Well I was hoping OBT's press person would've posted this by now.
“NEW BEGINNINGS,” CHRISTOPHER STOWELL’S DEBUT AS
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR OF OREGON BALLET THEATRE,
CELEBRATES ARTISTRY AND ATTITUDE OF AMERICAN BALLET
• With Choreography by George Balanchine, Kent Stowell, Paul Taylor and Helgi Tomasson, “New Beginnings” Highlights Ballet’s American Century
• Kent Stowell and Francia Russell of Pacific Northwest Ballet, Helgi Tomasson of San Francisco Ballet Attend Opening Night
• Four Ballet-Program Consciously Creates a Bridge between Great Northwest Ballet Companies
With Christopher Stowell’s accession as artistic director of OREGON BALLET THEATRE, the 15-year-old company enters a new era illuminated by the fresh vision of a classically trained dancer and former principal of San Francisco Ballet. “New Beginnings” heralds these exciting changes with all the energy, snap and briskness expected of the season. “New Beginnings” includes ballets by George Balanchine, Kent Stowell, Paul Taylor and Helgi Tomasson, set to music by Stravinsky, Bolcom, The Andrews Sisters and Mendelssohn, respectively.
“New Beginnings” plays October 11, 16,17, 18 at 7:30 PM and October 12 at 2 PM at Keller Auditorium, SW Clay at Third. Tickets: $10 - $85; box office: 503-2-BALLET (222-5538) or 888-9-BALLET (922-5538); website: www.obt.org. “New Beginnings” is sponsored by Mentor Graphics.
The opening performance on Saturday, October 11 will be a truly gala evening with ballet luminaries and leaders from Portland’s civic, artistic and business communities in the audience. These include Kent Stowell and Francia Russell, co-artistic directors of Pacific Northwest Ballet (and Christopher Stowell’s parents), and Helgi Tomasson, artistic director of San Francisco Ballet (where Stowell danced for 16 years), and his wife Marlene Tomasson (a Portland native). Their presence makes explicit Christopher Stowell’s intent to place OREGON BALLET THEATRE among the great Northwest ballet companies. Among the other special guests are Patricia Barker, Joanna Berman, Rachel Berman and Colleen Neary, ballerinas noted for their performances in Stowell’s Duo Fantasy, Tomasson’s Twilight, Taylor’s Company B and Balanchine’s Rubies, respectively; Mayor Vera Katz; Christopher Mattaliano, General Director, Portland Opera; Dan Geller and Dayna Goldfine, Emmy Award-winning dance documentarians; most of the OBT’s Board and Pointe Society (major donor) members; and, of course, Christopher Stowell. Following the performance, they will join the full company of OBT dancers in an onstage, invitation-only party.
Every piece in “New Beginnings” is a Company Premiere. The program includes the jazz and sass of
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OBT, “New Beginnings,” Page Two
Balanchine’s Rubies, the exuberance of Paul Taylor’s Company B, the provocation of Kent Stowell’s Duo Fantasy and the romance of Helgi Tomasson’s Twilight.
OREGON BALLET THEATRE is one of perhaps two dozen companies around the world participating in the
celebration of the centenary of George Balanchine’s (1904 – 1983) birth. A piece by the master choreographer is included in each of OBT’s four 03-04 programs. Rubies is among the most high-spirited and most American of the works by the Russian-born choreographer who relished many things about his adopted culture including its Western clothes, energy and physicality. Its sophisticated glitter and vamp is an auspicious beginning for a well-trained, imaginative company poised to seize the future.
Set to a jazz-influenced score by Stravinsky (Balanchine’s compatriot and frequent collaborator), Rubies was created with a very specific street athleticism in mind. Its dancers dodge and dart about the stage, sometimes with boxing-like moves. A lithe male-female duo is joined by a statuesque ballerina who commands the stage with presence, attitude and technique.
As originally conceived, Rubies is flanked by two other jewels, Emeralds and Diamonds. Inspired by a visit to the exclusive Fifth Avenue jeweler, Van Cleef and Arpels, Jewels (as the complete work is known), was the first three-act, plotless ballet ever created. When it debuted it 1967, the response, from audience and critics, was a thunderclap of acclamation. The Rubies centerpiece has proven to be so cohesive and so popular own its own that it has joined the repertoire of many ballet companies around the world.
