What scares BodyVox dancer Eric Skinner? Scary clowns climbing through his bedroom window. Skinner’s childhood nightmare of invasive circus freaks provided fodder for BloodyVox, BodyVox’s new Halloween-themed contemporary dance show, which also features human-sized arachnids, weapon-wielding ninjas and conjoined twins, along with the more classical vampires, zombies and ghosts. BloodyVox even has Amy Winehouse singing Gershwin—so brace yourself.
On a gloomy Sunday at their Northwest Portland dance studio, BodyVox co-founders Ashley and Jamey Hampton described the show’s evolution as their very unscary black Lab wandered the room, chomping on his tennis ball. There had been talk of creating an annual holiday show that the company could add to and alter over time, building audience awareness in the process. But Christmas was oversaturated, theatrically speaking, with its Nutcrackers, Messiahs and Christmas Carols. Somewhere along the way, the name BloodyVox was uttered; from there, Ashley says, a Halloween show was a fait accompli.
Workshops began in June as company members shared their fears. “Everyone had ghost experiences,” says Jamey, including Ashley, who admitted she dreads walking through the studio’s creaky north hall—once the horse stable for the Wells Fargo carriage house—at night in the dark. What scares dancers specifically, I asked: old age? injury? Nah, they replied. “Maybe poundcake,” Ashley mused.
The fears that did make the cut have fueled “some patterned, structured athletic pieces; some over-the-top, ridiculous theatrical pieces and some luscious, romantic, beautiful dances,” Ashley says. By way of illustration, she showed me the costume room, where designer Susan Fisher was elbow deep in sheer, ghostly gowns for the women and bronzed ruched capes for the male vampires. “There’s nothing in it that young people can’t see; it’s not screaming and chain saws,” Ashley said. “Kids will be entertained. But there is a richness and quality for grownups.”
The Hamptons hope that Bloodyvox will become a regular event; this first installment (performed by 13 dancers in the company’s 13th season, it should be noted) will culminate in the BloodyVox Ball, a costume-party fundraiser. How viewers will cope with their phobias made flesh however, remains to be seen. “We already had a woman call and ask how many spiders will be in the show before she bought her tickets,” Jamey said.
GO: BodyVox Dance Center: 1201 NW 17th Ave., 224-8227. 7:30 pm Thursday-Friday, Oct. 21-22 and 28-29, 2 and 7 pm Saturday, Oct. 23 and 30. $36-$49. Visit bodyvox.com for info and tickets.