PREVIEWS & REVIEWS
OBT 25 / October 11 - 18, 2014
Willamette Week: Live Review
"Oregon Ballet Theatre is turning 25, and it wants to celebrate. The company’s season opener, OBT/25, acts as its party, and with it comes a reflective mix of past works paired alongside a world premiere. This, understandably, leads to a night of truly diverse dances, all connected by a common feeling of festivity. One thing is for sure: OBT knows how to throw a party." - Read the entire Willamette Week review, October 14, 2014
Critical Dance: A Golden Silver Anniversary
"Mr. Balanchine is quoted as saying that a good dinner has a little something for everyone... Kevin Irving, entering his second year and first full season as Artistic Director, smartly and wisely chose a program that had a little something for everyone, including an iconic Balanchine ballet, three pas de deux as a set, and a terrific new commission." - Read the entire Critical Dance review, October 11, 2014
“[T]here's plenty of shimmer to this silver anniversary.” –The Oregonian
“[Love x 3] revealed OBT's heart and soul… The works, joined together with a theme of love, featured some of the best dancers from the company's current roster, along with the return of Alison Roper, who retired just last spring, in a passionate duet from Stowell's ‘Carmen.’” – The Oregonian
[About the pas de deux from James Canfield’s Romeo & Juliet] “Deguchi and Simcoe radiated both passion and innocence as young lovers awakening to forbidden desire. In the duet's final moment, Simcoe's Romeo flees to avoid discovery, and Deguchi flings herself on her bed with just the right mix of joy and despair.” –The Oregonian
[About Nicolo Fonte’s Never Stop Falling (In Love)] “big, joyous…” – Portland Monthly
“[Nicolo Fonte’s Never Stop Falling (In Love)] is all about old school grandeur and glamour paired with contemporary movement” – Portland Monthly
“[Jordan Kindell’s] lower center of gravity and muscular grace [in Nicolo Fonte’s Never Stop Falling (In Love)] lended him a sort of raw power that makes him impossible to ignore…” – Portland Monthly
[About Nicolo Fonte’s Never Stop Falling (In Love)] “The elegiac choreography highlighted Chauncey [Parson’s] delicate lines as well as Colby [Parson’s] brute strength… It was one of those moment where practice, technique, and creativity merge to beautiful affect.” – Portland Monthly
[About George Balanchine’s Agon] “Candace Bouchard shined with a sly, sexy confidence that extended to every wrist flip and shoulder drop during a mesmerizing solo and trio section” – Portland Monthly
“Martina Chavez and Brian Simcoe nailed [Agon’s] toughest pas de deux, a deceptively cool piece of choreography peppered with blind drops that flirt with brain injury and a lasting image of Simcoe firmly bending Chavez’s lithe body into a sort of standing swan origami.” – Portland Monthly
[About the duet from Trey McIntyre’s Robust American Love] “a wry, energetic delight” – Portland Monthly
[About the pas de deux from James Canfield’s Romeo & Juliet] “lush and lovely” – Portland Monthly
[About the pas de deux from Christopher Stowell’s Carmen] “Sultry, funny, and filled with visual puns, it was Stowell as his romantic best.” – Portland Monthly
“There’s been considerable passage of time since George Balanchine and Igor Stravinsky made Agon, which opened the show, and yet there’s definitely no sign of wear in this work that expresses the jittery, cocky, competitive atmosphere of post -World War II New York – and when danced well, which it was here, is equally reflective of our own increasingly terrifying times.” – Oregon Arts Watch
“Candace Bouchard [in George Balanchine’s Agon], who is an experienced performer, danced Dewdrop in Balanchine’s Nutcracker with the speed, musicality and limpid clarity that the role demands, and did likewise with the Spanish-tinged details of the solo that is part of the second Pas de Trois, partnered by Jordan Kindell and Adam Hartley.” – Oregon Arts Watch
“I’ll not soon forget the image of Chavez [in George Balanchine’s Agon], one leg on point, other smoothly hooked around Simcoe’s neck, proclaiming that in Balanchine’s work the ballerina is the boss. They were both fantastic…” – Oregon Arts Watch
[About the duet from Trey McIntyre’s Robust American Love] “[Xuan Cheng and Michael Linsmeier] thoroughly inhabited McIntyre’s idiosyncratic movement vocabulary, giving the duet the weight and playfulness that make it unmistakably his work.” – Oregon Arts Watch
[About the pas de deux from Christopher Stowell’s Carmen] “Parsons, who has performed such oblivious aristocrats as Swan Lake’s Siegfried and Giselle’s Albrecht, is just as convincing at callow cluelessness; and Roper, moving like a female Lucifer in serpentine form certainly did the job on Saturday night. They, and Stowell, were applauded long and hard.” – Oregon Arts Watch
[About the pas de deux from James Canfield’s Romeo & Juliet] “Deguchi’s interpretation of a 14-year-old bride who has to grow up fast was heart-rending, fresh and charming: exuberant as Simcoe lifted her and swung her around his back to perch her on his shoulder; desolate as he left her, weeping, on the edge of their bed.” – Oregon Arts Watch
“[Nicolo Fonte’s Never Stop Falling (In Love)
] showcases the dancers, celebrates the company, and contains some truly lovely moments, one of them a gentle interaction between the dancers and a strolling Forbes. The Parsons brothers’ gently physical duet, a gorgeous classical pas de deux
by Chavez and Brett Bauer, and a solo tailored by Fonte to Kindell’s developing technique and extraordinary stage presence are others.” – Oregon Arts Watch
The Huffington Post: It's Pink Martini and Balanchine for Oregon Ballet Theatre at 25
"OBT is in the throes of rehearsal for a 25th anniversary program that honors its 20th century past, and also looks ahead to its future as a cultural beacon in a city that boxes way above its weight class in the arts."
