It's been a banner year for Portland's Northwest Dance Project, which specializes in dancing work by international contemporary choreographers. The company won two European dance competitions and was invited to perform in New York next month. And in advance of this month's holiday show, In Good Company, six of its members learned to work a record player for the first time.
Feel old yet? You will. In Good Company bucks NWDP's convention by having six company dancers choreograph work on each other. The only limit was that pieces had to be set to vinyl from Executive Director Scott Lewis' 10,000-record collection, but as twentysomethings, the dancers weren't used to records and weren't sure where to start: "At one point, [dancer] Andrea Parsons asked me 'Who's Alan Parsons?' and I realized she was searching by her own last name," Lewis said. "I had to teach them how to handle records, how to work a turntable. One of them asked me, 'How do you know when one song ends and another begins?ââ
Final selections include Nina Simone, Steve Martin, Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Nick Drake. Dancer Lindsey Matheis, who was charged with coordinating rehearsals and gathering program information, says the pieces offer variations—grounded floorwork, character dances, breakaway gestural sequences—on the company's contemporary balletic vibe. Thematically, the pieces cover anything from the progression of relationships (Franco Nieto's I Love My Baby) to gravity (Andrea Parson's The Art of Standing Up) to the gossipy chaos of a houseful of aunts (Ching Ching Wong's Tsismis). DJ Anjali will spin the tunes live during the show; records hung from the ceiling will decorate the studio and warm wassail will be served.
In Good Company is a fundraiser for two upcoming tours: As winner of the 2011 Sadler's Wells Global Dance Competition, NWDP will perform at London's Olympic Arts Festival next June. Before that, the company will dance repertory works Jan. 7-9 at New York's FOCUS Dance festival. Neither performance is likely to feature wassail.
SEE IT: In Good Company at Northwest Dance Project Studio, 833 N Shaver St., nwdanceproject.org. 7:30 pm Friday-Saturday, Dec. 9-10; 4 pm Sunday, Dec. 11; 7:30 pm Thursday-Saturday, Dec. 15-17. $30-$40.