Blue skies on grey days

Professional dance performance can often seem like an esoteric or insular discipline, of interest primarily to those who are, want to be or were at one time, dancers. There seems to be very little public outreach from the dance community and likewise the public seems to have little interest in professional dance. For instance, how often does a friend call with an invitation to see a dance performance? Compared with invitations to movies, concerts or even theatre performances, invitations to dance performances are likely few-and-far-between, unless you or your friend have ever put on a leotard.

This is an unfortunate condition when considering that as entertainment dance can be just as dynamic, exhilarating and emotional as the last blockbuster you attended.

There seem to be several barriers that confront the public when they consider dance performance. Some people may be concerned that they do not understand the language of dance – that the movement is too difficult to decipher and decode. While it is true that some choreographers may present “high-concept” works, a good amount of dance is simply appreciation of the capacity and beauty of human movement and the diverse ways humans move in relation to one another. For the novice, simple observation and enjoyment is enough, let the dancers and critics tease out the meaning, all you have to do is be present and engaged.

Some people who would like to enjoy dance do not know what styles or choreographers might interest them the most. Often the only way around this barrier is to buy a ticket to a show with an interesting poster and a good buzz. Sometimes, results can be disappointing.

Enter the Dance Coalition of Oregon’s Blue Sky Concerts. The series, which runs for four days beginning Thursday, May 19, to Sunday, May 22, at Concordia College Theatre, is essentially a sampler of dance performance. Every night starting at 7:30, over 30 regional choreographers will present their work on stage. These performances will offer diverse choreography from across cultures and disciplines. Each night offers a highly eclectic blend of movement from ballet to modern dance.

This four-day series works to bring down barriers between a cautious public and the dance community on several levels. To begin with, works performed were submitted to and juried by the Dance Coalition of Oregon, ensuring a certain degree of quality. These choreographers are largely local, so if you enjoy a certain performance you can feel comfortable attending their concerts in the future. The incredible mix of styles and disciplines offers exposure to types of dance that may resonate with certain individuals and open up new avenues for cultural entertainment. Finally, at $10 for student admission, there is really very little risk involved. Even if you discover that watching the toned bodies of men and women of various ages, abilities and ethnicities moving gracefully through space is not your thing, then $10 is a small price to pay for the revelation.

Blue Sky Concerts is the perfect opportunity to discover a diverse avenue of entertainment that is often underappreciated. The added bonus is that you’ll never have to put on a leotard to gain this new appreciation – unless, of course, you really want to.