History

Founded in 1989 by James Canfield, a former principal dancer with the Joffrey Ballet, OBT quickly developed a distinctive style and unique repertoire that grew to comprise over 80 ballets, including evening-length classics, 20th-Century masterpieces and groundbreaking contemporary works. From 2003-2012, under the direction of Christopher Stowell, OBT presented nearly 350 performances and added 51 ballets, including 20 world premieres, to its diverse body of work. Stowell created 10 ballets for the company and further expanded its repertoire with notable works by George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, William Forsythe and Lar Lubovitch.

In June 2013, we were delighted to name Kevin Irving as the company’s third Artistic Director. Irving brings over 25 years of experience performing with and managing world-renowned cultural organizations and dance companies, including The Göteborg Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet, and Compañia Nacional de Danza (Spain). His tenure has been marked by a commitment to collaborative partnerships with other Portland artists and organizations, including the Portland Art Museum, Multnomah County Library, Kenji Bunch, and Pink Martini. He has expanded the company’s classical repertoire – with the premieres of Ben Stevenson’s Cinderella and August Bournonville’s Napoli – while preserving OBT’s legacy and restoring major works such as James Canfield’s Romeo & Juliet. At the same time, he continues to build a diverse body of work with world premieres from internationally acclaimed, contemporary choreographers such as Nicolo Fonte, Darrell Grand Moultrie, and James Kudelka.

Irving will be working with OBT to develop a unique approach to 21st century American ballet that reflects the vigor of the art form as it continues to evolve.

Left to right: Davida Haas and Fabrice Lamire in James Canfield’s Nutcracker; Alison Roper and Ronnie Underwood in Yuri Possokhov’s Raymonda; and Avery Reiners in Nicolo Fonte’s Never Stop Falling (In Love). Photos by Blaine Truitt Covert.