Friday, 28 March 2014 13:31 | Written by Byron Beck
Kimberly and Vitaly Paley, Julia Raymond, Dustin Clark, guy with mohawk, Ivan McAffee, Shauna Parsons, Juan Martinez gets photobombed at opening night of Totem in Portland
TOTEM IN TIMBERS-LAND: If you have any trust issues don't go see Totem, Cirque du Soleil's 11th show to hit Portland. It opened Thursday night and is currently playing under the bright yellow and blue Grand Chapiteau at the Expo Center in North Portland.
Trust is a large part of this big, yet in so many ways, small and intimate show/experience.
Instead of a giant set, Totem has been stripped back to an almost skeletal frame. In fact the biggest set piece is the skeletal remains of some prehistoric turtle. Prehistory plays a big part in this show which traces the evolution of man from pond scum to brief-case carrying scum. And so does a human disco ball (I can't wait to see some non-profit steal this idea for one of their galas). I know it sounds like it doesn't work, but trust me, it does.
Again. Trust. It's a word that kept popping up in my brain as I watched the show. Trust that the Fixed Trapeze Duo of Guilhem Cauchois and Sarah Tessier wouldn't drop each other to their certain retirement and that the roller skating AmeriIndian Massimiliano Medin wouldn't snap off the head of Denise Garcia-Sorta as he spun her around atop a giant tom-tom drum attached only by their necks.
And you can trust me when I say Totem is different from most of the Cirque show's I've seen. After eleven times in this city (including eight under the big tent) as well as the several shows in Las Vegas that play day in and out, it might be easy to have a "been there, Cirque that" mentality about the work. But that would not give this show its chance. All in all, I think this might be one of the most compelling Cirque shows I've seen. It may not have as many bells and whistles (or in Cirque's case, swinging trapeze artists and jaw-dropping stunners) but that is exactly why I like this show so much. It's an old-fashioned circus and one of the best acts involves unicycles and bowl-balancing. Now, if you get me to suspend my reality long enough to fall down that rabbit hole and simply enjoy the simplicity of it all, then you've got a lot more than my trust. You have my attention. And that, my friends, is the gift of Totem.
Here is more from their press release: "Since its World Premiere in 2010, more than 2 million people worldwide have been mesmerized by the intimacy and beauty of TOTEM, winner of the 2013 Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding Unique Theatrical Experience. Featuring a cast of 46 acrobats, actors, musicians and singers, TOTEM is an uplifting array of athleticism, comedy, heartfelt emotions and surprising visual effects. Written and directed by multidisciplinary artist Robert Lepage, TOTEM traces the fascinating journey of the human species from its original amphibian state to its ultimate desire to fly. The characters evolve on a stage evoking a giant turtle, the symbol of origin for many ancient civilizations. Inspired by many founding myths, TOTEM illustrates, through a visual and acrobatic language, the evolutionary progress of species. Somewhere between science and legend TOTEM explores the ties that bind Man to other species, his dreams and his infinite potential."
For tickets and more information about Totem click here. The show is here until May 4.
Thursday, 27 March 2014 10:02 | Written by Byron Beck
TROCKS ROCK: After a seven-year absence, White Bird Dance is delighted to announce the return of the all-male ballet company Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo on Wednesday, April 2, 2014 at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. Their expert knowledge of classical ballet, their perfect comic timing and the astounding fact that these superbly talented men dance en pointe – and do it magnificently – have won them legions of fans from Asia to Europe, from South America to South Africa, and everywhere in between. Dance critics around the world have hailed them for their uncanny combination of comic antics and virtuoso ballet. The Seattle Times has called them the “clown princes of ballet.”
The Trocks, as they are affectionately known, will present four dances in their Portland program. They will open with their celebrated version of “Le Lac des Cygnes,” act II of Swan Lake, the jewel of 19th Century Russian Ballet and perhaps the world’s best known ballet set to a magical score by Tchaikovsky. This will be followed by a Pas de Deux, to be announced at the performance, and Le Grand Pas de Quatre, which the company describes “as one of the most charming (and silly) evocations of Romantic Ballet in the 1840s.” Concluding the program is Raymonda’s Wedding, originally an elaborate three-act ballet from 1898. The Trockadero version is dubbed “A Traditionally Confusing Divertissement in Two Scenes."
Here is an excerpt of an interview I did with one of the Trocks years ago for Willamette Week:
Jason Hadley started his dancing career in The Nutcracker. But what makes this 5-foot, 9-inch, 150-pound, 28-year-old, Idaho-born non-practicing Mormon stand out in the world of movement today is a new set of nuts he's cracking--his own. Jason's one of the 11 dancers who make up the all-male ballet company Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo. I asked this classically trained queer, who performs under the nom des tulles "Colette Adae" (call it a day, get it?) what it takes to twirl your toes as a faux Russian dance diva. Here's what he said from his Denver hotel room.
How did you hook up with the Trocks?
