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The Spin

Who’s who and what’s what in dance this Month
BFAN's ALLADIN: THE BALLET
BFAN's ALLADIN: THE BALLET

This weekend only, Harmonic Laboratory presents PLATFORM, a collaborative arts festival featuring more than 70 local artists, musicians and dancers 8–11 pm Saturday, May 6, at the Erb Memorial Union on the University of Oregon campus. Proceeds benefit Planned Parenthood of Southwestern Oregon. 

Portland’s White Bird Dance season comes to a close May 10 with the oldest and most celebrated modern dance company in the world, the Martha Graham Dance Company, in the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. Celebrating 90 years, the inimitable company returns to Portland with an extraordinary program featuring Graham’s masterwork, Diversion of Angels. If you can get yourself up I-5, the opportunity to see this piece live should not be missed. 

Premiering in 1948, Diversion of Angels is set to a romantic score by Norman Dello Joio and takes its themes from differing aspects of love — adolescent, flirtatious, romantic and mature.

Forming her company in 1926, Martha Graham single-handedly defined contemporary dance as a uniquely American art form, creating 181 dance compositions and influencing generations of choreographers, including progenitors Merce Cunningham, Paul Taylor and Twyla Tharp. 

Remarkably, Graham’s dance company continues to thrive more than 25 years after her death. 

“No artist is ahead of his time,” Martha Graham said. “He is his time. It is just that the others are behind the time.”

Locally, Ballet Fantastique premieres Aladdin: The Ballet, featuring live music by Eugene’s own Satin Love Orchestra at 7:30 pm May 12-13 and 2:30 pm and 7:30 pm May 14 at the Hult. BFan sets this classic rags-to-riches tale to disco-riffic original arrangements of music by Queen. 

The University of Oregon Department of Dance presents the Spring Student Dance Concert 8 pm May 11-13 at the Dougherty Dance Theatre in Gerlinger Annex, with choreography by seven upper-level undergraduate dance students. 

And Dance Northwest presents Down 4 It 2017 at 7:30 pm May 13 at Lane Community College, featuring hip hop, contemporary, jazz, musical theater, Tahitian and Lindy hop. 

May also affords us a chance to explore the history of dance in the Pacific Northwest when the UO Dance Department and the Northwest Screendance Exposition present Moving History: Portland Contemporary Dance Past and Present: A Documentary Film by Eric Nordstrom at 3 pm May 21 in the UO’s Gerlinger Annex. 

Nordstrom’s film celebrates the companies and individuals that have made Portland the vibrant contemporary dance haven it is today — exploring what it means to be a working artist who makes a life in pursuit of a deep love of dance.

The Northwest Screendance Expo’s John Watson attended the film’s premiere in Portland last month. 

“This history should be important to anyone here who travels to Portland to see dance,” Watson says. “More importantly, it speaks to the almost universal struggle of dance education programs and dance companies to survive in the face of continued funding cuts.”

The Northwest Screendance Exposition also screens student films from the Academy for Arts and Academics (A3) at 6:30 pm May 10 at the Bijou Art Cinemas.