"[Agon Répétiteur Bark Cook] murmured 'beautiful' as Martina Chavez maneuvered into a deep arabesque penchée on pointe while Brian Simcoe threw himself to the ground on his back, continuing to support her with one hand. There were thrills aplenty, as when Jordan Kindell and Adam Hartley tossed Candace Bouchard high into the air. But perhaps the greatest pleasure came from watching the ensemble chew up space in low explosive jumps that often twist and change direction unexpectedly in the air - especially the cadre of men (Hartley, Kindell, Simcoe, and Chauncey Parsons)... Apart from the stunning, elegant Chavez, doe-eyed Eva Burton was a revelation in rehearsal - flipping between stark hyperextensions and softly regal classical positions with astonishing ease - as was Candace Bouchard, who pairs the serenity of a Botticelli with the athleticism of a modern American Olympian."
"Ansa Deguchi is a reckless young teenager in James Canfield's Romeo and Juliet, trying to prevent the sensitive Brian Simcoe from leaving her bedroom at the crack of dawn. The petite Deguchi radiates clean lines, and communicates with her beautiful arches and delicately expressive fingers and hands."
"The party atmosphere in the rehearsal studio kicked into high gear when Pink Martini's irrepressible Thomas Lauderdale, dapper in grey suit and bow tie, bounded in and settled in behind the piano. The company is not simply dancing to previously released arrangements of Pink Martini hits; Fonte and Lauderdale have shaped some old and some unreleased songs into a purpose-built score."
"Never Stop Falling is a big ensemble number, full of luxurious, slinky, flirty movement... The work brings out individual dancer personalities: the fearless Xuan Cheng, sultry Martina Chavez, and coltish Sarah Griffin. And among the men, the romantic Jordin Kindell, the haunting Chauncey Parsons, and the noble, mysterious Brett Bauer."
- Read the entire Huffington Post Preview, October 7, 2014
The Oregonian: Oregon Ballet Theatre and Pink Martini mark OBT's 25th anniversary in first collaboration
"When Kevin Irving, OBT's artistic director, first contacted Lauderdale about collaborating, the pianist hesitated. 'I was worried about over-saturation' in Portland, he said. But Irving persisted and Lauderdale is glad he did. 'All the music the band plays is dance music. I feel like we do our best work with dancers. It's interesting for the band to work with dancers because we have to breathe differently'"- Read the entire Oregonian Preview, October 8, 2014
GEORGE BALANCHINE'S THE NUTCRACKER / December 13 - 27, 2014
The Oregonian: Children from School of OBT adorn 'The Nutcracker' with energy, enchantment
- "[Oregon Ballet Theatre's production of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker] had musicality and neoclassical precision in spades."
- "[Second Act] standouts were Jordan Kindell [as Candy Cane] in effortless-looking acrobatics with a hoop, Ye Li's pristine jumps [as Tea] and Dewdrop's Candace Bouchard, all grace and light in an extremely difficult roll."
- "[The Snowflakes] unison precision in Balanchine's choreography was seven minutes of pure magic."
- "Xuan Cheng and Brian Simcoe as The Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier in the second act [were] marvelously attuned to the score and one another, with showstopper solo variations to boot."
- "... the school's commitment to training is evident ..."
- READ THE OREGONIAN REVIEW, December 14, 2014
Martha Ullman West for Oregon Arts Watch: ‘Nut': doin’ what comes naturally
KATU News segment: Nutcracker Ballet opens in Portland
- "There’s much to love in George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, and in the way it is performed by Oregon Ballet Theatre."
- "Chauncey Parsons as Herr Drosselmeier [was] avuncular in the party scene when he presented the dancing dolls and the Nutcracker, and deliciously sinister as he sets the stage for Marie’s dream, proved himself as good a character dancer as he is a bravura technician."
- "Candace Bouchard... [as Dewdrop]... has made this role her own in the last couple of years, and on Saturday she really nailed it, dancing it with such musicality and delicate strength ... "
- "Jordan Kindell infused his performance of what’s now called Candy Cane with what I imagine is much the same infectious joy as the young Balanchine."
- "And when danced well, as it was on Saturday afternoon, by Xuan Cheng and Brian Simcoe, the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier’s Grand Pas de Deux can certainly make the heart beat faster and the tears flow."
- "... it is the dancers, after all, with the help of their ballet masters (in this instance Lisa Kipp and Jeffrey Stanton), who at the end of the day are responsible for providing this Nutcracker much to love."
"It's one of the most treasured holiday traditions. Oregon Ballet Theatre gave KATU an exclusive backstage look at their rehearsals before opening day on Saturday at Keller Auditorium." - VIEW THE NEWS SEGMENT
The Oregonian: Sugar Plum Fairy is a 'Nutcracker' dream come true for 3 Oregon Ballet Theatre dancers
"The Sugar Plum Fairy is the queen of George Balanchine's 'The Nutcracker.' She presides over the ballet's second act with regal grace, and her breathtaking duet with her Cavalier is one of the evening's most-beautiful moments. For years, principal dancers Alison Roper and Yuka Iino dominated the role in Oregon Ballet Theatre's annual production, which kicks off its run this Saturday and continues through Dec. 27. But their retirements in recent years has opened the door for three ballerinas who are getting their first chance to dance the Sugar Plum Fairy this year. For Candace Bouchard, Eva Burton and Martina Chavez, it's a "Nutcracker" dream come true." - Read the entire Oregonian Preview, December 9, 2014
Oregon Arts Watch: Creating ‘The Nutcracker': It’s kids’ stuff
Gavin Larsen and a ballet school's worth of students get ready for OBT's annual holiday ballet, opening Saturday
"It is 3:45 p.m. on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Chattering children in various sizes and shapes, dressed in practice clothes, mill around the lobby outside the main studio in Oregon Ballet Theatre’s current digs on Southeast Sixth Avenue, where Nutcracker rehearsals will soon take place. There isn’t a whole lot of time left before OBT’s annual run of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker opens at the Keller Auditorium on Saturday, December 13.
The crowd spills over into the corridor outside the company’s second studio, where children’s ballet master Gavin Larsen is coaching Ruby Mae Lefebvre, one of the Maries, in the first act transition scene between the party’s end and the battle of the mice and toy soldiers. Two more Maries, Malia McClanahan and Zaida Johnson, sit quietly on the studio floor, backs against the wall, intent on what Lefebre is doing and what Larsen is saying about it." - Read the entire Oregon Arts Watch Preview, December 9, 2014
CINDERELLA / February 28 - March 7, 2015
Oregonian Review: Oregon Ballet Theatre's 'Cinderella' offers spectacle, magical transformations, lush live music:
"...for sheer spectacle, it's hard to outdo Oregon Ballet Theatre's new production..."
