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Back to Back Theatre. Photo: Kenneth Aaron.

Back to Back Theatre. Photo: Kenneth Aaron.

In 2009, we invited Cathy Edwards from the New Haven Festival of Art & Ideas and formerly of Dance Theater Workshop to serve as our second Guest Artistic Director. In her inaugural year with TBA, Edwards introduced provocative new artists to Portland audiences, and welcomed back a few old friends. Choreographer Meg Stuart explored a broken modern courtship; Pink Martini celebrated Oregon’s sesquicentennial with the musical revue Oregon! Oregon!; playwright Young Jean Lee challenged stereotypes of the African American identity; Miguel Gutierrez and the Powerful People embodied James Dean’s ghost in Last Meadow; Raimund Hoghe constructed a powerful, hypnotic dance around the Bolero; and Australia’s Back to Back Theatre riveted audiences amidst the everyday bustle of Pioneer Courthouse Square.

The halls of the decommissioned Washington High School were brought back to life by the all-ages energy of THE WORKS, which we launched with a free party fueled by the sounds Gang Gang Dance. The rest of the week heard a joyful noise from Explode into Colors, Quasi, Bugskull, Pictureplane, HEALTH, Oregon Painting Society, and more. While visual artists filled the former classrooms as part of the “No Such Place” program, they also took to the late-night stage with projects like Kalup Linzy’s live RnB concert accompanied by a video he animated in residency with LAIKA/house and rockers Kinski performing alongside a live rendition of robbinschilds gallery installation. And tucked away in the former high school library, artist Fawn Krieger constructed a stage set version of a National Park, welcoming in visitors for their own explorations.