FEATURES / VOLUNTEER PROFILES / Dan Bergsvik and Don Hastler
Dan and Don are certified "balletomanes." They're not just avid ballet fans, they also give both time and money to OBT. If you were to stop by the OBT Studios on any given Friday, chances are you'd find them typing away in the administrative offices or helping address invitations to an opening night event. Last June in the two weeks leading up to DANCE UNITED, Dan spent many extra hours soliciting frequent flyer mile donations and coordinating travel for guest dancers from all over the country. We'll let he and Don tell you in their own words about their experience with OBT.
Tell us how you first got involved in supporting the ballet.
Don: We had been season subscribers in San Francisco for over 25 years. The transformation of that company over the years led to a great appreciation for the art form and the dancers’ daily hard work to create it.
Dan: We recognized that our support, financially and as volunteers, could make a difference at OBT. We started out making smaller donations, now we give at the Pointe Society level.
What did you initially think of the quality of OBT’s performances compared to San Francisco Ballet’s?
Don: I was pleasantly surprised to discover the high standards of excellence at OBT. The strength and depth of the company, even though relatively small, was exciting. OBT Exposed gave us the opportunity to experience the dedication and behind-the-scenes hard work the dancers put into their art.
Dan: When we realized that ex-San Francisco dancer Christopher Stowell was in charge we figured standards would be pretty high. We weren’t disappointed!
How did you get involved with volunteering at the OBT offices and what do you do as a volunteer?
Don: After moving to Portland in 2006 and meeting Linda Besant at Dance Talks and Performance Perspectives, we became interested in volunteering. We do a variety of things in the office from data entry, envelope stuffing, mailings, and filing.
Dan: Linda said we would be needed and everyone was so welcoming. I said we’d do anything except clean the bathrooms!
What is your favorite performance from the last three seasons?
Don: My favorite individual piece was Rite of Spring. The concept, creation and execution, using the entire stage as the performance space knocked me out. The performances by Artur Sultanov and Grace Shibley will always remain in my mind as one of the most beautiful moments of dance.
Dan: I love Swan Lake. It isn’t edgy or new, but is so difficult to do well. We went twice so we could see different dancers in the lead roles. I was proud the Company has so many excellent dancers.
As an insider, what have you learned about OBT that you wish others would know?
Don: First, there is the total dedication of the dancers to their art. The daily routine that they go through is almost unbelievable without seeing it firsthand. Second, the total dedication of the office staff supporting the dancers behind-the-scenes.
Dan: I agree, the dedication and focus of the dancers is absolutely incredible to see. It is amazing to watch Christopher rehearse the dancers. Everyone is concentrating and working so hard. They are gifted artists and athletes.
Why is it important for you both to be Pointe Society members?
Don: It is important for people to support the arts. Every level of support is crucial. Even though we receive benefits as Pointe Society members, it is more important that everyone who loves the ballet support it at an amount that they personally able to sustain.
Dan: Most people know that ticket sales only make up half the cost. For a relatively small company like OBT, any level of financial support is important and appreciated. Plus, you become a part of it, it’s yours.