Lincoln Hall at PSU, SW Park & Market, 224-4400, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, $12-24
"Ifeel very honored having a regional presenter of their size commission the company," says Mary Oslund of the local nonprofit dance promoter White Bird, who has commissioned a new work for Mary Oslund & Co. to debut this weekend. White Bird is Portland's biggest promoter of dance, having booked year after year of performances by groups like The Urban Bush Women, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and dozens more of the most prestigious acts from around the country and the world.
White Bird's PSU Dance Series, however, frequently provides funding for slightly lesser known local groups, and has finally, after six years of dance arts funding found Oslund and Co, which has long been one of the city's most innovative and exhilarating dance companies. The result is Volant, an exploration of "familiar and strange places" created in collaboration with the composer Daniel Bernard Roumain, who made waves at the Time Based Arts festival in September with his fusions of violin and hiphop beats.
Oslund's entire eight-person company will take the stage for Volant, plus three guest dancers, including BodyVox's Eric Skinner. The large number of cast members has made for an interesting transition into PSU's Lincoln Hall space, which despite a superior audience capacity to the Conduit space, has a smaller performance space. "We have to stuff everything in," says Oslund. Lincoln is very deep, but not very wide. It looks like it's nice and big, but you get eight people or eleven people up there moving, and you definitely have to make some traffic patterns happen."
Oslund and Co. will also present three repertory works, developed in 2000 and 2002. Kinder Weather takes inspiration from local kickass photographer Terry Toedtemeier's environmental works; Undertone is intriguingly described as being "outright voyeurism"; and Behavior is four-women piece on the failings of human nature in ergonomics and science. Oslund's choreography style is vigorous, sometimes almost overwhelmingly so, the dancers' faces frozen in effort, the stage frantic and alive. It should all play well in Lincoln Hall, where the seats are set back from the stage and the eyes can take in everything at once. "It's a really lovely place to see dancing," says a deservedly elated Oslund. I love Lincoln Hall." JUSTIN WESCOAT SANDERS