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October 17, 2016 06:24 AM

Ballet Fantastique delivered a warm and lovely confection in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, a Parisian Jazz Ballet.

            Set in jazzy 1920’s Paris, the performance swept through Austen’s enduring story with a breezy, yet thoughtful, pace. The Regency Era is a tough time to be single, and as the five “Bennette” sisters express varying degrees of ardor and rancor, at their potential suitors, BFan really comes alive.

            Hats off to the Gerry Rempel Jazz Syndicate, whose live music was an integral part of the production. Vocalists Amy LeSage and Susanna Meyer were especially transporting, evoking the unmistakable ennui, affection and joy that decades of Jazz produced. Their voices were like a time machine. Just delightful.

            BFan’s choreography is first-rate throughout, enjoyable, moody, lively and fun. Their work is accessible and approachable, and they utilize what they have to great effect. Ashley Bontrager as Lizzy sails, but all the sisters bring impish, devoted energy to their work.

            Natanael Leal is stunning as outsider George Wickham. Gustavo Ramirez retains a suitably haughty air as Darcy, and Justin Feimster has fun as Bingley.

            As character tropes, the five sisters and their paramours are progenitors of so many works that followed them, and they’re each quite distinct, in the way Austen writes them. To the degree that they can within the confines of ballet, BFan explores the subtleties between and among their stylistic approaches, though group numbers rely on unison.

            The dance looks polished and complete, and dances are uniformly confident and danced with great enthusiasm and rich, decorative detailing in the arms and footwork. BFan’s aesthetic doesn’t push across the space aggressively, it doesn’t shout or shock, but relies on consistently interesting relational connections, intricate pathways and nuanced characterization.

            Adam Goldthwaite narrates as Vicar Collins, and even gets into the action. Goldthwaite is clearly having a ball in his role, and carries the narrative forward for those who are unfamiliar. Still, there is room in Goldthwaite’s delivery for more modulation, a softening, especially when he’s speaking not his own character’s lines, but Austen’s precious narrative prose. This Austen-ite (named my firstborn daughter Jane!) could have used a tad more sincerity from Goldthwaite as the piece drew to a close.

            Costumes designed by Donna Marisa Bontrager and constructed by Allison Ditson fit the bill, as bright and full of hope as a box of macarons from the finest Parisian pastry shop.

            Genevieve Speer and Deborah Speer have helped to shape the libretto, no small task, surely.

            The set and backdrop were a darling diversion from the bleak rain outside, a ribald expression of dopey, adoring love. And why not?

            BFan has a good thing going. They received a standing ovation, richly deserved. They’re making an austere art form accessible to new audiences. I saw people of all ages in the audience, having a great time with movement and theater that they could relate to.

            A BFan supporter spoke before the show about their work to bring children from the Jasper Mountain treatment center to see BFan productions. Hats off to these types of efforts. We should all find ways to make dance a part of everyone’s lives.  

October 17, 2016 04:19 PM

Pollution and Ping Pong: A China Town Hall

By Kristen McDonald

For ten years, the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations has hosted an annual China Town Hall, where communities across the US get together to discuss pressing issues in our country’s relationship with China. Tomorrow, Tuesday Oct. 18tChina Town Hall: Local Connections, National Reflections” takes place at some 80 venues across the U.S.

This year’s featured simulcast speaker is Dr. Henry Kissinger, who is credited for having helped reestablish ties with China during the Nixon “ping pong diplomacy” era. More recently, in a 2012 piece in Foreign Affairs, Kissinger advocates against aggression towards China, a position that I tend to take as a given. But that may be about all I agree with Kissinger on, given Kissinger’s other acts in Asia when he first had contact with China, including sabotaging peace efforts during the Vietnam war and carpet bombing of Cambodia.

I will also be featured as a live speaker at the event. While far less famous (or infamous) than Kissinger, I have been working on environmental issues for over ten years, and I tend to view U.S.-China relations more from a more (and sometimes literally) grassroots perspective. I help local environmental groups in China protect their communities from industrial pollution. At a time when environmental cooperation is touted as a bright spot in US China relations, I will argue that there’s a lot more that needs to be done, and that can be done, including shining a light on our own complicity in China’s environmental problems. Plus I’ll share some success stories of what communities in China are doing locally.

