Outer East Portland dance troupe entertains at Washington Park

The Metro Dancers present a summer program showing some of the city’s most talented folks that rehearse here. Take a look …

Lobster Emilie Larison, tweedle Sophie Gunz, dancers Karin Schulz and Tamara Larison, flower Violet Lane-Ruckman, and tweedle Annie Willis, take direction from volunteer and long-time Metro Dancer Len Mills. The weed, Orianna O’Neill, Riley Willis, and “Alice” Emily Sevy listen in.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Taking their show on “the road” – the Metro Dancers from Portland Metro Performing Arts Center (PMPA) are presenting a repertory concert, “Under the Summer Sky”, at the Washington Park Amphitheatre next to the International Rose Test Gardens, at 6:30 p.m. on August 1.

“This is an opportunity to showcase the talents of Metro Dancers and other local dancers in a variety of different dance styles and engaging choreography,” said PMPA’s director, Nancy Yeamans about the show. “The combination of rising pre-professionals and former professional dancers gives this company its exuberant style and polish.”

Volunteer Len Mills and PMPA director Nancy Yeamans position lobsters, as they rehearse for their upcoming show at Washington Park.

Develops well-rounded citizens
While the dancers went through their steps, dancer with the organization since 1986 and volunteer Len Mills talked about his experience with Metro Dancers and PMPA.

“Most dancers won’t go on to work and dance in a national company,” Mills observed, “Instead, they go into everyday life. But, especially for ones who get a start at an early age, they’ll go into life being a more well-rounded human being.”

Additionally, dance helps individuals gain self-confidence and good health. “When one feeds their soul with the arts, they’ll have a more interesting life, there are more enjoyable to be with, and will conduct their lives better,” says Mills.

The lobsters alive! They jump and jive!

Variety of dance numbers performed
On the bill for the Metro Dancers’ repertory concert are:

  • “Controposto” choreographed by Deanna Carter; a jazz work,
  • “Nightsong”, is choreographed by Linda Kuchera;
  • Excerpts from “Alice in Wonderland” highlight the Tea Party, Garden of Live Flowers and Land of Cards (some of whom are real characters!);
  • “Recherche'” choreographed by Joan Scott;
  • “Khatanga” choreographed by Traci Castleberry Wojack, a hauntingly beautiful work set to a vocal score with Arabic influences;
  • “Bluegrass” choreographed by Nancy Yeamans, with twanging banjoes and rollicking beat; and,
  • “Swing Thing” choreographed by Nancy Yeamans, providing a fun romp through the Swing Era.

Three decades of dance
Wills told us that Metro Dancers was formed in 1977 to create an avenue for gifted advanced dancers to perform traditional full-length ballets, as well as modern, jazz, character and contemporary ballet pieces.

PMPA is currently located at 9933 SE Pine Street. You can learn more by going to their web site at www.PDXMetroArts.org.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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