for Donald McKayle’s Inner City Repertory Company, Lar Lubovitch Dance Company, Joyce Trisler’s Danscompany, Alvin Ailey II, Burch Mann Folk Ballet, Sachiyo Ito Japanese Dance Company, L.A. Jazz, and Peter Gross Dance Company to name a few.

Other performances in Portland this week and next

January 18-22, Sensation/Disorientation, Tahni Holt Dance, Presented by White Bird
January 19-21, Urban Meadow, BodyVox Dance
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


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