This has been an incredibly busy time for us at White Bird. Last week 3 nights of the Paul Taylor Dance Company at the Newmark--the highlight was certainly Saturday night when Paul Taylor himself arrived and joined the dancers on stage for bows--followed by the two incredible pianists Jeff Payne and Susan DeWitt Smith, who performed Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" for two pianos live.
Then "Feathered Follies" on Sunday, April 7--White Bird's most ambitious fundraiser to date, at Castaway. Highlights there: Dale Johannes, our host, singing "Beautiful Girls" from Sondheim's "Follies" as our bevy of Latino drag queens paraded around in towering feathered headdresses-- awards to Paul Taylor, Nancy and George Thorn, BodyVox and a cash commissioning prize to Alonzo King. And we raised good money too. There are not enough thanks to go around to everyone who made the event possible-- our board, staff, event and decorating committees, sponsors, Art of Catering, Michael Curry, Michael Magaurn and his amazing crew,, our performers Vagabond Opera and the Dolly Pops--our pastry chefs--and all our guests and contributors.
Reed student Kiri-Strack Gros has submitted a blog on her reaction to Akram Khan's "Vertical Road," that White Bird presented at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall last night, Oct. 17. The audience response was overwhelmingly enthusiastic.
White Bird Dance presented Akram Khan Company’s Vertical Road last night at the Schnitz. The dancers’ athleticism, the poetics inherent within the piece, and the collaboration between the choreographer, Khan, and all of the designers were the most striking aspects of this beautiful evening-length work. When the lights came up, there was no one on stage, just a brightly lit scrim--lengths of light, translucent fabric, some taut, some billowy, sewn together and pulled across the stage for a backdrop. A figure of a man approaches the scrim from behind, touches it. Waves of fabric surge out from the point of contact and ripple back down. The man behind the curtain plays with the scrim, jabbing it, scribbling on it, his figure sometimes clear and sometimes foggy.
The blogs and reviews on Trisha Brown Dance Company are coming, and they are all highly enthusiastic.
Click HERE for Nim Wunnan's analytical response to the program in Oregon Arts Watch, noting Trisha Brown's comparison of herself to a bricklayer.
Click HERE for Catherine Thomas' appreciative review in The Oregonian.
Click HERE for Robert Tyree's commentary.
Click HERE for Portland Stage Review.
And following is Kiri Strack-Grose perceptive and detailed take on the evening. Kiri is a dance student at Reed College.
Trisha Brown Dance Company: Beauty and Logic
Le Grand Continental was huge for us—and we are so happy that we spent this past summer, preparing and rehearsing for the amazing performances that over 8,000 saw a week ago in Pioneer Courthouse Square. However, we are now back to our regular business of bringing exciting contemporary dance to Portland’s stages, and we cannot think of anyone better to start off with (after LA Dance Project) than Trisha Brown.
It’s the 15th anniversary season of the White Bird Dance Series, but it was 12 years ago when we launched our second series, the White Bird/PSU Dance Series, with Trisha Brown’s company. Why? Trisha Brown’s revolutionary spirit has imbued all her choreography, and it is that spirit that has guided our series, now renamed Uncaged, ever since. She made a name for herself in the 1960’s with her maverick approach to dance. Dance, for her, could be anywhere at any time—on roof tops and walls, in the most unlikely performance spaces, as well as in theaters. Her movement first seemed unchoreographed in its spontaneity and physicality. She often used silence, ambient noise—and then she collaborated with progressive composers such as Laurie Anderson, John Cage, Alvin Curren, and more recently, jazz composer David Douglas. In the past years she became fascinated with baroque opera.
Yesterday, September 26th, I went to see the L.A. Dance Project at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall (affectionately referred to as “the Schnitz”) and proceeded to be blown away. The L.A. Dance Project, headed by Benjamin Millepied, is constituted of six dancers: Frances Chiavernini, Julia Eichten, Charlie Hodges, Morgan Lugo, Nathan Makolandra, and Amanda Wells. The three pieces that comprised the evening showcased the dancers’ strength, grace, and versatility. Starting with “Closer,” a pas de deux choreographed by Millepied to Mad rush for piano by Philip Glass that premiered in 2006, the event moved through an old Merce Cunningham piece, “Winterbranch,” that premiered in 1964, and finally to a new piece choreographed by Millepied entitled “Moving Parts.” This concluding composition premiered just five days ago at Walt Disney Concert Hall, providing an exciting contrast to the decades-old “Winterbranch.”
My story began unintentionally. I returned to Portland last year after living on the East coast for more years than I had lived anywhere since leaving home. I am originally from Wales in the United Kingdom, but have lived in the U.S. for many years. My husband is a North Westerner and he convinced my daughter and me to return.
When I first arrived I wasn't working so I started volunteering at PCPA, and that is where my dancing career/story begins. I was ushering at the White Bird auditions back in July, and the room was filled with so much positive energy it was infectious. I couldn't stop myself, despite the fact I have never danced in my life! And, so here I am today a lot fitter, happier, with a modicum of rhythm, and a greater understanding of the work, effort, endeavor and dedication it takes to dance. My daughter has been dancing for many years; she is now 16 and I am in awe of her dedication. After many life challenges in the last few years, I am a lot stronger because of all that transpired and am now overjoyed to participate in such a joyous and exhilarating challenge of dancing with 150+ dancers and 9 different dances!
Wow, the stories have been pouring into Kristi! We trying to keep caught up on our end and get all these out before the big day this Sunday!
DJ and Adriene
Adriene, Visual Artist
Last year was a hard year, my husband died and our younger daughter was hospitalized with grief as I also became guardian for my grand nephew, DJ, who's spent summers with me since he was 7. My daughters are grown women so taking on a 10 year old boy, even a fun one, full time has been a challenge. How does one cope? EAT!!! And I did, 35 extra pounds worth! When Paul sent the email about spreading the word for Le Grand Continental I thought Heyyyy ... it's for anybody age 10 -75, this is something fun DJ and I can do together! DJ was NOT enthused about auditioning and tried his best to not participate having no idea how much fun was ahead.
Week 8: The evolution of our dance
This past week Sylvain, our choreographer, returned to rehearsals from Canada. He was pleasantly surprised that we were ahead of schedule (a definite credit to the hard work and instruction of Jamie Benson, the artistic director). Sylvain took notice that we'd all been working very hard. It’s really exciting to see so many people attending the additional practice clinics, as well as, setting up extra practices in smaller groups. This week, Sylvain went through each dance section and refined all the movements, making sure that everything was clear in the timing, direction, and counts.
Some other exciting things are also happening. Carolyn Campbell has been photographing our rehearsal process and is showing the photos in an exhibition for Last Thursday at The Living Room Realtors on Alberta Street. This show is a beautiful documentary of our dance process and will be up for a month. Also, a fellow dancer Yasue, has designed Le Grand Continental t-shirts which anyone can order. And finally, another fellow dancer, Kristi Lahusen has been interviewing individual dancers about their experience in this process as well as their personal experience of why they dance. So much cool stuff.
I've enjoyed watching videos of flash mobs, wishing I could be part of one. So when Paul and Walter talked about Le Grand Continental I jumped at the chance, knowing it might be the closest I would ever come to a flash mob type of performance. For me, participating was a no-brainer. I love the performances that White Bird brings to Portland, and I love the joy that Paul and Walter exude when they introduce each company. I want to give back to them by being part of this project. I'm retired so I have the time and the desire to jump in.