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 Post subject: Oregon Ballet Theatre 2013-14
PostPosted: Fri Feb 08, 2013 1:28 pm 
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Marty Hughley reports on the 2013-14 season announcement for the Oregonian.

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 Post subject: Re: Oregon Ballet Theatre 2013-14
PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2013 9:57 pm 
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Broadway World publishes OBT's announcement of a slightly amended program for the 2013-14 season. The largest change is in the Fall program, wherein the previously announced "Le Corsaire Pas de deux" and a new work by former Interim Artistic Director Anne Mueller has been replaced by Nacho Duato's "Por Vos Muero." In the April program, Christopher Stowell's "Adin" has been replaced with Duato's "Cor Perdut" and "Petal" by Helen Pickett. Former principal Artur Sultanov will return as a guest artist in Nicolo Fonte's "Bolero" and there will be a tribute to retiring principal dancer Alison Roper on the April program.

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 Post subject: Re: Oregon Ballet Theatre 2013-14
PostPosted: Tue Sep 24, 2013 11:41 am 
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Broadway World previews the October 12-19, 2013 performances of Christopher Stowell's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and Nacho Duato's "Por Vos Muero" at Portland's Keller Auditorium.

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 Post subject: Re: Oregon Ballet Theatre 2013-14
PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2013 12:11 pm 
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Oregon Ballet Theatre opens the 2013-14 season with Christopher Stowell's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and Nacho Duato's "Por Vos Muero," October 12-19, 2013 at Keller Auditorium in Portland. David Stabler previews the program for the Oregonian.

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 Post subject: Re: Oregon Ballet Theatre 2013-14
PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2013 12:31 pm 
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In Willamette Week, Aaron Spencer profiles OBT dancer Michael Linsmeier.

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 Post subject: Re: Oregon Ballet Theatre 2013-14
PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2013 3:12 pm 
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Catherine Thomas reviews the Saturday, October 12, 2013 performance of "Por Vos Muero" and "A Midsummer Night's Dream" for the Oregonian.

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 Post subject: Re: Oregon Ballet Theatre 2013-14
PostPosted: Fri Oct 18, 2013 3:07 pm 
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Premieres and Farewells
Oregon Ballet Theatre’s “Dream” Program
Saturday Opening Night, 12 October 2013
Keller Auditorium, Portland

by Dean Speer

Balanchine used to like to use creating a meal as a programming comparison; balanced, “...with a little something for everyone.”

Oregon Ballet Theatre’s new Artistic Director, Kevin Irving, made his debut with a program that meets Mr. B.’s criteria – a company premiere that was bold and meaty and concluding with one that provided more of a buffet-style experience with variety.

The poetically titled “Por Vos Muero” [taken from an old Spanish poem and translated, “For you, I die”], is the first dance by Nacho Duato to be added to OBT’s repertory, set to recorded music by various Spanish Renaissance composers and staged by Irving. It gave the OBT artists choreography to sink into, giving us a sense of complexity and richness of the period and allowing us to vicariously relive it through a series of short scenes, some dramatic, some light. In addition to group dances for the ensemble of 12, Duato breaks it up into smaller segments such as duets and one section each for the women and men, the men’s being particularly striking as they made their entrance, swooping in attired in purple capes and swinging lit incense. [I’m reminded of the New York dance critic’s observation – Arlene Croce – about the great Rudolph Nureyev: “Always a good man with a cape.” He had a lot of “cape roles” which he seemed to believe showed how intensely dramatic he was – all long and flowing; Albrecht, Siegfried, Romeo, Armand.] Fortunately, Duato smartly kept it short and to the point.

An ensemble showcase work, “Por Vos Muero,” clearly showed what is deeply felt and danced by its lovely first cast of Candance Bouchard, Xuan Cheng, Ansa Deguchi, Makino Hayashi, Jenna Nelson, Alison Roper, Brett Bauer, Jordan Kindell, Ye Li, Michael Linsmeier, Chauncey Parsons and Brian Simcoe.

Former Artistic Director Christopher Stowell provided the buffet with a reprise of his popular and fun “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” set to Mendelssohn with locally-inspired woodsy designs by Sandra Woodall. This version begins with a contemporary wedding and then delves into the spirit and story of Shakespeare.

Staged and brought to life by OBT’s Lisa Kipp, this ballet deploys the entire resources of OBT – a large cast supplemented by young OBT School students, live music provided by the mighty OBT Orchestra, and the scenic elements contributed by its shops. While it does showcase OBT on many levels, it’s safe to say that in the dual roles of Hippolyta/Titania and Theseus/Oberon, principals Roper and Simcoe are its radiant stars.

