At the end of March, twenty-two Jefferson Dancers loaded into a plane, crossed the Pacific, and touched down as one of the first U.S dance companies, and the first Portland company period, to tour China. A world away from their subterranean studios at Jeff (which they’ve dubbed “the dungeon”), they suddenly found themselves performing before sold out crowds in state of the art performance halls in Shanghai, Nanjing, Tianjin, and Xuzhou, to say nothing of being mobbed like rock stars and seeing their photos on billboards all over the cities.
The Jefferson Dancers
May 1–4The 14- to 18-year-old students, many of whom had never been outside America, also found themselves struggling with the language barrier, difficult working conditions, and the dilemma of what to do when recognizable animal body parts end up in your soup. While some received calls from home about getting into colleges like Juilliard and Stanford, one dancer who was adopted from China had a chance to reflect on how her life could have been very different. This is the story of their journey.
Photography by Portland's Creative Laureate, Julie Keefe.