• Eugene Weekly Loves You!
Share |

EW! A Blog.

May 13, 2016 04:47 PM

Eugene’s first all gluten-free restaurant opened this week, and EW dropped by to check it out. Sundial Café is tucked into the corner of 24th and Hilyard just south of the UO campus, next to Sundance Natural Foods — look for the storefront with the red door.

Owner and chef Alex Moon, a longtime member of the Eugene food community who used to work at Belly Taqueria and Morning Glory Café, launched a Kickstarter campaign over a year ago to get a gluten-free restaurant up and running in Eugene. It took a while to find the right space, but May 11 was Sundial Café’s first day.

Outdoor seating covers the front area, which is shared with neighbor Humble Bagel, and inside, a cute collection of chairs and tables fills a space with a country farm house vibe. The interior has the gleam of a newly built restaurant, with a cozy atmosphere generated by the elegant but slightly worn décor.

OK, but you’re really here for the food, right?

Moon is currently only serving lunch and dinner right now, but she plans to start serving breakfast starting next weekend. Currently, the menu offers an appealing array of dishes, from chips and guac to salads, pastas and burgers.

The Spencer’s Butte burger comes with a one-third pound beef patty and options to add jalapenos, barbecue sauce, fried egg, avocado and more.

The beverages list includes a full assortment of coffees, like lattes, mochas and espresso. Further down you’ll find a handful of smoothies — the PB & J smoothie is light pink, frothy and perfect in consistency, easy to slurp down with a straw but far from watery. Expect a sweet strawberry taste with rich, peanut butter undertones.

And you don’t want to miss the dessert menu. Take the “Pink Cloud,” for example: “a strawberry shake topped with fresh berries and marshmallows with a rainbow sugar rim.”

Lauren Hay, one of the restaurant’s employees, says although Sundial has only been open for two days, it’s been a fun experience. “I’ve never been part of a start-up before, but it’s all been really positive,” she says.

Check out Sundial’s Facebook page for more updates, and visit sundialcafeeugene.com to see a full menu.

May 12, 2016 11:37 AM

The race for EWEB Wards 6&7 just got a little strange and ugly with this attack mailing against Sonya Carlson.

Carlson is running against Gary Malone in the position. EW reached out to Carlson and Malone for comment.

Malone at first responded: "Sans commentaires, Ne pas oublier de voter." (No comments, Don't forget to vote).

He did not explain why his response was in French.

Carlson has issued a statement:

"The Eugene Chamber of Commerce, the Register-Guard, the Eugene Weekly and dozens of elected officials and other community members across the political spectrum have publicly endorsed my campaign for EWEB. I am proud of the broad range of support I have garnered. Yesterday, I was informed that my opponent turned to negative campaigning. It is unfortunate, but I am confident that voters will see the hit piece for what it is. My husband and I purchased our home in a working class neighborhood in Santa Clara almost seven years ago. I graduated from Lewis and Clark College in 2005 and had been in the workforce for nearly a decade before I decided to return to school to pursue my masters degree in business administration. As a mother, it was a difficult decision to make, as we would be living on one income. Likewise, choosing to run for EWEB was not a decision I took lightly, but I have been honored and humbled by the encouragement I have received. "

Later on Friday. May 13, Malone said he did have comments after all, writing:

"I do have comments. The flyer did come from my campaign. I apologize to Sonya Carlson and anyone else who may have been offended and would ask for their forgiveness. The intent was to educate the voter. I am saddened to say one more piece was mailed that I tried to stop that reflects the same style. I have taken steps to ensure this type of campaigning will not happen in the future."

May 10, 2016 11:03 AM

Oregon Native American history and culture feels a bit under siege is Lane County this week

Over on the Lane Community College Campus on Wedesday, May 11, advocates for teaching Chinuk Wawa are organzing and asking to be heard by the LCC Board of Education. They will be meeting 6:30 pm in Building 3, Room 216 on the main campus and speaking during the 20 minute public comment session. 

