Features & Articles

‘Seemed like a great fit’: Danielle Rowe cherishes being first woman artistic director at Oregon Ballet Theatre

Portland Tribune | February 20, 2023

Oregon Ballet Theatre has named a woman as a permanent artistic director for the first time in its 35-year history. Danielle Rowe, a native of Australia who has been a dancer and freelance choreographer, couldn’t be happier to be the woman. It’s a national trend — companies hiring women as artistic directors — and “I feel really honored to be a part of that,” Rowe said.

Read the full article HERE

Oregon Ballet Theatre’s Xuan Cheng looks forward to challenge with Hong Kong Ballet

Portland Tribune | February 14, 2023
Listen to article HERE

Photo by Jerry Qiu, courtesy Hong Kong Ballet

Xuan Cheng, Splitting Her Season Between OBT and Hong Kong Ballet, on the Joys and Challenges of Multi-Tasking

Pointe Magazine, Gavin Larsen | January 10, 2023 – Xuan Cheng’s resumé is an impressive list of competitions, companies and roles. But beyond her laudable accomplishments is a tenacious dancer whose curiosity to see the world shaped a 22-year performance career that is, apparently, far from over.

Read the full article HERE

Photo by Jingzi Zhao

Boys in Ballet

PDX Parent | February 14, 2022 – “. . . We asked our friends at Oregon Ballet Theatre School to share what makes men’s programs in ballet so special. Read on to learn more from Interim Artistic Director Peter Franc, teacher Elise Legere, and Soloist and teacher Gustavo Ribeiro.”

Read the full article HERE

For these Portland artists, performing for live audiences again is a holiday gift

December 18, 2021 – Kevin Cook, professionally known as Poison Waters, who plays Mother Ginger in Oregon Ballet Theatre’s production of “The Nutcracker.”

Read the full article HERE

The Oregon Ballet Theatre Returns

September 28, 2021 – The Oregon Ballet Theatre is back for in-person performances starting October 15th! More’s Ayo Elise catches up with interim artistic director Peter Franc to get a sneak peek into the upcoming season which includes the company premiere of Dracula! She also talks with company dancer Coco Alverez-Mena to find out what performance she’s looking forward to most. Hint: it’s the return of a classic ballet that will make its return just in time for Christmas!

Watch the full news segment HERE

Official Proclamation

Mayor Ted Wheeler and the City of Portland | Proclaim June 2021 to be Portland Opera and Oregon Ballet Theatre Live Performance Month

June 2, 2021 – Whereas, Oregon Ballet Theatre and Portland Opera joined together to creatively address seemingly insurmountable challenges to performing in front of a live audience with the safety and comfort of artists, audience, and staff top of mind; and…

Read the full article and proclamation HERE

LeeWei Chao

Pointe Magazine, Katie Slatterly | Breaking Down Sissonne Fermé en Avant With Oregon Ballet Theatre School’s LeeWei Chao

May 18, 2021 – As a professional dancer, LeeWei Chao excelled at allégro movement; now he shares his extensive knowledge with upper-level students at Oregon Ballet Theatre School, where he also teaches OBT2. Below, Chao breaks down sissonne fermé en avant to help you achieve a dynamic and polished movement quality.

Read the full article HERE

Travel Oregon announces grants to promote tourism

Willamette Week | Travel Oregon Awards More Than $2.4 million for Projects That Promote Tourism Across the State

May 5, 2021 – Following a year of restricted travel, Oregon is ready and eager to welcome back visitors—and the state’s tourism commission just demonstrated its enthusiasm by laying out a $2.4 million dollar welcome mat.

Today, Travel Oregon announced which businesses and attractions would receive money through its Competitive & Recovery Grant Program. The funds are meant to help enhance and expand the visitor experience and prepare communities for COVID-safe travel. In this latest grant cycle, Travel Oregon received more than 400 applications seeking more than $18 million total.

Read the full article HERE

Dance Snacks participants in Action

Fox 12 Oregon | Get your kids’ creative juice flowing with ‘Dance Snacks’ and the Oregon Ballet Theatre

March 3, 2021 – OBT Community and Education Director Sarah Brown talks to Fox 12 News about the exciting new program – Dance Snacks – aimed at younger students to keep them active and engaged while distance learning and beyond.

Watch the full video HERE

Ansa Capizzi as Princess Florine and Matthew Pawlicki-Sinclair as Bluebird | Photo by Yi Yin

Oregon ArtsWatch | The Year of Living Cautiously

February 2021, 2021 – SCHUMACHER WOULD HAVE ENJOYED OBT’s REVIVAL of Christopher Stowell’s 2010 staging of The Sleeping Beauty, the first live performance I saw last year. I took my grandchildren to see the last show of the run on Sunday afternoon, February 23. Ordinarily I would have attended the opening performances the previous Saturday, both the matinee and evening shows, and reviewed them, but the kids—Nutcracker veterans—were otherwise engaged that day, there was a full house that night, and there was no pressing need for me to write about it again, so seeing the closing show without needing to take notes was just fine with me.

