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December 3rd, 2008 HEATHER WISNER | Performance
 

Skinner/Kirk + Bielemeier (White Bird)

Three Portland choreographers circle the wagons.

     
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ONE OF THESE MEN IS NOT ON THE PROGRAM: (From right) Skinner, Bielemeier, Kirk.
IMAGE: Tom Oliver

At first glance, a Saturday afternoon rehearsal for this week’s Skinner/Kirk + Bielemeier show looks pretty normal. Sweaty dancers from the previous hour’s jazz class are fetching their bags at the back of BodyVox’s studio while the Skinner/Kirk dancers begin skimming across the floor, warming up cold muscles. There’s some giggling as Eric Skinner leads Heather Jackson, Margo Yohner and Zachary Carroll through a human jackhammer move that bounces across the center of the floor. The old overhead heater clicks awhile before whirring into gear.

But there’s a problem. Daniel Kirk, one-third of this three-choreographer contemporary dance bill, is not here: He’s in California, where his father has fallen so ill that Skinner and Gregg Bielemeier have remade the pieces the three began working on this summer, easing Kirk out two weeks before showtime. What else can they do?

This is just one of the challenges in the second program of White Bird’s Uncaged series. This 60-minute, three-piece concert takes place in the round, something novel for the dancemakers. During the rehearsal’s second half Bielemeier, a heavy-set, white-bearded man in track pants, jogs a circle around his moving dancers, exclaiming, “Looks good, looks good. Let’s see it from all sides.” His work opens the show, illuminated by Hap Tivey’s video installation and set to original music by David Cherry and Lyndee Mah. The circular setup “adds another dimension,” Bielemeier says. “Our job is to manipulate phrases so that they can be seen from every angle.”

They’re up for the challenges, though, and they’ve got considerable experience in their favor. Bielemeier tapped Skinner and Kirk for his 1998 Odd Duck Lake, and the dancers have worked with all three. Despite differing movement styles, there seems to be a shared sensibility: Without consulting one another, Skinner named his section Here and There, Now and Then, while Bielemeier dubbed his Half of Some, Neither of Either. The three pieces were created separately and aren’t meant to overlap, but, Skinner says, “We are trying to tie the evening together as seamlessly as possible.” Best of luck.


SEE IT: Portland Opera Studio Theater, Hampton Opera Center, 211 SE Carruthers St., whitebird.org. 8 pm Wednesday-Friday, 2 and 8 pm Saturday-Sunday, Dec. 3-7. $16-$26.
 
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