The Spin

Dancer Jun Tanabe of #instaballet
Dancer Jun Tanabe of #instaballet

When it comes to making art, people in the performing arts get a raw deal.

A poet just needs a pen, right? A studio artist just needs a little space and some supplies. (Unless you work in a medium like cars or buses or something. Please don’t flood my inbox with letters of complaint; I’m just trying to make a point.)

Anyway, for dancers, rehearsal time is pretty dear: Rents can be prohibitively high for sprung-wood floors, safe for bare feet and careening bodies. And securing a performance venue? Oy.

Being produced, or producing oneself, with a live audience full of live human beings, and fundraising, marketing and managing all the details necessary to manifest those “butts in seats” can be a daunting effort for anyone, especially those dance companies not populated with legions of young dancers and their paying family minions.

So, do financial and logistical challenges inhibit creative growth? And what can be done about it? Locally, a couple of newish groups are asking, and answering, these questions.

I start to purr when I think of what Dance in Dialogue (DiD) is up to. The quarterly salon-style performance series offers space for six local choreographers and performance artists to showcase new work, as well as works-in-progress, in a process-oriented, informal venue. DiD provides artists with a place to take risks and offer rough ideas, to get feedback, all of which are needed to refine and develop a fully realized new piece. The DiD producers, Margo Van Ummersen and Shannon Mockli, are both nice as pie, but don’t let their unassuming demeanors fool you: These gals are fierce champions for the creative process.

Go have a peek at the 9th DiD installment 6 to 7:30 pm Thursday, June 2, at the Friends Meeting House, 2274 Onyx Street.; $5-$10 suggested donation.

And then the next night, catch #instaballet, an interactive dance performance during the First Friday ArtWalk, running 5:30 to 8 pm Friday, June 3, at Capitello Wines, 540 Charnelton Street; FREE.

“We love to create new works with art walkers as they go from gallery to gallery,” says Susanne Haag, #instaballet’s co-creator. “No dance experience is required, just a sense of creativity and fun.”

Haag says it’s cool for audience members simply to sit back and watch the happening unfold, too. The event also features photos on display by #instaballet co-creator Antonio Anacan. It’s free. There’s wine. Check it out.

If you haven’t yet had your fill of experimentation, also at 8 pm Friday, June 3, the University of Oregon’s Department of Dance presents the Spring Dance Loft, a showcase of student works featuring original dances and interdisciplinary collaborations that explore “identity, the intricacies of family, liturgical inquiry and the phenomenon of camaraderie.” (Holy Moses, get these college kids an arts grant application, stat!) Spring Dance Loft artists include Eduardo Anguiano, River Banks, Sarah Ginther, Bryant Henderson, Lindsey Salfran, Darion Smith and Jessica Taylor at the UO Dougherty Dance Theatre, Gerlinger Annex; $5.

In dance education news, DanceAbility offers “In the Studio,” a demonstration from their “Everybody Can Dance” teen program and family-friendly mixed-abilities performance 4:30 to 5:30 pm Thursday, June 2, at Hilyard Community Center, 2580 Hilyard Street; FREE. DanceAbility is also offering a DanceAbility Teacher Orientation June 13-17, with more info available at

All That! Dance Company is offering $1,500 in dance scholarships to dancers, and awards were given at their annual spring recital. We hear that the UO Department of Dance offered $500 in scholarships for free departmental classes, as well.

The Zapp Academy of Dance presents Adrenaline 3 pm Sunday, June 5, at the Hult Center; $15.

And the West African Cultural Arts Institute invites you to join Alseny Yansane for an African Dance class that welcomes all dancers from 11 am to 12:30 pm every Saturday in June at the WOW Hall; drop-ins welcome, $15, $12 students.

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