Read the full article HERE

Damara Bennett | Photo by Joel Thomas, courtesy Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet

DanceTeacher | Remembering Damara Bennett, City Ballet School Founder Who Once Saved San Francisco Ballet

January 8, 2021 – Damara Bennett, former San Francisco Ballet dancer, founder of City Ballet School and former director of the Oregon Ballet Theatre School, passed away on November 15 at the age of 67 after a years-long battle with breast cancer. She is survived by her husband, Michael Wallace, and her daughter, Eleanor Wallace, artistic associate at Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York City.

Read the full article HERE

Brian Bennett | photo by Jingzi Zhao

OPB – Think Out Loud | Oregon Ballet Theatre’s only Black dancer reflects on protests and pandemic life

July 15, 2020 – Brian Bennett moved to Portland last year from Chicago. Bennett is the only Black dancer in the full company at Oregon Ballet Theatre. (There is also a Black dancer in the role of apprentice at OBT.) He says the artistic director who hired him was frank about the fact that he’d be coming in to a predominantly white institution. Now, he’s practicing his ballet moves at home, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and attending Portland protests against racism and police violence. Bennett joins us to reflect on this moment and how he thinks things might be different for him when he returns to the studio. Listen or Read the article

Oregon State Capitol Building

KGW8 / AP | The largest amounts went to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, which received $4.7 million, and Metro, which got $4.1 million

July 15, 2020 – State lawmakers have voted to distribute $50 million in federal relief funds to Oregon arts and culture organizations still struggling amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Legislators voted Tuesday to direct $24 million to individual organizations including the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Oregon Symphony among others and another $26 million to county coalitions who can distribute funds to other local arts and culture organizations in need, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported. Read the article

Ansa Capizzi and OBT dancers in the 2016 performance of Beautiful Decay | Image by Yi Yin

Pamplin Media | A silent retirement: OBT’s Capizzi marks end of 17-year career

July 6, 2020 – In recent years, Ansa Capizzi would wake up in the morning, exit her bed and feel the pain.

“It’s amazing now to wake up with no pain and get out of bed like a normal person,” she said. “When I was dancing, every morning I got out of bed, took one step and it was like a machine needing oil.”

Aches, pains and stiffness have departed because the principal dancer with the Oregon Ballet Theatre has been sidelined, like most performers, after cancellation of events because of the COVID-19 pandemic. OBT had two performances planned for the spring.

And, Capizzi has started a new phase of her life, anyway — retirement, effective June 13. Capizzi, formerly Ansa Deguchi and a member of OBT for 17 years, had planned to retire in 2020. Retirement for the 35-year-old Capizzi just came a little early, and she welcomed it. Read the full interview

Brian Bennett in the 2019 performance of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker® | image by James McGrew

Oregon ArtsWatch | How Portland’s big dance organizations responded to Black Lives Matter

June 30, 2020 – For the past several weeks, conversations and arguments around race and the arts have arisen nationally and locally. In the Portland dance community, they’ve been driven by the dancers themselves, many of whom have concluded that the city’s big companies—Oregon Ballet Theatre, BodyVox and NW Dance Project, along with its major dance presenter, White Bird—could do a lot more than they’ve done in addressing systemic racism in both the art form and their own organizations. And they’ve taken to Instagram and Facebook to express their opinions. Read the full interview

Kelsie Nobriga in the 2019 performance of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker® | image by Yi Yin

KGW News, Tonight with Cassidy | Cassidy tries to be a ballerina in The Nutcracker

December 18, 2019 – The Nutcracker is on stage at the Keller Auditorium. Cassidy Quinn fom KGW News got a lesson from the talented OBT performers.
View the Segment Here

Dennis Buehler

Dance/USA | Leadership Corner: Dennis Buehler, Executive Director, Oregon Ballet Theatre

April 13, 2016 – From the Green Room continues its feature, Leadership Corner, disseminating the voices and experiences of leaders in the professional dance field across the United States Read the interview

Guest Artist Susan Banyas

KATU | ‘Beautiful Decay’ ballet celebrates the gift of age

April 12, 2016 – Like it or not we all get older, and it’s difficult to avoid an aging body. So instead of trying to hide it Oregon Ballet Theatre is celebrating the gift of age in its latest performance called “Beautiful Decay.” Greg Bielemeier, 65, and 68-year-old Susan Banyas have both danced well over 40 years, which is twice the age of an average dancer at OPT. And now they will share the stage with their younger counterparts to show the bittersweet dance of life and aging in “Beautiful Decay.” Watch the video


