Pacific Dance Ensemble. (PDE) presents a two for your money extravaganza, including a revival of PDE’s original Native inspired fantasy, “When the Animals Danced” and PDE’s, “Dances from the Heart”, which was canceled in February due to Covid but is now finally able to be performed live for the public.
“When the Animals Danced” was written by E. K. Caldwell (Tsalagi, Shawe, Celtic, German) and PDE director, Nancy Mittleman in 1992 and originally performed in the USA and in Japan as part of a cultural exchange program. Caldwell, who was a nationally acclaimed writer, singer/songwriter, and counselor collaborated with Mittleman to write this cautionary tale drawing inspiration from multiple indigenous cultures. With concerns for the health of the planet we call home, this story stresses the need to live in harmony with all nature’s creatures, if we want to heal and save our precious Earth. The story centers around three trickster characters, Raven, Coyote and Rabbit, characters who are always out looking for a good time but help to illuminate a serious subject with compassion and a healthy dose of humor. The piece is both playful and poignant, timely and timeless. The performance will be narrated by veteran actress, Mary Eastman, who is of Oklahoma Cherokee descent. Music for the piece was written by Leon Forrest and includes singing and drumming by members of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz, Mitzi Shoemake and Snowball. Lighting for both halves of the show are designed by Marc Maislen.
PDE was all set to present their 35th annual Valentine’s gift to the community, “Dances from the Heart”, when the Omicron variant struck Oregon and so we are delighted to include this program now, with “When the Animals Danced”. This year’s “Dances from the Heart” is a collection of original works choreographed by PDE alumni Michaela Shoberg, Cecily Wechter, Maria Barton and PDE director, Nancy Mittleman. The pieces range from peaceful to explosive, and from elegant to gritty. Each is a reaction to the past 2 years of pandemic restrictions and isolation, environmental disasters and political upheaval but also to finding beauty and new insights about ourselves and the world around us.
Dancers feature PDE members, supported by students of Newport School of Artistic Movement.