IN ITS FOURTH SEASON of the DANCE+, Conduit Dance brings together artists for a festival of dance, design, music, and multimedia. In previous years, DANCE+ took place over two weekends; this time, the festival will be condensed into four days, with two shows each night. Along with performances, audience members can also attend artist talks and artist-taught workshops.
Works include Mountain Empire Performance Collective's Solo/Solo, a virtual duet featuring Portland's Eliza Larson in person and Barbara Tait on video; An Installation, site-specific performance from POV Dance; and Barbarian Princess, from Boise's Lauren Edson and Andrews Stensaas, which incorporates original music and multimedia elements into the story of a tumultuous jazz-age love affair. Another collaboration comes from Portland's Takahiro Yamamoto, composer Jesse Mejía, experimental bass clarinetist Jonathan Sielaff, and a 20-person choir, in an exploration of modernist artistry, pop culture, and pedestrian movement. San Diego-based Anya Cloud and Eric Geiger will present a performance in which they explore, to varying degrees, two bodies in connection. "I am interested in vigor, permeability, specificity, and wildness," Cloud says.
In a recent bout of Portland dance companies losing their home studios, Conduit wasn't spared. In March, the company was given a mere five days' notice to vacate its studio space of 20 years; they're seeking out a space that allows for long-term growth and stability, but haven't found one yet. Artistic Director Tere Mathern anticipates years of searching. "Rehearsal space in Portland just isn't available," she says. In the meantime, dancers have been rehearsing in an extra space at Polaris Dance's studio.
The lack of room has presented a major challenge in preparing for DANCE+. For the three previous festivals, Conduit offered artists a small space grant to help them create and rehearse. This year, the lack of available spots and added expense of renting from another studio made that unfeasible. Regardless, Mathern remains optimistic. "Conduit is in a moment of re-invigoration and transformation. Our primary goal is to find a new home, and we are really excited to be able to use this unexpected transition to envision new ways of supporting contemporary dance, and, with a new space, be able to do things we were unable to do in our previous space."
The company is launching a Bridge Fund campaign to raise $30,000 during DANCE+ to put toward a new home. So far, they've raised $4,500. "We are encouraged, but know we have a lot of work to do," Mathern says. She hopes the community will step forward and realize the value of their work. "No other Portland-area nonprofit has a mission that focuses solely on growing independent dance artists and their work. Conduit promotes not just a singular dance company or artistic direction, but rather supports a diverse dance community that opens doors and grows artists—expands the art."