To all the costly facets of the new Sellwood Bridge, add paying rent.
Or, as Multnomah County legalese terms it: a "settlement of condemnation litigation associated with the Sellwood Bridge Project."[PDF]
The County Board of Commissioners tomorrow will vote on a proposed settlement with the owner of several parcels of land at the bridge's east end. Officials need the land—both to widen Tacoma Street and to use as a staging area—so they're buying it off owner Diana Richardson for almost five years, she said today. The county will return the land 57 months later.
"We've come to an agreement," said Richardson.
Neither Richardson nor a county spokesman would discuss how much the settlement is worth, saying the arrangement has yet to be finalized. Richardson said she'd be paid fair market value for the land.
The parcels currently include a number of businesses, including the Riverside Corral Strip Club (NSFW). Blogtown needed to know: Was the county going to own the Riverside Corral?
"We're not in any way, shape, or form operating a strip club," said County Spokesman David Austin.
The settlement instead only involves a portion of the Riverside Corral's property. Richardson said the business will remain open during bridge construction.
The county also will temporarily purchase a vacant lot south of Tacoma Street for storage.
"Eventually I want to build something there," Richardson said. "I had planned to do it sooner, but this came along."
On a lovely Portland night like this, you might not want to find yourself sitting in a dark, chilly theater. However, Northwest Dance Project totally makes it worth it. Tonight is the final run of Spring Performances.
Not surprisingly, Northwest Dance Project impresses with their talent (two of their company dancers have been awarded the prestigious Princess Grace award in recent years). The performance features three different works, two of which are world premieres. The standout may just be Casual Act, by NWDP's artistic director Sarah Slipper. Five dancers take on Harold Pinter’s preeminent play Betrayal; the dancers rotate through different permutations of couples, fueled by passion and infidelity. Casual Act also features one of the most striking element of all of the performances: a large, white, minimalist set, which revolves in the center of the stage—it has three walls, a rectangle cut out to suggest a window, and a rectangle cut out to suggest a door. It’s simple, but affective. It serves as a subtle suggestion of domestic space and as a descriptive suggestion of the events within that space. As the dancers move and rotate the set, it suggests change, loss, and instability; the tangled web of love and lies unravels. The dancing is desparate, sometimes clingy, but also steamy and athletic. The push and pull between performers is extreme: the physical tension imparts emotional tension.
It’s high drama and cinematic, which, on that note, comes my one complaint of the work: at times the music is too forceful with emotions (the speakers pour out sweeping, wrenching tunes from Max Richter and Yann Tiersen). However by and large it's an overwhelmingly involving work, expertly danced.
As mentioned yesterday, you have about an hour left to enter our ticket giveaway for tonight's very special Mercury "Shut Up & Dance" party hosted by DJ Gregarious at Rotture (315 SE 3rd)! I'm giving away 10 slots on the guest list ( with your plus one), but you gotta email me here (with "No, YOU Shut Up!" in the subject line) by NOON.
But even if you don't win, come anyway! DJ Gregarious will be playing all your dance faves from the '80s to now, and you look really sexy when you dance. SEE YOU THERE!
GUYS! Winter's almost over and it's time to drag yourselves out of your hovels and shake the rust off your bones! That's why we'd like to cordially invite all of you to join us for tomorrow night's (Fri, March 15) special Mercury-edition of "Shut Up and Dance" at Rotture (315 SE 3rd)! As you know DJ Gregarious is a longtime friend and supporter of our little news rag, and as a exercise in mutual back-slapping (and to celebrate his recent move to the East side), the Mercury gang will be showing up for some drinking and dancing fun!
WANT TO WIN TICKETS TO GET ON THE GUEST LIST? Email me here by noon tomorrow, and I'll choose ten lucky people (and their plus one) to win free admission and party with us.
Again, that's the Special Mercury Edition of "Shut Up and Dance"(with DJ Gregarious) featuring your fave booty-shaking hits from the '80s to now! HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE!
Be honest: You’ve made a Harlem Shake video by now and you watch it ALL THE TIME.
Well the men and women who patrol our streets haven't had the time, people. They are busy — depending on your outlook — protecting you while you sleep or stripping you of sundry inalienable rights.
But it's not a party if the cops don't show up to wreck it, right? They're late, sure. Everyone's passed out or gone home and the Gin Blossoms are playing from a lonely computer speaker. But they made it.
Today is the final performance of MOMIX’s Botanica. Sensational and bright (with colors), with awe-inspiring intentions, Botanica is like one of those motivational posters from the ‘90s, set in motion.
