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 Post subject: Oregon Ballet Theatre 2012-13
PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2012 1:59 pm 
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Marty Hughley discusses the 2012-13 season announcement in The Oregonian.

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 Post subject: Re: Oregon Ballet Theatre 2012-13
PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 12:03 pm 
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Beth Nakamura photographs OBT principal dancers in rehearsal for "Apollo" at OBT studios for the Oregonian.

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 Post subject: Re: Oregon Ballet Theatre 2012-13
PostPosted: Sat Oct 06, 2012 11:56 am 
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In the Oregonian, Grant Butler previews the first subscription program of the 2012-13 season, "Body Beautiful," which includes Balanchine's "Apollo," Kent Stowell's "Orpheus Portrait," a new work by Christopher Stowell and William Forsythe's "Second Detail," October 13-20, 2012 at Portland's Keller Auditorium.

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 Post subject: Re: Oregon Ballet Theatre 2012-13
PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2012 12:47 pm 
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Catherine Thomas reviews the opening night performance of the "Body Beautiful" program on Saturday, October 13, 2012 for the Oregonian.

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 Post subject: Re: Oregon Ballet Theatre 2012-13
PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2012 11:35 am 
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Martha Ullman West reviews the Saturday, October 13, 2012 performance of "The Body Beautiful" for Oregon Arts Watch.

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 Post subject: Re: Oregon Ballet Theatre 2012-13
PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2012 3:08 pm 
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Mountain Climbing
Oregon Ballet Theatre’s Body Beautiful program
Keller Auditorium, 13 October 2012

by Dean Speer

There is something about the allure of rock and mountain climbing that particularly appeals to the populace of the greater Pacific Northwest. Not one but at least two ballet teacher friends used to seriously engage in this recreational hobby – so much so that one of them, a studio owner, actually missed one of her recitals as she got very delayed returning from one of these adventures.

Gods and goddesses have long led the way for modeling this activity. Just think of all the reported times in classic and ancient literature and myth they both came and went, interacting with us mere mortals or just playing upon the Earth.

Depicted in art and dance, artists have captured telling moments of these legends.

Oregon Ballet Theatre’s Fall venture onto the Keller Auditorium stage is based upon – and done in collaboration with the Portland Art Museum – this art. The first on the mixed bill was the iconic “Apollo” made by George Balanchine in 1928 and staged here to include the birth and concluding ascension scenes by Balanchine authority Francia Russell.

Chauncey Parsons as the title character infused the role with the range that it demands – from new born god and literally finding his legs like a colt to commanding three muses to ascend with him up to Mount Parnassus. Makino Hayashi’s turn as Apollo’s mother, Leto, was perfect with its Graham-like contractions and dramatic, sweeping gestures. The Handmaidens who first unwrap the swaddling Apollo were neatly danced by Martina Chavez and Olga Krochik.

The “A” team muses were led by lithe and light Yuka Iino as Calliope, the tensile Polyhymnia of Candace Bouchard, and finally the length and depth of Alison Roper’s Terpischore. Leading all of them was the mighty Oregon Ballet Theatre Orchestra, under the baton of maestro Niel DePonte.

Based on another legend, Kent Stowell’s “Orpheus Portrait” [1990] depicts in an encapsulated form, this Greek myth culling from the lush, Romantic depths of its Liszt score/recording. In its 1990 form, the backdrop featured changing close-up photographs of the two dancers I most strongly recall and whom, I believe, were its first cast – Benjamin Houk and Deborah Hadley and now uses a single backcloth that uses several images from classic sculpture or paintings such as a head or bust.

Haiyan Wu and Yang Zou, a real-life couple, portrayed the doomed devoted lovers of Orpheus and Eurydice. I love the theatricality of how Eurydice’s now again lifeless form is placed on a cloth river and is pulled/floated off back to the Underworld. New to OBT last season, it was great seeing this talented pair reach into their artistry and considerable technique to convey the sense of loss, love, and tragedy.

Kent Stowell’s version is fairly soft in its depiction. Some other balletic versions have taken it further and show Orpheus’ additional punishment for turning his head to look back at Eurydice as he’s leading her earthward – not only losing her but being torn apart by jackals. Ah, those charming Greek myths; perfect bedtime stories.

The direct collaboration with Portland Art Museum arrived in the form of Christopher Stowell’s premiered ballet, “Ekho” set to Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach and Gluck, with a stage set comprised of several paper trees, hung from the rafters – made by an army of volunteers. At various junctures these were raised, lowered, encompassed single dancers, turned and were lit from the inside. Clearly making a forest for which Narcissus [Brian Simcoe] enters and meanders and in which separate corps groups of men and women frolic, gleaned from which is Echo herself [Xuan Cheng] and the Reflection [Lucas Threefoot] that Narcissus sees of himself, falling in love and being obsessed with.

