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Watermill

Martha Ullman West to cover OBT?

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OBT fans and Christopher Stowell followers should be sure to read this terrific article by the sorely missed dance critic Martha Ullman West:

http://www.oregonlive.com/entertainment/or...69362154690.xml[/url]

I've been waiting for months for someone to give this kind of knowledgable overview to the transition from Canfield and Stowell, knowing full well that she was the only one who could. The Oregonian's Bob Hicks, a general arts reviewer, has been doing a very good job reporting on all the changes, but Ms. West, former President of the national Dance Critics Association, brings far more ballet-savvy to the keyboard.

I feel she was very fair and balanced in her treatment of Canfield, who remains in my memory as one of the most paradoxical choreographers and Artistic Directors. Her appraisal of Stowell's maiden voyage is eagerly sought by most of the balletomanes I know.

I fervently hope that she emerges from her semi-retirement to become engaged in what many of us feel could be the beginning of a Golden Age of West Coast Ballet. (PNB...OBT...SFB...LA?)

Watermill

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I remember Ms. West's critiques of OBT performances under Canfield in Dance Magazine. She has a national clout, and many of us would welcome word of the new regime from her hands.

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West also wrote a review (covering OBT, PNB and a few other things from the Pacific Northwest scene, for the Summer issue of DanceView, and will be writing for us again). :) :) :)

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I just realized after re-reading the article that former NYCB Soloist/PNB Principal and Royal Danish Ballet Mistress Colleen Neary is here setting Rubies...and Martha Ullman West is sitting in the studio taking notes! This is very exciting!

Add to this Patricia Barker's visit to set Duo Fantasy and Darla Hoover's upcoming work on Nutcracker and one can feel how very different things are going to be at the Civic Auditorium.

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I'm putting the article up again, with a blurb for discussion: it's not only a preview of the company, but it's about many of the issues we talk about here.

The Oregonian watches as Christopher Stowell takes over the reins at Oregon Ballet Theater.

Stowell is putting the "ballet" back in Oregon Ballet Theatre -- not that it was ever missing, under former artistic director James Canfield, from company class or the ballet's school. Just from the stage.

Canfield, who trained at Mary Day's Washington Ballet School in the more classical style of Russia's Vaganova Academy, taught an elegant company class, too.

But over the years, as his choreographic inclinations shifted from the lyrical beauty of his "Romeo and Juliet" to the hard-driving, in-your-face assaults of such ballets as "The Relief of Mass Hysteria," finding a fifth position onstage was a little like playing "Where's Waldo?" Classical technique -- as Canfield insisted in interviews -- was often present somewhere. But it was mighty hard to see.

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