"[Xuan Cheng as Cinderella] conveys the emotional shift from despair to excitement beautifully..."
"As the spring and summer fairies, Ansa Deguchi and Jessica Lind reflect innocence and youth. By constrast, the fall and winter fairies (Candace Bouchard and Eva Burton) are all about knowing and nuance. It's a great showcase for four of OBT's standout soloists and corp members."
"[Choreographer Ben Stevenson] gives the company a chance to waltz and gavotte [at the Prince's ball], creating a moment of joy in motion."
"OBT's orchestra, under the baton of music director Niel DePonte, shows why live music trumps a recording every time."
- Read the entire Oregonian review, March 1, 2015
DREAM / October 12 - 19, 2013
Martha Ullman West on Oregon Arts Watch:
- "It was proof, indeed, that the company, with newly arrived artistic director Kevin Irving at the helm, is still alive and kicking up a storm."
- "an integrated and quite beautiful expression of ...Spanish soul." (about Por Vos Muero)
- "I had a good time. You will, too."
- READ THE WHOLE REVIEW
Catherine Thomas for OregonLive:
- "It’s certainly a new era at OBT."
- "Roper inhabits romantic intimacy, free-wheeling comedy and sculptural abstraction with utter command of her craft."
- "“Por Vos Muero” is a seamless melding of contrasts"
- READ THE WHOLE REVIEW
Review: OBT’s ‘Dream’ - Oregon Ballet’s debut of Nacho Duato’s 'Por Vos Muero' steals the show in a dance of magic and mystery.
“From imaginative daydreams to chilling nightmares, Oregon Ballet Theatre brings the whole gamut of dreams to life in their season opener: a pairing of internationally renowned Spanish choreographer Nacho Duato’s Por Vos Muero with Christopher Stowell’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” - Haley Martin for Portland Monthly, READ THE WHOLE REVIEW
Premieres and Farewells: Oregon Ballet Theatre’s “Dream” Program
"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. - Dean Spear for Critical Dance, READ THE WHOLE REVIEW
Mind-blowing première from Duato kicks off Oregon Ballet Theatre's new season
"Nacho Duato’s baffling and beautiful Por Vos Muero, little known in the United States, kicked off Oregon Ballet Theatre’s first season under its new artistic director, Kevin Irving. The piece, originally set on Duato’s Compañia Nacional de Danza in 1996, makes a deep visual and emotional impression, a shining rebuttal to all the tedious, empty acrobatics of much contemporary dance." - Carla Escoda for Bach Tracks, READ THE WHOLE REVIEW
REVEAL / February 22 - March 1, 2014
Oregon Ballet Theatre turns up the star power in 'Reveal' to open winter season (review)
"For its winter season 'Reveal' program, Oregon Ballet Theatre is counting on two high-wattage homecomings and a firmly contemporary program to draw audiences. Artistic director Kevin Irving has lured former principal dancer Artur Sultanov out of retirement to partner with Alison Roper -- soon to retire herself -- in Nicolo Fonte’s rousing 'Bolero,' which brought the house down at the Keller Auditorium on Saturday’s opening night." - Catherine Thomas for The Oregonian, READ THE WHOLE REVIEW
Live Review: Oregon Ballet Theatre, Reveal
"Alison Roper begins Bolero with steely energy, surrounded as she was in 2008, when the piece premiered, by metal panels that gradually rise as Ravel’s snare drum-driven score increases in intensity. Within moments, Artur Sultanov bursts gallantly from stage right and rushes to her, completing the time warp to six years ago when the pair first danced the piece by Nicolo Fonte." - Aaron Spencer for Willamette Week, READ THE WHOLE REVIEW
Revealed: ballet for the 21st century
"Rooted in our time, performed in the moment, they reveal a traditional art form stretched and kept alive to tell our stories" - Martha Ullman West, Oregon Arts Watch, READ THE WHOLE REVIEW
"'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." - Dean Speer, Critical Dance, READ THE WHOLE REVIEW
Oregon Ballet Theatre's 'Reveal' showcases contemporary dance rooted in tradition
"'It really is about the future of ballet,' says artistic director Kevin Irving. 'All four choreographers have deep roots in classical ballet and deep knowledge of our traditions, and they each update in their own very unique ways. I think it's exciting to see how classical traditions can also be contemporary.'" - Oregon Live, READ THE WHOLE PREVIEW
- Dance Informa, READ THE WHOLE PREVIEW
CELEBRATE / April 17 - 26, 2014
The Oregonian: "Alison Roper revels in Oregon Ballet Theatre's 'Celebrate'"
- READ THE WHOLE OREGONIAN REVIEW
- "Oregon Ballet Theatre's "Celebrate" program... has much to recommend it: the visual feast of Helen Pickett's "Petal," the steamy physicality of Nacho Duato's "Cor Perdut," the slow-motion moodiness of Matjash Mrozewski's "The Lost Dance." Most importantly, it has Alison Roper, the much-lauded principal dancer who is retiring this year at the end of her 18th season with OBT. On Thursday's opening night, two surprises -- a mid-program retrospective and encore -- paid tribute to the depth of her artistry. Roper's performances, not surprisingly, garnered the most rousing ovations of the evening."
- "stunning..." - About Helen Pickett's Petal
- "...Roper is a vision."
Willamette Week: "Live Review: Oregon Ballet Theatre, Celebrate" - READ THE WHOLE WILLAMETTE WEEK REVIEW
- "So get this: At the end of this show, people throw roses. Roses! As if this were Europe! Point is, bring roses to this show, because you get to throw them.
The show, of course, is Celebrate, Oregon Ballet Theatre's season closer and the last performance for principal dancer Alison Roper, who's retiring after 18 seasons with the company."