MOMIX, the brainchild of choreographer Moses Pendleton, is brought to us by White Bird and has been in business (unlike a lot of dance companies, MOMIX is a for-profit organization) for over 30 years. They started in 1981, and, as already hinted at, the '80s and '90s definitely left their mark on the troupe.
The show is called Botanica, it’s not totally about nature or plants, really. It’s a lot more about illusions (a theme of the '90s—think magic eye craze ), MOMIX hinges on fancy props (credit to Portland’s Michael Curry) and costumes; they have lots of tricks up their sleeves. Some tricks include: Isolated human fists that glow in the dark and transform into baseballs being tossed across the stage; a body that looks like a kaleidoscopic, rolling on a slanted mirror; a puppet triceratops—that either devours or molests a female dancer (still unclear on that).
Of the big clients (see Hanes and Target) that MOMIX has worked for, the most telling is IMAX (they were featured in one of IMAX's first movies, from 1993, Imagine)—the visuals are impressive, nifty, and immersive, but not super affecting.
Tonight is the final performance of Compagnie Marie Chouinard’s The Rite of Spring (it’s a full month for White Bird Dance, which has a show nearly every week this February). The troupe puts on a great show—masterful and absorbing—but one that's hard to like, necessarily.
With one of the most sensual and renowned histories in dance, 2013 marks the 100-year anniversary of the original performance of The Rite of Spring. The choreography is since lost (Chouinard’s troupe presents their 1993 version of the piece), but Igor Stravinsky’s famous, mercurial score lives on. Read about the work’s tumultuous history, beginning with the Russian Ballet, here; in short, it’s a dance that caused near-riots in France during its debut, with its references of ‘primitive’ rituals and a young maiden who dances herself to death.
Marie Chouinard delivers. The French-Canadian company presents a piece that is ridiculously athletic, demanding, and relentless. At the same time, maybe don’t expect to enjoy it—it’s irritating, discordant, and bizarre.
Tonight was the final run of Camille A. Brown’s Mr. TOL. E. RAnCE, presented by White Bird. Too bad, because it’s really something more people should see. The dancers are incredible—dynamic, demanding, and emotive, for 45 minutes straight—accompanied by live, virtuosic piano playing (Scott Patterson), the troupe takes you through hip-hop, vaudeville, tap dancing…minstrelsy. Which brings it around to the heart of the matter (and there’s a lot of heart in this show): it sticks with you.
In one sense, the obvious sense, Mr. TOL. E. RAnCE is a study of racial types in the media (read: stereotypes—the thug, the video vixen) throughout the ages. The show starts with Patterson, alone on stage, playing incredibly, ragtime jazz; a video projection takes us through the credits, which star animations of famous black entertainers (Whoopi Goldberg, Dave Chapelle). This projection gives way to jerky archival footage, African Americans dancing in suits and corsets, in sepia tone. The dancers take to the stage, miming minstrelsy (the show is largely influenced by Spike Lee’s Bamboozled), tap dancing like madmen, and, later, slinging insults at one another, street posturing.
Huge news in the local arts community this morning: Oregon Ballet Theatre's longtime artistic director Christopher Stowell just announced his resignation from the company he's helmed since 2003.
Here's the statement from this morning's press release:
“After careful consideration and thoughtful reflection, I have submitted my resignation as Artistic Director of Oregon Ballet Theatre effective at the end of December. OBT’s Board of Trustees has determined that the organization must adopt a new business model and, after much thought, I have come to the conclusion that I am not the best candidate to lead OBT into that future.
To our dedicated audiences, I want to say thank you for your support of my work during my time at OBT. I believe that classical ballet, as an art form, has a great deal to offer this community and hope that you will continue to support OBT as an audience member and donor for many years to come. It has been the greatest honor of my life to work with everyone at Oregon Ballet Theatre. As I move on to new challenges and new frontiers, my experiences at OBT will go with me and for that you have my thanks.”
Read between the lines: Money troubles. (Just three years ago, the company went begging to the local and national dance community to stay afloat.) For more analysis of Stowell's legacy and his departure, you're gonna wanna hit Oregon Arts Watch, where Bob Hicks has an in-depth piece about the announcement.
A tangentially related bit of news that got lost in the weekend holiday shuffle: On Friday Artists Rep announced that Jon Kretzu will resign as Associate Artistic Director, alongside departing Artistic Director Allen Nause. This is really interesting news, especially given that much of the criticism of Artists Rep over the past few years—from me and others—is that they need to let someone other than Kretzu or Nause direct a dang play. Can't wait to see who they tap to replace the pair, as it'll have huge implications for Portland theater in the coming years.