Roper has announced that this is her last season of full-time performing with OBT; and, while she will be sorely missed, she has also said in a program interview that her love of ballet and dancing will keep her involved, perhaps through other avenues such as teaching and coaching. Simcoe has steadily continued to grow in all ways – technically, in assurance, in maturity, and artistically. With his length of line and strong presence and confidence, he could be in this position pretty much anywhere and we’re lucky to have him at OBT.

We were reminded that this is live theatre when, as the white draped wedding curtain went up, we could all hear a loud tearing sound, as it became caught on one of the portable trees brought in by one of the OBT School students. Clear crew heads prevailed, gently lowering the errant curtain until it was tree-free to finally fly up into the flies. Unflappable, the cast continued dancing while this mini side drama played out, only briefly threatening to block us from seeing the fairy cast make their entrance.

Also outstanding were Deguchi as Peaseblossom, Li as Puck, and the irrepressible Kevin Poe in the divine character role of Bottom.

OBT has seasoned its fare with the overall, arching theme of “Premieres and Farewells.” With my ballet palate satisfied by its opening program, “Dream,” I’m intrigued and curious to see the remaining programs – “Reveal,” “Celebrate,” and “Create” as we welcome Mr. Irving to the greater Northwest and enjoy what his future vision brings.

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Dean Speer
ballet@u.washington.edu


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 Post subject: Re: Oregon Ballet Theatre 2013-14
PostPosted: Fri Dec 13, 2013 12:28 pm 
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Jason Vondersmith interviews principal dancer Alison Roper for the Portland Tribune.

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 Post subject: Re: Oregon Ballet Theatre 2013-14
PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2014 12:40 pm 
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Broadway World previews OBT's February 22 through March 1, 2014 "Reveal" program, including a new work by Christopher Stowell to music of Shostakovich; James Kudelka's "Almost Mozart," Christopher Wheeldon's "Liturgy" and Nicolo Fonte's "Bolero."

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 Post subject: Re: Oregon Ballet Theatre 2013-14
PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2014 12:34 pm 
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In the Oregonian, David Stabler writes a tribute to retiring principal dancer Alison Roper.

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 Post subject: Re: Oregon Ballet Theatre 2013-14
PostPosted: Mon Feb 17, 2014 9:46 pm 
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In the Oregonian, Grant Butler previews OBT's "Reveal" program, February 22 through March 1, 2014 at Keller Auditorium in Portland. The program includes James Kudelka's "Almost Mozart," a new work from Christopher Stowell, "A Second Front" to music by Shostakovich, Christopher Wheeldon's "Liturgy" and Nicolo Fonte's "Bolero."

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 Post subject: Re: Oregon Ballet Theatre 2013-14
PostPosted: Sun Feb 23, 2014 8:35 pm 
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Catherine Thomas reviews the Saturday, February 22, 2014 performance of the "Reveal" mixed bill for The Oregonian.

Oregonian

Aaron Spencer reviews the same program for Willamette Week.

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 Post subject: Re: Oregon Ballet Theatre 2013-14
PostPosted: Wed Mar 05, 2014 6:33 pm 
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Showing It
Oregon Ballet Theatre’s “Reveal” Program
1 March 2014
Keller Auditorium, Portland

by Dean Speer

A mix of lasts and firsts, Oregon Ballet Theatre’s "Reveal" program premiered one ballet by its previous Artistic Director, Christopher Stowell, revived a couple of gems, brought retired-from-the-stage-way-too-young Artur Sultanov back to the stage, pairing with soon-much-to-be-missed principal dancer Alison Roper.

“A Second Front” took as its premise a ballroom scene but suggested through the artifice of recorded whispers, that the dance was more than about steps – that the interactions contained discourse, perhaps both political and social. Indeed, historically, court social dance was a means to advance one’s position and to whisper intrigue and to bend someone’s ear –publicly seen yet hidden amid the swirl of jigs and minuets. Then, as now, people sometimes spoke while they danced.

Set to orchestral music by Shostakovich with succeeding group and duet scenes, I felt it worked for the most part but didn’t follow through as much as it could have with showing us the layer(s) underneath the dancing, relying too much on the recorded whispers played in between some of the sections. The concluding section would be stronger if, instead of dancers arranged in symmetrical lines, he’d made more use of interesting patterns, perhaps the iconic “ballet circle,” and then using the layered lines to build to a rousing tutti finale.

On the plus side, Stowell has a gift of making lovely and strong pas de deux, as he did here for Xuan Cheng and Brian Simcoe. He can also get people moving and the separate sections for the men really showcased them, as did the women.

