Photo Top: Xuan Cheng and Brian Simcoe. Photo by Tatiana Wills.

A Letter from Alison Roper

Dear Friends,

Is there someone who changed your life? Someone who made your dreams possible? Someone without whom you never would have had the opportunity to succeed?

For me, that someone is Oregon Ballet Theatre.

Nineteen years ago, I left Maine at twenty-one to audition at ballet companies across the country, hoping that one of the nearly twenty companies I visited would give me an opportunity to prove myself. OBT was the only place that offered me an apprenticeship.

1996 was the year that changed my life. OBT is the place that changed my life.

From the moment I arrived as an apprentice, OBT and the School of OBT invested in me. The school and company provided me with classes, exceptional teachers and the opportunity to improve myself technically and artistically. All the remarkable people at this organization, from the artistic staff and production team that put our creations on stage, to the box office staff that sold the tickets, contributed to the making of me. They were the infrastructure that made a difference in my life, the people who invested in me and taught me, so I could have a career at OBT.

I would not be who I am today without OBT.

Now, as I draw near retirement, I look back on those early years and realize that OBT continues to change the lives of others just as it changed mine. As you read this letter, our company is out in the community making a difference:

  • An at-risk child at a local elementary school learns how to use her body to solve problems and communicate her ideas. An OBT Teaching Artist helps her build coordination, self-confidence, and athleticism – all while expanding her understanding of math through movement.
  • A low-income teen shows incredible promise for dance. The School of OBT recognizes his potential and provides him with a scholarship to study ballet. Under the guidance of expert teachers he flourishes as a dancer and person, opening the door to his future dreams.
  • A refugee family receives free tickets to attend George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker. The United States, English and ballet are unfamiliar to them but, as dance knows no language barriers, they share a magical evening with hundreds of other families from our community.

In these and countless other ways OBT supports the broader community – just as it has always supported me.

A few days from now I will make my final bows from the OBT stage during CELEBRATE, April 17 -26, at the Newmark Theatre, and I hope you will share one of those performances with me. Although these bittersweet bows will mark my retirement from the stage, once they are finished I will continue working with OBT as a member of the administrative and teaching staff. I believe too much in OBT and its mission as an ambassador of the arts in our community to work anywhere else.

Eighteen years ago OBT believed in me and what I could become. For that I am eternally grateful and hope that you will join me in honoring OBT as I retire. It is only with your support that OBT will continue to change lives. A contribution today, of any amount, is an investment in the future of OBT, in the dancers here, and in the community we call home.

Mona Cordell Print
Print of sumo brush painting of Alison by Mona Cordell

As a thank you for your gift of $250 or more, we are pleased to offer you a print of an original sketch by local artist Mona Jones Cordell. Several of her canvasses hang in the OBT studios and I love seeing them every day when I come to work. I cannot think of a better way to say “thank you” than with one of these limited-edition prints of Mona’s work.

Your investment in the future is the perfect way to honor everything OBT has done for me. By supporting OBT, you can make a difference in the life of someone new.


Alison Roper
Alison Roper
Principal Dancer
Alison Roper

OBT / National Endowment for the Arts Oregon Arts Commission Regional Arts & Culture Council Work for Art Portland Monthly
Work for Art