Sometimes, with contemporary dance, a show is so peculiar or discordant that you wonder what it’s getting at. Often that wondering is exactly what it’s getting at. Such is the case with choreographer Tahni Holt’s Sun$hine, which runs through this weekend at BodyVox. It’s tough to synthesize the performance into words, because it’s so marked by visuals. The outfits are bedazzled: a black, sequined tracksuit—plus gold-sequined Converses—contrasts with a costume made of cardboard wings. The crew is small, comprised of three dancers (Robert Tyree, Lucy Yim, Suzanne Chi) and two musicians (Tom Thorson, Kyleen King), who at times throw themselves across the stage and at times cross the stage in dirge-like slowness, often to the sound of grinding digital loops (also live violin). Here’s a trailer, which gets at the mood pretty well:
Holt admits that it's a performance which will “try the viewers’ patience.” The opening segment is seven minutes of silent dancing by a single performer (the only set is a roughly 10-foot-tall wall of cardboard boxes). Some of the outfits look silly—a long turquoise skirt plastered with sequins and other bright scraps, like a pack rat’s den that became apparel—but all the motions are done in total earnestness and sincerity. The piece has gone through multiple iterations, with a performance at the Art Gym, On the Boards in Seattle, and Movement Research in New York. This is the first time Sun$hine has been presented in its entirety. From the program, Holt writes, “I am interested in observing and challenging how viewers relate themselves to what they experience. I am interested in creating performative structures that, as a dancer/performer, are challenging and at times impossible.” Challenging, yes. But also distinct, memorable, and decidedly itself.
Tonight’s performance begins at 8 pm. Get tickets here.
From Thriller to the Monster Mash, the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and classic Disney cartoons, Halloween lends itself to loads of delightful performances, specifically dance-oriented performances. (Notably THIS piece of cinema, which seems fair to include as Teen Witch is obviously a film about the paranormal.)* Halloween is the perfect time to watch some weirdos cut some goofy freak moves out on the dance floor—which, hey, sounds like all of my house parties and so brings me to the topic of some local news...
Portland’s “most joyous" dance company, BodyVox, are in the midst of their second Halloween show. It's a lot of fun. (They make the undead seem cozy!) They call it BloodyVox: Fresh Blood; it's off-kilter and silly, and cartoony rather than creepy. The show is comprised of several vignettes with reoccurring characters: a mouthless noir detective, zombies, samurai people, and a clown.
For a loose comparison, think Cirque du Soleil, if it were on a tight budget. BloodyVox has that similarly slapstick, off-kilter (Canadian) humor, the striped costuming, the awe-inspiring acrobatics and movements, plus the absence of any fleshed out characters. Also similar to Cirque, sometimes the tone is a little odd or doesn’t quite cohere (i.e. Why is BloodyVox's mumbly clown wearing giant DC shoes? Why are those ninjas wearing velvet jumpsuits and saggy, knotted nightcaps?). In the end, it’s no matter. You delight in what you see. You ease up on any tonal inconsistencies and your narrative impulse. BodyVox shows are always a pleasure, in part because the performers seem to be so enjoying themselves, and things stay light and good-natured, with elements of surprise sprinkled in.
Here's a promo video. These charming Siamese twins—two dancers (Jeff George and Eric Skinner) who manage to move gracefully and perfectly in tune while strapped together—gives something of a preview:
As an added incentive, BodyVox is holding a juried costume contest on their Oct. 31, Halloween performance! Winners receive a pair of season tickets to BodyVox. $5 Arts for All tickets are also available for performances. The next show is tomorrow night. Get tickets here.
BodyVox Dance Center. Oct 25, 26, 27, 31, Nov. 1, 2, 3. 7:30 pm
*Also noteworthy in a round-up of Halloween dances, this video: Wednesday teaches Lurch how to groove. Too adorable to not include.
White Bird kicks off their 15th season tomorrow with LA Dance Project. The group is fresh from their world premiere, and fresh with reasons to see ‘em! Benjamin Millepied (famous dancer and actor-choreographer of Black Swan, cum hubby to Natalie Portman) founded the project—an art collective of six dancers.
The project has both an historic and a new piece up their sleeve: a performance of the Merce Cunningham work Winterbranch, which boasts costume and lighting by the late great Robert Rauschenberg and music by Philip Glass. Also on the schedule is an original work titled Moving Parts, scored by Nico Muhly—the classical, avant-garde, all-around composer (who, btw, keeps a notably entertaining blog—both erudite and silly and saturated in pop culture).
Last but not least, we have a pair of tickets to give away! E-mail me by 10 am Wednesday morning, and I'll pick a winner at random to score the free tix. The show starts at 7:30 pm, September 26, at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. Non-winners can get their tickets here.