Jason Hadley: At 21, I started wearing pointe shoes (the stiff-toed pink slippers worn by ballerinas). I liked the feeling and continued to take pointe classes. I didn't pursue the Trocks until I started living in New York. I saw an audition notice and tried out, and two weeks later I was performing in South Africa. What makes you a good Trock dancer?
I'm a technically clean dancer who's serious about being funny. So is it hard on your body to dance like a girl?
Yeah. I'm a stiff, muscular man; women are more graceful and supple. It's a lot more difficult for me to hold my leg above my head. And we perform a lot more than other companies do, so we have the added pressure of constantly having to be in performance shape.
So why do you think the Trocks have such a huge following among straight audiences?
I think drag has always been intriguing to straight people. We have a group of Trock chasers in Japan. They're a bunch of girls who come to every one of our shows. It's not sexual or intimate, but it's fun. Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway, Wednesday, April 2, 7:30pm Tickets: Starting at $26, available at whitebird.org and Portland’5 Box Office 1111 SW Broadway (formerly PCPA) NO added fees. 1-800-380-3516 (added fees apply).
Thursday, 20 March 2014 12:22 | Written by Byron Beck
Robin Wright arrives at the premiere of Netflix's television series "House of Cards" at Alice Tully Hall in the Lincoln Center in New York City. REUTERS/Stephen Chernin
HOUSE OF TADA: How cool is this!?! House of Cards star Robin Wright has agreed to be an Honorary Co-Chair of the upcoming TADA! Gala that will be held on Saturday, April 12th at the Bindery Annex Building in Northeast Portland.
Not only has Robin agreed to be a co-chair she also has arranged it so that the Portland Institute of Contemporary Art (PICA) can auction off the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit the set of House of Cards during TADA! gala's live auction. That's right...if you are the highest bidder you get to visit the set of this incredibly buzzed-about and popular show.
Victoria Frey, Executive Director for PICA, is incredibly excited to have Robin Wright as an Honorary Co-Chair for TADA! "Robin has been a loyal supporter of PICA," says Frey. "And is a strong advocate for the arts nationally."
You can purchase tickets for the upcoming TADA! gala by clicking here
Monday, 17 March 2014 12:28 | Written by Byron Beck
Ashley Roland and Jamey Hampton, Dinner Dance, Checking out the "bride," Veiled Patron, Jamey, Ashley and Nick Fish
SCENES FROM A WEDDING: Who needs a royal wedding when you can have a BodyVox Ball? "Unbridaled," a wedding-themed gala in support of BodyVox Dance took place on Saturday night at the company's headquarters and studio.
It was an incredible of drinking, dancing and romancing—in this case one of the most artful dance companies in the world. Artistic Directors Jamey Hampton and Ashley Roland, dressed in their best bridal ware, led the party through all the usual wedding paces including a toast, dinner and lots of dancing, including the special appearance of NU Shooz's Valerie and John Day. Lots of money was raised during the silent and oral auction. And, truth is, it was one of the best "weddings" I've ever been to. Best BodyVox wishes!
Monday, 17 March 2014 12:09 | Written by Byron Beck
Scenes from Sentinel Hotel Opening including Laura Gibson performing in one of the rooms
SNEAK PEEK AT SENTINEL: On Friday, I was witness to the grand opening of the newest hotel in Portland – Sentinel!
On the sixth floor of the West Wing, in what until recently was called The Governor I joined friends to partake in a preview that included Live Wire Radio, Sokol Blosser wines, New Belgium kegs – plus an incredible view of the city.
In the heart of Portland’s revitalized West End, the Governor Hotel is being reborn with a fresh new name, attitude and design. Dubbed Sentinel, after the robotic architectural sculptures that look out across the city from the top of the historic building, it will serve as a luxurious urban retreat and meeting place for the visionary thinkers, makers and doers who flock to this verdant, rain-soaked Pacific Northwest city for entrepreneurial and artistic inspiration.
Provenance Hotels, the Portland-based hotel company that owns and operates the city’s critically acclaimed Hotel Lucia and Hotel deLuxe, purchased the Governor Hotel in April 2012 in partnership with Woodbine Development Corporation of Dallas, TX. Together, they have invested $6 million in an extensive renovation of the historic 100-room hotel. Aimed at reinventing the property for the future, it included the reinvigoration of all guest rooms, four floors of meeting space and the lobby. Jackknife, a new destination for craft cocktails, wine and beer, is slated to open in Sentinel’s lobby in spring 2014.
Like all Provenance Hotels, Sentinel boasts a signature art collection. In this case, it pays homage to visionaries who made history and changed the world. In the guest room corridors, travelers will stroll past a collection of larger-than-life, black-and-white white photos of a young Muhammad Ali hamming it up for the camera, Vivienne Westwood chatting up the Sex Pistols’ Sid Vicious in a London Club, and Martin Luther King Jr., moments after delivering his “I Have a Dream” speech as well as Andy Warhol and The Velvet Underground. In the guest rooms, guests will find pop art takes on visionaries from John Lennon to Steve Jobs to Jackie Robinson.