This “Town Hall” style event is interactive, free, and open to the public. What issues concern you most about China? What do you remember about ping pong diplomacy, and Kissinger’s role in Asia? What information or resources do you have to share about China?

Please join us at a China Town Hall, 4 pm Tuesday, Oct. 18, at 110 Knight Law Center at the University of Oregon in Eugene.

Kristen McDonald is the China Program Director at Pacific Environment and a Eugene native.

October 15, 2016 11:00 AM

The Northwest Screendance Exposition’s second annual presentation drew a variety of engaging short films, both elaborately creative endeavors and interesting documentaries, from around the world.

            What a rich endeavor! We’re fortunate for the Northwest Screendance’s effort to bring new, thought-provoking, international art right to our doorstep.

            In the documentary category, contributions train a light on the art of Screendance itself, with a fascinating look behind the scenes on how dance and film conjoin to create new vistas. Artists explore boundaries of shape and form, relational dimensions between and among dancers, as they connect with spaces, props, and places. These efforts push into new exciting territory, engaging whole cities and cultures with contemporary art.

            The Screendance short film category is equally compelling.

            Damien Smith’s Arrellah provides arresting imagery, both textural and strong. Wake by Holly Wilder and Duncan Wilder explores auditory impulses, and a deep inquiry into gesture.

            In Between, by Blake Horn and Liilian Stamey, is set in a beautiful natural setting, but the jerky filmic technique and repetitive movement led one to wonder: Would the dance be interesting if you saw it on a bare stage?

            That’s an overall question about this art form that walks a tense line between film and dance.

            In some instances, the medium enhances the human expression, brightening the filter, narrowing the focus.

            Such is the case with 1180+More, by Riccardo de Simone. This playful musing on line drawings that morph and transform in keen animation brings out new ideas, without taking itself too seriously.

            Another highlight is My “Best” Friend, According to Him, by Josh Anderson and Logan Hall. The piece thrusts movers into everyday situations, with physical comedy and full-contact gaffs, at the office, the gym, the grocery store. Is it more shtick than dance? Maybe, but it’s not trying to be more than what it presents.

            Another piece that balances dance effort with what film can do is Dance of the Neurons by Jody Oberfelder and Eric Siegel. The piece explores shape and form in whimsical ways, but loses itself at times in editing gimmicks.

            Some pieces seem like cool sketches that could evolve into completed works. Many feature nature, or decrepit buildings, as their settings.

            Mitchell Rose and Bebe Miller have collaborated on an ambitious international piece, Globe Trot that carries simple movement from one person to another, all around the world. Though ambitious, and artfully put together, there’s not much that’s new about this idea, as versions in music and dance have bubbled up and gone viral for the last decade or so. 

            Promenade by Cirila Luz Ferron, Florencia Olivieri and Manislla Pons plays with effects, close-ups, focus, filters, with a disembodied, dramatic edge.

            Eclipse, by Linda Arkelian and David Cooper, offers a meditation on the male dancer, in a well lit, slow motion exploration.

            As a viewer, a question arises throughout the program: Would I want to watch this, if it were just a dance? Is the movement itself interesting, or does the production rely on editing, camera angles, or setting, to create and suspend the effort? What do I get from the movement alone?

            One example is Without Boundaries, by Cara Hagan and Robert Gelber. Great location, fun movers – I just wanted to see dance that was more compelling in its own right, without the trappings of the film.

            It is a treat to see effort from all around the world, right in Eugene. Kudos to the Northwest Screendance producers for their vision and fortitude. We’re fortunate that they see the value of bringing something new to our shores.

            As a student of dance history, I’m fascinated by this new space that dance and multimedia artists are collaborating within. It taps into a current that reminds me of the modernists and post-modernists, and I’m enjoying seeing the further blurring between once-distinct art forms.

