Photographer Joni Kabana joined us at the Keller Auditorium for the dress rehearsal of Dream, October 11, 2013.  She shares thoughts and photos from her experience with us here. 

Colorfully-winged bug children.
Colorful silk wings on the Woodland Creatures, danced by students from the School of OBT.

Making my way down the long dark hallway, I hear voices coming from everywhere. Booming voices, little chattering voices, a squeal of delight here and there, and just a tad of controlled angst from one isolated voice as curtain time nears.

Sweeping Stagehands
Stagehands sweeping the stage between ballets.

I am backstage, at a rehearsal just before opening night of “Dream”, Oregon Ballet Theatre’s first performance of the new season.  And I am in awe.

Por Vos Women
The women of OBT in Por Vos Muero.

The elaborate costumes! The whirls of practice leaps! The whispers! The feet pawing at a box of stability ensuring rosin! The wide-eyed excitement from tiny dancer Cupid and lightning bugs and butterflies!

At the rosin box.
Fairies at the rosin box, or, as we affectionately refer to this behavior, “scratching in the kitty box”.

I don’t know much about dance except that I love to see it, and do it. Music flowing through a body, silence too: we don’t realize dance’s impact until we find ourselves shaking a leg at someone’s wedding or letting ourselves surrender to a drum in a village in Africa, or watching a professional dancer onstage move in ways we only wish we could.

Helena and Demetrius with Orchestra
The OBT Orchestra, led by Neil DePonte, accompanies the heart-wrenching pas de deux of Helena and Demetrius, danced by Makino Hayashi and Brett Bauer.

Oh, how it can alter our mood, outlook on life and frame of reference to what is happiness. If only we would do it more often ourselves. But for now, our eyes can drink in the wonders of how our bodies are capable of expressing rhythm through the mastery of accomplished dancers.

Students of Oregon Ballet Theatre, along with Soloist Ye Li, onstage in Christopher Stowell’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

Being backstage gives us a glimpse into the immense amount of work that goes into a performance.  What strikes me the most is seeing the people who are sweeping the floors: they are true dancers themselves, back and forth and back and forth, they sway as the live orchestra warms up.

Stage Manager In Charge
Stage Manager Victoria Epstein at her post.

And the woman who is on duty calling the lights and curtains and stage entries…can she be more alert? Her gaze is steady and strong, coordinating so many moving parts and people and props and pulleys, yet she possesses a calm fortitude under immense pressure that is inspiring.

Fairy Song, stage and pit.
The dancers of Oregon Ballet Theatre, along with the OBT Orchestra and vocalists from Pacific Youth Choir, performing the Fairy Song.

I wonder if being around the dancers influences a support staff’s dance. Perhaps we all should carry such grace into our daily lives.

Titania and Oberon
Alison Roper and Brian Simcoe as Titania and Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

I see a dancer, she must be new to the company, and she has the look of terror in her eyes.  But I watch her search the eyes of a principal dancer as she observes their every move. Her eyes soften and fear is replaced by confidence as she sees this seasoned dancer wink at her. And with that, she enters the stage, dances with her heart, and exits with elation.

Inspiring, energetic, passionate, and feverish.

This is Oregon Ballet Theatre.

Observing Dragonfly
A young Dragonfly watches from the wings.

-Joni Kabana

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