To strengthen the ballet, I’d suggest re-ordering the middle scenes and to have the story line introduced earlier, rather than having it pick up and carry forward, as it is now, about two-thirds of the way through. Show the introduction of Narcissus to his Reflection, the distress of Echo [in love with Narcissus] then to have them freeze-frame or go off while the respective corps of men and women do their thing, then finally to have all on stage to conclude the story and ballet. This is kind of what we had collectively expected. You know you’re in trouble when the audience applauds before the ballet is done and then pauses too long at the actual end to begin clapping, whether out of uncertainty or polite confusion.

“Ekho” is a good ballet that could be an important addition with some minor reworking.

Showing us many bodies beautiful, the program ended with William Forsythe’s 1991 “The Second Detail,” to an unfortunate sound score by Thom Willems. The problem with dances or works of art that yearn and consciously try to be contemporary is that they almost invariably inadvertently achieve just the opposite effect and appear dated almost immediately and impress as more of a fad than a fact. Choreographically, "The Second Detail" is a terrific dance but is saddled by an albatross of a sound score. I’d rather see the dance to no music than to suffer through Willems' rendition of what makes the ballet seem like it is set in a industrial warehouse. It stops short of the factory whistle. One of my seat mates loved it, but it's really not my cup of tea, aurally.

Stager Christopher Roman – who spent part of his earlier dancing career at Pacific Northwest Ballet – did a great job of teaching a complex ballet and this showed in the clarity of its execution. Roman is paraphrased as stating that this complexity requires him – or at least it feels this way – to teach the ballet 14 times to each of the 14 dancers. From this I had expected to see literally 14 mini-independent dances sharing the stage but what Forsythe really does is take traditional ballet hierarchy and replace [literally] with where and when [unison, small and large groupings, solos, and duets] into what seem to be random places in the time sequence and spatially. It’s true that there is a lot going on but we are also used to seeing this kind of complexity in many other ballets, notably those of Balanchine, so it was actually rather enjoyable, not at all inscrutable.

The level of technical ability and athleticism on display was exciting, fun, and representative of the kind of dance that dancers like doing – and that audiences enjoy too. OBT’s stars such as Roper, Iino and Threefoot were showcased and equally on display were Bouchard, Cheng, Hayashi, Kate Oderkirk, Julie Rowe, Adam Hartley, Jordan Kindell, Ye Li, Michael Linsmeier, and Simcoe. “The Second Detail” is a keeper; my only dream that the score could be changed out for real music.

One overall production fuss. There was only live music for the Stravinsky. I’m tired of listening to recordings. Surely, a piano reduction could have been used for both the Lizst and Bach/Gluck [with a flutist adding in the famous wind part].

Thank-you and Farewell Department. Someone who instantly became one of my OBT “faves” and who garnered a lot of deserved praise for her tireless work, retired from the stage over the summer – Kathi Martuza. I’ll miss looking forward to seeing her performances and hope that she finds the kind of grace she brought to the stage will imbue every aspect of her future career and life. Mille mercis.

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Dean Speer
ballet@u.washington.edu


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 Post subject: Re: Oregon Ballet Theatre 2012-13
PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2012 9:15 pm 
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http://www.oregonlive.com/performance/i ... ns_as.html

Christopher Stowell is resigning as of December 31.


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 Post subject: Re: Oregon Ballet Theatre 2012-13
PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2013 2:28 pm 
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Principal dancer Yuka Iino will retire at the conclusion of "Swan Lake" performances on February 23, 2013.

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 Post subject: Re: Oregon Ballet Theatre 2012-13
PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 1:13 pm 
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Marty Hughley previews the February 16-23, 2013 performances of "Swan Lake" for the Oregonian.

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 Post subject: Re: Oregon Ballet Theatre 2012-13
PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 1:49 am 
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Grant Butler reviews the Saturday, February 16, 2013 performance of "Swan Lake" for the Oregonian.

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 Post subject: Re: Oregon Ballet Theatre 2012-13
PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2013 5:26 pm 
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A Lamentation of Swans
Oregon Ballet Theatre’s “Swan Lake”
Keller Auditorium, 16 February 2013

by Dean Speer

Sold-out and filled to the brim with happy ballet-goers, Portland’s Keller Auditorium fairly hummed with the warm goodness of anticipation, excitement, and the glory that is Oregon Ballet Theatre’s revival of its Christopher Stowell staging and production of the iconic, “Swan Lake.”

Opening Night was perfection itself, only very slightly marred by a mechanical device that failed to fully shoot out steam for the theatrical exit and magical disappearance in Act III of devious Von Rothbart [Brett Bauer] and his hypnotic and manipulative daughter, Odile, who seduces – by turning fouettées – the prince into believing she’s actually Odette, the Swan Queen he’s fallen in love with at the lakeside the night before. Bauer covered this well by taking his long black cape and, covering them both, exited stage left.

Odette/Odile, interpreted by retiring principal dancer Yuka Iino, was finely etched with a sense of pathos and tragedy. Iino, whom I first met and was very impressed by in class at PNB about 10 years ago, possesses a formidable technique – she can make multiple turns easily including “sequenced” pirouettes such as triple regular pirouette, then finishing with a double or triple pirouette in attitude. I cannot believe it’s been 9 years already that she’s been with OBT nor that she’s chosen to go out with a “Swan Song.” She is one artist who will be missed from the stage. Iino has distinguished herself in many, many roles and has developed a very large OBT fan base.