            Thank you to the Northwest Screendance folks: Parched for new work, this expo was a tall drink of water. 

October 13, 2016 04:43 PM

Daniel James MacKay has been arrested on several charges related to paying for sex with a minor, a Eugene Police Department press release states. MacKay is Father Daniel MacKay of the St. John the Wonderworker, an orthodox Christian church in the Whiteaker neighborhood (it's the building with the blue domes).

See press release below:

EW spoke to MacKay in 2015 about the iconography he comissioned from artist Daniel Balter for the church. During the 2016 Whiteaker Block Party, Fr. MacKay gave several tours of the church to block party attendees of all ages. According to his bio on the church's website, Fr. MacKay is also currently: "an adjunct instructor of English literature and composition at Northwest Christian University and Lane Community College in Eugene."

Below is the mug shot provided by the EPD.


October 11, 2016 05:44 PM

Leonard Higgins, cofounder of climate group Corvallis 350.org was "one of five activists who halted tar sands oil flowing across the Canada-U.S .border by manually turning off pipelines in Washington, Montana, North Dakota and Minnesota" according to a Facebook post on his page.

Higgins and the other activists were arrested and the action was in solidarity with the Standing Rock protesters and #NoDAPL (No Dakota Access Pipeline), the climate direct action ShutItDown.Today website says. 

A statement on the website says:

We engage in this action in solidarity with the people of Standing Rock, responding to the call for International Days of Prayer and Action. We owe them a debt for their steadfast protection of land and water; the future of life depends on exactly such resolve and courage.

We are in the greatest emergency humanity has ever faced, and no one in power is treating it as such. We must stand up, and campaigns of nonviolent resistance—like what’s happening in Standing Rock, and like what we do today—may be the most powerful force on the planet.

In North Dakota, hundreds of tribal nations have come together to support the Standing Rock Sioux. In Canada, more than 50 tribal nations signed the cross-continental Treaty Alliance against Tar Sands Expansion on September 22. We are deeply inspired by this leadership, and join in solidarity with earth protectors everywhere. 


October 11, 2016 02:26 PM

Local designer Vanessa Froehling competed Oct. 5 in the Up/NXT runway showing for emerging designers in Oregon's most esteemed Fashion Week, FashionNXT. While she didn't win, Froehling walked away with positive vibes:

"FashioNXT was an amazing experience! What an honor it was to be selected to participate in such a prestigious production!" Froehling tells EW. "Everyone behind the scenes that make this event happen do so seamlessly and smoothly! The industry connections and boutique representation offers, are invaluable, and I look forward to next year!"

All the designs seen below are available online at FrauleinCouture.com, and some of the pieces will be available in Portland boutiques.

To read more about the evolution of Froehling's line, Carpe Denim, read EW's Sept. 29 story here.

All photos by Jeff Wong.

October 10, 2016 11:53 AM

One of the handful of times that I’ve seen Danny Brown was when he opened for Childish Gambino at the Cuthbert Amphitheater in 2014. That show became the epitome of most every rap show I’ve seen in Eugene. After finishing up a song, that contained the n-word multiple times, Childish Gambino looked out at the crowd — who had been singing along loudly the whole time — and said something along the lines of:

“You guys are like, all white and are saying the n-word? Eugene, y’all are hella racist.” The crowd responded in laughter. 

Although no one got called out at Danny Brown’s most recent show at WOW Hall on Oct. 8, there sure were a whole lot of white people saying the n-word en masse. Whether it’s the comfort of being around a like-minded crowd or the excitement, the pure hype shows like these bring, the way Eugene’s white community interacts with rap music is pretty solidified and here to stay.

Danny Brown shows at least make it a little easier to overlook these things. Besides just being an entertaining performer with extremely catchy songs, Brown tends to draw a pretty stylistically diverse crowd. Along with the expected audience members, UO students decked out in various sports jerseys and area high schoolers grinding against their significant others, there were also a good amount of people who looked like they were transported straight from a hardcore or post-punk show. 

