Laura Cortese and the Dance Cards are an all-woman Celtic-Americana band that will appear at Portland’s One Longfellow Square on Oct. 23. Contributed

The distaff side of the performing arts community seems to dominate this week’s top picks of the tix in the Port City, with a woman dancer presenting an original solo work this weekend, followed by female musicians on Oct. 18 and 23.

Sara Juli is a Maine dancer and choreographer who will be performing her recent terpsichorean creation, “Burnt-Out Wife,” Oct. 17-19. Juli’s performance is part of Portland Ovations’ Bicentennial Celebration and Raising the Barre Series. “Burnt-Out Wife” was co-commissioned by Ovations and the SPACE Gallery, where it will be performed.

Singer-songwriter Cheryl Wheeler visits Portland on Friday, while Laura Coreste and the Dance Cards, an all-female Celtic-Americana band, will appear Oct. 23.

‘Burnt-Out Wife’

Sara Juli is a Maine-based dancer, choreographer and fundraising consultant who has had some tough moments in life as a resident of New York for a dozen years and Portland, where she now lives. Juli’s shtick as a dancer is creating autobiographical one-woman shows that express her feelings and help others cope with similar situations. She has toured these shows all over the U.S. and Europe.

Juli has recently created a new solo work that will get its world premiere this weekend: “Burnt-Out Wife,” which explores her trials and tribulations with marriage. It was co-commissioned by Portland Ovations and SPACE Gallery, where it will be performed. For Ovations, this co-commission represents part of its Maine Bicentennial celebration and its Raising the Barre Series of dance performances. It’s also Ovations’ contribution to Portland Dance Month, a collaboration among a dozen-plus performing, producing and presenting organizations that runs through Nov. 24.

Juli earned a degree in dance and made a splash on the New York dance scene in the early 2000s. Her artist mission statement explains her approach: “Sara Juli’s mission is to explore her own personal struggles through the medium of performance. In sharing her work, she is hopeful that others will understand an aspect of her personal turmoil, and be able to relate it to their own. Her introspective autobiographical solo performance fuses movement, text, song, voice, gesture and audience participation to both acknowledge the gravity of her burdens as well as to simultaneously laugh at their reality.”

Portland Ovations presents the world premiere of Sara Juli’s “Burnt-Out Wife” at SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St. from Oct. 17-19 with 7 p.m. performances nightly plus a 9 p.m. performance on Oct. 19. Call PortTIX at 842-0800.

Cheryl Wheeler

“When Fall Comes to New England” is one of Cheryl Wheeler’s signature songs, a beautifully lyrical and tuneful paean to our neck of the woods. It’s also the time when Wheeler motors into Portland for a concert on Friday.

A longtime fixture among American singer-songwriters, Wheeler almost constantly tours. Her silky smooth voice, lushly melodic tunes and thought-provoking lyrics, accompanied by her easy finger-picking guitar style, make her one of the most popular acts on the folk-Americana circuit.

She’s also a storyteller and social critic, interpolating her concerts with commentary and humorous stories. Among her songs, I’m particularly fond of “Arrow,” an aspirational love song, and “Addicted,” about a woman who’s agonizing about losing her lover.

Catch Cheryl Wheeler at 8 p.m. Oct. 18 at One Longfellow Square, corner of Congress and State in Portland. Call 761-1757.

Laura Cortese and the Dance Cards

When they first step upon the stage, Laura Cortese and the Dance Cards appear to be a classical quartet, four women carrying their string instruments: double bass, cello and two violins. But when they start to rock, this band reeks of Scottish, Irish and Americana, exuding enthusiasm for their material and driving it with a propulsive rhythm that captivates audiences.

That’s the quick take on Laura Cortese and the Dance Cards. Formed in Boston with several members (including herself) hailing from the Hub’s famed Berklee College of popular music, this excellent traditional band has logged many thousands of miles in the U.S., Canada and Europe, playing concert halls, coffeehouses and cozy music rooms. Cortese has also impressed a number of critics.

“Ambition often follows talent, and Laura Cortese has an embarrassment of both,” wrote John Wenzel for the Denver Post. “Her open-armed approach to her art reveals a determination to spread the word about folk music and dance without watering down their distinctiveness.”

Wenzel added: “Cortese’s mix of modern and traditional styles creates an explosive sound that favors melody and rhythm over overtly technical performances.”

Laura Cortese and the Dance Cards are currently touring in support of their latest album, “California Calling.” Live performances blend traditional Celtic, Americana and Cortese’s self-penned tunes.

Catch Laura Cortese and the Dance Cards at 7 p.m. Oct. 23 at One Longfellow Square, corner of Congress and State in Portland. Call 761-1757.

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