The Portland community is hungry for contemporary dance, and Maine Moves IV, the latest installment in an annual series, helps satisfy that hunger with a showcase of new work by Maine-based artists, said Kristen Stake, a dance artist from Portland and director of the Living Room Dance Collective.

Kristen Stake, director of the Living Room Dance Collective, performs at part of Maine Moves IV on Saturday. Photo by Kerry Constantino/courtesy of Maine Moves

Stake is among a half-dozen artists who will present work at Maine Moves IV at 8 p.m. Saturday at Portland Ballet Studio Theater. It’s the final event of Portland Dance Month, a month-long focus on contemporary dance, a vibrant coming-together of the community and an expression of collective emotion, she said.

After the performance, there will be a wine-and-cheese reception in the theater and a toast to Portland Dance Month.

“It’s important for a community to dance together because bodies have their own language that articulates the ineffable,” Stake wrote in an email. “There is so much suffering and trauma in the world right now, and our bodies carry this burden. Adults deserve a place to speak without talking, move without necessarily knowing how or why, and to research, first-hand, a choreographer’s vision.”

Other dancers on the program are Kimberly Hamlin, Alice MacDonald, Kelsie Steil, Meg Wolfe and Anna Troxell. Troxell is a rising choreographer from Portland Youth Dance. Artists were selected by a panel of local dancers.

Stake will perform a piece called “The Wig (a dead mom poem).” She said of the piece, “In it, I build a rite of passage ceremony from the remnants of a strained relationship with my mom who passed away five years ago. Through ritual, sculpture and temper tantrum, I attempt to unearth a younger version of myself that has been trapped in a game of hide-and-seek.”

Wolfe, who has been coming to Maine for many years to visit her mother, recently moved to Deer Isle from Los Angeles, where she lived for 15 years, creating theatrical and site-responsive works. She lived and worked in New York for 12 years before that. She is showing a new solo work-in-progress called “Take the Long Way Home.”

Dancer/choreographer Meg Wolfe recently moved to Deer Isle from Los Angeles. Photo courtesy of Meg Wolfe

“I’ve started describing it as a self-induced natural disaster and queer-dance tantrum, though I’m not sure where it will end up,” she said. “I’m looking at the impermanence of things, including our own bodies, using an assemblage of found objects and improvised movement. What alternate realities can we create, using what is already on hand?”

She heard about the Maine Moves series from Shoshona Currier, director of the Bates Dance Festival. Sara Juli, a dance artist from Falmouth, created the series to give performance opportunities to professionals and emerging choreographers. It’s funded by a grant from the Maine Arts Commission.

“I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to share new work and connect with other artists in the community of contemporary dance-makers here,” Wolfe said. “And it always helps to have a deadline to move a piece along.”

Wolfe moved to Maine to be closer to her mother and “to start something new. For now, I will keep developing this project. It really depends on what comes along, what resources are available to build a sustainable creative practice locally, and beyond.”

She is hopeful for new initiatives of the New England Foundation for the Arts to strengthen and elevate visibility for regional dance-makers and is grateful for the work of others to cultivate modern and contemporary dance in Maine. “I’m happy to be here, to see what’s been going on, and see what comes next,” she said.

At the Living Room, Stake directs a collective of dancers dedicated to providing more opportunities for modern, post-modern and contemporary dance in Maine through instruction aimed at all levels. She too is hopeful that Maine Moves and other showcases will create performance opportunities for dance-makers. “Now is the time for Portland to get acquainted with the contemporary choreographer,” she said.

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