There were women with dyed hair and men dressed in all black and skinny jeans. They weren't there ironically though, as most everyone in the packed hall was singing and rapping along. Brown himself is clearly a bit of an outcast. His newest album is called Atrocity Exhibition, named after the Joy Division song, and he's always been known for not really fitting into the hip-hop norm. (Brown actually entered the stage to the Joy Division song, blasting over a frantic light show.)

Stylistically, Atrocity Exhibition is a little outside of Brown’s usual material. It's definitely more intense, more alternative and, undeniably, more him. But WOW Hall’s crowd ate it up regardless.

Before flying into new material near the latter half of the night, Brown started his set out with a slew of his biggest bangers: “Die Like A Rockstar,” “Lie4,” “I Will” and a handful of others, which got me, and a few other people I was talking to at the show, thinking: Danny Brown sure has a lot of hits. The couple songs I thought I knew relatively well by him actually turned out to be about ten songs that I knew every word to, which he performed throughout the night.

Song after song, the crowd stuck with Brown, showing the performer that they were very, very into his set. Near the end of the show there were even a couple crowd surfers and a good-sized mosh pit — definitely not something you see at every rap concert. 

Brown didn’t play an encore, which normally, I think, would’ve surprised most concert-goers, but at this show, everyone left sweaty and smiling — from those wearing Unknown Pleasures t-shirts to those wearing basketball shorts.

October 8, 2016 07:59 AM

Xcape Dance Company presented X last night, at the Hult Center’s Soreng Theatre. Artistic director and choreographer Vanessa Fuller offered a high-energy evening, with her own company, and visiting guests.

            The first half of the program’s highlights included a salsa number, well-executed by Jenna Trotter and her partner. Nathan Boozer’s Work Dance Company made a splash with Pitbull, featuring Boozer himself on a leash. Ari Zreliak-Hoban and Cindy Zreliak’s ZAPP offered a cheeky entrée to HipHop. And the Dance Factory had fun with their tribute to Michael Jackson, with choreography by Roshny Bhakta.

            Fuller’s work is confident and stylish, as evidenced in Candy, and All About Dat Booty. Her dancers, of varying ability and technique, all work hard for her, expressing exuberance and joy of movement.

            Pieces, a group number featuring singer Isaac Turner and a projected film, suffered a bit from staging issues, as the various components fought for primacy.

            Singer Shelby Trotter brought the exciting element of live music to the stage for Latch,and while her performance took a few pitches, it was earnest and complimentary to the dancer’s freestyle explorations.

            Mason King’s solo was the standout in the first half. Thoughtful, compelling, and with an inherent structure.

            After intermission, Fuller offered her version of Cell block Tango, from the 1975 musical Chicago. Bob Fosse left some pretty big shoes to fill, and the question is: Do we imitate his unmistakable style, or do our own thing? Well-danced, this piece somehow felt disjointed, like a combination of sexy pedestrian movement, and dance tricks.  

            Drops of Jupiter, along with Say Something in the first half, expressed a more lyrical side for Fuller, with younger dancers gamely delving into the balance, extension and form required.

            Flex offered Urchin by Angela Dunham, a meditation on shape and relationships.

             And throughout the second act, Fuller’s work expressed a variety of moods.  Her solo for a young dancer in Hot Note was lively and appropriate, for the dancer’s age, and abilities.

            (Note: Individual dancers have not been credited in the program, except where they were also choreographers.)

            Aesthetically, Fuller’s work is vibrant and fun, but throughout a whole evening, one sees the same recurring lexicon of moves that she relies on.

            And the overall effort seems to focus on creating a multitude of shorter pieces, rather than on developing any one piece beyond the length of a piece of popular music. Throughout, dancers mouth the lyrics to songs.

            Most pieces are in unison, which is difficult to pull off with a variety of technical levels, and front facing.

            Izikuala Huntley presented a solo last night that underscores his technical artistry, and strong musicality. It would be interesting to see what he would do with a group work. 

September 30, 2016 11:26 AM

Many of those participating in a Stop Hate! rally in Springfield Sept. 29 were greeted by a loudspeaker, on the roof of the home of well known racist and anti-Semite Jimmy Marr, blasting offensive speech. Marr was arrested for disorderly conduct in the second degree, according to his booking at the Springfield Municipal Jail.

