If you’re a dance fan or even if you’re not, know that Body Vox-2 (BV-2) will bring a razzle-dazzle of tap, gymnastics and ballet to the Liberty Theater at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 16. Should you go, prepare to be entertained. There’ll be no stuffy all-classical ballet program for this group. “BV-2 is a rare dance experience. Audiences will leave smiling and laughing at the light-hearted, humorous entertainment the performance offers,” promises Una Loughran, general manager at Body Vox.
Four world premieres will be featured in the show, choreographed by Jamey Hampton, Anne Mueller, Eric Skinner and Éowyn Emerald Barrett. Also included in the program will be Hampton’s “The Obliged,” a touching “last dance” set to the music of popular songwriters Amon Tobin, John Adams and Tom Waits.
An offshoot of internationally-known Body Vox, a contemporary dance company located in Portland’s Pearl District, BV-2 began in 2007 with artistic directors Ashley Roland and Jamey Hampton, who are currently at the helm. At the Liberty show, five members of this small cadre of up-and-coming young dancers will perform contemporary dance – much of it combined with dance-theater and other performance art forms, such as live music and multimedia. This mix helps shrink a large scale performance to fit smaller venues.
One of the young dancers who will be on stage is from this area. Astoria-born Josh Murry began dancing at local studios on the Oregon coast when he was 12. He trained with Maddox Dance Studio (under Jeanne Petersen), Encore Dance Studio (with Denele Sweet), and Astoria School of Ballet (with Maggie Wall). As a teenager he spent his summers attending intensive format dance classes at Milwaukee Ballet in Wisconsin and studied for a time with the Joffrey Ballet in New York on full scholarship.
Murry went to Utah when he was scouted for Brigham Young University’s Theatre Ballet Company. It wasn’t easy balancing life as a full-time student and a dancer doing full-length ballets, composition pieces and senior projects. Besides, can a young man who hails from a place of fog and wet flourish in the Utah desert? Apparently not because the talented young man decided school could wait and moved back to the North Coast.
Since joining BV-2 in 2009, Murry has performed in three world premieres, “Smoke Soup,” “BloodyVox” and “The Cutting Room.” He’s also graced performances of such Body Vox classics as “Reverie,” “Thousand Little Cities” and “Horizontal Leanings” and helped produce and choreograph BV-2’s first self-produced concert, “Works.”
Today at 24, Murry is an established freelance dancer and frequent guest artist in the greater Portland area. Performing with The Portland Ballet, Portland Festival Ballet, Columbia Dance Company, Westside Dance Academy, Lakewood Theatre Company, Éowyn Emerald Barrett, Pacific Dance Makers and Portland Dance Collaboration, he continues to develop. Judging from some of his reviews, Murry has impressed more than one Portland critic.
The Oregonian’s Bob Hicks wrote of the “languorous and sultry mating duet (which) may be the date dance of the season,” performed by Murry and partner Eowyn Emerald at the Body Vox Dance Center.
Portland Monthly writer Anne Adams in her review of The Portland Ballet’s “Nutcracker” wrote, “The sweet-scene stealers are Josie Buck and Josh Murry whose Arabian/coffee pas de deux was hypnotically flexible and sensual.
Murry and partner, dancing characters in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” inspired Faddah Wold to write, “Particularly wonderful is both the dance and comic turn of Josh Murry as Bottom, the Enchanted Rustic turned into a donkey and presented as enchanted love to Titania by Oberon and Puck’s scheme. The pas de deux with Murry’s Donkey-Bottom and Cheshire’s Titania is both comic and strangely loving between the two of them and quite lovely to watch.”
Since dancers, even of Murry’s caliber, typically don’t make much money, he also works as a teacher and competition director at Clackamas Dance, teaching tap, jazz, ballet, hip-hop and acrobatics (or “acro”) along with choreographed team routines and specialty numbers. Through BV and BV-2, he’s also involved in community outreach to both give back to the community and promote different ways of learning. Through dance, elementary school kids in Hillsboro, for example, have learned about plants, the solar system and even physics!
Still, it’s performing that affords that special thrill for Murry. Asked about the upcoming show, he replies, “(It) will be a very fun mix of comedy and athletic dancing … more tumbling almost. It will also be very graceful. They (the choreographers) did a good job of trying to do something new.” Murry, himself, will be dancing three different duets. He promises some fun props and special lighting effects will be on hand, too.
Loughran, too, is convinced that anyone who catches BV-2’s performance on March 16 won’t be disappointed. “I feel confident that the audience will have an uplifting, wonderful time at the show. Body Vox-2 is a sophisticated and whimsical multi-layer performance that engages all ages.”