Felix Landerer with NW Dance Project dancer and Princess Grace Award winner Andrea Parson
Felix Landerer with NW Dance Project dancer Andrea Parson Christopher Peddecord

The 2018-19 season has been a busy one for the NW Dance Project (NWDP). The acclaimed troupe toured worldwide: They performed in Germany and Montreal and debuted at Virginia Tech’s Moss Art Center and the Fine Arts Center at UMass Amherst. Amid such a manic schedule of travel and rehearsals, the company also kept up with their hometown commitments: They performed four shows locally, packed with world premieres. All that in their rearview, NWDP would be forgiven for closing out this season with another version of their Encores performance, or some other retrospective of the year's highlights.

Instead, Artistic Director Sarah Slipper and Co. are ending the season with even more brand new material. The aptly titled Summer Premieres program that NWDP will present Thurs June 13-Sat Jun 15 at PSU’s Lincoln Hall features three never-before-seen works, choreographed by some of their best-known collaborators.

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The big pulls of Summer Premieres are the two new works from James Canfield, ex-artistic director for Oregon Ballet Theatre, and Felix Landerer, a German choreographer and dancer who established his own troupe, Landerer and Company, in 2006. While Canfield’s piece, “Sketches of Connotation,” sounds interesting enough (according to press materials it will be "a riff on Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire set “to a collection of pop songs from the 1940s to today”), Landerer’s trio, “All’s Been Said,” feels much more impactful. The piece is described as “a look at our collective paralysis with respect to combating climate change.” That message is powerful enough, but watching it delivered through Landerer’s often brutal modernist choreography should leave quite a mark.

NWDP Founding Artistic Director Sarah Slipper
NWDP Founding Artistic Director Sarah Slipper Michael Slobodian

If you can make it to only one of the three performances, pay special attention to “Save Me The Plums.” Created by Slipper, the duet (featuring NWDP regulars Andrea Parson and Franco Nieto) is strange, intimate, and supposedly very wet. Slipper says that Nieto is finally getting a longtime wish: He'll be drenched during the dance piece. While I wasn’t able to see that specific aspect during a recent rehearsal, what I did witness was a lovely and wily two-hander that felt much like the Pablo Neruda poem upon which it is based. The 20-minute piece moved from a delicate connection between two lovers to an energetic, Fosse-like burst to something mournful and contemplative. The overall effect felt like a lovely grace note for a season that found NWDP pushing themselves harder and further than ever before.

(Thurs June 13-Sat June 15, 7:30 pm, PSU Lincoln Performance Hall, 1620 SW Park, $34-58)

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