Chinuk language advocates will meet prior to the board meeting at 5:25pm in Building 5 Room 126 for a meal, songs, and prayer, according to a Facebook event. More information is below, and you can also sign on to a petition at Change.org.

In the fall, Lane Community College's administration effectively canceled the Chinuk Wawa language program at the school, placing it on an indefinite "hiatus". While the American Indian Languages Committee at LCC has continued advocating for this invaluable and one of a kind program, the administration has been silent. So, some of us are seeking to be heard by LCC's Board of Education. 

Would you please join us in support of Chinuk Wawa at LCC?! Please help us pack the board room and request a reversal of the administration's decision and a commitment to the continuation of Chinuk Wawa at our community college!! The LCC Board of Education meets on May 11th at 6:30pm in Building 3, Room 216. Their meetings begin with 20 minutes for public comments so if you'd like to speak in support of the program please do!

Update: The LCC board voted 5-1 to reinstate Chinuk Wawa.

Another issue facing local Tribal members and land use and environmental advocates is the proposed TV Butte gravel mine, called the Old Hazeldell Quarry by the developers. 

EW columnist and Indigenous rights activist Kayla Godowa Tufti, a desecent of Charlie Tufti, known for discovering Waldo Lake, has been advocating against the mine, pointing to historical records she says shows possible Native graves in the area.

There is a hearing tonight, May 10, about the mine with the Planning Commissio  at 5:30 pm  in the Goodson Room at 3040 N. Delta Hwy., Eugene.

In a Facebook event opposing the mine, which is associated with Ed King of King Estate Winery, organizers write:

Lane County Planning Commission will be hearing rebuttal to the proposed mining project in Oakridge, Oregon. It is critical that people turn out to oppose this mining project which threatens indigenous cultural resources, the regional ecology, and the health and wellbeing of rural residents.

Last night I attended the initial meeting where the mining company attempted to convince the commission to change the zoning of TV Butte from forest to mining. In doing so the presenters ignored or dismissed concerns about increased fire risk, particulate pollution, and water contamination or depletion.

They also assaulted and called the police on the lineal descendant of Charlie Tufti when she raised concerns about the impact this proposed mine would have on cultural resources and native graves. There are many reasons to oppose this plan. Please share this widely and please come to the meeting and voice your support for the people of Oakridge. Goodson Room 3050 N. Delta Highway Eugene Oregon

April 27, 2016 03:33 PM

The Bernie Sanders campaign very suddenly announced today that Bernie is rallying in Springfield tomorrow, April 28, at Island Park, at the West B Street entrance. Doors open at 10 am and the event starts at noon. 

The rally is called "A Future to Believe In," and it's the first time the Sanders campaign has rallied in Lane County. For those who want to feel the Bern in Springfield, we recommend arriving early and biking — event organizers say a bike valet will be present and parking is limited.  See more info here.

April 23, 2016 07:19 AM

Eugene audiences were treated last night to “Nufonia Must Fall”, a multi-disciplinary collaboration between turntablist/graphic novelist Kid Koala (aka Eric San) and filmmaker KK Barrett, featuring the stunning Afiara String quartet, and a host of puppeteers, camera operators, sound and technical directors. (More on them later.)

            Before the performance in the Silva hall began, audience members were down front, taking a peek at what was to unfold: Tiny sets, like little shoebox-sized dollhouse rooms, littered the stage, with cameras and lights set up around them. Here and there, little puppets could be spotted, one to ten inches high. A full deejay kit loomed next to four music stands and accompanying chairs. Above, a movie screen. What the heck is going to happen?

            After a brief game of Nufonia bingo as a warm-up, Sans chatted with the crowd about the origin of the word “Nufonia” – Essentially, it’s a city of “No Fun.” (“That’s not Eugene though, right?” Sans quipped to wild applause.)

            “So we’re gonna do this movie now, in one take,” Sans says.

