In 2002, local dancer/choreographer/school teacher Mike Barber had the idea that "defining your parameters can actually motivate your creativity because you have to solve a problem." To explore the theme, he invited 10 dancer friends to choreograph works on the very small stage inside the Crush bar. One insane, completely packed evening later, a new Portland staple was born. A recent installment of 10 Tiny Dances at Blue Hour had 200 audience members stuffed into the hoity restaurant, and this Sunday's installment--featuring Monster Squad's Tahni Holt, Carla Mann, Spugmotion's Sinead Kimbrell, and Barber himself--is a joint effort with five of the dancers from Seattle's Crispin Spaeth Dance Group. I spoke with Barber to see if there are any other problems that might need solving.
How have artists responded to their allotted "tiny" space in past productions of 10 Tiny Dances?
[They've] done some amazing things. Daniel Addy turned a four by four stage into a four by four by four revolving cube. Angelle Hebert did one with a gigantic inflatable bubble.
How do you select artists now that the event has gotten so popular?
At the beginning I just invited friends, and I felt like captain of the football team I never got picked for at school. As the event has gotten more acclaim, I'm a little more conscious about how I curate it. I try to involve established choreographers as well as emerging artists. Usually about half are new.
How far do you intend to take this thing?
I've had artists come in from out of town, but this is the first time we've done a shared evening with Seattle artists, and a whole show up there (10 Tiny Dances showed in Seattle last Sunday). It's an experiment because I want to do other cities as well. I want to do a five-city tour. We also got funding from RACC to do public art in the Portland Building. So in October, we'll be doing Ten Tiny Dances in the building's main area and in the elevators during rush hour!