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 Post subject: Oregon Ballet Theatre 2010-11
PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2010 1:53 pm 
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Oregon Ballet Theatre announces its 2010-11 season. Highlights include a full length "Sleeping Beauty" in October, the addition of a holiday "revue" show as part of the subscription package, in place of a June repertory performance. Marty Hughley reports in The Oregonian.

The Oregonian


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 Post subject: Re: Oregon Ballet Theatre 2010-11
PostPosted: Tue Aug 10, 2010 9:25 pm 
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OBT's 2010-11 season gets off to an early start with August performances of Balanchine's "The Nutcracker" in Seoul, Korea. While en route, the company was treated to an unscheduled stopover in Anchorage, Alaska (ironically, OBT usually kicks off "Nutcracker" season with performances in Anchorage) in order to remove an unruly passenger (not a member of the company!). The Oregonian reports briefly on the incident and includes a link to the OBT weblog, which is tracking the progress of the tour.

The Oregonian


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 Post subject: Re: Oregon Ballet Theatre 2010-11
PostPosted: Fri Oct 01, 2010 2:54 pm 
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In The Oregonian, David Stabler reports that OBT will use live orchestra for all of its "Sleeping Beauty" performances (opening on Saturday, October 9) and seven of its "Nutcracker" performances in December.

The Oregonian


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 Post subject: Re: Oregon Ballet Theatre 2010-11
PostPosted: Fri Oct 01, 2010 4:02 pm 
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Location: El Granada, CA, USA
Yay! Live music!


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 Post subject: Re: Oregon Ballet Theatre 2010-11
PostPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2010 11:50 pm 
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Heather Wisner reviews the Saturday, October 9 performance of "The Sleeping Beauty" in Willamette Week.

Willamette Week


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 Post subject: Re: Oregon Ballet Theatre 2010-11
PostPosted: Tue Oct 12, 2010 2:09 am 
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Martha Ullman West reviews the opening night cast of "The Sleeping Beauty" in The Oregonian.

The Oregonian


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 Post subject: Re: Oregon Ballet Theatre 2010-11
PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2010 4:55 pm 
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Nice to see a lot of names I recognize. Has anyone seen the performances?


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 Post subject: Re: Oregon Ballet Theatre 2010-11
PostPosted: Tue Nov 02, 2010 4:11 pm 
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OBT Awakens
Oregon Ballet Theatre’s “The Sleeping Beauty”
Saturday, 9 October 2010
Keller Auditorium, Portland, Oregon

by Dean Speer

By any measure, “The Sleeping Beauty” is an enormous ballet. The expectations of the public -- artistically, technically -- are enormous as well. When a company manages to reach and exceed these expectations, it may be said to have grown in artistic stature.

Just as Pacific Northwest Ballet’s 1981 “Swan Lake” allowed that company to ‘arrive’ in the minds of the public and the dance world, the same must be said of both Oregon Ballet Theatre’s earlier full-length premiere production of "Swan Lake" and now their new full-length “The Sleeping Beauty.”

With choreography by Artistic Director Christopher Stowell (after Marius Petipa) and production – sets and costumes – rented from Ballet West of Salt Lake, OBT’s profile rises even higher.

From the opening chords of the overture played by OBT’s mighty orchestra to its lovely conclusion when beauty marries prince and all live happily ever after, we were in for a treat.

Stowell’s choreography moves the story along well, following traditional lines, and he smartly deploys the wealth of talent OBT has amassed over the past few years – from Alison Roper's technically and artistically savvy Lilac Fairy to having former star ballerina Gavin Larsen as a beautiful evil fairy [Carabosse], to the glitter of Yuka Iino’s Aurora and her lanky and very adept cavalier, Chauncey Parsons.

I was pleased that he used the standard – and expected – choreography for the major parts such as the Grand Pas de Deux of the Wedding Act, the famous Blue Bird Pas de Deux, and the Lilac Fairy’s solo during the Prologue. My only choreographic corrective would be to make the “Puss in Boots/White Cat duet less fussy. The développé à la seconde where the other cat’s fingers follow the line of the extension, “walking the Yellow Page” up it to her foot is very witty and typically done at least twice, if not three times and seeing it only once was not enough. I’d suggest a revision here and, overall, tohave fewer movement motifs and use the plenteous material already at hand.

