Oregon dancers make their work their play

Bonnie Henderson

Light ricochets off whitewashed walls at the BodyVox rehearsalstudio, a former hemp factory in the lower end of Portland's PearlDistrict. Four male dancers move about the sprung floor, eachholding a female dancer aloft like an exquisite human puppet.Co-artistic director Jamey Hampton prowls the floor's periphery,grimacing and grinning, while his wife and collaborator, AshleyRoland, consults with the company's costumer.

Beauty, humor, and a sense of the spectacular are as present inthe studio as they are onstage with BodyVox, the eight-year-oldPortland dance company whose directors ― veterans ofinnovative companies Pilobolus and Momix ― are as seriousabout dance as they are lighthearted in their choreography. "It'snot angst-y like so many modern dance companies," says BodyVoxdancer Lane Hunter.

The need for more playfulness was partly what drove Portlandnative Hampton and Connecticut-born Roland to found their dancetroupe. They settled in Portland in the mid-'90s, and after a briefforay into the family lumber business, Hampton returned to hispassion. With Roland, he joined five like-minded dancers to formwhat has become a world-class dance company.

Early this month, BodyVox will choreograph the witches' scenesin Macbeth for the Portland Opera. Their take isn't so muchsinister as it is "kooky and darkly comedic," as Roland puts it."It's going to be exciting," she adds ― a prediction noBodyVox watcher would dispute.

Info: Portland Opera's Macbeth (Feb 4, 7, 9, and 11; ticketsfrom $37; www.ticketmaster.com or503/241-1802)

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