            “Nufonia Must Fall” is a full-length film, in three acts, performed live, with live accompaniment. That would be tricky enough, and it’s been done. But what’s happening here is something altogether new: A bevy of ninja puppeteers zoom to the set for the next film shot, light it, get their puppet in place, the camera rolls, and voila: A little scene unfolds, and the movie gets projected on the big screen.

            The narrative follows the life of a little earphone-wearing robot, who looks like a stack of marshmallows, as he tries his robot hand at a series of dead end jobs. (He’s continually being sacked, replaced by the faster, more efficient HexBot 9000…)

            But the robot meets a girl, Malorie, and the film takes a different path. It’s a simple love story, after all, and with its monochromatic set and characters, is reminiscent of the great romantic movies of the 1930’s and 40’s. (I wished my grandparents could have seen it. They would have loved it.)

            If you’re lucky enough to sit up close to the stage, you can see the artistic tricks that translate onto the screen transpiring in real time: A revolving carousel of mini storefronts, for example, transforms on camera, giving the illusion that the robot is walking down the street. Snow falls from a sifter; rain is a sheet of plastic with raindrops etched into it.

            “Nufonia” creates an intersection between classical music – the Afiara quartet is a wonder, not only providing gorgeous, lush music, but voicing the movement of the robot himself, all his squeaks and whirs – and the dj booth, between live performance, and film.

            Gesturally, the robot and his love interest communicate everything, with the tilt of a head, the fall of a chest, or the proud swagger of a robot on a mission to deliver a mixed tape to his new girlfriend.

            We learn these cues before we ever learn words: the visual representation of the face and the body clues us into the full range of human emotion, and here Sans, Barrett - and their incredibly talented team - have taken the leap between our earliest and most vital understanding of feelings, and embodied them in this tiny world made of paper and resin and ink.

            The results are nothing short of magical.

            

April 22, 2016 05:54 PM

The annual (sub)Urban Projections multimedia fest, which began last night at the Hult Center, has grown into an event that the community seems to get more excited for every year, and rightfully so. The event is singular in this city; it’s an arts adventure with unexpected tech oddities, collaborations and innovations around every corner and up every staircase.

That being said, I really wanted to love Night One of (sub)Urban Projections, but I just … didn’t.

Perhaps it was the $9 “Purple Rain” cocktails that set the wrong tone. (I mean, really? Am I missing something? That seems like a pretty crass cash-in on Prince’s death. At least Voodoo Doughnuts is donating some of the profits of its “Raspberry Beret” doughnut to a “Prince-inspired charity.”)

That’s not to say there weren’t gems to be found; there were. Pretty much all the dancers and choreography were entertaining. The “Blessing to Saraswati” Balinese ritual by the Lane Community College Dancers had a centered, ethereal quality amid the chaos, dancing their way to the top of the Hult and releasing flower petals on the crowds below.

Other highlights: Jorah LeFleur’s ‘Secret Devotional’ altars and spoken-word performances drew a crowd. It was silly and kitchsy, but it actually had some heart. Each altar was set up like an old-school polling booth with curtains and inside were some quirky, pop-culture curiosities.

A favorite was the booth with a viewmaster wound by a whisk through which you could see some vintage old-timey soft porn – a lady slowing stripping.

Back upstairs, the Prince memorial was a nice touch. 

 

On one of the top floors was “Morning Distortion,” a piece that had more to say than most — set up was a typical bathroom sink with a mirror, but the mirror was a digital screen reflecting the audience. 

As I walked up to it, as if on cue, a gaggle of teenagers rushed in front and started making the ubiquitous duck face and taking selfies of themselves taking selfies of themselves. Wow. If that doesn’t tell you where society is today, I’m not sure what will. This art piece did its job.

There was also some great costuming and headdresses and it was hard to tell if performers or attendees sported them, blurring the line between the two.  And the members of the High Step Society electro-swing band always puts on a great show, as they did with ‘Rite of Swing.”

