May 11th, 12th, and 13th | N.E.W. Expressive Works | 810 SE Belmont | Portland, OR
Compose (v). To create a work of art.
In a rare opportunity for both dancers and musicians, PDX Contemporary Ballet and Northwest Piano Trio take the stage to present Compose – an exciting program featuring the world premiere of Clarice Assad’s “Iara” with choreography by Briley Neugebauer. In addition, the groups continue their first collaboration: “Swing Shift” by Portland composer Kenji Bunch. Rounding out the trifecta is “Frolic” – another premiere by Oregon composer Zach Gulaboff Davis – performed by the Trio.
Clarice Assad is a Grammy-nominated musician, singer, and composer. Her featured composition – “Iara” – was commissioned by PDX Contemporary Ballet and Northwest Piano Trio. Inspiration for the work comes from the legend of Iara – a mixture of folklore, monster stories, and goddess worship. Also known as Mãe das Águas ("Mother of the Waters"), she was the pride of her Amazon tribe and the daughter of their Pajé (spiritual leader). She became such a great warrior that her two brothers tried to kill her in a rampage of jealousy – but Iara fought back and killed them instead. Unaware that she acted in self-defense, her father led the tribe to hunt down Iara and throw her into the river. Iara does not meet her actual death, however, and is transformed into a half-human, half-fish.
To represent the tale’s origin in the Amazon – along with Iara’s intertwined fate with the river – Assad chooses to interpolate sounds of an ocean drum with episodic appearances of a water drum. Choreography by PDX Contemporary Ballet’s Artistic Director Briley Neugebauer reflects the mythical mood of the piece by integrating the water drum into the choreography itself. In an extension of Assad’s symbolism, Neugebauer pursues the duality of Iara’s fate – her life being spared, but at the cost of eternal imprisonment in the water.
Also included in the program is a performance of Kenji Bunch’s “Swing Shift,” which revisits the first collaboration between the Trio and the Ballet -- where dancers joined the Trio on stage for the final section of the piece: “Grooveboxes”. This time, dancers and musicians perform the entirety of the work, again with Neugebauer’s choreography. This fun-loving, Balanchine-inspired piece will have the audience tapping their feet and smiling all the way through. With music inspired by New York City night life, the story begins as impatient workers anticipate 5 o’clock. Bunch’s music takes us from the end of the work day into the early evening and finally the night life, as New Yorkers take to the streets in search of best place to dance the night away. With its engaging tempo, it’s no surprise to learn that “Swing Shift” was originally commissioned for dance.
The Trio alone will perform yet another premiere: “Frolic” by Oregon composer Zach Gulaboff Davis. This playful work features each of its three instruments—piano, violin, and cello— extensively in many roles. Beginning boldly, the work gradually builds in intensity until it reaches a breaking point, yielding to a lyrical section contrasting all that came before. As this section unfolds, listen for the return of the opening material, this time presented in different configurations as the work comes to a crashing close.
Compose opens Friday, May 11th and runs through Sunday, May 13th in the acoustic perfection of Studio Two at N.E.W. Expressive Works, 810 SE Belmont, Portland, Oregon.
Tickets for “COMPOSE” now available online at www.PDXCB.com
WHERE: N.E.W. Expressive Works, 810 SE Belmont, Portland, OR
WHEN: Friday, May 11th at 7:30pm – Opening Night and $15 Friday!
$15 tickets can be purchased online while they last!
Saturday matinee, May 12th at 2:30 pm
Saturday evening, May 12th at 7:30pm
Sunday matinee, May 13th at 2:30pm
COST: $15 - $30 online at www.pdxcb.com
$20 - $35 at the door