- Helen Pickett's Petal is, "[a] a vibrant, refreshing opener... It’s a lively piece and a pleasure to watch"
- "[The Lost Dance] recalls a really cool party... [it] bends back and forth between soulful electronica and a trace party vibe."
- "...fall in love with [Alison] all over again. Go, and bring roses."
Risk and Reward in Oregon Ballet Theatre's 'Celebrate'
"A man and a woman embrace on the dance floor. He caresses her back. She clasps his neck. They fold and twirl to the music in sensual intimacy. 'You could milk that for a little more,' says Helen Pickett, interrupting their reverie at a recent rehearsal. 'What are you thinking? What's your story?' Story is key to Pickett, a New York choreographer of 'Petal,' one of four works on Oregon Ballet Theatre's 'Celebrate' program at the Newmark Theatre. [It's] called 'Celebrate' because it marks the end of an era with the retirement of principal dancer Alison Roper. Roper, who is leaving after 18 seasons, will perform in three pieces on the program." - David Stabler for The Oregonian, READ THE WHOLE PREVIEW
BODY BEAUTIFUL / October 13 - 20, 2012
“The 14-member cast was so good I frankly didn’t want it to end” - Martha Ullman West
“[Haiyan Wu and Yang Zou’s] performance of “Orpheus Pas de Deux” was nothing short of stunning” - Martha Ullman West
“The ensemble dances … .are nothing short of delicious” - Martha Ullman West
READ the full Oregon Arts Watch Review
“stunning… an inspired collaboration” - The Oregonian
The Second Detail: “Cheng, as a fevered, half-mad incarnation of chaos against all the formal logic, sank into her solo like a force of nature” - The Oregonian READ the full Oregonian Review
The Body Beautiful: Portland celebrates the human form with art and dance
"Notions of human beauty are an age-old fascination, perhaps most thoroughly explored artistically in the realms of dance and visual art. This month in Portland, those two disciplines join forces to address their enduring shared interest in 'The Body Beautiful.'"- The Oregonian Preview, 10/05/12
Oregon Ballet Theatre principal dancers: On their toes and in our hearts
"Sitting in on a recent Oregon Ballet Theatre rehearsal, it's practically impossible to take your eyes off principal dancers Haiyan Wu and Yang Zou as they learn the steps to the'Orpheus Portrait.'
'You have to remember that this is about young lovers,' says choreographer Kent Stowell, 'so every time you touch each other it's like a caress.'" - The Oregonian Photo Essay, 10/06/12
OBT's the Body Beautiful Preview + Slide Show
"When Christopher Stowell, the director of Oregon Ballet Theatre, heard that Greek and Roman statues would fill the Portland Art Museum under the title The Body Beautiful, he instantly saw synergy". - Portland Monthly Preview & Slide Show, 10/10/12
"Christopher Stowell gained great exposure to the art of dance from an early age. His parents, Kent Stowell and Francia Russell are the founding artistic directors of Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle. 'I was an only child for six and a half years,' Stowell says. 'We lived in New York and in Europe, and wherever they went they took me along. I was very engaged in their artistic life. When we moved back to the United States I was eleven years old, and the annual productions of the Nutcracker were new to me. It’s not an annual tradition in European ballet companies. There were children’s roles. I was completely enamored… It was clear if the director’s son gets to perform he should be a regular student in the school. It took three years [of training] before I was bitten by the art form.'" - Just Out, 7/22/12
A BEAUTIFUL BODY OF WORK: CHRIS STOWELL ON COLLABORATION, CREATIVITY, AND CHINA
"This October, the Oregon Ballet Theatre is opening their season with a first-time-ever collaboration with the Portland Art Museum. Artistic Director Chris Stowell has crafted a program inspired by the Greek aesthetic that arcs between the classical ballet of Balanchine, the contemporary deconstruction of Forsythe, and the vision of a new work he’s creating right now. We sat down and talked about the importance of collaboration amongst the arts, the process of creating a new ballet piece, and his recent trip to China".
- About Face Magazine, 9/28/12
THE NUTCRACKER / December 8-23, 2012
“[T]he dance contains abundant evidence of the company's consistently high levels of artistry and professionalism under Stowell's tenure.” - Catherine Thomas, The Oregonian
“…filled with bravura performances of Balanchine's intricate choreography.” - Catherine Thomas, The Oregonian
“Standouts were Javier Ubell in astonishingly high jumps culminating in mid-air splits, Chauncey Parsons in tricky turns and hula hoop acrobatics, and Julia Rowe's musicality and lightness in her role as Dewdrop, the ballet's most formidable, surrounded by a majestic corps of Flowers.” - Catherine Thomas, The Oregonian
“Most magical were Yuka Iino and Brian Simcoe as The Sugarplum Fairy and Her Cavalier in a Grand Pas de Deux.” - Catherine Thomas, The Oregonian
SWAN LAKE / February 16-23, 2013
"The three-hour ballet is a perfect showcase of the impressive company that OBT became under Stowell's tenure, and offers optimism for the future." - The Oregonian Review, 2/17/13
"OBT's dancers, with very few exceptions, danced with such musicality, skill and conviction, you could have heard a pinfeather drop on the Keller's ragged carpet..." - Oregon Arts Watch Review 2/19/13
"The stellar staging skill of OBT's Ballet Master Lisa Kipp was apparent, as the unforgiving lines of the swan flocks' stiff romantic tutus can emphasize even the most minimal of mistakes. There were none to be had in any of the dreamy lakeside sequences, and Iino's entrance and first pas de deux with Prince Siegfried (Yang Zou) were the highlight of the evening." - Portland Monthly Review 2/19/13
"The direct connection between the dancers and the symphony was highlighted throughout by the numerous opportunities for the dancers to highlight their skills, whether representing a swan or performing in the courtyard of the royal manor. This precision is what OBT has become known for, and further cements the company's ability to cover all forms of ballet, ranging from the oldest classics to drawing up brand new choreography for contemporary works." - Be Portland Review 2/19/13
AMERICAN MUSIC FESTIVAL / April 18 - 27, 2013
Dance review: 'American Music Festival' sweeps musical gamut -- and premieres two ballets
"Tightly-paced and musically eclectic, Oregon Ballet Theatre's "American Music Festival" program at the Newmark Theatre sweeps from shimmering instrumentalism to folksy Americana to postmodern piano syncopations. Two world premieres, "Stream," a mesmeric pure-dance ballet by Swedish choreographer Pontus Lidberg and "Robust American Love," a witty return by former OBT choreographer-in-residence Trey McIntyre, are contemplative and playful by turns. Matthew Neenan's 2009 "At the Border" turns up the volume." - The Oregonian Review, 4/20/13
American song, American violence: OBT’s dance for troubled times
Two world premieres and a company premiere reveal the dancers' range
"Pontus Lidberg’s “Stream,” Trey McIntyre’s “Robust American Love,” and Matthew Neenan’s “At the border” were made well before the horrific events of recent months: the Newtown school shootings, the Boston bombings, and the weak-kneed failure a few days ago of the United States Senate to pass minimal gun control legislation.