Finally, the fest continues to win on the interactive front, allowing for audiences to directly participate.

OK now let’s get to the tough stuff. First, it should be said that this is an incredibly ambitious event in a complicated space that would be difficult for anyone to pull off seamlessly. That kind of ambition should be applauded in a city where it can be rare, even disparaged.

However, my biggest critique of the night was there was no there there. For all the work that went into this event, and it’s clear that a lot did, it felt scatter-brained, fragmented, disorganized, without purpose.

This may be in part because of the lighting. In past years, the lights have been turned low, shrouding the great Hult lobby in darkness, which not only allowed for the digital projections – a large part of the fest — to be seen crisply and clearly, it also allowed for some magic. I could see just one too many strings – or in this case electrical cords — for the magical ambiance to ever have a chance to settle in.

Not only that, the dimming of lights and use of spotlighting in years past guided audiences from performance to art installation to performance and so on. This year people seemed … aimless. Many attendees said they were confused about where to go, what to look at and were concerned they were supposed to be somewhere else.

Another issue was that the techier art installations and performances felt a little too slick, a little too cold, with too little to say. Where was the heart? What conversations were provoked by these pieces? Great art has urgency to say something, to evoke something, and I just couldn’t figure out what a lot of these pieces were trying to convey beyond technical prowess. Perhaps the artists themselves did have important messages to share, but from the outside, it felt pretty opaque. A lot of the time it felt like you were watching cool people play with cool gadgets, but the results were lacking, half-baked; the ends couldn't justify the means. I overhead some people even deeming it student work. Ouch.

Taken as a whole, this event did a splendid job of reflecting back to us where are heads are at as a society: Distracted, over-stimulated and worshipping all things techy. While tech is integral to the future and the arts, it has to be more than just ones and zeros and dudes sitting at laptops pressing buttons.

We at EW, without a doubt, will be back next year to check out the next (sub)Urban Projections. It’s a hugely ambitious event that we hope to see return to the full form its shown so well in past years.

April 22, 2016 10:30 AM

Who doesn’t dream of running away and joining the circus?

            Well, maybe not everybody, but few in attendance for Cirque Alfonse at the Schnitzer Wednesday night would have passed up the chance to at least see “Timber!” again, and soon.

            Silly, funny, death-defying and straight-up beautiful, Cirque Alfonse’s latest show is a kind of lumberjack modern dance circus act – think beards and suspenders and union suits – set to gorgeous French-Canadian music.

            Under the direction of Alain Francoeur, the Quebequois company creates an organic mix of spectacle and fun, caching within its production some good old-fashioned storytelling and lush, languid dance.

            The group was presented as part of Whitebird’s 2016 dance series, to the wild enthusiasm of the audience that included many Timbers/Thorns fans – how smart of Whitebird’s marketing team to do outreach to these diehards.

            To kids and adults alike, this show has simply universal appeal.

            So what’s to love? Acrobatics for starters, but not the oddly contortionist, pre-pubescent fare we’ve seen so many times before. No, these gymnasts are big guys, wearing Carhart jeans and plaid shirts, and tossing giant logs, and each other, around like toothpicks.

            There’s axe throwing, whip cracking, saw bending, log rolling, grandpa flying, potato hurling, man flipping, clogging, singing – and the undercurrent throughout is this irreverent spirit of adventure, a pure joie de vivre.

            Watching Cirque Alfonse, one has this sensation of comfort and ease wash over, like you know they’ve performed for live crowds so many times before, they just know, exactly what will tickle your funny bone, what will make you hold your breath, or laugh or smile.

            Buttressed by the Vaudeville champs who came before them, Cirque Alfonse is the real deal. If you have the chance, run, don’t walk, to get tickets. 

April 22, 2016 06:10 PM

Former Eugene area pet store owner Nathan McClain paid a prostitute with donations that were intended for the Girl Scouts and gave her a bushbaby (aka Galago primate) as a tip. 