Ansa Deguchi and Lucas Threefoot were very strong as the Bluebird couple. (He’s supposed to be an actual bird and she imitates him.) Threefoot’s 24 brisé volé had good, clear, clean beats and he traveled very well, eating up the stage. Deguchi’s hops en pointe were solid, light and she nicely held the balances in arabesque at the end of each set.

I was disappointed that the mini-story and banter of Red Riding Hood and The Wolf were cut; they only made a cameo appearance in the finale. I’d like to see this restored, as it seemed odd to me to have them appear but then not do anything except to be part of the scenery. (Typically, what’s cut is Tom Thumb, who only gets the cameo.)

Students from the OBT School who were used to supplement the cast looked great. Nicely schooled with ample technique and who are already fearless and confident performers.

Led by the baton of Niel DePonte, it was wonderful having the full mighty OBT Orchestra back for these shows. They sounded great.

Portlanders and those in the region who support and love ballet – please don’t stay away from these shows. OBT (and all professional dance) needs your help and one ofthe best ways to show your supportis to“put a seat in a seat.” This was a major classical ballet event, one to be very, very proud of, and the auditorium should have been filled to capacity on opening night; yet it was sad to see the balcony closed and too much red velvet from empty seat backs showing through.

In these times, we all need to reach out and make that special effort to help all of our neighbors in need. Certainly the beauty of the arts and how they lift and inspire each of us, fully deserves its share. If funds are a problem, request the least expensive seats or send a message to the box office or the ballet requesting creative solutions such as “rush” seating or volunteer opportunities.

Oregon Ballet Theatre’s “Sleeping Beauty” awakened glorious possibilities that clearly demonstrate that Oregon has grown and is nurturing a ballet company that deserves national attention.

Thank you for undertaking and presenting this ballet.

_________________
Dean Speer
ballet@u.washington.edu


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 Post subject: Re: Oregon Ballet Theatre 2010-11
PostPosted: Sat Feb 19, 2011 1:51 pm 
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Principal Dancer Anne Mueller will retire from performing in May 2011. Marty Hughley reports in The Oregonian.

The Oregonian

See also the announcement in Broadway World.

Broadway World


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 Post subject: Re: Oregon Ballet Theatre 2010-11
PostPosted: Tue Feb 22, 2011 3:50 pm 
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In The Oregonian, Grant Butler previews "The Stravinsky Project," a collaborative work in three segments choreographed by distinct choreographic teams and set to lesser known Stravinsky piano works. The program also includes "The Rite of Spring" and "The Firebird." Performances will be at Keller Auditorium in Portland, February 26-27 and March 4-5, 2011.

The Oregonian


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 Post subject: Re: Oregon Ballet Theatre 2010-11
PostPosted: Tue Feb 22, 2011 7:21 pm 
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Location: El Granada, CA, USA
Are you going? It sounds really interesting.


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 Post subject: Re: Oregon Ballet Theatre 2010-11
PostPosted: Wed Feb 23, 2011 2:41 pm 
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Yes -- I'll be attending.


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 Post subject: Re: Oregon Ballet Theatre 2010-11
PostPosted: Mon Feb 28, 2011 2:15 pm 
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Martha Ullman West reviews the Saturday, February 26 performance of "The Stravinsky Project" in The Oregonian.

The Oregonian


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 Post subject: Re: Oregon Ballet Theatre 2010-11
PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2011 11:54 am 
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Grant Butler profiles artistic director Christopher Stowell in The Oregonian.

The Oregonian


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 Post subject: Re: Oregon Ballet Theatre 2010-11
PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 10:20 am 
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Location: Seattle, WA. USA
The Right of Stravinsky
Oregon Ballet Theatre’s “The Stravinsky Project”
5 March 2011, Keller Auditorium, Portland, Oregon

by Dean Speer

Back in high school Russian language classes, I got this neat button that said (in Russian), “The Russians Are Coming!” I thought it was pretty cool at the time and proudly wore it. Only two words – there is no definite article, “the,” and the verb “to be” is used only in reference to God – in the Cyrillic lettering, what could be better?

Well, for one, Oregon Ballet Theatre’s neat all-Stravinsky program entitled with the word, “project.” There is a trend, perhaps it’s a fad, to call things projects these days. Seattle Dance Project, Northwest Dance Project, etc. What is meant by this, I believe, is a discrete, one-time event, rather than a “season.” We used to use “concert” or “recital” to designate the same idea. My only objection is to the word itself which, to me, has no emotional appeal – it’s rather clinical. Nevertheless, we know that these various geographically- and time-scattered projects are labors of love.

