Polaris Dance's annual spring show, X-Posed, is darker than normal this year.
Now in its sixth year, the showcase highlights emerging choreographers and gives them "a platform to hone their skills and craft," according to Robert Guitron, artistic director and co-founder of the 14-year-old contemporary dance company.
Without giving the choreographers a specific theme to follow, this year's X-Posed is surprisingly cohesive, centering on darkness, dream states and—in one case—a frightening personal experience.
That trauma is detailed in "Pre-Then-Post," a work-in-progress by former Polaris and Moxie company member Briley Neugebauer that explores the effects of an unexpected grand mal seizure that hospitalized Neugebauer last January. It was her first seizure and came without warning at age 26.
"It was a blackout moment for me," Neugebauer says of the attack, which happened suddenly while she was sleeping. Her roommate found her and called 911. "To this day, I still have no idea what happened," Neugebauer says.
"When I started creating the Polaris piece, I was in the midst of it all," says Neugebauer. After multiple tests, hospitalization and doctor visits, the causes of her seizure are still unclear. "I developed this weird fear of my own brain and not knowing when I was going to have another attack."
Neugebauer, who recently founded her own dance company, PDX Contemporary Ballet, after departing Polaris, mixes her classical training with Polaris' modern, athletic style. In it, one female soloist dances ballet surrounded by a company of dancers performing chaotic, modern choreography.
"The idea is to expose the dancers to new ways of movement and to expose the audience to that," says Guitron, listing the six choreographers, all of whom are Northwest-based but few of whom are trained in Polaris' usual, mixed-contemporary style.
"Pre-Then-Post" is one of five dances premiering in this week's show, giving audiences a sampling of Portland's rising choreographers.
"There are little pools and eddies of amazing stuff going on in every city," Guitron says of his visits to see dance in places like Los Angeles and New York City. "But for a city this small, there's more interesting work going on here."