McClain was arrested after he was observed exiting an adult porn shop apparently under the influence of methamphetamines, according to the press release from the Eugene Police Department today.

The Galago, named Gooey, is safe.

The full press release is below.

Detectives Recover Galago Primate During Investigation

On March 1 and March 6, 2016, police received information of burglaries at the Zany Zoo Pet Store, and stolen property that included Girl Scout cookie money, a laptop computer and an exotic animal (a Galago primate). Eugene Property Crime detectives investigated the case and ultimately recovered the exotic animal from an out-of-town prostitute. Based on interviews and statements, it was discovered that Nathan Allen McClain paid the prostitute with store funds, which included the donation jar money for a sexual encounter with her. According to the woman, McClain gave her the exotic animal as a tip for her services. McClain was identified as the owner of the pet store.

The exotic animal was recovered by the Eugene Police Department on March 17, after locating the involved woman in a local area hotel. In the state of Oregon, it is prohibited to possess an exotic animal without a license issued by the State Department of Agriculture. The woman was cooperative, and provided a statement to detectives, along with the exotic animal.

On March 21, McClain was arrested by Oregon State Police in the parking lot of their Albany office for DUII-controlled substance. McClain was observed exiting the adult porn shop next door and he appeared to be under the influence of methamphetamine. McClain was arrested and lodged in the Linn County jail for DUII.  (OSP Case: SP16083129)

McClain was interviewed by EPD detectives on March 21 in Eugene and it appeared he was under the influence of methamphetamine. McClain was found to have to paid the prostitute for sex on March 1 with deposit and donation money from the store.

On April 21, 2016, McClain was arrested for prostitution and lodged at the Lane County Jail. The investigation into the burglaries is unfounded and the missing Girl Scout money was never recovered and is still under investigation.

The exotic animal, Gooey, is safe and currently at a nearby sanctuary until the USDA issues a new license for Zany Zoo Pet Store.

According to the Zany Zoo Facebook page

April 21, 2016 05:01 PM

Voodoo Doughnut made a purple-topped raspberry-filled doughnut to honor Prince, and people immediately complained that it's not vegan.

Voodoo Doughnut's response? "Unfortunately we weren't expecting prince to pass away today and didn't make extra vegan doughnuts this morning."

It's comments section gold on the Voodoo Facebook page. And yes, the Prince treat is available at the Eugene store. 

Duly noted: PETA says he was a committed vegan. Voodoo says on its Facebook page that a portion of the proceeds will go to a Prince-supported charity, and the doughnut can be special ordered vegan.

April 18, 2016 02:45 PM

Leif Williams Brecke

June 28, 1978 – April 6, 2016

A potluck gathering will be held for Leif Brecke, 37, from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday, April 23, at the Greenacres Grange between Coos Bay and Coquille. Friends are encouraged to bring stories, pictures, and food to share.

Leif Brecke, an activist and community builder, was born to Vernon L. and Brenda W. Brecke up the river in Allegany, Oregon. He attended Marshfield High School and graduated from Lane Community College and University of Oregon. Leif and Sara met in 1996 and moved to Eugene in 1999. No words can express the love and support they gave to each other nor describe the life they had together for 17 years. Their shared love of family , friends, music, cooking and the outdoors keep them connected even after they separated. Last year Leif moved to Medford to live with his partner, Kay Wilde and her daughter.

Leif will be remembered as networker and a support advocate; he was always sharing ideas, books, recipes, friends, and causes. He loved hiking the ocean cliffs, kayaking rivers, researching and fact checking information, hunting for just the rights books or music. He loved his days of firefighting and the sense of community that was shared.