Yet each piece, as unveiled Thursday night at the Newmark Theatre in Oregon Ballet Theatre’s American Music Festival, spoke in subtle and not so subtle ways to the country’s current emotional climate – for many of us a roller coaster of grief and fear, hope and helplessness, resignation and resilience. All are quite different, stylistically, musically, and in point of view, but each speaks to the human condition, in this time and in this place." - The Oregon Arts Watch Review, 4/21/13
Oregon Ballet Theatre turns its annual Newmark Theatre visit into an 'American Music Festival'
"With a title like “American Music Festival,” the spring program from Oregon Ballet Theatre could go in any number of directions: Robert Johnson, Louis Armstrong, Aaron Copland, Hank Williams and all their progeny. There’s no way to cover such a vast territory in a single evening of dance, of course, but there is a fitting variety to the choices OBT and its collaborators have made." - The Oregonian Preview, 4/12/13
CELEBRATING BALANCHINE / June 14-16, 2013
Portland dance review: Oregon Ballet Theatre raises the bar with all-Balanchine program
"Celebrating Balanchine," Oregon Ballet Theatre's season closer over the weekend, marked a watershed for the company. Friday's opening performance heralded outgoing interim artistic director Anne Mueller with an extended ovation, announced the retirements of several OBT dancers and introduced incoming artistic director Kevin Irving.
Heady times at OBT, and the all-Balanchine program was a fitting reminder of the vision of former artistic director Christopher Stowell, whose dedication to building a polished neoclassical company included the addition of a burgeoning Balanchine repertoire. - The Oregonian Review, 6/16/13
PETROUCHKA/CARMEN / October 8-15, 2011
“Accompanied by the OBT orchestra, playing Stravinsky's difficult Petrouchka score particularly well, the dancers, a third of them new this season, performed with the passion of the 19th century and the fine-tuned technique of the 21st... Petrouchka and Carmen are about what it means to be human, and to be young, with all the virtues, vices and emotional turmoil that implies.” - Martha Ullman West, The Oregonian
“the company of dancers… looked fabulous on Saturday night, swift and exact and committed. I’m always going on about [Alison] Roper, but, honestly, we are seeing a great dancer at the height of her career, both wise in the ways of dance and strong physically.” – Barry Johnson, Oregon Public Broadcasting
A HOLIDAY REVUE / December 10-22, 2011
“’A Holiday Revue’ is a Midcentury Modern tip of the porkpie hat to the glorious popular art of the '50s -- to the songwriters, designers and Broadway gypsies who brought brash efficiency and ebullient polish to the last days of American elegance. Some of the songs in this alternately sentimental and gloriously quirky collection are from before the '50s and some are from after, but the spirit's right there in the center, in that brief time when high and low met in a happy and creative medium.” - Bob HIcks, The Oregonian
THE NUTCRACKER / December 10-24, 2011
“From the opening party scene to the second-act conclusion of Marie's Christmas Eve dream, ‘The Nutcracker’ was danced with such precision, charm, musicality and conviction that even the most jaded viewers found it magical. Ten new company members accounted for some of that, as did OBT stalwarts who over the years have fine-tuned their interpretations of the ballet's many roles. OBT's orchestra, led by Niel dePonte, served well Tchaikovsky's deeply romantic, highly theatrical score. The multi-generational audience was clearly enthralled.” - Martha Ullman West, The Oregonian
GISELLE / February 25 - March 3, 2012
Preview - Bob HIcks, The Oregonian Preview
"Saturday night, principals, soloists, and an impeccable corps of Wilis (ghosts of girls who were jilted on their wedding day) danced with the artistry and technical skill that make this ballet wring your heart.” - Martha Ullman West, The Oregonian
“The sets and costumes were glorious, the dancers in fine form, the story clearly told, the music played with dash and then pathos by the OBT orchestra led by Niel DePonte. I found it impossible to leave without a smile on my face.” - Barry Johnson, OPB Arts & Life
Review "At ‘Giselle,’ the view from on high"- Bob Hicks, ArtScatter.com
CHROMATIC QUARTET / April 19 - 28, 2012
“Rarely do I watch something on stage and, upon its end, wish I could hit rewind and watch it at least two or three more times, but such was the case with The Lost Dance” – Aaron Scott, Portland Monthly
“Every aspect of it was remarkable. The lighting design was awesome, shifting from street corner haziness to shattered grid; the creepy, industrial-tinged soundtrack competed with the choreography in the innovation department, and it all came together to create a kind of crime-noir vibe with a hint of reefer madness.” – Marjorie Skinner, Portland Mercury
“(T)he dancers (put) heart, soul and technical skill into the performance of four wildly different ballets… [In Stravinsky Violin Concerto,] Grace Shibley, partnered with Brett Bauer, giving his best performance to date, came into her own, dancing with heart-stopping musicality.” – Martha Ullman West, Oregonian
“clear, complex and riveting… gorgeously designed, and uplifting” – Bob Hicks, Oregon ArtsWatch
Interview + Slide Show: Adam Arnold on Designing for OBT's Spring Show - Aaron Scott, Portland Monthly
THE SLEEPING BEAUTY / October 9 - 16, 2010
"Oregon Ballet Theatre proved three points when the company opened its 21st season with Christopher Stowell's fresh and witty staging of the Petipa-Tchaikowsky classic, "The Sleeping Beauty." Live music, played well is essential to ballet. High art can be hugely entertaining to watch. And, like Princess Aurora, this company has truly come of age." - Read The Oregonian Review
