Artistic Director Kevin Irving
Artistic Director Kevin Irving
Photo by Joni Kabana

Well, here we are, just a few short days away from the actual beginning of the 2013-2014 season for OBT!  This is my first season here in Portland and I cannot express how eagerly I am awaiting the work that will start and the journey that begins when the dancers and I get together for the very first time next Monday, August 26th, in Director Park.

OBT Exposed was first started by James Canfield back in 1995, and I know it continues to be a favorite annual event.  I don’t mind saying, however, that I am just a little nervous about starting my first day with the dancers out in public!  Nevertheless, we will be out in the park next week Monday through Friday, doing our daily training class, learning and rehearsing new repertory – and we really hope you will take the opportunity to come by and watch us at work.

Over the course of next week I will be “auditioning” the company as I cast the roles in the new Nacho Duato ballet Por Vos Muero, and then I’ll begin to teach it.  “Por Vos Muero” translates as “For Thee I Die”, and it is full of romantic duets and some devilishly fast dancing.  I always say that even the slow parts of Nacho’s work are fast when it’s you that has to dance them!  I fully expect the company to eat it up hungrily and am sure it’s going to be interesting to watch.  Por Vos Muero will receive its Portland premiere when we open our DREAM program at the Keller Auditorium on October 12th.

We are also going to be working on the revival of Christopher Stowell’s magical A Midsummer Night’s Dream, first premiered in 2007, which anchors the program with Por Vos.  This work has it all:  star-crossed lovers, mischievous pranksters and ethereal woodland fairies.  Rehearsal Director Lisa Kipp is responsible for bringing the work to life as she was there when it was created.  Watch as she helps everyone figure out what they are supposed to be doing!

Along with some new faces amongst the dancers, you may also pick out the handsome face of our new ballet master Jeff Stanton, who is a former principal dancer with PNB in Seattle.  Jeff has just arrived in Portland (he’s even greener than I am – by 3.5 weeks!) and we are really fortunate to have him as part of our team.

And while we are talking about new faces, I’d like to mention that Paul Nicholson, former Executive Director at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, has come on board as a consultant to OBT as we begin the process of our strategic planning for the bright future we envision.  Paul has recently retired from OSF after 33 years with the organization (17 of them as ED), and we could not find  a better person to help us take advantage of this new chapter we are about to open at OBT.  So if you see someone that you think you remember from Ashland – it just may be Paul!

All this to say that we are getting ready to go into the starting blocks now, and excited to take off into the wonderful season ahead of us.  Sure hope to see you along the way!


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