Friends and family spend many adventurous and memorable days rafting and camping with Leif on the Rogue, Salmon, Illinois, North Umpqua, and the Elk rivers. Fellow activists spend hours with Leif planning and sharing ways to improve the world. His activism started at a young age and continued while in college, serving as a student senator and later as the Multi-cultural Program Coordinator. More recently he was Program Coordinator at Resilient Communities Project, Social Systems Facilitator at Cascadian Resilience, and Secretary of the Bellview Grange in Ashland. His many causes were founded in his love of the environment and community.

Leif is survived by his former partner/wife Sara Shaw Brecke of Eugene Oregon; his mother, Brenda Brecke of Coos Bay; his sister Julie Brecke Johnson of North Bend; his brother Richard Brecke and his wife Megan; his grandmother, “Sally” Running Brecke, and his recent partner Kay Wilde and her daughter.

He was preceded in death by his father, Vernon L. Brecke of Coos Bay; his maternal grandparents, Ann and Billy Williams of Hebron, Md.; and his paternal grandfather, Richard “Dick” Brecke. 

The family suggests memorial contributions to one of his causes, or to an environmental group or to a social justice organization. The family would also welcome support for suicide prevention. 

“Without deviation from norm, progress is not possible.” Frank Zappa 

Arrangements are under the direction of Coos Bay Chapel.

Obituary courtesy  Leif's mother, Brenda Brecke.

April 18, 2016 11:27 AM

Photo by Karen Saró Troeger

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Press Contact
Wanapum Fishing People against Nestle: 
(541)-374-2007

NESTLE WATER BATTLE CONTINUES

Tribal members speak out at City Council meeting

April 18th 2016 (Cascade Locks, Oregon)

Monday April 11th a meeting took place at the Cascade Locks Town Hall and members of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs of Oregon arrived on short notice in traditional longhouse dress to fiercely defend the waters of our home, the Columbia River.

The Cascade Locks city council voted against a resolution [6-1] that would have prevented Nestle International Waters from having rights to Oxbow Springs, the headwaters of Herman Creek. The Cascade Locks city council officially endorsed Nestle to open a water bottling facility in the Locks.

Ballot Measure 14-55 is an initiative to ban large-scale commercial water bottling operations in Hood River County. The measure, promoted by the Cascade Locks-based Local Water Alliance, will be voted on in the upcoming primary on May 17th 2016.

Many younger tribal members who still exercise their treaty rights to fish on the Columbia River spoke out in an eloquent, passionate and heartfelt opposition to Nestle’s water bottling facility.

“Look at me and see I’m worried. You should be worried too. Nestle’s going to come in here and destroy us. Don’t let that happen,” stated Whitney Jackson a tribal member of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs of Oregon.                 

“Oxbow Springs, Herman creek is the coldest tributary that goes into the Columbia River. The salmon really depend on that water to make their journey upstream. We know that water is becoming a scarce resource and we all depend on it. Our people do bring business here [to Cascade Locks]. Our people have been doing trade and commerce here on this river for over 10,000 years, since time immemorial,” expressed Shayleen Macy, enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs of Oregon.

Herman Creek, an important place for migrating fish populations, provides a cool water refuge and is a tributary to the Columbia River. The headwaters of Herman Creek, known as Oxbow Springs, is in the ceded treaty territory of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs of Oregon as outlined in the Mid-Columbia River Treaty of 1855.

In 2008 Nestle International Waters approached the city of Cascade Locks in hopes of purchasing the water rights to bottle and sell this pristine, priceless resource under their “Arrowhead” brand name.

Water rights to the spring are currently owned by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) for the operation of the Oxbow Springs Fish Hatchery which provides significant numbers to the local fisheries population and economy. 

Last May, Austin Greene Jr. the current Chairman of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs of Oregon sent a letter to the newly appointed Governor Kate Brown requesting she prompt ODFW to withdraw the application for water transfer with the City of Cascade Locks. 

