THERE JUST MIGHT be a dance renaissance happening in Portland: This year, strong performances from existing groups and the addition of promising new ones has made the season particularly exciting to watch. Now Conduit Dance has organized a first-of-its-kind series called Dance+, which highlights and promotes local, up-and-coming dancers. The series, which takes place over two weekends, features eight new works and more than 28 collaborating artists. With roots in ideas of community and collaboration, many dancers have paired up with musicians for performances ranging from solo dances to group pieces.
Dance+ is one of several efforts Conduit is making to further Portland's dance community; some of the performers spoke earlier in July at Dance Uncovered, an ongoing lecture series and artists' forum about the dance process.
Some names and faces at Dance+ will be more familiar than others; at rehearsals, the overarching sense of the works was one of elegance and simplicity. Keely McIntyre (maybe most recognizable from tEEth's acclaimed performance Home Made, at last year's TBA) will perform Terrain with dancer Laura Nash. It's a duet, but feels more like mimicry than a pairing. The two glide and twist to music provided by Ash Black Bufflo—an amalgam of drones, hums, and nature sounds.
Danielle Ross (of Ten Tiny Dances) also takes topography as a topic in her solo dance. The Loveliest Landscape—a collaboration with sound artist Christi Denton—is essentially a site-specific work, its movement influenced in part by the architecture and confines of Conduit's studio; a voiceover by Denton during the program reads lines from The Little Prince and Heart of Darkness, among other tales of travel and tourism.
Many of the dances are works in progress and exist as starting points for longer pieces. Bobbevy—choreographer Suniti Dernovsek and artist David Stein—began their piece This Is How We Disappear in January. A stylized, monotone drawing of a forest is projected on a wall; the video moves forward through the scene, around the trees, like an immersive videogame, while a male and female dancer follow each other, wind around each other, and fall into one another. It suggests the opening scene of Dante's Inferno, where Dante is lost in the forest, or Adam and Eve, wandering in the garden. Either way, it all gives the sense of something that's just beginning.