Features & Articles
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
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
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
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
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
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
Portland Monthly | Oregon Ballet Theatre’s New Hybrid Season Highlights a Path Forward for Performing in a Pandemic
October 20, 2020 – On a Zoom call from his home, Oregon Ballet Theatre artistic director Kevin Irving admits he’s been asking himself what the point of a ballet company is in the first place.
“The divisions we see in the city and in the outlying areas, the contexts in which we’re operating, it has to impact us,” he says, discussing his strategy for leading 31-year-old OBT through 2020’s choppy waters. “We cannot escape the fact that we are the Oregon Ballet Theatre and we are located in Portland, Oregon. And our community has gone through quite a lot over the last six months.” To say the least.
But after rampant uncertainty and myriad false starts, arts organizations worldwide have begun to find their midpandemic footing—the ones who can afford to “pivot,” that is. After going dark for much of the spring and summer, OBT announced its retooled 2020–21 season in September, which marries scaled-back live performance with digital viewing options. It’s an ambitious undertaking, and it could provide a blueprint for other organizations scrambling to perform safely as COVID wears on.
Read the full article HERE
Portland Tribune, Pamplin Media Group | Burton relishes OBT promotion
October 20, 2020 – For six months during the COVID-19 pandemic and era of government restrictions, Eva Burton would practice en pointe on a makeshift dance floor and with a chair to simulate a studio bar in her dining room, as well as communicating with fellow dancers and instructors via Zoom.
“That got old quickly,” the Oregon Ballet Theatre dancer said. “It’s nice to be back in the studio. Even now, when back in the studio, there are only, at most, six total dancers in the big studio. And, we have to keep our distance, so it’s still odd. This is a job where we’re normally touching each other all the time.”
Burton’s patience and practice paid off, however, as she received some good news recently. OBT and Artistic Director Kevin Irving have promoted her to principal dancer. She joins Xuan Cheng, Peter Franc and Brian Simcoe as principal dancers for OBT, a smaller group than usual, but understandable given the current circumstances.
Read the full article HERE
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
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
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
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
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
Pointe Magazine | Director’s Notes: Having It All
August/September, 2016 – Kevin Irving is a man of eclectic tastes. It showed in Oregon Ballet Theatre’s 2015-16 season, which opened with Napoli Act III. the company’s first turn with Boumonville, followed by Balanchine’s Nutcracker. Then came Romeo & Juliet, as envisioned by OBT founding artistic director James Canfield. The season closed with Beautiful Decay, an OBT premiere that Irving’s partner, contemporary choreographer Nicolo Fonte, created featuring local contemporary dancers.Read the interview
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
All Classical Radio | Kevin Irving on Northwest Previews
September 3, 2015 – Northwest Previews, with host Andrea Murray, highlights outstanding classical events in the Portland area for the coming week. On this episode, OBT Artistic Director Kevin Irving discusses all of OBT’s recent activity. Listen to the interview Northwest Previews Site
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 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