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EW! A Blog.

February 15, 2016 06:57 AM

The Eugene Ballet Company performed boldly Sunday afternoon, with a program that delighted the senses, starting with “White Noise” by choreographer Amy Seiwert.          

            Interweaving nuanced pairings and solo work, Seiwart’s visually arresting piece employed clever technology, infrared cameras trained on the dancers themselves, to paint the stage in a wash of color and light. Set to evocative music by Zoë Keating, the work captured the geometric artistry of the dancers, their lines in space, amplifying and clarifying their intention and abilities. The light itself almost seemed like another elusive, larger-than-life, company member, such was the seamlessness of dance/visual interaction.

            The EBC dancers seemed delighted to perform in this piece, energized and engaged – not merely bathing in static theatrical lighting – but reveling in creating visual art, live onstage.

            Credit for the lighting design goes to Kelly Baum and Brian Jones, with the overall visual design by Frieder Weiss. The staging of the piece was by Nicole White and Gabriel Williams, with simple and elegant costumes by Christine Darch.

            Unlike some works that rely heavily on technology, almost using it as a crutch, “White Noise” balanced spectacle with artistry, developing shape and form throughout its progression. A credit to the choreographer, I think the work would hold up, and be almost as engaging, in work lights and sweatpants. (But the lighting is too fabulous to miss.)

            The second half of the concert, Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana”, pulled out all the stops in a tour de force collaboration between EBC, the Eugene Concert Choir (along with talented children from the Festival Choirs, under the direction of Chris Dobson) and Orchestra Next, all held together under the vigilant eye of conductor Brian McWhorter.

            Toni Pimble’s choreography shines here, interpreting liturgical text for a 21st Century audience. Pimble unfailingly gets at the heart of the songs, beloved and well known, there’s a risk of treading into the maudlin or pastiche. Not so, Pimble. She keeps the work fresh and vital, bringing ancient tropes into modern consciousness, reminding us that we’re not so far from the field or the tavern.

            There are too many standout moments to mention.

            Cory Betts in “O Fortuna” digs into the changeable nature of fate, flexing and arching, he frames the work with his physical pleas for mercy.

            In “First Spring”, Yoshie Oshima, Mark Tucker and Yamil Maldonado warm the stage like the melting snow itself. Soloist Anton Belov delivers a stirring rendition of “Omnia Sol Temperat”.

            Let’s take a moment to appreciate the Eugene Concert Choir. It’s wonderful, essential, to have live music – an orchestra! With tons of live singers! – And the choir delivers more here than mere singing. With clever staging from Pimble, and exuberant acting from the choristers, the Concert Choir is utilized to evoke the mysteries of medieval life.

            In their terrific costumes by Lynn Bowers, the choristers are transformed, from Gregorian monks, to peasants at the apex of glorious summer, in their wimples and doublets, to the ruling class. How pleased they all seem to be so much a part of the action, and Pimble has fully-utilized these performers, giving them simple but effective stage choreography, to add to the mood and mystery of the experience.

            “In the tavern” trains its indelible eye on one woeful swan, trussed on a spit in front of a multitude of hungry revelers. In “Olim Lacus Colueram”, Beth Maslinoff ‘s piteous portrayal might encourage a few in the audience to become vegetarians.

            It all comes together in the “Court of Love”, and soloist soprano Zulimar López-Hernández delights with her range and delivery.

            This is love in all its guises, and while every moment is a jewel, Antonio Anacan and Suzanne Haag’s duet, about being, er, happy in their coupling, justifies this offering for Valentine’s Day. Oh my.

            Thomas Coates’ clever stage design creates a Wheel of Fate onstage (pity the spinning dancer, hope he took his Dramamine), a bawdy tavern and an imaginative Court of Love fit for Cupid himself.

            The audience went wild for this effort, and rightly so. EBC has pulled off a terrific collaboration, dissolving barriers to language – suddenly, through Pimble’s able hands, we all understand Latin! – And creating a timeless connection between movement and music. Bravo. 

February 15, 2016 05:28 PM

The City of Eugene Human Rights Commission will meet and vote on the adoption of an Indigenous Peoples' Day resolution Tuesday, February 16th, at 5:30 pm at the Atrium Bldg. 99 W.10th Ave. Eugene (Sloat Room). Proponents of the switch from Columbus Day to Indigenous People's Day, such as community member Ada Ball are encouraging turnout at the meeting.

