This fall, Oregon Ballet Theatre will present Act III of August Bournonville’s classic ballet Napoli. Preparation for this production began last February when former Royal Danish Ballet Artistic Director and Bournonville authority Frank Anderson visited Portland to instruct the company in the Bournonville style. The technique is characterized by fluid and graceful upper body movement contrasted by quick, intricate footwork and leaps. The result is a romantic and lively mix of dance which mesmerizes audiences.

At the end of his February visit, Mr. Anderson – who will be staging Napoli for OBT in the fall – offered to sponsor a dancer to receive further specialized instruction in the Bournonville technique from himself, Royal Danish Ballet School Director Anne Marie Vessel Schlüter, and other Bournonville masters at the famed Tivoli Ballet School in Copenhagen.  In exchange, OBT would need to raise funds for several more company members to participate. OBT Executive Director Dennis Buehler contacted the local chapter of the Scandinavian Heritage Foundation about the offer. Danes are very proud of Bournonville ballets and Mr. Anderson is something of a cultural rock star. The group rallied immediately to find support for the project through the Scan Design Foundation, which had sponsored similar cultural exchanges with Pacific Northwest Ballet.

Oregon Ballet Theatre,Studio rehearsal
Anne Marie Vessel Schluter, Ballet Mistress of the Royal Danish Ballet, leading OBT rehearsal in spring of 2015. Photo by Blaine Truitt Covert.

Now, six lucky OBT dancers – Candace Bouchard, Martina Chavez, Jordan Kindell, Jessica Lind, Katherine Monogue, and Avery Reiners – are about to embark on an incredible trip to Copenhagen! They will spend a week immersing themselves in the Bournonville technique and repertory at the Tivoli Ballet School – located in the Tivoli Gardens, home to the world’s second oldest amusement park! The intensive culminates with a final performance at the Peacock Theatre, one of Tivoli’s landmark performance venues.

As we wish them “bon voyage,” OBT company artist Katherine Monogue shared some thoughts about what she expects from the program:

“I think it will be difficult but rewarding.  I don’t have a great amount of experience in Bournonville, and the program is basically a week-long Bournonville boot camp.  It will be hard, but fun.  I’m really looking forward to experiencing the dance community in such a culturally rich and historic city.  I’ve never danced in Europe and I’m really excited to just soak it all in.”

And the fact that all six dancers will be sharing a single apartment?

“Sharing an apartment will be so much fun!  Sure it might get cramped, but that’s just part of the experience.”

Company Artist Katherine Monogue. Photo by Blaine Truitt Covert.
Company Artist Katherine Monogue. Photo by Blaine Truitt Covert.

We’ll be sharing the dancers’ adventures with you live, here on the OBT blog. Stay tuned!

Rehearsals for OBT’s production of Napoli begin at the beginning of September when Frank Anderson returns to Portland to stage the work. Throughout this process, Oregon Ballet Theatre is committed to bringing audiences the most authentic presentation of the centuries-old Bournonville style. The company is further excited to demonstrate its incredible versatility by presenting a new contemporary work from James Kudelka, Sub Rosa, set to music by Italian Renaissance composer Carlo Gesualdo.

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