The permited, lawfull rally, put on by the Community Alliance of Lane County, Standing Up for Racial Justice and the NAACP as well as the Springfield Alliance for Equality and Respect outside Willamalane Center, was  "in reaction to increasing levels of racist, xenophobic, homophobic, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic and classist activity happening in Lane County,” the Community Alliance of Lane County said. “There have been more Confederate flags seen in the area, vandalism targeting Asian owned businesses, a truck driving around with neo-Nazi and white supremacist messages on it and more.”

Marr is the owner and driver of the neo-Nazi message emblazoned Toyota Tacoma. He has made himself notorious over the years, appearing to seek headlines and attention, with messages such as "Diversity is white genocide," Trump: Do the white thing," "Jew lies matter" and more. His Twitter handle is @genocideJimmy. 

EW correspondent Jennefer Harper, a CodePink activist, took photos of the arrest and said police searched Marr's home. Harper said she was walking to the rally when she encountered Marr's house where he was blasting offensive speech such as "hate is good" from a loudspeaker on his roof. Harper has identified the speech as the words of white nationalist Kai Murros, "On Hate."

Marr responded to  EW's blog at 3 am, presumably after his release, writing:

White lie from Code Pink: "... says police are now searching Marr's home."

Police were not "searching" my house. They were, at my request, securing it in my absence from the clear and present danger posed by the mob of miscreants gathered around it.

Run along now and see if you can get Miss Kitty to shake down the SPD like she did the EPD.

EW has asked Springfield what the police were doing at Marr's home — searching or "securing" it.

According to a media release from the Springfield Police Department, "members of the Springfield Police Department were dispatched to a noise disturbance in the 1300 block of G Street."  SPD said that "numerous citizens reported an amplified recording coming from a residence promoting 'hatred.'"

Springfield police said that "In retaliation to the gathering, Marr installed a very large amplified speaker on the rooftop of his area home. Marr then played a pro-hatred message on a loop which repeated itself upon conclusion. The amplified message of hate could be heard for several blocks, attracting approx. 30 people who were upset by the volume of the recording, including many of Marr’s neighbors and members of the assembly."

After "repeated attempts to contact Marr at his residence" without success, the Springfield Fire Department assisted officers with the removal of the speaker from Marr’s roof, SPD said. Marr then left his house and told police  that he was “trying to get his message out to people.” He was subsequently arrested.

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Marr being arrested at his Springfield home. Photos by Jennefer Harper

Marr and other "white genocide" believers have been bragging about his arrest on hate sites. 

September 29, 2016 07:36 PM

Eugene Weekly has gotten word that local racist Jimmy Marr has been arrested for disorderly conduct in Springfield.

EW correspondent Jennefer Harper, a CodePink activist, took photos of the arrest and says police are now searching Marr's home.

Harper says she was walking to the Community Alliance of Lane County, Standing Up for Racial Justice and NAACP Stop Hate! rally outside Willamalane Center when she encountered Marr's house where he was blasting offensive speech such as "hate is good" from a loudspeaker on his roof.

This blog will be updated when more information is available. Springfield spokesman Niel Laudati confirmed the arrest.

September 29, 2016 11:42 AM

Eugene Center for Ethnobotanical Studies is hosting a kratom rally 9 pm, Friday Sept 30 at Kesey Square with informal speakers followed by a march to the federal building on 8th.

Organziers say that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency "has filed a notice of intent to schedule and ban kratom by midnight, Sept. 30. Countless people depend on this safe and effective herbal remedy related to coffee, sacred to Buddhists, who have used it safely for thousands of years. Many of you depend on this healing leaf for your general well-being, pain and suffering, depression, anxiety, PTSD, opioid dependency and more."

Go to ecfes.org for more info.

September 27, 2016 03:43 PM

Ken Darling, a descendent of Eugene Skinner has retained the law firm of Hutchinson Cox to intervene in a court action that seeks to determine if  the deed restriction on the county-owned "Butterfly Lot" prevents the land being used for a Eugene City Hall.

