2011-2012 Season

WK12 Partners With OBT to Create a Ballet Font

June 2010

While looking for inspiration, a team at WK12 (an experimental agency based within the  Wieden + Kennedy advertising firm) came across a story about a young girl who needed to move in order to learn. As team member Rachel Mays explains:

“… In first grade, Paula Jones was assessed as 'learning disabled.' By sixth grade she was still at the first grade reading level when one empathetic teacher recognized her poise and graceful movements. This teacher encouraged Paula to go home and spell out the alphabet using her arms and legs as though she were a ballerina. Paula came in the very next morning dancing the letters and then sequencing all 26 into a unified performance. Within a week she moved from dancing words to writing them.  By the end of 6th grade she was reading and writing at grade level. And the following year a 'learning disabled' Paula earned above-average grades. "

Moved by Paula's story, WK12 set out to create a computer font based on ballet and contacted OBT for help. Always up for a challenge, Soloist Candace Bouchard choreographed the movements that would create each letter of the alphabet. Armed with LED lights and technical skills from Fashionbuddha, a WK12 team moved into the OBT studios for 3 days to capture the raw footage. Company Artists Grace Shibley and Lucas Threefoot spent the days with LEDs taped to their arms and feet, tracking their every movement as they traced out Candice's letters with their bodies. Using animation software and the data collected from the LED lights, the pathway from the letters will form a usable typeface.

In the words of Rachel Mays, "This font is a tribute to all those kids who were told to sit still and pay attention when, in fact, they just needed to move to think."

Download the font and visit the project website

See a recreation of the process and a celebration of arts and education featuring OBT dancers at First Thursday on July 1st from 6:00-8:00pm

Portland Center Stage Main Lobby
128 NW Eleventh Ave
Portland, OR 97209

Visit the partners:



WK Candice

WK Grace and Lucas



OBT's Education and Outreach Department serves thousands of young people like Paula every year. See how Education and Outreach is impacting our community.


CAN National Endowment for the Arts Oregon Arts Commission Oregon Cultural Trust Regional Arts & Culture Council Work for Art