Change is scary, but if we survived the political season, we can certainly survive White Bird's 2008-2009 dance season as the company packs up and moves to new digs. The series has presented work at Portland State University's Lincoln Hall for the past 10 years, but a two-year retrofit of that facility necessitated the creation of White Bird Uncaged, which relocates the PSU performances to venues all over town.
Uncaged opens at Reed College with the American premiere of choreographer Crystal Pite's Lost Action, danced by her Vancouver, B.C.-based contemporary company Kidd Pivot. It's a bang-up start to this new venture: Pite has created a 70-minute, no-frills performance so athletic and sweeping you can almost feel the whoosh of air as performers fly past. There are hints of Pite's tenure with William Forsythe's Ballett Frankfurt in this work, set to a sound collage layered with snippets of conversation.
"This is unknown territory we're wandering into—it's exciting, but it's also a little daunting," White Bird co-founder Walter Jaffe says of Uncaged's logistical challenges. These included finding work that fit into non-proscenium spaces; booking enough nights in smaller spaces to make budget; and attracting new viewers while keeping the old ones—a conservative bunch—happy.
White Bird's cut a few deals to make the roving series more palatable to subscribers: They can get a discount from Zipcar for the night or take a $5 round-trip ride from downtown to Southeast on an EcoShuttle bus, and Jaffe has talked nearby restaurants into giving ticket-holders discounts on pre-show meals. Uncaged shows will be shorter and intermissionless at venues—including the Oaks Park Dance Pavilion—that may be new even to longtime residents. If the venture works, future performances could be "uncaged" even after Lincoln Hall reopens. For now, the question remains: Will Portland's dance fans brave the wilds of Southeast?
Kaul Auditorium, Reed College, 3203 SE Woodstock Blvd., 790-2787. 8 pm Wednesday-Saturday, Nov. 12-15. $16-$26. Crystal Pite master class: Conduit Dance, 918 SW Yamhill St., Suite 401, 221-5857. Noon Thursday, Nov. 13. $15 (reservations suggested). See whitebird.org/uncaged for information.