"BALLET DEMANDS PHYSICAL STRENGTH; as much strength as the most strenuous of sports. If you don't believe me, the Oregon Ballet Theatre's The Sleeping Beauty proves it. Artistic Director Christopher Stowell has choreographed the romantic chestnut so that the women spend most of the evening on the tips of a few toes (think of a ballerina on a music box) and the men jump and leap like gazelles. Fortunately, OBT's dancers, led by Yuka Iino and Chauncey Parsons, rose to the challenge." - Read The Portland Mercury Review
"Like most story ballets, Beauty is fraught with logistical challenges: It has complex sets and costumes. It has live music. It has dancing children. But when it works—and it does here—the payoff can be huge." - Read the Willamette Week Review
"Fairy-tale endings are nice, but Oregon Ballet Theatre is going that one better, giving its 2010-11 season a fairy-tale beginning. OBT's 21st season kicks off in grand fashion this weekend with "The Sleeping Beauty," a three-hour enchantment..." - Read The Oregonian Preview
THE STRAVINSKY PROJECT / February 26 - March 5, 2011
"Stravinsky rocks, and so does Oregon Ballet Theatre. That was abundantly clear on Saturday night when the company opened its spring concerts at the Keller with an all-Stravinsky program that included reprises of Yuri Possokhov's charming Firebird and Christopher Stowell's sophisticated neo-classical Rite of Spring, with the thoroughly risky Stravinsky Project as the centerpiece." - Read the full Oregonian Review
"A mesmerizing piece... Mueller retires after OBT's spring program (Song & Dance, April 21-May 1) and her performance alone is worth the trip, although the entire project has much to recommend, artistic departures included. Perhaps Stravinsky would approve." - Read the full Willamette Week Review
"Given his collaborative history, chances are good that Stravinsky would have liked what's going on in the studios of Oregon Ballet Theatre this month, where four diverse local choreographers have created "The Stravinsky Project," - Read the full Oregonian feature story about the creation of The Stravinsky Project
SONG & DANCE / April 21 - May 1, 2011
"a fast-paced, lively romp… a perfect display of Mueller's speed, precision and athleticism” – Read the full Oregonian Review
“sleek and vivid and funny” – Read the full Art Scatter blog
Art Scatter on Anne: “With the body type of Olive Oyl and the energy of Popeye on a fresh can of spinach, she exudes the kind of antic comic appeal of a Fred Astaire amped up with a shot of Danny Kaye.”
“I enjoyed seeing OBT's Square Dance. Artistic director Christopher Stowell is dedicated to including Balanchine in the company's repertoire, and this one will sharpen their technique. I liked the good cheer of Rowe and Parsons in the lead roles almost as much as I liked the way they moved together: They knew that Neist was having some fun with his calling, and they joined in. Perfect.” – Read the full review by Barry Johnson, Arts Dispatch
Performances at Caldera / June 18, 2010
"Time to dance: Portland's Oregon Ballet Theatre brings performances to Caldera Arts Center Professional-level ballet is rare in Central Oregon.
So this week, lovers of dance can rejoice. Portland’s Oregon
Ballet Theatre has come to Caldera Arts Center for a residency,
capped by a trio of performances this weekend. " - Read The Bend Bulletin Preview
EMERALD RETROSPECTIVE / October 10 - 17, 2009
"The program shows where OBT has been, with works by the late Spaight, and
where it may go, with a well-drilled ensemble piece by OBT students, plus an
excerpt from Stowell’s visually pleasing A Midsummer Night’s Dream…Stowell’s
ability to choose and create solid work bodes well for the future." - Read the Willamette Week Review
"In Oregon Ballet Theatre's 20th anniversary season opener, the dancers, performing a program headed by George Balanchine's elegant, eloquent Emeralds -- followed by excerpts from, count them, nine other ballets -- delivered the technical skill, stylistic versatility and eclectic musicality the evening demanded, and then some." - Read The Oregonian Review
"Premiered in 1967 and seeming older than that (this is definitely a pre-Beatles universe onstage) Balanchine's ballet is a visual stunner: Karinska's glittering emerald costumes; the spare vivid set with its falling sweep of white drapery and its lone elegant chandelier high above the stage; the astonishing lighting (originally by Ronald Bates, executed here by OBT's masterful designer Michael Mazzola) that reminds me somehow of C.S. Lewis's Narnia series, with its conceit that there are old worlds and new worlds, and that in the new ones everything is brighter, more vivid, more cleanly outlined, and the air seems alive." - Read the Art Scatter Review
"Portland is a city that's going places. New streetcar lines downtown, restoration and use of historic trolleys, a new tram that connects the Willamette waterfront to the Oregon Health & Science University and a ballet company that is celebrating a well-deserved milestone anniversary." - Read the Critical Dance Review
GEORGE BALANCHINE'S THE NUTCRACKER / December 12 - 27, 2009
"...it was a profound pleasure to see how well the company has mastered the musically timed mime throughout, the unity and charm of such set pieces as the Dance of the Snowflakes and the Waltz of the Flowers, and the way individuals have grown into various roles." - Read The Oregonian Review
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM / February 27 - March 6, 2010
