5 Portland Arts Ensembles With Global Followings

We may take them for granted, but some of Portland’s best artists and ensembles are beloved around the world.

By Aaron Scott May 1, 2014 Published in the May 2014 issue of Portland Monthly


Cappella Romana

Traveling more than any classical group in the region, Cappella Romana takes to the road for as many as five international and North American tours a year. Stops have ranged from New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art to London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral, where the audience of 2,000 included members of Britain’s royal family. This fall the choir heads to the Netherlands for the Utrecht Early Music Festival, the world’s most prestigious gathering for historic music.

Rave: “This was a performance of luminous beauty, with the first half of older music especially lifting the listener beyond the ordinary world outside.”Washington Post review of last October’s concert at the National Gallery of Art 

See them: The Fall of Constantinople | Aug 30 | St. Mary’s Cathedral

Video: From a performance at Stanford University's Bing Concert Hall on February 1, 2013




Choreographer couple Jamey Hampton and Ashley Roland founded this group of zany dance makers in 1997 and have since performed their trademark blend of dance, theater, and film from Italy to India, racking up film-fest awards along the way.

Rave: “BodyVox ..approaches dance with a breezy freshness and simplicity that is all its own.” 
—the New York Times on BodyVox’s 2004 NYC debut at the prestigious Joyce Theater. 

See them: In Motion with Chamber Music Northwest - a collaboration with Edgar Meyer and Mike Marshall
July 4–6 | Lincoln Hall

Video: Modern Daydreams: Deere John 
Winner of 19 festival awards. “A funny and surprisingly touching fantasy.” —The New York Times

One dance. Two minutes. Fifty locations. Winner of five festival awards including the “Audience Award” at Dance Camera West.




With nothing but a couple of masks and a wordless play about a feisty grandma who battles Death, creative couple Kate Braidwood and Andrew Phoenix took Canada’s Fringe Festivals by storm in 2011, winning four best-of-fest awards. After their second show, Loon, did even better, they started expanding to the US—and finally debuted in their hometown last fall.

Rave: “If Pixar ever decides to go into the theatre business, they better call Wonderheads first.” —Calgary Herald’s 2012 review of Loon, about a janitor who falls in love with the moon

See them: The Middle of Everywhere | June 27–28 | Headwaters Theater 

Video: The Wonderheads Scion Motivate video entry




Attoe’s paintings, drawings, and neon sculptures explore working-class America—rural settings, Trans Ams, strippers—with lyrical, tongue-in-cheek empathy worthy of the best country songs. It’s all the more surprising, then, to learn that his biggest audiences are in Europe, where he’s shown across the continent. Despite being included in the 2007 Northwest Biennial at the Tacoma Art Museum, the 2008 Contemporary Northwest Art Awards at the Portland Art Museum, and a number of regional group shows, he has never had a solo show in the Northwest—until now.

Rave: “The paintings are often set in sublime, distinctively American natural landscapes that are so impressive, almost heroic, that they become characters in the scenarios.” —ArtForum review of Attoe’s first European show, in Naples in 2005

See him: May 23–July 6 (Opening reception May 23 from 6–8 pm) | Fourteen30 Contemporary |

Video: Dan Attoe Makes a Painting, a film by Adam Kimmel & Leelee Sobieski


Theater Alchemists

Imago Theatre

Imago started touring in 1979 and has taken its whimsical masked shows Frogz and ZooZoo to all 50 states (including three Broadway runs) as well as Germany, the Netherlands, Egypt, and throughout Asia. The company is currently working on its first new masked show since 2009, The Elastics.

Rave: “Theater like this opens the eyes to the possibilities of exploration in the vast realm of imagination.” —the New York Times on Imago’s second Broadway run in 2002.

Video: Excerpts from the show ZooZoo


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