Despite, or perhaps because of, its title, Kent Stowell’s Duo Fantasy features three dancers as they meet and part in a stylized, enclosed space (sometimes described as a sparring ring). William Bolcom’s evocative music will be performed live by Carol A. Rich on piano and Margaret Bichteler on violin. Duo Fantasy was originally created in 1989 for broadcast on public television and then was re-staged for a live audience. In keeping with the medium cool of contemporary relationships, Duo Fantasy has an enigmatic, provocative quality.
Helgi Tomasson’s Twilight (1998) captures the lyricism, tenderness and intense music of the adagio from Mendelssohn’s “Concerto for Piano and Orchestra.” The choreographer explains his inspiration, “I wanted it to be a romance for mature people – a man and a woman, rather than just two dancers. The music inspired me.” The choreography, like the music, unfolds as one extended adagio. With two people who never want to be too far apart from each other, the piece has a quietly effusive quality, expansive without being showy.
Like Balanchine’s Rubies, Company B was a departure for Paul Taylor. But in the opposite way: from abstraction to narrative and character. While Company B is far from a story ballet, it’s a series of vignettes danced by distinctive personalities who tell the emotional story of a nation just emerging from The Depression and about to plunge into war. With nine songs by The Andrews Sisters, it’s impossible to miss Company B’s all-American exuberance. But like the most expressive artists, Taylor depicts youth’s beaming joy and optimism with the darkening smudge of life’s uncertainties, dangers and heartache. Jitterbuggers dance in near-mania as young men become soldiers and prepare to fight and die. Like Rubies, Company B was a smash hit on its 1991 debut. It has become one of the most popular of Paul Taylor’s works, worldwide. Company B demonstrates ballet’s compatibility with the jump and jive of popular culture.
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OBT, “New Beginnings,” Page Three
OREGON BALLET THEATRE’s Dancers are: Matthew Boyes•Christopher Brough•Erika Cole•Kester Cotton•Paul De Stropper•Louis-Philippe Dionne•McKenzie Fyfe•Katie Gibson•Larke Hasstedt•Yuka Iino•Gavin Larsen•Mia Leimkuhler•Daniela Martin•Kathi Martuza•Anne Mueller•Jonathan Porretta (guest artist, from Pacific Northwest Ballet)•Alison Roper•Artur Sultanov•Tracy Taylor•Scott Trumbo•Karl Vakili; joined by Apprentices: Candace Bouchard•Andrew Champlin•Ansa Deguchi•Magrielle Eisen•Hollis Hock•Caitlin M. Trowbridge•Leann Underwood•Alexa Vignoles
Artistic Director Christopher Stowell joined OREGON BALLET THEATRE on July 1, 2003. He is the company’s second artistic director, succeeding James Canfield who founded the company in 1989. Stowell trained at the Pacific Northwest Ballet School and the School of American Ballet, joining San Francisco Ballet in 1985 at age 19. As a principal dancer, his repertoire included leading roles in Romeo and Juliet, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty and Othello as well as works by George Balanchine, Paul Taylor, Jerome Robbins, Jiri Kilian and Frederick Ashton. Val Caniparoli, William Forsythe, Mark Morris, and Helgi Tomasson created roles for him. Before retiring in 1991, he danced in theaters throughout the world and was a renowned guest artist. He has taught internationally and choreographed works for San Francisco Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, Diablo Ballet and the New York City Ballet Choreographic Institute. Dance Magazine praised his choreography for Pacific Northwest Ballet's Zais (2003) work as, "...bold and ambitious...the work of a confident choreographer with acute musical sense, a sure hand with a large group of dancers, and a keen respect for the history of the art."
Founded in 1989, OREGON BALLET THEATRE is a not-for-profit, professional ballet company, with a school, based in Portland, Oregon. On July 1, 2003, Christopher Stowell became OREGON BALLET THEATRE’s artistic director and Damara Bennett joined the company as school director. OREGON BALLET THEATRE offers the highest quality ballet, in a repertoire of classic and contemporary work, to the people of Oregon, the Pacific Northwest and the United States. In addition to “New Beginnings,” its 2003 – 2004 season includes:
George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker
December 11–27, 2003
The first production by a West Coast company of Balanchine’s beloved ballet in its near-50 year history.
February 28–March 6, 2004
Serenade, George Balanchine
TBA, Christopher Stowell -- World Premiere
Firebird, Yuri Possokhov -- World Premiere
“Masters and Moderns”
May 7–22, 2004
There Where She Loved, Christopher Wheeldon -- American Premiere
TBD, Julia Adam -- World Premiere
Duo Concertant, George Balanchine -- Company Premiere
Facade, Frederick Ashton -- Company Premiere