“The Stravinsky Project” was not only this repertory program’s theme, it’s also the title of the second work on the bill. Co-choreographed by Rachel Tess, Anne Mueller, and dually by Jamey Hampton/Ashley Roland, costume designer Morgan Walker, quoted in the playbill, sums up what are to me some of the strengths and pitfalls of consensus art-making, “With a collaboration like this, essentially nobody was in charge, so there was no one artistic director who would say yay or nay,” he says. “Every single decision had to be vetted to the whole group. I think it ultimately made the piece stronger.”

Yes and no. Products of a consensus model tend to be very creative, as was the case here, but they can also pull into making decisions and a product that’s at the same time, conservative. As is “The Stravinsky Project.” While perhaps risk-taking for the process and its collaborators, what was presented to the audience was okay, interesting to a point but ultimately not that daring or exciting, yet pleasant and fun.

Tess also made structured-improvisation dance for OBT students that was on a platform near the auditorium house doors. It was fun to see these students work through what I’d call “Modern Dance & Acting 101" exercises – laughing out loud for no apparent reason and quick changes of mood, making plastique sculptures out of each other and taking turns doing so, weight-sharing, and the building of token gestural themes. My only suggestion to have strengthened this would be to have taken this and literally moved it from the foyer to the stage, having the dancers move through the house concluding intermission and up onto the stage, perhaps then blending with the company dancers briefly as they take over.

Piano soloist Susan Dewitt Smith’s excellent keyboard work was supplemented and overlayed simultaneously by electronic musician Heather Perkins. This added a very contemporary edge to music that’s still of our time.

“Project” was beautifully and precisely danced by each cast member – principal protagonist Alison Roper, Candace Bouchard, a quartet of men – Steven Houser, Brian Simcoe, Christian Squires, and Lucas Threefoot, backed by the corps work of Scott Bebell, Leta Biasucci, Brennan Boyer, Martina Chavez, and Mia Leimkuhler.

OBT School students who presented themselves in the foyer were Thomas Baker, Hannah Fritz, Adam Hartley, Jordan Kindell, Katherine Minor, Gracie Morton, Olivia Ornelas, Hanh Pham, Emily Pihlaja, Crystal Serrano, Payton Smith, and Charlotte Taylor.

The program opened with Yuri Possokhov’s “Firebird, “ first commissioned by OBT and presented in 2004 and revised by the choreographer after staging it on San Francisco Ballet, changing out using students as the “monsters” to company members. My only fuss is the costume for Ivan, the prince, who is dressed essentially only in a baby bird’s egg blue while the rest of the cast, while costumed simply, look their part. Ivan looks dropped out of nowhere; no context. Simple character boots and a tunic and cap would have helped. One of the famous bits of this ballet, included in the original Fokine version is the princesses playing in their gated garden with oranges (a rarity, with the oranges symbolizing wealth and status). Here, I liked how they dropped from the back of painted hung flats after the princesses pushed on them.

OBT is most fortunate to have superb dancers in the cast – the ever delightful queen of turns, Yuka Iino as the Firebird, Ivan danced by relative-newcomer Brett Bauer, Kathi Martuza as the head princess who falls for Ivan, and as the evil Kaschei, the amazing Chauncey Parsons, who with his hair gelled up and back and long, long fingernails, looked like a character out of a contemporary Twilight movie.

Closing was a reiteration from OBT’s 2009 premiere of ‘The Rite of Spring,” with choreography by Artistic Director Christopher Stowell, with assistance from Anne Mueller. Playing the original duo-piano version were Carol Rich and Susan Dewitt Smith.

I find it interesting that while the creative team’s stated intent was to not follow the original scenario, ending with peasant villagers sacrificing a virgin [who dances to death] to appease winter and bring forth spring, the various scenes ended up in the aggregate doing just that, except for a depiction of someone dancing herself to death. In this case, the ever-wonderful and dramatically intense Anne Mueller quickly and sharply lunges at the audience. Blackout. I loved it.

A large cast, along the way it pretty much uses the entire company as groups move on and off, as do the set pieces of the stage decor and dressing. Notable in featured roles were Mueller, Lucas Threefoot, Grace Shibley and Artur Sultanov, who has moved into the category of guest artist, and so good to see again.

At Oregon Ballet Theatre, the Russians indeed have arrived via this popular and lively program that was a mix of story ballet, the abstract and experimental, and the primal that had us talking at intervals, at dinner, and for days following.

_________________
Dean Speer
ballet@u.washington.edu


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