Portland Monthly | A Spellbinding Short Film Reveals the Magic Behind Every Oregon Ballet Theatre Performance

April 4, 2016 – The lights go down. A current runs through the auditorium, the electricity of anticipation as the hum of conversation becomes a hush, and then silence. The curtain goes up on the Oregon Ballet Theatre, and the spell is cast. Except in the hours leading up to that moment, there’s been a whole world spinning behind the scenes, as a new short video by local filmmaker Patrick Weishampel makes clear. The Art of Making Art is a four-and-a-half-minute tribute to the work required to cast that spell, making visible what the audience rarely sees. Read the full article Watch the video

Jungle by James Canfield
Jungle by James Canfield

The Oregonian/OregonLive | 5 other James Canfield works Oregon Ballet Theatre needs to bring back

February 24, 2016 – Founding artistic director James Canfield created many original ballets during his 14 years leading Oregon Ballet Theatre, but since his departure in 2003, his works fell out of the company’s repertory. The long-overdue return of “Romeo & Juliet” opens the door to other Canfield signatures being restored, filling a critical gap in the company’s history. Here are five significant Canfield ballets that audiences need to see again. Read the full article

OBT Dancers in the new studio
OBT Dancers in the new studio

The Oregonian/OregonLive | A look inside Oregon Ballet Theatre’s new home on the South Waterfront

February 24, 2016 – This winter’s production of James Canfield’s “Romeo & Juliet” is the first that Oregon Ballet Theatre has rehearsed in its new studios in Portland’s South Waterfront district. In January, the company moved from a former bank building in the industrial eastside, where it resided for 15 years, to a new home on the banks of the Willamette River. Read the full article

James Canfield and Principal Dancer Brian Simcoe
James Canfield and Principal Dancer Brian Simcoe

The Oregonian/OregonLive | With ‘Romeo & Juliet,’ James Canfield makes long-overdue return to Oregon Ballet Theatre

February 24, 2016 – This weekend, Canfield’s version of “Romeo & Juliet” is back, marking a long-overdue reunion of the choreographer and the company. The six performances, which begin Saturday at Keller Auditorium, restore an important work to the company’s repertory and possibly set the stage for the return of more Canfield originals. Read the full article

Choreographer James Canfield with Xuan Cheng as "Juliet" and Peter Franc as "Romeo" in rehearsal for Oregon Ballet Theatre's production of "Romeo & Juliet," running Feb. 27 – Mar. 5, 2016 at the Keller Auditorium. Photo by Blaine Truitt Covert.
Choreographer James Canfield with Peter Franc and Xuan Cheng. Photo by Blaine truitt Covert.

Portland Tribune | Former OBT artistic director James Canfield to reprise ‘Romeo and Juliet’

February 18, 2016 – Whenever James Canfield visits Oregon Ballet Theatre, he always beams with pride. Canfield helped merge two companies into OBT 27 years ago. He helped start the School of Oregon Ballet Theatre. He helped secure the building at 818 S.E. Sixth Ave. He helped put OBT on the ballet map as artistic director. Read the full article

James Canfield

Stage and Studio | James Canfield Returns

February 16, 2016 – Following an absence of over 15 years, Oregon Ballet Theatre presents the return of James Canfield’s beloved production of Romeo & Juliet to Portland’s Keller Auditorium February 27th through March 5th. Listen to the episode

Drosselmeier presents the Nutcracker at OBT’s 2015 production. Photo by James McGrew.

OregonLive | Oregon Ballet Theatre, Pacific Northwest Ballet square off in a ‘Nutcracker’ battle

December 15, 2015 – It’s “Nutcracker” season once again, that magical time when families get to experience the venerable holiday spectacle, and ballet companies reap the benefits of its timeless appeal. This year, Northwest ballet fans are getting a double-dose of George Balanchine’s version of the holiday gem. Read the full article

Lisa Sundstrom
Lisa Sundstrom

OBT | Announcing the Launch of OBT2

July 14, 2015 – With the Generous Support of the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, Oregon Ballet Theatre to Launch Junior Company OBT2 and Names Former American Ballet Theatre and Pennsylvania Ballet Principal Lisa Sundstrom as Program Director. Read More

KGW News Segment with Darrell Grand Moutrie
Darrell Grand Moultrie

KGW | News Segment with Darrell Grand Moultrie

Beyonce and ballet: Award-winning choreographer comes to Portland.

April 17, 2015 – Choreographer Darrell Grand Moultrie talks with Cassidy Quinn about his new ballet for OBT, working with Beyonce, and how to flip your hair like a pro. Watch Segment