Rain & Roses, Presented by Bodyvox

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If you didn’t get to see Rain & Roses last weekend, as presented by local dance troupe Bodyvox you still have time. There are three evening shows remaining, at 7:30 PM from Thursday to Saturday, with a matinee performance at 2 PM on th 19th as well. Bodyvox is heralded as one of Portland’s most exciting performance groups in the area.

The piece is aptly named. What do we have more than rain and roses in Portland? Perhaps only trees and beer. It celebrates the contributions of female songwriters. Names as diverse as Yoko Ono, Billie Holiday, k.d. Lang, and Icelandinc legend Björk populate the list of women songwriters included.

Billie Holiday, interestingly was included twice. Her classic “What a Little Moonlight Can Do” is followed by the slightly more obsure “Me, Myself, and I.” It creates a vignette. I was nervous when I saw a full band, with singers. I thought, whenever possible, the women who wrote and recorded the songs would be played while the dancers danced.

I was wrong in my assumption, and wrong to be nervous. The singer, in Billie Holiday’s case, channeled the wanton, jazzy, treble of her famous voice. I especially liked the sense of comedy they brought to “Me, Myself, and I.” In this treatment--complete with a tap session--the words “me, myself, and I” become three people chasing someone who is clearly not interested.

Björk’s “Big Time Sensuality” saw 11 dancers on stage, and given the many layers of the performer’s musical output, twice that number would not have been a hindrance to the production. Gender, especially in the k.d. lang performance of “I Confess” is played with beautifully. You can see the dancers are having fun with every step, and every move they make.

This show is also interactive. There are many surprises within the performances, excellent use of props, lifting devices, and an off-the ground dance I won’t try to describe for you, but it was their intermission which was pretty spectacular. Rather than send everyone out the door, or to the bar for 20 minutes, the band takes a break and gives it to a DJ. Everyone is invited, and in some cases pulled by the dancers, up to the main stage to have a dance party.

There was so much of this performance I could call a “best thing.” However, it was really the interaction of the dancers. In rehearsal if a pair of dancers seem ill-suited together--for dance is a sensual, interactive experience--their director often switches them out until a match is made. Every dancer responded well to each other, there was a harmony running all through the music, and through the interactions of the performers themselves.

Please visit BodyVox to get tickets. At the time of publication of this article there were still tickets available for the remaining performances.