April Is a Bonanza for Portland Dance Fans

From tap whiz Savion Glover to the strobe-light magic of Parsons Dance, White Bird closes its season with a bang. And that's not all that's set to hit local stages.

By Rebecca Jacobson March 28, 2019

Philadanco makes its Portland debut Wednesday, April 24.

White Bird isn't one to mess around. The venerable Portland dance presenter has brought hotshot troupes to town since 1997, from big-time companies to rising young talents. But cofounders Walter Jaffe and Paul King have outdone themselves with their April lineup, with three powerhouse shows to close the season. (Wanna catch 'em all? White Bird is running a special deal.)

First up is Parsons Dance, which last visited Portland in 1998. The exuberant, athletic contemporary company will pay tribute to New Orleans jazz with David Parsons’s "Whirlaway," set to lively tunes by Allen Touissant, and Trey McIntyre's "Ma Maison," with dancers in skeleton masks and harlequin costumes grooving to the sounds of the Preservation Jazz Hall Band. They'll also perform the company's signature piece, "Caught," in which strobe-light trickery makes it seem as if the dancers' feet never touch the ground. 7:30 p.m. Thu–Sat, Apr 4–6, Newmark Theatre, $30–74

The next week brings tap legend, Broadway star, and Sesame Street cutie-patootie Savion Glover to the Schnitz. With his improvisational prowess and expressive rhythms, Glover's virtuosity is unmatched in the tap world. This new show, All FuNKD’d Up, The Concert, boasts live accompaniment by a six-piece band and an ensemble of dancers. 7:30 p.m. Tue–Wed, Apr 9–10, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, $30–74

White Bird caps its season with Philadanco, a Philadelphia company founded in 1970 to create opportunities for black dancers. The troupe, led by Joan Myers Brown, has earned national regard for its commitment to showcasing African American dance traditions. This one-night stand—featuring works by Talley Beatty (who was born in 1918 in Louisiana and went on to study under Martha Graham and Katherine Dunham), former Alvin Ailey principal dancer Ulysses Dove, and acclaimed hip-hop choreographer Rennie Harris—marks the group's Portland debut. 7:30 p.m. Wed, Apr 24, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, $30–74

And if all that isn't enough for you, Oregon Ballet Theatre serves up a program of 21st-century works, NW Dance Project reprises a trio of fan favorites, and BodyVox's Pearl Dive Project enlists nondancers (from chef John Gorham to photographer Susan Seubert) to create choreography. Phew. Don't forget to sleep and hydrate, folks.

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