The Essentials

13 Things to See and Do in Portland: January 2019

Radical Canadian dancers, a London R&B queen, Andy Borowitz, and a quadrumvirate of Portland poets are on the calendar this month.

By Rebecca Jacobson and Fiona McCann December 21, 2018 Published in the January 2019 issue of Portland Monthly

Shay Kuebler/Radical System Art

1. Shay Kuebler/Radical System Art

Jan 31–Feb 2, Lincoln Hall
White Bird brings to town this Canadian dancer-choreographer and his troupe, whose work incorporates hip hop, contemporary ballet, tap, and modern dance in fast-paced, acrobatic theater. In Telemetry, sounds become kinetic movement, the bodies channeling the musical forces against a multimedia backdrop.


2. Nao

Jan 14, Wonder Ballroom
The emerging queen of British R&B, Londoner Nao plays Portland on the world tour behind her sophomore album. Saturn spins on an astrological axis for its lyrical expression, with Nao’s sweet, urgent vocals gliding across synthpop beats.

3. Alicia Jo Rabins, Allison Cobb, Ashley Toliver & Hajara Quinn

Jan 17, Powell’s City of Books
A quadrumvirate of Portland poets storm Powell‘s, offering a sterling opportunity to catch a wide swath of styles—from verse that melds motherhood and Jewish mysticism to fragmented wanderings in a 19th-century Brooklyn cemetery.

4. No Candy

Jan 16–Feb 10, Portland Playhouse
In Emma Stanton’s new play, a group of Bosnian Muslim women—all survivors of the war—open a gift shop at the Srebrenica memorial, where they must grapple daily with the lingering memories of genocide. 

5. ELa FaLa Collective

Jan 18–26, Polaris Dance Theatre
Polaris Dance Theatre’s new sister company is an all-female group headed by Brazilian choreographer and dancer Bárbara Lima. (Fun fact: she performed at the opening ceremony for the 2016 Rio Olympics.) Lima promises dancers of diverse skills and ages delivering contemporary and urban dance with a “fierce and powerful message about what we’re all going through in the world.” 

6. Ashley Miller

Jan 3–Feb 3, Blue Sky Gallery
Miller’s highly stylized still lifes depict the Sweet Things of this exhibit’s title in disturbing, incongruous tableaux: a heavily frosted and sprinkled baby-doll perches with a birthday candle on its head; two giant bugs attack a toppling tower of doughnuts against a deep purple crushed velvet. 

7. Leslie Odom Jr.

Jan 20, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
He was the Aaron Burr to Lin Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton in the OG production. Now the Grammy winner takes to the Schnitz stage for an evening of jazz standards and Broadway hits. Make sure to be in the room where it happens.

8. Tayari Jones

Jan 17, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
Jones’s latest novel, An American Marriage—about a young black couple weathering the husband’s wrongful incarceration—made the National Book Award longlist, Barack Obama’s summer reading list, and Oprah’s Book Club. Lady O’s production company is also turning it into a film.

9. Teenage Dick

Jan 6–Feb 3, Artists Repertory Theatre
This modern-day Richard III takes place in a high school, where a bullied 17-year-old with cerebral palsy in the full winter of his discontent will stop at nothing to achieve his goal of becoming class president.

10. Keith Scribner

Jan 8, Powell’s City of Books
Old Newgate Road
, the Corvallis writer’s new novel, follows a man who flees domestic problems in Oregon for his Connecticut home, only to find family trauma there, too. Kirkus called it “a bracing, knotty exploration of abuse and its impact across decades.” 

11. Andy Borowitz

Jan 18, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
The comedian and satirist—he can hilariously riff on everything from Brett Kavanaugh’s drinking to the deteriorating quality of US-based Nazis—brings “conversation and storytelling” to the Schnitz on his Make America Not Embarrassing Again tour.

Read It

Portlander Karen Thompson Walker’s The Dreamers, a dystopian tale of a sleeping sickness that takes over a California college town, has earned comparisons to—and a laudatory blurb from—Emily St. John Mandel, who calls it “profoundly moving, and beautifully written.” Walker reads at Powell’s on January 22.

Hear It

Performing as Patrician, Shins keyboardist Patti King drops Matters in Such a Manner, a collaboration with the Portland Cello Project (and other local musicians). The lush swoons of the cello provide an unexpected backdrop to her vocals, which straddle the space between sweet and haunting. She plays Revolution Hall on January 25.

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