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Matthew Boyes, Oregon Ballet Theatre

Basics about Boyes and Ballet

by Dean Speer and Francis Timlin

May 2005

We had the joy of catching up with the affable Oregon Ballet Theatre dancer Matthew Boyes over coffee and light breakfast during Oregon Ballet Theatre’s March repertory run.

DS/FT: How did you get interested and started in ballet?

MB:  My best girlfriend was in "The Nutcracker" – the Wilkes-Barre Ballet Theatre production. So, I got involved at the tender age of 8 and began lessons. I then went to Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. This was when Patricia Wilde was Director. I studied with Rick and Susan McCullough at North Carolina Dance Theatre for a year and a half before going to SAB [School of American Ballet]. I was in the same class there as Gavin Larsen.

Who were some of your teachers at SAB?

Stanley Williams, Richard Rapp, Kramerevsky, Adam Lüders, Sean Lavery, and Peter Martins for two years.

What were your Mid-West experiences?

My first job was at the Kansas City Ballet with Todd Bolender and Una Kai. I later danced at Tulsa Ballet Theatre under the direction of Roman Jasinski, Jr., but I really didn’t like Tulsa!

So how did you end up in Portland?

I read an article about Portland in Elle magazine and it described Portland as progressive. Martha Ullman West had reviews of James Canfield’s American Choreographers program and so, I came out and auditioned for the Company. I signed a contract and moved out two weeks later and loved it here immediately. That was in 1995. The only other person who has been in OBT longer is Tracy Taylor.

Tell us about the business you have in Portland’s “Pearl” District.

My grandparents were antique dealers and so I had some exposure to this. I met my partner at a CD release party and we decided to open our own shop. I work there on “off time” and we mostly handle antiques and gifts, with some garden things.

What was it like working with Bart Cook on his staging of Robbins’ "In the Night?"

Bart is a “cool cat!” [laughs]. He says that movement should be a reaction to the music and that the preparation is as important as the snapshot of the movement. He’s given us some great ideas and images to work with about the three couples of this ballet. I’m cast in the first couple role and he’s said that it’s young love. They are trying to establish a relationship, as opposed to the second couple that has an established relationship or the third couple that is confrontational. They are young birds or dragonflies.

There is a lot of usual partnering required that at first feels awkward and different. We’re sometimes off-balance and not in “control” at all times but serve as a nice counterbalance to the partner.

You’re doing some teaching in the School?

Yes! I’m teaching the Mens’ Class meets once a week for a hour. We have about 8 boys in it. I also sometimes give the adagio/partnering class. Damara [Bennett, Director of the School.  For an interview with Bennett, click here -- ed.] asked me to do this. It’s been interesting and fun. I have a combination of levels of experience and while it’s been hard to have this combination of levels – from beginners to apprentices in the partnering class – it’s important to me to have all of them together.

I had the chance to observe Damara give all of you Company class during the run of "Nutcracker." She gave a very good class ...

Damara’s classes are very complete and thorough. She gives the Company our class about twice each week.

What are you looking forward to doing in the May repertory programs, what have you enjoyed this year and what’s on the horizon?

I’ll be in Paul Taylor’s "Company B" and that will be fun. Yuri’s [Possokhov] new piece is for all women. We’re excited to be taking 10 dancers to the Savannah Music Festival. We’ll be doing "In the Night," "Duo Concertante," the concert version of "Who Cares? and" Yes Virginia, Another Piano Ballet." Also, Alex Ossadink has created a new 11 minute solo for Anne Mueller and there is a trio for Yuka, Paul, and Karl on "Verklärte Nacht." We’re doing two programs twice each.

I’m not into choreographing. I tried it once and it’s way too much stress! You’re too exposed. Teaching for me is a possibility. As a performer, I’m interested in modern dance, so I might continue to do some things after I hang it up as a ballet dancer.

I’ll probably continue in the antique business. My friends are in dance and I’ll be as supportive as possible.

I’ve found that dancing has actually gotten easier as one gets older. Things are easier to distill and simplify. I like doing ensemble work and making something greater than the sum of its parts.

Any personal information you’d like to share?

We are the “parents” to two 13- year old whippets and to a 3-year old that we got from a whippet rescue organization.


Edited by Staff.

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