Her Act II lakeside scene was filigreed and her Act III sharp. Beginning with double fouettées for the iconic 32 that dazzle the Prince, she changed to singles for the last 16 and had a bit of trouble sticking the landing but quickly stepped back into fourth tendu front to show a solid finish while staying in character.

Yang Zou was her Prince Siegfried, who was shown at his best by Act I with choreography that highlighted his – and the other men’s -- considerable strength of technique: entrechats, turns, and double tours en l’air. Zou was fine in Act II and III but more of a porteur and prop than foil to the Swan Queen. Part of this can be laid at the feet of the character himself, Siegfried not being the sharpest knife in the drawer. After all, he keeps finding Odette, then losing her, then finding her again, then losing her again...

The Act I Pas de Trois was about the best I’ve seen. Xuan Cheng, Julia Rowe, and their equal partner Chauncey Parsons were terrific, each exemplifying clarity, strong action and attack, and a sense of joy that bounced across the footlights. Rowe’s variation of repeated back cabrioles [in arabesque – sauté fouettée, then the sauté arabesque into the leg beat of the cabriole] was impressive, her feet and knees fully stretched every time.

Act II’s Dance of the Four Little Swans in the public’s mind is probably the best known excerpt and is often spoofed, yet its clock-like precision and timing and sense of unity that comes with it never fails to impress. Kudos to Ashley Dawn, Ansa Deguchi, Kelsie Nobriga, and Ms. Rowe. It also serves as an interlude to help attenuate and give breath to what we all know will not be a happy outcome, giving us more time to enjoy the lyric Pas de deux when Odette and the Prince meet, he falling in love and promising to be true.

Dramatis Personae include the experience of OBT School Director, Damara Bennett as the Queen Mother, who made the most of each gesture, miming her intentions on getting her son married off and of her displeasure when he balks. I also liked how she keeps the story action going in Act III as she tried to introduce herself and welcome Odile [whom she also is led to believe is the Odette with whom her son has become smitten] to the ball but is not allowed to touch, finally collapsing into the arms of her attendants as the duplicity is revealed and the uninvited guests, Odile and Von Rothbart, quickly depart, having spoiled all the fun – at least for the others.

Third Acts in Petipa ballets are where the “divertissements” dances are and this “Swan Lake” is inclusive of another Pas de Trois [Xuan Cheng, Haiyan Wu, and Parsons], a showcase for the six princesses, Spanish [Candace Bouchard, Ansa Deguchi with their male counterparts, Brian Simcoe and Lucas Threefoot], Neapolitan [Julia Rowe and Javier Ubell], Russian [Alison Roper], and a lively Czardas led by Makino Hayashi and Adam Hartley.

Particularly memorable were Roper’s Russian which contrasts the mournful soul of Russia with its fast and lively charm. Roper really infuses meaning and shape into each movement phrase and knows how to make a dance “sing,” sustaining a “line” throughout.

Also etched in the memory was the joyful playfulness and the sheer energy of the tambourine Neopolitan dance of Rowe and Ubell, each blessed with a strong, strong technique and the facility to jump and to make this small dance bounce.

Except for the choice of a musical omission [the big waltz for the two big swans in Act II, presumably to keep the overall length of the ballet tighter], Oregon Ballet Theatre’s production has proven yet again to be one of my favorite versions and of its enduring popularity.

Stowell did an excellent, thorough, and detailed job in staging and putting together the myriad puzzle of pieces that came together so well under his tenure. While his leadership will be missed, we’re lucky to have the legacy of his work – the level of OBT was a whole, including the dancers [terrific] and of a repertory deserving of attracting such a high cadre of artists and of the many in the greater community who support it.

And once again, we were thrilled to have the ballet accompanied by the mighty OBT Orchestra, led by its experienced conductor, Niel DePonte.

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Dean Speer
ballet@u.washington.edu


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 Post subject: Re: Oregon Ballet Theatre 2012-13
PostPosted: Fri Apr 12, 2013 10:52 am 
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Oregon Ballet Theatre presents "American Music Festival," April 18-27, 2013 at Portland's Newmark Theatre. Marty Hughley briefly previews the program for the Oregonian.

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 Post subject: Re: Oregon Ballet Theatre 2012-13
PostPosted: Sun Apr 14, 2013 7:43 pm 
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Lucas Threefoot will depart OBT for Les Ballets de Monte Carlo in August 2013. Grant Butler reports for the Oregonian.

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 Post subject: Re: Oregon Ballet Theatre 2012-13
PostPosted: Mon Apr 22, 2013 1:05 am 
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Catherine Thomas reviews the American Music Festival at Portland's Newmark Theatre for the Oregonian.

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 Post subject: Re: Oregon Ballet Theatre 2012-13
PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2013 11:31 am 
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Aaron Spencer reviews the American Music Festival program for Willamette Week.

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