Meet Matjash

From satin ballgowns and spectacular sets to a three-story flash mob in a Toronto mall, no two works by international choreographer Matjash Mrozewski are the same.  This Canadian artist on the rise may not be a household name yet in the States yet, but believe us – it’s only a matter of time.  We’re thrilled to announce that he’ll be choreographing a brand-new work for our spring program Chromatic Quartet.  Check out this introduction to his work, and you’ll see why we’re all off-the-charts excited to have him in the house.

Planet Wonderful – Royal Danish Ballet.  Photo by Henrik Stenberg, courtesy of the Royal Danish Ballet.

Oregon Ballet Theatre is committed to supporting the work of choreographers at all phases of their career, from bringing our audiences the most innovative work arriving on the ballet scene, to mentoring up-and-coming artists at the beginning of their careers.  We are thrilled to continue this with our spring program, Chromatic Quartet, which will feature a new work by Canadian choreographer Matjash Mrozewski, whose risky and diverse repertoire has won over audiences and critics in North America, Europe and Australia.

Flora and Zephyr – Ryerson Dances.  Photo by Kristy Kennedy.

“Mrozewski has an off-the-wall sensibility, and that’s what makes his work so interesting.”
Paula Citron, Critic

Ein Sommernachtstraum – Ballett Augsburg.  Photo courtesy of Ballett Augsburg.

Matjash started creating dance while studying at Canada’s National Ballet School. He continued to choreograph after he joined the National Ballet of Canada.  Matjash danced for two years in Europe, and on his return to Canada launched his choreographic career with A Delicate Battle for the National Ballet in 2001.  In the past ten years, Matjash has created original works for The Royal Ballet, The Australian Ballet, The San Francisco Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, The Royal Danish Ballet, Les Ballets de Monte Carlo and The Royal Ballet of Flanders, among others.  (Click the links to see more photos.)

Nureyev (film).  Photo courtesy Moze Mossanen.

“Mrozewski’s ballets differ markedly, but mutability, uncertainty, impermanence and human isolation are recurrent themes. He weaves surrealism and naturalism into unique theatrical experiences.”

Michael Crabb, Critic

Semele – Australian Ballet.  Photo by Jeff Busby, courtesy of The Australian Ballet.

Matjash has also achieved an international reputation for his invigorating, witty and exciting “flash mobs” (fully-choreographed dance routines performed, seemingly spontaneously, in public places) to celebrate International Dance Day in 2010 and 2011.  These events brought hundreds of people, both dancers and non-dancers, together to celebrate dance in front of crowds of passersby, inviting their participation.

Pavillon d’Armide – Les Ballets de Monte Carlo.  Photo by Marie-Laure Briane.

“Matjash is a hybrid. He can be highly classical and he can be highly emotional and gritty as well.”

David McAllister, Artistic Director of the Australian Ballet

Wolf’s Court – National Ballet of Canada.  Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann, courtesy of the National Ballet of Canada.

Matjash has also worked extensively in contemporary ballet and modern dance. In 2003 he was the first recipient of the National Arts Center Youth Commission for Dance, which led to his first full-length work, Break Open Play. Matjash has choreographed for musical theatre, special events, and the catwalk. Six dance films have been made of his original and adapted choreographies.

My Love – Tulsa Ballet.  Photo by Christopher Jean-Richard. 

P.S.  Recognize that face?  It’s OBT Company Artist Kate Oderkirk, who joined us this season from Tulsa Ballet!


Tell Us About Your New Work For OBT!

“I’ll be choreographing with local Portland designer Adam Arnold for costumes, OBT Resident Lighting Designer Michael Mazzola, and music will be an original electronic score by Vancouver- based Canadian composer Owen Belton, who I’ve worked with on a few commissions over the years. The work will be no longer than 20 minutes and at the moment it looks like I’m going to do a quintet.  Because of the amount of duet work in the program already, Christopher asked if could avoid much pas de deux work, so I accept the challenge. I’m going to base the ballet around 5 solos, though I think it will branch off into many different arrangements among the quintet.  I want the work to have a very contemporary feel, but as usual with me (and with Adam too) there will be some kind of nod to the past. There might be something ghostly about the piece, atmospheric. If at all possible, I want the ballet to be ghostly, sexy, mysterious, earthy, pedestrian, graceful, and if I’m on a roll, even a bit witty.  But hey, anything is possible.” –Matjash


We are so thrilled to bring to Portland the work of this creative and audacious choreographer, whose work ranges from intimate, sensuous pas de deux on bare stages to bold spectacle works with stunning sets and costumes.  We can’t wait to see what he does with OBT’s dancers and look forward to sharing this exciting process with you!

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