Polaris Dance Theatre presented their final performance of the season, 1+1=ONE, on May 9 at their warehouse location in SW Portland. Polaris celebrated their 13th season this year.
The show featured eight different dances created by various choreographers and composers, and it showcased up-and-coming dancers from their junior company. The show also guest starred Polaris alumni dancers.
“The idea behind ONE is a different approach. The idea was to use only one instrument, one musician and one choreographer,” said Robert Guitron, co-founder and artistic director of Polaris. “It’s an exciting thing. I want to expose my dancers to different choreographers and [have them] feel what it’s like to have a piece created specifically for them.”
Polaris Dance Theatre was founded in 2002 with the creative and artistic talents of Guitron, who has danced and choreographed around the U.S. and abroad.
Polaris has been a creative outlet in the Portland community, offering classes not only to children and youths, but also to low-income students, seniors and minorities. They strive to make dance accessible to all people.
Emily Henderson has been dancing for 18 years, and has been with Polaris since July.
“I love dancing [with Polaris],” Henderson said. “It’s such a family environment.”
In addition to having several guest choreographers, selected company dancers presented pieces of choreography they created. The Polaris junior company also made an appearance midway through the performance, dancing in a piece choreographed by rehearsal director M’Liss Quinny.
ONE opened with all company dancers on stage in front of a blackened and smoky backdrop, creating many jagged and symmetrical shapes while moving in and out of line with each other. The energy the dancers carried set the stage for the following pieces and fully captured the attention of the audience.
“You Finally Arrive,” choreographed by company member Blake Seidel, featured a male duet set to a stringed score by Kristin Rule.
The dancers, Seidel and other company dancer Gerard Regot, fully embodied the movement of a stringed instrument and perfectly timed their movement with the music.
The piece opened with the two dancers facing each other and gradually took on movement that suggested a journey or adventure between the duo.
In contrast, the following piece, titled “Proverb,” choreographed by Jocelyn Edelstein, featured eight female company dancers dressed completely in white, dancing to a music score with the repeating phrase, “they tried to bury us but we were still alive.”
Edelstein’s raw choreography embodied ghost or spirit-like movement, particularly when paired with the repeating spoken word of being buried. The piece ended with two dancers lying wrapped around each other on the ground as other dancers sprinkled rose petals on their still bodies.
“Beneath the Skin,” choreographed and composed by company dancer Gerard Regot, showed a dark and seemingly twisted interaction between dancers as they partnered in duets.
At various moments in the dance, male dancers removed their shirts and effortlessly transferred one sleeve onto their partner, the two of them bound together by one article of clothing.
The struggle to remove the shirt created an overpowering resistance by their partner, yet they somehow moved together naturally and with an incredible amount of fluidity.
The final three pieces, “Leaves,” “Together” and “Lullaby,” all choreographed by Guitron, featured company dancers both current and alumni. “Lullaby” brought back several former Polaris dancers, ending the final performance of the season on a very sweet note.