Photo Credit: COURTESY OF MICHELLE FUJII - Longtime Portland Taiko members Michelle Fujii (above) and Toru Watanabe have formed new drum-and-dance outfit Unit Souzou. The word souzou means creation, imagination and noisy.Michelle Fujii and Toru Watanabe, who helped lead Portland Taiko for the past nine years, have formed a new group as co-directors, Unit Souzou.

They put on a free taiko-and-dance concert, “Saisei: New Beginnings,” 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 4 at Zoomtopia, 810 S.E. Belmont St.

“Souzou” has three meanings: creation, imagination and noisy, alluding to a force by which new ideas are born and take shape in the world.

“This debut performance represents the establishment of our new artistic direction,” Fujii says.

Watanabe says Unit Souzou will use drums made by Asano Taiko US, including a large, 4 1/2-foot-diameter odaiko drum.

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Notable collaboration

Oregon Ballet Theatre will celebrate its 25th anniversary season and will feature a fabulous collaboration for its season-opening ballet “OBT 25,” Oct. 11 to 18. Nicolo Fonte’s “Everywhere” ballet will be joined by live onstage music from Pink Martini, led by singer China Forbes. There’ll be Pink Martini original songs and new ones. Costumes will be made by local designer and “Project Runway” winner Michelle Lesniak.

Rehearsals began this week.

Fonte says: “The songs themselves run the gamut from being about love, life and loss — so, I suppose in very general, broad terms, the intellectual and emotional themes that are inspiring me for this work are joy, playfulness, tenderness and mystery.”

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Pink Martini continues

Meanwhile, Portland’s little orchestra played its scheduled Oregon Zoo concerts in the wake of the suicide of drummer Derek Rieth, announcing on Facebook that “Derek would want nothing more than for the show to go on.”

10 years of stories

Founded by Lawrence Howard and Lynne Duddy, Portland Story Theater is celebrating its 10th anniversary, as its season starts with “Urban Tellers Invitational,” 8 p.m. Sept. 13, at Alberta Abbey, its new venue at 126 N.E. Alberta St.

Featuring six people telling stories following participation in “The Art of Personal Narrative” workshop, the group’s “Urban Tellers” series will take place Oct. 11, Nov. 8, Dec. 13, Feb. 7, March 7, April 11, May 9, June 13 and July 11.

Performed by Howard, “Shackleton’s Antarctic Nightmare” takes place Oct. 18. Other local events: “The Essex,” Jan. 23-24; “Kiss & Tell,” Feb. 14; “Kiss Me, I’m Irish,” March 14.

Portland Story Theater also will put on events at the Columbia Center for the Arts in Hood River and Solo Speak in Bend.

Storm’s release

Storm Large’s new album, “Le Bonheur,” comes out at retail outlets Oct. 7 on Pink Martini’s Heinz Records label.

Included on the album will be an orchestral rendition of Cole Porter’s “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” stark harmonies for “Unchained Melody,” and a barn-burning version of Lou Reed’s “Satellite of Love.” It’ll also include Richard Rodgers’ “The Lady is a Tramp” and Black Sabbath’s “N.I.B.” Collaborators include Holcombe Waller, 3 Leg Torso and the von Trapps.

Meanwhile, Storm will be part of a CD release party and performance — sold out —

at Alberta Rose Theatre on Sept. 8.

PCS scholarships

Portland Center Stage has announced that three students who participated in its Visions & Voices and Promising Playwrights programs have received scholarships from the Westfall Foundation: Lindsay Spear ($5,000) and Daniel Crumrine ($2,500), graduates of Wilson High; and Aliya Whitehill ($2,500), a Cleveland grad.

On center court

Two local teenagers, Ryan Chin of Sunset High School and Patrick Quinn of Jesuit, received $1,000 scholarships from the Pacific Northwest section of the U.S. Tennis Association to participate as ball boys during the first round at the U.S. Open, currently taking place in Queens, N.Y.


There’ll be 30-year anniversary theater re-releases of “Ghostbusters” starting this week (check out Portland-area theaters), as well as Blu-ray anniversary editions of “Ghostbusters” and “Ghostbusters II” available at retail outlets Sept. 16. In fact, Thursday, Aug. 28, has been proclaimed “National Ghostbusters Day.”

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Have calendar photos?

The Oregon Farm Bureau is seeking photo submissions for its 2015 Oregon’s Bounty calendar through Sept. 15. For info:

Remember the fair

The Oregon State Fair continues through Sept. 1 in Salem, and four good, free concerts highlight Labor Day weekend: The Charlie Daniels Band plays “A Tribute to Our Troops,” 7 p.m. Aug. 28 ($20 VIP); Chris Young with special guest Courtney Cole, 6:45 p.m. Aug. 29 ($35 VIP); Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, 4 p.m. Aug. 30 ($35 VIP); The Beach Boys, 4 p.m. Sept. 1 ($35 VIP).

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