“[I]t was danced with grace, wit and fervor. Alison Roper and Ronnie Underwood as the fairy queen and king, Titania and Oberon, were truly regal, especially in the culminating scene when Oberon needs to win back Titania's love and respect. Javier Ubell, in a role he seems to have been destined to dance, was a giddy-eyed bouncing ball as the mischief-maker Puck. Ansa Deguchi was a sprightly accomplice to Puck as the fairy Peaseblossom, and veteran Kevin Poe brought a sinuous low comedy to his performance of donkey-eared Bottom without turning him into a complete buffoon.” - Read The Oregonian Review
DUETS / April 22 - May 2, 2010
"Dance review: Artistry and versatility shine in OBT's 'Duets'
Oregon Ballet Theatre's spring concerts at the Newmark Theatre are always worth seeing, this year more than ever. You actually can see the details of performance in ways that are impossible in the Keller silo. And it's the last chance to see Gavin Larsen, a master of nuanced dancing, perform." - Read The Oregonian Review
"There are two solid additions and one sorry subtraction in Oregon Ballet Theatre’s spring program, Duets. First the good news: OBT has beefed up its rep with two musically and choreographically engaging contemporary pieces…. Now, the bad news: principal dancer Gavin Larsen is retiring after this season, which seems especially unfair after watching her in the 1972 Balanchine-Stravinsky joint Duo Concertant. - Read the Willamette Week Review
DANCE UNITED 2010 / June 3, 2010
Oregon Ballet Theatre gives thanks with second annual 'Dance United' gala
"Having been given a second lease on life, OBT has put its house in order financially, cutting its budget by about a quarter and pulling in more contributed revenue. On Thursday, 'Dance United' returns. But, though it's still a fundraiser, this time it's not so much a cry for help as a hale and hearty thank you… OBT artistic director Christopher Stowell spoke recently about the difference a year makes." - Read The Oregonian preview by Marty Hughley
Dance review: OBT and guests bring spectrum of styles to 'Dance United'
“At ‘Dance United’ on Thursday night, men and women from five national and international companies joined Oregon Ballet Theatre's dancers at the Keller Auditorium, telling stories of doomed love and happy endings in a variety of styles, all firmly rooted in classical ballet.”- Read The Oregonian review by Martha Ullman West
CHICAGO DANCING FESTIVAL / August 18 - 22, 2009
"Trey McIntyre's 'Just,' is an amusing mix of the ballet and contemporary vocabularies, providing often startling partnering moments for its two couples from Oregon Ballet Theatre." - The Chicago Tribune
“The two technically deft couples from Oregon Ballet Theatre (Anne Mueller, Alison Roper, Artur Sultanov and Lucas Threefoot) danced the tricky series of duets in choreographer Trey McIntyre's "Just" with polish.” – Chicago Sun Times
SWAN LAKE / October 11 - 18, 2008 / SEE PHOTOS
“...a packed house whooped and clapped and finally leapt to its feet to celebrate the burnished brilliance of this lively antique." - Read the Review
"Free as a Bird:
Swan Lake dancers are no featherweights" - Read Feature Article by by Rebecca Ragain
"Oregon Ballet Theatre has flashed onto the national ballet scene in the last few months, with breakthrough appearances at the Kennedy Center (in June) and New York City Center (late September), where they picked up strong notices from even the most cantankerous of serious ballet critics." - Read Stephen Marc Beaudoin's Blog
"A standing ovation greeted the final curtain at last night’s opening of Swan Lake by Oregon Ballet Theater. And a well deserved ovation it was." - Read Floyd Sklaver's Review
"I’ve previously reported how Margot Fonteyn used to rate the difficulty of the roles she tackled by the level of fear-factor she experienced. 'Swan Lake' '...was sheer terror. Everything about it is enormous.' We don’t know if Yuka Iino experienced sheer terror in dancing Oregon Ballet Theatre’s Opening Night 'Swan Lake' as Odette/Odile but if she did, it certainly did not show." - Read Dean Spear's Blog
THE NUTCRACKER / December 12 - 24, 2008
“Behold the beauty of 'The Nutcracker's' snow scene, a result of craft, technique and talent..." - Read the Preview
Ballet Review: "Choreography, dancing reason to see 'Nutcracker'" - Read the full review by Catherine Thomas
"Martha Ullman West on the Ghost of Nutcrackers Past" - Read the full blog by Martha Ullman West
LAMBARENA / February 21 - 28, 2009
“Oregon Ballet Theatre has hit the jackpot... With three wildly different examples of what contemporary ballet can look like, this program is sharp, entertaining and well worth the ticket price." - Read the Willamette Week Review
"On Saturday's opening night at Keller Auditorium, Anne Mueller's fearless central performance was an exquisite interpretation of shape-shifting duality, serpentine and robotic at once, the intensity of her presence injecting every angle of elbow and stab of leg with an almost feral distress. A must-see." - Read The Oregonian Review
LEFT UNSAID / April 17 - 26, 2009
"Kudelka's new dance is elegantly designed, stripped to its lush essentials... [The music] is restrained and rigorous, and the more beautiful for it... Christine Darch's diaphanous costumes, which alight on the dancers' bodies like dew, underscore the dreamlike quality of the whole thing."
- Read The Oregonian Review
"Oregon Ballet Theatre’s spring program, which opened last Friday at the Newmark Theatre, reminded me why they’re one of the region’s most worthy arts organizations. The programming was risky and inventive, the performances were fully committed, and the quality of artistry never fell below a certain high standard of excellence."
"What emerges in [Left Unsaid] is the precision and passion of all six dancers... It's truly a joy to watch. That passion also shines in Vertiginous...and in Tarantella."
