by Linda Besant, OBT Archivist
Nicolo Fonte has accepted the position of Resident Choreographer with Oregon Ballet Theatre starting with our upcoming “Season of Giants.” This is joyous news for all who treasure great choreography and for the dancers in the company. Ever since Fonte made Bolero on OBT in 2008, his work has fascinated me, and I’m gratified to find that audiences and critics all over the world agree, praising his “strong, abstract movement vocabulary,” and the way he “renders his competence in surprising, stimulating dance—original and self-willed.” (Wohlthat and Bürgin, Basel, Switzerland)
But why? What makes Fonte’s choreography so outstanding? I’ve chosen images from OBT’s gallery of photographs that are worth a thousand words to show why I find his choreography so engaging and so emotionally eloquent:
He doesn’t shy away from moments of unfettered exuberance, whether he’s working with company dancers-
-or students from The School of Oregon Ballet Theatre.
His partnering is endlessly inventive,
branching off from classical ballet partnering in ways that flow organically
and seem inevitable with the music.
He also loves the increased possibilities presented by group partnering.
He seamlessly incorporates other kinds of movement into his choreography. For example, his dancers often flow through yoga poses like this revolved triangle.
He has a particular gift for allowing moments of stillness where we can glimpse a dancer’s essence…
He has an unerring eye for placing dramatic dance within evocative architectural sets, like this mirrored wall in Petrouchka,
these suspended pieces of corrugated roofing panels in Bolero,
and this steel-framed room in Beautiful Decay.
(Plus, his arrangements of groups of dancers always seem to make sense.)
In this video excerpt from Left Unsaid, we see the interplay of all the virtues explored above, coupled with Fonte’s inerrant musicality, to me the final essential element of great choreography.
I urge you not to miss Nicolo Fonte’s next world premiere ballet for OBT in “Giants,” the opening program of our 2016-2017 season, October 18—25 at the Keller Auditorium.
And feel free to enjoy hundreds of additional photographs of OBT dancers in performance and rehearsal in our Flickr albums.