Darling says in the press release, included below that the land swap the city and county now have under discussion would "violate my great-great grandparents’ intentions for their gift of property." The release says another living Skinner relative will join Darling in intervening in the pending lawsuit.


Skinner Descendants Will Intervene in Deed Restriction Case

Ken Darling, the great, great-grandson of Eugene and Mary Skinner, has retained counsel in order to assert the continuing validity of the restriction his ancestors wrote into their 1856 deed of land in downtown Eugene to Lane County. To do so, Darling will seek leave to intervene in the court action recently filed by the Lane County and the City of Eugene for a legal determination of the issue.

“Eugene and Mary Skinner dedicated the land to the county for use as a county seat. If the county were now to transfer part of the land to Eugene for a city hall, the Skinner deed restriction would be violated,” said Darling. The deed restriction was at the center of a similar dispute in 1909. At that time, the county court, ordered the city to tear down and remove the city hall and jail building that had been built on the property, and the city complied.

The issue remained dormant until 2007, when the Lane County Circuit Court Administrator wrote a letter to the county and city officials opposing the sale of what is known as the “butterfly parking lot” because of the court’s “long-standing plans to build a new courthouse on this lot.” The letter characterized the deed restriction as “specific, permanent, and exclusive.”

Darling continued, “the land swap the city and county now have under discussion would likewise violate my great-great grandparents’ intentions for their gift of property. I feel an obligation to them and to the memory of my mother, Helen Skinner Darling, to do what I can to make sure the conditions on the Skinner dedication are honored, now, 160 years later.”

At least one other living Skinner family descendant will join Darling in intervening in the pending lawsuit.

September 26, 2016 03:16 PM

Avoiding the debates? St. Vinnie's is offering retail therapy for tonight's presidential debate. Press release is below.

Vinnie’s provides ‘politics-free zone’ during tonight’s debate

Sale from 6-8 p.m. tonight offers 50 percent off all books, clothing

     Many Lane County residents will be glued to their television screens for 90 grinding, hyper-tense minutes tonightwatching Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump go head to head in the first presidential debate. But for those sick and tired of the debate hype and looking for an alternative, St. Vinnie’s is offering half off on all clothing and books from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.at its Division and Seneca stores in Eugene and at the Thurston and Q street stores in Springfield.

     “We’re providing a politics-free-zone for all those long-suffering souls who fervently wish this election season was in their rear-view mirror, said Paul Neville, public relations director of the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane County. “Getting half off on any items from our huge selection of books and high-quality brand-name clothing may be just the diversion people need.”

    The Division Store is located at 201 Division Ave., and the Seneca Store is at 705 S. Seneca in Eugene.  The Thurston Store is located at 4555 Main St. and the Q Street Store is at 1999 Q St. in Springfield. Maps and additional store information are available at http://www.svdp.us/what-we-do/retail-thrift-stores/





September 23, 2016 04:03 PM

Oregon school districts, including local districts 4J, Bethel and Springfield, might get reimbursed for money spent on lead testing that took place this summer. At the time the districts commenced the lead testing, there was no guarantee from the state that they would receive funding to cover the cost of the tests.

According to a notice sent from Deputy Superintendent Salam Noor to Oregon superintendents, the Oregon Legislature has set aside $5 million to help schools pay for lead testing in drinking water. Charters schools are eligible for the funding, according to the notice.

The notice goes on to say that schools must meet a list of criteria in order to qualify for receiving the funds. The criteria include that the testing agency used must be accredited by the Oregon Health Authority, and that testing must have taken place between March 1 and December 1 of this year. 

4J estimated the cost of its testing would amount to $25,000 or more. Earlier this year, 4J found high levels of lead in the drinking water of a handful its schools, and subsequently decided to test drinking water in the entire district. 

According to current information available on the district's website, testing is still in progress in many schools throughout the 4J district. It is unclear how much repairs will cost the district once it is determined which fixtures need to be replaced.