Dance and classical music are a popular combination. To say nothing of the ballet, which some die hards won’t even attend if the orchestra is canned, chamber dance performances are especially rich if they share the bill with chamber musicians.
That’s partly why BodyVox’s In Motion show, a collaboration with Chamber Music Northwest now in its fourth year, sells out so fast. The other reason is the convergence of the two fan bases, dance and classical music, into three weekend performances.
The work from BodyVox, with steady smiles and liberal playfulness, has a deep-seated style that's all too familiar. The movement, though pleasant, isn’t ambitious or as precise as it could be. But somewhere in an expanded version of 2005's Leave the Light On, near the point when Jonathan Krebs and Eric Skinner lift Anna Marra, her face glowing and her arms perfectly poised, the need for such struggle fades away. From corner stage, Edgar Meyer’s string ensemble soothes tensions with a sunny melody, like rubbing an alligator’s belly. There were no fireworks at the Independence Day performance, just a calm summer evening of porch sitting, watching fireflies and drinking smooth bourbon.
Not every piece is as bright as that finale. Vaux's Descent, a debut by co-artistic directors Jamey Hampton and Ashley Roland, is set to Barber’s famous String Quartet in B minor, Opus 11 and evokes the Vaux’s swifts that spiral into the Chapman School chimney every September. Four dancers with tulle ruffles attached to their backs aimlessly twirl, roll and flap their arms as wings, a showcase of simple animal instincts. Maybe it’s because the dancers don’t actually fly, or a falcon never swoops down and eats any of them, but the piece is far less dramatic than the actual birds.
In another debut from Roland, Get Out the Ghost, dancers are alien-like as they pull long sheets of crinkly gold paper from their chests and hold them high to the ceiling. Then they burst into punchy shoulder shrugs and cross-stage shuffles as shrieks of another Meyer score erupt from the instrumentalists. It’s an energetic peak for the program, but it retains the same playful quality. At the end, the dancers toss the sheets of paper in a heap, rustling them like a pile of leaves. The world can be harsh, but BodyVox always takes the edge off.
GO: BodyVox and Chamber Music Northwest are at Portland State University's Lincoln Hall, 1620 SW Park Ave., 224-9842. 4 pm Sunday, July 6. Tickets are sold out.