                According to an article published July 2015 in the Portland Mercury, Greene’s letter stated, "Water quantity and quality and hatchery operations are of paramount importance to ongoing treaty-based rights of the Tribe in the Columbia River area and to ongoing federal litigation," the letter reads. "These factors are not only reasonable to evaluate but of critical importance for ODFW's proposed water transfer, particularly in the context of climate change... and more frequent droughts and/or dry years." 

Orvie Danzuka Councilman for the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs expressed his support for the resolution, "YES on 14-55 to honor 1855. The Treaty of 1855 guaranteed access to our usual and accustomed places, this [Herman Creek/Oxbow Springs] being one of them. Something like this could have a severe detrimental effect on our first food [salmon]. We want to be in line to make sure this doesn’t happen.”

Upcoming Event:

NO NESTLE in Oxbow Spring (k'uup waniitch) Appreciation Dinner and Giveaway with speakers and updates- Saturday April 23rd 2-5 pm at the Celilo Longhouse on the Columbia River.

“The Wanapum Fishing People against Nestle want to thank the Gorge groups and environmental organizations for protecting Oxbow Spring from Nestle for SEVEN YEARS before the tribes became aware and took a stand.”

With unprecedented fish kills and extreme drought conditions in our state this last year we cannot afford to allow grossly wealthy water bottlers to scheme their way into stealing our local water supplies for their private profits.

In the battle against water privatization, Tribal treaty rights may be a saving grace to protecting public water supplies. 

tee-cha-meengsh-mee sin-wit na-me- ah-wa-ta-man-wit 

“at the time of creation the Creator placed us in this land and He gave us the voice of this land and that is our law."

Photo by Blue Ackerman

April 11, 2016 11:47 AM

Eugene audiences were treated to two world premieres yesterday, as the Eugene Ballet Company presented Suzanne Haag’s Look and Toni Pimble’s The Great Gatsby.

            Haag’s work dove into the stark new reality of mass choreography – the dance we’re all (perhaps unwittingly) enthralled with as we tune into mobile devices, rather than each other. Set to charging music by Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg, and featuring lush solos by Kaori Fukui, the ensemble rose to the occasion for this piece, finding subtlety and nuance within the sometimes-dissonant range of movement. Haag plays with themes around relationship and communication by breaking the classical ballet lines, by tweaking the angles or skipping the beat – she demonstrates the discord that arrests people in their tracks as they pan over the latest viral video, or stop to take a group selfie.

            Haag is one of the founders of Instaballet – an exciting, boundary-breaking improv group that seeks to demystify dance. We hope to see more of her work in the future, and to see how she continues to develop as an artist.

            Look made an interesting companion to Gatsby, since the famous jazz-age novella expresses contempt for the decadence of that era’s excesses, even underneath all the glitz and glamour.

            (Are there parallels that could be made between posting a picture of the perfect brunch to Instagram, and hosting a massive party on your West Egg estate? Discuss.)

            Pimble’s choreography shimmers, finding precise bearings and powerful energy within the loose, drunken atmosphere. She plays with swing, Charleston and partner work that echoes the innovation of the creative times.

            Set to music by Wynton Marsalis, the full-length work pulses like a pot on simmer, that slowly comes to a rolling boil, heating up with intrigue and the omnipresent humidity of an inescapable (pre air conditioning) New York summer.         The music is like its own character here, a voice from a different time and place, played to perfection by Orchestra Next, under the direction of the inimitable Brian McWhorter, who serves double duty on trumpet.

            How much fun is Mr. McWhorter having? By the looks of it, a lot, and the band, along with the dance, had a transformative quality, rendering the formalism of the Silva Concert hall to a kind of speakeasy, to a bathtub gin party we were all invited to.

            Lighting design by Michael Peterson, and sets by Josh Neckels and Barry Rodgers, set the mood. 

            Costume design by Toni Pimble, coordinated by Shauna Durham, burnished the story, evoking the pearlescent heyday, and enhancing character and plot.

            And hats off to the creative team that brought a 1929 Mercedes Benz onstage. Let us heretofore give up our economy cars and go back to driving only roadsters.