Just what is Indigenous People's Day? The holiday, celebrated in Portland, Seattle and several other cities across the country, "reimagines Columbus Day and changes a celebration of colonialism into an opportunity to reveal historical truths about the genocide and oppression of indigenous peoples in the Americas, to organize against current injustices, and to celebrate indigenous resistance," according to the Unitarian Universalist Association

Ball, who has been fighting for the resolution, says:

"The resolution would be an official document of HRC [the Human Rights Commission] if adopted tomorrow. If adopted,the HRC would then be able to, along with support from the public, pass this on to [Eugene] City Council. HRC has the ability to make Indigenous Peoples' Day a City Council agenda item, which would give space for community members, businesses/ organizations, etc to build more momentum and support for this.

I think this is a great opportunity for the city of Eugene to build a base for supporting and affirming Indigenous, Native American, Alaska Native peoples locally, regionally, and nationally. I'm really excited to see how creative we, Eugene, can get with our Indigenous Peoples' Day celebration."

The proposed resolution is below. It was originally written by Phil Carrasco of the Human Rights Commission then opened to public comment, Ball says. 

Resolution : Declare the Second Monday of October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day

 WHEREAS, the City of Eugene Human Rights Commission (CEHRC) recognizes that the Indigenous peoples of the lands that would later become known as the Americas have lived on these lands since time immemorial; and

WHEREAS, the CEHRC honors the fact that the City of Eugene is built upon the traditional homelands of the Kalapuya peoples and recognizes the inherent sovereignty of the nine federally recognized tribal nations in the State of Oregon and all Indigenous peoples everywhere; and

WHEREAS, the CEHRC values the many contributions made to our community through Indigenous peoples’ knowledge, labor, technology, science, philosophy, arts and the deep cultural contribution that has substantially shaped the character of the City of Eugene ; and

WHEREAS, the CEHRC has a responsibility to oppose the systematic racism towards Indigenous people in the United States, which perpetuates high rates of poverty and income inequality, exacerbating disproportionate health, education, and social crises ; and

WHEREAS, Indigenous Peoples’ Day was first proposed in 1977 by a delegation of Native Nations to the United Nations sponsored International Conference on Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations in the Americas; and

WHEREAS, the CEHRC is committed to protecting and advocating for justice, human rights, and the dignity of all people who live and work in Eugene and vows to uphold the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (the “Declaration”) endorsed by the United States on December 16, 2010; and

WHEREAS, the Declaration recognizes the right of Indigenous peoples “to the dignity and diversity of their cultures, traditions, histories and aspirations which shall be appropriately reflected in education and public information,” and places an obligation on States to “take effective measures, in consultation and cooperation with the Indigenous peoples concerned, to combat prejudice and eliminate discrimination and to promote tolerance, understanding and good relations among Indigenous peoples and all other segments of society”; and

WHEREAS, the CEHRC understands colonization not as an historic event but as an ongoing structure predicated on the elimination of Indigenous life and land, and contends that the celebration of Christopher Columbus and his alleged “discovery” of Indigenous lands celebrates the colonization and dispossession of Indigenous peoples throughout the Americas; and

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the CEHRC declares its support for the City of Eugene to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day on the second Monday in October; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City of Eugene strike from the calendars and websites all references to Columbus Day; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City of Eugene utilize this day as an opportunity to reflect upon the ongoing struggles of Indigenous people of this land, to celebrate the thriving cultures and values of the Indigenous Peoples of our region, and to stand in solidarity with with Indigenous peoples elsewhere; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the CEHRC strongly encourages the Eugene 4J and Bethel School Districts and Board members to comply with the Oregon American Indian/Alaska Native State Plan which mandates that the public schools of our City teach about the history, culture, contemporary lives, and governments of the Indigenous peoples of the Americas, with special emphasis on those from Oregon and across the Pacific Northwest ; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the CEHRC encourages other businesses, organizations, and public institutions to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day on the second Monday in October; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the CEHRC firmly commits to continue its efforts to promote the well-being and growth of Eugene’s Indigenous community.

Adopted by the City of Eugene Human Rights Commission on __, 2016 .

February 12, 2016 01:21 PM

The Huffington Post today has an independent analysis by professor Kenneth Thorpe of a claim in the Democratic debates last night that Bernie Sanders' universal health care plan doesn't pencil out.

February 9, 2016 01:13 PM

The Union of Concerned Scientists this week published an essay by noted scientist Jeremy Martin, Ph.D., about the impact of low fuel prices on efforts to get the U.S. and the world off fossil fuels.