“A Second Front” is a keeper but I’d like to see the ending re-worked.

A character in the wonderful children’s book, Holes, is named Hardy but he’s so small that the boys mockingly call him “Hardly.” I really liked and enjoyed James Kudelka’s aptly named “Almost Mozart” at its premiere in 2006 and found myself looking forward to seeing it again. Overall, it could perhaps be re-titled “Hardly,” yet like the Holes character is stronger, tougher, and more sinewy than it might first appear – and blessed perhaps by the mystic and mysterious.

Spare and cleansed of all non-essential elements – including parts of its Mozart score, it’s a ballet that’s highly athletic and, unusually for ballet, lets the effort show mostly through quick intakes or exhaling of breath. Roper and Brett Bauer’s duet is edgy and sharp, Kudelka’s motifs are given to short flowing phrases, punctuated by sudden and held all-stop freezes. Haunting and slightly disturbing was the trio of Xuan Cheng, Jordan Kindell, and Michael Linsmeier, who seem to threaten Cheng as they surround her as she turns and turns perched on one leg, the other in passé, clutching and clinging to the men, pushing herself around, perhaps desperately and in a quiet panic, seeking an escape.

Like the other Christopher, one of Christopher Wheeldon's choreographic strengths is in the making of duets, as seen in his“Liturgy,” deeply and strongly danced by Haiyan Wu and Simcoe. It begins and ends with the dancers in ballet’s iconic foot-and-leg crossed 5th Position, the movement itself initiating with lateral and reaching port de bras which builds to a break out Simcoe holding Wu behind her at the waist as she does a quick, marcato forced-arch relevé in 2nd Position. “Liturgy's” structure and feel impresses me as being much like a Japanese haiku – something happens in the middle that alters its state of being and its conclusion.

There are Boleros and then there are Boleros. When I previously reviewed OBT’s premiere of Nicolo Fonte’s version to the well-known Ravel score, I briefly relayed the sad story of going to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver, B.C. and saw a former ballet classmate, now the director of Pennsylvania Ballet having to be the hapless male performer that I ended up being embarrassed for, in a version that could conservatively be described as ridiculous – and what the choreographer had the local ballet students do who were extras, silly [shuffling in and around in silver-colored unitards, prompting Francia Russell – who was there – to utter aloud the immortal words, “If this is what they like in Vancouver, I give up!"].

Fortunately, nobody had to give up anything with Fonte’s excellent and well-conceived outcome.

The scenic design suggested the Industrial Age or perhaps the gritty blue-collar world of those who work in the trades. Before the curtain rang up, it began with the whoosh of wind and recorded industrial sounds which gave way to the Ravel score, played over the loudspeakers.

Roper and Sultanov tore into their pas de deux. These two are dancers who are made for each other and it was not only an exciting thing to see and to be a part of a great balletic performance but also bittersweet in the knowledge that it was their last, he returning to teaching at his new ballet studio and she leaving the stage in a few short months.

Missing in action, as mentioned already by a couple of other reviewers was live music, which is where my strong bias lies. I might suggest that the Ravel, for example, could have been played in its piano, four-hands version and been as successful...or more. Cost is not an excuse. If you cannot afford the mighty OBT Orchestra each and every time – while preferred, then please use piano. I feel like I’m turning on my soapbox recording when I say that, particularly for dance, how important the music is and if it’s really honestly true how it’s the catalyst for creativity, then just as the costumes, sets, and dancers are live, how much more should the music be as well. Additionally, acoustic music allows dances to breathe, and it also has the wonderful effect of “warming” the house, providing that cozy welcoming feeling...and imbuing the sense that we all are about to be part of something great.

"Reveal" indeed revealed a lot about the current and future OBT – one that’s in good hands with the new director and a program that showcased its core of amazing dancers, OBT’s considerable and talented production abilities, and one that left us wanting more.

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Dean Speer
ballet@u.washington.edu


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 Post subject: Re: Oregon Ballet Theatre 2013-14
PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2014 7:40 pm 
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In the Oregonian, David Stabler previews Helen Pickett's "Petal," one of the three works on OBT's "Celebrate" program, April 17-26, 2014 at the Newmark Theatre in Portland. The program also includes Nacho Duato's "Cor Perdut" and Matjash Mrozewski's "The Lost Dance."

Oregonian


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 Post subject: Re: Oregon Ballet Theatre 2013-14
PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2014 11:06 am 
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In the Portland Tribune, Jason Vondersmith previews the final subscription program of the 2013-14 season and the tribute to retiring principal dancer Alison Roper.

Portland Tribune


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