We are giving away a pair of front row tickets to PDX Contemporary Ballet Presents “Undone” @ N.E.W. Expressive Works on May 18 & 19. To win, comment on this post why you’d like to attend (and include which day you’d prefer to attend). Winner will be drawn and emailed Monday, May 13.
From our sponsors:
May 17-19, 2019
Friday & Saturday 7:30 p.m. | Sunday 2:30 p.m.
All Ages | $15-$25 Online, $20-$30 at the door
More info: www.pdxcb.com
N.E.W. Expressive Works
810 SE Belmont, Portland, OR
What happens when we – particularly women – compromise ourselves behind a veneer of conformity and acquiescence? This is the central question behind “Undone” – the final installment of PDX Contemporary Ballet’s 2018-2019 season.
The imagery of the White Dress returns for its final appearance, representing the traditional choices often made in our lives. And we pay for our choices with the lives we ultimately lead.
In “Undone”, Artistic Director Briley Neugebauer examines this topic from an exclusively female perspective. She asks this question: “How do we find ourselves choosing the White Dress? Is it truly a personal choice, or is it essentially the influence of society?”
Journalist Memory Banda says “Despite all the advocacy for gender equality, women and girls still do not have much choice when it comes to taking controls of their own lives.” And a quick google search will turn up hundreds of hits about the “illusion of choice” for women, even in this age of empowerment.
Neugebauer – transfixed by this state of affairs – uses “Undone” as a platform to examine all its implications. Even today, there is an expectancy that females will, in general, get married and produce a family. Regardless of the path a woman desires to take, this expectancy lingers to one degree or another, and “Undone” showcases this dialectic. It is, ultimately, a show about struggle.
The show opens with a dancer already on stage wearing the White Dress. She slowly begins to see what the Dress really means for her and her life. Throughout the performance the dancers go back and forth between athletic fast paced movement and slow gestural phrases, showcasing the want for escape and the reality of being stuck. At times the White Dress almost takes on a life of its own as it moves around stage, “dancing” and causing the audience and performers to live within its world.
Staging performances in-the-round has become something of a tradition for PDX Contemporary Ballet, and “Undone” is no exception. Neugebauer says “I suppose in-the-round has come to feel the most natural for me, and certainly for the questions explored in this particular show. It would feel somehow wrong to present this type of real-life work in a proscenium setting. Experiencing dance in-the-round – allowing the audience to surround the dancers – brings a sense of realness into the work.”
Large swaths of “Undone” are set to selections from Ludovico Einaudi’s “Nightbook,” particularly those arrangements for piano and chamber ensemble, which are occasionally augmented by subtle atmospherics and light percussion. When it was released in 2009, one reviewer remarked, “The wistful minor keys of the ambient influenced pieces slow the heart before breaking it, while the complex pleasures of the unabashedly gorgeous songs harbor a doleful undertone.”
Interspersed into this soundscape are pieces from “Without Sinking” (interestingly, also released in 2009) by Icelandic cellist Hildur Gudnadottir. Neugebauer has carefully curated from this moody work, about which reviewers wrote “In the delicate hands of Gudnadottir, the cello whispers and moans. Perhaps it’s grieving for an uncertain future, perhaps accepting a buried past.” The same could be exactly said for “Undone” itself.