THE SCHOOL OF OREGON BALLET THEATRE ANNUAL PERFORMANCE /
May 2 & 3, 2009
Art Scatter Blog
"Students from the School of Oregon Ballet Theatre had their annual showcase at the Newmark Theatre May 2 and 3 in a lengthy program consisting of works by Balanchine, Ashton, Lew Christensen, Robbins, Bruce Wells, Josie Moseley and OBT principal Ronnie Underwood, works that reflect the background and training not only of OBT artistic director Christopher Stowell, but also of school director Damara Bennett and the rest of the faculty." - Read Martha Ullman West's Review
RUSH + ROBBINS / June 5 - 7, 2009
Arts Scatter Blog Review - Further Thoughts by Martha Ullman West
"When I wrote on Monday in The Oregonian that the way Oregon Ballet Theatre’s dancers performed The Concert last weekend clearly and painfully demonstrate how much we have to lose if the company folds, I didn’t mean the same assessment couldn’t be applied to the rest of what was a very difficult program. OBT’s season-finale program was designed to accomplish several goals, one of which was to challenge the dancers. And there is no getting around the fact that the work those dancers had performed most often — Rush, Afternoon of a Faun and The Concert — was polished to the accomplished shine you see only in major companies..." - Read Martha Ullman West's Review
The Oregonian Review
"Loud guffaws and rippling giggles marked the closing performances of Oregon Ballet Theatre's 2009 season at the Keller Auditorium last weekend as the dancers capered their way through "The Concert," Jerome Robbins' brilliantly loving send up of high art and audience behavior, the perfect closing ballet for the company's best put together and performed show since Christopher Stowell assumed the directorship in 2003. - Read Martha Ullman West's Review
Willamette Week Review
"What Portland has now—and what it could lose—became painfully clear last Friday night at the Keller during Oregon Ballet Theatre’s Rush + Robbins program." - Read Heather Wisner's Review
Critical Dance Blog Review
"Oregon Ballet Theatre strongly concluded its 2008 - 2009 season with one of its best programs ever: 'Rush + Robbins.'" - Read Dean Speer's Blog Review
The Oregonian Preview
"With Oregon Ballet Theatre's dire financial straits in the headlines and an outpouring of accompanying support, the final program of the company's 19th season holds particular resonance for ballet fans. It's also a reminder of why OBT is worth saving." - Read Catherine Thomas' Preview
Willamette Week Preview
"It’s a muggy Tuesday evening, and Anne Mueller is gripping Ronnie Underwood’s head between her calves; he writhes in agony as she stabs his ribcage with her pointe shoe and scowls fiercely at his prone form. “Attackers ready!” calls Bart Cook, as three women stride forward, bare their teeth in a silent scream and knife their fingers through the air." - Read Heather Wisner's Preview
DANCE UNITED BENEFIT / June 12, 2009
Dance United: Second take -- still, WOW!
woke up this morning our head ablaze with ballet thoughts and images after last night's Dance United gala at Keller Auditorium… once the program of dancers, in solos and duets mostly, started to unspool onstage… the spectacle was so engaging, so exciting. Every few minutes something new landed in front of us, often something delightful if not downright astonishing….” - Read the Review by Barry Johnson, The Oregonian, June 13, 2009
"OBT gala leaves the audience cheering, and the $750,00 goal in sight"
by Grant Butler
If you're looking for compelling reasons why Oregon Ballet Theatre is worth saving, they were right there on stage Friday night in the very first moments of "The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude," a fast-paced work that opened the "Dance United" fundraising gala. - Read the Review by Grant Butler, The Oregonian, June 15, 2009
"Dancers flock to gala to rescue OBT" by Martha Ullman West
Fifty dancers, count them, from 13 companies, 14 including Oregon Ballet Theatre's, came together in common cause at the Keller Auditorium Friday night to save OBT from financial disaster. - Read the Review by Martha Ulman West, The Oregonian, June 15, 2009
FALL FOR DANCE at New York City Center / September 20 & 21, 2008
The New York Times
“...the [RUSH] pas de deux, performed by Alison Roper and Artur Sultanov of Oregon Ballet Theater, was a snapshot of Mr. Wheeldon at his most ardent and enigmatic.” - Read The New York Times Review
“...the clean crisp lines of a duet from Christopher Wheeldon’s Rush, beautifully danced by Alison Roper and Artur Sultanov of Oregon Ballet Theatre, made a great contrast with the onrush of Hofesh Shechter’s Uprising.” - Read Wendy Perron's Editor's Blog
The New York Observer
"Let’s salute also... the striking duet from Christopher Wheeldon’s Rush, performed superbly by the Oregon Ballet Theatre." - Read The New York Observer Review
"Dancers Alison Roper and Artur Sultanov were exceptionally fluid in their partnering and turns, a mere tease at what New York audiences might be missing with OBT being on the opposite coast.” - Read the Explore Dance Review
“The dancers were impeccably clear and strong, and captured the underlying unease of the Martinu music.” - Read the Danceview Times Review
KENNEDY CENTER DEBUT / June 2008 / SEE PHOTOS
The Washington Post
"Oregon Ballet Theatre is the smallest, least wealthy and youngest of the companies in "Ballet Across America," established less than 20 years ago. It set itself a hefty challenge in dancing Wheeldon's 'RUSH,' an energetic, highly technical work created in 2003 for the San Francisco Ballet and, until OBT acquired it, danced by no other troupe. But the result was a revelation: Here is a group of talented and winsome dancers to watch." "...[Oregon Ballet Theatre] put an exhilarating stamp on a fascinating
week."- Read the Washington Post Review
"[Oregon Ballet Theatre's] dancers seized the stage with appetite and attention-getting strength." - The Washington Post
The Washington Times
"The program concluded with a bright, fresh gem...Oregon Ballet Theatre
dancing Christopher Wheeldon's RUSH..."
- Read The Washington Times Review
The New York Times
"...Mr. Wheeldon's 'Rush'...now emerges as one of the most vividly
satisfying constructions by him or any other ballet choreographer in this
decade."- Read The New York Times Review
The Portland Tribune
"For all its successes in five years under artistic director Christopher Stowell, Oregon Ballet Theatre may be enjoying its finest hour this weekend
in Washington, D.C." - Read The Portland Tribune Review
"To say that [OBT] held their own against Houston Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Kansas City Ballet, Boston Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, Ballet West, Pacific Northwest Ballet and Washington Ballet would understate the case." - Read The Oregonian Review
The Wall Street Journal
"Oregon Ballet Theatre looked youthful and individual in Christopher Wheeldon's 'RUSH'..." - Read The Wall Street Journal Review
"17 dancers, eight staffers and a phalanx of supporters from Portland's Oregon Ballet Theatre, all [arrived] in Washington, D.C., with sweaty palms and one heady ambition - to blow the roof off Kennedy Center in the company's debut performance there. And by all critical and audience accounts, it happened." - Read the Just Out Review
LAGUNA DANCE FESTIVAL / October 2007
Top Dance Performances of 2007...Laguna Dance Festival, especially Oregon Ballet Theatre” - Orange County Register