Those who know me know I don't care three poops about college sports—even those based here in Oregon. HOWEVER! The University of Oregon Ducks have a new friend in me, thanks to this AMAZING AND HILARIOUS parody of the internet famous PSY "Gangnam Style" video... starring the Oregon Ducks mascot (and some rather hot students). Check this out, and renew your faith in the importance of higher education.
The peeps over at SplitSider obviously have nothing better to do with their time, so author Nicole de Ayora crafted this extremely detailed "modern dance analysis" of the Arrested Development chicken dance. As a reminder...
My personal fave chicken dancer is Lindsay, and here's how dance analyzer de Ayora analyzes Lindsay's artistry:
With the figure of a prima and posture of a drunk, Lindsay turns her carriage under, extending the foot to the side with a kick in attitude and jumping with a step-kick from one leg to the other, much like the oldest of the septuplets of the celebrated postmodern polka troupe Shiykon. Holding her hand high like chicken’s comb in petite pose, the dancer conveys her desire to be heard not with a cluck, but a crow: “Chaw! Che-chaw! Che-chaw!” Belittling her brother’s ineptitude to make any moves on the ladies, Lindsay’s jovial jumps À la seconde embody a celebration in the face of her brother’s shortcomings.
I hadn't really thought of that. Good point. (Read the rest here!)
Heads up on a special, one-time-only performance happening tomorrow night: FRONT dance journal (which we’ve mentioned before, here), will perform the second part of their Collision series—in part an effort to raise money for FRONT's second issue. Sponsored by Conduit Dance, a group of dancers, musicians, and lighting designers will improvise a 45-minute, experimental performance. Included in the great line-up are dancers Linda Austin, Mike Barber, Carla Mann, Rikki Rothenberg, and Noel Plemmons, with music from Delaney Kelly (of Deelay Ceelay) and Rafael Fauria, and lighting by Bill Boese and Jeff Forbes. All proceeds go towards the second printing of FRONT, which can be nabbed at several bookstores and arty boutiques around town (see: the Nationale).
Assembled by a number of devoted dance supporters in the area, FRONT has the zeal of a zine but with a professional design quality to beat. Their mission?: “Bringing a larger dance conversation to Portland and bringing Portland into a larger dance conversation.” The forthcoming issue includes contributions from Ukrainian dance troupe Performativity, LA dancer Meg Wolfe, Jay Sanders (co-curator of the 2012 Whitney Biennial). Catch the performance tomorrow night, 7 pm, at Conduit Dance (918 SW Yamhill Suite 401). Tickets are sliding scale, $12-20.
H/T to Julie at WORK
So I Married Abraham Lincoln is a show of many dimensions. At times it feels like a staging of The Yellow Wallpaper: like a documentation of hysteria, with women running in circles and crawling on the floor, who then take to a chair and sit creepily still. It’s sometimes uncomfortable and tongue-in-cheek, often eerie, even funny, but always curious. It’s partly a psychological reckoning—in dance-form—and partly about the mere perception of the female brain and female normalcy; So I Married Abraham Lincoln uses the mercurial life of Mary Todd Lincoln—who was institutionalized several years after her husband’s assassination—to look at the expectations of women.
One of the first things you’ll notice about Paufve|dance is the range of their female dancers, specifically their age range. It’s not often you see dancers older than 30, but Paufve puts special focus on them, proclaiming on their website a “particular investment in middle-aged dancer,” asking, “Why is so much concert dance relegated to virile, youthful bodies of a specific aesthetic, to narrow notions of fashion industry beauty?” Taking that fashion reference further, during one segment of this particular performance, the women parade down the stage like a run-way, in single-file, announcing names with loud grin in a sarcastic, flurried reference to a pageant's runway.
Perhaps you're familiar with L.A.-based comedian Keith Apicary (real name Nathan J. Barnatt), who basically goes around dancing funny. No? Okay then, you're about to witness a masters class in "dancing funny" as Keith hits the Miami clubs—all to hype Flo Rida's absolutely BANGIN' jam "Let it Roll." Join him won't you?
It's only a couple hours away, and tickets are sold out, but it still seems worth mentioning: tonight is the last chance to catch Northwest Dance Project's Summer Splendors. It's also the last chance to see NWDP (besides at their gala benefit) before they head to the Olympics (!). Summer Splendors packs a tight space with a lot of spunk and four premieres.