            The lead dancers embody their roles with panache, from Mark Tucker as the stoic Gatsby, to Cory Betts as Nick Carraway, to Isaac Jones as Tom Buchanan, and Reed Souther as George Wilson, the dancers elevate every gesture, every look, with an actorly commitment that matches their physical verve.

            The women, too, are hard to forget: Victoria Harvey as Daisy Buchanan, Beth Maslinoff as Jordan Baker and Danielle Tolmie as Myrtle Wilson, imbue every scene with passion and a kind of doomed frivolity.

            Pimble finds opportunities for other dancers to stretch out: As guests at the party, Yoshie Oshima and Hirofumi Kitazume pretty much steal the show.

            As a complete concert, these two pieces – though quite different – are thoughtfully complementary, with Haag’s soloist almost serving as a set of oculist eyes, looking down on our moment in history, and its excesses, as we drive by unawares. 

April 8, 2016 12:00 AM

The capacity crowd at Beall Hall Friday night was only satisfied after not one, but two standing ovations for Joan Szymko’s new work “Shadow & Light”, performed beautifully by the Eugene Vocal Arts Ensemble, the Eugene Concert Orchestra and soloists Marietta Simpson, Sarah Joanne Davis and Brendan Tuohy, under the direction of artistic director and conductor Diane Retallack. 

            Portland-based Szymko has created something tangibly warm and accessible, giving voice to the duality between caretaking and caregiving, between receiving support, and losing a loved one, to Alzheimer’s or dementia.

            Subtly, with dignity, the artist combs through dialogue and poems, disparate threads that tie together thematically into three distinct phases of the disease and its effects:

            Part I: The Cloud of Forgetting, explores the brash realization that something is amiss, as patient delves into the cacophony of the diagnostic whorl, and is confronted with the cold realization that Alzheimer’s has settled into his or her life.

            Spoken dialogue, voiced by Lexy Wellman and Robert Killen, is cached within the lush score. These lines, trapped in amber, arrest the listener with their honesty. Bassist Milo Fultz offers counterpoint to the language, humanizing and elevating it with a kind of approachability and ease.

            In “Memory Aids”, Mezzo-soprano Mariette Simpson’s haunting, reserved portrayal of a woman who clings to the routines of daily life in order to appear normal, enough, is unforgettable.

            Part 2: Uncontainable Night, delves into the pain of losing, slowly, bit by bit, memory, relationships, independence. It’s about fear, yes, and the exquisite strength it takes to hang on every single day. And in “Sundowning” – a section about the fears and challenges of looking after someone when they have begun to need greater care, when they’ve begun to wander restless in the night, confused, is heart wrenching, with tenor Brendan Tuohy and soprano Sarah Davis voicing the caregiver’s desperate plea for just a little respite.

            Szymko has created a work here that is more than a piece of music. It has a theatrical quality, as it weaves together, seemingly effortlessly, language ranging from quotes from patients and their loved ones, to poems by Emily Dickinson, Ranier Maria Rilke, to Corinthians.   

            Part III: I and Thou transcends, richly exposing the warm embrace within the not knowing, within the stillness of love that persists without words, without cognitive networks.

            In “Love Bears All Things”, cellist David Straka is a triumph in a solo that brings everything home.

            Musically, the work is cinematic and lush, enjoyable. For average audiences, our access to contemporary classical music is through film scores, and “Shadow & Light” bears that rewarding countenance that draws us in.

            Szymko has captured here the deep, persistent love a mother feels for her child, and translates it to the shifting, gravelly terrain of coping with a loved one’s unraveling brain.

            Underneath that work, the day-to-day, the challenges, there is hope, and real beauty: What’s left behind, she finds, is the purity of connection, the elegant, elusive parasympathetic offerings between people who simply love each other, even if they can’t remember who, what, where or why.

             

            This piece should be played everywhere.