Young Seattle choreographer Kate Wallich kickstarts the show with Yacht Club, which brims with posturing and rock 'n' roll gestures (see: Mick Jagger swag and mild moshing). The performance moves right along with a gentle, touching tone in This is Embracing, choreographed by Gregory Dolbashian. Sarah Slipper, NWDP's artistic director, presents a playful and clever piece, with a few hints of melancholy, in the male-female duet When I arrive at the other side, I will kiss you. Rounding it out is Atash, by Tracey Durbin. The dancers take the stage in the form of a procession, but it soon unravels, with eight of the company's dancers winding around the stage, proving movement's ability to create an imaginary environment and set, no props necessary. If you managed to snag tickets, you won't be disappointed! It's a bright showcase of talent.
833 N Shaver (at Mississippi Ave), 4 pm.
I've long extolled the virtues of Canadian SportsCentre—okay, I've extolled them once—but I repeat: CANADIAN SPORTSCENTRE IS THE BEST OF ALL THE GLOBAL SPORTSCENTERS! Once again, here's why:
UGGGHNNNHHH!! Why are you STUPID babies so fucking stupid?!? We give you one thing to do... ONE THING! And you fuck it up. Just stand there, look adorable in your stupid fucking tutus, and dance. And you can't even do that righ... wait. OMG! The babies are fighting! YES! YES! YES! Beat the stupid out of each other, you stupid fucking ballet babies!!!
Awwww... C'MON!! WHY'D YA HAVE TO BREAK THEM UP???
BodyVox is trying something different. And, as usual, it’s joyful, clever, and pretty irresistible. Their new show, The Cutting Room, debuted last week; it takes the contemporary genre of dance-theater and stretches it into dance-cinema. The Cutting Room is a cinephile’s dream; it borrows aesthetics and iconography from the likes of The Terminator, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Amadeus, and O Brother, Where Art Thou?. (The score includes both Mozart and the Appalachian Ralph Stanley.) Amazingly, there is only one intermission during the entire show; the varying aesthetics (futuristic, Baroque, backcountry, et. al) are strung together by an ongoing chase scene: a loose, silly narrative involving a man in a tie and suit (Jamey Hampton) and a man in sunglasses and an Adidas track suit (Jonathan Krebs), fighting over a MacGuffin—a mysterious film reel that’s introduced in the first few minutes of the performance.
Rounding out their exciting 2011/12 season tomorrow, dance organization White Bird offers you this:
The hip-hop troupe Compagnie Käfig. Hailing from France and Brazil—their choreographer is based in Lyon, and its 10 young dancers from Rio de Janeiro—choreographer Mourad Merzouki will present two pieces, Agwa and Correria, for a mix of acrobatics, samba, electronic, and, cups of water?
There aren’t many chances to see hip-hop dance in Portland, and this is Compagnie Käfig’s only U.S. stop on their current tour, making Wednesday's show an especially unique opportunity. Tickets for the performance are $25-60, BUT we have a hook-up: enter in the discount code Mercury when you check out, here, and get $5 off tickets in price levels 2-4. Notables from earlier in the Uncaged season included vigorous, intense performances from the local group tEEth and the Canadian troupe Kidd Pivot; Compagnie Käfig seems to be more of the same type of impressive talent.
Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1031 SW Broadway, May 9, 7:30 pm, $25-60.
Yesterday evening was the opening night of Oregon Ballet Theatre's Chromatic Quartet, a four-part program that featured the world premiere of visiting (from Montreal) choreographer Matjash Mrozewski's The Lost Dance. As I've written about in this week's paper, OBT enlisted Adam Arnold to costume the performance, making the ballet, in effect, the designer's spring collection fashion show.
The costuming was classic Arnold, even bearing the the color palette that has grown to be his signature: black, red, white, fuchsia, and an ochre he affectionately refers to as "vomit color." Always a proponent of dressing for the occasion, he outfitted the male dancers in trousers, collared shirts, and ties that read from the stage as normal clothing but were designed with a panoply of inner complications and inventive seaming to allow for a full range of motion without so much as a shirttail coming un-tucked. The women's flowing mid-calf dresses were actually in two pieces, with high waisted panties sewn into the skirts.
For a project that came together through so much independent work—Arnold, Mrozewski, and composer Owen Belton did the vast majority of their communication from afar—it's remarkable how cohesive the final product is. And while Arnold is to be commended on his costuming (the tips of fuchsia on the underside of the men's ties that looked like laser points as they jumped were a particularly nice touch), every aspect of it was remarkable. The lighting design was awesome, shifting from street corner haziness to shattered grid; the creepy, industrial-tinged soundtrack competed with the choreography in the innovation department, and it all came together to create a kind of crime-noir vibe with a hint of reefer madness. It is certainly a worthy rival to any of the dance performances I've seen at the TBA Festival.
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